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Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

Honor Blackman, the big screen Pussy Galore, has passed away at the age of 94.


Apr 23, 2014

RIP to the greatest Pussy in film.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 10: Dragon Island


‘That's where we're going.’ Ariadne's finger came down on the map. ‘Vrakonisi.’

Looking over her shoulder, Litsas nodded. ‘Fourteen hours at least – I don't want to make her go more than about eight knots. Longer if the weather's bad. And it might be.’

‘It's calm enough at the moment,’ said Bond.

The dark indigo-blue sea slid past almost unwrinkled. Two miles away, the larger detail on shore was still perfectly clear, but its colours were just beginning to change in the approaching September dusk, the white of the scattered buildings losing its glare, the green of the trees fading and turning bluish, the tan and ochre and gamboge of the hillsides seeming oddly to have become more intense. A fishing-boat with a chain of dinghies passed towards Piraeus between the Altair and the coast, all the craft moving as smoothly as if they were running across ice.

Sailing in Greece hasn't changed a whole lot in 2000 years.


‘It's usually calm here,’ said Litsas, ‘but wait till we get past Cape Sounion and leave the shelter of Attica before you be sure. Out there you can meet a norther and it's often quite bloody. Right. We make over here towards Kea, run south past Kithnos and Seriphos, round Siphnos and sail due east. That part may not be good either, but if it's rough, we'll get some shelter from Antiparos and Paros for the last miles. Right. I'll just go and speak with Yanni.’

Litsas left them. Bond sat back and gazed out at the coast with eyes that hardly saw. He felt wonderfully relaxed and confident. The broad caique hull thrust its way sturdily through the still water, the muffled roar of the engine was even and regular, accompanied by no vibration. There were big questions yet to be settled and battles to be fought, but until first light at least everything was secure. He had had to learn to get everything possible out of such interludes before action, to savour each moment of calm that lay between him and the shooting, the running in and out of cover, the final assault and the blood.

He glanced sidelong at Ariadne's profile. Along with its abundant sensual beauty, its strength and intelligence impressed him anew. In America, in England, anywhere in the developed countries a girl of this calibre would be carving out a brilliant career for herself in journalism or entertainment. In Greece these opportunities barely existed. He felt he understood a little more than nothing of what had driven her into the arms of Communism.

Yeah, it's almost like people in a lovely situation without many options get into the idea of socialism!


Bond picked up the map and found the sickle-shaped island. A memory clicked in his mind.

‘Vrakonisi. So that was where Theseus went after he'd dumped your namesake on Naxos.’

Theseus is the mythical founder of Athens, with nobody fully proving if he was a real person or just a legend. Among his many feats he entered King Minos's labyrinth on Crete to kill the Minotaur inside. Ariadne was the king's daughter who fell in love with Theseus and provided him a sword and a ball of string that he could use to track his path through the labyrinth. While they eloped, Theseus abandoned her for some reason (like most ancient legends and myths, the versions differ). A generally accepted one is that he abandoned her on the island of Naxos where Dionysus claimed her as his bride.


‘I thought you didn't notice,’ said Ariadne, smiling and biting her lower lip like an embarrassed schoolgirl. ‘That was a silly mistake of mine.’

‘I'd only to look up the books and I could have identified the place straight away.’

‘You won't find this story in the books; it's just a local legend the old people tell.’ Ariadne settled down to impart information, but with a warmth of manner she never showed when her subject was politics.

‘None of the scholars know why Theseus took off from Naxos in so much hurry. The Vrakonisiots do. Their king had heard about Theseus slaying the Minotaur and so he sent some men to him and they begged him to come over and fight a dragon who was burning up their island with the flames of its breath. So Theseus left Ariadne sleeping and went over to Vrakonisi with the messengers. He thought he'd be back very soon.

‘But the dragon was dangerous because he could hurt you when you couldn't see him. He'd hide himself behind the mountain and breathe fire at you over it. Theseus waited for him to get started and then swam around the island and took the dragon from the rear and pulled him into the sea. And the water boiled and the steam rose so high in the air that the gods on Mount Olympus saw it and wondered what it was. At last the dragon was drowned and sank to the bottom of the sea. When Theseus got to shore he found that the boiling waves had melted so much that only a tenth part of the island was left, but the king and his family and his palace had survived and his daughters took care of Theseus while he recovered from his burns. That was a big job, and when he got back to Naxos and looked for Ariadne she'd gone. He'd been too brave for his own good.

‘They'll tell you that that's just a mythical story of what happened when the island was formed as it is today. A volcano was erupting and pouring down burning lava and at last it exploded and the sea rushed in. But I'd as soon believe in the dragon. Vrakonisi – they'll tell you it means just “rocky island”, not exciting. But that ought to be Vrakhonisi, with the letter khi. What it must really be is Thrakonisi. Dragon Island.’

And now there's a Chinese dragon!


Litsas reappeared at that moment and the words caught in his ear. He checked in his stride.

‘There's Chinese handwriting over every part of this business.’ Bond offered cigarettes. ‘The scale of the disregard for the unwritten rules of peacetime intelligence work, above all the recklessness. None of the smaller Powers who might want to resist Russian influence in this part of the Mediterranean or the Near East – Turkey, for instance – would or could risk a fraction of what these people have done. But before we go on theorizing, let's have a dose of fact. Ariadne's told us the location of this event. What we need to know now is what it is.’

Statements about the veracity of "unwritten rules" in the Cold War aside, this book was written after the Sino-Soviet Split was complete. Disputes over their interpretation of Marxism and Mao's much more aggressively anti-West stance (in addition to regular conflicts of national interest) led to the two communist powers drifting apart over the 50s and 60s. In 1966, after this book is set but before it was published, Mao began the infamous Cultural Revolution to purge all remnants of pre-Mao China and convert the country to Maoism at the cost of mass deaths, torture, and economic destruction.


‘All right. This is it.’ Ariadne drew her legs up on to the bench and clasped her knees.

‘A secret meeting has been arranged between a top Russian official – you're sure to know his name – and representatives of some countries around here and in North Africa. High-up representatives; I heard that Nasser intended to come himself, but in the end he had to appoint a substitute. All the invitees accepted the Russian invitation at last, but a snag happened when they tried to fix on a place to hold the meeting. Russia would have been the obvious one, but two of the delegates got very reactionary and said they wouldn't go there. And then they all started fighting about prestige. So they finally settled on some halfway spot on neutral ground – for some reason Greece wasn't invited. The Turks must have been behind that. Russia should have stopped them.’

Ariadne's momentary but real indignation spoke of the undying nationalism that sits in the heart of every Greek, even the most sophisticated. Litsas responded at once, nodded in sympathy, but Bond failed to notice. His thoughts were racing ahead, outlining the consequences of what Ariadne was saying and fitting this picture into the information he already had. What looked up at him was frightening.

This book is way more political than Fleming's works. Even the villain's plot has to do with international meetings and diplomacy. The later books by Gardner will pull away from that into some more elaborate and honestly wacky poo poo.


‘So,’ the girl went on, ‘an island seemed just ideal – out of the way, but enough tourists and people around so that a lot of visitors suddenly coming wouldn't be noticeable. Vrakonisi was chosen because at one end of it there's a big house on a kind of rock that you can only get to by water.’

‘I know the place you mean,’ Litsas put in. ‘That was clever of them. It'd be damned difficult to take them by surprise there. And that's what the enemy must want to do.’

Bond's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. ‘Let's consider his strategy,’ he said.

‘Over a glass of ouzo, please, James.’ Litsas got up from the table and went over to the ice-box on the port side of the companion-way. ‘In Greece you consider nothing unless with some stimulating drink, and it's the wrong time for coffee. We modern Hellenes must help our poor brains with something.’

I'm down!


From a tall wicker-covered flagon he poured three stiff drinks on to chunks of ice and handed them out.

‘This stuff is from the barrel – much better than the bottled. Stronger and not so sweet.’

Bond sipped and agreed. It had the bland fieriness he looked for in all short drinks: cool and dry in the mouth, warmly powerful in the belly. He pondered for another few moments.

‘The intention,’ he said slowly, ‘is to break up the conference by violence, killing as many people as possible in the process, and making the whole thing as public as possible. After that, the plan would have been to make it look as if my chief and I had done the job, and put us in no position to say we hadn't. Our bodies would be found with the deadly weapons in our hands. No doubt we'd have papers on us “proving” we were acting under orders. The whole affair would stink to high heaven of being fixed, of course, and nobody who understands the British would be taken in, but that's a long way from being everybody. Enough people would believe it, or go on as if they believed it, for British influence hereabouts – which is still not negligible – to vanish overnight, British prestige to be ruined everywhere, rioting to break out, burnings, shootings and worse … Gordienko wasn't fooling when he talked about a risk of war. I think he was making even more sense than he probably knew.’

So basically From Russia With Love with more explosives.


‘One moment, James,’ Ariadne leaned forward earnestly. ‘I agree with all this, but I still don't see why you're so sure that the Chinese must be responsible. The Americans are quite capable of this sort of thing. Consider their behaviour about Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam; they don't hesitate to –’

Bond started to speak, but Litsas held up his hand. ‘Let me reply, James. Listen, young lady. At Pierce College in Athens the Americans educated you, taught you English, explained to you their way of life. Were you such a bad and lazy student that you're forgetting all that? Can you see no difference between fighting aggressive Communists and this caper, killing chaps in the public streets of a friendly and peaceful nation, taking a Security chief from England completely openly? Even the worst men in Washington would not advise that. I beg you, Ariadne, forget your Leninist Institute and start to think!’

That last line needs to be framed somewhere in a museum of the 60s.


‘And,’ said Bond, ‘if they're still telling you there that the United States is world enemy number one they need to catch up on their studies. The Kremlin knows perfectly well that the main threat isn't the West any more, but the East. Surely that's not news to you?’

Ariadne had flushed. She gazed at Bond and said, still with a touch of defiance, ‘Maybe. You could be right. I don't know.’ Then she turned to Litsas and went on as before: ‘But don't tell me about aggressive Communists. That's straight out of the … the Lyndon Johnson Institute!’

At the time the book takes place, the first major escalation in sending troops to Vietnam is occurring, moving from simple aid and covert operations to actual invasion and bombing of North Vietnam.


Bond chuckled. Litsas roared with laughter and slapped Ariadne on the thigh. The three shared a moment of total understanding and pure uplifting gaiety. It was gone in a flash. Bond sipped ouzo and took up his exposition.

‘What really frightens me,’ he said quietly, ‘is the thought that this thing is so violent, so ruthless, so … so crazy, that it might easily not be a one-shot deal, but the first step in something on an even more ambitious scale. Let's consider what might conceivably happen, how bad it could be. Stage one: Britain fatally damaged, Russia's prestige weakened – so she couldn't even protect the delegates at a conference she'd convened, couldn't she, and what about the gross infringement of Greek territoriality? The eastern Mediterranean laid open for Chinese penetration. Stage two: the whole Arab world and/or Africa. I'll leave it to you to wonder what Stage three might be.’

Dastardly Chinese penetration of virgin nations!


Nobody spoke. The Altair moved peacefully and purposefully on its way. Litsas fetched fresh drinks.

‘That could be the big plan,’ he said, sitting down again. ‘But now the details. What might be the Chink plan of attack? Sea or land? Or air, perhaps? A few bombs would make plenty of casualties.’

Litsas! Language!


‘Air I rather …’ Bond shook his head. ‘They'd have to crash the aircraft somewhere near by, and crashes are tricky things to rig. There's the question of getting the pilot away – oh, they wouldn't think twice about his being killed, but he would. If they put the machine down on land they risk burning everything beyond recognition. In the water you're in even greater danger of losing the lot. I suppose you could try a duplication, one aeroplane for the assault and a twin for the crash, but that way you'd more than double your risks. No, for the time being I think we can rule out the air. Now, land. How well do you know the place, Niko?’

Litsas screwed up his face and sighed. ‘I'm trying to remember … That end of the island's pretty wild. Parts of it were never cleared for cultivating. Big blocks of stone and some dense bush. Difficult to move about, but first-class cover. If you knew your business you could hide a platoon in there.’

‘In a different way that isn't very promising either,’ said Bond. ‘You'd need something a good deal heavier than small arms to make any impression on a house. And any sort of artillery would take some installing, if the going's as rough as you say.’

‘One of those anti-tank things – what are they called, bazookas?’

Bond shook his head again. ‘I doubt it. They couldn't do much more to a tank than blow its track off. I suppose – if you could get at a window … But you'd have to get up bloody close. Of course, atomics would solve everything and to spare, though you still have a delivery problem. On the whole I think the sea's the most likely. Well, that's as far as we can go now. All we can do is get there.’

Amis is actually somewhat correct. At this time the most common handheld anti-tank rocket launchers would be the RPG-7 and M20 Super Bazooka (or its Chinese copy, the Type 51). Their warheads are generally intended for armor penetration rather than fragmentation, and I don't believe any new warheads existed for the RPG yet. Your best bet would be to hit the wall and hope that the ensuing fragmentation on the other side kills everyone.


Bond's voice and manner had turned suddenly cold, so much so that Ariadne glanced at him in concern. In fact he had gone cold inside at the mental picture, hideously clear, of a thirty-knot cabin cruiser with a stolen tactical atomic device on board slipping round the corner of the island, throwing its insanely destructive punch and making off at full speed for the horizon and a rendezvous. God, that would rock the world all right!

To conceal his agitation from the others he got to his feet and went to the saloon doorway, unconsciously allowing for the motion of the ship as he did so. By imperceptible degrees the weather had been freshening. Whitecaps were beginning to break up the surface of the dark water. The lights of a village clustered at the shore and wound away upwards and to one side. The day had not yet quite gone. Against the faint luminosity of the sky the columns of a ruined temple could be made out, an image of defiant integrity and loneliness that quietened Bond's fears. Its makers could have had no notion of how long even these remnants would outlast them and their god, but had they known they would have gone on building just the same. That was the only way to behave: to see to the doing of what had to be done.

Litsas plans out their schedule for the day and heads down to prepare dinner. He expects them to arrive at their destination around 6:00 AM.


When they were alone on the narrow strip of deck, Ariadne turned and clung to Bond. Her lips tasted faintly of salt.

As he closed his eyes and kissed her more deeply, he recognized the old feeling of surrender to another person, as always with the illusion of permanence, the seeming certainty that this, here, now, was the end of the torturing quest for fulfilment. But knowing that the illusion was an illusion, the surrender destined to be revoked, curiously made the moment sweeter. Bond yielded himself to it utterly. On all that enormous plain of black water it was as if only two human beings existed.

That was an illusion, too, and a dangerous one. He heard the mental alarm-bell that warns the experienced campaigner of duty left undone, the unlikely but possible approach-route unguarded, the vital item of equipment checked but not double-checked. It was not even so very unlikely that, somewhere on that watery plain that just now had seemed a guarantee of solitude and safety, a group of enemies, cruel, intelligent and well armed, was looking for him, bent on capture or murder.

At this point I'd expect them to climb aboard dressed as porpoises.


The three of them accordingly made what defensive plans appeared most flexible, and the necessary preparations. Then they ate a meal of black olives, fresh bread, delicious plum-shaped tomatoes, sliced raw onion and manouri cheese, followed by peaches and tiny sweet seedless grapes. They drank the light Mamos retsina and rounded off with Votris, which Litsas declared was the only drinkable Greek brandy. Two small glasses of it were enough for Bond. It carried the hint of treacliness which he could never stand in a drink. But he made the necessary polite noises.

Amis showing off his greater expertise in international cuisine than Fleming here. I believe the "Votris" brandy is Botrys, which ended production in 1986.


At ten o'clock Litsas got up and stretched. ‘Good night, you two. I'm going to bed down here for a few hours. I hope I won't be seeing you before the morning. But if I do, remember: keep quiet and keep low.’

The weather was coming from behind them now and the Altair was pitching in a steep, short rhythm. Making love in a small ship with a sea running is not unlike flying through some strange element that at one moment seems thinner than air, at the next thicker than water. For an instant, at the climax, Bond and Ariadne hung weightless, then plunged as if into the still black depths above the ocean floor.

Bond lay on his face with his arm across Ariadne's belly and sleep came quick and heavy. But he was awake in a flash when a hand pressed his shoulder and a young Greek voice whispered: Kyrie Tzems. Despinis Ariadne. Boat.’

Gats Akimbo
May 28, 2007

Ignoring this post

Amis posted:

the plan would have been to make it look as if my chief and I had done the job, and put us in no position to say we hadn't. Our bodies would be found with the deadly weapons in our hands

And a note from M explaining why the boss is going to Greece to plant bombs personally, I hope.

Apr 10, 2010

College Slice

I wonder how much Amis's personal history comes into play here. He had been a diehard Stalinist until Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin, and then became a really strong anti-Communist. So I wonder to what extent the young, idealistic Ariadne, who's basically a good person but who's been duped into believing in Communism is almost a stand in for the young Kingsley Amis.

Apr 23, 2014

Epicurius posted:

I wonder how much Amis's personal history comes into play here. He had been a diehard Stalinist until Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin, and then became a really strong anti-Communist. So I wonder to what extent the young, idealistic Ariadne, who's basically a good person but who's been duped into believing in Communism is almost a stand in for the young Kingsley Amis.

Almost assuredly all of it.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

Yeah, it's almost like people in a lovely situation without many options get into the idea of socialism!

Or fascism.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 11: Death by Water


The deck was in darkness, apart from the glow aft, where Litsas would be at the wheel. Elsewhere there seemed to be no light at all. Cloud covered the moon and stars. The wind had abated a good deal, to Beaufort 2 or 3. Keeping below the gunwale, Bond crawled aft and round the corner of the deck-housing. ‘Dead ahead,’ said Litsas quietly. ‘Stay close to the mast and have a look.’

In the Beaufort Wind Scale, a 2 or 3 would be 4-10 knots. A relatively light breeze with some mild waves.


Bond raised himself with caution. He narrowed his eyes. A shadowy bulk, showing its starboard green and a light in a pilot-house amidships, lay almost broadside across their bow perhaps six hundred yards distant. It appeared not to have way on. Bond caught a glimpse of a swept-back stub mast above the cabin top, a movement in the pilot-house. Not much else.

‘They came at about twenty knots from where Paros is,’ Litsas went on. ‘Then, when they were on our port bow, they lost way and hove to. Engine trouble, or they're imitating it.’

‘Is real engine trouble likely?’ Bond still kept his eyes on the other ship.

‘It's possible. Some boat-owners forget their maintenance. They're Greeks. Don't try enough. Anyway, if these people are true they'll have trouble if the weather gets worse again. You could hang no more than a sail like a handkerchief from that little penis, which is all their mast. I'm at half-ahead now. We'll go in slowly.’

That might actually be the filthiest word in Bond canon so far that wasn't a racial slur.


Neither spoke while the distance between the two craft lessened. Bond found that he could make out an intenser patch of darkness to his left that must be Paros. On the starboard bow was an even vaguer shape; he guessed it to be the smaller island of Ios. Ahead, beyond the gradually expanding profile of the other boat, there lay something above and around which an almost indefinable change was taking place, as if an infinitely thin sheet of water were being lowered on to a pool of black ink: Vrakonisi, and the first hint of dawn.

When the gap had narrowed to something under two hundred yards a faint hail came from the cabin-cruiser.


Akoúo – ti thélete?’ shouted Litsas and throttled his motor right back.

The exchange continued. Litsas relayed excerpts and comments to Bond.

‘Both their engines are overheating. They say. They say they've nobody on board who can make repairs. A meltémi – a northern gale – was blowing for four days and they’re afraid it'll freshen again when the sun comes up. That's reasonable. If they're true they must call for assistance. Left alone they could pile up on a reef in a couple of hours. They want us to give them a tow into Vrakonisi. Somebody else might come by, of course. But nobody might. Probably nobody will. What do we do, James?’

Bond has a choice to make between trusting them or believing they're an enemy boat. He decides to take the approach of looking like a normal person and offers the tow.


Within twenty seconds Bond had tied the string of small plastic-wrapped packages round his waist and donned the only two useful items of equipment that chance had stowed in the Altair's odds-and-ends locker: a pair of flippers and a hunting-knife for underwater fishing. In similar adventures in the past Bond had had a luxurious armoury of devices to choose from. This time, he realized without dismay, it had been and was going to go on being a matter of improvisation, guts and what physical skills he could command.

At the time this book was published, the latest Bond film was You Only Live Twice. Amis received a positive reception for the low level of gadgetry and greater focus on realistic improvisation and spycraft, apparently expecting him not to keep along Fleming's path.


He was ready. Litsas turned from the wheel and spoke low and urgently.

‘The only thing we at this end must fear is ramming. With their speed and ours I couldn't avoid that. Now over the side with you. Good luck, James.’

