by Pamela McCaughey (2007)
based on "UFO" (1969-70) created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson & Reg Hill
A sequel to Siamese Conspiracy...
She twitched. A leg spasmed. Her eyelids fluttered in REM-stage sleep. Was she dreaming? A small cry...then her whiskers vibrated and her tail began to beat a tattoo on the bedcovers.
Straker woke up. Kiya, aka Kiki, was obviously having a nightmare. He stroked back her fur and spoke to her gently. She'd been having bad dreams for a month now, ever since...
Suddenly, the image appeared in Straker's mind as Kiki startled out of her restless sleep, "He's gone! He's escaped!"
* * *
"I'm afraid it's true, Ed," Alec replied, "I just found out myself. Jackson was being transferred under heavy guard to the place of execution. Apparently our own men were overpowered and killed by armed insurgents who obviously took Jackson with them."
Straker blew a stream of angry cigarillo smoke, "Who would have even known where he was being taken?"
"You, me, and the dead guards. Remember, we hadn't even informed the staff at the Salisbury facility he would arrive there - we were waiting until he he was on their doorstep and held securely before the execution was to go ahead."
"Damn it all, Alec, how the hell does that weasel always manage to stay one jump ahead of justice? And, more people always end up dead whenever he's involved."
"By the way, how did you know Jackson had escaped? I only got the call five minutes ago."
"Let's just say a little kitty told me."
* * *
After a quick shower, some coffee and a chance to see that Cleo's kittens were ok, General Straker began to consider options. He'd already ordered an immediate investigation of the escape and the vehicle had been hauled in for forensic exams. He didn't put much hope in getting many clues from the van. The on-board digital video camera ceased recorded images as soon as the insurgents stopped the vehicle. They had likely shot it to pieces or disabled it somehow - that would be in the forensic report.
Since only himself, Alec, and the five men transporting Jackson knew the time, the destination and the route to be taken to Salisbury, the only other solution was that Jackson managed to somehow get a message outside to his confederates - or perhaps one of the guards was in on the escape plot with Jackson. They were all dead now - no answers there. And, how had Kiki known Jackson had escaped at the very moment it was all happening?
In the month since Jackson's attempted coup and his kidnapping of Straker and the kittens, Kiki, more than the others, had suffered from nightmares. If she were human, Straker would have believed she was a victim of post traumatic stress. Could animals be just as traumatized as humans? Again, if Kiki were human, Straker would have placed her with a good psychologist, to help her come to terms with her fears...
Although he'd promised the kittens no more tests ever, Straker felt compelled to submit Kiki to one last friendly intrusion. He explained to her that he wanted her to visit with Drs Davidson and Zama, and he made private arrangements to take Kiki to the Salisbury facility, the original location Jackson was being taken for execution, where psi testing had been done on Cleo's feline family. Both doctors - the first a psychologist and the second a veterinarian, knew the situation intimately, and it had been their records Jackson was so eager to get his hands on. All the records had been transferred to Paul Foster at Omega in New York City and buried in the morgued files to keep Jackson or his cronies from ever gaining access to them.
* * *
Kiki surprised Straker by acting affectionately towards Drs Davidson and Zama. She had been afraid to get into the kitty carrier until Straker assured her of their destination. Together, the doctors performed a few simple veterinary tests, and she even let them draw off a small vial of blood for examination. She enjoyed herself by moving small objects in the room, and then she settled down in Straker's lap for a nap while he had a briefing with the doctors.
"These last few incidents suggest an above feline average of comprehension and reaction," Dr. Davidson started off.
"Kiki's telepathic communications with me are moving beyond simple images to actual words," Straker explained.
"In English?" Dr. Davidson smiled.
"Well...I perceive them in English, let's say."
"What about the other kittens? Are they also communicating in this manner?"
"They seem content to let Kiki speak for them corporately. Dr. Davidson, you suggested the powerful noise which disrupted everything and made our release possible had been generated by the kittens working in concert."
