Dungeon Royale(3)

By: Lexi Blake

“How do you feel about moving into training?”

“I feel rabidly, violently opposed to it.” He wasn’t going to be relegated to the training gym. No. He didn’t want to spend his time training recruits for the life that should have been his. He damn straight wasn’t going to invest in a bunch of idiots who would likely get themselves killed. “I’m not a trainer. I’m never going to be a trainer, Nigel.” He stood, his head swimming just a tad because it really was rather hard to breathe in this building. He couldn’t imagine being chained to a desk day after day. It would be a living purgatory. “You’ll have my resignation on your desk by noon.”

He had absolutely no idea what he would do. The decision he needed to make about his future was here, and despite having seven months to think about it, he wasn’t close to being ready for the outcome. Somehow he’d always thought he wouldn’t be forced to face it.

He’d been sure he would die in the field like a good double 0 should, not get retired like a useless object.

He was thirty-nine years old and he had absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of his bloody life.

“Damon, please sit down. I might have a solution.”

“What? I grow a new lung? Has tech managed to do that yet?” He could hear the bitterness dripping from his voice. Maybe he’d end up being one of those old men in a pub, barking at the world around him.

“We’ve had a situation come up, and you might be the only one who can take over.”

He stopped, pulling his hand back off the door handle. “Is it an operation?”

Nigel gestured to the seat in front of him. “Yes, though it’s not as dangerous as you’re used to. It’s fairly simple. We have intelligence that a known terrorist will be attempting to come into England using a cruise ship.”

He snorted a little, settling back in his seat. “Even cruise ships require passports.”

“Not in every port they don’t.”

He hadn’t thought about it like that. A cruise ship required proper documentation to get on the boat. It depended on the port of call from there. Damon wasn’t knowledgeable about their security protocols. He’d never been a holiday-type chap. If he went to a country, he wasn’t sight-seeing. He was hunting. If Damon had been running a cruise ship, he would have required proper identification, including thumbprint scans, facial recognition, and routine pat downs for everyone getting on board.

There was a reason he didn’t get invited to a lot of parties.

“What exactly do you mean? You think he’s going to wander up from the beach on some island and make his way to London?”

“We believe he’s targeted a very specific cruise. Cruises are usually full of children. This particular cruise is going to be all adult. It gives the target more of a chance to find someone he can change places with. We believe he intends to target someone with a legitimate passport, wait until he gets off the boat, and then kill the man and take his place. All he needs in most ports is a card the ship requires to get back on the boat.”

It could work. “He would have to have someone on the inside.”

“Yes. We believe he’s got an English woman working for him, but we haven’t figured out a name yet. Our source isn’t particularly close to the heart of this group.”

“What’s the group?”

“It’s a bit odd. We think this agent is working with Nature’s Core.”

He groaned. Nature’s Core was an all-encompassing lefty group who thought the world would be a better place if the banking system was shut down. They fought against everything from new technology to CEO pay scales. They were normally quite peaceful, just obnoxious. “Then it’s not a terrorist group. What are they going to do? Protest us to death? I will admit the smell they get after a month camping out in Hyde Park can be rather noxious.”

“They’re using Nature’s Core as a screen to throw us off. Our source is absolutely certain that this operative is going to attempt to enter England with biological weapons.”

Nigel was trying to send him on a wild goose chase. “How is he going to do that? Surely they have some security.”

“They do, but if he got small amounts in every port, he might be able to either sneak them on board or claim that they’re medicinal. Security won’t know the difference between a biological agent and a vial of insulin if it is done properly. And no one will check his bags as he gets off the ship in Dover.”

“If you know which ship it would come in on, why don’t we just lock it down and search the place?”

“It’s a two thousand passenger ship, Knight. And all he has to do is toss the package overboard. We need to catch him in the act. I want you to go on board, identify the target and his assistant, get control of the package, and bring everyone in for questioning.”