They gripped hands for a second, Bond threw a leg over the rail and slipped silently down into the invisible water. It struck chill, but he knew that in this sea at this time of the year it would be no worse than cool once he started to move. For the next few minutes he would be confronted with nothing more severe than a simple test of his sense of position and timing – the need to ensure that the bulk of the Altair lay continuously between him and the presumed opposition. He found time to smile at the thought of the presumption turning out to be comically mistaken, elaborate and highly lethal preparations being made against a party of Dutch businessmen or Swedish teachers on vacation. Then the Altair's engine revved up, her bow began to come round to starboard, and Bond was breast-stroking gently to keep his position.

To take and secure a line from a craft without steerage-way in anything but a flat calm is not straightforward. To do it single-handed is hazardous, but all three had agreed that Yanni was not to be involved in what was not his quarrel and must stay below in the fo'c'sle as long as danger threatened. And Ariadne could not leave her post.

Bond pushes away from his yacht and swims in a wide circle toward the approaching craft, staying far enough away that he avoids being spotted. As the two ships get close enough for a tow rope to be exchanged, Bond climbs aboard and notes five men: four in suits, one in a sailor's shirt and slacks.


Bond moved to a point just aft of the open door of the pilot-house. There was one more detail which with luck could be settled now. He edged forward for a risky look. Yes. In the flooring by the pilot's seat was a brass-edged trapdoor with a countersunk ring at its centre. Bond settled back and waited, a mere couple of strides from the fifth man's back, knife in hand.

Three of the party were now on the after-deck of the Altair, the remaining one was evidently to stay where he was. An altercation broke. Litsas was spreading his hands, protesting, the picture of outraged innocence. Bond caught a mention of his own name, then Ariadne's, then the word astinomia – police.

This was no shaker, quite the contrary. It was as if the group were interpreting, without much imagination, a rough shooting-script drawn up for them by Bond and the others the previous evening. Real police would have approached openly, with all the paraphernalia of searchlight, loud-hailer, uniforms and levelled guns. The thing was virtually certain now – but that was not certain enough. The other side must somehow be provoked into declaring itself unmistakably.

The argument continues between the men who boarded the Altair and Litsas, who insists that he had already dropped Bond off at another island.


Complete silence, except for the faint creakings in the cruiser's superstructure. Then a man's laugh, shockingly out of key with the atmosphere of strain. Then the lunatic metallic chattering of the Thompson, sounding flat and echoless across the water. A loud moan, Bond had a glimpse of Litsas grabbing for the place on the roof of the deckhouse where the Beretta lay hidden under a folded tarpaulin. The man near Bond moved at the same moment, flung himself into the pilot's seat and pressed a stud on the panel. Two powerful engines came instantly to life below decks.

Now Bond acted. He leapt forward, flung his left arm round the man's face, covering the mouth. The knife thudded into the chest once, twice, three times, the torso jerking at each blow while the hands fought unavailingly for a grip. Bond heard a thin wailing that would be inaudible a couple of yards off. Poor bastard, he thought – they told you it might just involve a bit of tricky sailing with a couple of thousand drachmas at the end of it. A fourth thump of the knife. Then trunk and limbs relaxed, warm blood flooded out on to Bond's left sleeve, he stepped aside and helped the body out of the seat.

This is a swerve from Fleming's Bond! He doesn't even know if this guy is a villain or just a hired sailor, but he takes no chances and kills him in an incredibly brutal fashion. I can't recall any instance in Fleming's books in which Bond actually killed someone who wasn't attacking him without knowing if he was an enemy, except for his few ordered assassinations.

Also, this is one of the most gruesome kills Bond has made yet. He strangled Goldfinger and Blofeld to death, but now he's soaking himself in blood slowly stabbing a man to death.


There were yells and shots from the Altair, but Bond had no time to spare for them. He darted one glance for'ard. The enemy there was crouched behind the gunwale, pistol in hand, evidently trying for a shot at Litsas. Bond dropped to his knees, shoved out of the way the legs of the man he had stabbed, got his finger through the brass ring of the trapdoor and heaved it aside. The roar of well-tuned machinery and an engine-room smell came up at him. He moved to the deck immediately outside the doorway and there, swiftly and methodically drew from the pouches at his waist the four Mills grenades. Each was surrounded by a half-inch-thick protective coating of heavy-duty grease from the Altair's stores. Again he made no delay, but with quick deft movements grasped one grenade after another in his right hand, drew out the safety-pin with his left index finger, and tossed all four down the hatchway before the seven-second fuse of the first had had time to release the firing-pin.

Then it came, a monstrous pounding, shivering bang underfoot that made the deck boards leap as if struck with a massive hammer, the buzz of flying metal, a wash of flame above the hatchway. Immediately afterwards a revolver bullet fizzed through the air four or five feet above Bond's head: a poor shot, but the next might be closer. Knowing better than to poise himself for a dive, he vaulted the rail and fell anyhow into the sea. Just as his ears went under he thought he heard a second explosion. Then he arched his back and kicked out and swam at top speed a couple of feet below the surface for a hundred counted seconds. Finally he turned and let his head come up.

The enemy cruiser is burning amidships, and another muffled explosion blows out of the deck aft. Pushing the thought of his killings out of his mind, he swims back to his own yacht as dawn approaches.


‘I think two of them went off,’ said Litsas, ‘but it was hard to tell. The fuel was exploding too. Anyway, it was enough.’

From his place at the wheel he nodded towards what was left of the cruiser. It was a mile astern now, burning less fiercely, partly obscured by the ragged smoke-cloud that was being blown almost directly towards them. If not earlier, she would begin to settle when the fire reached her waterline and the first waves came inboard.

As soon as Bond was safely picked up it had been a matter of first things first. The Altair had to get out of the area before boats from Paros or Vrakonisi could reach the scene. Bond had taken the wheel while Litsas and Yanni hoisted the mainsail, foresail and jib. Now, before a stiff following breeze, the little caique was making close to ten knots. They had decided to run south and circumnavigate Ios before coming up to Vrakonisi – another couple of hours' sailing time, but worth it to provide the makeshift alibi that would protect them against involvement in official, and unofficial inquiries. It was not until now that they had had the leisure to compare notes.

Bond told his story squatting on the after-deck, sipping the glass of Vortris and drawing deeply at the Xanthi that Ariadne had handed him. The cigarette tasted wonderful and at this moment he did not mind the sweetish tang of the brandy. He ended by asking, ‘Did anybody see what happened to the man who stayed on the cruiser's foredeck?’

‘I certainly didn't,’ said Litsas. ‘He made one shot at me, a bad one, I made a much better one and he ducked down. Then the explosions started and I never saw the chap again. Their dinghy was lashed down for'ard and he didn't go to it.’

‘He's had it anyway.’ Bond forced callousness into his voice. ‘Fire or sea. But tell it from the beginning.’

There's Bond dissociating from violence again. He fakes coldness to disguise his own traumas.


‘Oh, they asked very many questions and I was the stupid peasant – perhaps you saw some of that. Then one bloke stayed with me and the other two went for'ard to look at my daughter sleeping on the cabin-top and to make sure the dangerous criminal James Bond wasn't hiding in the fo'c'sle. Then … but I must let Ariadne tell the next part.’

‘Like Niko says, it was all luck really.’ Ariadne, sitting beside Bond with her knees drawn up and her shoulder touching his, was at her most direct and matter-of-fact. ‘I recognized one of the men. His voice was familiar right away and just then the ship turned or something and I saw it was a guy called Theodorou, who was in the same Party branch I was for a while before they expelled him for being a criminal and a leftist – you know attacking the USSR for leading the world to peace at the time of Cuba. Well, the Greek police are very corrupt and Fascist and everything, but even they wouldn't sign up a skunk like Theodorou. When he saw I recognized him, he made a horrible laugh and said I must come to his boat for questioning and … something more besides. Greek police don't behave that way either.

‘So then,’ Ariadne went on, taking another cigarette and lighting it from Bond's without ceasing to talk, so that her words came in jerks – ‘so then … I said … that would be just fine with me … and he must wait a minute while I … found my sweater. But what I found was the Thompson under the blanket and I shot him with it.

‘It was just like you said, Niko: vibration and a pull to the right, but mostly I hit him and he yelled and went down. But the other man got down too and that worried me, because I hadn't had time to shoot him and he obviously had a gun, and I was kneeling on the cabin-top while he could have moved around on the deck without me seeing him and might pop up anywhere and shoot me before I could turn. – Darling, could I have some of that, please?’

Amis served in the Royal Corps of Signals for 3 years, but I don't know exactly what he did or what weapons he qualified in. It's not unexpected that he may have been trained on the Thompson, as Britain was badly short on submachine guns in 1941 and relied mainly on Lend Lease guns and the Lanchester (a copy of the MP 28) until the Sten could be put into production. One thing he did do was get investigated by MI5 as a communist!


She took Bond's glass with both hands. They were shaking. He put his arm round her shoulders as she drank. ‘That was where young Yanni turned up,’ Litsas put in. ‘He said he didn't want to be sent to bed like a child before the trouble had even started. He wanted to help. So he went to his bunk and got out his knife and stood on the little ladder that comes up from the fo'c'sle. When the first bad man was knocked over, the second bad man was getting ready to shoot at Despinís Ariadne. But unluckily for him his back was to Yanni. The distance isn't more than about a yard and Yanni can walk like a cat. He came up from the fo'c'sle and shoved four inches of the best Sheffield steel under our friend's left shoulder. He gave no trouble after that.

‘I asked Yanni if he wanted some brandy and he said no, thank you, he thought he mustn't start drinking at his age. After knifing a man with a gun!’ Litsas laughed heartily. ‘He's back on the job now, washing down the deck. It did get rather messy.’

Bond may have just accidentally recruited the most badass crew he's ever had.


Bond shuddered. He had had to get used to the idea of involving innocent outsiders in the kind of savage, unpredictable violence he traded in, but to have brought about the initiation of an adolescent into the ways of killing was something new to him. He hoped desperately that the relative unsophistication of Greek youth would protect Yanni from the progressive intoxication with lethal weapons that, in an urban British lad of his age, could so easily result from such an episode. The alternative was not to be thought of. He asked with assumed eagerness, ‘What happened at your end, Niko?’

The Authorized Biography of 007 will give this passage a little more meaning...


‘Oh, that was nothing at all. My chap had had the common sense to get his revolver out, but when the Thompson started up the poor devil couldn't help moving his eyes off me for a second. I kicked his gun half out of his hand then shot him on the face. Child's play.’

There was a call from Yanni amidships. They turned and followed his pointing finger. But there was nothing to see. Steel-coloured water, lightly touched with the lilac of the opening dawn, stretched unbroken over the place where the cruiser had been.

Apr 23, 2014

Sandwich Anarchist
Sep 12, 2008

It's like if Captain Morgan was a Somalian pirate fuckin

Wizard Master
Mar 25, 2008

Runcible Cat posted:

And a note from M explaining why the boss is going to Greece to plant bombs personally, I hope.


Somebody fucked around with this message at 14:38 on Apr 9, 2020

Jun 8, 2001

The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics. Oh, and that stupid children's book 'The Little Prince,' ugh.

Yams Fan

Exactly my take Amis’ writing.

Somebody fucked around with this message at 14:39 on Apr 9, 2020

Gats Akimbo
May 28, 2007

Ignoring this post

I hope I'm not the only person who checked to see if the capitals in that spelled out a Secret Message.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010

Please don't quote stuff like that, because then I have to edit your post as well. Just report it. Thanks.

I'm the Book Barn IK. Feel free to PM me or email if I can help you with anything.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 12: General Incompetence


It was a beautiful morning. Out at sea the rising meltémi was blowing the tops off the waves, but off the southern shore of Vrakonisi it did no more than impart a pleasing sense of motion to the slightly flawed surface of the water, as if a giant mirror of liquid blue stone were perpetually moving south and perpetually renewing itself from the edge of the land. And on the land, in the house on the islet, all that could be felt was a mild breeze, gusting a little at times and fluttering the natural-coloured linen curtains, raising the corners of the papers on the long pale Swedish desk by the window, but cool and delicious.

Greece is regarded as one of the most beautiful and relaxing countries in the world, which is quite funny for something that wasn't "a country" for a long time. The cradle of western civilization was actually a mixed group of warring states that got annexed by several empires from Alexander the Great to the Ottomans. In addition to the mainland there are over 200 inhabited islands, which all developed their own cultures over the centuries. It says a lot that Homer considered it realistic for a journey from what's now Turkey to the western end of Greece to take 10 years.


Sitting at the desk with a glass of tea before him, Colonel-General Igor Arenski felt comfortably relaxed. This was his first undercover assignment outside the Soviet Union, though as a high official of the KGB (Committee of State Security) he had naturally made frequent trips to foreign countries in the guise of trade delegate, manager of cultural mission and the like, and had worked for over five years as a counsellor at the Russian embassy in Washington.

Arenski folded his hands behind his bald head and gazed out over the placid stretch of the Aegean. Supervising the security arrangements for this conference had been a simple matter to a man of his experience. All the real work had been done weeks before in his Moscow office. Coming all this way merely to witness the operation of the foolproof machinery he had devised was, between himself and his professional conscience, quite unnecessary. Half a dozen of his subordinates – that charming dark-eyed lad Gevrek from Soviet Armenia, for instance – could have done this part of the job equally well. That was the sort of thing these yobannye politicians never understood. They thought in terms of rank, of roubles, of protocol, of producing senior Security officers when senior diplomats were being taken under protection. As if these Arabs and Levantines would know the difference between a distinguished higher member of the apparat and a provincial area-controller!

Still, he must not complain. It was a good thing to have got away from Moscow for a time; even a short trip like this helped one to maintain an international outlook. And, although not up to the climate and standard of comfort to be enjoyed at his villa outside Sevastopol, this was an agreeable enough location. The inhabitants were a barbaric lot in general, uncouth and suspicious, but his contact with them for intelligence purposes had had to be no more than minimal, and it was true that his contact with one inhabitant – a fisher-boy or something of the kind from the port – was turning out to be unexpectedly interesting. Life was treating Igor Alexeivitch well.

Arenski was originally part of the MGB under Beria, making sure to work as inauspiciously and anonymously as he possibly could to avoid getting any sort of attention as a potential enemy. Ironically, one aspect of him helped: he's a homosexual. This was considered enough of a vulnerability that nobody expected him to risk a grab for power. Now Beria is dead and the old guard toppled, and the unqualified nobody is the safe choice for any job.


At last, bored with the play of sunlight on the most beautiful water to be found off any European coast, Arenski sighed and glanced at the file that lay open in front of him. It was necessary to go through the motions of work in order to preserve good habits. His small blue eyes moved idly over the topmost sheet, although he knew its contents by heart. The closing lines ran:

Arenski himself would not be departing with his staff. He had ten days' leave coming to him and proposed to spend as many of them here as he felt like. At the moment he felt like spending them all here. There was something about that boy's way of laughing …

A knock at the door brought him out of his reverie.

Da?’ he called irritably.

One of the two men who had first occupied the house entered and spoke in an appalling Ukrainian accent.

–  Good morning, Comrade General.

–  Good morning, Mily. Please sit down.

Amis makes an unusual formatting choice to reflect translated foreign language.


The general had quickly mastered his irritation and spoke amiably. It was a rule of his never to antagonize anybody, not even a worthless peasant like Mily who ought to be doling out bowls of soup at a labour camp.

The man perched himself awkwardly on a bad copy of a Venetian stool by the empty marble fireplace.

–  Only one thing to report, sir. There was a fire at sea about five o'clock this morning. I was informed by a man at the harbour. Two boats went out to investigate. They made a search of the area but the ship had sunk without trace. They picked up one survivor, rather badly burnt. There's a hospital of sorts in the town above the port and he was taken to it. He had some story about a fire in the engine-room.

–  A sad story, Mily. But I don't see that it concerns us, do you? Some fool of a Greek throws a cigarette-end into a tin of petrol and blows his ship up. It would be surprising if something like that didn't happen every week in a country as backward as this. You really mustn't go about flapping your ears at every piece of local gossip. A good Leninist like you should be able to distinguish at once between the essential and the inessential.

We finally found someone who disapproves of Greeks more than the protagonists!


Mily flushed and said humbly, – I'm sorry, Comrade General, I didn't think.

–  It's of no consequence, my dear Mily. Anything else?

–  Boris kept listening watch on the Athens frequency at the usual time, sir. No transmission.

–  Very good. See what that is, will you?

There was movement on the terrace outside and an excited murmur. A man's voice shouted in Greek. Mily went to the door, opened it, letting a bar of intense sunlight and a surge of heat into the shadowed room, and went out of sight for a moment. When he reappeared he seemed agitated.

–  A rowing-boat is approaching, sir. A girl and a boy of about sixteen. They're making for the anchorage.

This sort of situation had arisen a dozen times since Arenski's arrival on the islet – tourists coming to ask if and when the house would be available for rental, tradesmen from the island touting for custom – and had been easily dealt with, as he had known it would be, by one of the Greek members of the team following laid-down procedure. Normally the general would have allowed this procedure to run its course without rising from his chair, but this time he decided to oversee the matter in person. He got up, pulled his green-and-turquoise check shirt into position and sauntered outside.

Arenski heads down to the shore where one of his Greek staff is watching the white dinghy row in. They've been ignoring his orders to turn back, so Arenski listens to her. She's shouting that she's a friend of General Gordienko.


Arenski fingered his pendulous lower lip. What was happening was inexcusably irregular, but he recognized with some weariness that he could not afford to send this person away. And there was another consideration. He said with fair cheerfulness, ‘Tell them we don't know any Mr Gordienko, but the girl and her … her escort are very welcome to come ashore for a chat.’

Two minutes later the general, hands on hips, was on the mole surveying the two arrivals. The girl, a Greek or Bulgar, was cheaply pretty, over-developed about the bust. The boy, he assured himself out of the corner of his eye, was satisfactory, muscular and tanned. Arenski waited: always let the other speak first.

Sir, he is 16.


The girl faced him. ‘Do you speak English?’


‘My name is Ariadne Alexandrou. I am an employee of Mr Gordienko in Athens. I have an urgent message for the man in charge here.’

‘I'm the tenant of this house, if that's what you mean. But excuse me one moment.’

Leaving the pair in the sun, Arenski strode briskly on his short legs back into the room he had just left. He took out a spring-back file bound in the yellow of Personnel and containing photostats of identity documents and dossiers. Alexandrou. Here it was. The hair in the photograph was longer but the rest was the same. He shut the file and returned to the doorway.

‘Come over here, will you? Both of you.’ When they had reached him he went on pleasantly, ‘Your credentials are in order, Miss Alexandrou. You may come inside.’ Then, his little eyes running over the boy's body, he added, ‘And please ask your young friend if he would care for a glass of something cold in the kitchen.’

The boy looked back at Arenski while the girl put the question. His look said, as plainly as any words, that he knew what was in the general's mind and found it total filth. With a word to the girl he turned his back and strolled away.

Yanni will shiv this guy.


Arenski swallowed and drew himself up. By a tremendous effort he managed to smile at the girl, introduce himself, and say, ‘Let's sit down in the cool, shall we?’

The contentment he had felt half an hour earlier had totally departed. All things considered, he was probably the least suitable man in the whole of Soviet Security to react appropriately to Ariadne's story. Nevertheless he heard her out to the end without once interrupting.

When she had finished he sat silent and motionless for a time in his revolving chair, hands behind his head. Then he turned round to his desk and reopened the Personnel file. Finally he said, looking out of the window, ‘You were recruited by the Chief Intelligence Directorate, the GRU.’

‘That's correct.’

‘Why was that? What's a girl of your sort doing as an agent of the Red Army? Surely it would have been more natural for you to come directly under the orders of the KGB.’

‘Maybe it would, sir. It was just that … well, the man who originally signed me up to work for Russia was the Number Two of the GRU in Athens.’

The GRU hasn't really been covered in Bond, which left the general Soviet intelligence apparatus (be it SMERSH, the MGB, or the KGB) or SPECTRE as the enemy. The Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye, or Main Intelligence Directorate, is the military intelligence agency. While the FSB and others answer directly to the Russian president (and the KGB at this time answered to the Council of Ministers), the GRU is under the military command chain. In addition to foreign intelligence work, the GRU also established the first Spetsnaz special forces group in the Soviet Union; their first publicly known mission would be at the time of publication in 1968 when they captured the Prague Airport during a mass uprising.

The organization still exists as the GU, though Putin really wants to put back its old name. Does it surprise you?


‘Yes.’ Arenski still stared out of the window.

‘He was your lover, this man?’

‘Please, General, is this important?’

‘He was your lover, this man?’ It might have been a tape-recording of the previous query.

‘Yes. He was.’

‘And it was he who … converted you, I think would be the right word here – converted you to Marxist Socialism?’

‘Yes.’ ‘Have you done much counter-espionage work?’

‘Not a great deal. Chiefly on jobs that called for a girl like me.’

‘A seductive temptress,’ sneered Arenski. ‘Really, some of us behave as if we're still in the pre-Revolutionary era. Now, your father’ – he glanced at the file – ‘your father is an official of Pallas Airlines. A comfortable bourgeois.’

I see Arenski is firmly in the Revolutionary era.


