The Night Lance Theme
Callum King, otherwise known as 009, sat with his back resting against the worn planks of the farmer’s hut, watching the sun rise with steady brilliance over the Philippine Sea. Set high above the Pacific on one of the Cagayan Valley’s many volcanic mountains, the view was pristine, and King could not recall a plush villa or resort that had a more private and awe inspiring view. His mind drawing in the morning like a life giving breath of air, King brought a steaming cup of black coffee to his lips and sipped at it lightly. As he swallowed the bold liquid he reminded himself that he must ask the farmer what brand the coffee was, as it too was among the finest quality he had ever tasted. In King’s mind his experience over these past four mornings just proved that no matter where he was, nothing was as it seemed.
From within the hut Ulanday, the farmer, called to King in crude but passible English that his watch was chirping. He took a final sip of the coffee and stood, stretching and curling his bare toes as he did.
Time to go to the office, King thought.
He pulled aside the heavy sheet that separated the one room hut from the ‘porch,’ and he made his way inside towards his sleeping bag and hiking pack where his Timex Chronometer sat buzzing. Silencing the time piece, he clasped it around his wrist. It was 6:30 AM local time. Ulanday watched him with kind curiosity, as he had done for the past four mornings, and King gave the small old Filipino an amused smile. The men had not spoken much since King had begun staying with him, but the two had connected over Ulanday’s hand carved chess board, and each night the farmer would pull out the small board and set it upon the floor, sitting cross legged behind it with a look of a hardened Field Marshal surveying the battlefield. King had only beaten Ulanday once.
King pulled on his socks and broken-in jungle boots, tucking his Multi-Cam rip stop pants into the tops of the lace ups. Next he buttoned up an olive-drab Patagonia shirt and buckled a stiff webbing belt around his waist. In the belt he clipped the holster for a silenced Walther P99, four spare magazines, and a combat knife slung horizontally in the small of his back. From a small aluminum canister he began to smear black and brown face paint across the exposed skin of his hands, arms, neck, and face.
He turned to Ulanday, “How do I look?”
The farmer appraised him with a squinted gaze before holding up his hand with his thumb extended, “Very flash, very flash.”
King smirked as he made his way to the door, shouldering a small coyote colored pack. He stepped out into the morning sun and surveyed the landscape around him. Ulanday’s terrace farm was situated on a mountain on the eastern rim of the Cagayan Valley, overlooking Tuguegaro City far below in the center of the valley’s bowl. Almost every mountain side that made up the bowl was covered from root to tip with the terraced fields, giving the valley a look of some lush organic quarry. The eastern edge of the mountains that faced the ocean however was not farmed, instead being covered with light jungle. It was for this eastern face that King made out for, setting off southeast towards the depression of Ulanday’s mountain and its southern neighbor. King made his way rapidly, but carefully, pausing frequently to study his surroundings for signs that someone was taking an interest in his intentions. He made it to the base of Ulanday’s mountain without incident almost two hours from his starting time, and he began his ascent of the next mountain without delay.
As he climbed he slowed, becoming more cautious as his altitude increased. His stops became more frequent and of longer duration, and several times he even doubled back down the mountain for a short distance to assure that he was not being followed. Another three hours passed before King found himself approaching the summit, and his pace became little more than a crawl. Upon the western crest of the mountain’s peak stood a house that was as extravagant as Ulanday’s was humble. A two story villa constructed of coral stone, and adorned with massive picture windows, the house was situated in such a way that it afforded an excellent view of both the valley and the Pacific. It was for this reason that King had slowed, picking his way carefully through the jungle, attempting to remain hidden beneath the broken shadows of the tree canopies as much as possible. It was another half an hour before he reached a spot that gave a somewhat clear view of the rear veranda of the villa, and King set himself in a clump of ferns about seventy-five yards beneath the houses eastern edge.
From his pack he withdrew a pair of high powered binoculars fitted with a thin matte black cylinder on top, with a tightly coiled cord coming off it that terminated in a small set of ear buds. King laid himself on his stomach amongst the ferns with painstaking slowness, and placed the ear buds within his ears. He then took up the binoculars and pointed them up the mountain towards the house, flicking a toggle switch on the cylinder as he did. Instantly his ears were filled with a cacophony of noises from within the jungle, and he quickly used the crosshairs projected within the binoculars to focus upon the rear facing windows of the villa. King smiled as the sound dissipated to a light hum of electronic background noise. Q had explained that the device on top of the binoculars was a laser microphone, capable of picking up sounds by the micro vibrations of solid substances as sound waves displaced the air around them. For the past few days it had been working like a charm, and King had been able to clearly listen to several conversations from within the house.
Unfortunately, none of these conversations had been the one he was listening for. MI6 had been monitoring a terrorist cell with ties to Al Qaeda, operating out of Malaysia known as Balaraw. Initially this organization was believed to pose little real threat to England and her allies, being small and unorganized. This belief had changed three weeks ago when Q Branch deciphered several emails that showed evidence that the Balaraw were setting up a meeting with a high level officer in the Filipino Navy to purchase surplus ground radars capable of tracking and targeting military aircraft. For reasons that mattered not at all to King, MI6 had decided that the best course of action was for the meeting to be confirmed, and if necessary the participants being eliminated without the involvement of the Filipino authorities. So as it was 009 found himself sitting on the edge of a mountain beneath the villa of Commander Cojuangco Mapua, listening for just such a meeting.