"We have a theory, but no real proof to back it up - other than events as they've happened," Dr. Zama offered. Straker nodded and she continued, "It's possible that the kittens, with their alien DNA, are becoming sentient."
"How do you define sentience in this case, Doctor?" Straker asked.
The two doctors looked at each other before Dr. Davidson said, "Our definition of sentience - human sentience - the kittens are evolving - they are thinking and reacting as humans would."
The General pondered for a moment and stroked Kiki's fur - her throat rumbled appreciatively, "So...what you're suggesting is that they're felines - with humanlike intelligence?"
"A growing human intelligence. Past studies have determined most felines exhibit an intelligence level similar to that of an 18 month old human child, in that cats can be taught tricks, feel and exhibit affection for those close to them, and learn from their experiences - positive or negative. From what we've documented, and the events you've reported and experienced with the kittens, Kiki and her siblings are responding to all stimuli with a humanlike intelligence and reaction," Dr. Zama added.
Dr. Davidson went on, "Whatever permutations the combination of the feline and alien DNA have evidenced, we're making the educated guess that the kittens are completely self-aware, intelligent and reactive - but in ways which have appeared to develop independently. For instance, Kiki seems to be further up the evolutionary scale than the other kittens, but they too seem to be developing the same skills she has to more or less similar levels."
"You see, General, the repercussions here are huge. The kittens' development may in some way be mirroring Orion's development - we don't have any way of knowing this for certain, of course, but one can make the theoretical leap and posit what is happening with the kittens 'could be' happening on an even greater scale with a human-alien hybrid. Supposing of course he's still alive, " Dr. Zama finished.
"But, what about the telepathy, the telekinesis, the fact Kiki 'knew' Jackson had escaped before anyone could confirm it?"
"You said Kiki had been having bad dreams just before she 'told' you about Jackson - she must have 'tuned in' on Jackson's mind and picked up the knowledge of his escape - Jackson's actions traumatized the kittens - he threatened their continued existence - and as we said - the kittens are totally self aware. They obviously must understand the concept of death -not something your average kitty is known to recognize."
Straker sighed and cradled Kiki in his arms, "They're my babies and I love them, but being Daddy to a gaggle of esper-cats is getting hard on an old fellow like me!"
* * *
Forensics didn't give much detail on the Jackson case. As suspected, the CCTV in the vehicle was shut down internally, suggesting at least one of Jackson's captors had to have been in on the escape, but since all the guards were now dead, there was conveniently nobody to interrogate.
"Where else could Jackson go but back to Mother Russia?" Alec asked sardonically, sitting back in his chair in Straker's office, a tall glass of gin and tonic in his hand. The General rarely ever saw Alec drink that early in the day.
"After all these years with us?"
"He was former KGB, Ed."
"Yes, I know, but with the fall of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union, things are different."
Alec smiled and shook his head, "Lipservice. Nothing much has changed in Russia. Black marketeers, trade in serious weapons, executions without trials, torture to get information, it's all still happening. Oh, yes, under the guise of so-called democracy - but the Russians don't know how to run their country any other way. I did manage to confirm an interesting piece of intelligence,however..."
"Let's have it!"
"Remember our little friend, the Astrophysical Commission member from Russia? He's disappeared! Nowhere to be found. How much you want to bet he was in on Jackson's escape plans somehow? He championed Jackson's coup with the Commission and he walked out pretty fast when he realised their gambit had been lost. It's only been a month - I'm surprised it took them this long to spring Jackson."
"If the Russian member really did have something to do with Jackson's escape, he must have trespassed on dozens of different channels of power and information, Alec! Not even the members of the Commission can get that close to the inner workings of SHADO and Omega!"
"It makes sense, Ed," Alec lifted his glass to make a point, "Jackson was raving about making the war with the aliens public - his political point of view just didn't happen overnight - it's been percolating for years obviously - and as a former KGB agent - he'd be privy to all kinds of information he may or may not have been passing on to us. In fact, I'll bet he was part of a network of spies fielded by the Russians from the days when SHADO and Omega were first being set up. God damn Henderson for nursing that viper in our breasts!"
