Plymstock Oaks awarded £50,000 of funding from Sport England

Press Release
Local rugby club awarded £50,000 of funding from Sport England
Date:14th April 2014
Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC (PAORFC) is among 324 local sports projects to secure a share of £17 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund. Since 2011, Inspired Facilities has been helping breathe new life into tired community sports facilities and converting existing buildings into venues suitable for grassroots sport.

PAORFC will receive £50,000 of National Lottery funding to upgrade their existing dilapidated facilities. The club which has helped thousands of young people over the years get into playing rugby and learning the “Life Lessons” the sports imparts, will at last be able to feed the 200 plus children that play at the club every Sunday inside, in a fit for purpose facility. Up until now all our junior players and those of the opposition have had no choice but to take their after game meal’s, prepared in the smallest kitchen imaginable, outside to eat.

In addition to providing dining and cooking facilities the project to upgrade the club house, which is to cost £295,000 will provide a community room, toilets, first aid facilities and changing for referees. It will also provide roof mounted solar panels, heating which we have never had before, and an adequate hot water supply. These panels will provide all the electricity the club requires making it the first “Carbon Neutral” rugby club in the country. These new facilities, work on which is due to start in Summer 2014, will be housed in a new extension to the building and will eventually allow the club to renovate the existing changing rooms into changing facilities also fit for purpose.

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Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “The Inspired Facilities Fund has had a huge impact on grassroots sport across the country. Since 2011, we’ve invested £88 million into more than 1,600 projects to improve and refurbish sports clubs and transform non-sporting venues into vibrant community sports clubs.

“It’s great to see Plymstock Albion Oaks join the long list of successful clubs to benefit from this fund.”

Club Chairman, Nigel Higginson, said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment, which means we can upgrade the quality of our premises to match the quality of our rugby coaches. It is the cornerstone of our strategy to have an outstanding club for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.”

Many more communities are set to benefit from the hugely popular fund, with the latest round of the Inspired Facilities now open. Community and voluntary organisations, councils and schools can bid for a share of £20 million to help upgrade facilities that can be unattractive, expensive to run and difficult to maintain, and to convert existing non-sporting buildings into venues that are suitable for grassroots sport.

Applying for funding has never been easier. Based on feedback from previous applicants, the Inspired Facilities Fund is now an open programme which means projects can submit applications as soon as they are ready rather than being restricted by a specific deadline. To find out more and bid, visit http://www.sportengland.org/inspiredfacilities.

The National Lottery has been changing lives for 18 years. Every week National Lottery players raise over £30 million to help change people’s lives across the UK.

For more information please contact the press office: Jan Singleton on 020 7273 1800 or jan.singleton@sportengland.org; Amy Wright on 0207 273 1593 or amy.wright@sportengland.org;

 

 

Frack That

Traditional energy companies, many of which have made a considerable investment in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), are urging the Government to reduce or even remove the renewable energy subsidies, with a pledge to reduce energy costs if they do so. So is it any wonder that David Cameron is trying to persuade the opponents of fracking to get on board with this controversial technology, even to the extent of falsely claiming it is green.  But, is his offer of the retention of any business rates accrued by fracking ventures, along with a 1% payment of the gross revenue nothing more than bribery being offered to councils to remove  objections to fracking in their districts. And, is it yet another salvo in the Conservative re-election campaign in which energy prices are to be a major contributing factor .

It has been claimed by the Government that if full scale fracking were to go ahead in the UK thousands of jobs would be created and our energy costs would see a reduction of up to fifty percent. These claims have been hotly contested by Green Peace and Friends of the Earth amongst others, who claim that the UK will see a 1-2% reduction in its energy bills, if any at all. What is certain is that the energy companies will make huge profits, far greater than they would for  similar investments in truly green and renewable energy.

It has also been claimed that fracking is environmentally sound, despite that there is a great deal of scientific evidence to the contrary.  Each well requires 8 million gallons of water and 0ver 600 chemicals to be pumped at  high pressure into the gas bearing shale rocks deep under ground, this fractures the rock and allows the gas to pass through bore holes and into the well head. Once the fracturing is complete the resulting polluted water is pumped back to surface and into collection ponds where it is allowed to evaporate along with the volatile chemicals it contains. Many of these chemicals, some 40,000 gallons in all are carcinogenic, and  include lead, uranium, mercury, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde.

The resulting natural gas may actually be slightly cleaner burning gas than the liquid petroleum gas we presently import but is far from green, it is still a fossil fuel, and as such produces carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore in addition to the hazards of water course pollution and  the potential to cause earth quakes, which has persuaded  the French Government to take the steps to place an outright ban on all fracking within their countries borders, fracking also increases global warming. This would appear to be a very dangerous gamble, at a time when the world is experiencing unprecedented weather patterns which many scientists say are directly attributed to global warming, which most nations of the world are committed to reducing.

In a time of escalating energy costs, where millions of households are spending in excess of 10% of their income on energy costs,  would this not appear to be the perfect ploy, for an unpopular government to regain the confidence of the electorate and their all important votes, with the allure of cheap energy and  the prosperity that might bring, heedless of the potential environmental damage it may cause.

Rugby World Cup 2015 kick off tournament gets go ahead

Rugby World Cup 2015 kickoff tournament gets the go ahead

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A kickoff event for the RWC 2015 is being organised in the West Country of the UK, and is to be staged on the historic Plymouth Hoe in South West Devon. The Plymouth Hoe is the natural heart of the City of Plymouth, with stunning views of one of the most perfect natural harbours in the world will make this a setting second to none.

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The event will take the format of a rugby tournament spanning 3 weeks of the summer of 2015, bringing together amateur, professional and armed services’ teams in a series of 10′s tournaments, to be played on sand pitches created for the event. The event has the support of the local Members of Parliament, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth Vivien Pengelly and the leader of the Council Tudor Evans along with Councillor Peter Smith, and is being scheduled for July and early August 2015. Discussions are also underway with Volleyball England to include a national beach volley competition.

The format for the event will take on various categories: a junior competition of 10′s touch rugby, a Colts (Under 17 and 18′s) competition of 10′s contact rugby, ladies 10’s and an Under 24′s 10′s competitions of contact rugby. Several of the South West’s professional clubs have shown an interest in the event, and the organisers hope that there will be an additional competition between these sides.  This version of the game does incorporate full contact so it isn’t for the faint-hearted, and with fewer players on the pitch there is much more space for players to run into, with breathtaking results. With killer passes and big hits 10′s rugby is fast and furious, and a fabulous spectator sport, providing a spectacular introduction to rugby and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

To make this a real celebration of sport and attract as many as possible to the Hoe over this period the organisers plan to add additional entertainment to the event, in particular evening entertainment and would be happy to hear any suggestions. With the Hoe’s proximity to the Barbican with its theatres, restaurants, bars and night-life this is an event not to be missed, and will become the holiday destination of the summer of 2015.

http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/areas-to-visit/the-hoe

If you would like further details of this extraordinary event, get involved or to enter teams for both the rugby and the volley ball competitions please contact Nic Taylor on nic@nictaylor.net or on 07872381805

A Plague of Dissent – Chapters 1 to 8

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Chapter One

Rosie sat all night alone in the dark, not daring to turn on a light and far too frightened to sleep. Fear crept through every pore of her body. How could she sleep when she knew that there were men outside who were waiting for her to leave the house? Knowledge of that terrified her. The men banged on the front door, shouting through her letterbox and checking every accessible window.

All night she’d huddled up on the couch, fearful of every sound outside. Each creak of the old house filled her with panic.

Had the men somehow got inside?

She saw them arrive outside the front of her apartment, only minutes after arriving home. She’d parked her car in the car park just around the corner, rather than outside the apartment. She didn’t want to advertise her presence. She was uncertain if they knew she was home, but convinced they wouldn’t leave until they’d found her.

Rosie’s heartbeat pounded in her ears; her breath caught in her throat, acid rose in her stomach, and the urge to be sick consumed her. She needed to focus and clear her mind, but the fear of being captured overshadowed all her thoughts.

The events of the past week churned through her mind. How had they discovered what she’d done? Everything had been arranged by text. No one could have overheard a thing, but evidently someone had. And the news of that; how had it spread so quickly? One second she was committing the act, and the next these men were everywhere.

Over the past hour, her thoughts gradually turned from fear to the desperate need to escape. Weighing her options, he paced her small living room in an attempt to calm her thoughts. The front door was out of the question. She could climb out of her bathroom window, sneak out through the rear garden of the apartment below and into the back lane, and then get to her car before it got light. That was her best option. No, it was her only option. Dawn was an hour away, and she was nearly out of time. It was now or never. She had to make a decision.

She slipped on a pair of trainers and packed a small bag. Necessities only, her car keys, a pair of pants, and the cash she’d frantically scraped out of a drawer, her passport and credit cards were the only items she carried in the bag. Her only coherent thought was to get the hell out of town before the shit truly hit the fan.

Opening the bathroom window she slid out with her bag in tow, and dropped the few feet into the garden, trembling as she did. It was dark, very dark, and what little light the moon would have provided was soaked up by the thick black rain clouds that hung overhead. Cautiously, she made her way down the garden path, taking care not to kick one of the numerous potted plants that lined it, towards the gate and the back lane.

She checked; the lane was clear, and she could see the car where she had left it the night before. None of the men were in sight.

It’s now or never.

They would spot her soon enough, and the chase would begin.

With all the strength, she could muster Rosie took a deep breath, steeling herself for what she had to do before she slowly eased open the gate, hoping it didn’t creak and give her escape away. She entered the lane. The street lights at each end of the short lane, normally welcome, would tonight spotlight her to anybody at either end. She took her first steps as two men appeared under the street light at the far end. Too late now, they’d seen her. The shout went up

“There she is! She’s going for the car park.”

These words were quickly replaced by the sounds of running feet, as close to a dozen men appeared around the corner, illuminated under the street light.

She had no choice now, running was her only option. Rosie froze, but only for a moment. Then she ran.

Only three hundred metres to the car park. Get into the car, and get away.

I can do this.

Rosie ran, heedless of the numerous potholes brimming with water from the overnight rain that contrived to bring her to her knees, and dodged the randomly placed waste collection bins overflowing with rubbish. She crossed the road at the end; the car park and her car was close now, just on the other side of the road. She could hear her pursuers’ feet splash through the puddles, getting closer with every second. Venturing a glance over her shoulder, she could see they were gaining on her. She saw the double-decker bus when it was far too late.

When she turned her head back, the bus was on top of her, the shock on the driver’s face clearly visible as he tried to brake and steer away. Rosie screamed. The scream was followed by a sickening crunch, as the number six bus flung her ten metres through the air, to crumple like a rag doll onto a parked car.

As Rosie lay over the front of the car, crumpled and broken on this wet forlorn morning, her dying thoughts were

Why?

…….

The seduction that started it had been going on from the moment she first began to temp in his office. Yes, of course she had known Alex Great was married, but his power and all that money he controlled as Chief Secretary to the Treasury seriously pressed her buttons. After all, all the politicians did it, didn’t they? The more senior they were, the more they slept around, and the office temps seemed to be the nature of the game. At least that was what her friend Jonathan had told her.

For the past five years, ever since her divorce, she’d had a succession of temp jobs. The first, in the International’s office, where she had met and had a brief fling with Jonathan Mason, and then one Fleet Street office or another followed. None being quite what she truly wanted; all of them left her unfulfilled, her true worth never recognised. The men she worked for saw only one thing, her stunning figure, which if truth be told, she’d always displayed and used to her advantage. But she craved more, much more; one day the right job or man, perhaps both, would come along, but until then she would make the most of her situation and her assets.

When she ran into Jonathan at a party, she’d told him quite innocently of her new job and the attentions she was getting from her new boss. She’d jumped at the offer Jonathan made.

For several weeks, the Chief Secretary had been pleading with Rosie to have dinner with him. Following Jonathan’s suggestions she had capitulated, accepting an invitation to dine at the penthouse he kept at the Soho Hotel. He didn’t  not wanting to be seen out in public with her, she assumed. The thoughts of the eventual, generous pay day that Jonathan had promised removed any residual doubt she might have had.

That fateful night, Rosie knew she looked exceptionally good, she always did. Her office attire was revealing enough, but the dress she wore tonight, was little more than a spray- on. A sheath of red, clinging to her every ample curve, revealing more than it concealed. She’d expected that they would eat before she got her clothes off, but it hadn’t happened that way. No sooner was the door closed, than Alex began to pull off that tantalizing dress, quickly revealing her stupendous body.

Later, lying back on the bed, she thought that, for an old, fat and balding guy, he was quite an attentive lover. It had been far better sex than she had anticipated. He certainly talked a lot in the office, and she had just discovered that his tongue was quite skilled in several other things as well.

There was a knock on the suite door, followed by,

“Room Service.”

Alex opened the door and invited in the waiter with a service trolley.

“Over there,” he said.

Ah yes, the hotel does like to look after their distinguished guests; I wonder what they have sent me?

The waiter pushed the trolley through the doors and into the centre of the lounge of the hotel suite, and then proceeded to remove one of the silver domed lids covering the plates.

As he did so, it struck against a metallic object underneath, and the sound of metal upon metal caught Alex’s attention. As the lid cleared the plate, Alex was perplexed to see not a plate of food, but a camera. This the waiter-playing paparazzi quickly picked up, shooting five frames per second before he even had his eye to the viewfinder. It captured the balding, fat politician wrapped only in a towel, with his pretty blonde temp in bed behind him, clearly visible through the wide open double bedroom doors.

“What do you think, ah..?”

As soon as the paparazzi had picked up the camera, Alex Great raised his hands to try to cover his face, letting go of the towel around his waist, which had quickly slipped to the floor. The final shots captured Alex naked, red faced and screaming obscenities.

“No, stop! Get out, get out!”

It was over before they knew what had hit them; a precursor of the double-decker bus that would take her life twelve hours later. The paparazzi was gone within a minute, his memory card full and containing over a hundred compromising shots of them. It undoubtedly was far too late to panic, but that is precisely what the politician had done. He was still screaming obscenities at Rosie, accusing her of setting him up; that his career was over and his life in ruins.

It had all seemed like such a brilliant idea at the start. The plan, as suggested to her by Jonathan, had been exceedingly simple. Sleep with him for a few months and get something on him which Jonathan could use. The affair in itself would probably be enough; she would also be amply rewarded, the five figure sum Jonathan mentioned would have been very useful indeed.

She hadn’t bothered to think what Jonathan was getting out of the arrangement, or why he was prepared to pay so much for it. She’d worked with Jonathan as his secretary at the International, and should have been aware of his unorthodox methods. Unfortunately, like most dead certainties, it really wasn’t turning out the way she expected, although this was precisely what Jonathan had planned. It never crossed her mind he wanted the dirt on Alex Great now, not in a few months.