When this drew no reply, the general swivelled his chair round again and studied her impersonally. Eventually he drew in his breath and said in what he meant to be a kindly tone, ‘You know, Miss Alexandrou, you're not the sort of person one expects to find working for peace in a primitive country like this one. What can be your experience of the class struggle? Where are your roots in the workers' movement? You know what you are? You're a romantic. Drawn to Communism by sentimental pity for the oppressed and to Intelligence work by false notions of glamour. And this means –’

Amis is definitely sounding biographical here. He described his youthful flirtation with communism as a “callow Marxist phase that seemed almost compulsory in Oxford” and completely renounced it in 1956 after the brutal crushing of the Hungarian Revolution that has led to the term "tankie" for diehard Stalinists. By 1967 he had done a complete 180 and was now even supporting American intervention in Vietnam.


The girl cut in sharply. ‘General Arenski, I came here to discuss something much more important than why I became a Communist. There's a terrible threat against your country and against what we both believe in. I'm awaiting your instructions.’

Arenski wrinkled his nose and sniffed. ‘Romantics like you are peculiarly apt to lose their sense of proportion. Let us look calmly at what you've told me. This episode in which Major Gordienko and two of his assistants are killed. Were any of the assailants identified?’

‘I forgot to tell you that. Mr Bond recognized the man he shot as one of the group who kidnapped his chief in England.’

‘Just so. I must say that kidnapping appeals to me. It has such an air of fantasy about it. But of course we know that fantastic things do happen. It's a pity that we have no way of obtaining confirmation of this one. And then the episode of the fight in the boats. You yourself recognized the man called Theodorou. A traitor to the working class, clearly. A criminal, you said. There you are likely to be right. That episode carries conviction of a sort. It would be interesting to interview the man who survived it.’

‘There was a survivor?’ asked the girl, sitting up sharply.

‘Oh yes. He's in the hospital here. I will institute inquiries.’ Arenski's tone carried no sense of purpose. One of the minor irritations of this intrusion was the way it had compelled him to change his mind about the significance of the fire at sea. He forced himself to continue his analysis.

Arenski is completely in disbelief at the story. Despite the Sino-Soviet split, he considers it "decidedly un-Marxist" to assume that China could let their pride and envy attack a Soviet conference. He's well aware of Bond as an international terrorist who recently committed two murders for personal revenge in Japan. As far as he's concerned, this is a personal spat between him and some rival gang and he's completely invented the story of Chinese spies to hook her along; remember at this point that they've only theorized that a Chinese agent is responsible because of the nature of the conflict and who would stand to gain from attacking the conference. They have no actual evidence of Colonel Sun.


‘May I ask a question, Comrade General?’ For the first time, the girl spoke with proper respect.

‘Certainly Comrade.’

‘How does this theory square with the murder of Mr Gordienko and his two assistants, and with Mr Gordienko thinking for sure that there is a traitor in our organization in Athens?’

‘That is two questions, but we will examine them. Gordienko and his two men were killed because the rival gang wanted Bond and they were in the way. Very regrettable, but not mysterious. Gordienko's notion of a traitor … well …’ The general turned over a small, well-manicured hand. ‘I respected old Piotr in a way, but he was never the most efficient of men. And he's been out here too long. By your own account a breach of security had clearly taken place. There'd been a leak. Gordienko had slipped up, but he didn't know just how or where. What is more natural than to create an unknown traitor who takes the blame for all your mistakes?’

‘I quite understand that, sir. You make it very clear. But I would like you to explain why, if there is no traitor, my message to you via the Embassy in Athens has never arrived.’

Arenski dismisses it as a common mistake by some dumb local who didn't understand Ariadne's coded messages. There are too many alternative explanations for what's going on for him to consider the Chinese theory anything but a fantasy. What he wants is for Ariadne to bring him Bond so he can be interrogated and kept away from harming their operation.


‘Anything I can do, Comrade General …’

‘Yes, Comrade Alexandrou, there is a great deal. I take it you have been sleeping with our Mr Bond?’ Arenski managed to keep out of his voice very nearly all the distaste he felt at the idea.

‘Yes, sir. He won't let me alone.’

‘Is he infatuated with you?’

‘Oh yes. I've very much influence over him.’

‘Better and better.’ Arenski almost beamed. ‘Persuade him to come here for an interview. Say I am gravely concerned about what has happened and need his help. Give him my word that he'll be able to depart unmolested at any time he may wish. You'll know what arguments to use. Is that clear?’

With this guy, it sounds like "unmolested" is a tall order.


‘Perfectly clear Comrade General,’ said the girl, getting up. ‘I'll bring him here as soon as I can, but you must give me a little time.’

‘By all means.’ The general also rose. ‘Tell me, how did you persuade him to let you come here this morning?’

‘By the same sort of methods as I shall use to persuade him to come himself.’

‘Just so, just so,’ said Arenski hurriedly, then, remembering his manners, added, ‘A glass of something before you go my dear?’

‘No thank you, sir. The sooner I return the better.’

‘We shall make a Marxist of you yet. Let me say how much I appreciate your services.’

The girl smiled gratefully and said with obvious conviction, ‘And let me say, Comrade General, how grateful I am to you for interpreting the situation scientifically to me and for being merciful with me about my bad attitude to this spy's deceptions. I hope I have learnt from the experience.’

Arenski bowed. He had thought her a typical Balkan whore, foolish, sentimental and pleasure-loving with a streak of gangsterism, but she had determination and her readiness to correct her mistakes was promising. He would mention her favourably in his report. ‘Au revoir, Comrade Alexandrou, I look forward to seeing you very soon.’

Yanni knifes him, or Ariadne machine guns him. Either way.


Left alone, he paced the floor for a time, frowning. It crossed his mind that the notion of a Chinese attempt to sabotage the conference was not entirely fanciful. According to report, Mao Tse-tung had been in some odd moods recently, as his retirement approached. And the behaviour of the Red Guards, the new hostility to foreigners … Then the general's brow cleared. Fantasy must be catching. Overt violence on the scale required was unthinkable in peacetime, even granted the uttermost in neo-Stalinist irresponsibility among the Chinese leaders. Nevertheless, one or two points must be cleared up at once.

This book is generally accepted to take place a year before the Cultural Revolution officially began in 1966, but it was written afterward so Amis had the benefit of hindsight when writing. Mao had already been purging insufficiently loyal officials, though the formation of the Red Guards actually had not occurred at the time of the book.


He went to the desk and rang a small brass hand-bell. Mily came in.

–  Go to the wireless room and tell the operator to contact Athens immediately. I'll come along and speak in a couple of minutes.

–  And break wireless silence, sir?

Arenski clenched his small fists. This ploughboy gaping would drive him mad. He answered in a tone of caricatured patience, – Yes, Mily, and break wireless silence. Exactly that. Now go and do as I say. And get one of the Greeks, the fat one, to go up to the hospital in the town and inquire about a – no, tell him to come and see me.

The fat Greek arrived, was briefed and sent on his way with Arenski's usual politeness. (Once outside the door, the man made the traditional five-finger gesture, meaning roughly, ‘May all your senses leave you.’) Then the general went up to the tiny oven-hot cubicle on the top floor that housed the wireless station with its R/T links to Athens and to Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which would act if required as a relay to Moscow. The latter circuit was not to be used except in conditions of threat-to-peace emergency. The room reeked of sweat and cheap Russian cigarettes. An unmade bed filled most of the space not occupied by the grey-enamelled set. Arenski pulled out a scented silk handkerchief and inhaled.

The operator, a bull-necked Muscovite with a heavy shaving-rash, handed up the microphone and Arenski got down to it.

All of the answers to Arenski's questions about Gordienko's assassination are predictable: the transmitter in Athens was defective and it took too long to repair it, which is why absolutely nothing about it or Bond's arrival had been reported. He thinks it's just like Gordienko to fail to keep his equipment in good repair and get himself killed in a fight between two bands of Western thugs.


Bond … Arenski was looking forward to the encounter. And not only that. It would be satisfying as well as advantageous to him to be able to tell the Minister, ‘I have a prisoner who may interest you. A Western gangster called Bond. No, oddly enough I found him quite easy to capture.’ Then, when the conference was over, Bond would snatch a gun and the general would have to shoot him in self-defence. Perfect.

After a moment Arenski muttered to himself in English, ‘The man who killed James Bond,’ and chuckled wetly.

Jul 27, 2010

Now With Fresh Citrus Scent!

This man has far too little paranoia to be head of the KGB. No wonder he hadn't risen farther earlier in his career.

Apr 23, 2014

Lemony posted:

This man has far too little paranoia to be head of the KGB. No wonder he hadn't risen farther earlier in his career.

Per the passage I summarized, he decided that the best way to survive in the Stalin and Beria era was to be the most boring nobody in the entire intelligence apparatus. Make no enemies or friends so nobody ever considers you a potential threat to be purged or a resource to be taken advantage of. When he's confronted with this fanciful tale of Britain's most dangerous agent teaming up with a GRU operative to stop a Chinese plot against both sides, he's inclined to instead take advantage of it to gain his first moment of fame: kill James Bond.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

Amis received a positive reception for the low level of gadgetry and greater focus on realistic improvisation and spycraft, apparently expecting him not to keep along Fleming's path.

I don't mind the reduction in gadgetry to be honest, even if Fleming himself didn't take it to the heights of absurdity reached by the movies.

E: I have a feeling that last bit inspired a certain scene in Goldeneye.

Somebody Awful fucked around with this message at 23:21 on Apr 9, 2020

Dec 21, 2012


I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird

Putin wanting to rename the GU back to the GRU surprises me a little - KGB and the GRU were rivals, weren't they? I'm surprised he doesn't name them the Unintelligence Directorate.

Rockopolis fucked around with this message at 01:37 on Apr 10, 2020

Apr 23, 2014

Rockopolis posted:

Putin wanting to rename the GU back to the GRU surprises me a little - KGB and the GRU were rivals, weren't they? I'm surprised he doesn't name them the Unintelligence Directorate.

If you're nostalgic for the Cold War period when you got to be a tough KGB officer, it makes sense to want back as much as possible.

Dec 24, 2007

Rockopolis posted:

Putin wanting to rename the GU back to the GRU surprises me a little - KGB and the GRU were rivals, weren't they? I'm surprised he doesn't name them the Unintelligence Directorate.

Now that he controls them both it's to his benefit to have each of them as grand as possible.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 13: The Small Window


‘Here they come.’

Litsas lowered the Negretti & Zambra binoculars and put them down on the cabin-top. Through the sun-dazzle Bond saw the smudge that was the dinghy, seemingly stationary at this distance, just off the point of the island beyond which the islet lay. The Altair had dropped anchor in a tiny cove whose granite sides dropped steeply into the water. Here they were secure enough from observation, but the north coast of Vrakonisi is never really comfortable in anything but a flat calm, and the caique, moored to a pinnacle of an odd tongue of rock and anchored on its narrow underwater continuation, was swinging and lurching unhealthily.

Amis is getting serious when he even namedrops the binocular brand. Amis likely has familiarity with the brand because they were based out of London and had some military contracts.


‘Go on, Niko,’ said Bond from his canvas chair on the tiny foredeck. ‘By the way, where is Kapoudzona?’

‘Macedonia. Mountain village. They're quite tough people there. I don't like them much, they have too many Bulgars and Turks, but they're tough. Well, just after the village the staff car comes to a road-block, some chaps rise up behind the rocks and blaze away, and all the German colonels are killed.

‘Von Richter is commanding the support company of an SS infantry battalion who are training close by. There's a new German order saying that attacks of the guerrillas must be punished in a quick and – and severe way. That's enough for him.

‘In two hours he's put a cordon round the village and he's lined up everybody in the square. He makes the women and children under fourteen go into the village school. It's big and it’s made of wood. Von Richter makes his men lock the doors, throw petrol down the walls and set fire to them. Some of the mothers try to push their kids out of the windows, but for them he has tommy-gunners. Then he shoots the other people. Two hundred and eight killed altogether. Two old men somehow survive to tell the story.’

After a short pause, Litsas went on: ‘I'll always remember one thing. Von Richter was standing at the school door while the women and kids were going in. When he saw a child who looked nice he patted its head or pinched its cheeks like an uncle, and spoke kindly to the mother. Oh, all the Germans love the family values.’

The last words were spoken in a thick, choked voice. Litsas had turned his back. Bond went up and put his arm around the heavy shoulders, saying nothing.

That's one thing Amis matches from Fleming's books: a nasty ex-Nazi doing war crimes.


‘Promise me you'll let me have him, James. I must kill myself. You understand that.’

‘Yes, Niko, I promise.’

Bond moved away and looked towards the approaching dinghy. It was near enough now for him to be able to see Ariadne's blue shirt and her fair hair shining in the sun. He waved to her and got an answering wave. Thank God she was near. He realized he wanted to see her – not make love to her, just look into her face and touch her hand – with more longing than he could remember feeling towards any other woman.

A movement on the hillside above the dinghy caught his eye. Somebody, a man, was making a painful diagonal descent through the piles of rock and clumped bushes, moving across the steep shoulder of the cove. His movements were peculiar, as if he were handicapped in some way. Bond, idly curious, picked up the binoculars, but by the time he brought them to bear the figure had gone out of view.

The injured man just so happens to be that sole survivor from the attack on the Altair. Badly burned and with a broken arm, but still alive. He's suffering from shock, rambling his story to Sun.


Sun was tolerant about this. Hands on knees, he sat on an olive-wood stool in an upright posture that would have put a crick in any Western back in five minutes, and gazed almost benignly at the unimpressive-looking small-time crook from the Piraeus waterfront who had endured all this for two hundred American dollars. Between them Doni Madan lounged on foam-rubber cushions wearing a black-and-green check bikini, an incongruous get-up for an interpreter. Now and then she sucked noisily at the straws of a tall pale drink.

‘Tell Mr Aris I think I have it all clear now,’ Sun said to her, ‘thank him for his services, and offer him another drink or whatever refreshment he may desire. Then I have some questions. First: how was he able to find me?’

While this was being translated, Sun kept his pewter-coloured eyes fixed on Aris's sallow, pitted face, then watched the mouth show its plentiful gold fillings as it answered. This man had behaved well, no better than any politically-conscious Chinese would, but surprisingly well for a Westerner and a non-Britisher.

Doni leaned forward to pour more brandy into the glass that was being shakily held out to her. Now she heaved her body back on to the cushions, adjusting a shoulder strap and revealing light wisps of uncut fine hair in the armpit. She enunciated carefully in her dry voice. ‘He said he thinks it's necessary to warn you, and he had received half only of his money before.’

‘That's why he made his way here, not how he knew where to come. Again.’

The colonel, sitting just as before, waited with his invariable and unnerving patience.

‘He said they all were showed a map, in case that a man was killed.’

‘Remarkable forethought and pessimism. Fully justified, as it's turned out. Well, I think I have enough for the moment.’

Aris speaks again, with Doni's translation left unknown to the reader.


After listening in grave silence to Doni's rendering, Sun turned thoughtful. ‘How these people worship words. They have no concept of the relation of words to action. If I had to take a serious view of this fellow's actions, he could not be saved by words in any language. How can he not know such a simple thing? He is divorced from reality.’

Doni waited for this part to be over. A sleepy languor possessed her, compounded of sun, sea air, the hot scents of thyme and fennel from the hillside, the effects of bed and the anticipation of lunch and more bed. She felt dimly, complacently, that nobody was ever going to take a serious view of her actions. Pretending to be rubbing oil into her skin to aid her tan, she stroked her thighs slowly.

The colonel went on in a brisker tone. 'Tell Mr Aris I quite understand the difficulties that had to be faced. Assure him that the escape of the man Bond is not serious. It will be turned to account in the interests of peace. And tell Mr Aris too that his money will be paid in full, plus a bonus of fifty American dollars for devotion to duty. He may receive medical attention now. Take him to Dr Lohmann. And get Evgeny to cook him something. Then you or your colleague may comfort him if he so wishes. But remember that he's in a weak physical state, so be sure not to comfort him too energetically.’

With a smile that cut off abruptly when she woke up to who she was smiling at, Doni pushed herself on to her knees, turned away and began talking earnestly to Aris. Sun got up from his stool, unfolding himself vertically like a puppet on a string.

That $50 would be about $414 today. Wouldn't be much of a bonus for a professional American hitman, but in Greece that dollar will go far.

This is also a great subversion of the typical Bond villain seen in film at this time. Fleming's Blofeld was originally an honorable and fair terrorist before going insane, even returning part of a ransom if he found out the conditions were not met by his henchmen, but it had become common for the villains in the film series to execute anyone who failed them. Kronsteen, Helga Brandt, and Mr. Osato were prominent examples of Blofeld executing his own underlings for not succeeding even if they could theoretically be put to use again. It's been such a common occurrence as to become a notable trope with villainous masterminds like this, making Sun unusual for actually paying his hired assassins when they face trying situations that keep them from succeeding.


Still keeping in the shadow, he moved to the corner of the stone balustrade at the outer edge of the terrace. There, perfectly impassive, he waited, his half-shut eyes flickering over the wild and glaring but motionless scene before him. They took in nothing. The rattling chirrup of the cicadas beat at his ears without penetrating them. Even if his mind had been unpreoccupied, he would still have had no attention to spare for this irrelevant alien landscape. What was important was action, not its setting. History was a matter of deeds and their doers. If people had to ask where a thing happened, it was a scientific certainty that the thing itself was not unique. And within a short time, a good deal less than forty-eight hours, he, Sun Liang-tan, was going to have accomplished something unique.

When the conversation behind him had ended and the two had gone back into the house, the colonel's face changed, though his body remained immobile. A dim slow fire seemed to be kindled behind the grey layers of the pupils and the liver-coloured lips stretched and parted. There was a rhythmical hissing like the sound of a distant air-pump. Sun was laughing.

In surprisingly good spirits, Sun bounds back into the house and into M's room.


‘Good morning, my dear Admiral. Or rather,’ – Sun consulted the black dial of the Longines at his wrist – ‘since I know you sailors are meticulous about times of day, good afternoon. How are you? I hope you have everything you want?’

M had been looking out of the tiny window. It gave him a view of a thin sliver of sea and, once or twice a day, the blessed, almost unbelievable sight of a yacht or fishing-boat, a reminder and a reassurance, for the dozen seconds it was visible, that the world still went on and was still sane. He could not manage more than a few minutes on end at the window, because standing tired him and the one chair the tiny airless room contained (its other furniture consisted of a single bed) was too low to let him see over the sill. Two things in particular tormented him: the fear that a vessel might be going by unseen while he was resting in the chair, and the knowledge that he was beginning to look forward to Sun's visits as some sort of relief from total vacancy. He was in a position to understand the first stages of that sickening and mysterious intimacy that gradually comes to unite prisoner and interrogator. He turned and faced Sun now, pale and hollow-eyed, the skin drawn tight over his cheek- and jaw-bones, but the look he gave the Chinese was steady and his voice, though strained was firm.

‘What does it matter to you, you yellow slug,’ said M with great distinctness, ‘whether or not I have what I want? Talk as you think, for God's sake.’

M, please contain yourself from these slurs!


‘No abuse, please, sir. It causes hot blood and obstacles to thinking on both sides. In answer to your question, of course it matters to me whether you have what you want, or at least your fair share of what's available here. Your strength must be kept up for your part in the experiences which lie ahead of us – which I venture to assure you, will be far in advance of anything we've so far undertaken together. And to keep you short of food, deny you access to the lavatory and so on, is no part of my plan. I will not have you subjected to any petty privations during your last days.’

M's gaze did not alter. ‘That's decent of you.’

‘But I didn't come up here only to inquire after your health, important as that is to me. I also bring you news. News of your subordinate and fellow-terrorist, James Bond.’

The effort of self-control needed to avoid betraying any sign of hope, of anything more than mild interest, almost made M stagger. He put out a hand, not too fast, and gripped the edge of the window-sill. ‘Oh yes?’ he said politely.

‘Between ourselves, I don't mind admitting that Bond has been conducting himself with some skill and energy. He has done considerable damage in the Athens sector of this operation. However, that phase was not my responsibility and is now concluded. Bond is here in the vicinity.’

No reaction from M.

He's probably not even surprised that Bond has somehow managed to get caught up in this.


‘Our habit of working in separate units, each answerable to the top, has had the curious result that while Athens was seeking to neutralize Bond at any cost I have been preparing to receive him undamaged. It will turn out my way. I'm sure we can both trust the resourceful 007 to find his way to this house. When he does so, some time tomorrow, perhaps, if not today, he'll be taken prisoner. In himself he's formidable enough, I grant, but he has no allies of any substance – merely a local whore who has done some messenger work for the Russians and a Greek Fascist cut-throat from the dockside taverns. Whereas very shortly I shall have five experienced men here to deal with him. The outcome is not in doubt.’

Sun's created a plan that only works because Bond is so lethal that you don't even need to instruct your henchmen to leave him alive, because he's leaving a trail of bodies in his wake anyway.


‘To adopt your own hideous jargon, it would be unwise of you to set too much store by your superiority in numbers.’ M managed a grin. ‘Bond has successfully taken on far worse odds in the past. Organized by much more dangerous intelligences than a sadistic Chinese infant living in a world of fantasy. Say your prayers, Sun, or burn a joss-stick or whatever you do.’