"It's hard enough keeping our operations secure from public view without this whole business of Jackson and his band of traitors! And fighting some kind of twisted political idealism is much more difficult than worrying about some of our people spying for money."
"I'd like to get my paws on that member from Russia. I bet he knows a lot more than he'd ever admit!"
"Is there any way to track him?"
"I've had our people on it from the start. He's just... gone. We checked his apartment, all his haunts, his passports and visas - no records of him passing the Russian frontiers or borders, and we've hacked Interpol and they don't have anything on their sites that correspond to him at all. He's just fallen off the face of the earth."
Straker stubbed out his cigarillo in frustration, "What do we know about any of the people he was in connection with here in Britain?"
"He may have had a mistress, but we're not certain that was indeed what the relationship actually was. We've had her under surveillance for the last few days just in case - wire taps, video footage, cell phone logs dumped, her computer internet account hacked, you know the drill."
"Have you actually talked to her?"
"Nope. We were hoping he might contact her and we'd catch them together. If she knew we were watching her, she might warn him off."
"What about going in with one of our best interrogators and some amnesia drug?"
"It's your call, Ed. I'd like to hold back a bit, but if you're going to send in someone after her, get Pete Little - he's one of the best, as you know."
"Sdratvotye," the handsome young man smiled down at the petite lady trying to shoulder several bags of groceries and fussing with her handbag, and a heavy-looking laptop briefcase.
"Oh, you speak Russian...," she replied back to him - something about juggling her vegetables and her keys.
Pete Little smiled again, aware of his ability to charm women, and told her he could take her groceries while she got out her keys. She chatted back in Russian, explaining she didn't run into too many people in Britain who could speak the language so well, and Pete lied smoothly, saying he'd been fortunate enough to have a Russian baba who taught him his first words in her mother tongue.
The apartment door was opened, and the young lady reached back to take her bags. Pete managed to insinuate himself inside, finally placing the bags on the kitchen counter for her.
"Spasiba," the girl told him, and started to ask if he lived in the building when Pete's hand clamped down on her neck quickly. He caught her before she fell to the carpet, and used one foot to slam the door shut. As soon as he'd laid her on the couch, he secured the door, drew the drapes, turned on one small lamp, and sent a quick text message over his secure Omega cell phone to let headquarters know he was in.
Utilizing a small squirt of another drug - this time a mild stimulant, Pete was able to render her to a semi-conscious state - one in which she would be more willing to talk.
"What is your name?" Pete asked her quietly.
"How long have you been in London?"
"Just three years..."
"Why did you come here?"
"I was sent...by the Russian government..."
"For what purpose?"
"My job...is at the Russian Embassy...I translate diplomatic documents..."
"Your real job, Irina...what is your real job here?"
"...I am...a conduit...for information...I receive it and I pass it along..."
"What kind of relationship have you been having with the Russian member of the Astrophysical Commission?"
It dawned on Little that perhaps Irina didn't have all the answers and especially not all the info on the Russian member - maybe she never knew what he was working here for at all? Had she in fact even known he was with the Astrophysical Commission?
"Yuri Yakolev - what was your relationship with him?" Pete didn't like to divulge names, but he was going to be giving her the amnesia drug shortly anyway.
"I was...his...contact with the Embassy. And with the KGB..."
That last piece of information raised Pete's eyebrow, "The KGB? I thought the KGB was disbanded with the end of the Soviet government?"
"Noooooo...that was just a ploy...a ploy to make the western nations feel more secure...to trick them into a sense of false security so our people could infiltrate their various organizations easier than ever..."
"Was Yuri Yakolev a KGB agent?"
"What was his mission here? What were his KGB orders for?"
"To infiltrate some sort of special international organization...I don't know which one...perhaps Interpol...perhaps the United Nations...I never knew his orders...I merely passed documents on for him...they were always coded...a code I do not know how to translate..."
"Where is Yuri Yakolev now? Has he tried to contact you in any way in the last few days?"