Rosie hadn’t anticipated this result at all. Lying in bed with a hysterical and profusely sweating politician, who was standing naked in front of her screaming obscenities at her, was not what she’d had in mind. Definitely this was the time to leave town for a while. One thing was for sure, he was not going to be a minister much longer, and he was no use to her anymore.

Grabbing her things, she’d slipped back into her dress. It wasn’t the sort of thing she would wear underwear with, so there was no need to search for them. Then she’d run as fast as she possibly could, pulling on her shoes as she ran down the hotel corridor and arrived home minutes before the hordes of press arrived at her door.

The bus driver had not seen the men chasing Rosie, and so hadn’t realised quite how the accident had happened. Nor did it occur to him to think how the press had arrived so quickly.

Rosie was splayed and motionless over the bonnet of the parked car, her head sagging down over the front, her neck broken. She was clearly dead, having taken the full impact of the bus as it accelerated away from the bus stop.

The driver immediately phoned for an ambulance before jumping out of his cab, and then checked for a pulse, which he felt sure was not going to be there. He grimaced as he did, trying to look away. Streams of blood ran down the bonnet and over the front of the car, pooling on the street. The tips of her long blonde hair, already beginning to stain the colour of her blood, nestled in the widening red pool.

Her eyes were wide open and her crimson blood ran from both her mouth and nose, clearly illuminated by the cameras’ flashes. The paparazzi had arrived.

The first two, surprisingly, did not go for their cameras immediately, but as the rest arrived with their flashes blazing, Carl turned to his associate Fred and said:

“Stupid bitch! We might as well get something for our trouble”.

They, too, pulled up their cameras and recorded the scene, in all its gore.

 

Chapter Two

Several hours after Rosie’s death, Carl and Fred were in their office at The International’s HQ, or what used to be their office until recently. The office was hardly recognisable to what it had been only a week before. The four interconnecting rooms that made up the office space had been crammed with electronic monitoring equipment. It looked more like mission control for a space flight than a typical media office. Banks of flat screen computer monitors lined each workspace and a touch screen commanded the majority of most desks, with more monitors hung from a metal lattice work attached to the ceiling.

There wasn’t a communication device, computer or data network in the UK, even those that didn’t officially exist, that couldn’t have been accessed from here. Now all that remained was the metal framework hung from the ceiling, along with a few desks and hundreds of cables that sprouted from every conceivable point or coiled up upon the remaining desks.

A TV on in the corner of one of these rooms, the boss’s office, showed the Secretary of the Treasury getting out of his limo, outside No 10. The scene was a complete free for all; every TV crew in the western world seemed to be there, all jostling for the best position to record the action. They had only one theme to their shouted questions.

“Did he have any comments on the news stories that morning? Did he think the girl had committed suicide by running in front of the bus? And had he been summoned to No 10 to hand in his resignation?”

Carl, Fred and their boss Jonathan sat in his office, watching the breaking news. Through the glazed wall at the rear of the office, in an adjacent suite of rooms, three others could be seen packing the last of their delicate and expensive equipment away. When the breaking news bulletin finished, Jonathan turned to Fred and angrily spat:

“What the hell went wrong?”

“I sent the two of you to get the damn photos, not to instigate this shit fest. What were you doing?”

He certainly hadn’t intended it to be all over the airwaves that day, if ever. Carl handed over the shots on the memory card to his boss. They were even better than expected, the last few he’d taken captured the politician naked, the dropped towel at his feet, his hands attempting to cover his face, screaming at the top of his lungs.

“Look, I’m sorry, boss, the guy just wouldn’t shut up; he screamed louder than my teenage daughter does when I say no. I was no sooner out the damn door before every fucker on the floor was poking his head around the door to see what was going on. The security guys were there in seconds, and I thought they worked for us. It’ll be one of those bastards that sold the story to that lot.” Carl explained whilst pointing at the TV, still on in the corner.

“They’ve all got it, every bloody one of them”, he added, referring to the International’s competitor news networks.

This certainly did not please Jonathan; he had plans for the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Alex Great. Or more to the point, his private clients, Roseau and De Costa, had plans and were willing to pay a great deal of money to ensure they came to fruition. The pair had approached him a little over a year ago and, on the surface, both seemed like successful businessmen, although they seemed prepared to do whatever it took to keep ahead of the competition.

Their business was that of contract services, and they now wished to acquire government contracts. Jonathan could easily help with that, with the right introductions and a little insider information. He had so far supplied everything they asked for and more, doing exceptionally well out of it himself. But there was something about them that worried him. It was nothing that he could actually put his finger on, but he was now beginning to suspect they were involved in organised crime. Not that it bothered Jonathan, their money was as good as anyone else’s, but he would need to tread carefully with them.

It wasn’t so much the business with the Treasury Secretary; he could easily understand how they might fit him into their plans, but there were two other pieces of information that he had supplied as requested, without considering what they were to be used for. One was on a company CEO involved in an insider trading scam. He had committed suicide by taking a swan dive from the roof of the bank where he was CEO into Canary Wharf, within a week of this info being delivered. Another was the name of a gun-runner who’d been in the witness protection scheme. He was about to provide evidence on the people he worked for, and then, he had just disappeared.

Considering the business he was in, Jonathan knew that it was wise to take precautions and had always done so. His insurance policy was a list of all those he had business transactions with, including names, dates, amounts of money paid and information supplied. And, as a consequence of his suspicions, he was also in the process of trying to discover more about these particular clients, both as further insurance and as a potential future revenue generator.

He would need to find another way of gaining the leverage Roseau and De Costa wanted. Jonathan prided himself on always delivering, and this business with Alex Great would be no different. Fortunately he and his colleagues were the best in the business, and Roseau and De Costa were well aware of it. He had demonstrated that, with the information, his informants had supplied about the gun-runner, information that could only have come from high up within the Metropolitan Police Force.

For over four years, Jonathan had been running a project for Dandelion, the International’s owner. Their brief was to collect data, every conceivable piece of data they could obtain, from every source open to them, legality notwithstanding. Initially this was limited to data that they could intercept electronically, but was soon expanded to include information supplied by the police and public officials, at a hefty price.

Dubious methods of information gathering had always been employed within news organisations. They needed to obtain information for their stories from somewhere. Now, with the prevalence of electronic communications these days, that’s where the bulk of information came from. Dandelion, always wanting to be one step ahead of the game, centralised those that knew how to get this and provided them with all the tools available to excel at it. This created an immensely powerful information gathering machine. A tool Dandelion wanted total control of, hence the reason to run it from the International Building.

Jonathan and his five colleagues supplied phone intercepts, text messages, voice mail, e-mails and computer files as well as the human intelligence to reporters and TV crews of the International group on anybody of interest. From Prime Ministers to murder victims, if it was in an electronic form or on the airwaves and they wanted it, they had everything they needed at their disposal right here in these rooms to gather it. For several years, they built this capability with state of the art equipment and employed the best in the business to run it.

That was until public scrutiny began to examine how media organisations, particularly the International Group, obtained their information.

The scrutiny their methods were now receiving made it necessary for Dandelion to be able to deny all knowledge of his enterprise. Therefore, as of two years ago, to all intents and purposes Jonathan and the group were no longer employed by the International Group although, in reality, they continued with their work from the same office space, just as they had done before. The costs of the project, including all the wages, had gone down in the International’s budget as entertainment, which in some sense of the word it was. It certainly entertained the general public, every day.

Really, they had been too good at their job, and the International Group was now under intense investigation. For years, the International’s editions published story after story, exposing which footballer had yet again been caught with his pants down, which public officials had been taking bribes, which pop star had been caught taking drugs or caught soliciting for sex in public toilets or which actress had confided intimate sexual details to a friend. Many complained about the International’s tactics, but all too often, these complaints fell on deaf ears.

Then, two years ago, official complaints were made by Buckingham Palace. It was claimed that stories containing private conversations between Prince William and his girlfriend, and between him and his brother Prince Harry, had been published by the International. The content of these conversations could only have been known through the interception of their texts. The police had no choice but to investigate these claims. So far only one reporter had been charged and convicted, but that was about to change.

The police investigations revealed the editor at the royal desk had intercepted these messages with the help of a private investigator; both were prosecuted and eventually jailed. Or that was the official story. In truth, the information had been supplied by Jonathan and his group. The private investigator had been implicated by Jonathan hacking into his computer and planting incriminating evidence for the police to find. Both the editor and the investigator were paid handsomely by Dandelion for their silence.

For a year or so, with the help of certain police officers, that ruse had held. But politicians, footballers and show business celebrities began to make claims that they had been targeted by eavesdroppers. That their phones were being bugged and their texts intercepted, as stories appeared about them in the International’s papers and news channels. The police investigation resumed, and a government appointed committee had been formed to investigate the claims.

Jonathan was aware of the investigations, and that the committee appointed by the Prime Minister would soon be calling the owner of the International Group, Dandelion, or Dandy as they all called him behind his back, to testify. Naturally, Dandelion was also aware of this, and decided it would be wise to cover the tracks.

The Surveillance Group, as he called them, and all their equipment needed to be removed from the International Building. He instructed the only two others that actually knew of the project, his two vice presidents; print and electronic media, who had disseminated the information throughout his news network, to get the Surveillance Group dismantled and covered up.

Although many at the International knew the information from texts and e-mails were being collected, none knew the specific details or the extent of it, other than nine of them. Those were the six members of the Surveillance Group, Carl and Fred, who looked after the physical surveillance, the eyes on stuff, and the three electronics experts, Jonathan and Dandelion of course, along with his two VPs.

The members of the Surveillance Group were given exceedingly generous bonuses, told their services were no longer required, and that they had two weeks to get out of the building. This was nearly two weeks ago, and today they were packing up the last of their equipment.

The fact that Dandelion wanted to distance himself from their operation came as no surprise to Jonathan. He had always suspected that there was a finite time limit on how long they could remain secreted away within a news group before drawing attention to themselves. But more importantly, he had for some time wanted to expand their enterprise, and herein came the opportunity. Thus far, whilst based at the International, he had been unable to do that for other than his single very private group of clients, and this was the perfect opportunity. He had already acquired the premises that they needed; all their equipment was being packed away, ready to be moved through a series of cut-outs so it couldn’t be traced. It would be installed not five miles away from the present location.

Once the installation was complete, in about a week, he would be ready to begin again, but this time their endeavours would be far more profitable. Blackmail and corporate espionage paid much better than news stories. Perhaps his last voyage into that field hadn’t gone exactly as planned, but he had got the girl into the Treasury Secretary’s bed, and he had got the photos he wanted. If the stupid man hadn’t screamed the place down, it all would have gone as planned. He would have kept the evidence to himself and his clients. It was a shame about Rosie, but now she couldn’t say anything to incriminate him and there were plenty more around like her.

As Jonathan and his team packed away the remainder of their equipment, the rest of the International Media Group were experiencing an unusually busy news day. On top of the drama occurring around Alex Great, another demonstration had erupted. This one, an impromptu affair, was likely to have the same side effects as the other demonstrations earlier in the year.

Certain groups were hijacking the demonstrations to further their own ends. Their goals had not been revealed, but their methods were clear. Small bands were using the peaceful demonstrations to conduct riots and lootings in several large cities around the UK, whilst the police were distracted at the demonstrations.

It was also the first day of the committee hearing, with Dandelion the first to be brought before them. With this flurry of activity in the news rooms, nobody would notice what was going on in their remote corner of the International building.

Before Jonathan had his team up and running in their new offices, he had two problems to deal with. His private clients wouldn’t be happy with the way the business with the Secretary of the Treasury had turned out. He had received an e-mail from them, saying that they would be back in London in a few days and wanted to have a meeting. Then there was a problem of a more private nature to deal with: his wife.

Chapter Three

“Will there be any other guests accompanying us today, sir?” She said with her radiant smile.

“No,” he replied, “Just get this thing off the ground and bring me some coffee”.

The stewardess hoped that coffee would be all he wanted on this flight to London today; some of his demands on previous flights that the agency has sent her on, had been far more onerous.

With all that he had achieved, one would have expected Dandelion to be a happy man; today, he wasn’t. Within minutes of him settling into his seat, the G5 took off. The wheels left the tarmac and rotated into their bays, his coffee arrived and he began ranting to himself.

“How dare they summon me like this? It was me who put them into power in the first place. If I hadn’t shifted my support from the Labour Party to the Conservatives four weeks before the election, Labour would still be in power, and the Conservatives would still be the opposition. Perhaps some compromises had to be made, but that‘s no reason to humiliate me like this.”

In Dandelion’s opinion, the compromises were the real reason he was being summoned to the House of Commons, to be grilled by this damnable Robertson Inquiry committee.

“Blain should be kissing my arse, not humiliating me; it was Blain’s policies that were in place, not that of Labour or the bloody Liberal Democrats.”

Dandelion knew the Robertson Inquiry was toothless, nothing more than a political manoeuvre so he would deny all knowledge, keep it limited to a rogue reporter, and it would all blow over. But the audacity of having called him in to testify would be remembered, along with those who had done it.

“They will pay for this, every one of them.”

Dandelion had been in the news business all his working life. At the age of 16, he joined his uncle’s newspaper. He had worked his way up through assistant editor to where he was now, the sole owner of one of the largest and probably most powerful media companies, and had built this empire on the knowledge that information and how it was disseminated or not, was the key to everything. Any slant could be put on any story and made to convey precisely what you wanted it to.

“Sir, would you like some more coffee?”

Disturbed from his thoughts by the stewardess, Dandelion noted that he had already been in the air for over three hours.

“No. What do you want? Leave me alone, can’t you see I’m busy?”

Dandelion settled back into his plush leather seat of his G5, contemplating the questions he would be asked by the inquiry panel and the answers he would give, but events upon the ground in London were taking a turn that even he could never have anticipated.

Over the past year, there had been four large demonstrations and numerous smaller ones across the UK, many of which had turned into riots. The reasons for the peaceful strikes and demonstrations were multi-faceted; much of the dissent had been in response to the present government’s policies of fiscal control. There was hardly a segment of the population that hadn’t been adversely affected and wasn’t extremely unhappy with what the Government was doing, and yet more segments of society that would take full advantage of the fire that was beginning to rage amongst the populace. For each peaceful demonstrator, another had joined in, and some were simply looking for either the short term gain they could achieve by looting shops or for the enjoyment they seemed to derive from it, but there were others that were far more organised.

The demonstrations and particularly, the riots, created great headline for Dandelion’s media companies, but it was also creating problems, one of which was about to get right into his face. About half an hour out from Heathrow, his musings were again interrupted by the stewardess,

 “Excuse me, sir, but we are half an hour out of Heathrow and the pilot asked me to tell you that there is a demonstration happening in the centre of London, around Oxford Street. He says it shouldn’t affect your drive in, but he wanted you to know.”

