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Rape of the Aegean - Chapters 12 to 15 - A Novel by Philip Cooper

Updated on August 3, 2018
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Retired from investment banking and teaching, Philip has written several books on investing. Currently working on novel Rape of the Aegean.

Chapter 12

October 25th 2010 – Milos Island – Cyclades - Greece

Kostas Triandafilos sat in a waterfront café on the island of Milos in the main port of Adamas, drinking a Greek coffee and smoking his favourite AB brand of cigarettes. He looked out at the bay shaped like the letter ‘C’ but with the gap out to sea much narrower than a conventional letter ‘C’. The Germans had used the bay as their Mediterranean navy base during the Second World War with much success as it was difficult to attack by sea and the surrounding mountains provided natural defences for their anti-aircraft gunners.

Now with the summer over even the private yachts had hibernated to the Athens Riviera or to the marinas of the port of Piraeus on the Greek mainland. Just a few fishing boats were moored in the bay and once a day a ferry from the mainland would bring food, newspapers and other essential goods to stock the shops. But it was not cold; with the temperature around 22 degrees centigrade and most people, like Kostas, still wore short sleeved shirts.

He was waiting for Stavros Blounas and Christos Mavrides, both colonels in the Greek army. They were due on the ferry that had just docked not more than five hundred yards from the caffenion where Kostas was sitting. Kostas reasoned that they would be at the café pretty soon, as this time of year as the ferries were fairly empty. Once the school year started in September the Greeks, who made up 70% of the tourist trade to this largely unknown island, left for the mainland. Kostas was in two minds about the island having only 30% of foreign tourists as it was a beautiful island with much to offer to the discerning foreigner. However, the thought of thousands of package holiday tourists flooding the island would compromise the mystical allure the island currently held. Everyone who flew into the island loved the quaint little runway and the husband and wife team who between them were part time air traffic controller, weather man, customs officer, check in desk clerk, security officer and ground hostess escort. Yes, he thought, the airport has a unique personality.

Kalispera Kostas,” said Stavros and Christos in unison, cutting into Kostas’s thoughts.

Kostas looked up smiling. “Kalispera pedia, ti kanete?” he replied. “How was the journey? No-one recognised you I hope.”

“Quite uneventful,” said Stavros. “It’s amazing what a little hair dye and a beard can do. Don’t you think I look rather like a university professor?” said Stavros laughingly.

“Amazing!” agreed Kostas, “Fancy a beer?”

“Mythos for both of us,” answered Christos.

“Okay let’s drink our beers and then we can go to a quiet, less public place to finalise our plans.”

“Where?” Said Stavros as he swigged back half his beer in one huge gulp.

“Well,” said Kostas. “You remember the caves which the Germans turned into their underground bomb shelter and headquarters during their occupation of this island? It’s a museum now and one of my cousins is the curator there. I told him that a couple of friends were visiting tonight and leaving first thing in the morning and they had never visited the museum. He gave me the key. There is one cave which has been set up as a replica of the German command office. We can use that to finalise our plans.”

October 25th 2010 – Alexandroupoli, Western Thrace – Greece

At the same time as Kostas Triandafilos and his two colleagues were making their way to the bomb shelter on Milos, Themis Xenakis was in Greece’s version of Air Force One, a retired Olympic Airways Boeing 737-400, heading to Alexandroupoli in Western Thrace, near the Turkish border. He did not care for this region of Greece as it had caused many problems not only for his government but for previous Greek governments too. The region had a population of nearly four hundred thousand people of which half were Greek Orthodox and the other half Muslim, mostly of Turkish origin but also some Romani. This area, which is bordered by Bulgaria to the north, the Eastern Thrace region of Turkey to the east, the Aegean Sea to the south and Greek Macedonia to the west had been in political turmoil for years. There were certain elements who advocated that Macedonia should be an independent state as it had been in Alexander the Great’s time. The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia was claiming that Greek Macedonia was their own, and Turkey had eyes on Western Thrace claiming its people’s human rights were being violated.

Themis, as the prime minister of Greece had grown tired of the problems that had beset this area for many years now. But he was approaching this region tonight because the very troubles that had bothered Greek governments for decades in the past would now become a weapon which he could use to shoot down the flak he knew the Greek government would receive when their strategy was revealed after the Bilderberg meeting.

The Boeing’s ‘seat belt on’ signs pinged on as the plane decelerated with its air brakes full on. Themis saw the lights of Alexandroupoli drift past his window whilst hearing the hydraulics rolling out the wing flaps of the 737; at the same time the giant wheels locked into place as the pilot readied the plane for landing. Ten minutes later the pilot banged the plane down on the runway, applied the reverse thrust braking system and exited the runway on the furthest taxiway from the main terminal. It then taxied to an isolated apron at the far end of the airport where a black four by four, with dark tinted bullet proof windows, was parked with its engine running.