King had arrived in the Philippines a week ago, and had met with several members of MI6’s Pacific Station, gathering background information of Mapua and the Balaraw before the meeting of the two parties was believed to be taking place. The original plan was for King to camp out in the jungle bordering Mapua’s property, and survey the Commander and his appointments from there. Though King was more than willing to carry out the mission in that manner, being that exposed did not sit well with him. He had begun to investigate other options for his base of operations, and that is when he found the ancient file on Ulanday. It turned out that during the Cold War Ulanday had worked as an informant for NATO, functioning with both MI6 and the CIA against possible Communist insurgents that snuck into the Philippines via the ports along the coast of the Cagayan Valley. Seeing that the long in the tooth farmer was still listed as a ‘green’ asset, a new plan had formed in King’s mind, and through a vast stroke of luck, not only was Ulanday willing to help King, but his home was as close to Mapua’s as could be possibly hoped for. Despite the relative ease in which he was able to infiltrate Mapua’s property, King had struck out for the past four days, and the window provided by Q Branch’s intelligence was shrinking rapidly. If the meeting did not occur either today or tomorrow, King would have to leave to investigate other options.
The sun was just settling beneath the western rim of the valley when a silver Range Rover began to wind its way up Mapua’s long drive. King knew that Mapua didn’t own a silver Range Rover, and this piqued his interest. From his position he couldn’t get a clear enough sighting of the vehicles occupants. He debated whether to shift his position to the front of the house, but he ultimately decided to trust in his initial instincts; he had focused his microphone on the window of the great room, and he hoped that if an important meeting was to take place, it would be done there. King listened intently, and he could hear Mapua moving within his home, the sound growing louder and softer as the man traversed closer or farther away from the microphone’s focal point. As the Range Rover came to a stop in front of the villa’s main entrance, King could hear the squeak of the front door as Mapua opened it. From his vantage point, King could just make out two men getting out of the Range Rover, and they soon disappeared from view behind the corner of the house. Immediately he could make out three distinct voices within the villa, though he could not clearly discern their language, or what exactly was being said.
With a flick of his finger, King engaged a switch on the top of the binoculars that activated the devices satellite link. Almost instantaneously he heard the voice of an Intel Officer in London coming through his ear buds.
“009 we have your signal, stand by.”
King said nothing in return. The dim light in the great room window flared and he could see shadows cast by the artificial light dancing against the walls, however as of yet he could not see any person directly. The clarity of the voices also increased, and King could tell that the men were speaking Cebuano, a language that he could recognize, though unfortunately knew none of.
“They are speaking Cebuano,” said the Intel Officer, “we are analyzing their conversation now.”
Once again King said nothing, focusing on keeping the laser microphone placed upon the window. Mapua and the two others conversed for close to a quarter of an hour, night falling completely, before his ears were again filled with the voice of the man from Q Branch.
“009 our intelligence has been confirmed. You are instructed to terminate Mapua and the two Balaraw operatives.”
“Understood,” was King’s quiet reply.
King came up to a kneeling position and stowed the binoculars within the pack, returning it to his back before he rose into a low crouch, slowly drawing his Walther as he did. He could still easily see the shadows of the three men inside the great room, and he set out up the short distance towards the villa’s rear veranda, and the multiple entrances it afforded him. The chirp of tree frogs and insects helped to hide the soft sound of his movement up the mountain as he approached the short wall that separated the house from the jungle beyond. He came to the wall and crouched behind it, his pistol gripped in a low carry out in front of him. From this distance he could hear muffled voices and he paused a moment to listen for anyone else inside. King had heard none through the laser microphone, but caution was usually a spy’s most reliable gadget. Again he heard none, and with quiet swiftness he vaulted the wall and landed softly on the flag stone veranda.
The villa was shaped like an ‘H,’ with the great room and foyer connecting the two wings of the house that contained the bedrooms on one side, and the kitchen and other living rooms on the other. King was currently positioned next to the rear wall of the master bedroom, his view of the great room blocked. Crouching low beneath the bedroom windows, King made his way along the wall, approaching the corner that would give him a view inside of the great room via its large picture windows. His heart was beating within his ears, and King forced himself to breath slowly and deliberately before he inched his face past the stone corner of the bedroom wall. As his eyes cleared the corner, he could easily see into the great room. Mapua was seated on a leather couch in a pair of chinos and a loose knit shirt, a tumbler of liquor in his left hand. The two Balaraw operatives were sitting in separate small leather chairs, their backs to King as they faced Mapua, deep in conversation.
The situation presented unique challenges for King. With the picture window making up the vast majority of the great room’s exterior wall, any approach would surely allow Mapua to see him. Also, though King was confident he could kill the three men in a combined engagement, he acknowledged that such an encounter could easily turn favor against him. He had no idea as to the three men’s armament, though he could venture a guess that Mapua at the very least, being a military officer, was well armed.