“The shooting, no doubt.”

“Yes sir, more of what happened yesterday.”

Unperturbed by this news, he decided it was time to get ready for the hearing, due to take place at the Palace of Westminster in two hours or so. He was exiting the bathroom just as the stewardess announced they were landing. Within ten minutes of touching down, he was exiting his private jet past the smiling stewardess.

Thank you, God, for getting me through another flight with him without him touching me, and I hope he runs straight into the riots.

Minutes later, Dandelion was in his limo, passing through security gates at the airport and toward the M5. Near the M5 approach road, the driver said through the intercom:

“Sir, the demonstration has escalated into a riot and has spread through the centre of London, toward Piccadilly and Green Park. I have the radio on, sir, do you want to listen?”

“No, I don’t, just don’t get stuck in traffic.”

The day before, after the shooting of the young man, several small, seemingly insignificant incidents happened around the UK, all of which petered out quite quickly. But that morning, following the start of the demonstration at Broad Water Farm, they took hold again, all in the form of looting. Not in the immediate areas of the day before where the police still had a large presence, but a few miles down the road.

This feat of instant and secure communications had taken a lot to achieve but had worked spectacularly, both in its reaction to the first event of the killing and then anticipating the events that would follow. Those that had achieved this act now had control of large bunches of mostly men but quite a few women as well, from no particular affiliation, which could be organised into a mindless horde, intent on larceny and destruction and with only a few hours’ notice.

One such element had been sent to Oxford Street, the shopping heart of London’s West End, believing it would make an excellent target. They worked on the knowledge that there would be large numbers of police required at Broad Water Farm, thus depleting the West End of London. Their game plan was to split the several large groups along the route that they intended to loot.

Groups of up to a dozen strong gang members, all wearing dark clothing with their faces covered in ski masks and armed with pepper spray and baseball bats, stormed into shops and department stores. What appeared random on the surface was far from that; each store had been identified in advance, and each group had been supplied with a sketch of the positions of the tills and counters, displaying goods they were targeting.

As the gangs entered each store, the first reaction of shoppers and the staff was that of incredulity, but that quickly changed to panic as shop employees were savagely beaten to open their tills, display counters smashed with baseball bats with their contents shovelled into bags and any that the gang encountered were sprayed with pepper spray.

“Two minutes, one minute, thirty. One minute, thirty seconds. Go.”

Working with military-like precession, two of the gang members remained by the main doors through which they entered, one of whom held a stopwatch shouting out to the others what remained of the time each store had been allotted. The other sprayed any shopper or store employee that came near with pepper spray, forcing shoppers toward the back of the shop rather than blocking the entrance and the gang’s means of escape.

Within thirty seconds, they were gone, and on to the next set of targets. Within another thirty, the panicked shoppers who had for the most part kept relatively quiet during the robbery, huddled in the back, now ran for the exit. As they did so, display stands of goods were knocked over, glass cabinets broken, and the shops’ remaining merchandise spread all over the floor.

As the rest followed the initial exodus, some slipped on the glass or fell as their feet became entangled by clothes on the floor, and were then being trampled by others still trying to escape the chaos.

Within five minutes of the start of each robbery, each store was almost deserted. Of those that remained inside most were injured in the flight, some remained to help the injured but most now milled about in the streets, in shock. The buses and taxis that were allowed to drive along this stretch of Oxford Street were soon brought to a standstill, blocking the roads and any immediate possible police response.

This tsunami of destruction rolled along Oxford Street and down Regent Street before turning right along Piccadilly, allowing fresh rioters to enter the fray from the Mayfair direction, where they had initially gathered. As fresh rioters joined in, others left with their spoils moving toward the Strand and the Embankment and to the minibuses that had been laid on to aid their escape.

The entire process had taken this particular crew only ninety minutes from the start of the looting spree in Oxford Street, where they hit a high-end jeweller, the first of many stores robbed that day, to sitting on a minibus. The minibus, driven by the leader, had picked them up on the Mall. They were now nearly over the river and into South London. Home was no more than an hour away.

“Joe, come here; have a look what Simon has.”

“Yeah, that jewellery store we hit first was the best of the lot, thanks Mr. Wayne or whatever it was. You two must have got something good, let’s have a look?”

“No! You keep your hands to yourself.”

“Fucking shut up, you lot, there’s flashing blue lights on the bridge. I ain’t going that way. I’m going straight on, Lambeth Bridge it is boys.”

The driver of the minibus accelerated through the junction and looked left over his shoulder toward the police car stationary on the bridge, and crashed straight into the back of Dandelion’s limo as it slowed to go through St Stevens Gate and into the Houses Of Parliament on his way to sit before the inquiry.

The impact spun the limo. As the back end came around it clipped a man, Charlie Parker, who was just passing St Stevens Gate to access the pedestrian gate a few metres further along. Flinging him through the air to collide with one of the concrete barriers, the car completed a 360, coming to rest a few feet from Charlie. The minibus, now stationary at an acute angle over the two carriageways of St Margaret’s, its bonnet knocked open during the impact and now clouds of steam erupted from under it, hissing as it escaped.

The young men, who a few minutes before were jubilant, already taking stock of their stolen goods and estimating what they would fetch once they got home, now exited the bus like a pack of rabid dogs, on the hunt for whomever they could take vengeance on.

The first six, spotting the driver’s door of the limo open, charged toward it, screaming. They grabbed the driver, dragged him out of the car and knocked him to the ground, raining in kicks and punches. The driver never had a chance. Within two minutes, he was unconscious, and from this he would never regain.

As the six men put in the last of their kicks to the driver’s limp body, the remainder were exiting the bus. Some bleeding from head wounds gained in the crash; they looked about for others to punish. Spying Dandelion in the rear of the limo, they moved toward the right hand side rear door.

Fortunately for Dandelion, the spin the limo took during the collision had pushed both the front and rear against the concrete bollards, blocking off the left hand side passenger door. That forced the men to try to drag Dandelion out of the car to the right and over the vacant rear passenger seat.

Hauling the door open, one of the men dived into the back seat, punching Dandelion in the face as he grabbed his collar to pull him out of the car. Just as a shocked and now panicking Dandelion felt himself being dragged out of the car, the man stopped and jumped back out, hearing his friend’s shouts.

“Police! Run!”

As the man stood up he saw several officers from the Palace of Westminster division of the Met that were trapped by the car at the gates, begin to climb over the back of the limo. Conscious that it is now time to leave, he began to run toward Abingdon St Gardens after his accomplices.

As he came level with the front of the car, he saw Charlie who was trying to make it up onto his knees. Sidestepping left the man attempted to kick Charlie, aiming at his head with all his might. At the last second, Charlie looked up, saw the man coming at him and dived to the right with the man’s lower leg and foot hitting his chest and shoulder.

Instead of Charlie’s head snapping back with the kick and allowing him to keep on running, the impact found him tumbling over Charlie, to collide head first into one of the concrete barriers. That was enough to stun him, but he was soon rising to his feet, alternating between looking at Charlie and at his avenue of escape.

Before he had time to make up his mind whether to kill the old fool or run, he was tackled by three officers and once more knocked to the ground. This time with two large policemen sitting on his back and the third fitting him to handcuffs.

Within minutes, more police arrived, then the ambulances. As the paramedics attended the driver and Charlie, police officers helped Dandelion from the car. Because of the confines of the back of it, even a limo, it is not easy to get a powerful punch in. As a result, although Dandelion’s face was going to swell, there was no real physical damage, but he was certainly in shock.

The unconscious driver was rushed to the hospital, but would never regain consciousness. Apart from several broken bones, he had massive internal injuries and was pronounced dead upon reaching hospital.

Another team of paramedics worked on Charlie. In reality he had been lucky with the car, it had spun from the collision to the rear and had only clipped Charlie’s right calf, removing large chunks of skin but not breaking anything. The impact with the concrete barrier had broken several ribs and severely concussed him, but his worst injury had come from the kick, which had shattered his collar bone. If that had connected with his head as intended, his neck would surely have been broken.

The inevitable media crews arrived very quickly, having already been present in the vicinity as they normally were during the days when something was going down at the palace.

So they were in plenty of time to capture footage of Charlie and the driver being put into ambulances, the arrested man put into the back of a police car, and Dandelion helped through the adjacent gate, as St Stevens was still being blocked by the limo. They took their cameras into the wrecked minibus, revealing most of the stolen goods strewn over the floor. It didn’t take them long to piece the visible facts together and begin broadcasting the story live from outside the Houses of Parliament.

No one was certain, but there seemed to be about a dozen men in the minibus at the time of the accident. All had made their escape before the police officers could get to them with the exception of the man arrested after kicking Charlie. This man would eventually provide limited information to the police, in that his crew had received messages over the Blackberry Messenger service early that morning, directing them to Mayfair and Hyde Park where they would assemble before the riot and looting spree. He told them that they had been given specific targets to hit and had also been supplied with the minibus to make good their escape. Although he didn’t know whom these instructions and arrangements had come from, he did supply the names of four of his companions who would eventually be arrested.

Over the next few days, several more would be arrested, some charged with the murder of the driver and others with a variety of offences. Their identities would come to light after the police appealed for videos taken by the public witnessing the events that day, many of which were appearing on social networking sites, only minutes after each incident.

Officers of the Palace Division had helped Dandelion out of the battered limo, who despite his ordeal and bruised face was keen to get away from the spectacle. Media may have been the backbone of his business empire, but he didn’t like being under the spotlight of it, particularly now as he was being dragged in front of a committee investigating his misdoings. With two officers guiding him, Dandelion was soon through the pedestrian gate into the courtyard in front of the palace. They left him with a paramedic, saying that they would soon return for his statement.

The paramedic examined him and after a minute or two, said:

“You may have a mild concussion; I’d suggest you go to a hospital, so they can have a better look at you and do something for that bruising.”

Dandelion, forever the strategist, decided that he could get mileage from the incident. Firstly, he wanted to get the testimony over with, and secondly, realising that should he say something now which was later contradicted, he could blame the concussion for his mistake.

“I think I will be okay. I really don’t want to be late. I will be fine for now, and perhaps go later.”

Dandelion turned, and before hurrying off, added:

“I know the way; I will be fine. Could you tell the officers I’ve gone to the Chambers? If they return, that is.”

He was gone before the officers could return and delay him further.

The ambulance carrying Charlie arrived at St Thomas hospital some ten minutes after the one carrying the driver, and Charlie was quickly ushered through for treatment.

It was not many minutes later that TV crews began to arrive, although they hadn’t actually witnessed the crash, only the following mayhem. They had pieced a story together of how a long term employee at the palace and former paratrooper Charlie had foiled a murderous attack on Dandelion, receiving severe wounds in the process.

The story, being broadcast live from outside the hospital, went on to describe the hero, Charlie. He was employed as chief engineer at the palace and was on his way into work as the incident unfolded around him. And, how he intervened as men intent on killing Dandelion were dragging him from the car.

They hadn’t actually gotten the facts right, not mentioning that he was first knocked down by Dandelion’s limo, but that didn’t seem to matter. They had a terrific story here and would milk every ounce from it. It wouldn’t be until the next day the whole story would become clear.

Charlie had, in fact, had been the chief engineer at the palace for over 20 years, until two years ago, and was about to retire at the end of next year. He had loved his job keeping everything running there. He knew more about the building than anyone else alive, and because of that he had been kept on to assist and familiarise the new contractors with the vast building.

Up until that point, all maintenance work had been carried out in-house. Then some bright spark within the government had an idea. That, as the palace was an asset to the country, bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, why not expand on that concept and open up areas within the palace as hireable function rooms, to offset the running costs?

As this was a departure from how the palace had been used and run for hundreds of years, the PM had decided that this service should be independently run. The reason given for this was that the company, who would take on this contract, would pay for the refurbishment themselves, which was estimated at running into millions.

On the surface, this seemed like a sensible suggestion. In reality, it was just another political stunt. The company awarded with the contract expected to make a great deal of money out of it, and just happened to be owned by a businessman who had contributed a large sum of money to the Conservative Party. It was nothing more than the privatisation of another economic asset, just as profitable sections of the NHS were being privatised.

Charlie was now little more than a guide to these new contractors, but he did know far more about the building than anyone else. Still, Charlie had a job and was thankful for that, which was more than could be said for the majority that had looked after the building up until that point. Most of them had lost their jobs in the government’s cost-cutting measures and the awarding of these new contracts.

Although Charlie was relegated to a guide and wasn’t particularly friendly with the contractors who tended to keep to themselves, he couldn’t complain about the work that was getting done. It was all of the highest quality, many of the antiquated systems had been upgraded or totally replaced, with each discipline having its own workshops in the cavernous underground bowels of the building.

As these events were being televised around the world, two men sitting in Charles De Gaulle Airport on the outskirts of Paris were paying particular attention. They were immediately responsible for many of the organised elements of the riots, and were extremely happy with most of the results.

The fact that some of the attention surrounded the Palace of Westminster had them a little concerned. Nevertheless, the majority of the news centred upon the riots, particularly those happening in the West End of London, and with that they couldn’t be more pleased.

Chapter Four

“No, don’t do that,” came the voice through the fog, and a little later, “No, leave that alone.”

As his senses gradually returned, Adam felt the mask being removed and his drugged stupor gradually subsiding. His first coherent thoughts were how much he hated coming out of a general anaesthetic, unable to think clearly, unable to move. He really ought to make sure this was the last time. He has been in this situation far too often for such a fit young man, with the vast majority of the occasions of his own making.

The problem had started early, or at least made itself known early the previous evening. As he walked off the pitch after a two hour training session, the pain was already creeping up his abdomen, which was really nothing unusual. The core sessions he did as part of his daily workout routine in the gym always left him a little, sore as they should. No Pain, No Gain being the gym rats’ universal by-line. On top of that, his brother Dan always managed to get some decent punches into his ribs during their rucks and mauls, so he thought nothing of it.

That evening’s events went on much as usual. After they had showered and removed the mud, it was down to the Barbican. The Barbican, the hub of the entertainment area of Plymouth was always busy during the summer months with its numerous pubs and restaurants along the harbour walls, perhaps too busy for hungry, thirsty rugby players after training. But winter was perfect: plenty of space for something to eat and a couple of beers with the squad.

The brothers had almost been inseparable since Adam’s return to England a few months earlier. Dan had convinced the head coach at Albion that he would recover from his knee injury that had plagued him for the last year far quicker, if Adam was allowed to train with them. Nobody ever said no to Dan; his nickname was Bear, but it wasn’t just the 120 kilos of muscle which was daunting in itself. He had a way of charming everyone around him and always got his own way. Ever since he was a baby, all he had to do was look at you with his big brown eyes and that cheeky grin, to get exactly what he wanted or get away with whatever he had done this time. One look and girls lost their knickers in every country he had played in during his international career as a wing forward for England; at home in Plymouth he was legendary.