Themis walked down the steps pulling his coat up around his ears to keep out the biting cold. He had forgotten how cold it could get up here in Thrace during the winter. One of his bodyguards opened the rear door of the four by four and he stepped into the warmth of the rear seat. He switched on the reading light and took out a folder from the briefcase that had been put on the seat beside him. The car with the briefcase had been supplied by the man Themis was going to meet. A man who had managed to remain anonymous for more than twenty years although he was the chief executive officer of one of the biggest private armies in the world. Not that Themis needed an army but he did need subterfuge and he did need men who knew how to cause a lot of trouble and social unrest without being caught. The man he was meeting could arrange that – for a fee of course – a big fee. Still, Themis reckoned, it would be worth the money.

The folder contained a map of the gas pipelines that entered Thrace from Turkey. There were three in total: one started at the Exxon gas and oil terminal in Azerbaijan, crossing Armenia before entering Turkey at Kars, then traversing Turkey before entering Thrace at Soufli. It then continued through northern Greece entering Albania and passing through Fier, crossing the Adriatic into northern Italy at the San Foca terminal. This pipeline was owned by the Americans. Pipeline two started in Georgia, crossed Turkey at almost the same latitude as the American pipeline, entering Thrace ten miles north of Soufli before following the same route as the American pipeline to San Foca. This pipeline was owned by the Russians. The third pipeline was also Russian and would follow the proposed route from the Crimea across the Black Sea into Bulgaria at Burgas and then southwards into Thrace to connect with the existing Russian pipeline. Themis turned the page and read the capacities of the existing and proposed pipelines.

Pipeline one was transporting twenty-five billion cubic metres of gas per annum through to Europe. Pipeline two was also conveying fifteen billion cubic metres of gas per annum to Europe but when the planned pipeline is connected to pipeline two it would carry fifty billion cubic metres per annum. Themis allowed himself a wry smile…fifty million cubic metres per annum was equivalent to a nice windfall for the Greek government and also he would not come out of it too badly either. The transit fees he had successfully negotiated with the Russians were eighteen pence a barrel which equated to almost one point three billion dollars per annum.

He’d probably have to reward Alex at some point with a couple of million, he thought, but there was enough to go around and perhaps he would get lucky and Alex would have an accident. Themis realised that the powers in play, would in the next few days’ complicate matters and make things more dangerous than they were now. So there was every chance that some people would not see Christmas this year.

His thoughts were disturbed by the brakes being applied and the car drawing up at the open front door of a large villa. Themis alighted from the car and walked through the front door into a small hall that contained a table with a mirror above it and an umbrella stand to one side. Themis walked through the hall and through another door which led into a salon furnished in the traditional Greek manner. Sliding doors which were wide open led to an elongated lounge area furnished in a more modern style with both walls down the length of the lounge consisting of metal framed glass sliding panels. In the centre of the L shaped lounge was a huge square shaped wood burning fire place with an ornate chimney that disappeared into the ceiling. As Themis approached the warmth of the fireplace he was able to see round into the space behind. He stopped short in surprise, causing his two bodyguards to draw their weapons against an unseen foe.

There on a chaise lounge next to the fire place were three people; two adults, one a male and one a female as well as a small child, probably male, with their wrists and ankles tied together and wearing gags. All three stared at him with frightened eyes.

“Good evening Themis,” said an American accented voice. “Welcome to Thrace.”

Themis looked up to see a stocky, fairly tall man with amazing blond swept back hair. His eyes were an icy blue under bushy eyebrows and he was wearing a dark blue suit, black shirt and a yellow tie. He looked and smelt ex-marine and walked with the air of a man who exuded confidence and was certain of his destiny. “My name is John Dexter and I’m the CEO of Black Hawke.” He continued as he walked over to Themis offering his hand.

Themis took his hand and replied “Nice to meet you.”

“Sit down,” said Dexter, although it sounded more like a command. “How was your flight?”

“Trouble free I’m glad to say and thanks for supplying the transport. I take it that this is not a company villa and these trussed up people are the real owners,” said Themis glancing towards the prisoners. “Are they going to keep their mouths shut after seeing us?”

“Yes you’re right; our company does not have any property in this part of the world. I’m afraid that they will have to be silenced for good,” added Dexter. “Does that bother you?”

Themis shook his head hoping that he wouldn’t have to ask one of his bodyguards to commit cold blooded murder.

Dexter looked at Themis and smiled as if he had read his mind. “Don’t worry Themis; Black Hawke will take care of all the loose ends. Now dismiss your bodyguards and we can talk business. I take it you have read the documents I left for you in the car?”

Perimenai sto aftokinito,” instructed Themis in Greek. “Yes I have,” he replied after telling his guards to wait in the car for him.

“So if you are happy with the revenue numbers let me tell you my plan for causing sectarian mayhem in Thrace thereby giving the Greek government an excuse to close down the American gas pipeline and announcing a deal with the Russians. Firstly, however, let me complete some unfinished business. If you’re squeamish, don’t look.”

Without waiting for a reply Dexter drew out a pistol from his shoulder holster, screwed on a silencer, walked over behind the prisoners and very calmly shot each once in the back of the head.