That would be a stick of incense burned as a religious offering.


The colonel showed his inward-pointing teeth. ‘Burning is a topic you should have the tact to avoid, Admiral. How is the skin on your chest?’

M went on looking at him.

‘Later we might see what we can do with your back. There we have the added factor that the recipient is unaware of where and when each successive stimulus will be applied. The uncertainty can have interesting consequences. But it's vulgar to exchange threats. I'll leave you to your lunch. Evgeny has promised something special in the way of an omelette. And today I think we might allow you a glass of wine. You will want to drink to the safe arrival of your friend and colleague.’

Turning away, M gazed out once more at the empty sector of sea.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009

Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

Speleothing posted:

Jumping back to the previous thread, which I just found in the Goldmine, I want to chime in and say that the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is an abomination and a mockery and that every copy of it should be destroyed. The book was one of my favorites as a young child, and I was absolutely horrified at how they had mangled it when we borrowed the movie from the library. They didn't even get the color right.

Also, I prefer the original illustrations to the modee ones you used, but I imagine they're not included with the ebook, and probably hard to find online.

I still want to make the fudge recipe from chitty chitty bang bang one day.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 14: The Butcher of Kapoudzona


‘The general was very worried by what I had to tell him,’ said Ariadne. ‘He wants you to go see him and have a talk. I think he proposes to join forces with you. He said he needs your help. After the interview, of course, you're free to go if you want to.’

Bond examined the tip of his cigarette. ‘What guarantee have I that he'll let me go once he's got me there?’

‘Oh, you have his word for that. The word of a colonel-general in the KGB.’

There was silence in the saloon of the Altair. Then Bond and Litsas exploded into laughter.

‘Did I do it well?’ asked Ariadne eagerly. ‘Did I have you fooled any of the time?’

Bond put his arms round her and kissed her cheek. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I'm afraid not. You'll never make a proper spy; you're too honest. We could tell you were hating every word you said and despising the whole thing for being so unbelievable. A very poor performance all round.’

No need to worry about Ariadne!

This is an interesting group for a Bond book. While Bond has had allies before, he hasn't really had this sort of dynamic where he has two or three with him virtually the entire time. It was always more like Leiter or Quarrel accompanying him for a few scenes before they separate, then the Bond girl gets involved for most of it.


‘That chap seems to be raving mad.’ Litsas was pouring ouzo for the three of them. ‘What was he thinking? You told him the whole story, I suppose?’

‘Everything. He didn't believe me. Oh, he believed the part about Mr Gordienko because even a moron like myself wouldn't tell a lie he could check out. But the rest was that James was smooth-talking me to help him fight some gangsters so that he could try to blow up this conference. He wouldn't succeed, of course, because the general's precautions are so marvellous, but the man Bond is a dangerous criminal’ – she mimicked Arenski's accent scornfully – ‘and might be a nuisance. I had to pretend to go along with him or I would not have gotten away myself.’

‘In other words,’ said Bond, ‘he went on as if he'd decided not to believe you as soon as he set eyes on you.’

Ariadne nodded vigorously. ‘Right. I was exactly the person he couldn't believe. I'm Greek, so I'm backward and stupid and a peasant. Then I'm a woman.’

At least Amis seems to be keeping up Fleming's goal of depicting women as equally competent to men.


‘Oh, he's …’ – Litsas gestured – ‘one of the boys, is he?’

‘Yes: you should have seen the look he gave Yanni. You ask him. Well, also I'm middle-class, so I'm a sentimental idiot, who can't understand politics. And finally I'm GRU and Arenski's KGB.’

‘Yes, that would certainly make you enemies,’ said Litsas dryly.

‘It must.’ Bond grinned. ‘The GRU is the Intelligence agency of the Red Army, Niko. They go in for regular spying too. That brings them up against the other lot, the KGB. They're the secret police and much larger and more powerful. There's quite a bit of rivalry there.’

The number of spy agencies the USSR had (and the name changes and shake-ups they went through) could fill multiple books on its own. The right hand actively trying to dismember the left.


‘Rivalry!’ said Ariadne with a snort. ‘Jealousy and hate. A private cold war. You remember Oleg Penkovski, the GRU colonel who spied for the West with that English businessman Greville Wynne, and committed suicide in prison in 1965. ‘Yes,’ she went on as Bond looked up quickly, ‘the official story is that he was shot in ’63, but really they were keeping him in the hope of using him in a conspiracy against the Americans. Then by poisoning himself he escaped them after all. Anyway, everybody in the capitalist countries wondered why he became a spy – it wasn't money, you see. All of us in the GRU know that Penkovski was having revenge on the KGB, getting back at them the only way he could for what they'd done to him and his friends and …’

Ariadne checked herself. Bond gave her a sardonic glance and chain-lit another cigarette.

Oleg Penkovsky was briefly mentioned in the previous thread during From Russia With Love. He was the protege of Ivan Serov, the infamous torturer in the NKVD who betrayed Beria and led to his execution. Serov was the head of the KGB and GRU at differing times, but Penkovsky betrayed the USSR by providing the UK and US with information on the Soviet missiles in Cuba. British businessman Greville Wynne was asked to be a spy for MI6 and aided Penkovsky in smuggling information to the British government. Both of them were arrested in 1962; Penkovsky was sentenced to death, though it's still unconfirmed to this day if he was executed or committed suicide in prison. Wynne was released after a year in prison in a prisoner exchange and survived until 1990. Serov was stripped of his party membership and fired from the GRU.


‘Well, no help from the general,’ he said. ‘In fact we must keep out of his way. We've learnt that much.’

‘More. A survivor from the cruiser is in the hospital here. Arenski's going to check on him.’

Bond and Litsas exchanged a glance. ‘So he was picked up after all, James. Interesting.’

‘That's about as much as you can say. We haven't the resources to watch him and find out who goes to see him and I can't believe he's any threat to us. Von Richter is our lead. Where do we start looking?’

‘The harbour. Always the harbour. We can be safe there for a short time and we must get some food, real food, hot food, meat, not these meals of a shepherd. And I'd like to refuel; the range of this tub is only a couple of hundred miles. Off we go, then.’

Litsas drained his glass and disappeared in the direction of the engine-room. Bond glanced at Ariadne. The girl's light-brown eyes were veiled and the firm Grecian mouth drooped at the corners. He put his hand gently on the back of her neck. ‘What is it, Ariadne?’

‘Oh, darling, I'm so depressed. A big operation like this and they put that man in charge of Security, a fat little fairy, a … a monster of complacency. At least they were competent before. What's happened?’

‘I could read you a lecture about bureaucracy and how promoting people for political reasons means not getting the best people, but I'll spare you that. Forget it. Rely on Niko and me. And yourself. We'll do what Arenski couldn't.’

That one sentence was already more of a lecture I need.


Ariadne nestled against him. Bond grinned to himself. Not the least oddity of this adventure was finding himself promising a Soviet agent that Soviet interests would be safeguarded. If ever M heard about that, he would –

The engine caught and Bond's mind shut down.

I think M will be too busy ranting about the Chinese to care.


The main harbour of Vrakonisi, though comparatively small, is one of the best in the southern Aegean, safe and comfortable in any weather except a southerly gale, which is uncommon in these waters. Most volcanic islands rise too steeply out of the sea to afford decent anchorages – the bay of Santorini, for instance, is over a thousand feet deep, and you must tie up to the shore or to a communal buoy – but a primeval disturbance of the sea-bed has tilted part of Vrakonisi northward, reducing the angle of its cliffs and providing a shallow strip up to eighty yards or so from the shore. This area is bounded by two short moles, the western one visibly dating back to Venetian times. Here, after refuelling the Altair moored.

Bond stood on the mole in the brilliant sunshine, waiting for the others to join him and looking about. There was plenty to see. The basin to his right was full of small craft: yachts, fishing-boats, transport vessels (most of Vrakonisi's needs have to be supplied by water), and a fleet of the little twenty- and thirty-footers necessary to an island where roads are few and bad and many inhabited places are virtually inaccessible except from the sea. Ahead, a row of small buildings lined the waterfront. At the near end were whitewashed cottages with blue or tan shutters and doors, then a grocery, a ship's supplier, harbour offices, a tavérna with a faded green awning. No neon, no cars, no souvenir shops. Not yet.

Litsas and Ariadne came ashore and the three moved off towards the bustle of the little port. From behind it the faltering zigzag of a dirt road led to the dazzling white scatter of the town, built on and around half a dozen minor crests at four or five hundred feet. And everywhere – apart from the slopes of an isolated limestone peak standing against the sky, older even than the volcano itself – ran the fantastic horizontal bands of igneous rock, black lava, porous white and yellow tufa, harder, more violently coloured strata of crimson, royal purple, seaweed-green. Vrakonisi is an unforgettable sight, but strange, even disturbing, rather than beautiful, in some way out of key with human habitation. The legend Bond had heard from Ariadne came irrepressibly to his mind. It struck him now as in one sense truer than any geological chronicle could be, in that it expressed the almost supernatural awe which any serious attempt to visualize so gigantic an upheaval must inspire.

Bond's Greek adventure seems more like Amis's reflections on his Greek holiday than Bond's actual thoughts sometimes.


They had a late lunch of fish soup made with plenty of lemon-juice, and half a dozen each of the admirable little quail-sized birds that fall to the gun all over Greece at this time of the year, accompanied by a sensible modicum of retsina. Litsas refused coffee and took himself off, explaining he must visit the harbourmaster's office, not merely to stay within the law by presenting Altair's papers there, but to keep his ears open and drop a few carefully-framed questions in that centre of island gossip.

He was back within the hour. The brown eyes were snapping and the mouth compressed in a kind of mirthless downward smile. One glance at him showed that he had news.

With a flourish he sat down, called for coffee now, and leant forward over interlaced fingers. ‘Two points,’ he said in a lowered voice. ‘I believe I have traced von Richter. A mysterious Dutchman who's calling himself Vanderveld and says he's studying rocks has taken a cottage near the eastern tip of the island. He has with him another man, a young one, also supposed to study rocks. It wasn't difficult to find this out. Von Richter hasn't tried very much to hide himself. He dined at this tavérna last evening. Of course, he didn't think he could be recognized. I think he was never within a hundred miles of here during the Occupation. We've had good luck.’

Bond frowned. ‘Niko – forgive me, but how do we know we have the right man? A description can't really –’

‘My dear chap, I have some sense. Von Richter has a special mark. He has got a blast from a gun in the face. The gases from the muzzle have given him a bad burn on the left side of the head. That ear was damaged, and the skin near it, and he lost some hair for always. Our friend the Dutchman who likes rocks has the same thing. Enough?’

And there's our disfigured villain!


‘I'm prepared to go along with it, yes.’ Although he spoke coolly, Bond felt a surge of excitement. All day his restlessness at the lack of action had been sharpened by the fear that the right way to action might never be found, that the three of them might be ignominiously and hopelessly reduced to spending the crucial night in the offing of the islet, ready to pit the Altair and a rifle and tommy-gun against whatever mass-assassination weapon the Chinese had in store. Now at any rate they had a meaningful next step. But there was something else first. ‘What was the second point?’

‘Oh yes.’ Litsas drained his coffee and chased it with ice-water. ‘It would be useless to ask at the hospital. Our man walked out of it as soon as they'd bandaged him. On his way down into the town he met a farmer on a mule and he made him tie his shoes up. The farmer offered him a ride on the mule, but he said he would walk. Some people in the town asked him to stop and rest, but he wouldn't. Everybody's talking about it and saying the farmer should have made the man go back to the hospital. Anyway, the thing is that when last seen, this chap was walking to the west. Where the Russians are having their meeting on the islet. The opposite direction to von Richter's hide-out. What do you make from that?’

‘Two hide-outs,’ said Bond, gazing at the scrubbed boards of the table. A memory was stirring, pushing feebly at the threshold of his consciousness. Something small, something recent. To grope for it was no good, he knew; to thrust it away might double its pressure, force it in the end to break through. He went on, ‘They'll join forces soon. Tonight; they can't leave it any later. The business end of the operation is presumably in the western part of the island rather than the east, so it must be von Richter who'll be making a move. The question is how. This house he's taken, Niko: is there a road to it or a path or anything, do you know?’

‘Above the house there are some vine-terraces, but you must climb a cliff to reach them. Not impossible, but very hard. I think we can forget that. He'll move by water.’

Ariadne suggests overwatch on the house from the yacht, but it'll be too difficult to avoid being spotted under the full moonlight. Suddenly, Bond remembers: the man hobbling down the hillside path must be the survivor of the boat attack. That would put the enemy hideout on the northern shore, where there's no overwatch on the Russian meeting.


Litsas's expression changed and his body grew rigid. His hand on Bond's forearm felt like heavy metal. He said in a strangled undertone, ‘He's here. Herr Hauptmann Ludwig von Richter. To your right James. Coming out of the grocer's. You can look at him. They still stare at the foreigners in these parts.’

Bond turned his head casually and at once caught sight of the German about twenty yards away. In sports shirt and shorts, a bulging shopping-bag in his hand, the man was looking over his shoulder and laughing, sharing some joke with the grocer. His companion, a fair-haired youngster carrying a wine-jar, grinned amiably. Between them they made an attractive picture of holiday high spirits, innocence, relaxation. Then von Richter faced his front and Bond saw the livid patch of skin round the ear and the dark hairless region above it. Chatting lightheartedly, the pair turned away and moved off along the quay. ‘Going home,’ said Litsas. ‘I'll just stroll along and have a look at their boat. Might help us later.’

He left. Ariadne said, ‘James, one thing puzzles me. With plenty of others. Why do they want this guy along? He always might be recognized. What's so special about him that they must have him?’

‘A good point. I suppose he might have done some work for them before. Then he's an ex-army man. That could have its uses all right.’

Ariadne nodded thoughtfully. ‘Then you're thinking of some sort of gun. A gun on the land more likely than the sea?’

‘Oh God, there's no knowing at this stage. Land diversion, sea attack, the other way round. Anything.’

"A chemical reagent turning everyone into human time bombs!"


Another thoughtful nod, but one that suggested a private train of reasoning being pursued. ‘There are millions of ex-army men. This one's an atrocity expert. That's what's so special about him. But why must they have one? And that gun still bothers me. How could you get anything big enough up that slope? And how was it brought here? Perhaps there's a sort of gun that –’

‘Atomics,’ said Bond grimly. ‘Close-support type. That would be portable enough. At the moment I can't think of any feasible alternative.’

The thought silenced them both until Litsas returned. ‘A biggish dinghy thing with an outboard motor,’ he reported. ‘They're casting off now – we'll give ’em five minutes.’

"Biggish dinghy thing." Very eloquent, Litsas. I see why you were hired.


‘There's a matter we can settle in those five minutes,’ said Bond. ‘Yanni.’

‘What about him?’ ‘Well, we've got to pay him off now, haven't we? We shan't get another chance.’ Litsas considered. ‘I know we said we'd do that, but must we, the way things have turned out? He's good with the knife. And he's jolly useful on board. He can stay out of the really bad part.’

‘Look, Niko.’ Bond faced the other man squarely. ‘Yanni is going. Right away. The kid's got a family, I suppose, parents? Well, how's anybody going to face them if Yanni's damaged or killed? And there are other ways of being damaged than just physically. Enough has happened to Yanni already on this trip.’

‘I didn't think of that,’ said Litsas, looking crestfallen and self-reproachful now. ‘Of course you're right. There's a chap I know just along there who will go to Piraeus late this evening. I'll fix it up with him.’

Ten minutes later, after a brisk exchange of handshakes, Yanni had been dropped and the Altair was standing out from the port. In one of those mental film-clips that the memory sometimes records at such moments, Bond registered everything around him in all its hard-edged clarity.

Bond knows what it's like to lose family.


Astern were the gay variegated tints of the harbour, sails, awnings, flags of a dozen nations and freshly-painted hulls showing among a dense thicket of masts, and above all this the natural colours of Vrakonisi itself, no less diverse, but grim and ancient, giant washes and scribblings on a raw pile of rock with a life-span measured in millions of years. To Bond's right Litsas was at the wheel, dark eyes narrowed, brown hands easing the bows round to starboard; to the left Ariadne stood poised like a statue, clothed marble, fine tendrils of tawny hair blowing forward above her ears in the evening breeze. And ahead, the sun going down like a fat incandescent orange and a hint of lead entering the steely brightness of the enormous sea.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

That has its quirks, but on the whole it's a really good sequence.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

This is an interesting group for a Bond book. While Bond has had allies before, he hasn't really had this sort of dynamic where he has two or three with him virtually the entire time. It was always more like Leiter or Quarrel accompanying him for a few scenes before they separate, then the Bond girl gets involved for most of it.

I'm rather enjoying the team approach. Livens things up.

chitoryu12 posted:

"A chemical reagent turning everyone into human time bombs!"

"Jurgen's goat explodes, but mine does not!"

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 15: 'Walk, Mister Bond'


Bond sat on the moonlit hillside two hundred feet above water-level and longed for a cigarette. He had found a lump of granite the size of a golf-hut which gave him shadow and something to lean his back against. It was not a perfect observation post but it was the best that could have been hoped for after a hurried visual reconnaissance from the deck of the Altair just before the daylight went. Stationed at a roughly central point above and behind the five scattered houses marked down earlier as possible headquarters of the enemy, he had a direct view of two, could see a third by moving fifty yards to his left, and had a clear enough grasp of the positions of the fourth and fifth to make it impossible for von Richter's boat, even if it approached unlit, to put people ashore without giving away their destination.

For the moment all seemed in order. While sailing past they had spotted a tiny beach no bigger than a billiard-table, with what was evidently a climbable outlet to the steep slopes above. Down there, after a lot of grumbling, Litsas had agreed to remain and watch developments from a lower angle, the dinghy hauled up behind a tongue of rock that would, by night at any rate, mask it from seaward observation. The Altair, with an even more rebellious Ariadne on board, was a mile and a half away on the southern coast, tied up at the quay of a fishing village among a dozen other boats of similar build, the best camouflage available.

Though most of the time the silence was immense, it was not altogether unbroken. Until an hour before, a wireless or gramophone in the nearest house had been playing snatches of bouzouki music, that curious amalgam of conventional Western harmonies and Slav, Turkish and Arab rhythms and turns of phrase, a style in which the best singers, with their broken, complaining intonation, can blend together harshness, sexual excitement and desolate sorrow. Now the exotic melodies had faded and the house they came from was in darkness, but its neighbour was still lit up and an occasional snatch of talk or laughter drifted up to Bond on the warm air. Once or twice he had heard the wavering, chilly call of an owl from the crags above him and, immeasurably far off in the direction of the town, the clink of a goat-bell. Otherwise nothing.

While the bouzouki (a sort of lute) is now a major part of Greek music and similar stringed instruments date back to ancient times, this particular one is actually a Turkish import from the early 20th century.


Bond peered at the luminous dial of the Rolex Oyster Chronometer on his wrist. Three ten. He had no doubt that his basic reasoning was correct and that von Richter would come. When he would come was another question. First light was favourable, but arrival at some other time could not be ruled out, even possibly well on into the following morning with everything out in the open, von Richter and his companion welcomed as house guests. That would almost certainly put paid to any reasonable hopes of effective counter-measures. Typically, Bond did not allow himself to pursue this train of thought, but he was coldly aware that this operation was becoming more and more of a slippery slope, on which not merely a false step, but miscalculation of any detail of the lay-out, could be fatal.

Then he heard the boat.

It was approaching from the west, coming round the corner where the islet was. In a couple of minutes it puttered into view, carrying navigation lights and a rather dim white one for'ard. When it had completed its rounding movement it ran parallel with the shore for perhaps a quarter of a mile, then turned in and began to make straight towards the farther of the two houses Bond could see from his post, the one whose lights were still burning. No fuss, no elaborate concealment, no double-bluff blaze of publicity either. Bond nodded to himself and got to his feet. He must get down for a closer look.

Bond hurries back down the rocky hillside. Finding similarity between the grass and the golf course turf, he realizes it's been only slightly more than 3 days since he was at Sunningdale.

He finally reaches a gully that leads in the general direction of the target house.


Cover first. He glided into the protective shadow of a slab shaped like the gable end of a farmhouse that lay across the lip of the gully as if it had fallen there yesterday, though it must have reached its present position before Vrakonisi was on any map. The nearest angle of the house was less than thirty yards away, its flat roof on a level with where he crouched; that could wait. A little farther off at about ninety degrees, von Richter was just stepping on to a miniature stone quay. Bond caught the shiny, hairless patch of skin above the left ear. A short heavy man with a round head, who had been making fast at the bow of the boat, now moved amidships and, with the help of von Richter's blond assistant, heaved ashore what looked like a large sports-bag. Bond craned forward. The bag bulged oddly and was clearly awkward and heavy. There followed perhaps a dozen boxes about eight inches square, of dark-painted metal as far as could be made out in the illumination of the one light on the boat and another, not much stronger, on a bracket at the corner of the house. The boxes too seemed heavy for their size. Then, incongruously, came two smart tartan-panelled, plastic-covered suitcases. So far, the unloading had proceeded more or less in silence. Now a voice spoke.