Adam hadn’t initially been sure that training with Albion would be a smart idea, but had allowed himself to be talked into it. It wasn’t that he too hadn’t been a very talented rugby player, but he hadn’t played seriously for several years since the boys were at university together. And then it hadn’t been with a Premiership winning team. As a ninety kilo winger, having a pack of forwards topping a thousand kilos running at you was a daunting experience.

The boys, or men as they were by now, were the product of an English father and a Singaporean mother. Nobody was sure where the size came from. Many of the couples’ friends joked that they must have uncommonly large milkmen in Singapore. Their mother was tiny, with classic South-East Asian looks which the boys had inherited; their father a marine biologist, by no means small, had topped out at a fraction under 6 foot. And had been exceptionally fit until the day that bomb took both their lives.

Ironically, it was the terrorist bombings in Bali where they lived until the boys’ early teens that had brought them back to the UK, only for their parents to get on a tube train in London a few years later and run into another suicide bomber.

Dan’s team mates at Albion had heard all about his brother. In fact, he was famous for his exploits throughout the local rugby community, mostly through Dan’s tales. So he was very welcome within the group both on and off the pitch, and constantly harassed for more stories. A particular favourite was one of Jamaica.

Dan had gone to Jamaica to visit Adam, and after a nights’ drinking at Pier One, Adam had suggested they go and score some weed from some friends of his that lived on a beach in a ramshackle hotel beside the airport.

It was situated just outside Montego Bay, on an old road that was no longer used since the building of a new one at the other side of the airport. After being dropped off by a bewildered taxi driver, who had tried to tell them the place was closed, Dan was led along the beach to a series of tented cabanas.

It was a classic Jamaican evening with a light breeze blowing off the sea; the enormous full moon hanging so low in the sky it appeared to touch the water, with the sound of waves gently breaking over the white sand beach. A setting from paradise, with a surprise Dan was not expecting.

As they got closer, they could hear voices and music playing softly. Pulling the billowing curtains aside, Adam ushered Dan through to where he witnessed four stunning girls, three dark skinned and the fourth fair with long blonde hair. The girls, upon seeing Adam, rushed forward to plaster him with kisses.

What Adam hadn’t told his brother was that his friends, these four girls, were the most exclusive escorts in Jamaica. They had bought this place as their private retreat when it had closed down as a place to relax and meet with friends when they weren’t out working. Adam, being a good friend of the girls, regularly visited them after a night’s partying in Montego Bay. He had told them of his brother’s forthcoming visit, prearranging the evening many days before.

Dan could never remember if he was given their names or not. He did remember being led away by two of the girls, the leggy blonde, and a small exquisite dark skinned girl, to a more secluded part of the cabana arrangement, which he realised at some point during the night was made from parachutes.

The brothers spent the rest of the night there, eventually kissing their goodbyes as the sun rose, to head off for an ackee and salt fish breakfast. Of course, nobody ever believed this story; nevertheless it was greatly enjoyed by all the players with frequent requests for retelling by those that hadn’t heard it firsthand.

Part way through the second beer that evening, Adam decided to go home. By then they had the company of several pretty girls, but he wasn’t interested. In fact, he had recently met a girl whom he was very interested in. And his abs were seriously hurting by now, so it really was time to go home. Bidding goodnight to his brother, he got a cab and headed home.

They lived together in a house in Wembury, a couple of miles from Plymouth, which their parents had left them. His dad had built it years before, just outside the village, on the headland overlooking the sea.

So typical of his dad, it wasn’t quite finished, and the brothers had left it that way. Not through being lazy or lack of money, neither of the boys had to work, the IP’s their dad had created left them very well off. But this way, it reminded them of their dad.

The house was a large, modern-looking structure with full height windows on both floors and a terrace on the first floor extending the full width of the house. With its unfinished garages and workshops behind, the house sat alone on the rocky headland with breathtaking views out to sea and across Wembury Bay itself.

As the taxi approached the house, the first signs of the coming storm were in the air. Lightning flickered out to sea. The trees beside the unfinished workshop swayed in the wind, their overgrown branches scraping along the roof.

The weather reflected the general talk that winter, which was gloomy, of a severe cold winter ahead, stock market declines, unemployment, the looming general strike and a triple-dip recession in the air. It was all the news channels talked about at the moment.

Getting out of the cab, Adam walked around to the front of the house, noticing the gravel drive already covered in dead leaves from the early autumn. His mood was dropping. Thinking of his dad, Adam sat on a bench beside the porch, looking out over the leaden grey sea, the crest of the waves flecked in white, illuminated by the lightning as they broke upon the rocky shore. The storm was going to be a big one; rain was coming in at 45 degrees already, and the wind was picking up.

Despite that it had been many years since his parents had been murdered by a suicide bomber, he still thought about his father a great deal. In good moods, which they were for the most part, his thoughts were about all the good times.

Although his father was a workaholic, they had spent a lot of time together. He coached their rugby team, taught them to dive and to sail when they were still young boys living in Bali, as well as talking about his work and beliefs in a more sustainable future. His passions, particularly in the oceans, had rubbed off on Adam.

In his darker moods, as he was by now, he thought how things would have been different if his dad hadn’t gone to London that day. If he hadn’t got on that tube to go to the conference, or if he hadn’t on this very rare occasion taken the boys’ mother with him, with a promise of a shopping trip after his presentation.

Up until that fateful day, things had been very different. He had been due to go to the University of Bath that September to study marine biology or, more importantly to him, to play rugby. He and his brother were in the West England Rugby Academy; both were destined for exceptional rugby careers. Dan had achieved his, although his present knee injury had plagued him for the last year. He was now finally on the mend and set to reclaim his No 6 England shirt.

Adam had not. Not that he regretted his choices at all, but instead of going to Bath University, he was too distraught about the death of his parents at the hands of a terrorist who neither knew nor cared whom they were. Desperate for some sort of payback, Adam had joined the Naval Intelligence Services.

He may not have regretted this choice. Like his dad he knew there was no point in that, you learn from it and move on, but he did realize what a stupid decision it was. Adam was not well suited for an army career, being extremely opinionated and possessing a big mouth that he could never learn to keep shut. He got himself into trouble at every turn. Not that, at times, he hadn’t enjoyed some of it. He’d made lifelong friends and perhaps enemies, and learnt skills that at that moment, he never thought he would need again. After six years, he left, knowing how pissed his dad would have been with him for wasting his talents, and he reapplied to Bath.

As luck would have it, his brother was also still at Bath University, finishing a Master’s in marine engineering. Not that he had been captured by the marine bug of his dad, but he was smart enough to know that even if he did earn a place as a professional rugby player, an education was still important; an injury could end his career in seconds.

Adam, his mood lightening a little, with memories of the two of them terrorising Bath for that year, went into the house. Dropping his soaking wet clothes on the hallway floor, he grabbed himself a protein shake and a handful of pain killers, stuck his feet up on the couch and clicked on the TV.

The lounge was warm as it always was in winter; a large room with little clusters of seating areas, the main one beside the fire where Adam now sat. The blinds to the full-height windows remained open and the lightning out to sea briefly illuminated the darkened room, with its intense flashes of cold blue light.

By midnight, the pain had eased slightly. Dan still wasn’t home, which wasn’t unusual; he’d probably turn up in the morning and be rather worse for wear. Adam decided bed was the best option; maybe sleep would help, not that he slept at all in the end. The pain in his abs got worse.

What have I broken this time and God, why did I let Dan talk me into training with them.

And the pain rose in waves.

No, this can’t be right, I need to do something about it now.

Deciding to take the Pajero, as it was the most comfortable to drive and as it was an automatic, he reckoned that he could manage to drive it despite his present doubled up stature. He pulled on a reasonably clean set of trackies and a hoodie, and made his way gingerly down the stairs, making judicious use of the banister for support. He paused at the door.

Maybe I should call an ambulance.

Those 20 metres to the car and the 8 mile drive to the hospital were not enticing, but the alternative! Call an ambulance, wait for an hour, get to the hospital and then get sent home with bruised ribs. No, his brother would never forget that, nor would any of the Albion players, and Dan was sure to tell them all about it. They would all have a field day rubbing that in.

Once in the car the plan seemed achievable. By leaning forward, the pain seemed to subside enough to be able to drive. Fortunately, the traffic was light, but arriving at the hospital Adam discovered the holes in his plan. The trackies he was wearing had no money in them, nor did there seem to be any change in the car for parking in the usual places he kept it.

After a once around the car park closest to the A&E, only to discover no empty spaces, there seemed to be only one thing to do, dump the car by the fence. If he got onto the grass, it wouldn’t block anyone in. Yes, he would get tickets, but they wouldn’t be able to tow it from there. So, in the words of the numerous coaches he had throughout the years, it was time to “suck it up and get on with it”.

 Later, in recollection, this was going to seem very funny, not that it was at the time.

 Open the door, swing out your legs, fall over, grab the fence, pull yourself up and use it as support as far as the crossing. 20 metres to go, hobble over the road, 10 metres to go and make the door. Done, now it should be easy.

Chapter Five

Having navigated the car park, Adam then pushed his way through the two sets of double doors and all but fell through the last.

A queue, now that was to be expected, but there were only two people in it. The first was already at the counter, and the other a policewoman. He had obviously attracted her attention as he stumbled through the door. She looked him up and down for a minute or two, obviously deciding he wasn’t deranged and likely to run amuck in the hospital. She spoke in the usual authoritarian manner that all policewomen seem to have.

“You look as if you’re in pain. Why don’t you sit down?”

“Yes, I am in a lot of pain, but if I sit down, I doubt I would be able to stand up again,” Adam said as he leaned on the wall for support.

At this, she turned her back, moved as if to guard her place in the queue, waiting for a few minutes until the receptionist beckoned her forward. Just as she approached the desk, her phone rang, which she proceeded to take out and answer, indicating to the receptionist to wait by holding up her hand.

After a minute or so of conversation, to what was obviously a female friend, she finished the call, walking up to the counter to proclaim that she had come to pick up a sling for her son’s arm. By this time, several of the patients sitting in the waiting area who had heard the original exchange between her and Adam were giving her really dirty looks.

Had this been any of the other numerous occasions that Adam was in this A&E, he most certainly would have told her what he thought, but this morning he hurt far too much. Fortunately, by now the receptionist had also heard the exchange as well as the comments and gestures being made by others in the waiting room.

“Would you mind waiting over there, please? I think the patient behind you needs to be taken care of first.”

“But I was here first. I’m in a hurry and need to get back to work.”

The receptionist ignored the policewoman and waved her out of the way, much to the amusement of those sitting in the waiting area, and beckoned Adam forward. The receptionist asked him what the problem was and after a few seconds, picked up the phone to call for a nurse and wheelchair. Much to his relief, as by this time another step would have been the last. The nurse pushed him past the policewoman, whose face was now a vivid shade of scarlet. She was clearly very embarrassed.

Once secreted away behind a closed curtain, the nurse produced a paper gown.

“Could you put this on, please?”

Adam attempted to stand but didn’t get far; his arse lifted an inch or two from the wheelchair and slumped back in agony.

“Here, let me help you.”

The nurse helped Adam up and pulled off his hoodie, then pushed down his trackies, managing deftly to keep his boxers in place. As she did so, she tried not to smile and think about the body she was revealing.

Shame I’m undressing him here. No, bad girl, stop that. But what would I love to do to that body.

She helped him slide his right then left arm into the gown, and then manoeuvred him over to the bed.

“Sit down, and I will help you swing your legs around.”

With Adam lying on the bed, she slipped her arms around him and under the paper gown, and removed his boxers. Trying to regain her composure and get her mind on the job at hand and not think what she would rather be doing with her hands, her mouth.

Stop it!

The nurse wiped the sweat from her brow; she began to examine him, whilst listening to his explanation of the pain and prodding his abdomen through the gown.

“Does this hurt?”

“Uh, yes, rather a lot.”

Oh God. I like his body, that’s not a six pack; it’s an eight pack I can feel under there. I wonder how many times a week he works out.

“I think you have a ruptured appendix,” she said as she stoked his abs subconsciously “And I need to get one of the doctors to see you now.”

She picked up Adam’s discarded clothes and put them on the chair.Adam’s car keys clattered to the floor.

“Shit! I am going to get so many tickets” Adam said to the nurse, as she put the keys back in one of his pockets before hurrying off to get the doctor.

A doctor arrived and things went from there as they usually do: needles, pressure cuffs and blipping monitors. One of those needles, thankfully enough, was connected to a syringe and a dose of morphine.

The Conservative Party might well have been castrating the NHS, but Adam certainly hadn’t any complaints. He was visited within an hour by the surgeon and his gang and told that they would be removing his appendix, that he was at the front of the list and would be in theatre as soon as they had finished the kidney transplant that they were about to perform. That was followed soon after by another shot of morphine that had Adam feeling much better. Even to the extent that at one point, he asked if he might go outside for a while.

He knew there was half a joint in the ash tray of the car which he had spied earlier and, in his drugged-up stupor, this seemed like a sound plan to him. Not as much so to the rather annoyed nurse.

“No, of course you can’t do that, and anyway, you are about to have several holes made in you. If I were you, I would try to go to sleep for a while.” She replied, rather more sternly than she meant to compensate for the lust she was actually feeling.

This he promptly proceeded to do, or was in the process of doing so, as orderlies arrived to whisk him off to the men in gowns. Adam later would tell that it seemed like a very expedient service: in, out, stitched up, a vague recollection of being in a recovery room and then waking up to somebody’s bloody mobile ringing.

What time is it? Don’t know. It’s still dark! Why can’t I move? My legs are all tangled up! Shit, where’s the damn call button? Don’t know, it’s dark!

The ringing had now gone from intermittent, waking him every 10 minutes or so, to constant.

That is the strangest ring tone I have ever heard. Ah! Ring tone that gives me an idea.

If he could find his trackies, which in theory should be on a seat beside the bed, he could then find his mobile phone. Which should again, in theory, give him enough light to see the call button. If not, bung a pillow at the offending phone owner.

The first part of the plan went quite well and indeed the trackies were on the chair, which he found remarkably quickly in the dark, and unable to move anything below his belly. The mobile was in his pocket too, as he had hoped.

The next bit didn’t come along quite as planned. The meagre illumination the mobile provided was enough to see the edges of the bed and a table beside it, on which was a paper piss bottle and some paper bowls, presumably for something else.

He could turn enough to see the chair with the remainder of his clothes at one side and a little cabinet at the other, but no call button. Attached to the rail running along the side of the bed were two plastic bags, both with a smattering of something that looked like cat’s vomit inside them. They had tubes attached to them, which ran underneath the blanket which was wrapped tightly around him.