Chapter 13

October 25th 2010 – Langley – Virginia

Laura watched patiently as Jim Broadbent brought the screens that were embedded into the wall of the operations room to life. She had earlier briefed him on the live feeds and recordings she wanted from the various spy satellites they controlled in the European and Balkans region. These screens would add credibility to her analysis which she had typed up and placed in the folders around the desk. At least she hoped that would be the case. She was especially interested in the screen that had followed the Greek prime ministers plane from Tatoi; the military base close to Athens; to Alexandropoulos in Thrace. It now showed an overhead view of a villa with a black four by four standing in the drive.

Laura marvelled at the technology leaps which had enabled governments to watch and listen to what was going on around the world. She estimated there were approximately one thousand one hundred operational satellites in orbit around the Earth, fifty percent of which were sent into orbit by the United States. Half of that number are in a low earth orbit just a few hundred kilometres above the surface; including the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and many observation satellites. About a twentieth are in a medium earth orbit around 20,000 kilometres up. These are mostly global positioning satellite for navigation, like household satnav’s and cell phone GPS apps. A small handful are in an elliptical orbit which brings them closer and further from the earth. The rest are in geostationary orbit at an altitude of almost thirty-six thousand kilometres. If we could see these satellites from earth they would seem to hang motionless in the sky. By remaining over one geographic area they provide the perfect platform for telecommunications, broadcasting, weather observations and of course spying. Just like the ones broadcasting to the screens Laura was looking at, twenty-four hours a day. What was more remarkable was that it was possible to change the direction of a satellites orbit or switch it from a normal orbit to a geostatic or vice versa at the flick of a switch.

Yes, she thought, it was all a bit 1984-ish but she had embraced it. Her philosophy was that if you had done nothing wrong you had nothing to fear. Except, she had done something wrong and now she could not go back.

She has met Arcady six months ago at a Washington function. She had been attracted to him instantly and even though she knew that he was a Russian Embassy attaché she took a chance and introduced herself. They found a quiet corner where they could talk and as the evening went on she realized she was becoming more and more attracted to him. Arcady wasn't a young man he was in his mid-fifties but that was the age that Laura liked her men. As they talked she felt the familiar moistness on her thighs. Arcady sensed that she was ready and suggested they find somewhere even quieter to talk. The room they found was obviously a dressing room for the lady of the house and once inside Laura asked.

“Are you wired?”

“No!” Arcady replied.

“I have to be sure,” said Laura. “Please take off all your clothes.”

“Of course,” said Arcady, “but you must take your clothes off too.”

“You first,” said Laura. Arcady complied. He had no wire but then Laura had figured that he wouldn't have had one anyway. She studied him for a while. He had a slight paunch but she quite liked that in a man. He was very hairy and she thought it strange that his body was covered in black hair yet his head had grey hair.

“Your turn, “said Arcady. Laura slowly got undressed and as she did so she could feel her nipples hardening and the wetness around have thighs increasing. By the time she had finished getting undressed Arcady’s manhood had become extremely hard.

“Well neither of us is wired,” said Arcady smiling.

“I might have a microphone hidden somewhere which isn't obvious,” purred Laura, as she walked towards Arcady. She put his hand between her thighs. He knelt in front of her. Some minutes later she gasped and said. “Do you normally look for hidden microphones with your tongue?”

An hour later they re-joined the main party both of them glowing after their love making. As their relationship grew they became lovers and Laura began to spy for the Russians.

Gradually over time Arcady won her over and persuaded her to tell him what the CIA was doing. Laura convinced herself that she wasn't a traitor, after all she wasn't giving away top secret information. She only gave him small bytes of information, nothing that would really compromise the position of the United States. In return he provided her with an intellectual companion and an excellent lover. They met several times a week on the outskirts of Washington in a small motel which Arcady himself had hand-picked. They remained an ecstatically happy couple for several months until one day Arcady change the venue of their clandestine meets. The meeting was in a big house just over the Maryland state line in Virginia. Arcady himself opened the door and showed her into a spacious lounge area. There was a woman seated on a chaise lounge, a beautiful woman, it took Laura several moments to realize that the woman was Elena Davilova the Russian deputy minister of economics.

Laura stared at her; then Elena smiled warmly and said “Hello Laura, Arcady has told me a lot about you. Come sit!” Elena patted the chaise lounge indicating to Laura that she wanted her to sit down next to her.

Laura walked over and sat rather stiffly. She had been taken aback with Elena Davilova being there with Arcady. Elena leaned towards Laura until their lips were almost touching. Just close enough for Laura to smell the subtle fragrance of her scent and the sweet bouquet of her breath. It was then that Laura realised with astonishment that she could desire another woman. Elena leaned forward once more and this time let her lips brush Laura’s while at the same time she laid her hand softly on Laura’s exposed thigh. Arcady had asked Laura to wear something sexy when he had told her about the change of venue for their meeting. So Laura was wearing a backless, strapless, short evening dress in matt silver.

Laura covered Elena’s hand with her own, uncrossed her legs and pulled the hand gently between her thighs. Elena leaned in again and this time parted Laura’s lips with her tongue. Laura let out a low moan as Elena’s hand touched the outside of her now very moist panties.