The speaker was somewhere at the front of the house and out of view. His voice was pitched at a conversational level, in key with the casual, non-furtive atmosphere of the whole landing procedure. The man addressed von Richter by name and welcomed him to the house in the most ordinary terms. Unexpectedly, he spoke in English, but much more striking were his odd pronunciation as if instead of learning the language he had had it fed into him mechanically, and, through a thin veneer of pleasantness, the unmistakable ring of authority in his tone. Bond knew that he had heard the enemy leader speaking. He waited as patiently as he could for a sight of the man.

Bond is denied his first chance at a view of Colonel Sun, as Von Richter moves forward and follows him into the house. The assistants continue going back and forth from the boat, bringing in a parade of crates and suitcases past Bond's hiding spot, before turning the outside light off. Bond is surprised at the seemingly small size of the assassination weapon judging from the crates brought in.


He hung on for another twenty minutes. No change. He moved.

It took him something over an hour to make a slow, careful circuit of the house and the possible approaches. At the end of that time he had satisfied himself that there were no trip-wires or similar alarm systems, that no sort of access from the sea was both physically practicable and free of a strong risk of immediate detection, and that, in addition to the gully he had used tonight, a good alternative route led directly down the hillside to within ten seconds' dash of a terrace at the back of the house. The terrace was a difficult but possible climb for one man, no problem for two.

Back in his shelter under the horizontal slab, Bond weighed chances and times. At the moment, with the moon down, the darkness was entire, relieved only by starlight, but the first signs of dawn could be expected within fifteen minutes. He must be off soon. But a glimpse of the internal lay-out of the house would be invaluable. He walked briskly down the final slope and across rough stone flags to the side door of the house. Without hesitation he lifted it against its hinges by the shank of the knob and turned slowly, producing a single, almost inaudible squeal of metal. Then, still lifting, alert for the first beginnings of a creak, he pushed. The door yielded. A millimetre at a time now.

In five minutes or so he had an aperture a foot wide. He took in the staircase in profile ahead of him, the beginning of steps on the left that must lead to the rear terrace, a dimly-lit corridor with rooms opening off it. At once, as if activated by his glance, the door of one of these rooms opened and somebody started to come out.

What saved Bond for the moment was that whoever was emerging paused at the threshold as if to exchange a word with another person inside the room. Bond shut the side door in an agonized conflict of care and speed, turned and ran. Before he was halfway up the slope the external light flicked on. He dived into his refuge and was facing the house, Walther in hand, without an instant's conscious thought.

Bond aims his gun at Von Richter's chest as he approaches the slope. He gets to within barely five yards, then abruptly turns and disappears. Finally, Colonel Sun comes out to give Bond a good look.


He stared hard at the tall spare figure as it approached, the shoulders and hips loosely jointed, rolling easily, the yellow face set in a faint smile, presumably in the direction of von Richter, but not altering its basic impassivity. Movements and expression gave an air of vast careless power. This was a man who would do anything. Bond was considerably impressed, but he grinned savagely to himself at this confirmation of another guess. All the way from China, by God!

The man followed the direction von Richter had taken. Ten to fifteen yards away, and slightly above Bond's position, the two began to talk.

‘Is this place suitable for your purposes?’ asked the first voice in English, the same English as Bond had heard earlier from the front of the house.

‘Yes, Colonel, I'm sure it will do admirably.’ An unexpected light drawl, accented but agreeable. ‘Not on the rock, of course. I may have to water the soil a little, but I can experiment with that later. So. Quite satisfactory. Perhaps we could have the light off now.’

‘Certainly.’ The Chinese raised his voice. ‘Evgeny! The light, please.’

Evgeny: a Russian. That would be the stocky man.

‘Now we shall see exact operating conditions,’ the curious tones went on. ‘I think you'll find we've timed it correctly.’

The light went out.

As Bond's eyes adjust, he can see the sky slowly turning blue as dawn approaches.


Infuriatingly, neither spoke for several minutes. Then the German said, ‘There! You see him?’

‘Ah yes. Excellent.’

‘We're using a simple colour code which we've brought to something near perfection this last month. As I told you, we had every facility. Enjoyable work. And the necessary research’ – von Richter put a special emphasis on this word; Bond imagined an accompanying grimace or gesture – ‘was fascinating.’

‘And conclusive, I hope.’

‘Yes, yes. It'll look right and be right. Ballistically and medically. You can be positive on that point.’ The Chinese muttered something polite and silence fell again.

Bond was sweating. He had just made up his mind to shoot both men in the back as they returned to the house and count on surprise to deal with Evgeny and the blond boy and whoever else was about. He wiped his right hand on the torn knee of his slacks and settled himself more firmly.

Someone should do a series of Bond fanfics where it's just every point in the book where Bond decides to just shoot the bad guy when he first gets the urge, and it progresses on from there.


‘Well, I think we've seen enough for now,’ said von Richter. ‘Willi and I will line up after breakfast.’

‘Very good. This Willi – how did a boy like that take to the research?’

‘Remarkably well. He's had rather an interesting history, young Willi. His father was one of Himmler's men; the Americans hanged him at Nuremberg – you know, the usual war-crimes fantasy. Willi was a baby in arms then …’

Himmler himself, Hitler's right-hand man for much of the war, would commit suicide while in British custody in May 1945.


There was more, but Bond stopped listening. The voices were retreating in the direction of the anchorage. He brought his gun up and waited. Perversely, the two did not cross diagonally from where they had been standing, but evidently walked straight to the water's edge. When they finally came into sight they were between seventy and eighty feet away. Bond dismissed it at once as not worth trying: the light was still poor and the chances of an effective left-and-right negligible. Unless they turned back … But no; awkwardly bunched from his point of view, they strolled past the upper-works of the boat and disappeared behind the front of the house. So much for that.

Poor the light might have been for an aimed shot, but it was already uncomfortably good enough for movement to be spotted, and increasing as if a screened lamp-wick were being turned up. Bond spent a minimal three minutes listening for any sign of the return of the German and the Chinese, then came out of his shelter and started up the gully. But going up was slower than coming down, and by the time he reached the upper end the sun was showing signs of appearing. He paused here to breathe and consider; the stony slope looked horribly exposed; still, there it was, a naked streak of hillside he would have to climb a hundred feet to get round. So … He got to his feet, squared his shoulders and walked steadily over to the far side. Up on to the level stretch, walking as before – no point in using the thorn-bushes as background in this light – and into the shelter of the overhang. On to where the flat pathway ended.

Bond takes well over half an hour climbing down to the huge jumble of rocks on the edge of the cliff. There's a small rock platform at the end, which will lead down to the beach.

As he climbs onto the platform, a man stands up on the far side and aims a revolver at him.


He was a tall man in a cheap dark suit, now crumpled and torn. Binoculars in a green plastic case were slung across his shoulder. He said in a thick Russian accent, ‘Good morning, Mister Shems Bond,’ and sniggered.

Bond stood stock still and waited.

‘I see you from … up,’ the man went on in a tone of good-humoured explanation. ‘Now … we go up.’ He pointed to the hillside with his left hand.

Bond made no move.

‘No? Then … shoot you. Not too bad.’ The Russian slapped his leg. ‘Friend of me … up.’ He made hoisting and carrying motions, but the revolver never wavered. ‘Is difficult. You fall maybe. Me … that's all right.’ Another snigger.

Bond's only hope is to go on with the plan and hope he can find cover to dive away during the climb. He acquiesces and is forced to drop his gun.


‘Friend of you’ – a gesture towards the beach – ‘no good, eh? Now … walk, Mister Bond. Slow slow.’

Bond was on the point of obeying when the other lurched abruptly as if slapped hard on the back and the unmistakable bang of a medium-calibre cartridge came apparently from beneath their feet, immediately followed by the sound, thin but clear, of a rifle-bolt being pulled back and returned. There was one echo of the shot, distant and delayed.

The man's gun-arm had dropped. His eyes held Bond's with a dreadful look of puzzlement, of pleading to be told how this thing could have happened. Bond said hoarsely, ‘You've been shot with a rifle, from the beach.’ His heart was thumping. He never knew if his message was understood. The Russian had half turned to look behind him when a second shot flung him off balance. He went down the slope in a sort of slack-limbed dive and finished with his face in a heap of small stones. There was a patch of blood on one shoulder-blade and another above the hip.

After scooping up the Walther, Bond made it to the beach in two minutes. Litsas had the dinghy already in the water, pushed off at once and grabbed the oars.

‘Good shooting, Niko,’ said Bond at length.

‘Not bad, eh? Uphill too, but fighting in Greece makes you used to that. Anyhow, not more than two hundred yards. I dropped a Jerry staff-sergeant once at six hundred with that little beauty.’ He gave the Lee Enfield, now lying across Bond's lap, an affectionate nod. ‘These fellows today forget all about the rifle. If they see nothing for fifty feet all round they think they're safe. Eh. I bet our friend up there had a very big shock when I hit him.’

This is why you go with partners!


‘He did,’ said Bond in a hard voice, remembering the look on the man's face.

‘I was watching jolly carefully but I had no idea he was there until he popped up at you. Didn't give me much time.’

‘He saw you all right. He said as much.’

‘Oh, really? Then he had no excuse at all to show himself to me like that and to stay exposed while he waved his gun at you. Who was he, anyhow?’

‘One of Arenski's men. He saw me while he was patrolling the hillside and came down to cut me off.’

‘I'm afraid we make the brave general very angry. Let's hope he doesn't try to interfere with our plans for tonight.’

Apr 23, 2014

Getting ahead of myself in food and drink testing. From the Spy Who Loved Me novelization, Noilly Prat vermouth and tonic with a dash of lime juice. Try it! I did 3 to 1.5 on tonic to vermouth.

Dec 9, 2003

R.I.P. Inter-OS Sass - b.2000AD d.2003AD

chitoryu12 posted:

the Spy Who Loved Me novelization

I'm so glad!

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 16: The Temporary Captain


At noon that day the Altair was five miles due south of the port of Vrakonisi, running north-westwards. Visibility was excellent, promising fair weather to come, but the sea had again got up a little since the early morning, and the caique, moving diagonally across the direction of the waves, lurched clumsily from time to time. More clumsily in fact, than an experienced hand at the wheel would have permitted.

George Ionides was relatively inexperienced with boats of this sort, though he was an expert handler of his own little coastal runabout, the twenty-four-foot Cynthia. He hoped the weather would not get any worse before it got better, not for his own sake – his next few hours' sailing would be mostly in the protection of one island or another – but for the sake of the Cynthia and, to a lesser extent, of the people now on board her. What did they want with her and where were they making for?

First things first. With a satisfied grin, George brought the head of the Altair round just far enough to take an extra steep sea squarely under the bow and so forestall any tendency to roll. He was learning fast; he always had. It was a matter of instinct, of being a natural sailor. His grandfather had often said … But forget that. Those people. They were up to something illegal, no doubt of it. The two Greeks, the man and the girl, had been smooth and plausible enough, but the other man, the hard-faced Englishman, was undoubtedly a desperate type. George Ionides had seen that immediately. It had been no surprise to him at all when, an hour previously, the men had taken aboard the Cynthia two objects wrapped in sacking that were clearly guns of some sort. George had politely turned his back, of course, and pretended to study the weather. It was not for nothing that he was a native of Cephalonia in the Ionian islands. That was the Cephalonian way of handling things: use your head, use your eyes, keep your mouth shut.

Litsas approached George and his 14-year-old cousin/cabin boy at the harbor and offered him 3000 drachmas (half now, half later) to exchange boats for 36 hours. Litsas gave him strict instructions to head south to Ios and stay there until he returned later that day, but George is not a particularly responsible man. As soon as our intrepid protagonists were out of sight, he headed northwest with a plan to relax a bit in Paros before taking off just in time to reach Ios for the rendezvous.


Obeying instructions to help himself to whatever he fancied he poured a glass of kitró and settled down on one of the benches. He sipped luxuriously at the delicious drink – native to Naxos and obtainable only there, on Ios and on Vrakonisi – and reflected that it was perhaps a little early, but he was on holiday. The deceptively weak-tasting liquor, bland and viscous, with the bitter tang of the lemon rind in it as well as the sugared-down sharpness of the flesh, relaxed him.

The drink is commonly called kitron, a citron liqueur.


Lighting a cigarette, he glanced idly out of the window. They were passing, at a distance of about a hundred yards, the islet at the south-western tip and, on it, the grand house where a very rich foreigner was known to be staying and amusing himself with the local boyhood. These people seemed to think they could do as they liked in the islands! George made a spitting grimace. Then he noticed somebody in a dark suit, perhaps the foreigner himself standing on the terrace of the house and apparently looking straight at him. As George watched, screwing up his eyes against the glare, the man hurried indoors, returning after a quarter of a minute with another. The new arrival examined the Altair for a longer period through binoculars which he then passed to his companion. More examination. A third man now came bustling out and joined the first two. All three seemed very interested in the passing boat. George could not imagine why. He got up, strolled out to the rail and gave a friendly wave.

The three men, confused, give a wave that seems to grow in enthusiasm like they're faking it. Half an hour later, they're on their way to Paros; his fiancee Maria lives there, and he wants to show her parents that he really is a worthwhile husband by letting them all aboard and wining and dining them.


By way of immediate return for these efforts, George would be entitled to talk to Maria, to hold her hand and above all to look at her. He would not, of course, expect to spend much time with her alone. That had always been part of the system, the way life was arranged. George was tall and well built and dark-eyed, and working in the tourist trade brought him plenty of sexual opportunities. He took them. Nobody minded that, but a great many people would have minded a great deal if he had started trying to treat his affianced bride in public like a German or English office-girl on holiday. He knew that some of the younger people made a mock of the system, but it suited him well enough. (It had never occurred to George to wonder what Maria thought of the system.)

It'll be a big fat Greek wedding!


However, at times when he was picturing Maria in his mind, as now, he would find himself trying to imagine in detail what lay beneath her spotless white dress, what that swelling bosom would be like to see and touch, what she would do when he … George pulled himself together. Such thoughts were useless as well as disturbing – if he had been backward and provincial, instead of modern and sophisticated, he would have called them sinful.

They left his mind for good when he glanced astern. A shape rapidly overhauling them soon identified itself as the motor-boat he had seen moored at the islet. This was puzzling, and a little frightening. George Ionides examined his conscience and, as best he could, his legal standing. The paperwork position might be irregular, but he had done nothing against the law by temporarily swapping boats with a man whose good faith he had had no specific reason to doubt. George held to his course.

The men hail to him in Greek, and George truthfully gives his and his cousin's identities as temporary captain of the Altair. The foreigners give a very shaky bluff about being part of a nonexistent Royal Hellenic Coast Guard and come aboard. George correctly figures they're looking for someone, and even if these guys aren't legit Coast Guard they're probably not wise to cross.


A little later, the three men completed their fruitless search of the Altair and confronted George on the afterdeck. Two of the party were foreigners, disagreeable-looking fellows with tight mouths; the third was fat and soft and looked like the worst sort of Greek, perhaps a Salonikan. One of the foreigners spoke in a language that sounded to George like a form of Bulgarian. The fat man translated.

–  Where is the man Bond?

–  I know nobody of that name.

–  You are lying. He was on this ship a few hours ago.

George shrugged. The fat man went on translating.

–  There was an Englishman on board this morning, wasn't there?

–  Yes. He didn't tell me his name. We had no dealings with each other.

–  Where is he now?

–  I have no idea. He did not confide in me.

–  You are lying, you lump of excrement. Where did you last see this man? And this time you speak the truth.

–  About fifteen miles away. At sea, south of Vrakonisi. He and his friends took over my boat and I theirs.

–  Where were they bound for?

–  I have already answered that. I don't know.

One of the men loses his temper and grabs George, screaming in his face in a language he doesn't understand. George is much stronger and simply shoves him off, demanding they get off his boat.


This was a much more serious mistake. The words were hardly out of his mouth before, slammed in the belly and pistol-whipped behind the ear, George was grovelling half-conscious on the deck. He heard his cousin cry out in protest, then in pain. The fat man spoke.

–  Where is Bond?

–  I don't know. I'd tell you if I did. I don't know.

There was a pause. Somebody gave an order. More pause.

George, in the act of trying to get up on his hands and knees, was flung on to his back. His ankles were grasped and held wide apart. Then there exploded at his right knee a pain such as he would never have believed possible, a pain that instantly flooded up his thigh and into the whole right-hand side of his pelvis and through his guts. A pain compared with which all other pain was a mere discomfort, an itch, a tickle. George had been struck with the heel of a shoe on the medial condyle of the femur, the boss of bone at the inside of the knee. This is the most immediately devastating assault that can be inflicted on the human frame. It triggers off vomiting in the strongest and bravest of subjects. George vomited.

If these guys are the Russians, they're not really living up to the claim that only the Chinese engage in crude "gangsterism."


–  Now. Where is Bond?

–  … I don't know. He didn't tell me. I think they turned east. I didn't notice.

Some discussion.

–  Very well. Give the name of your boat and describe it fully.

George did as he was told; this was not a situation in which you kept your mouth shut. He gave a very full description of the Cynthia. He was still adding details when there was another explosion, inside his head this time, and the sun went out.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 17: In The Drink


George Ionides had been right in his impression that Bond and his companions had moved off east after parting company with him, but his questioners would not have found it helpful to follow this up. As pre-arranged, no sooner had the Altair disappeared to the south than Litsas had made a U-turn and headed straight back to Vrakonisi. By three o'clock the Cynthia was anchored in a small bay on the southern coast of the island and almost at its eastern tip, a full eight miles by sea from the islet. A dozen small craft lay near by and there were groups of figures on the shore.

The place was more a jagged hole bitten into the coastline than a bay in any full sense. In one corner a granite shelf just above the water-line, narrow but level, made landing comparatively easy. Next to this, a dozen yards of sloping shingle constituted as much of a beach as nine-tenths of all island bays provide. A succession of weird rock-formations ran along the other arm of the inlet, weird in their very regularity – cave-mouths and arches square-set enough to have formed part of a ruined Homeric palace, rectangular tower-shaped structures, tall isolated stacks like the piles of a vanished bridge, all coloured in delicate gradations between tan and olive-green. The land above was less precipitous than elsewhere in Vrakonisi, with vine-terraces and clumps of evergreens: myrtle, arbutus and oleander.

This 1960 Carver is a good example of what the Cynthia probably looks like.


With a gesture of finality, Litsas let down the tattered side-awning, screening the three of them from view as well as from the sun.

‘We'll be safe here,’ he said. ‘Parties come all the time to bathe, God help them, and there's a piece of a temple up on the hill. It's mostly pavement, but the island has nothing else like this, and you don't know how small it is until you get there. Anyhow, nobody will notice a small boat of this type. I'm worried about our fuel, though. We've enough left for only about thirty miles. Shall we call quickly at the port after it's dark?’

‘No.’ Bond's voice was decisive. ‘If, as we assumed, they do have a man at the harbour, they'll have two on tonight. We'd be risking blowing our cover. And tomorrow … we can get all the gas we want.’

The unspoken ‘if’ behind this statement silenced all three for an instant.

Then Litsas sprang up and lifted the rust-pocked lid of the cooler. ‘I'm going to have a beer,’ he grunted. ‘Let's finish that too. Anybody else?’

I'll take it!


Ariadne, sitting on the deck with her knees drawn up and her gaze lowered, shook her head. Bond also declined. He had had enough of the thin soapy local brew.

Litsas leant the neck of the bottle against the cooler lid and banged the cap off with the end of his fist. He seemed to pour the beer straight down without swallowing.

I have done this with the edge of a table. Works just fine if you're not a coward.


‘Now,’ he said, wiping his mouth, ‘again the battleplan, James, if you please. We can't have it too many times.’

‘I agree.’ Bond spread open on the deck the sketch-plan he had roughed out on the back of a chart. ‘We leave here at eight p.m. and go round by the north coast. Taking it easy, we should get to that little beach about ten …’

More thoughtfully than before, Ariadne shook her head. ‘I still say it's too early. Everybody will be awake and watching.’

‘They'll be that all night tonight. They won't be expecting us then. We don't know what their time-table is, so we daren't leave it until late, and at ten o'clock there'll be plenty of other boats around, so there'll be nothing special about us.’

‘That's logical,’ said Ariadne in her brisk student's tone. ‘Go on, James.’

The plan is to moor the boat at the small beach, then climb up the cliff that Bond had descended and take cover in the rocky gully that leads down to the house. Litsas and Bond will go uphill to cover the rear of the house, then make a team assault. Ariadne goes down the gully to the rock slab (where the Russian was shot by Litsas) and slowly approaches the house from there, shooting anyone who tries to escape down the hill, then cover the side door. If she doesn't hear shooting for too long after it starts, she's to assume they were both taken out and head down to the Cynthia to escape. Bond will give her a letter to take to the British embassy in Athens.


