The Inner Cadre - Chapter 9

Sir Jonothan's narrative continues ...

Q'rai was a nation saturated with blood. Had its leader, Sodom Maddafi, been resident in any civilised country, he would have been declared criminally insane and afforded appropriate psychiatric treatment for chronic paraphrenia. United Nations sanctions, tantamount to a blockade only allowing import of basic necessities, remained in force due to his obfuscation concerning stockpiles of proscribed weaponry. Yet, despite his reign of terror and the embargoes, the Q'rai populace were far from penury. Sanction-busting on a grand scale was unofficially condoned and the various western intelligence services ensured that Q'rai remained a stable entity: indeed several plots to kill Sodom Maddafi had been betrayed by MI6 in order to maintain his hegemony in the absence of any viable regime-in-waiting.

However, by the end of 2002 that situation changed: the Talabashi were emerging as a cohesive opposition, gaining support throughout Q'rai. Sodom's brutal repression failed to have any impact on this tidal wave of Islamic fundamentalism - if anything, his actions only served to enhance the Talabashi's reputation.

Following a meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee eighteen months later, the decision was taken ordering MI6 to cease operations in Q'rai other than routine monitoring. It was felt that Sodom Maddafi's empire of horror had outstayed its welcome and events must take their course. The Talabashi, although very extreme in their beliefs, had brought peace and stability to Greater Suzukstan: they could achieve the same for Q'rai, especially since the majority of the country's populace seemed to be embracing them. The Joint Intelligence Committee were worried about rumours concerning Talabashi involvement with arms-trafficking (MI6 had ceased activities in Suzukstan and therefore could not substantiate these claims), but this seemed to be a behavioural trait common to many Islamic factions. To conclude, it was agreed that Q'rai would be safe under Talabashi rule.

At the time I was far from happy with the committee's decision and, privately, its chairman Sir Donald Vale shared my feelings. Hence the subsequent, ill-fated SIIL mission to Borpal which culminated in visions of hell-on-earth.

If the Talabashi were successful in ousting Sodom Maddafi and his henchmen, they would have access to his arsenal of mass-destruction which had been so cleverly hidden from the UN De-commissioning Team. If my predictions were correct, the ensuing 'Holy War' would make the 1991 Gulf Conflict seem like a school playground scuffle. The Talabashi was a force of total nihilism and I would do everything within my limited power to destroy this blight. However, time was running out ...

Prince Adrian, Duke of Mercia was something of an enigma. Until he met Natalie Benson during December 2005, his life had been spent at a far remove from media focus, and other than obligatory attendances at royal and state ceremonies, his name was a rare feature in the newspapers. Prince Adrian had served with distinction in the Royal Marines and upon leaving, indulged in his passion for travel and adventure. From the North to South Poles, from Alaska eastwards to the Gulf of Anadyr, the Duke of Mercia's explorations were lauded in private circles. His outstanding collection of photographs, allied to pithy accounts of intrepid exploits were regularly featured in leading geographical journals. Yet, to the general public, Prince Adrian remained an elusive, somewhat shy figure.

Natalie, daughter of Raymond Benson, shared a similar passion for travel , and, when not working for her father, fulfilled her wanderlust ambitions. Raymond Benson, born and resident in Perth, Western Australia, was the majority shareholder and chairman of Benson Pharmaceutical Corporation (BPC), one of the world's largest such organisations. Natalie was manager of the firm's Middle East and Gulf States Division: BPC was the main supplier of medicines to these regions.

Prince Adrian and Natalie Benson met for the first time in December 2005 whilst the former was on holiday in Western Australia. The Duke of Mercia owned a small yet well-appointed bungalow just outside Bunbury and made a point of spending from early November to mid-December every year in his antipodean pied-a-terre. However, he did not return to England that December: two months later Buckingham Palace announced the formal engagement of Prince Adrian, Duke of Mercia to Miss Natalie Benson of Perth, Western Australia.

It became known to Sir Donald Vale and I that BPC was supplying medical goods to Q'rai in defiance of UN sanctions: indeed the psychotropic drugs used to render Sodom Maddafi coherent and stable were manufactured by the company. We had no cause to be alarmed by this flagrant breach of international law: cognizant of the Talabashi opposition's dreadful agenda for the Gulf/Middle East, it was essential to keep Sodom as compos mentis as possible. Until the end of February 2006, the Q'rai security police had been managing to contain the rebels, albeit with difficulty.

Towards the end of that month, we felt the need to seek advice from MI6 concerning the SIIL mission's revelations of September 2005. However, the situation in Suzukstan was far different to the problems in dealing with Q'rai. The latter's butchery was rarely absent from the tabloid press and consequently there was an overwhelming desire to see the regime ousted without de-stabilising the Gulf region. The Talabashi's genocide had been very carefully concealed. If Suzukstan's 'government' had been confronted with the photographs, there would have been denial and accusations of manufacturing false evidence. Doubtless, people from Borpal who had been re-settled in Central Suzukstan would be produced in order to allay any UN inquiry team's doubts.

Events took an unexpected turn for the worse on February 28th, 2006, requiring urgent action ...

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