Bigsy drove the van to Christina's private party gig. They'd brought their musical equipment but the whole sound system had been prepared by the venue. It was one of the concert halls around Birmingham. The kind that was re-purposed for trade events.
Back at the Al Akram industrial site in London, Mehdi Akram was shaking his head.
"Those delivery drivers Alan and Dave were duped by UK government forces. The last BioPen vial was handed over to the UK instead of to us."
Jake arrived first at the pub in London's Borough Market. He had grabbed a cab from outside the office and it had only taken about fifteen minutes to thread through the traffic to just south of the river.
"Tell me about Al Aktar," asked Clare to Chuck, "You must know more about their origins?"
"Yes, it's deeper than Al Aktar, and goes back to the Iraqi mindset," replied Chuck, "The Al Aktar people had thoughts which went back much further than the war driven by George Bush.
"Everyone, this is Elisa, or should I say Doctor Elisa Solomons. We have known one another for many years. When the recent situation that I've described to Jake came up, I thought I'd ask Elisa if she had any insights."
Ghali Yassim was thinking back to the first news of the destroyed truck. Most of the conversation was recorded and he was playing it back for the fifth time, trying to find any new meaning in it.
"Something has happened," said Ghali Yassim. "We have lost contact with the first truck
Chuck checked the flights to get to Cannes. He'd have to fly from New York to London, or Paris, and then take a flight to Nice. It was about 30 minutes by taxi from Nice to Cannes. He worked out he could be there by Wednesday afternoon.
James had not really slept since New York. He had fitful bursts in the economy section of the BA plane, and then while waiting in London. Now he was in Cannes. He knew he should sleep to be sharp for the next day, but a combination of adrenaline and anxiety had kept him awake.
After the horrific incidents in Egypt, James had a simple plan to create distance and to monitor his sources for any reports of what had happened. The helicopter strike on the truck in the desert and the cold-blooded gunning down of Karen Martin would make normal news feeds unless the authorities were trying to pull a security curtain over what had happened.
TWO WEEKS EARLIER
Jake was just leaving the offices of ‘The Triangle' for the evening. It was in the trendy part of Hoxton, not far from the well-known Hoxton Square, which had its own bustle every evening.
When Jake had started the company with Clare and Bigsy, they had decided it needed a base in London. They had come into serious money as a result of a previous escapade and the advice they received made them think it wise to create a proper base for whatever they decided to do next.
They turned from the walk alongside the Thames back onto a busy main road.
"I wanted this to be away from normal recording because I think we may have a loose tongue somewhere inside the Department," said Robert Alton, "I need people I can trust on this."
Robert Alton had been reading routine information feeds from his office in SI6. He'd just seen an unverified incident from Cairo. Some sort of shooting. He knew that SI6 had an operation in that area.
16:00 Eastern European Time (EET).
James expected this to be a short, sharp mission. He'd be paid and out of here in another couple of hours. He'd hand over the bag and be gone.
He sheltered on the edge of a dune. The vestigial grass had a razor-sharp edge, scratching his arm as he slithered into a comfortable position.
Bigsy and Clare had been waiting for Jake to arrive at their meeting place. They had taken up residence in a Starbucks next door to Cannon Street railway station. It gave a good vantage across the road to McDonalds on the other side.