Laura couldn’t clearly recall how she had got undressed nor who had undressed her but an hour later as she lay eyes closed in complete abandonment in Elena’s arms with Arcady naked, cuddling her from behind, she knew she was smitten by Elena’s raw sexuality. She wanted more. That night she was pampered by both Elena and Arcady for several hours until finally she fell into a deep contented sleep completely exhausted.

While she slept Arcady and Elena talked about Arcady's progress in turning Laura. Arcady said he was confident that Laura would continue to supply them with enough data to keep them one step ahead of the Americans and the British as well as keep Laura the safe side of having too much of a guilt complex.

Laura herself was very good at justifying all her actions whether they be good or bad. This particular characteristic had served her well throughout her university life, her career and in particular her sexual desires with her penchants of wanting married elderly men with brains in the normal place. This trait enabled her to avoid nasty guilt complexes. So now she had two lovers, one of each sex. Both high profile Russian diplomats and she was giving them, not secrets – Laura didn't believe keeping them informed of what her section was doing or where it was doing it – was giving away state secrets. After all she reasoned with the technology both sides had at their disposal, both sides could monitor the movements of the other. No, she considered her thought process perfectly valid and leaking information to Arcady and by default Elena would not harm anyone and it would keep certain parties pleased with her. This might have been true six months ago but now events had a momentum of their own and there had been collateral damage with more to come. Unbeknown to Laura she was not immune to being a damage limitation target by any of the powers that were in play.

“Laura!” Barry threw a pencil rubber across the desk at Laura. “Are you with us or far away in another universe?

Laura jumped, startled out of her thoughts of Arcady and Elena. “Sorry,” she muttered. “Just trying to pull things together in my head.”

“Then tell us,” said Barry. “Have you managed to make sense of this at all?

Laura looked around the faces at the table. Barry was looking anxious as always. She knew he would have to report to Geoffrey as soon as she had finished her briefing. Jim was probably more focused on his technological gadgets than her analysis. David Page looked very tired and why shouldn’t he be. He had just flown in from Athens and had spent the previous two hours being debriefed by Laura herself. She cleared her throat and began her analysis, hoping against hope that she had got it right and that they would not suspect that some of her sources were very close to home. Whether the U.S.A. could act or stop whatever was going to happen or just let ‘others’ pick up the pieces was not her decision. After all she was just a conduit she reasoned and couldn’t influence her government or anyone else’s. Or so she thought.

October 25th 2010 – Alexandroupoli, Western Thrace - Greece

Themis Xenakis tried not to notice the ever-extending pool of blood as it crawled across the grey marble floor like the incoming tide on a shingle beach inching ever closer to the dining room table he was sitting at. He felt sick but he couldn’t show it. He couldn’t let Dexter see any weaknesses as he would be the first to exploit them. He probably had two minutes, before he returned from the bathroom, to compose himself and steel himself for the negotiations that lay ahead. He felt quite alone for a moment. He had no real allies in the government and he was essentially going it alone with the Russians and Germans, while at the same time convincing himself he was saving Greece from an economic meltdown. Even the collateral damage and the riches he would garner from the coming events were simply by-lines to the main theme he mused.

The hiring of John Dexter was an essential part of the strategy even though the man had a reputation for treating his customers aggressively and rather rudely. Once you had done business with Black Hawke you were tied to them for life and Dexter never let you forget it. In some ways Black Hawke was the most powerful organisation in the world, second only to Goldman Sachs and the U.S. government.

Dexter was an ex-marine who had seen four tours in Iraq shared between both gulf wars, and one tour in Afghanistan. He was awarded the medal of honour after he was captured and tortured for thirty days by the Iraqis on his second tour in the first gulf war, before he managed to escape and make his way on foot across the desert to Jordan. On leaving the marines he set up Black Hawke which initially hired mercenaries for small one off projects. As the company grew in size and reputation it became more and more involved in major conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Georgia and Ukraine. Guns for hire with no particular loyalty to western or eastern governments, just an allegiance to money.

Despite all that, he would show Dexter that he was not in awe of him and that he was not going to be bulldozed into doing anything he didn’t like.

“You didn’t have to kill them, did you?” Themis questioned as Dexter entered the room. “You could have blindfolded them before I came here.”

“Sure, and they wouldn’t have recognised your voice,” replied Dexter as he sat down opposite Themis.

“There had to be a way of not having to kill them,” continued Themis.

Dexter didn’t reply at first as he busily retrieved some papers from the end of the table and handed them to Themis. “Don’t be so naïve, you yourself ordered the killing of your economics minister.”

Touché thought Themis, he was right of course. He hadn’t thought twice about arranging the assassination of Antonopoulos. He had felt it necessary to prevent the information that he had to leak out. Then there was Alex’s mother. That was a strange one because his sources were sure that she had been pushed. However, no-one knew why. It was probably one of those unexplained coincidences and had nothing to do with the current operation.