He wondered where the other ends of the tubes went.

That might explain the pain when I move.

The rest of the plan wasn’t so hot either. A curtain surrounded the bed preventing him flinging a pillow, not that he thought he would get it very far anyway. The phone was still ringing or beeping or whatever. And whoever it was kept on ringing back, or so it seemed in the aftermath of a general anaesthetic and morphine.

The offending noise was actually not that of a mobile, but an alarm on one of the many instruments attached to the patient opposite. He, as Adam discovered later, was not well at all, making him feel rather guilty for his thoughts at that time.

But now a more pressing issue had to come to hand, or rather to his bladder. He really did need a piss.

The question was: should he wait until a nurse turned up and help him unwrap himself, but by then would be so desperate he would end up pissing everywhere or should he do it himself? Really there was no option. He gradually managed to un-wrap the blanket from around his torso and thighs, leaving his lower legs and feet entangled to reveal a very fashionable paper gown, which naturally was fastened at the back.

God, I hate these things, why are they tied down the back?

After a great deal of messing around in the dark, he eventfully reached over for the piss bottle, which wasn’t actually made of paper, but more of a cardboard. But now came the tricky bit, getting the neck of that bottle between his legs into the hole in his boxers, around his dick and pee, without wetting himself.

He did think later that it was a shame that there wasn’t a camera recording the scene. The tape would have made for some very funny viewing and a number one You Tube video. Eventually, he did get his dick into the bottle in time and was mighty relieved to empty his bladder and get the bottle back on the table, with all but a small fraction of his urine in it. He had found out it is really hard to shake when inside a piss bottle.

Adam was wondering what to do about the incessant noise coming from across the ward, when he heard a door opening and in came a nurse. At least now he could go back to sleep, but no such luck, and, after 20 minutes of footfalls, the lights came on.

It was about half an hour later before the curtains around his bed finally opened, during which time he had a good look around and took stock of the state he was in. The tubes from the bags did seem to enter him, as just above his groin was a large plaster into which the tubes disappeared and above that seemed to be dollops of superglue, which in fact it was. His navel was covered in a large blob of it, as well as patches of glue lower down.

Enquiring later from a nurse, he was told that they go in through the navel with a thing to cut and remove the appendix, with a camera and manipulator arm stuck through the holes to the left: keyhole surgery apparently, and then stick it back together with superglue. He still had his feet wrapped in the blanket and only the remnants of the paper gown, but he did have his boxers on which were more or less covering him up.

So, when the nurse finally did open the curtains, the choice words that were going through his head wouldn’t be delivered by a man totally lacking in dignity, even if his boxers were a little stained.

As the curtains opened, they revealed an exceptionally pretty, tall blonde nurse. If there was ever anything to make Adam’s mood brighten it was the sight of a pretty girl, so instead of the tirade she was going to get, it turned into a weak smile.

“Hi, I’m in a lot of pain. Do you think you could get me something?”

Pathetic, he knew, but it worked well. Just to make sure he left the right impression, he managed to tell her about the full piss bottle before she moved the wheeled table beside the bed, getting a smile from her and words of appreciation.

Adam really did like to flirt. It didn’t have to be serious or lead to anything. It was just an enjoyable thing to do with a pretty girl. So, despite the fact that he was lying there, nearly naked with piss-stained boxers, a couple of tubes and a wad of superglue over his belly, the opportunity to flirt was irresistible to him.

The nurse soon had him cocooned again in the blanket, and departed.

“I’ll be right back with your pain killers,” and true to her words, she was.

Chapter Six

Lying around in a hospital bed is a really boring thing to do once the drugs wear off; at least Adam always found it so. So when the man in the bed beside him offered Adam his prepaid TV card as he was about to be discharged, Adam accepted and turned on the news.

He was greeted by images of shops burning in Tottenham, black balaclava wearing youths smashing shop windows in Manchester and looters running out of shops with bags full of stolen goods in the West End of London.

Of which Adam had heard nothing.

The shot cut to the anchor as she commentated upon the riots.

“It appears that these riots are in response to the shooting of a young man in London by the police yesterday. But, how and why they had spread across the UK and why so many who would never have known of the existence of this young man until a few hours before, are involved in such wanton destruction, no one seems to be able to explain,” Said the pretty blonde anchor.

“So far the police have only confirmed that riots have been reported in the city centres of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol all of which started less than an hour ago but have given no further statement other than that they are responding as quickly as possible.”

The image on the TV cut back to the violence and looting on the streets; the first a shot of several wheelie bins piled high with flammable material, covered in sheets of flame with thick black smoke billowing into the sky. They were being pushed down the street by gangs of rioters and into shops and cars.

“We have a Bruce Dickinson reporting from a helicopter over Tottenham. Can you tell us what is happening there Bruce?

“Yes Sarah Jane. There seems to a lady standing in the middle of the street shouting something at the rioters. There are a few police standing behind her about 100 meters further up the street as yet they don’t appear to be moving and are by the looks of things completely outnumbered by the rioters. Wait!

“The rioters are getting closer to the lady who is still shouting something at them and doesn’t appear to be moving out of their way.  My God! This is awful. They have pushed her into a burning car and are now closing on the police line. There must be at least 200 of them.”

The commentary was suddenly lost as the helicopter shot pulled back revealing more and more rioters moving toward the police, some armed with Molotov cocktails, machetes and homemade spears made from knives taped to lengths of wood.  As the rioters passed the lady whose clothes were now beginning to burn several people ran out of a shop doorway and pulled her away from the burning car.

The shot continued to pull back revealing the police holding position at the end of the street with their riot shields raised steeling themselves for first contact with the rioters. It was painfully obvious that they were completely outnumbered. The shot continued to widen revealing fires sweeping across the city behind them, as the first of the rioters hit the police lines hurling their spears and Molotov cocktails.

The TV then cut back to a shocked and somewhat distracted anchor as she explained that they had lost the live feed.

Adam watched the images of similar incidents in cities across the country, for several more minutes as shocked as the anchor seemed to be. He then switched the TV off; this wasn’t what he needed right now. It was far too depressing. He then began to think about events in his own life over the past few weeks.

…….

Despite that he had flirted with the nurse; he had recently become very interested in a girl he had just met, so his thoughts soon turned to her. He had first seen her in the steam room at the gym. Shrouded in steam all he could see was a pair of athletic legs, a great backside and a slender tattooed back, as she was laying face down. But it was definitely that bum that grabbed his attention. It had taken a minute or two to realise that he was staring it was that good. The tiny bikini wasn’t helping either. She would soon turn around and catch him he thought, and he had better go to the sauna to cool down.

After 10 minutes in the sauna, it was time to get a cold shower, his mind still on that great bum and then a dip in the jacuzzi, much as he did regularly, as a workout recovery routine.

As he immersed himself in the hot bubbling water, he discovered much to his pleasure that the girl was now in the jacuzzi, there was no mistaking the bikini, and she was as pretty as she was sexy. She made room for him to sit beside her, said hello with an enticing smile and then turned to another older lady sitting to the other side, speaking to her in what sounded like Spanish.

As they talked, Adam thought as he relaxed into the bubbles

 Spanish I wonder where she’s from, South or Central America, perhaps?

When they stopped talking, he decided that it would be easier to ask than to keep guessing.

“That’s Spanish you are speaking isn’t? Where are you from?

“I’m from Cuba, but I live in Plymouth now this is my mother who is visiting me. Do you speak Spanish?”

“No, not really, just enough to order a beer and get by with the basics”

The smile and the knowing look he received told him that she understood exactly what he meant by the basics.

“That’s okay; I like to practice my English as much as possible anyway”

Adam noted that she wore no wedding ring but had a ring on her right hand there was also no white mark of a wedding ring on her finger, and she did have a tan.

Adam had spent a lot of his time sailing in the Caribbean and had stopped off at a Cuban island one time, so getting the girl into conversation wasn’t difficult at all. Occasionally bringing in the mother making sure she didn’t get bored and drag her daughter away.

After nearly 20 minutes of conversation, the mother and her daughter said their goodbyes, but not without an introduction and,

“Hopefully I’ll see you again, we come here around this time several times a week.”

As she rose Adam again had sight of that gorgeous backside and the best set of legs he had ever seen attached to it. Beads of water trickled down her bronzed back, over her tiny bikini and down her legs as she walked up the steps and out of the water. If that wasn’t enough to ensure that he would be there every day at that time for the rest of the month if he had to, then the look she gave him over her shoulder surely was. Not that it had taken that long; a few days later they met again and again a few after that, all the time in the presence of her mother, who spoke no English at all.

It was during their fourth meeting in the bubbling jacuzzi, when the subject of the forthcoming America’s Cup came into the conversation. The two, Isobel, it had turned out was her name, and her mother wanted to watch it but were wondering where would be the best vantage points. Adam happily suggested various places for them to watch the races.

“It’s a shame I don’t know more about yacht racing I’ve heard it is fun, but I don’t understand the rules at all,” Said Isobel  with what Adam thought she intended as coy smile but there was nothing coy about Isobel; she had him wrapped around her little finger and knew it, as did he.

“That’s okay I can explain what’s going on as we watch the races”

Although Adam’s favourite sport was definitely rugby, growing up by the sea particularly in a place like Bali, instils a love of water sports in many, Adam was no exception. He was a very good surfer, he’d dived all over the world and spent a lot of time sailing, even competing several times in the King’s Cup, an annual event which takes place in Phuket Thailand every year.

Spending an afternoon with Isobel explaining the rules of the America’s Cup seemed like a great idea, even though she probably wouldn’t be wearing one of her tiny bikinis. Upon leaving he offered his mobile number arranging to meet the following Sunday.

Lying there in the hospital bed he thought that, at that point, everything seemed to be going very nicely, he had a tentative date with the cutest no sexiest girl he had met for a long time. It didn’t seem to be all about her looks or her body there was something else there as well, although her body was the primary interest at that time. His research work at the Plymouth University and others in Europe certainly brought him into contact with lots of girls, but this one was definitely something special, not that he could quantify what that was, but his cock hardened when he thought about her and that was all that mattered.

It had all looked good until he got that first text from her; it said,

I will be on the Hoe on Sunday with my mother and my husband, and I hope to see you there. Isobel xx

Husband! That had been a devastating blow, he couldn’t believe it.

…….

On that Sunday afternoon, the sun was out, and a good racing wind was blowing across the Sound. It promised to be a good day to watch the first race, he decided he might as well go up to the Hoe which overlooked the whole of the Sound; it was the best vantage point to watch the races after all.

Leaving his car in the car park of a friend’s hotel, figuring that he might as well stop there for dinner later, he walked up the hill towards the Hoe. As he rounded a corner, he almost collided with a man cursing into a mobile phone, catching the words

“He wants me where, tomorrow? Jesus Christ! Can’t you handle it?

And after a pause, “OK, Ok I’ll be there”.

He was about to apologize to the man, for almost colliding with him but before the words rolled off his tongue, the man launched into a tirade of,

“Why don’t you look where you are going? Get out of my way you fool!”

Adam, not really in the mood for that, decided to keep on walking and ignore the rude fool. A few minutes later, he arrived by the big screen that had been installed on the Hoe to display the races, and began to watch as a shot taken from a helicopter tightened on the yachts as they crossed the line to begin the first race.

He was right with his initial assessment of the day it was perfect sailing weather. The wind, coming in from the South West was strong enough to get the yachts moving very quickly but not too strong to prohibit the use of their enormous spinnakers.  As they were pulled up the mast, they popped open, accelerating the yachts forward, skipping over the white crested waves.

After watching for maybe 5 minutes, he heard that unmistakable voice again. This time instead of shouting into a mobile phone, he was shouting at somebody obscured from his view. Adam decided he really didn’t like this guy and moved slightly to his left to get a better view of whoever he was chastising this time, only to discover it was Isobel, standing there with her mother.

That was enough he thought and began to walk towards them. As he did so, Isobel looked up catching sight of Adam as he walked toward them, realizing his intent; she shook her head before turning to the man and saying.

“But we have only just got here”

“I don’t care; I have to be back in London in the morning I need you to pack my bags, now!”

By now many others in the crowd had heard the argument and had turned to look and stare, the man Adam realised must be the husband grabbed Isobel’s arm and began walking away, pulling her after him. Isobel turned to look at Adam whose face by now was like thunder and shook her head, cast her eyes down and followed the man, calling her mother to do the same.

Adam watched as they walked away, thinking, that explained quite a lot. Isobel, it would seem, was not very happy, perhaps trapped in a marriage to a man far older than she and one obviously without an ounce of manners.

But what could he or should he do about it?

She had his mobile number so if she wanted to contact him she could, and he certainly wouldn’t be feeling guilty about it if she did, with that prick of man she was married to.

What to do now?

Well he was here, the sun was out and apart from the performance he had just witnessed it was a lovely day. So why not make the most of it and watch the rest of the day’s races? Perhaps he would stop off for a drink and a meal at his friend’s hotel where he had left his car earlier.

That was what he did and part way through his meal he received a text from Isobel.

She told him she was very sorry about what he had seen earlier and that she really wanted to see him again, and that she would be going to the gym alone the day after next if he would like to meet her there. He texted in reply, that he would like to see her as well and that he would be there at his usual time, mid afternoon as it was the quietest.

As arranged, they met on Tuesday. Adam had just finished his daily workout and was already in the jacuzzi as Isobel slid in beside him. He wasn’t angry with her he had no right to be, but he was confused. He sat there without saying a word for several minutes until he felt her hand move over his finger tips to grasp his hand. He turned to her and was about to speak as she said,

“I’m sorry. I should have told you I was married when we first met but couldn’t. I liked you; I still do and want to see more of you”

They talked for a long time, Isobel told him how she had met her husband in Cuba when she was still a teenager, how he had swept her off her feet and brought her to the UK with promises of a great life. And how subsequently he had left her alone most of the time for the past two years, he living in London and her in Plymouth. She had been ready to leave him and the UK and go back to Cuba, when her mother came over for a visit, realising how alone and desperate her daughter was becoming.

She also told him that her mother had realised what was happening between Isobel and Adam over the past couple of weeks and actually approved of it, thinking her daughter would be much happier with him than with her husband.

As luck would have it, just as Adam was about to kiss her, which was all he had wanted to do for the past half an hour whilst they talked, they received company. By this time, the gym always started to get busy. As others stepped into the jacuzzi, Isobel stood, gave him a quick peck on the cheek and left, leaving him even more confused than before. He knew he wanted her badly, but not as another man’s wife and a casual fling. That really wasn’t his style at all.

Chapter Seven

The next morning Adam woke with his head full of Isobel and in a playful mood. He made some coffee and opened his bedroom blinds with their spectacular view out to sea. Particularly on such a day as this, with the early morning sun streaming into the room, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in England.