Well damn my eyes.
King made up his mind, a plan coalescing like gold in a panner’s bowl. Leaving the corner, he made his way in the opposite direction along the wall, and picked his way to the front of the villa. The Range Rover was parked beneath a large awning that protruded from the front of the house, and thus the vehicle was well illuminated. Despite the illumination, because of where the Range Rover was parked, if King hid directly beside it he would be blocked from the view of the front door. He made his way to the SUV, moving around the cone of light projected by the awning until he could no longer see the front door. Crouching next to the vehicle’s rear driver side tire, he worked to quickly remove the small cap that protected the air fill plug on the tire. With it removed, King picked up a small pebble and placed it carefully inside of the cap. He then returned the cap onto the valve stem, twisting it into place until he could hear the slow and quiet hiss of air escaping the tire through the valve that the pebble was now depressing. Satisfied, King moved off into the shadows and again found his way to the veranda and his previously occupied corner.
An eternity seemed to pass as he waited, watching the three men still deep in conversation. King checked his watch several times, concern creeping into his thoughts. If the meeting lasted much longer, his plan could be ruined. He began to form a contingency course of action, when mercifully the three men stood and began to shake hands. Once again King’s heart pounded within his chest and his senses sharpened. The pistol in his hands seemed to tingle with anticipation, and his muscles began to course with electric poise. Mapua and the two Balaraw men at last made their way towards the foyer, and King took the opportunity to sprint over to a set of French doors on the opposite side of the ‘H.’ Starkly exposed, King waited at the doors, his eyes boring holes into the backs of his targets as they exchanged their goodbyes. Finally Mapua reached forward and swung the front door inward. At the same instant King silently, but swiftly, turned the door knob and pushed. He was rewarded by the door swinging inward, the slight whir of its hinges covered by the opening of the front entrance. King sprinted inside in what turned out to be the kitchen, bringing the door closed once again before hiding behind an island counter in the center of the room.
King waited, crouched uncomfortably behind the island, the Walther positioned for its dire purpose. The sound of the front door closing was like the fall of a judge’s gavel, sentencing Mapua to a most certain death. Mapua’s footfalls were clear upon the wooden floors as the naval officer made his way back into the great room, and from the sound of the groan of the leather couch he had retaken his previous seat. Opportunity spurred King up from his position, and the double-o agent glided like a jungle cat from behind the island, bringing the silenced pistol to bear on the rear of Mapua’s head. King was still easily twenty-five feet or more from his target, and so he moved with urgent deliberateness, closing the gap towards Mapua. Time seemed to take on a universal quality, eons seeming to pass with every methodical step until just six feet separated the two men. It was at that moment that both Mapua and King experienced a grand phenomenon of nature, and Mapua sensing some inkling of impending doom began to slowly swing his head towards King, an expression of bewildered confusion stitched across his face.
King pulled the trigger.
Mapua died as the subsonic pistol round entered into his cranial cavity, instantly transferring the whole of its kinetic energy into his brain. The Commander slumped forward, the only evidence of the trauma within his skull showing as a single trickle of crimson blood from behind his right ear. The bewildered expression was still plastered upon his face.
King had no time to admire his handy work, and after retrieving the single spent shell casing he sprinted out the front door and down the long winding drive leading away from the villa, and down the mountain. The road was steep, and it doubled back several times as it rapidly dropped in elevation. King ran as best he could in the dark, stumbling and sliding along the now all dirt road. It occurred to him that it would be a wholly unceremonious way for a double-o to die should he slip and fall off the road, and down the side of the mountain. Smiling at the grim notion, King ran faster.
The next bend in the road swung to the right, and King had to slide to a stop before clearing it, as the mountain wall itself had blocked the illuminated tail lights of the parked Range Rover. King moved off the roadway and into the foliage that grew alongside it. In front of him the two Balaraw men were just putting the final lug nut on the spare tire, the deflated original lying beside them. King again wasted no time, drawing the Walther and aiming it between the shoulder blades of the closest man. In quick succession he pulled the trigger, firing a total of four rounds; two into the back of each man. He knelt with the pistol still trained towards the still bodies as he policed up the spent casings, pocketing them. He then moved forward and checked the pulses of both, and with expected finality he found no life within them.
King holstered his weapon and set to work hiding the bodies in the vegetation along the road. The hiding spots would only pass a cursory inspection, but King only needed the assurance of a few hours to make his escape. Climbing into the Range Rover, he released the parking brake and placed the vehicle into drive. As he made his way down he removed the bandana from his head and wiped the make-up from his face as best he could before throwing the rag aside. He then withdrew a satellite phone from within his backpack and dialed a number from memory. The call was answered on the third ring.
“It’s done sir.”
The voice on the other end of the line was proper, and held a rich tone of inherent confidence, though King could sense a tinge of concern, “Very well 009. Return home at once, a situation of some gravity has arisen.”
“Understood M. Right away.” King ended the call and made his way down the mountain side, wondering about M’s statement as he disappeared like a ghost in the night.