“Tomorrow we will begin our end of the operation. I have two hundred of my best men strategically placed around Thrace and three demolition experts surveying the most vulnerable sections of the pipeline,” explained Dexter. “My people have confirmed the first tranche of money has arrived in our account. As per our agreement we will receive the remaining ten million dollars when the job is complete.”

“Yes,” agreed Themis, nodding as if to emphasis his compliance. Don’t worry the money will be in your account by close of business on the 27th. You have forty-eight hours to complete the operation.”

“Then we are done. All the details are in these documents which you can take with you. I would recommend you destroy them once the operation is complete,” said Dexter, a conspiratorial smile hovering around his mouth. “After all we wouldn’t want to leave a trail to either of our doors, now would we?”

“No,” said Themis as he got up while putting the documents that Dexter had given him into a file. He leant forward and extended his hand towards Dexter. “Good luck.”

Dexter shook Themis hand saying. “I’ll walk you to the door, it was nice doing business with you.”

Chapter 14

October 25th 2010 – Milos Island – Greece

Kostas Triandafilos stared upwards at the dark rock escarpment which soared above him. It bounded one side of the narrow waterway which was the entrance to Milos’s harbour and protected it in tandem with the five-hundred-metre-high mountain guarding the opposite side of the waterway. Where the escarpment met the road there was a heavy oak double door strengthened with metal bars around every edge of the doors and slightly hidden beneath a rocky overhang. Next to the door was a metal sign on four spindly metal legs. It read ‘Bunker Museum’ entrance fee ‘7 euro’.

As Stavros and Christos caught up with Kostas outside the museum, one side of the double doors opened and a man wearing the blue uniform of a guide appeared in the doorway and beckoned them inside. Once they had crossed the threshold Kostas introduced his friends.

“Michalis these fine fellows are my good friends Stavros and Christos,” said Kostas, pointing to each in turn.

Kalos orises,” greeted Michalis with a smile. “Welcome to my museum.” “Let me show you around and then I’ll leave you to your business. Kostas has told me that your meeting is a matter of national security and that is why you need a place where no prying eyes or ears can find you.”

“That’s right, “answered Stavros. “We would appreciate at tour of this place.”

“Michalis was born on Milos and was a teenager when the Germans invaded and took over the island in 1941,” explained Kostas. “He knows everything about the island and has over the years fought against those who wished to destroy the cultural and physical heritage of the island by building huge tourist hotels and complexes. That is the reason the islands tourist board nominated him to turn this place into a museum and gave him the responsibility of curator.”

“The museum opened only last year,” said Michalis extending his hand to guide them forward into a long barely lit tunnel that was ten metres wide and three metres high. The walls and ceiling were bare jagged rock. “This tunnel has been hewn out of the rock that makes up the escarpment above us, as have all the rooms and smaller tunnels. As you can see no attempt has been made to clad the rocks or paint them. This particular tunnel is one and a half kilometres long and has ten rooms on either side, with each room being roughly the same size. The tunnel here,” continued Michalis as he pointed out a tunnel that branched off the main tunnel to their left, “runs around the back of all the rooms off to the left side of the main tunnel and served as a massive storage area. It is half the size of the main tunnel but still big enough for its purpose.”

As Michalis took the three friends around, childhood memories came flooding back to him. He could almost hear the whistling of the bombs dropped from the allied planes as they roared over the hilltops where Michalis and his friends laid amongst the rocks watching the fireworks display taking place over Milos’s harbour. Night after night, he, his friends and many other children spent their nights watching the allies trying to destroy the German fleet. They watched as the islanders banded together in small groups of resistance fighters and attempted to blow up the entrance to the bunker or destroy the array of aerials which sat atop the escarpment above the bunker. However, no matter how many times the aerials were destroyed by the resistance or by the allied bombs within twenty-four hours they were back up again and transmitting to their forces.

On occasion the Germans rounded up thirty or forty children and took them into the bunker and put them to work. Michalis himself had worked in the bunker making gas masks out of ad hoc materials such as bottles and balloons. It was during the occupation of the Germans in Milos that Michalis decided that he wanted a career in the armed forces.

Kostas interrupted Michalis’s reminisces. “Didn’t you once work in one of these rooms Michalis? He asked, as they were shown into a huge room furnished with two lines of old wooden trestle tables and around the walls what looked like old fashioned rudimentary gas masks.

“Yes,” answered Michalis. “I actually toiled in this very room making gas masks like the ones you see around the room. The masks are now exhibits in this museum. Why don’t you settle yourselves here; there is an abundance of tables to select from. I’ll go and organise some elliniko (Greek) coffee and ouzo.”

Epharisto,” Kostas said thanking Michalis as he put his arm around his shoulders. Michalis left the three friends and headed back down the tunnel.

Once they were seated Kostas asked Stavros if his part of the operation was on track.

“Yes,” replied Stavros. “My squadron of thirteen tanks will roll out of our base at Marathon at 2am on the morning of the twenty eighth. It should only take an hour to reach the forest a short distance from the air force base at Tatoi. “

“What about the noise and your noticeability?” Interrupted Kostas. “Isn’t there a danger that people will be wondering what an echelon of tanks is doing at that time of the morning?”