The design of the house might be rather too modern for some tastes with its full height glazing on both floors, but that did allow spectacular views, particularly from this room, with its glazing wrapped along the front and around one side of the room looking across Wembury Bay.

The bedroom stretched the full width of the house it could have easily housed two equally master bedrooms and really was more of a hotel suite. It had a split level with a lowered seating area, an espresso machine to one side and a high tech glass and stainless steel desk along with a computer to the other and an enormous en-suite further on. A pleasant room to spend the morning in, making himself comfortable back on his bed, Adam picked up his mobile and sent a text.

The text was to Isobel it said,

I woke up this morning thinking of you and how badly I want to kiss you

He didn’t have to wait long for a reply.

I woke up this morning thinking about you too, but my dream went much further than just kissing you.

Spurred on by Isobel’s text he decided it would be a lot of fun to text her and tell her exactly what he was thinking about.

After each explicit text, she sent a simple message of ‘tell me more’ which he did, each more explicit than the last. Before he knew it, it was late afternoon, and Dan was arriving home after the day’s training. He sent her a final text for the day, asking when he would see her again.

To which she replied that she could come over to his house for a couple of hours the following evening, and was he really capable of performing all the actions he had been promising all day?

As promised the next evening the door bell rang, he had managed to get rid of his brother, so had the house to himself, exactly what he wanted. He opened the door, quickly ushering Isobel in, no sooner was the door closed, than she smothered him in kisses. He led her to the lounge. There standing in front of the roaring fire, which he thought would be a nice touch, he slowly removed her clothes pulling her onto the couch, to kneel over him.

Then, enthusiastically went about fulfilling the promises he had made on the texts the day before. Starting by kissing her mouth, he slowly worked his way down her neck, along her shoulders, down to the tip of her fingers on both arms then across her chest to her stunning breasts.

There, he lingered for a long while just as he had promised. Continuing, he kissed and licked her hard belly, around both hips and made his way down. Where, he again remained for quite a while, just as promised.

She had said nothing up until now, but then she said somewhat breathlessly,

“What was it you promised me now?”

Without a verbal reply, he slipped his fingers inside her, searching for her G spot whilst still playing with her, with his lips and tongue. He was soon rewarded with her nails raking his back. Her breathing becoming faster, she moaned softly as he completed what he promised would be only the start of their love making.

Adam picked her up and carried her up to his bedroom, stripping off what clothes remained on his body as he went. Once in his bed they made love enthusiastically for over an hour until collapsing, exhausted, he apologised for his exhaustion, to which she laughed, saying,

“I will remember in future not to take your promises too literally; it was all night you promised me, wasn’t it?”

Much to his reluctance he let her get out of bed to fetch her phone that they could hear ringing downstairs, and watched the way her spectacular body moved as she walked across his bedroom and out of the door. Isobel soon returned smiling like a Cheshire cat.

Crawling back up the bed, she took hold of him, cradling him with her fingers, and then took him into her mouth, so deep he could feel the back of her throat against his rock hard cock. She licked and sucked him; playing with him and feeling his whole body stiffen, knowing he was about to come. Adam could hear her breathing hard; she obviously enjoyed this as much as he did. By the time he came, she was moaning more than he was. Isobel wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, kissed him deeply and announced that she had to leave.

Then she was gone. They had barely exchanged two dozen words in the two hours she was there; he knew he had his hands full with her but reckoned it would be worth every bit of it.

Over the next two weeks, they met in his bed almost every day usually in the afternoon when Dan was out. Adam felt great, better than he had for a long time and was probably in love, which may be a problem, but he would deal with that as and when he had to.

Then on one afternoon Isobel announced that she would be going to Cuba at the weekend to take her mother home and that she would be there for two weeks.

That came as a bit of a surprise but over the past couple of weeks he had got to know her quite well, realising she was a complicated girl and rather unpredictable. Anyhow it really was time to get some work done, if he got two weeks solid in his lab, he would be able to take a few days off when she returned.

That seemed like a solid plan, unfortunately as it often happens his plans didn’t go at all to plan.

Now, here he was lying in a hospital bed thinking about what was going to happen next. He knew Isobel wanted to leave her husband; they had discussed this before she left and again via text whilst she was in Cuba. They had also discussed the fact that her husband treated her as a possession, rolling her out to impress when required, and would put up a fight to retain his trophy.

As he pondered this, the curtains opened to reveal his brother Dan standing there, with the normal stupid grin on his face, which was quickly replaced by a look of concern.

“You are such an arsehole you know that don’t you?”

“Why didn’t you call me, an ambulance, something? I can’t believe you drove yourself here?”

“And you look like crap”

“I don’t feel any better than I look” Adam sheepishly replied, once he could get a word in.

The boys talked for a while, and as they did so Adam began to feel better the painkillers were working, and thoughts of Isobel’s return bolstered his spirits.

Whilst they talked the surgeon visited, gave the normal checks and checked the drain bags connected to the tubes protruding from Adam’s belly. All the time talking to the myriad of assistants that clung to his scrubs. Not a word to Adam until he finally turned to him and said,

“I think we got that just in time, there doesn’t appear to be any inflection. You were lucky, eer Mr Young, any longer and we would have had a serious problem here. I will send someone to remove the drain tubes in a few hours.”

“Any idea when I might go home?”

“Tomorrow I should think, all going well.”

With that the surgeon was gone, followed by his entourage all furiously making notes on their pads as they went.

…….

“Doesn’t look too good that, does it mate?”

Said Dan, indicating he food that had just been plonked down in front of Adam,

“Would you like me to get something for you from the shop downstairs? And how about a toothbrush and paste, I don’t suppose you brought any with you? Did you?”

“Don’t be daft little brother, I didn’t bring change for the car park, so what do you think?

“I think you are an idiot, but then again that is a universally held opinion of you, but I will get you some stuff and check your truck, if it’s still there”

Within a few minutes he was back. Dan deposited a salad and a sandwich, along with a plastic spoon, a toothbrush and paste on Adam’s tray and pushed aside the untouched meal the nurse left earlier, all the time with a big grin on his face, shaking his head, and laughing quietly to himself.

“What’s up with you?”

Dan replied through his laughter “You never lose that touch do you?”

“Why, what’s up?”

“I went to the parking office, assuming your truck had either been towed or was covered in tickets. But they said a nurse had come over to the office several times, to tell them that you were having an emergency operation and would they please not tow or ticket your truck; she seemed very struck with you, by all accounts.”

“I really don’t remember much after they banged me up with painkillers, it’s all a bit hazy.”

“Yeah sure” Said Dan, still cackling to himself.

“You never could resist a pretty girl.”

Dan chatted as Adam gulped down his salad and sandwich.

“Right, I need a piss”

“Let me move that,” said Dan as he jumped up from his seat to help Adam swing the tray away from the bed; he then pulled down the blanket covering Adam, to help his brother up.

Taking a step back Dan started to laugh.

“What have you been doing?” he said gesturing at the remnants of the paper gown Adam was still wearing.

“Oh, that! Yes, well when I woke up I needed a piss and the bloody blankets were wrapped around me so I couldn’t move. I had to peel them from around me and then come across this bloody gown, of course tied at the back.  So I had to tear it off and piss in one of those bottles. Why the fuck do they tie them at the back?

“I had to use my mobile to see what I was doing but every bloody thirty seconds the damn thing would shut off. Then I had to get one of those bottles between my legs and not get piss everywhere, it was a bloody nightmare”

Adam’s recounting his morning’s adventures having a piss had Dan in stitches.

“Come on help me up before I piss myself again.”

Dan helped his brother to his feet.

“No, I have it from here; you can carry one with your laughter, dickhead”

Dan watched Adam painfully shuffle the 20 metres to the toilet. In one hand, he had the bags connected to the tubes which in turn disappeared inside him, these he held up in the air and in the other his toothbrush and paste, with the remnants of the tattered green gown flapping against him.

What a sight.

Five minutes later Adam reappeared looking a little fresher.

“I see what you mean about the boxers” The staining still obvious as Adam shuffled back.

“Yes, dickhead, I’m sure I remember a nurse taking them off, when she undressed me, what was that yesterday? I haven’t the foggiest how I managed to wake up wearing them”

“Some prude of a surgeon perhaps, couldn’t stand the sight of it flapping around.”

“Fuck off.”

“And I thought you didn’t remember anything about a nurse.”

“It’s all coming back mate, and she was hot.”

Dan could see his brother was feeling better his sense of humour was returning, a good sign he soon took his leave saying that he would be back in the morning to take him home.

“And get some sleep.”

That was far easier to say than do, the tubes in his stomach hurt with every tiny movement so what sleep that did come was quickly disturbed.

Fortunately within two hours a nurse turned up to remove the tubes and their connected bags. After that, the pain almost disappeared allowing him to sleep until early the next morning. His brother turned up shortly after breakfast, and he was allowed to go home, with explicit instructions to take two weeks off and rest.

With an arm over Dan’s shoulder, the two of them approached the main door of the hospital as they slid open to reveal a pretty brunette walking towards them. She smiled and said,

“Hi Adam, uh Mr Young, I hope you are feeling better do you remember me? I helped you in and examined you when you were admitted.”

“Of course,” Adam said, smiling in return.

“You didn’t look well at all, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone that green before”

“That bad huh?”

“You know that horrible green liquor you get in some bars?”

“Chartreuse, they call it” put in Dan

To receive a withering look from his brother.

“Yes, exactly that colour.”

Adam hadn’t thought he looked too bad, not that he checked his reflection before leaving the house or in the car for that matter. But he knew Dan was loving this.

“You know” the nurse carried on “It was a good thing for you to look that bad, I was able to immediate tell that you had a burst appendix if I had only suspected you had a problem with it, then I would run more tests. One of them would have involved me sticking my finger up your bum; it’s the best test you know”

I bet it is, you naughty girl, I think you are probably an expert at it, as well. Better than when Jane tried it, shame about that if she’d told what she was about to do I might have gotten into it but all of sudden out of the blue like that! She didn’t half make me jump, shame she was sitting on me, never did see her again, did I?  But you perhaps!

Dan spoke up, disturbing Adam’s thoughts.

“I assume it was you that told the parking wardens about his truck. Thank you for that.”

Um, two of them and he’s very cute, a big boy too.

With a look at her watch, she realised she was going to be late again.

“You’re welcome but I’m late, got to get moving. It’s good to see you looking better I hope the next time I see you’re fit and strong. Bye.”

With that, she turned and hurried off into the hospital.

“What?”

He remarked about the look of mirth over Dan’s face.

“You have to be sick, you didn’t get her number. Come on, let’s get you home.”

Chapter Eight

Ensconced in the lounge, Adam had definitely had enough of beds for a while, and made comfortable in front of the TV by his brother while Dan went to fix something to eat, he clicked through the channels of nondescript nonsense, mostly reality TV shows until deciding upon the news. After watching for a minute or two, Adam shouted to his brother,

“Have you seen all this shit? What’s it all about?”

“The riots you mean?” Dan replied returning from the kitchen

“Yeah I caught a little in the ward.”

“While I was waiting to pick you up, they were talking about it on TV.  I caught it between games, of course. This guy was wanted in connection with a fire extinguisher thrown from the top of a building during a riot earlier in the year during the student protests.”

“Yeah, I remember, during that protest a group had invaded a government building in the centre of London and were up on the roof. When the police tried to get them off that dropped fire extinguisher killed a policeman. But still why the armed response and why shoot the guy?”

“Seems as though these guys are neo-Nazi’s and believed to be armed, hence the armed response at the arrest. They shot him whilst attempting to escape.”

“Yeah, well okay but why the riots?”

“Well I’ll be fucked if I know, turn it up, let’s see what they are saying.”

…….

The crime correspondent for Star, standing outside the metropolitan police station, was in mid flow of his answer to Sarah Jane’s question from back at the broadcast centre,

“Earlier I interviewed three young men that told me they were part of the riots; they refused to be caught on camera but agreed to answer certain questions.

“I asked firstly, how and why did they get involved? And this is what they told me.” Said the correspondent as he consulted his notes,

“They said it was the best days of their lives that they saw the police as the face of the privileged minority and were taking this as an opportunity for revenge. That they had no jobs and could never see that they might get one; that they have no future and had nothing to lose. They went on to say that they were happy the government were cutting police numbers, and that the next time this happened, which they were convinced it would, there would be even less police available to mount a response.”

Sarah Jane turned to one of her guests and asked,

“What is your response to that?”

“We have an excellent record in decreasing unemployment; just look at our revolutionary back to work program,” responded Mark Cobalt the employment minister.

“But that has been described as an abject failure, as it has only delivered temporary unpaid jobs and only one in four people has found a job afterwards and then for only for six months. So how can that be described as a success?”

“But it was revolutionary, we are only paying the companies involved by results, when they have found someone a job and removed them from the unemployment register”

“Yes, but only for six months during which time they’ve learnt nothing.”

“Exactly,” put in another of Sarah Jane’s guests. “What we need are proper training schemes and apprenticeships, where young people can learn a skill and have something to offer employers. At the moment, it is cheaper for employers to hire from abroad than to train up our own apprentices. The government has to do something about this.”

“And quickly too,” put in another of the shows guests. “This recession the UK is enduring has seen many businesses go under, some huge household names with unemployment on the rise all over the UK. The Government has promised economic stimulus and said that the worst was over that the UK was recovering and have published their unemployment figures as proof. Yet what have they actually done, other than to send us into a triple dip recession?

“The only thing I can see is this back to work scheme, which is just a way of manipulating the numbers whilst people lose their livelihoods and their homes.”

Becoming more agitated by the second the speaker carried on.

“Whilst the National Health Service is being decimated with funding cuts, Government Ministers are lining their pockets with falsified expense claims. And now a recent study has shown that 12 million children are living in poverty in the UK: that’s one in three, and yet, dinner at the Prime Minister’s table sold for tens of thousands of pounds, the price demanded to gain the man’s ear.

“Just look at the police cuts they weren’t been able to quell the riots before they became serious, and yet their numbers are to be reduced, which you claim will would not affect their ability to prevent crime. That is ridiculous, and you know it.  It’s the same with the military; they’ve laid their lives on the line on a daily basis only to receive a simple letter upon returning from deployment, stating their regiment was to be cut.”

Before he could carry on or the employment minister could respond, the presenter said,

“Thank you, do you have anything you would like to say Dr. Logan?”

“ In my opinion almost every one of the government’s cost cutting initiatives seemed to be disproportionally affecting the less well-off elements of society, making that age-old adage, “the rich get richer as the poor get poorer”, ring even truer.