"He has not checked in with me...or with with Embassy...I asked earlier today and my supervisor said not to trouble myself with Yakolev anymore...only that if he should contact me I was to let them know immediately."
"Do you think the people at your Embassy are interested in talking to him?"
"I think they are concerned...that he may have taken some sort of action that was not ordered by them...but he takes his orders from the KGB..."
"Do you have any documents on your laptop in your bag which pertain to Yuri Yakolev?"
The girl nodded. She was stirring more, and that mean the drug was wearing thin. Pete unhooked the briefcase and pulled out Irina's laptop. He quickly got into her documents, inserted a data stick in the right slot and downloaded everything on the hard drive. The data stick went back into his jacket pocket for safekeeping.
Pete went back to Irina. He gently smoothed her hair back from her face, and pressed his drug ring against her neck again, "If anyone asks, you spent the night alone, cooking supper and checking your e-mails...To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;/ For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause."
He slipped out the apartment, down the back stairs and exited the rear of the building. Pete wanted to get back to headquarters with whatever he'd gotten on his data stick - maybe there might be some vital clues to Yuri Yakolev and his 'actions' after all.
* * *
Marc Masson and Pete Little looked up as General Straker came into the office where they were working. Masson had downloaded Pete's data stick and they were busily decoding some of the documents which had come from Irina's laptop.
"What have we got, fellows?" Straker asked.
"Lots of documents - some in the Russian language, some coded - we're processing the coded ones now," Masson addressed the silver haired General, "It looks as though Irina was nothing more than a go-between for Yakolev and his KGB bosses."
"Yeah, Irina said Yakolev gave her coded documents which she didn't understand to pass on to the higher-ups," Pete added, "We've got hundreds of ciphers on record here from dozens of different countries and organizations - we should be able to provide a transcript in English of those coded documents soon."
"Well, I want transcripts of the whole shebang - everything on her laptop - coded and in Russian. Maybe something seeped out into the regular documents too."
* * *
Little and Masson had done a major job of decoding and transcribing the contents of Irina's hard drive. Within several hours they were able to deliver to General Straker copies of everything on DVD and a personal report.
"General, the DVD is a hard copy for your perusal," Masson explained, tossing the plastic case on Straker's desk, "But, there's some interesting references we'd like to draw your attention to."
Little placed a laptop on Straker's desk and punched up some documents, "We decoded 54 different e-mails and items from Irina's hard drive, plus of course the Russian documents. The coded documents contain numerous references to Doug Jackson and an unnamed 'event' which was supposed to happen on a specific date - the date Jackson escaped."
"What are these documents?" Straker asked tersely, lighting up a cigarillo.
"They're a series of memos sent between Yakolev and his KGB superiors in Moscow. They were funnelled through the Embassy in code of course, so Irina and other workers there wouldn't know what the information included was. Irina was chosen to work with Yakolev because she wasn't the type to ask many questions. That much is stated in some of the documents."
"What about Jackson? Is there definite proof that a plot was hatched to help him escape?"
Masson took up the discussion again, "The KGB people in Moscow are asking Yakolev for conformation that his proposed actions are necessary - it's obvious they don't have any details about Jackson's attempted coup last month. They don't understand why Yakolev wants to spirit Jackson out of Britain - why is it necessary?"
"Here's the real rub," Pete continued, "One of those documents outlines the point that Jackson was involved for many years in a mega top secret organization and that removing him would make it impossible to ever secrete another KGB operative in that organization. And that the main reason Jackson was able to gain access to said organization was because of a Cold War double agent - General Henderson."
A Cold War double agent. Pete's words sank like stones into Straker's heart. It all made sense now. Why Henderson had harried the fledgling organizations, had tried to put up road blacks against their expansion, had often attempted to refuse funding, had exerted so much control over the Astrophysical Commission for so many years. He wasn't really trying to fight the alien menace - he was working another agenda - one that had its roots in Soviet Russia - not Great Britain.