“I don’t think so. Of course there is a risk but I believe that it is a small one. People will naturally assume that the tanks are going to take part in the ‘Oxi Day’ parade in Athens. Our route doesn’t take us through any major Athens suburbs, only the outskirts and a few small villages. The riskiest part of the operation is once we reach the forest. We’ll have to hide the tanks far enough away from the air force base that we won’t be detected but near enough that we can surprise them at precisely 10:30am, half an hour after the parade begins,” finished Stavros.

“I agree with you,” said Kostas. “People will assume that the tanks are heading for Athens and the parade. It’s ironic that on the anniversary of the day that Metaxas gave Mussolini a big fat ‘no’ and rejected his request for his Italian army to invade Greece without a fight. We are giving a big fat ‘no’ to Themis Xenakis because he is going to give away the sovereignty of Greece without a fight and for his own gains.” Kostas looked into the eyes of each of his friends in turn and said in a low voice that resonated a determination that they hadn’t seen before.

“We must not fail.”

“We won’t,” said Christos enthusiastically. “My tank squadron will leave the Marathon base at the same time as Stavros. That way we won’t arouse suspicion and as Stavros said, the people that are awaken by the noise will assume that the tanks are on their way to Athens for the parade. We will head for Athens Airport and park up on the overpass which straddles the motorway between the airport and Athens. We will leave a platoon on the road on the other side of the airport. We will make it look like they have broken down; their engine cowlings will be open and we will place cones around them so the breakdown looks natural enough. At exactly 10:30am these tanks will shell the runways and break through the perimeter fencing of the airport itself. At the same time the remaining tanks parked on the overpass will target the air traffic control tower and take it out. Unfortunately, there may be loss of life but it should be at a minimum because the air traffic controllers are taking strike action from 9am and no-one should be in the tower.”

At that moment Michalis came in with tray of coffees and three glasses of ouzo and a flagon of water. He placed them on the table and not wanting to interrupt their discussion, walked away back down the tunnel.

“Yes it would be unfortunate,” concurred Kostas. “But we can’t afford a warning shot, it’s too dangerous. Will the tanks on the overpass enter the airport?

“No need. The two on the runways will be enough to stop any landings or take-offs. The overpass tanks will spread out and block the motorway routes into and out of the airport.”

“Sounds solid enough Christos,” praised Kostas. “Now Stavros how are you taking Tatoi?”

“At precisely 10:30am we will storm the air force base from the forest side. There should not be any shooting as my contacts within the base have confirmed that the Xenakis government has pissed them off a number of times and any coup against the government would be supported.”

“My contacts in the air force have led me to believe that too,” confirmed Kostas. “Good job,” he said smiling at his friend.

“As for my part,” continued Kostas. “My squadron is scheduled to take the salute from the prime minister and the President of the Republic at precisely 10:30am as you know. We will take that salute, however, before we join the parade we will be parked up with all the other military vehicles in Zapion Park towards the eastern side near to ‘Vasilios Sophia’ Avenue. At 10:00am all the vehicles will turn their engines on to warm them up and allow the engineers to conduct final checks. Under cover of engine noises, a platoon of three tanks will slip away from the main body of vehicles and head north towards the grounds of the parliament building. The boundary between the park and the gardens is only five hundred metres from where we will be parked and it’s a low wall so it won’t any trouble for a Leopard 2A6 tank to punch through.”

“How long will you wait?” asked Christos.

“The platoon will wait for my okay, which I shall give once we have secured the main dais where the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the military chiefs will be taking the salute. They will then break through the wall and one will guard the back entrance of the parliament building. As the main dais is opposite the main entrance to the parliament our squadron will be able to stand sentinel in front. The rest of the platoon will head for Herodou Attikou street, split into two and one will take up position outside the prime minister’s official home and the other tank will position itself outside the home of the President of the Republic. By 10:35am we should have secured the two airports and Athens. The TV and Radio stations will put out of action when the generating stations in Papagou are blown. We can then secure the buildings later in the morning.”

Kostas stood up stretching his legs. He was never one for sitting in one position too long. Even his marine training didn’t help his restlessness and he was often the target of disparaging remarks from his commanding officer. However, once he had proved himself in a number of clandestine missions in North Africa and Turkey no-one gave him negative feedback any more, just praise and a respectful salute. “Any questions?” he said. Christos and Stavros shook their heads. “Endaxi pedia, off you go. Enjoy yourselves tonight, I’m going to stay and catch up with Michalis. Don’t forget that I’ll text you ‘Gladio’ if it’s a go as planned for the twenty eighth. If I don’t text then stay at your bases. Okay?”

“We understand,” said Christos and Stavros in unison, as they disappeared down the tunnel towards the entrance to the museum.