“Do you know it is estimated that up to half a million young people within today’s society are so disenfranchised that they see no future for themselves. They are so malleable, and will take whatever short term gain came their way or could be used as tools of others’ agendas, as we are now seeing. I can’t understand why the government hasn’t recognised this and started to do something about it before it’s too late.”

“Who’s this guy? Obviously not a politician; he seems to know what he is talking about.” Asked Dan carrying a plate load of steaming pasta which is plonked on Adam’s knee, “Get it eaten.”

“Some psychiatrist but yes he does, not like those bloody politicians they haven’t got a clue, they live in a world of their own and will never understand the responses to their crazy fiscal measures.  They are the real cause of the demonstrations and the strikes. He’s also right any group could use these peaceful demonstrations to advance their own agendas.”

Adam forked in mouthfuls of salmon and pasta realising he was far hungrier than he had originally thought and continued to watch the news show as Sarah Jane said,

“But it’s not only the government that’s unpopular is it? The banks and the bankers that ran them are equally well despised. They’ve lost fortunes, rewarded themselves with million pound bonuses, and the general public are struggling to pay for their weekly groceries as a result of this greed and incompetence. In addition, they have now been shown to have been working together to manipulate interest rates. This manipulation and the illegal fixing of LIBOR rates, the rates at which banks lend to each other, has again allowed them to make billions at the expense of the man in the street as it has increased the cost of nearly everything he or she purchases.”

Adam couldn’t but agree with what was being said, but his attention was beginning to waver as he reached for the remote his mobile beeped.

Just about to get on the plane, can’t wait till tomorrow. Going to go shopping in London and pick up something I know you will enjoy removing. Should be there about 6. Iss XXX

His thoughts on Isobel, she would be back tomorrow and there were several things he very much wanted to do with her and hoped his condition wouldn’t hinder him too much, but she was definitely going to need to be far gentler with him, than she normally was, for a week or so.

“Who’s that texting you, if I were you I wouldn’t be arranging any dates for a while. Not with the state you’re in.”

Ignoring his brother, Adam switched off the TV as the discussion continued; how the general strike, which had been called towards the end of the year, promised to bring out hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, at demonstrations across the country. This finally, had the government worried,  and they were at last beginning to realise how unpopular they were.

From doctors to company professionals to the unskilled work-force, the support for demonstrations and strikes was unanimously and overwhelmingly given. The day of the general strike would see an almost complete walkout of the UK’s labour force. No public transport would operate; schools and universities would shut, hardly a shop, factory or office would open, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals would be for emergencies only, and construction sites would shut down. The doors would be firmly closed in all government buildings and, although the police couldn’t strike by law, they had taken a ballot in support of the industrial action and had pledged their support for the strikes.

If this general strike escalated the way others had, the whole of the UK was going to look more like Beirut in the 1970’s.

All the excellent new reviews for A Plague Of Dissent

5.0 out of 5 stars A Spiderweb of Intrigue, Corruption and Espionage 14 April 2013

A spider web of intrigue, corruption and espionage.

This book had such an amazing impact on me that I wanted to tell all my friends, family and even approach strangers!
Luckily this forum allows me to tell the world without leaving the house!
There is something for everyone in this novel. A cracking pace, an intricate and skilfully written storyline, a scorching affair, action, revenge, espionage and assassination plots.
The clever blending of recent events, made it that much more realistic…..and therefore more scary!
The core group of characters were authentic and extremely well written, that it really sucked me into their dangerous predicament. You’re right there with them when they’re thrown into a situation way over their heads and the ripples expand to not only put their lives in danger but those around them. The situation becomes horrifying when it spirals into an international conspiracy.
The two main characters, Adam and Isobel are both likeable, smart, determined…and scorching hot together!
There was also very genuine and authentic sounding insight into the world of military intelligence, joint military and police operations, corporate espionage, communications hacking as well as tracking and surveillance methods.
I’m telling you, I could hardly breathe reading the last few chapters!!
I can’t wait to see what’s next from Nic Taylor.
5.0 out of 5 stars Resistance Is Futile, March 23, 2013
By
Douglas R. Cobb (Fort Smith, AR USA)

You have stuck to your diet. You have quit smoking cold turkey. You exercise religiously. Every resolution you’ve ever made has been successful. But, trying to resist reading Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent once you’ve begun reading it is futile.

Nic Taylor writes in A Plague of Dissent of a type of Brave New World that exists today in the U.K. The media and the government are the Big Brothers of Taylor’s suspenseful, page-turning novel. It’s a well-oiled plot that the debut author handles like a seasoned veteran. The action begins from the very first chapter, and doesn’t let up for the entire book.

An attractive woman and an MP are caught in a very compromising position, naked in a hotel room, by the media, who have set the entire thing up to obtain photos for their newspaper. The beautiful mistress of the government official then flees the room, and ends up getting killed when she darts out into the street and gets hit by a vehicle. The media are, thus, responsible for her death, but no one seems to care are want to admit involvementt in her demise. She’s just a pawn to get dirt on the MP, as far as the media are concerned.

Much of the novel focuses on the two main male protagonists, who are brothers. The rugby-playing college-aged duo are in their twenties, full of the vim and vigour of youth. Adam Young and his brother, Dan, find themselves pursued by faceless individuals and directly in the middle of political intrigue and the stuff of spy novels when Adam becomes smitten with the lovely married lady, Isobel Mason. She is the wife of one of the media baddies, Jonathan, who helps to orchestrate the many evil deeds that transpire in A Plague of Dissent. The brothers are named after Nic’s own teen sons, who play rugby for the Plymstock Albion Oaks rugby club.

Jonathan and others, like the mysterious and powerful media magnate, Dandelion, hack into computers and bug celebrities, politicians, and even the public, indiscriminately. “Dandelion,” by his name, may sound not much like a nefarious villian; but, he is; he’s a puppet master who does not care how ruthless he gets, as long as he and his media empire will benefit.

A Plague of Dissent deals with topics ripped from today’s headlines, such as alternative energy sources, terrorism, and the possibility that terrorists from Iran might release biological weapons such as smallpox into cities in the U.K. Political and social unrest, riots in the streets, and greedy and corrupt politicians and media sources who are more concerned with their own interests rather than the public’s are the new “norm” for the Brave New World that Nic Taylor writes about.

Senior policemen and celebrities involved in sexual assaults and sex rings have been arrested lately in the U.K., just as they are in A Plague of Dissent, though Nic’s novel was written a year before these events transpired. Adam and Dan must fight against the odds to learn the truth. Who can they trust in a world where the very political system that should be there to serve and protect the public is corrupt?

Besides being a talented Indie author, Nic Taylor is also a charitable person. Half of the money he earns from each sale of A Plague of Dissent will go towards building a new clubhouse for the Plymstock Albion Oaks rugby team that will cost 500,000 pounds, and will be constructed in stages. Phase one, the author has informed me, will begin this summer, and the clubhouse will be carbon neutral.

5.0 out of 5 stars A plague of terror!, 10 Mar 2013

Nic Taylor knows how to deliver edge of your seat excitement, and he does it beautifully in A Plague of Dissent. His masterful prose and intimate knowledge of crime fighting in the UK is on par with Ian Fleming. Every scene is so well described, throughout, that I felt like I was right there. It’s a consummate storyteller that he is!

This tale could easily have been ripped from the current news; political corruption, mobsters and their minions, and a media hell-bent on destruction come into and out of this very strong story and kept me constantly on my toes. One minute I thought I could trust a character and the next minute, I wasn’t quite so sure anymore. The brothers, Dan and Adam gave me a serious case of hero-worship, despite the fact that I was afraid they were in further over their heads than they imagined.
I just love it when the first page of a book grabs me by the throat, gets my heart pumping and terrifies the hell out of me. Taylor has delivered a whopping good tale that kept me in suspense right up to the end.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Plague of Dissent, 17 Feb 2013

This novel is an excellent read especially if you like thrillers and like to be kept on the edge of your seat

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Great book., 23 Jan 2013

The Author Nic Taylor takes you into a world of politics, media and corruption! First we meet Rose, a young girl talked into sleeping with a politician to get him bad publicity, for that she ends up dead, and then the story continues, into a world that – in a way, you can see eliments of truth.
If you love a fast paced thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with sex, lies and media hacking – this is the book for you!

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Stuff!, 8 Jan 2013
By

Ever wonder when you watch the news if you are being told the truth? Have you tried to read between the lines when listening to the government, big business- vested interest?

Well, wonder no more! Intrigue and the dark side, with a truly memorable ending- a thriller well worth picking!! Buy it now- you’ll love it.

5.0 out of 5 stars Be scared, be very scared!, March 11, 2013
By
OlgaNM “Olga” (Penistone, South Yorkshire, UK)
 

Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent
`Be Scared, Be Very Scared’
Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.
The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only background setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.
The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally run over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.
We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.
`A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?
I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow `A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.
I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and exciting!, December 9, 2012
By
Loraine (America)

Fast paced and gripping with little to no filler, this is action, action, action! Highly recommended for thriller fans. You won’t be disappointed.

4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting blend of fact and fiction, April 1, 2013
By

Nic Taylor sets out his stall from the very first page of `A Plague Of Dissent.’ A politician is caught in a honey trap which has been set by the press. In the melee that follows, the young woman who was the bait in the trap is accidentally killed. This fusion of topical events and artistic invention is the predominant feature of this book. The story is woven so closely into real events that very often it is difficult to tell where fact ends and where fiction begins. This adds so much to the believability of the story that I found myself questioning the official version of recent events involving political corruption, electronic monitoring, multinational contracts, and street disturbances. Everywhere in `A Plague Of Dissent’ there is corruption and deceit. Senior policemen, politicians, press moguls. No one is to be trusted.
What starts out as a love story set against a background of phone hacking and shady dealing, escalates into a tale involving international terrorists who pose a threat to the very survival of the country.
The story is fast-paced and engrossing. The events frightening and breathtaking in scope, and yet well within the realms of possibility.
I am by no means a paranoid conspiracy freak, but by the end of the book I was left thinking ‘Just how much do we really know? How much are they not telling us?’

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating political thriller, 15 Mar 2013
By

Wow what a challenging project for a debut novel. A political thriller involving international terrorism, government, police and media corruption,organised rioting, a love interest and an abusive marriage.
The writer has weaved his story around recent real events in the UK in an imaginative and interesting way. It is sure to appeal to those who enjoy conspiracey theories and I must admit I enjoyed the humerous comments about the coalition government.
The central characters are two brothers Adam and Dan. The writer uses his own interest in rugby and sailing to bring these characters to life. The love interest is Isobel whose husband heads a corrupt “surveillance group.” In pursuit of Isobel the two brothers are plunged into a world of greed, corruption and violence.
I was able to follow the complicated plot. Sometimes it jumped about a lot but overall the style worked effectively to tie in the different strands.
The writing could be tighter but I liked the way the writer’s enthusiasm for the work came through.
In conclusion a brilliant intelligent thriller, packed with interesting ideas.

4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Must Read to the End!, 11 Dec 2012
By
Dianne Harman (Huntington Beach, CA United States)

A Plague of Dissent, by Nic Taylor, is a very good ‘can’t put down’ novel. I recommend it highly to anyone who likes a fast-paced thriller. He’s done a masterful job of making the reader not only care about the characters by bringing them to life, but you have to keep turning the pages to see what happens. I don’t know Nic’s background, but I am married to a man who has been in the highest echelons of California politics for years and I will tell you that, sad as it is, Nic’s insight into politics has merit. Great job, Nic, and really look forward to your next one!”

4.0 out of 5 stars Syb, 12 Dec 2012
By
Book-Shelf (Everywhere) -

This is allegedly a work of fiction, but one only has to be aware of current news for this story to feel true. And that adds further thrill to an already exhilarating thriller. Nic Taylor has encapsulated the nation’s mistrust of the Government, media and big companies and written a book that is fast paced and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Gaia’s Warriors

 

Chapter One

 

Merkel pulled on his wetsuit as the four metre electric powered rigid inflatable boat (RIB) he was sitting in slid to a stop. The sea was calm tonight; a slow half metre swell gently rocked the boat as two other RIBs slowed and came to a stop beside his. The sliver of the moon shed just enough light for Merkel to see his comrades donning their own equipment.

 

They had been waiting for the call to launch the assault for months, now they were a go; the call had come from their man on-board the vessel two weeks ago. Two weeks’ notice gave them plenty of time to make all the preparations necessary for this dive. It was going to be a long, hard, cold one and all the divers wore 7mm wetsuits and re-breathers to accomplish their mission.

 

One by one the men slipped into the inky black water to begin their six nautical mile underwater swim. They checked the GPS navigators strapped to their wrists, orienting themselves toward their destination, submerged and set off a minute apart.

 

The surveillance and security equipment both the ship and at the on-land security and communication centre possessed were formidable, necessitating such a long dive both there and back. Nevertheless the men were well prepared and had trained for this event for months. If all went well they would rendezvous with their RIBS in seven hours and be away before they were detected.

 

The defence system was multi-layered. The ship itself possessed two radar systems; the first the latest Sea Hawk system capable of detecting small craft such as the RIBs, up to five nautical miles away. And the second, an eight foot X Band antenna with a two hundred and fifty mile range, but unable to detect such small craft. There was also a sonar system. The Doppler Multi Beam Sonar was primarily an underwater navigation device but was also capable of detecting underwater objects approaching the ship. This was augmented by a system of Sonar Buoys that hung in the water forming a two mile perimeter all around the vessel.

 

On land there were larger X band systems, hook-ups to the military satellite systems and of course fast response helicopters capable of responding within thirty minutes. Nothing not even the smallest and stealthiest of crafts could approach, either on the surface, in the air or underwater within five miles without being detected.

 

The RIBs had left from a deserted beach, on the Orange River estuary at 6.00 PM, just after sunset, making their drop-off point a little after 8.00. As the last of them submerged the only sound to be heard was the gentle lap of the waves against their small boats. All of them were keenly aware that they had to make it back to the RIBs by 3.30 AM, to allow them enough time to rendezvous with their ship before sunrise at 5.30. Those that didn’t would be left behind, with little chance of making it back to shore.

 

…….

 

Operations on the one hundred and sixty nine metre Peace of South Africa ran twenty four hours a day. Never was there a moment of silence. Pumps throbbed and the conveyor belts groaned under the weight of their loads. And lights blazed everywhere.

 

She was operating some forty nautical miles off the Namaqualand coast in the Northern Cape. One hundred metres below her on the sea floor, a monstrous tractor slowly crept along the bottom. It sucked up everything in its path, passing it through a metre wide tube and delivered it to a processing plant mounted on the back of the ship, at a rate of four tonnes per minute. Two more tubes, one mounted each side of the vessel spat the spoil back into the sea. Daylight would have exposed a slick miles long, the sea now longer blue but tainted dark brown, with the dredging operations waste.

