Thursday, November 27, 2008

A British Envoy Arrives in Loch Avie

Steelhead Adventures/Return to Fusang

Private Journal Entry
Head, MI-5

I was sitting in my private offices in Taigh Róis late one afternoon working through the many files requiring my attention, and preparing to write several letters when my assistant knocked on the door asking if I would receive one Lord Lloyd George of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Intelligence Agency. She presented his card for my inspection: First Earl of Dwyfor.

"Welshman," I thought to myself, and began recalling through the few phrases of Welsh that I was still able to credibly pronounce.

"Do tell His Lordship that I will join him momentarily. And please brew a pot of the Earl Grey Supreme for us."

I freshened myself and descended the stairs. Taking in the gentleman: moderate build, receeding hairline, teeth in need of some repair, impeccably dressed and an air of superiority oozing from his pores.

"Da bnawn , 'm Naf Dwyfor. At beth gwna Fi ddylu hon anrhydedda?"
"Good afternoon, My Lord Dwyfor. To what do I owe this honor?"

"'r anrhydedda ydy pawb chloddia , 'ch Gras. Gobeithia Ca 'ch bydew." He responded
"The honor is all mine, Your Grace. I hope I find you well."

I seated him in the parlor off the main ballroom and served the tea. A few pleasantries being passed, he jumped straight to the chase.

"As head of this small country's intelligence agency, I am sure that you are aware of the current crisis in the Fusang region of the Celestial Kingdom."

I nodded.

"I am sure that you are also aware the our government has for some time been working in the region, but I shall not divulge the full resources or operations details."

"Yes, Lord Lloyd, Her Majesty has informed me in the past of such things that interest her in the region."

He sniffed, took a breath and said, "Then I will thank you to kindly remove the amateurs from Caledon who are upsetting the delicate plan regarding the army of progressive peace."

"Amateurs?!" I questioned intensely, but softly.

As he nodded I reminded him that my agent did not choose to be kidnapped.

"Why then, you should simply be prepared to disavow him. For if you know anything about The Great Game, young lady, you will understand that this is how it is played. Agents who cannot be managed - who cannot be trusted to stay out of the way, must simply be moved out of the way. No sentimentality. No softness."

I arched a delicate brow.

"But perhaps you are too young to understand this, and being female... Well I can see that this may be too difficult for you to understand, I could certainly assist you in making the plans for such a thing. Why I could even...."

"Lord Lloyd!" I interrupted cooly. "YOU have greatly facilitated this entire mess with your Wards and your Gordons. Your armour. YOUR æroplanes. YOUR tinpot dictators. You should be grateful that our small nation is even willing to help salvage your chestnuts from the fire."

"Hmmmph," he grumbled like a great walrus beached on a distant northern shore. "WE already have operatives on the scene. And your operatives in the region trying to save this O'Toole and whatever else your little minds might have thought about trying - should stay out of our way. We cannot guarantee your agents' safe passage."

Calmly and cooly I looked directly into his eyes, leaning slightly onto the table between us. "My operatives, sir, are taught to fend for themselves."

"I remind you, Dwyfor, that Caledon and some of her allies, being smaller countries, are uniquely able to have a lower profile in the region, and should be of benefit to Her Majesty's efforts. Fortunately, O'Toole's situation seems completely unrelated to MI-5, Caledon, or England, sir. And I will see that he is safely home."

"Now that you have finished your tea, I shall see you to the door, sir. I believe that you have said all you came to say. Rather than trusting a letter to Victoria through your delivery, I shall send through my normal secure channels."

The door closed.

Good Lord what an insolent little man.

"Your Grace?"

"What is it, agent?"

"Some slides and a memo that may interest you."

I retired to my offices once again.

Your Grace. The Steam Lemur is functioning beautifully as you can see.

We have found him. He is alive, but entirely recalcitrant. You did not warn me of the possibility that he might refuse exfiltration!

He was not pleased with my suggestion for removing him from Celestial Kingdom.

Reasoning did not good whatsoever.

He was much in earnest. Until I receive further orders, Your Grace, I shall stay with O'Toole - the only way to ensure his eventual extraction, ma'am.

I sigh and and frown a little. "Heroics again, O'Toole?"

Yes. Yes, of course.

I draw the silver pen from it's place on my desk, find the ink, and begin my orders to LaFevre...

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