Kostas watched them go then sat down again. He looked at his watch – it was almost time. He pulled a flip top cell phone from his pocket and turned it on. It wasn’t a recognisable make. Not even the young geeks of the computer or gaming age would know of this phone. It was MI6 standard issue – but it was far from a standard cell phone. From another pocket he pulled out a small grey box about the size of a match box. The box had a mini USB attachment which he inserted into a socket on the cell phone. He then plugged the grey box into the electric socket on the wall behind him. The grey box was a VME encryption mobile unit. It enabled the cell phone user to make calls worldwide in absolute safety without risk of the encryption algorithms being cracked.

Kostas looked at his watch again – it was time. He keyed in the name ‘Gregory’. The name was immediately encrypted and two encrypted signals were sent to a clandestine base station somewhere in Turkey. In less than half a second the base station had randomly created two cell phone numbers, one it returned to the cell Kostas was using and the other to the cell phone in Gregory’s pocket. It beeped and on pulling it out Gregory saw the name ‘Kostas’ flashing in the display. He opened the flip top and spoke into the phone.

“Hello Kostas.”

Yassou Gregory,” answered Kostas. “We’ve just finished concluding the plans for the 28th. Unless Lighthouse has any reservations it’s a go at our end.”

“He won’t. He has left the final decision to me and as of now the clock is ticking down. If anything changes, I’ll contact you but I don’t believe it will. Good luck!”

The connection went dead as Kostas uttered a verbal ‘thank you’ into a now dead line. Gregory was very curt mused Kostas, rather as if he didn’t want to get too friendly. I wonder…….no……but Kostas sixth sense was ticking away in his brain. Not alarm bells as yet, but more a warning to be vigilant. He needed someone to watch his back. Someone who they’d never suspect, a non-army type, but able to merge into the background while keeping watch….

“Kostas,” said Michalis as he walked into the room. “You look troubled. Why don’t we grab a beer on the waterfront?”

Kostas looked at Michalis and then smiled. Perfect he thought. “Good idea Michalis, let’s go, I want to run something passed you anyway.” Kostas put a hand on Michalis shoulder as he steered Michalis out of the room.

Chapter 15

October 25th 2010 – Central Aegean – Greece

Captain Naismith reached for the red phone shrilling for attention on the wall to the right of his chair on the bridge of HMS Stallworth.

“Go ahead John,” answered Naismith.

John Talbot was the chief communications officer aboard the Stallworth, charged with overseeing the multitude of listening devices the ship had at its disposal. To the uninitiated the ship was an oceanographic survey ship and looked every inch the part. But it wasn’t. The ship carried an immense array of viewing and listening devices which enabled it to directly support the Navy by using both passive and active low frequency sonar arrays to detect and track undersea threats. Serving as a platform for monitoring missile and satellite launches, collecting data that could be used to improve missile efficiency and accuracy, the ship also had the ability to monitor foreign missile and weapons tests that may pose potential threats to air or surface navigation. Monitoring wireless traffic from satellite, aircraft and sea based platforms as well as cell and cable telephone communication systems was another of its abilities. In short the frigate was a very powerful floating listening platform, probably the most lethal in the world.

“Picked up an interested flight pattern emanating from North Eastern Greece sir.” Talbot’s voice crackled through the phone line. “Military or commercial?” asked Naismith.

“Well sir, it’s a Boeing 737-400 which left Alexandroupoli Airport a short while ago.”

“What’s strange about that,” asked Naismith, “it’s an airport is it not?”

“No sir, I mean yes, it is an airport but the usual traffic is short haul prop planes of Greece’s domestic carrier Olympic Air. This aircraft has not filed a flight plan and is flying rather erratically so it’s difficult to say where it’s heading except that the direction is more south west than any other compass point.”

“Ideas John?”

“Well sir, I’m pretty sure it’s the Hellenic Airforce One. I used Spyglass and got a pretty good view of the plane, including its tail number.” Spyglass was a system developed by the British Ministry of Defence as an enhancement to satellite technology. It took images of a targeted subject or object from several satellites and restructured them pixel by pixel producing a three dimensional image of the targeted objective. Without this technology Talbot could never have accurately identified the tail number of the 737 Xenakis was travelling in.

“Well done John,” congratulated Naismith. “I wonder what he was doing in the Thrace region of Greece. We should report this to Lighthouse – they did ask us unofficially to report the movements of Xenakis if we spotted him.”

“Right sir,” said Talbot, “I’ll get on to it right away. Anything else you want to add?”

“No John, just give the facts. Show them we are doing our bit to help,” Naismith chuckled, “If the public at large knew how some of their tax pounds are being used, they would have difficulty in believing it, or they would be very afraid. Actually, they probably should be.”

October 25th 2010 – London

Sir Peter Bogart put down the phone after getting the message from the communications officer of the HMS Stallworth.

What was Xenakis up to, he asked himself. Why was he in Thrace? What was so important and secretive that he didn’t file a flight plan? Sir Peter picked up the cell phone that was his communication with Gregory. He punched in a code and password, waited for several seconds while what sounded like cogs churning together filled his ear. “Sir Peter,” answered Gregory. “Is everything alright?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” said Sir Peter. “Something puzzling has happened down in Greece. By the way where are you? In the UK or Greece?”