 

A crew of seven, on eight hour shifts operated the dredging process and a security contingent patrolled the decks constantly, reporting back to the security and communication centre hourly, on the hour.

 

Petre, the new man on the security crew opened the door to the control centre, to be greeted by a draft of cold conditioned air. He relished his hourly visits for the brief respites it offered from the noise and stifling heat upon the decks he patrolled.

 

Jack looked up from his desk.

 

“How’s it going out there?”

 

“Seems fine, the dredge is working well it seems. I can’t believe we haven’t had to shut down except the regulars for over three weeks. Our bonuses are going to be good this month”

 

“Grab a coffee” Jack said “And bring me one, this chair might be great but my back is killing me. I’m spending far too much time hunched over these damn screens. Take over for a while.”

 

The ship although not new, had only just been converted for this operation, and every fitting from its galley, through its dredging and sorting operations, to this communication centre was state of the art. Petre took the command chair as Jack stretched out his aching back; he then grabbed a cigarette from the packet on the console. Taking his coffee with him, he went out onto the walkway and peered down into the murky water below him as he lit and sucked on his cigarette.

 

He exhaled wafts of white smoke with a satisfied ‘arhh’. Within a few minutes he was back, relieved to be away from the cacophony of sound that washed over the ship.

 

“Give us my seat back mate”

 

As Jack settled back into his seat a small blip appeared upon the sonar display.

 

“What’s that?” asked Petre

 

“A shark, most probably, don’t go swimming round here mate, got Great White’s round here you know.”

 

Had the full spectrum of the Multi Band Sonar been running, it would have given an accurate visual representation of the disturbance the dredge created, showing huge clouds of debris thrown up into the surrounding water. As it was only the side beams were running, which showed a visual of the surrounding ocean. Large fish and sharks were sometimes detected on the sonar, but as Petre pointed out, they tended to be frightened off by the noise generated by the dredging operations.

 

“Catch ya later, better be going, thanks for the coffee. See ya in an hour.”

 

“Yeah, later mate.”

 

As Petre closed the door to the communications centre the first of the divers arrived under the keel of the ship, there to wait for the rest of the men. Although it was a long underwater swim, he was as with all of them were supremely fit, and despite the pitch blackness underwater he had easily navigated the distance. The GPS on his wrist showed not only his destination and their start point but also all the other divers trailing behind For the last mile or so the ever increasing noise of the dredge guided him in and for the final few hundred metres the blaze of lights hanging on the stern of the vessel illuminated their target.

 

Over the next twenty minutes the rest arrived, there were nine in all, and all had made it as easily as the first. Seven of them would board the ship, all equipped with waterproofed and silenced MP5’s, the other two would stay under the ship having other duties to perform. They all rested for ten minutes before making their way to the stern of the vessel past the two huge stern azimuth thrusters.

 

Thirty minutes now remained to make it onto the vessel, through the well deck cut into the stern and to be in position for the next security patrol. One by one they each crawled up over the well deck, careful to remain in the shadow of the enormous derrick attached to the tractor below and into to their allotted positions. This part of the assault had been meticulously planned and rehearsed on a mock-up of the ship, and by five minutes before midnight all were in place.

 

At precisely midnight Petre re-entered the communications room just as expected, giving Jack and nod and a smile.

 

“Just going to use the head,” he said and received a nonchalant wave from Jack.

 

As Petre left the head, Jack was just finishing his two hourly report back to the on-land control centre located in Alexander Bay.

 

“Yep, it’s all going great, see ya,” were the last words he would utter.

 

As Jack hung up the microphone, Petre slid out the black ceramic blade that had been secreted in his sleeve, plunging it deep into Jack’s throat, and then pushed it forward to instantly severe Jack’s vocal cords. Jack was dead within seconds, his blood spurting from his severed carotid artery all over the desk in huge gouts. Casually Petre pulled Jack’s body out of the chair rolling it under the console with his right foot.  Then sitting on the chair himself he reached forward, mindful of Jack’s blood pooling on the lip, and turned off the work lights at the stern of the ship.

 

At this signal the men secreted away knew they were on, each in addition to his MP5 had night vision gear which each slipped into place.

 

The grave yard shift consisted of six men working on the dredge with a further man at the dredge controls. It wasn’t uncommon to have technical problems, so the fact they were suddenly plunged into darkness didn’t particularly trouble them. It had been a trouble free three weeks and all of them expected something to break somewhere soon. Before any of them could reach for the radios they were cut down with multiple rounds from the silenced MP5’s.

 

One member of the assault team had been allotted the bridge as his target, one to the remaining security guard on duty and one more to the engine room. Each took down his targets in the same manner, within five minutes of the lights going out the all fourteen active grave yard shift members lay in pools of their own blood.

 

The assault team now had effective control of the ship along with all its communications equipment. The remainder of the crew another thirty men were all below decks and most would probably be asleep. No personal mobiles were allowed on the ship so they weren’t concerned on that issue. No communication to outside was possible and the next scheduled report was nearly two hours away.

 

The assault team split up, one stayed on the bridge and two went below decks to ensure they weren’t disturbed by any off duty personnel that happened to be awake. Two of them stayed on deck, leaving two: Merkel and Gunter to complete their mission.

 

Merkel and Gunter descended into the bowels of the ship, the final sorting area of the dredging operations, eventually stopping a large steel door. On this door was attached a security key pad, they weren’t going to bother with that. They knew that the security procedures of entering this room dictated that three people had to enter together, all entering their own passwords along with their finger prints.

 

Merkel pulled out a small shaped explosive charge and attached it to the door along with a detonator. Nodding to Gunter they retreated around the corner and blew the door. Inside they were greeted by a similar door and repeated this performance again.

 

With the doors blown they made their way into the final room, both now eager to get the job finished.

 

In the middle of the room stood a large automated machine totally encased in glass, floor to ceiling. Merkel’s eyes widened as he peered through the glass. A huge grin appearing on his face.

 

To one end stood thirty three tins, each the size of a soup tin, completely unadorned with the exception of a small white label, on which was a bar code.

 

At the other end of the machine stood a single tin as yet neither unsealed nor labelled by the automated process. Above which was a narrow stainless steel tube extended from the ceiling above, and as they watched a small white diamond slid from the tube into the tin, sparkling as it fell. Merkel looked at Gunter, neither able to hold back their chortled laughter.

 

“It’s all true” he said. “Up until now I could hardly believe it, but there it is.”

 

On the other side of the glassed enclosure stood two hundred and fifty million dollars worth of uncut diamonds, untouched by human hands and utterly untraceable.

 

 

 

They’d waited until a rich deposit was hit by the dredging operation. Normally at the end of every month there would have been at least forty million up for grabs, but this month the ship had hit pay dirt, discovering the richest deposit by far, astounding the ship’s owners back in South Africa.

 

They were still on the clock, and they wasted no time attaching another small piece of Det-Cord and detonator, just enough to breach the glass. With the glass cleared away, both men grabbed the tins depositing them into a back pack each carried, and then ran out of the room along the companion way and toward the deck of the ship. They had been on the vessel for fifty five minutes and now five minutes remained before they were due back in the water.

 

Precisely on time they all met back at the well deck, below which they had stowed their diving equipment hanging from carabineers under the water. The assault team, now accompanied by Petre, slipped back into the water to begin their long swim back to the rendezvous, no longer were they assaulted by the roar of the dredger beneath them. Thirty minutes later a sharp crack, followed by a roar issued through the water, as the explosives detonated under the keel of the Peace of South Africa and ripped her apart. It would be another fifteen minutes before anyone at the on-land communication centre realised there was a problem on the ship and at least an hour after that, before they managed to get a helicopter over the area. By then the ship would be on the bottom of the ocean and they would back in the RIB’s soon to rendezvous with their ship, the Guardian of the Seas, which would deliver them home.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

 

Alec Shepherd sat transfixed by the horror that was being revealed on the TV screen in front of him. Tears welled up from his large blue eyes, ran down his face and onto the paperwork on the desk in front of him. Those once clear sparkling eyes which usually captivated women were now rimmed with red as he watching a SBC news broadcast. Within a minute he could no longer see the screen clearly in front of him: his vision so blurred with the tears.

 

He would like to have said he was surprised by what he’d seen, but that was not the case, he had been expecting this for a long time.

 

These were the first shots to be taken of the disaster, and were provided by an Arctic survey crew that had been hurriedly dispatched contamination suits to protect themselves while their helicopter flew over the area. For an area of over five miles in all directions, radioactive dust from the explosion settled upon the water and the ice. Initially the black dust was slow to settle with just a peppering over the ice but now fell as if heavy rain, blackening whole areas of sea and pack ice, and with it the unseen but far more deadly radiation.

 

As radiation rained in from the sky more radioactive contamination seeped from the shattered hulls of the two sunken ice breakers. The radiation was making it virtually impossible to approach the area to even assess that damage, never mind begin cleaning it up. The radiation detectors the entire helicopter’s crew were wearing were already in the caution zone after only a few minutes of exposure.

 

 The oil slick was plain to see and with it the deadly radiation, stretching into the distance slowly pulled by the current toward the cod fishing grounds of the Northern Atlantic. The last shot Shepherd was able to see before his tears completely obscured his vision, was of huge pieces of ice loosened in the blast, blackened by the oil, drifting over the ever-increasing oil slick.

 

Of the four nations that were extracting oil from deep within the Arctic Circle the Russians had decided due that to the extreme conditions and the large amounts of electrical power that were necessary for these operations, they would use nuclear reactors to provide this. They had designed the Prirazlomnaya platform, the first ice-resistant oil drilling rig in the world which had been installed in the Pechora Sea and used small nuclear power plants fitted to some ancient ice breakers to power the drilling operations.

 

Shepherd, as had many others, had warned of the incredible dangers of such a risky methodology. No one had listened and now the world was going to pay an unbelievably high price of this gluttony.

 

The nuclear power plant on one of the three ships had gone critical, and could not be shut down in time before it exploded. The result was catastrophic. The blast damaged and sank both the other two nuclear power ships; their reactors breached they began leaking radioactive material into the surrounding sea. The well head, rig and pumping station were practically vaporized by the explosion of the ship moored alongside, severing the undersea well, from which was spewing out thousands of barrels of oil an hour.

 

Shepherd, unable to watch more of this devastation, clicked off the TV remote and rubbed the tears from his eyes. He walked over to the windows of his Orchard Towers’ office, high above Orchard Road in Singapore, and looked down at humanity flowing through the streets below. Still only mid-morning but the pavements teemed with people and it would only get busier as the day drew on.

 

Orchard Road never really slept. Once the office workers went home, and the shops closed which rarely happened before 10, not the tourist based shops as most were, then the nightlife would begin. Orchard Towers was pretty much the epicentre of that. The building was dubbed locally as the Four Floors of Whores, not that that was  entirely true but the floor floors above the bottom two shopping levels did contain an assortment of clubs, karaoke bars and massage parlours along with the odd sex shop thrown in.  Alec’s home and office comprised the top floor when in Singapore.

 

Alec Shepherd was known the world over, some thought him deranged, others that he was a criminal and yet others worshiped the man. He was a gregarious and flamboyant character from his early days when he first came to the attention of the media as the captain of a converted trawler chasing down Japanese whalers operating in the Pacific to what he was now the CEO of the largest marine environmental company.

 

For nearly thirty years he had campaigned, protested and lobbied for clean energy production and marine conservation always believing that mankind would eventually see the light. He and his company made huge strides in marine aquaculture and energy production and were working with many countries across the world. But, the events in the UK and then the Middle East a year ago changed all that, and now his operations were limited to South East Asia and New Zealand.

 

The regime changes in Iran to a pro-western government along the discovery of the huge oil deposits that existed there unbeknown until that time to all but the ruling elite, resulted in a tripling in the output of oil from the Middle East. That coupled with the discovery and exploitation of massive shale gas reserves in Europe, The USA and South America meant that the world was more reliant on fossil fuel energy resources that ever before. Energy was cheap again, and many of the world’s governments had turned their backs on renewable energy, citing that this was good for the planets flailing economies.

 

Nobody could argue against this. It was a statement of fact; cheaper oil meant an increase in output and a reduction in costs. Manufacturing was up and so was construction, and most importantly unemployment was down. The man in the street now had a little more money in his pocket and the weight of the depression the world had endured over the past few years was lifting. And, that was the way governments and the oil companies wanted it to remain. Almost all of the renewable energy projects around the world came to standstill: off shore wind farm development was halted and in those few that were completed maintenance stopped and soon were being subject to breakdowns which went unattended. Tidal and wave energy projects were mothballed and along with them the aquaculture projects that were intrinsically tidied to them. Even work on the huge floating platform in the Mediterranean which was about to go online was halted.

 

The description floating platform really wasn’t adequate it was more a floating city. The structure was oval in shape, 7 miles long and 5 miles wide. Once commissioned it would house a marine research centre, hospital, schools, a manufacturing centre and living space along with the entire gamut amenities one would expect in a city even to a runway which ran down the centre of the structure that would cater to the biggest planes.

 

Alec’s company designed and supervised the construction of the platform as the first serious step toward the Hydrogen Economy. The perimeter structure contained wave and current electrical generation devices with enough power production to run the entire city. On the southern edge sat a cargo terminal that would rival any other in the Med and beside that a hydrogen refuelling and export dock sat capable of servicing several large ships at the same time. A third of the structure was dedicated to aquaculture; here kelp would have been grown to be later converted into hydrogen, in a balanced ecosystem with fish and shellfish.

 

The aquaculture system was revolutionary and Alec’s pride and joy: all the feeds were produced within the system and the system itself produced no waste products or pollution. Once fully functional it would produce 100,000 cubic metres of hydrogen annually and increase the seafood production of the Mediterranean by 40%.  But, now only a skeleton crew remain upon the mammoth structure, their job to mothball it and then remain as the security crew.  It now appeared as though the only use it would see would be the housing of (name) Alec’s research marine institute, which up until recently was distributed amongst several universities. The work on marine energy and aquaculture systems had been spread amongst Plymouth, Karlsruhe in Germany and Canakkale in Turkey, with their work on Zebrafish and heart disease along with the human genome project at NIH in the US. Three years ago it had made economic sense to house all their research in one state of the art facility, now Alec had serious misgivings about this decision but it was too late for that, and he would have to find another means of supporting their ground breaking research. 

 

Alec drew away from the window, his heart slowing and his eyes drying. He had nothing against any individual that he could see walking with the masses below the Orchard Towers and the many that he interacted with on a daily basis. But, together the congregated masses of the planet formed a disease, a disease that was slowly killing mother earth.

 

He knew what he had to do. 

 

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……

I hope you have enjoyed this sneak preview of Gaia’s Warriors, the sequel to A Plague Of Dissent. Gaia’s Warriors will be published later this year.