Bond's sleep, by Ariadne's side on an improvised bed of seat-cushions, was fitful and haunted. A formless being, a shape too fantastic to be identified, pursued him through his dreams. He fled from it across a perfectly smooth plain of marble. At the far side of this were geometrical rows of trees, all identical, all of formalized shape, like representations in an architect's drawing. As he ran between them, one after another exploded silently into a puff of flame, leaving nothing behind. When he looked back to see what was doing this, he found himself face to face with a brick wall constructed in a strange way, such that the bands of mortar were as broad as the bricks themselves. A distant humming roar became audible and the wall began to tilt towards him. Before it could collapse, Bond had forced himself out of sleep, but the steady humming continued. With a strong sense, even in his half-awakened state, of the illogic of the action, Bond got up, twitched aside a corner of the awning and peered out.

What he saw was, to him, disappointingly irrelevant. With the vague but oppressive memory of his dream upon him, Bond gazed lethargically at a large, expensive-looking grey motor-boat which was just throttling down in the bay. A rich party, no doubt, in search of a bathing spot. Idly, he ran his eyes over the decks of the new arrival. Nothing special was to be seen there. No movement or figure presented itself. It was as if the thing were controlled from afar by wireless.

Still drowsy, Bond dropped the awning and returned to sleep.

He did not hear the muted roar of the motor-boat's engines as, its obscure mission completed, it backed away from the shore and moved slowly out of the anchorage. And obviously, he could not have known of its arrival in the smaller inlet that lay a couple of hundred yards to the east, nor of the installation of an observer among the curious volcanic arches in the coloured rocks lining that side of the bay.

Upon waking, none the wiser as to what occurred, Bond and Ariadne decide to go skinny dipping while Litsas sleeps.


‘This is rather daring of you isn't it?’ he asked. ‘I thought Greek girls would die rather than be seen naked in public.’

She laughed. ‘That shows how little you understand. It isn't modesty it's shame, it's social respectability. Nobody around here knows who I am and they're all too far away to see anything very intimate. There's just you, and it's kind of late to begin to worry about what you see, isn't it?’

Ariadne can definitely join the ranks of good Bond Girls. She's even got a body count!


As she talked, she had been moving away from the boat and now took off towards the open sea, using a steady and unexpectedly powerful breast-stroke that looked properly economical of energy. Bond was impressed. At every turn this girl showed herself to be fine material. He followed her in the same style and found, not to his surprise, that he had to exert himself to catch up. When they were level he kept to her speed and they swam out side by side for perhaps a hundred yards. The water slid like silk along their bodies and limbs. Beneath, it was dark and dense; Bond guessed that they were already at a great depth. As they paused, he felt on his cheek a tiny breath of chilly air, a first reminder that the summer which coloured everything around them was not endless after all.

By unspoken consent, they turned and made their way back towards the boat. They had wanted to refresh and relax themselves, not take hard exercise. After a while the sea-bottom glimmered into view and Bond felt a sudden longing to dive towards it, to enter again the twilight rocky groves of the subaqueous world he loved. But not now. Another time …

Litsas helped them back on board. He ran an appraising and rather obviously expert eye over Ariadne as she stepped down to the deck.

‘I know I shouldn't be looking,’ he said blandly. ‘Because it makes me feel very non-something. What's the word that means “like an uncle”?’


"On a neighborhood watch list?"


‘That's it. Avuncular is how I'm not feeling. You're a lucky chap, James. Now Ariadne, you must dry and dress quickly. I want to show you the Thompson again before the light has gone. These bike-lamps of Ionides' are perfectly bloody hopeless.’

Just before eight o'clock, Ariadne had finished her weapon-training (including the vital point of changing magazines by feel), Bond had again taken them carefully over his battle-plan, all three had swallowed a scratch meal of sausage, vegetables and fruit, and Litsas had got the anchor up. With his hand on the shift lever, he caught Ariadne's eye.

Thée mou, voithisse mas!’ he muttered, and she bowed her head. ‘Sorry about that,’ he went on conversationally, slipping into gear and moving the throttle up a notch. ‘A little prayer. It makes us feel better. You must forgive our superstition.’

‘I don't feel like that about it,’ said Bond in some discomfort, wishing dully that there was somebody or something he could appeal to at a time like this.

The Cynthia makes a long run under the moonlight, occasionally passing a small island or boat, before Litsas suddenly notices that they're being followed 600-700 yards behind. Bond says to point the bow at Vrakonisi and put the throttle to max, hoping to cross the remaining 2 miles and do any fighting they need ashore. As Bond takes the wheel, Litsas heads below and removes the engine governor to give them extra speed.


The sound of the engine rose abruptly to a shuddering whine and the Cynthia seemed to lean forward into the water. Litsas doused the deck lights and made his way aft.

‘That engine will be scrap-iron in an hour or two. But we shan't be needing it that long, I think. Well, what do we do, captain? Sell our lives dearly?’

He had taken the Lee Enfield out of its wrapping and Bond heard him open the breech, slam a clip of .303 into the magazine and thrust the bolt home. By pure reflex, Bond touched the butt of the Walther behind his hip. He had no plan, but his despair had passed.

‘It's all a matter of what these people want,’ he said. ‘If they're just out to obliterate us then there's nothing we can do. If they want us alive we may be able to stave them off for a bit.’

Litsas grunted. ‘Well, we'll soon find out which. They can –’

He broke off as, with a kind of silent explosion, everything around them leapt into hard, glaring radiance. He felt cruelly exposed and quite defenceless. The moral effect of a one-million candle-power searchlight at under a hundred yards is tremendous, and the enemy must have known this, since the unbearable illumination continued in silence for a full quarter of a minute. Bond fought the effect for all he was worth, shutting his eyes tight, feeling for the Thompson and bringing it into the ready position. Then an amplified voice spoke in English across the water.

‘Halt! Halt immediately or you will be killed!’

‘Want me to put that light out, James?’ said Litsas's voice.

‘Save it for now and get down. You too, Ariadne. Let them decide on the next move.’

A few seconds later, there's the familiar sound of a machine gun burst and bullets splash into the water ahead of the runabout. They think it's Arenski's men, as Von Richter wouldn't be so daring as to attack them in the open. Because it looks like they're trying to capture them alive rather than just blow them up, Bond proposes that they fight as long as they can and then dive over the side to swim for it.


‘I'll stall them,’ said Bond. He hung on as long as he dared then called, ‘Very well. I am ready to surrender to you. But on condition that you release the girl who is with me. She has no part in this affair.’

A pause. Bond counted the precious seconds. Then, ‘No condition. You will surrender immediately.’

‘I demand that you release the girl.’

A much shorter pause, ended by, ‘You have ten seconds to switch off your engine. If you do not, we will fire into you!’

‘Count to five, Niko. Ariadne, helm hard over when he hits.’

Bond held his breath and half-opened one eye. The light bored into his skull. At the first slam of the rifle beside him he opened up with the Thompson, in no hope of hitting anything, only of throwing the gunners off. Litsas fired again and the light vanished utterly. The Cynthia lurched wildly as the tiller came across. After an interval that seemed no longer than that between two heartbeats there came the boom of the gun and at once a dreadful tearing thud only a few feet away and water drenched Bond's head and shoulders. He realized he was still holding his breath and let it out with a gasp.

Laughing with triumph, Litsas was tearing off the navigation lights and flinging them one after the other over the side. ‘They'll be as blind as bats for some minutes now. The trouble is they can still hear us, if anyone thinks of cutting the motor. Let's use this time. Back and across our previous course. That's it.’

Litsas hands Bond some brandy to swig as they race toward Vrakonisi. A mile out from the shore, they spot the enemy boat faltering and cutting their engine. Bond tucks his espadrilles into his waistband and is the first into the water, swimming as fast as possible before Ariadne can dive in after him. Litsas will be keeping the boat going until they're both out.

The enemy boat suddenly crosses in front of them, firing.


After twenty minutes he was approaching the edge of the shadow of Vrakonisi cast by the moon, and thought he saw a swimmer almost dead ahead cross into it. Here anybody in the water would be practically invisible, even if the motor-boat passed within yards. He paused and looked westward, but could see nothing. On again, into the shadow, the beach coming into view only a little to the left, a change of course, the last hundred yards. But no sign of Ariadne. She must have found the beach unassisted and be lying down to rest. A few yards of shallows; Bond swam as near the water's edge as he could to avoid sea-urchins. He pulled himself upright; he was ashore. Ariadne was nowhere to be seen. He whirled round.

He had only begun a desperate visual search of the black waters when something that was brighter than the searchlight flashed in his brain and he felt himself start to fall.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

chitoryu12 posted:

Getting ahead of myself in food and drink testing. From the Spy Who Loved Me novelization, Noilly Prat vermouth and tonic with a dash of lime juice. Try it! I did 3 to 1.5 on tonic to vermouth.

For vermouth drinks I like to keep it simple. On a hot day there's little more refreshing than a double vermouth on the rocks with the juice of half a lemon.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

This all makes me want to rewatch The Guns of Navarone.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 18: The Dragon's Claws


‘Excellent. Excellent. Mr Bond is with us at last.’

Bond's consciousness had returned as quickly and fully as if he had been awakened from a natural sleep. He was half-lying back in a comfortable low chair in a medium-sized, high-ceilinged, well-lighted room. A number of people were looking at him with varying degrees of interest.

Two girls, both strikingly attractive, were sitting together on a day-bed. They were strangers to Bond. But all five of the men present he had seen before. The man standing with his back to what was evidently a terrace was the black-haired gunman he had encountered at Quarterdeck. The doctor who had been there was putting a hypodermic away in a black leather case. By the door stood the stocky Russian servant-type from the previous night. Bond could not immediately place the rough-looking local with the bandaged left arm. The tall Chinese, however, leaning down towards him now with an air of kindly solicitude, was unforgettable.

And now the real fun begins.


Bond spoke sharply. ‘Where's the girl who was with me?’

‘A very natural question.’ The Chinese smiled his approval. ‘You needn't worry about her. She has not been harmed, nor will she be for the moment. Now let me introduce you. Miss Madan and Miss Tartini, two of my female helpers. Mr De Graaf I think you know, and Dr Lohmann from the same occasion. You've met Mr Aris before, too, though only at a distance, as it were, during one of your more successful seaborne operations. He took a lot of trouble to bring me news of you. My servant Evgeny’ – ludicrously, like a well-trained butler, the Russian made a slight, respectful bow – ‘and myself. Sun's the name, Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the Chinese People's Army.’

During the speech, Bond had prevented himself from inquiring after Litsas, whose continued absence was the only factor making for any sort of hope – if he were not already shot or drowned. Pausing for a moment, the Chinese settled himself on a padded olive-wood stool a couple of feet away. His smile turned thoughtful and sympathetic.

At least it's better than Amis saying "Chinaman" or "Yellow Devil".


‘Bad luck has been a marked feature of this whole affair,’ he said in his curious accent. ‘You've certainly had your full share of it tonight, Mr Bond. Not even you could have predicted that our mutual friends the Russians would have advertised your approach so spectacularly – a real son et lumière effort, so to speak.’ Sun chuckled briefly at his own wit. ‘And then again you were unfortunate in being forced to swim ashore and thus allowing me ample time to get my little boatload of men along to your only possible landing-point. But then, that's life, isn't it?

‘Anyway, a most hearty welcome from us all. Some of my colleagues, I know, are feeling very relieved as well as grateful at your arrival. They were in some doubt whether it would take place at all. I was not. I had faith. Thus I was unmoved by Mr De Graaf's opinion that not enough positive action was being taken to secure your services. My fears were that, on the contrary, some over-zealous person would kill you prematurely. I always knew that you would come here of your own accord while you still lived. It was inevitable. As you'll come to realize, you and I are destined for each other.’

Here Colonel Sun allowed another pause, the smile fixed on his face, his metallic eyes trained unblinking on Bond. Then he became solicitous again.

‘But forgive me – I'm being careless and unfeeling. How is your head? I hope it's not troubling you unduly?’

Since the Soviet attack boat had made such a ruckus, Evgeny was waiting on the beach to club Bond in the back of the head when he got out of the water. They stripped him of his weapons, but even took the time to dry his clothes off for him.


‘You've been most thoughtful,’ said Bond easily. ‘I've no complaints. I would like a little whisky if you have it.’

‘Of course, my dear fellow, a pleasure. I've been keeping a bottle of Haig specially for this occasion. With ice and water?’

‘I think neat, please.’

I think this is actually the first time Bond has ever drank his whiskey neat.


Sun nodded at Evgeny, taking his eyes from Bond for the first time. They soon returned to him. ‘Then apart from some minor discomfort and fatigue your present physical state is satisfactory, it seems.’

‘Perfectly.’ Bond concealed his growing anger at the continuance of this absurd charade.

‘I'm most relieved. The fatigue will be nothing to one of your physique and general condition. I am most relieved.’

The whisky appeared, a generous measure. Bond accepted it gratefully and took a sizeable draught of the honey-coloured fire. Sun watched. There was perhaps a slight edge to his tone when he next spoke.

‘It's essential to my purposes, you see, that you co-operate with me to the fullest extent of which you are capable. At any rate for the next …’ – the colonel consulted a wristwatch which had clearly not originated in People's China – ‘five hours or so. After that time you will be incapable of co-operation.’

As expected, Bond does his "I'll never talk" routine. Unfortunately for him, Colonel Sun has no intent of gleaning information from him.


‘Quite soon you'll be taken to the cellar that lies beneath the kitchen of this house. There, using the most sophisticated of the interrogation techniques I've been privileged to be able to develop, I shall torture you to the point of death. But you must realize that this won't be an interrogation in the more common sense of the word, i.e., no questions will be asked of you and whatever information you may volunteer, whatever promises you may make, anything of that kind will have no effect at all on the inexorable progress of the interrogation. Is that clear, Mr Bond.'


‘Good. I don't mind admitting, before the present company, that in this respect I'm exceeding my orders a trifle. Or – why not be honest? – actually disobeying them. I was instructed to obtain as much as possible of the specialized knowledge at your disposal before killing you. This was a most unimaginative requirement, typical of the sterile thinking of officialdom with its insistence on routine methods, standard procedures and the like. I imagine that all of us, in our different ways, have come up against the limitations of the bureaucratic mind. In this case, I'm just going to use my own initiative; I'm sure that, as an Englishman, you'll approve of that, Mr Bond. And, being like me an executive, and thus used to out-witting administrators, you'll understand that I'll experience no great difficulty in hoodwinking my masters by pleading that, in view of your well-known courage and the short time which the incompetence of others had allowed for my efforts, I can't be blamed for having failed to break you down. In fact, of course, if I wanted information from you, I could induce you or anyone else to start giving it in a matter of minutes. But, as before, a man of your experience will know how desirable it can be to allow one's bosses to underestimate one.’

Bond has the startling realization that, for all intents and purposes, Sun is not insane. He has a perfectly clear, clinical interest in causing pain and agony.


Was there the thinnest, most fanciful hope that any of the others present might be feeling a stir of revolt at the idea of torture for its own sake, so much as a flicker of sympathy? He glanced stealthily at the two girls. The slim dark one had turned her head away, out of indifference, probably, rather than disgust. Her heavy-breasted companion was looking at him with blank dark-brown eyes; a frenzied performer in bed, he guessed, but as sluggish as a cow outside it. The Greek was openly bored, the Russian quite indifferent. By the doors to the terrace, the man called De Graaf stood watching Sun with a grin on his face, half contemptuous, half admiring. Only the doctor, who was sweating and biting his lip, showed signs of disquiet, and his support would be worthless.

‘Anyway,’ – Sun had impatiently swept his own digression aside – ‘it will be my part to see to it that you undergo the worst possible pain, consistent with your remaining alive, until dawn. A delicate task, a severe challenge to my skill. And to your fortitude, Mr Bond. Then at the proper moment I shall cause your death by a method that has never, as far as I know, been tried before. It consists, firstly, of breaking all twelve of the main bones of your limbs, and secondly, of injecting you with a drug that will send you into convulsions. Perhaps you can form some sort of mental image of the agony that will be yours when your muscles pass out of control and your shattered arms and legs begin to heave and twist and thrash about of their own accord. You will be dead of shock in a few minutes. At this point you will cease to be of direct concern to me. Under the supervision of one of my colleagues, your body, together with that of your chief, will become vital instruments in an ingenious political scheme, aimed, roughly, at inflicting serious damage on the prestige of your country and of another power hostile to us. Please come with me. Unless you have any questions so far?’

Bond drained his whisky and gave the appearance of considering. ‘No, I don't think so,’ he said with deliberation. ‘It all seems quite clear.’

‘Excellent. Let us be going, then. I'll lead the way.’

Bond considers his usual effort to engage in some violence at Sun, but has his arms seized before he can even finish measuring the distance. They lead Bond through the house and into another room.


M stood stiffly with his hands behind his back. He was pale and gaunt and looked as if he had neither eaten nor slept during his four days in enemy hands. But he held himself as upright as ever, and his eyes, puffed and bloodshot as they were, had never been steadier. He smiled faintly, frostily.

‘Good evening, James.’

‘Hallo, sir,’ said Bond awkwardly.

Sun's face split in a cordial smile. ‘You gentlemen will have much to say to each other. It would be unfair to embarrass you by our continued presence, so we'll withdraw. I give you my word that you will not be eavesdropped upon. Don't waste your time on the window, by the way; it's quite secure. Is there anything you want?’

‘Get out if you're going.’ M's voice was hoarse.

Bond makes an attempt at kicking at De Graaf's shin, but his espadrilles don't do much. He does notice Sun checking his watch and frowning as he leaves, which suggests he's been thrown off his operation's timetable.


The door shut and the bolts slammed home. Bond turned to M.

‘I'm afraid I haven't been much use to you, sir.’

With an air of total weariness, M shook his head. ‘I know that nobody could have done more. You can spare me the details. Is there any chance at all of our getting out of here?’

‘Very little at the moment. I've counted five able-bodied men round the place, plus one who's injured but could still shoot. Are there any more, do you know, sir?’

‘No, I don't know. They've kept me in here all the time. Apart from that Chinese lunatic, I only see the servant fellow who brings me my food, and takes me to the lavatory. I can't be any help at all.’

This last was said in a defeated tone that Bond had never expected to hear from M, who now sat himself carefully down on the unmade bed. Bond heard him give an abrupt gasp.

‘Has he been torturing you?’

‘A little, James, yes. Chiefly burns. Only superficial. He got that doctor to dress them. I was forgetting a moment ago; that makes three people I've seen. It's rather curious about these bits of torture. Earlier on, Sun was trying all sorts of threats. He was going to make me pray to be dead and so forth. Nothing on that scale has materialized. My impression is that you're his main target.’

Bond fills M in on what they've learned about Sun's plan to attack the Soviet conference and leave their bodies at the scene. They're going to stop it, even if M demands that Bond leave him to die instead of slowing himself down.


‘I'm sorry, sir,’ said Bond at once, ‘but in that event I should have to disobey you. You and I leave here together or not at all. And, to be quite frank there's somebody else I've got to take care of too. A girl.’

M looked up grimly from the bed. ‘I might have known. So that was how you got yourself into this mess. Very chivalrous of you, I must say.’

‘It wasn't like that, sir. She's been working with me and we were captured within a few minutes of each other. If you knew the full story you'd realize how important she's been. She's brave and tough and she's stuck with me all through this business. She's …’

‘Very well, very well,’ muttered M. His mood had changed suddenly, become abstracted. His hands clenched and unclenched a couple of times. Bond heard him swallow. Then he said, ‘I must ask you. It's been so much on my mind. What happened to the Hammonds, James?’

‘Dead, sir, both of them. Shot. An expert job, fortunately. I don't think Mrs Hammond can even have known what had happened.’

At Bond's first word M had flung up a hand in an odd and touching gesture, as if to ward off a blow. He said without discernible emotion, ‘Another reason. For stopping these people.’

Sun returns. They've knocked out and captured Litsas and Von Richter is going to explain the exact nature of their plan to Bond, because why not I guess?


The ex-SS man leaned back in his chair with an intent expression, as if conscientiously marshalling his thoughts. The scar tissue at the side of his head glistened in the strong light. He spoke without hurry in his curiously attractive drawl.

‘The technical problem was how to penetrate a strong stone building by means of an inconspicuous weapon that should have very clear associations with the British. An investigation of the structure of the building on the islet provided an immediate answer. All such houses possess very thick walls, such as even a field-gun might not at once penetrate. But the roof is not so thick. It is also flat, so that a projectile arriving from above would not glance off. Only one weapon of convenient size satisfied these requirements, besides being not merely inconspicuous but, to anybody in the target area, potentially invisible.’

‘A trench mortar.’ Bond was hardly conscious that it was he who had spoken the words. Even at this moment he was filled with a kind of triumph and an unearthly sense of wonder, as if he had solved an ancient riddle. Four apparently unconnected facts had revealed themselves all at once as disguised pointers to the truth: the detail in the legend about the dragon who could attack his victims from behind a mountain; Ariadne's speculations about guns the previous evening, bringing her within half a sentence of the solution; the sports-bag with the heavy and oddly-shaped contents he had himself watched being brought ashore here; the pun in his nightmare six hours or so ago, when he had noticed the thickness of the mortar in the wall that had been about to fall on him. The last of these had not really been a clue at all, but an answer to the problem, brought up from the depths of his unconscious mind while his consciousness was still struggling with logic, figures, practical possibilities. If only he had seen the true significance of that wall! But, even if he had, what then?