"None of the memos specifically gives Yakolev any orders on what to do about Jackson. If anything, they are questioning the need to remove him at all. Obviously, the KGB higher ups do not know even yet that Jackson staged a coup and was going to be executed for treason," Masson said, "If Yakolev did stage Jackson's escape, it was done without KGB permission or assistance - it must have been purely his own decision to save Jackson."
"But why? Why save a man who could spill it all and uncover Yakolev?" Straker wanted to know.
"I'll wager Yakolev had no idea how much, if anything, Jackson told us. Saving Jackson was a proactive event to find out just how much he knew about Yakolev's KGB involvements and how he'd managed to infiltrate the Commission. For the KGB, Jackson's failed coup attempt would mean there was every chance he'd rat out all the others who were in on it. Including Yakolev."
"If Yakolev knew how to get Jackson away from our people, wouldn't he have known Jackson was slated for execution?"
"Not necessarily. Maybe Yakolev just thought Jackson was being moved to another place of interrogation. We don't know how much Yakolev knew about the internal workings of SHADO and Omega. Even the rest of the Commission members can't get in touch with our people directly. It all has to happen through special channels, as you know. Once Yakolev's support of Jackson's coup fell through, he would be persona non grata to the rest of the Commission - they had him banned from the building. And their phones, computer systems and other electronic gear are all supplied and secured by the Omega Corporation - so we doubt Yakolev could ever have hacked into the Commission's systems."
"Only very few people knew we were even moving Jackson," Straker replied, "Myself, Alec and the men who formed the guard unit. They're all dead. I can't even imagine how Yakolev would have gotten in touch with Jackson while he was in our custody - we had him searched daily. And he didn't even know where we were transferring him to or that he was actually going to be executed there."
"Sir, I think it is highly likely that we still have some of Jackson's moles here at headquarters, if not spread throughout our entire system," Pete told the General, "I know this isn't something we want to contemplate, but I think it's true, and Masson agrees with me."
"I've wondered if one of the guards was somehow part of the plot," Straker mused aloud.
"That's entirely possible, but with all of them dead, it's not like we're going to get proof of that."
"So what do we do now?" Straker asked the two men seated before him.
"There are several possible scenarios: one: Yakolev killed Jackson himself to shut him up, or two: they both made their way back to Russia and back to their KGB bosses."
"You're telling me we'll never find them, aren't you?"
Pete had been playing with his gold chain and cross, he looked up at the General, "I'm afraid so, sir."
"Alec, I wish you'd have that headache business looked at," Straker shook his index finger at his second in command.
"Nothing a good dose of G and T can't fix," Alec grinned, knowing such comments would just send his best friend off on a lecture, "Besides, you're a good one to counsel me - Mister Smokestack. At least I gave up the ciggies."
Straker sighed, knowing he wasn't going to make any points with Freeman. They'd been friends for too many years and been through too much to intimidate each other.
"Doesn't look good on the Jackson business, eh wot?" Alec continued their briefing.
"Little and Masson have determined that the KGB neither ordered Yakolev to rescue or kill Jackson - Yakolev must have completed the mission on his own. Both men have totally disappeared without a trace."
"And, Henderson was listed as a cold war double agent," Alec smiled coldly, "I always knew that rat bastard was up to something rotten."
"We made a lot of concessions to the Soviet government in the 1970's trying to get funding from them for SHADO and Omega up and running. We hoped they'd see the alien menace as a reason to get on board with the western nations and put some of their political rhetoric aside. The sad thing is that they continued to see the lot of us as more their enemy than the aliens, and through men like Henderson and Jackson, they spied on us, tried to compromise us and finally threatened to blow everything sky high and make the war with the aliens public knowledge. I don't understand that kind of thinking."
"That's because you're not a politician or a political theorist, Ed, you're a tyrant, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course," Alec's eyes danced with amusement.
"Well, after all these years of suspecting Jackson of something, it seems anticlimactic that he's actually gone," Straker mused,
"I wonder...," Alec put his glass down, and got up from his seat.
The Works of Pamela McCaughey
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