It didn’t sound too difficult. “Fine. Why does it have to be me?”

“Because the cruise ship is the Royale. It’s the top of the line ship in the VIP Cruise Line. They’re known for their specialty cruises.”

“Like a GLBT cruise?” He’d heard of the company. They were a party line, very adult-experience oriented.

“Yes. Or their new alternate lifestyle cruise.”

Damon sat forward, arching his brow. Seriously? “Are you telling me there’s a bloody BDSM cruise running out of Dover?”

“Yes. I know you keep your lifestyle private, but I think you can see why you’re perfect for this job. We have very little time to prepare. No more than a week and a half before you need to have a team on board.” Nigel glanced out his window and then refocused on Damon. “If you can prove yourself here, perhaps I can convince the higher-ups to disregard the medical reports. The truth is you wouldn’t be considered for this job except the two agents we had working it were involved in an auto accident. Harris broke both legs and Keller’s face looks like one big bloody bruise. I obviously can’t send her in as a submissive.”

Nigel knew about his lifestyle, but they hadn’t talked much about it besides Damon being forced to prove it didn’t impact his security clearance. Other than that, Nigel hadn’t wanted to know much.

“Why wasn’t I brought in on this operation? I can’t imagine you have anyone who understands the lifestyle better than I do.” He reached for the folder Nigel was pushing across the desk. He ran through the particulars including the fact that the cruise was a twelve-day Baltic tour that went across Northern Europe.

He spoke Russian, but he would need a partner who spoke German at the very least, Danish and Finnish preferably.

“We began the operation before you were cleared for duty,” Nigel explained.

It seemed a simple enough operation, but he would need more than one set of eyes. And he only had a week to prepare, so he would need his own people. He wasn’t close to anyone here. Well, anyone who hadn’t turned out to be a traitorous bastard. “Do you already have support in place?”

“This was Harris’s operation. He wanted to do it quietly.” The tightness of Nigel’s voice told Damon he didn’t agree.

Which was good because Harris was a bloody idiot. How did he expect to watch over an entire ship without backup? But then Harris had always been an arrogant prick who couldn’t find his head because it was usually shoved up his arse.

“I’d like to bring in my own team. I’ll want to put a couple on staff. Have we made contact with the cruise line?” It was a piece of shit assignment, but if it got him back in the field, he would work it with everything he had.

“We’re stretched a bit thin, Knight. With Harris and Keller out of the picture for a bit, I was thinking about sending in a couple of analysts.”

Good god. That would be perfectly dreadful. He needed operatives. He needed people who would take the shot when they needed to. Analysts would sit down and go through all the reasons why they shouldn’t fire the gun before maybe taking the shot.

“I believe I have a friend who owes me, and he won’t need to be brought up to speed about the lifestyle.” He’d done Ian Taggart a favor by not hauling his information broker wife back to England. Ian and Charlotte would be perfect as long as he could keep them from having sex all over the ship.

And Taggart came with a whole crew he wouldn’t have to train.

“Does he have a woman you can take in as your sub?”

Damn, it was weird to hear Nigel say the word “sub” and not mean something nautical by it. Damon ran through the women of McKay-Taggart. If he had to spend any amount of time playing in public with a sub, there was the chance of sex, the possibility that they would look odd if they weren’t sexual in some fashion. He rather thought Ian would protest if he used his wife, and Alex would just shoot him first and ask questions later once Eve’s name left his mouth. The rest all recently had babies.

Chelsea? She was smart and a bit ruthless and so uncomfortable with her own body that she would never work.

And it would be so much better to have someone who spoke a couple of languages.

“What about the blonde?” He tossed it out casually, not wanting Nigel to know how anxious he was. Penelope worked in translations. She was an analyst. Pretty, petite, perfectly round with nice-sized breasts and an as**s that he could squeeze. Sweet. Submissive. His groin, dead since the accident, gave a good flare of life.