‘Ha! Ten marks! En ist ja schlau, der Willi, was?’ Von Richter, like Sun, was showing the excessive and nervous geniality Bond had seen in war among men about to go into action with the odds on their side. ‘Yes, Mr Bond. To be precise, the heavy Stokes mortar, three-inch calibre. We obtained our example of it from the neo-Nazi armoury at Augsburg. Much captured weaponry of the second war is there, and very much ammunition. We were fortunate. The Stokes is an admirable weapon. Typically British. Ideal as pocket-size close-support light artillery that can search behind cover. The height of its trajectory is such that an example positioned outside this house can with great ease send its bombs over the hill and on to the islet. Since the piece has no trigger, merely a firing-pin at the base of the barrel which detonates the cartridge of each bomb as it slides down from the muzzle, a quite staggering rate of fire can be attained. An expert will place twenty rounds in the air at once. Every tenth round we shall fire will be smoke. You can imagine the confusion among our friends when the attack begins. Also the loss of life. It will be considerable.

The Stokes was replaced before WW2 and would be rather obsolete by the 1960s, but it was the first modern infantry mortar. It's an extremely simple design: a smoothbore metal tube with a fixed firing pin at the bottom, with a bipod and baseplate for adjusting the angle of the barrel. You just drop a round down the tube and it automatically fires when it hits the bottom. The design was excellent enough to be widely copied and has served as the pattern for most infantry mortars to this day.


‘There is the question of accuracy. Here practice is important. I have accustomed myself to our example of the mortar during ten days in Albania recently. I understand now its peculiarities. You will realize that, when the firer cannot see his target, as in our case, he must employ an observer. This is the job of Willi here. The Albanian government kindly placed at our disposal a piece of ground very similar to this terrain. Willi and I have worked out our procedure. He will climb to the hillcrest, to the point we have established as being on a straight line between our firing-point and the target. Just below the crest he will install a light. This will be my aiming mark and will give me direction. I already have a precise knowledge of the range. Almost no wind is expected at the chosen time. We have practised a code of signals so that I shall be guided on to the target. Our proficiency has become so that within a minute three bombs out of four will hit the house or the area immediately surrounding it. This will prove sufficient.

‘The bombardment will commence at dawn. Upon its conclusion, you and your chief will enter the story. Or rather, your corpses will. Investigators will discover your remains on the firing-point. One of you has been careless with the ammunition and an explosion has resulted. This is quite plausible, since the detonation cap at the nose of the bomb is sensitive. To drop one on to rock from chest height would be fatal. Needless to say, the true course of events will be different. From behind cover I shall simply toss a bomb on to the firing point, where you and your chief will be lying disabled. This step has required some preliminary research. It would not do to damage your frame so superficially, Mr Bond, that evidence remained of your having been tortured before being killed, nor must you be rendered unrecognizable. Therefore I had to conduct experiments while in Albania. They were carried out with corpses. Very largely with corpses. There is a good supply of fresh examples of these in that country.’ Von Richter laughed heartily at this stroke, then became official. ‘That concludes my exposition of the military aspect of this operation.’ Without looking at his watch he added, ‘Just under five minutes, Colonel.’

In 1965, Albania had abandoned the Soviets and had a strong political alliance with China. It was notorious for its violent dictatorship, including the banning of religion in 1967 that resulted in the closure of all churches and violent suppression of anyone practicing faith or even naming their children with names taken from religious texts.


Bond's mind had become preoccupied with the thought that Ariadne had again asked a highly relevant question: what there was about this project that required a man with experience of atrocities. The answer was plain enough now. Its implications were horrible.

‘Thank you, Herr Major. Now, do either of you gentlemen require further information?’

M spoke up. ‘You'll have prepared your fake documents, I presume?’

‘Very well taken, Admiral! Yes, a full operation order for your act of flagrant aggression has been run up in our Albanian office. Its remains will be found on your corpse. Your government will denounce it as a forgery, naturally, but what else could they do if it were genuine? Rest assured that their complicity will be proved. The injury to Russian prestige is straightforward enough not to need such artificial aids.’

But what's the explanation for why the elderly head of MI6 is personally firing a mortar at the scene?


Bond said, ‘How did your people find out about this conference in such detail?’

‘Oh, one of the minor people concerned with it in Moscow became momentarily indiscreet, quite unintentionally, in the hearing of one of our operatives there. We made arrangements to interview this man and I was able to induce him to be indiscreet at great length, intentionally. And to convince him that we would know, and react most unfavourably, if he revealed his indiscretion to his superiors. But now, please let us have done with such affairs and move on to something more interesting. Are there any further questions?’

Silence, because no words were any good. And absence of movement, because no action was any good. Powerlessness. Hopelessness.

‘I recommend that you say goodbye to your chief now, Mr Bond. You will probably not be able to when you see him again.’

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

In 1965, Albania had abandoned the Soviets and had a strong political alliance with China.

Albania under Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labor was a basket case among basket cases. By this point it had already aligned with and then split from both Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, and would later abandon China to dig itself into a paranoid autarky starkly represented by 173,000 prefabricated concrete bunkers installed literally everywhere.

Dec 21, 2012


I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird

I want to say the plot is implausible, that noone is going to believe that the British sent their head of intelligence over to assassinate a bunch of dignitaries, but that's not really the point, is it? It's just rubbing in the humiliation to get all the VIPs killed in just the most Loony Tunes way possible. They might as well paint a tunnel on the hillside by the mortar and say they ran into it and died while trying to escape.

Who Framed Miles Messervy?

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 19: The Theory and Practice of Torture


The cellar was small, not more than ten feet by twelve feet by six and a half feet high. The floor bulged and sloped, and an irregular column of living rock leaned across one corner. Whatever had been left here by previous occupants was here no longer; the place was bare, swept and scrubbed. A stout wooden ladder led to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Along one wall lay a schoolroom bench; by another a small collapsible table and a kitchen chair had been placed. An unshaded but rather murky bulb burned in a bracket on a third wall.

Resist as he might, Bond had been unable to prevent himself being bound securely into a heavy, old-fashioned dining-chair set in the corner opposite the tongue of rock. The material used to tie his wrists and ankles was strips of towelling; as he struggled with De Graaf, Evgeny and Willi, Bond had half-heard parts of a careful explanation from Sun about ropes causing chafing and the undesirability of pain not deliberately inflicted. Chains running from ringbolts cemented into walls and floor would keep the chair stable however much its occupant might throw himself about.

The question is: will this get more kinky than Fleming's torture?


Left alone for the moment, Bond sat and waited for Sun. More than anything, he longed for a cigarette. A jumble of images circled in his brain: the delicate moulding and coloration of Ariadne's face – M's firm handclasp of ten minutes earlier – the wordless plea Gordienko had made in his last seconds – the blood on Litsas's head – the game of golf with Bill Tanner, half a century ago – the terrible bewilderment on the face of the Russian as the rifle-bullet struck him – von Richter's amusement as he remembered his ‘experiments’ in Albania – the sprawled bodies of the Hammonds in the kitchen at Quarterdeck – Ariadne again. Then the figure of Sun, the loose powerful movements, the metal-coloured eyes, the sloping teeth, the dark lips. The man who was going to start him on an agonizing road to death. Bond found he was sweating with fear.

Footfalls sounded overhead. Bond forced himself to begin taking some deep breaths. The trapdoor was pulled back and Evgeny came down the ladder. He was carrying a wooden tray which he put down on the small table. Without glancing at Bond he went back to the ladder and ascended. Bond studied the objects on the tray: two metal meat-skewers of different sizes and a wooden one, a bottle of colourless liquid, a funnel about the size of a coffee-cup, what looked like a bunch of bristles from a broom, a knife with a six-inch blade in the shape of a slim right-angled triangle, several boxes of matches. His breathing became heavy.

Well, it's certainly got more variety.


After a dreadful minute of utter silence, Sun arrived. He smiled and nodded at Bond, like somebody greeting a favourite acquaintance, and sat quietly down next to the table.

‘Before you start, Sun,’ said Bond in a level tone, ‘I want to ask you a favour.’

‘Ask away, my dear Bond. You know I'll do anything I can.’

‘The girl. What's happening to her?’

‘I believe De Graaf is with her now. Or perhaps Evgeny. Or even both of them. The other girls may be participating too. On a night like tonight I suppose a certain amount of licence is to be expected.’

Bond tried to ignore this. ‘In the morning, let her go. Drop her off somewhere. Whatever she says afterwards she can't threaten the success of your project, and you and all your team will be safely out of the way.’

‘I'm sorry,’ said Sun, shaking his head and sighing. ‘Believe me, I wish I could help you, but it's impossible. You must see that. What would those unimaginative bosses of mine have to say if I allowed any sort of witness to survive after an operation on this scale? The rule-book says that must never happen. So I'm afraid she'll have to die.’

Bond at least gets him to promise that he'll kill her with a bullet to the back of the head, without her even knowing what happened.


‘It seems, Mr Bond,’ said Sun judicially, ‘that your ideas on the nature of sadism are in an unformed state. You said –’

‘Never mind the state of my ideas. Bring out your thumbscrews and your hot irons. They can't be much more painful than having to sit here listening to you.’

The colonel did his smile. ‘Your defiance does you credit. But you've no conception of what you're defying. In a short while you'll be wishing with all your heart and soul that you'd encouraged me to delay your pain by just a few seconds, just one little remark about the weather.

‘Now, James …’ Sun got up and paced the tiny area of floor in front of Bond's chair. ‘I hope you don't mind if I call you James. I feel I know you so well.’



‘There's nothing I can do about it, is there?’

‘No, there isn't, is there, James? Anyway, it's appropriate, don't you think? Sets the right tone of intimacy.’

‘I was wondering when we'd get to that,’ said Bond with revulsion. ‘I suppose people who look like you can't find any willing partners, so they have to tie someone up and –’

Is this Amis calling out Fleming's obvious insertion of kink into his books?


‘Oh, no, no, no.’ Sun sounded genuinely distressed. ‘I knew you were on the wrong track there. True sadism has nothing whatever to do with sex. The intimacy I was referring to is moral and spiritual, the union of two souls in a rather mystical way. In the divine Marquis de Sade's great work Justine there's a character who says to his victim: “Heaven has decreed that it is your part to endure these sufferings, just as it is my part to inflict them.” That's the kind of relationship you and I are entering into, James.’

Sun went on pacing the floor, frowning in concentration, a passionately serious thinker intent on finding the precise words to impart his ideas. After a while he shrugged, as if finding the struggle for expression on the highest level beyond him.

Amis got his personal doctor, Dr. Allison (the one who appeared after Bond was drugged at Quarterdeck), to create this concept of a torture scene for him.


‘You must understand that I'm not the slightest bit interested in studying resistance to pain or any such pseudo-scientific claptrap. I just want to torture people. But – this is the point – not for any selfish reason, unless you call a saint or a martyr selfish. As de Sade explains in The Philosopher in the Boudoir, through cruelty one rises to heights of superhuman awareness, of sensitivity to new modes of being, that can't be attained by any other method. And the victim – you too, James, will be spiritually illuminated in the way so many Christian authorities describe as uplifting to the soul: through suffering. Side by side you and I will explore the heights.’

In one paragraph, Amis has described sadomasochism in a way orders of magnitude better than William Control does in an entire book.


As if flushed with excitement or some deeper emotion, Sun's cheeks seemed to have turned a darker yellow. His broad chest rose and fell under the white tee-shirt. Reversing an earlier judgement, Bond said critically, ‘You're boring me, Sun. Because of your mental condition. There's nothing more totally uninteresting than a mad-man.’

Sun chuckled. Suddenly his manner speeded up. His arms moved jerkily. ‘Predictable reaction, my dear chap. Let's get on, shall we? Here we are, James, the two of us, in a cellar on a Greek island. Not a very lavish scene, I'm afraid, such as some of your earlier opponents have provided. But then you and I aren't opponents, are we? We're collaborators. Right, then. What shall I do to you? Whereabouts in your body shall I attack you? And with what?

‘First, the apparatus. Electricity can provide some of the most exquisite anguish known, if applied in the right place. But it's too easy. No scope for finesse. And, let's face it, here in Eastern Europe the supply isn't too reliable. No, I feel strongly that any self-respecting security officer ought to be able to make do with what the average kitchen provides – knives, skewers, broom-straws, such as you've no doubt noticed on this tray. I'm going to have to cheat a little when I give you the final injection that will send you into convulsions. The chemical isn't found in any average kitchen. But it is derived from a mushroom that grows in China, so one might semi-legitimately say that it's possible to imagine a kitchen that contains this particular essence.

‘Now, the all-important question of where I'm to locate my assault. The obvious, all-too-obvious place is the genital organs. I'm sure experience has taught you that tremendous pain can be inflicted on them, plus the very valuable psychological side-effect whereby the victim fears for, then laments over, the loss of his manhood. But that won't affect you very much. I trust I've convinced you, James, that it's not your manhood I'm going to deprive you of, but your life. And the whole idea of a genital assault is so … unsophisticated.’

Just gonna call out Le Chiffre right here? In front of my salad?


A pause. The blood thudded in Bond's ears. From his slacks Sun brought out a tin of Benson & Hedges and offered them.

‘No thank you.’

‘Are you sure? It'll be your last smoke.’

‘I said no thank you.’ Bond had almost forgotten his nicotine-hunger. And the thought of those yellow fingers putting the cigarette in his mouth, helpfully removing it to shake off the ash, as he could so clearly imagine them doing, was not to be borne.

You were fine with Kissy Suzuki just a few years before!


‘As you wish.’ Sun operated a leather-bound Ronson and puffed out smoke. ‘So then. Where? Where does a man live? Where's the inmost part of a man, his soul, his being, his identity?

‘One can do very unpleasant things to a man's fingernails, for example. Or to his genitals, as we were saying. The knee-joint is a neural focus and the most surprising results can be obtained by interference with it. But all this happens, so to speak, somewhere else. A man can watch himself being disembowelled and derive great horror, as well as pain from the experience. But it's going on at a distance. It isn't taking place … where he is.’

Sun came over and knelt beside Bond's chair. He spoke in a half-whisper. His throat trembling. ‘A man lives inside his head. That's where the seat of his soul is. And this is true objectively as well as subjectively. I was present once – I wasn't directly concerned – when an American prisoner in Korea was deprived of his eyes. And the most astonishing thing happened. He wasn't there any more. He'd gone, though he was still alive. There was nobody inside his skull. Most odd, I promise you.

‘So James, I am going to penetrate to where you are, to the inside of your head. We'll make our first approach via the ear.’ Sun got up and went over to the table. ‘I take this skewer and I insert it into your skull.’ The thin length of metal gleamed in the muddy light. ‘You won't feel anything at first. In fact, in the true sense you won't feel anything at all. The tympanic membrane, which I'm about to stimulate, has no touch receptors, only pain ones. So the first you'll know will be when … well, I leave it to you to put a name to your experience. If you can.’

This is the scene that got turned into Spectre's infamous torture chair. So much of the dialogue was lifted straight from Amis that his estate actually got credited in the film.


Crushing out his cigarette beneath his heel, Sun gazed over at Bond with a sort of compassion. ‘Just one more thing, James. This cellar is well on the way to being sound-proof, down here in the rock. And blankets and rugs have been laid on the floor overhead to seal it even further. Our tests showed that virtually nothing can be heard at a hundred yards. So you may scream all you wish.’

‘God drat you to hell.’

‘He can't do that James. He can't reach me. It's I who am damning you to hell.’

Can we exhume Kingsley Amis to get him to rewrite Revelator?


Then, with the brisk stride of a man anxious not to be late for an important engagement, Colonel Sun came over to the chair, with ferocious efficiency he seized Bond's head in a clamp formed by his powerful left arm and his chest. Bond strained away with all his strength, but to no purpose. In a couple of seconds he felt the tip of the skewer probing delicately at the orifice of his left ear. Teeth clenched, he waited.

It came without warning, the first dazzling concussion of agony, as instantaneously violent as the discharge of a gun. He heard himself whimper faintly. There was an interval just long enough for the thought that the cessation of pain was an infinitely more exquisite sensual thrill than the wildest spasms of love. After that, pain bursts and thrusts and sheets and floods, drenching and blazing pain, pain as inexhaustible as the sea or the sands of the desert. Another interval, another thought: this is as bad as it can get. Immediately, worse and worse pain. Breathe in; whimper. Breathe in; whimper. Breathe in …

This horrifying sequence is interrupted by Lohmann, Von Richter, and Willi coming down. Colonel Sun wants Lohman to be of greater service to his movement, so he's been brought down to observe the torture and have his inhibitions lowered.


‘Well, what have you in store for us, Sun?’ Von Richter drawled the question. ‘We expect great things of you, you know. Everybody tells me that Peking leads the world in this field.’

Sun tilted his head, pleased at the compliment, but anxious to be strictly fair. ‘Good work is also being done in Vietnam. Some of Ho Chi-minh's men have learnt their job with remarkable speed, considering the comparative backwardness of that part of the world. Very promising. Ah …’

He stepped over and lifted Bond's chin. The blue-grey eyes fluttered open, cleared and steadied. ‘drat you, Sun,’ said a thin voice.

‘Excellent. We can proceed. I'm working on his head, Ludwig, as I described earlier. He's taken it well so far, but this is only the beginning. Eventually he'll scream when he merely sees me advancing on him to continue the treatment.

‘I now propose to stimulate the septum, the strip of bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity. Can you see, all of you? Good.’

More pain, different at first from the other, then indistinguishable. Bond tried to build a place in his mind where the pain was not all that there was, where there were thoughts, as he had been able to do under the hands of other torturers and so to some degree hold out against them.

But the pain was fast becoming all that there was. The only thought he could find and keep in place was that he would not scream yet, not this time. Or this time. Or this time …

It was later and the pain had receded for the moment. He was somewhere. That was all he knew. But there must be other things. Screaming. Had he screamed? Forgotten. But still try not to.

People were talking. He recognized some of the words through a sound like a fast-running river. Danger. Shock. Injection. A tiny pricking in his arm, ridiculously tiny.

More pain. It was all that there was. There were no thoughts anywhere in the world.

This scene is terrible but also wonderful.


It was much later and he was back. There were thoughts again. Or rather one big thought that filled everything and was everything. It weighed down on him like an impossibly thick blanket, it came oozing up round him like the cold slime of the sea-bed. Bond had never experienced it before, but he knew quite soon what it was. It was despair, the terminal state of life, the foretaste of death. In comparison, the blood in his nose and mouth, the ferociously throbbing ache within his head – all this was nothing.

Bond opened his eyes. He found he could see reasonably well. Sun's face was a foot away. But something had happened to it since he last saw it. Something had dried it so that the skin looked like paper out of an old book, the eyes were red and dull, the open lips had shrivelled. The man's breathing was shallow and noisy, and he swallowed constantly. He seemed in the grip of an exhaustion as profound as Bond's. This was puzzling, but it did not matter. Nothing mattered now. Somebody was coming down the ladder. Bond looked up automatically without interest. It was one of the girls in the team, the dark one. She glanced at Bond, then quickly away again. Her small features expressed faint repulsion and great fear. Sun straightened up slowly and turned to her.

She caught her breath. ‘You ill, sir?’

‘No. No. It's my experiences. They have an effect.’ The voice too had changed. It had become harsh and cracked, with a monotonous quality that suggested the recitation of a lesson not perfectly understood. After a long time the man added, ‘They cause a change in one.’

So what has Sun called this girl down for?


Sun had spoken entirely without conviction. He paused awkwardly, as if turning over a page in his mind. Then the dried-up voice toiled on. ‘James Bond must be in the proper spiritual state to meet the death I shall give him. The deepest pitch of hopelessness and grief and misery a man can attain.’ He fell silent. The girl stared at him. ‘What you wish, sir?’

‘Strip yourself naked and stand before him,’ said Sun as if he were dictating a message. ‘Show him your body. Caress him very lasciviously.’

The girl still stared, but now her face showed outrage and rebellion as well as fear. ‘No!’ She struggled for more words. ‘Cannot do this. Is … wrong.’

‘You can and you will. If you want to be of further service to our movement you must allow your inhibitions to be broken down. Do as I say.’

Ah. Now it's weird.


‘Will not!’

A ghost of animation returned to Sun's voice when he said, ‘If you disobey me I'll have your throat cut and your body thrown overboard as soon as we're at sea.’

The silence roared and rustled and rang in Bond's ears. The girl's face changed again and suddenly, for no reason he could have specified, he became alert. He found himself watching with intense concentration.

‘Okay,’ said the girl at last, her eyes flickering round the room. ‘But please … not look.’