“I’m sitting in Kollonaki Square,” he lied, “in the centre of Athens looking at the out of season tourists drinking coffees side by side with the rich, famous and beautiful people of the Athens social scene. They certainly know how to charge for a cup of coffee here, it’s three times the price of a coffee elsewhere in Athens.”

“It’s way past your bedtime isn’t it?” said Sir Peter with a hint of sarcasm, which wasn’t lost on Gregory.

“It’s only 11pm here…. the time that Athens wakes up,” said Gregory.

“Well as you are awake perhaps you can come up with ideas as to why Xenakis travelled to Thrace this evening without filing a flight plan. What’s so secretive that he doesn’t want anyone to know where he’s been?

“Pipelines,” exclaimed Gregory. “There has been a lot of unrest there in the last few days. I guess Xenakis doesn’t trust the levels of security around the pipelines and decided to make a visit to see for himself.”

“How many are there?”

“Three, one American owned and two Russian owned, one of which has just come online or is about to come online.”

“So he is worried that one or all would be compromised. I guess he wouldn’t want to piss either of his partners off, would he?”

“Possibly,” murmured Gregory thoughtfully. “You know sir it could be that he went to Thrace to orchestrate an event. He could use the clashes between the Muslim and Greek Orthodox groups to attach blame if anything happened to the pipelines. Then he would have an excuse for closing the border to ethnic Muslim minorities.”

“Doesn’t make sense,” replied Sir Peter. “The ethnic minorities might be a problem, but nothing worthy of a personal visit. By the way didn’t Elena Davilova visit Athens a few days ago?”

“Yes, she did.”

“What if the capacity of the Russian pipelines were bigger than that of the American’s? With Greece moving closer to the Russians it would make sense to have just one pipeline, without a loss of revenue of course, thereby cementing their relationship with Russia?”

“It would at that,” agreed Gregory. “You know sir you might just have hit the nail on the head. Xenakis could also have negotiated a better deal on revenues by giving them exclusive access of Northern Greece to run their raw energy through to Europe.”

“Can we stop them?” asked Sir Peter.

“Once ‘Gladio’ has been activated on the twenty eighth and we have our people in place, we could then nullify any agreement between Greece and Russia, if our suspicions are correct of course,” explained Gregory. “I’m afraid if they are planning to sabotage the American pipeline we don’t have the assets on the ground to thwart them,” added Gregory.

“I’ll forewarn the Americans through discreet channels. They might have assets in Northern Greece.”

“Right,” said Gregory. “Let’s hope they have. I’ll contact you on the morning of the twenty eighth to let you know if it’s a go or not. At the moment it looks good for a successful operation. Everything is in place.”

“Good, let’s hope our efforts are effective. And don’t forget, keep me in the loop at all times. Bye for now.”

“Bye sir.”

October 25th 2010 – Milos Island - Greece

On Milos Island Gregory carefully put the phone down on the table. He had stayed close to Kostas and his friends since they had arrived on the island. In fact, he had followed them there, traveling on the same ferry from Piraeus. He wanted to stay close to make sure they did not talk to anyone not directly involved with the operation. He was the perfect tourist and enjoyed looking the part, knowing that as he passed, women would turn to stare. Even though it was late November he sported a pair of white Chinos, an orange polo shirt and casual tan deck shoes. In the cool of the evening he wore a lightweight jacket with a man’s city bag slung over his shoulder. His attention now turned to the man trussed up and gagged at his feet.

Michalis stared up at him whilst struggling to free his bonds, a look of stark fear in his eyes. Deep down he knew it would be impossible to untie his restraints and he also knew that he didn’t have long to live. Gregory suddenly bent down and tore the duct tape that he had used to gag Michalis, from his face.

Pain mingled with relief as Michalis spluttered. “Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?”

“Nothing personal old chap it’s just that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You let Kostas Triandafilos and his two friends into this bunker tonight didn’t you?” said Gregory surprisingly enough smiling with both his mouth and eyes.

“Yes I did,” said Michalis, “but I don’t know why they were here or what they were talking about.”

“Unfortunately for you I can’t take that chance,” said Gregory as he extracted a syringe filled with a clear liquid from his city bag. “This will be painless,” he added.

“Please…no…. please don’t,” cried Michalis. “I don’t want to die.”

Gregory crouched down in front of Michalis and said “I’m sorry, I really am.” Then he thrust the syringe into the side of Michalis’s neck and pressed the plunger until the cylinder was empty. Michalis immediately felt sleepy and by the time his heart stopped beating a few seconds later he was aware of nothing. Gregory easily lifted the dead weight body of Michalis and sat it in the chair by the table with his head laying on the table top surface. Gregory didn’t bother to wipe for fingerprints or DNA. There were no records that police or law enforcement agencies could access to identify Gregory. He was literally a ghost, completely untraceable and able to do what he did best with impunity. Only Lighthouse had a record of his fingerprints and DNA, however that information was for their eyes only.

© 2018 Philip Cooper

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