The Inner Cadre - Chapter 10

Sir Jonothan's narrative continues ...

It was on the last day of February when rumours of a plot to assassinate Sodom Maddafi by altering the chemical formula of his medication became known to me (SIIL had planted an under-cover operative within the BPC workforce as soon as I was aware of Prince Adrian's liaison with Natalie Benson, in December 2005). Clearly the company's relationship with Q'rai had a sinister motive. Worse news arrived on the following day: the announcement that the couple had accepted an invitation from the Talabashi authorities to undertake a week's guided tour of Suzukstan, commencing in three days' time.

Later during 1st March, I held an emergency meeting with a very irate Sir Donald Vale: he had just resigned as Director of the Joint Intelligence Committee, exasperated with their obsession to overthrow the Q'rai regime. We decide that the priority lay in preventing Sodom Maddafi's assassination and to achieve this, more information was needed to establish when the plot was to be implemented. Obviously, Natalie Benson had full knowledge of the conspiracy but the improbability of Prince Adrian's collusion was not discussed. His relationship with Natalie was totally genuine, if precipitate. The possibility of confronting him with evidence of the Talabashi's black agenda was considered, but the latter's unprecedented invitation to tour Suzukstan had been a clever ploy to promote their respectability. In any event, by the time British officialdom had woken up and organised an emissary to meet the Duke, he would have left Australia.

Any remaining doubts in my mind were dispelled when a copy of Suzukstan's sole daily newspaper reached my desk on 12th March. In an article headed 'Shifts in the Balance of Power', Miss Benson predicted that ... 'in four weeks time , a nation living in darkness and fear will experience a sudden explosion of brilliant light' ... 'which will provide a source of purity and wisdom for the future of Islam.'

One key question will never be answered: had Prince Adrian any inkling of his fiancée's murderous intent?

Sir Donald and I were galvanized into action. Natalie Benson's tragic death would serve as a warning to the Talabashi: we were resolved to act with equal ruthlessness in order to prevent a global catastrophe. Sam Greenshaw's photographs provided every justification.

By chance and good fortune, Dr. Graham Allinson was on holiday in Australia during March 2006. His knowledge of dangerous organisms and their toxins was legion and since Natalie Benson's expedient demise had to appear accidental, this expertise was to prove invaluable.

Despite her experiences of, and expertise in outdoor survival, Miss Benson had one major anxiety: she suffered from severe arachnophobia. The Great Outback Spider is indigenous to Australia and a fully mature specimen can span an A4 sheet of paper. Although its venom is not dangerous to humans, these inquisitive creatures have caused a number of motor accidents due to their sudden appearances. Dr. Allinson decided that to use a more poisonous species - for example the funnel-web - would be foolish. Australia's more malevolent arachnids were well-known to many a coroner: if Miss Benson's body had avoided incineration during the planned car-crash, traces of venom in her blood would have aroused suspicion. Great Outbacks rarely bite, and any small amounts of poison injected disperse very rapidly.

The couple were not due to return from Suzukstan until March 20th. During the previous day, two employees from Life-Line Security Corporation's Australian Division - responsible not only for the Duke's protection but also for maintenance of his vehicle - made an ingenious modification to the car's dashboard.

A box had been concealed behind that part of the fascia facing the front passenger seat. The design was such that, following any vehicle examination in the aftermath of an accident, its presence would not arouse suspicion. The car's engine management computer system had been subtly altered to incorporate a component which, upon receiving a radio beacon transmission, would activate a 'memory wire'. In turn, this would cause the opening of a sprung panel, thereby releasing the box's contents: three Great Outback Spiders.

Half-way en route from Bunbury to Perth, motorists have to negotiate a hair-raising serpentine ascent of two thousand, five hundred feet within a distance of two miles. This stretch of road remains a notorious and much-feared accident-zone: any vehicle which strayed from the narrow highway faced a vertical descent into ruination.

A radio beacon transmitter had been placed on the approaches to a bluff overlooking the most hazardous section of the route. Upon receipt of a 'phone call from one of Life-Line's employees in Bunbury confirming that Natalie Benson, minus passenger, had left the Duke's residence, the firm's head divisional office in Perth would send out a signal to activate the transmitter.

Miss Benson had not been due to resume her work in Perth until March 31st: Prince Adrian never accompanied her whilst she was on business. He had allowed Natalie to use his car as if it almost belonged to her, rarely using the vehicle himself.

At 9:20am on 31st March 2006, Miss Benson departed for Perth and the planned 'phone call to trigger the sequence of events followed ten minutes later. It was not until 11am that the two security men at the Duke's residence made a terrible discovery: he was not at home.

Natalie had been sitting in the driving seat a few seconds before the vehicle departed. There had been no sign of Prince Adrian during the morning. His work and affairs of state often involved periods of seclusion: therefore the two Life-Line employees had no cause for undue concern. The Duke rarely ate breakfast, but always, whilst in residence, took coffee and biscuits at 11am ...

The plan worked: the three Great Outback Spiders were released from their confinement and duly wreaked the desired havoc. The car plunged over a thousand feet before being smashed to pieces. At 5pm, it was announced on Australian radio that the two bodies recovered from the wreckage had been positively identified and that within the last hour the British Special Emissary, Sir Peter Osmond, had arrived at the scene of the tragedy. A further bulletin would be broadcast once the relatives of the deceased had been informed of the accident.

I do not need to elaborate further: you are well aware of subsequent events relating to the deaths of Prince Adrian and Natalie Benson.

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