‘Certainly not. You need feel no embarrassment. Our friend Lohmann is a doctor. Not that he seems likely to look at you either.’

Lohmann sat alone on the bench huddled up with his face in his hands. On the floor in front of him were the remains of a cleared-up pool of vomit. Bond glanced briefly at him, then back at the other two. He saw the girl, a trim figure in her long-sleeved turquoise jacket and green slacks, walk over towards the table and halt in front of it. Saw Sun turn towards him and study his face. Through half-closed lids, saw the girl look hastily over her shoulder, then make some movement at the table. Saw her turn and begin to speak.

Working for Sun seems to be pretty miserable!


‘I have good idea. First I will kiss him some. Then strip.’

‘Very well. You understand these matters. What you do doesn't concern me. All that is important to me is the results.’

Bond saw the girl walk up to him, her right arm moving in an unnatural way. Saw her face come down towards him – saw, at the same instant, Colonel Sun's shrivelled mouth twitch in distaste, saw him turn his back. Saw the girl glance over her shoulder again. Felt a movement in the area around his right wrist.

It was a few seconds before he identified the movement as that of a sharp knife shearing through the towelling that bound that wrist to the arm of the chair.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 06:32 on Aug 5, 2020

Lord Zedd-Repulsa
Jul 21, 2007

Devour a good book.

That is one hell of a torture scene to offer anyone who doesn't think that being implicitly horrifying can work better than explicitly.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 20: 'Goodbye, James'


‘Something wrong here, sir. I think this man … dead.’

The girl was intelligent. She had quickly re-wrapped the severed towelling round Bond's wrist so that it would fool a casual glance. The knife was clenched in his hand, hidden from above. Taking his cue, he dropped his head on to his chest, but kept his eyes open in a fixed stare.

‘But that's impossible! He can't be dead!’ There was nothing of the sleepwalker about Sun now. He hurried over to the chair. The girl moved aside, well out of the way. Sun's body bent forward over Bond. He began to say something. Then, with all his remaining strength, Bond brought the knife up and round and into Sun's back behind and just above the left hip. The man grunted and flung up an arm, made as if to throw himself clear, but his feet slipped on the irregular floor and he came down on one knee, half-leaning across Bond's left forearm. Now, with more weight behind it, the knife went in again, thumping up to the hilt this time close to the shoulder-blade. Sun gave a moan of great weariness and gazed into Bond's face for a moment. The pewter-coloured eyes seemed full of accusation. The moment passed, the whites of the eyes rolled up, and Sun, the knife still in his back, fell over sideways and did not move.

gently caress. That was fast.


The girl was sobbing, her hands pressed tightly over her mouth, her body bent at the waist. Lohmann, trembling all over, had got to his feet.

Bond looked from one to the other.

‘Give me the knife,’ he said. His voice was thick and choked, but it was his own.

Violently shaking her head, the girl turned away, groped towards the chair by the table and collapsed into it, her face hidden. Lohmann hesitated, then hurried forward and pulled out the knife from the middle of the spreading stain in Sun's tee-shirt. After wiping it he began fumblingly to cut through the towelling at Bond's left wrist. As he worked, he talked in a jerky babble.

‘I wanted to help you earlier but I couldn't think of anything. He's a devil. He made me watch what he was doing to you. When he couldn't make me look he threatened me. Terrible things. I didn't know it was going to be like this. Just medical supervision, they said. Keeping people tranquillized. Easy. And this girl. I knew something would happen there eventually. He let her guess what she was in for, you see.’

Lohmann tells Bond he has half an hour before Von Richter and Willi start launching mortar shells. Bond is unsure about trusting him, but Lohmann is only doing it because he knows Sun was going to probably have him killed anyway. He gives Bond a stimulant injection; he'll have one hour of energy, then the crash will knock him out. He tells Bond where to find everyone.


‘What about the sedative?’

‘It's quite light. A shot of this will bring him round. You'll have to take it with you. I'm not leaving this cellar until you come and tell me it's safe. I'm no good at fighting. There you are.’ Lohmann handed over the loaded hypodermic in a cardboard box. ‘It doesn't matter where you give it to him, as long as the point's well into the skin. All right?’

‘Yes,’ said Bond. Perhaps it was no more than imagination, or the joy of being free again, but already energy seemed to be returning to him and his head clearing. ‘Where's my girl?’

‘She's in a room in the passage on the other side of the landing, first door on the left.’

‘De Graaf?’

‘He was there too when I went up to fetch Luisa here,’ said the doctor stonily. ‘So was the other Albanian girl. I don't know where Evgeny is. But you'd better get a move on, Bond. He and De Graaf are due down here in ten minutes to carry you out to the firing-point.’

‘Right. The other man – the Greek with the bandaged arm – where's he?’

‘Opposite your chief. Sedated to the eyes. No problem.’

‘Which of these people are armed?’

‘De Graaf always carries a gun in his right hip-pocket. I don't think Evgeny has anything. Von Richter I don't know about.’

‘Willi?’ Lohmann hesitated oddly. ‘Again I don't know,’ he said. ‘But you've no need to worry about him. He's out of the way.’

‘Maybe. Hadn't you better have a look at Sun?’

‘That second blow of yours must have finished him. But one can't be too careful, I agree.’ Lohmann knelt down by the motionless form of the Chinese. After a moment he said: ‘He's still alive – theoretically. He'll never move again. What do you want to do? Do you feel like finishing him? I can show you a certain spot.’

That's certainly an offer!


Bond had the knife in his hand. He glanced down at it and shuddered.

‘No. We'll leave him. I'll be off, then. Look after the girl. I'll be back.’

‘Yes. All right. I'll bolt us in. Good luck.’

I hope there's no consequences to that decision!


There was nothing friendly to be said to the man who, until five minutes ago, had played an indispensable part in Sun's monstrous conspiracy, so Bond said nothing. But, short of time though he was, he could not pass by the girl who had saved his life at such dreadful risk. He put a hand on the slumped shoulder and she looked up, her face still dull with shock, but no longer weeping.

‘Thank you, Luisa,’ said Bond gently. ‘What made you do it?’

‘He …’ she pointed without looking – ‘kill me. You … help …’ Her gesture, oddly touching, apologized for her bad English.

Bond kissed her cold cheek, then made for the ladder. There was a bad moment when he pushed at the trapdoor and it failed to budge. If some heavy object had been moved on top of it he was finished before he started. Then he remembered what Sun had said about piling it with rugs and such to muffle sound. He pushed harder; it began to yield. The effort brought a surge of pain, but the pain was beginning to be different. Without exactly decreasing, it seemed to matter less.

The kitchen was empty. Its window showed a rocky slope beginning to turn the colour of elephant-hide. If Lohmann had been accurate, there were perhaps twenty minutes to go before the bombardment. Enough. If no snags developed. And provided he could be out of this area before De Graaf and Evgeny converged on it to collect him.

The passage outside the kitchen was also empty and unlit, though the hall at its farther end was illuminated. Knife in hand, Bond crept along to the corner and peered round.

Bond narrowly dodges past Evgeny and returns to the stairwell. He silently slides the bolt and puts his hand on the unconscious Niko's mouth.


There had been a jerk and a grunt and a momentary struggle, then relaxation. Bond cautiously withdrew his hand an inch.

‘James,’ the familiar voice whispered back. ‘I'm afraid they got me. As you understand.’

‘How do you feel?’

‘Bloody awful headache and very sleepy.’

‘I've brought you something that'll take care of the drowsiness at least. An injection. Give me your arm.’ Bond went rapidly on as he brought out the hypodermic. ‘The Chinese gentleman is out of action. There are two others in the house we must deal with separately. The first one's in a bedroom on the other side of this floor.’

Litsas winced as the needle went in. ‘You would be a very bad doctor, James. Go on.’

Litsas is going to put in a note for M to have Bond given better medical training back at HQ.


‘He's expecting to be called soon. I'll knock. When he comes out, as I hope to God he does, your job is to see he doesn't call out; if he does, we're cooked. Then I'll deal with him.’

‘What have you got?’

‘A knife. Nothing for you at the moment. Now in the room with him there's Ariadne and an Albanian girl. Some sort of rape-cum-orgy seems to have been going on. Never mind that for now. We've got to keep the Albanian girl quiet. That may be tricky. We'll have to see how it goes.’

I just want to reassure everyone that when we get to Ariadne, she's going to be reacting exactly as you would expect.


‘All right,’ said Litsas shortly. ‘Has that stuff made any difference yet?’

‘A bit. Moving about will perhaps help. I'm ready.’

They sidled out along the passage to the stairhead. Bond looked down and saw nobody, listened and heard nothing. At the door mentioned by Lohmann they took up positions close to the wall on each side. Bond knocked gently.

‘All right, who is it?’ called a man's sleepy voice.

‘Lohmann,’ said Bond in a grunt.

The length of the ensuing silence made him bite his lip. Then, ‘Hold on, I'm coming.’

Within, a bed-spring twanged. The heel of a shoe scraped the floor. A female voice muttered something indistinguishable. The man yawned deeply. There was silence for half a minute. Then footfalls approached the door, a key turned in the lock, light flooded into the passage and De Graaf, buttoning his shirt, marched confidently out.

Bond just had time to notice the deep parallel scratches on the gunman's left cheek before Litsas grabbed him and clapped a large hand over his mouth. Bond stepped forward and looked into the dilated eyes. ‘This is for the Hammonds,’ he hissed, and drove the knife in. De Graaf's body gave one great throe, as if he had touched a live terminal, then went totally limp. Bond turned aside at once and stepped into the room.

This book is pretty loving brutal compared to Fleming's, and it's going to get even more violent this chapter.


Ariadne, under a thin coverlet on the floor, jerked to a sitting position and stared at him, but Bond's attention was all on the swarthy blonde in the bed. She too had sat up, showing herself to be naked to the waist at least. Bond hardly saw. He gazed into her bewildered dark eyes and brought his bloodstained knife forward as he approached.

‘If you make a sound I'll kill you,’ he told her.

‘Not … no I stay quiet.’ The hand she held out palm foremost was trembling. With the other she pulled the sheet over her breasts.

There's the Craig Bond.


Bond stood near her at the head of the bed. Ariadne, wearing brassière and panties, got up and came over to him. Their hands touched, then gripped.

‘Are you all right?’ she asked. ‘Your voice sounds funny.’

‘I'm all right.’ There were a thousand things he longed to say and he could not get any of them said. ‘What about you?’

‘I don't mind anything now you're here. We must gag this bitch, I suppose. If it were my decision I'd shut her up for always. How are you Niko? I thought you were dead.’

Litsas dumps De Graaf's body in the corner, taking a Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight from his belt. They hear footsteps approaching.


As he stood for a moment irresolute, Ariadne sprang into action. She swung her fist and cracked Doni Madan hard under the jaw. Doni's head jerked back and hit the headboard of the bed. Within five seconds Ariadne was under the coverlet again, Litsas had put himself out of view beside a battered wardrobe and Bond had slipped behind the door.

I like this girl.


Evgeny had no chance at all. He crossed the threshold, caught sight of De Graaf's body, exclaimed, began to move forward and took the knife under the fifth rib, his mouth muffled by Bond's left forearm.

Bond is just on a stabbing spree in this book! Is this his highest body count yet?


‘Great – but too quick and clean,’ said Ariadne, looking down at the bodies. ‘Anyway, I hope it hurt like hell for both of them – the bastards!’

Bond caught her hand again. ‘Forget about them,’ he said. ‘Now listen. The house is clear for the moment. I'm going to get my chief along here. Where's the key of this room?’

‘It'll be in the pocket of the tall one.’

‘You and my chief are to lock yourselves in and stay till I come for you. No,’ – as Ariadne started to protest – ‘We've only one gun and one knife and we're two to one already. Niko will explain. Gag the girl and tie her up.’

‘It'll be a pleasure.’

When Bond returned with M, Doni Madan, still senseless from Ariadne's blow, had been dealt with and a sheet thrown over the two bodies. M was clearly dazed with strain and a sleepless night. He had obeyed Bond's summons and followed him along the passages in total silence. He sat slumped on the edge of the bed, a nerve jumping in his neck. Bond looked anxiously at him.

Ariadne caught the look. ‘He'll be all right. I promise you.’ She put her arms round Bond and kissed him. ‘Now go finish them.’

Bond fills Litsas in on the mortar plan. A window on the landing gives them a view of the mortar in the early morning light. Bond tells Niko to head to the rear terrace while he heads in from the sea, both flanking him from opposite sides.


‘Be careful. I'll have to be close with this bloody sawn-off barrel, or I might hit you. Has he got a gun?’

‘Don't know.’

‘Give me five minutes.’

‘No more – the timing's tight.’

In the hall they shook hands in silence and parted. Bond walked quickly through the sitting-room where he had first regained consciousness, out on to the terrace and along to the west corner of the house. From here he took a careful look.

Von Richter's mortar is set up about 20 yards away on a natural platform in the rocks, across broken ground that won't provide any cover. Bond waits a minute for him to turn away from his sorting of ammo to look out toward the sky, and he begins running.


Before he had covered more than a third of the distance to the corner of the cliff his foot struck a loose chip of stone and immediately the German wheeled and saw him. Bond changed direction and made straight for the firing-point. With his feet stumbling and slipping on the smooth hummocks of rock, he expected a bullet at any moment. What he had not expected were the immense shuddering explosions from the mortar, driving into his ears: one – two – three … Then von Richter turned and waited for him, arms extended, with all the advantages of a higher and more secure foothold. But Bond caught him out of position by going for the mortar, not the man. He flung himself forward and brought barrel and base-plate and all toppling sideways, ruining any immediate prospect of further aimed shots. The pain lunged at him. He was halfway to his feet when his head seemed to dissolve and everything stopped.

Litsas was there. His voice came through an invisible wall. ‘James. Come on. We've work to do.’

‘How long …?’

‘A minute. He kicked you and was looking round for a rock to drop on your head, so I fired at him. The range was too much, but I must have been close. He forgot you and ran into the house. Can you manage?’

On his feet again, Bond steadied himself. ‘Yes. Let's go and get him. Together this time.’

‘But with me first. Don't forget he's mine, James.

It takes surprisingly little time to find Von Richter, aboard the dinghy trying to sale away. Bond and Litsas simply drop from the quay onto the boat.


‘The major and I will have a little sail, James. We're in not much hurry now. There's the major's boy-friend to deal with, but he's got some way to travel. I'll be back to help you dispose of him.’

Von Richter cut back the throttle and turned his head. In the grey light, the patch of damaged skin looked ghastly, the product of some loathsome disease. ‘This man means to kill me, it appears,’ he drawled. ‘I'm quite helpless, as you can see. You're an Englishman, Mr Bond. Do you approve?’

‘You're beyond the law, von Richter,’ said Bond slowly. ‘After what you did at Kapoudzona.’

‘Clearly, argument is useless. Emotion has taken over.’ The man gave a faint shrug. ‘Very well. Let us go for our sail.’


The boat began to move away. Abstractedly, Bond watched it receding for a couple of minutes, then sauntered back into the house. He had reached the hall before he noticed the blood-spots.

There was a group of them at the corner of the passage, as if somebody had rested there for a moment, and another near the side door. Bond turned in his tracks and rushed to the kitchen.

The trapdoor had been flung aside. Below, Luisa lay on her back with her eyes open, a metal meat-skewer through her heart. Dr Lohmann was sitting on the floor against the wall, his knees drawn up. Beside him was his black case and a shattered hypodermic. There was no colour at all in his face. He opened his eyes and spoke in a slurred voice.

This is why you double-tap.


‘He forgot,’ he said. ‘He forgot that morphia can do a lot for a man with holes in his guts. It never occurred to him.’

Amazement as much as horror had tied Bond's tongue. ‘But how did he … do all this? According to you he was as good as dead twenty minutes ago.’

‘Any ordinary man with those wounds would never have been able to get up off the floor, let alone spring at me like …’ Lohmann shuddered and gasped, ‘Supernormal vitality. There are cases in medical jurisprudence … Even so, after so much blood-loss … He's not human.’



‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ asked Bond with unwilling compassion.

‘No. He pierced my intestine ten or twelve times with one of those skewer things. I've only got a few more minutes. Thanks to the morphia it's not intolerable. He wouldn't like to know that, would he? … Tell me … I suppose you've killed everybody else?’

‘All but Willi are as good as dead.’

‘Willi's as good as dead too. Sun's orders, agreed to by von Richter. They worked out it would take Willi over twenty minutes to get down that hill to the boat. Too long, they thought. So they got me to give him a pep pill before he took off. A capsule of one of the organophosphorus compounds. The first symptoms should have come on by now. I told you not to worry about him. So you see you needn't feel sorry for me.’

The Nazis produced large numbers of organophosphate-based nerve agents, such as Sarin and Tabun, but never deployed them. The British developed an even nastier one, VX, in the 1950s; while it has rarely been deployed in wartime, it's most infamously been used for several murders, including Kim Jong-nam. Willi is taking a bad way out.


Bond said nothing. Awkwardly, he laid his hand on Lohmann's shoulder for a moment and hurried away up the ladder.

Beyond the side door the trail of blood was easy to follow. It led across the firing-point and into the twisting gully Bond had made his way down just over twenty-four hours ago. He pushed on as silently as he could, eyes alert, ears straining to reach through the woolly barrier in them that constantly thickened and thinned, knife-hand at waist level. The light paled every moment and progress was difficult. He came to one of the sections where the walls leaned in on each other, the landward one rising, the seaward falling away, turned a corner and found Sun not ten feet off.

The Chinese had propped himself against a granite buttress to Bond's right. He looked shrunken, physically drained, and, judging by the pool of blood on the dusty rock at his feet and the half-coagulated stream that stretched from his mouth to his waist, that was what he must have been. His right hand was behind him, no doubt pressed against the wound he could reach. A sort of smile twisted the gory lips.

‘My reasoning was correct, then.’ Unbelievably, the voice was firm and full. ‘In fact I knew you'd come, James. You must be feeling pretty pleased with yourself. I take it you've killed everyone?’ he asked in grotesque unconscious repetition of Lohmann's question.

‘They've all been dealt with.’

‘Excellent. Then it's back to you and me again. Under conditions very much more favourable to you than those obtaining in that cellar, you may think. But you'd be wrong.’

Colonel Sun brought his right hand into view. It gripped a mortar bomb.

‘You see? I am in control still. I need hardly tell you, James, that if you move suddenly, or even if I happen to drop this contrivance by accident, I shall kill us both. I'm dying anyway. So, in a sense, are you. Because very soon I shall dash the nose of this against the rock at my side. Our fates really were linked, weren't they? Can't you feel that now?’

Amis later found out that he actually got this one wrong. For obvious safety reasons, mortar shells must be armed by their high-velocity spiraling through the air.


‘What do you want, Sun?’ Bond was calculating distances in feet and split seconds, trying to visualize the shape of the corner behind him, estimating the possibility of leaping the lower wall to his left.

‘Admit that in me you have found your master, who in an equal contest without the intervention of treachery, would have broken your spirit as finally and irresistibly as your limbs. Admit it, I say!’

‘Never! It wouldn't be true! You had the numbers and the initiative and the planning on your side from the start. And what have you done with all that? Got yourself killed?’

He's got a point.


Sun's stained teeth showed. ‘I insist! I order you to –’ Then the eyes flickered and blood pulsed from the mouth and Bond vaulted the seaward wall of the gully, dropped on all fours into a bowl of scrubby grass only five feet below, scrambled to a stump of rock like an eroded tombstone, swung himself to the far side of it. The rumbling in his ears pulsated on. Sun's voice, feeble now, came through from above and half right.

‘Where are you, James? But that's a question only a fool would answer. I should have dropped this thing a moment ago, shouldn't I? But the desire to hear you acknowledge defeat must have taken charge of my fingers. What am I to do with it now? That's easy. I'll explode it next to me. Go out with a bang. That's the way my world will end.

‘I want to tell you now that what I said to you earlier was quite wrong. De Sade misled me. Or I didn't read him properly. I didn't feel like a god when I was torturing you back there. I felt sick and guilty and ashamed. I behaved in an evil and childish way. It's ridiculous and meaningless, but I want to apologize. Can you forgive me?’

Pathetic, broken, and fully aware of his failure. Bond never gives Sun the benefit of a reply. With one final curse, he angrily throws the bomb into the gully.


Sun had slipped to his knees against the wall of the gully. The extraordinary eyes were open. They fixed on the knife Bond still grasped and their expression became one of appeal.

Bond knelt, placed the point of the knife over Sun's heart, and pushed. Even then, in the last moment of that inhuman vitality, the bloodied lips stirred and mumbled, ‘Goodbye James.’ The moment was whisked away. Sun had turned into a life-sized doll.

Now the dream came back. But this time Bond himself was the formless creature he had fled from earlier, not knowing what it was he pursued, everything dissolving into puffs of flame as he passed it. Litsas was somewhere, and Litsas was crying. Ariadne was near. Then there was nobody.


Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005


There's the Craig Bond.

I dunno, given that he's just wussed out on making sure of Sun at that point, I read that as a bluff to stop her from making trouble.

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