George Lazenby IN Diamonds Are Forever (Chapters 14-15) 28OCT15



  • SirHilaryBrayOBESirHilaryBrayOBE Chez Hilly, Portsmouth
    Posts: 66
    zb007 wrote:
    Just read most of it in one sitting it's rather good well done :)

    my thanks. There should be some more to come soon.
  • zb007zb007 UK
    Posts: 85
    oh that's great I'll look forward to reading it
  • SirHilaryBrayOBESirHilaryBrayOBE Chez Hilly, Portsmouth
    edited July 2014 Posts: 66
    I'm rather getting used to things but we have the promised new double-bill. I tried tweaking certain parts but here we have it.

    Chapter Ten
    “Going Up”

    James Bond let Tiffany fiddle with the white carnation on his black Saville Row suit feeling a tad awkward. He thought for a moment of his childhood with his governess doing the same once. Maybe it was for the funeral of his parents.
    De ye not cry Master James...
    Tracy...I always believed that tears should be shared between friends...or lovers...

    “All done,” Tiffany stood back giving Bond an appraising look up and down his suit then at herself in her navy blue gown that hugged at her figure in all the right spots. “I feel like we’re a folk group.”
    “Not my kind of music,” Bond held a hand out. “Coming?”
    “You sure this is still a good plan? Sounds kinda simple.”
    “Even the most simplest of plans have their advantages.”
    Tiffany shrugged resting her arm through his. Together they stood in front of the high mirror in the lobby by the casino’s entrance in the Whyte House. Bond made sure they were ready before leading her into the casino. The room enveloped them immediately in a warm cocoon with music playing in the background. The room hummed and zinged to the many slot machines, the roulette tables, the baccarat tables and so on. Bond did not think of this as a true casino. It was no Royale or Monte Carlo it was a fabricated commercial idea of one.
    “So, what do we do now, O wise one?”
    Bond pointed. “Join Felix.”
    Felix was sat smoking a cigar in a brilliant white suit at one of the roulette tables. Judging by his dour expression he was not doing so well, this reflected in the two empty shot glasses. Bond sidled up next to him.
    “You’re a perfect advertisement for this place, Felix.”
    “Sure, sure,” Felix grumbled then noticed Tiffany his eyebrows rising and falling. “Ms Case you do look fantastic tonight.”
    Tiffany blushed feeling self-conscious. “Thanks, Felix.”
    Bond suppressed a sigh sitting down with Tiffany. He produced his wallet and handed some notes to Tiffany. “Get some chips, please.”
    As Tiffany went off muttering under her breath Felix waggled his eyebrows.
    “You sure know how to treat a woman, James.”
    Bond’s eyes flashed. “What do you mean?”
    The good-natured tone faded from Felix as he replied. “I was just joking. Making the woman go get the chips...”
    Those who play it safe, stay alive.
    Please stay alive, at least for tonight.

    Bond fought to control the thoughts that during the day had come more often. Three months since he cradled her on the roadside and wept. Three months of therapy, stupid medicines and walks in parks.
    She told me everything.
    Don’t worry, DON’T worry my friend...

    Tiffany returned slapping the chips down. “Anything else?”
    “No,” Bond said in such a hollow voice that Tiffany’s anger subsided. Felix was oblivious to Bond’s expression. Tiffany had seen the look on faces of men back in San Francisco she had...dealt with...long before she worked in the ‘legit’ business. It was the look of a man haunted by demons of the past. Bond made a conscious effort to gather himself putting chips down where he could and waited.
    It did not take long for Bond to start raking in the cash. He wished he could blame his luck on a Q-gadget but he had come to Vegas empty handed in that regard. No, it was luck. Dumb blind luck. It also meant that the plan was working. Tiffany made some bets to keep up the pretence as did Felix. Felix’s purposeful bad luck pained the CIA agent who usually was quite skilled in a game of chance.
    “$10,000,” whispered Tiffany after a couple of hours. Her green eyes shone almost like the diamonds she worked with. “Is this...?”
    She need not have finished the sentence anyway for a white haired man with two heavies materialised the other side of the table from the trio. Felix’s cigar wagged up and down like a lever as he observed the other trio.
    “You’re doing quite well...,” the white-haired man drawled. His voice was like sandpaper, years of cigarette smoking catching up. He regarded Bond with a casino operator’s trademark curious and dangerous look.
    “Bond, James Bond,” the agent tossed a couple of chips at the dealer. “Consider it a tip. Now, Mr...”
    “Bert Saxby. I run the place for Mr Whyte.”
    “Ah, Mr Saxby,” Bond smiled genially pocketing his winnings. “What can I do for you?” keeping it casual and cheerful would throw this Saxby but might also help Bond out.
    Saxby gestured to the table. “You’ve been winning a great deal. I’d almost think you were cheating.”
    “Hardly,” Bond stood eyes challenging Saxby. “What’s your real purpose for coming down?”
    Saxby came round the table until he was behind Felix and virtually chin to chin with Bond. “Mr Whyte wants to see you personally. He admires a man who can win so effortlessly.”
    “Ten thousand is hardly an itch to him,” Bond said. “Why’s he concerned with me?”
    “Like I said, he wants to see you to congratulate you personally. He might even want to recruit you.”
    “I’m sure he might but I already have a job. If you don’t mind I’d like to continue my streak.”
    “The house might object to that.”
    Bond refrained from chuckling. Instead he reached inside his pocket handing the winnings to Tiffany. “I’ll be back, darling.”
    “Sure,” she said quietly. Bond walked off after Saxby bracketed by the heavies. Felix stubbed out his cigar drawing closer to her.
    “Time we got going. Nothing we can do now but wait.”
    “Will he be alright?”
    “It’s James Bond,” was all the CIA agent said.
    It took the lift about two minutes to climb the floors to the penthouse. The lift opened into the penthouse itself with a silent purr. Bond took in the white and cream furnishings with splashes of colour in the form of paintings, lava lamps, tables and chairs. The two heavies and Saxby went down in the lift leaving Bond alone. Clearly Whyte fancied his chances with Bond alone.
    “Please kindly remove the gun fella, if you’ll be so nice.”
    Bond could not see the source of the drawl but heard it oh so clearly. It matched Whyte’s Texan accent yet sounded false. Put upon somehow. There were two open doors to his left beyond what seemed like a clear dome-shaped glass case in the floor as well as one door beyond a two-stepped platform to his right.
    Bond took his PPK from the holster slinging it towards the glass dome.
    “Much obliged.”
    “Where are you, Whyte?” Bond shouted. “Show yourself!”
    “If you insist, Mr Bond.”
    The voice had suddenly changed. It was monotone, each word delivered carefully and almost enjoyably. It was a voice Bond had heard before. His blood ran cold, his fists clenched and his jaw jutted forth. He heard the footsteps from the door to his right. Then he saw the man in the cream high-collared outfit, the white cat that scurried off the platform giving Bond a haughty sniff.
    Bond felt the breath leave his mouth. “No.”
    The other simply laughed.

    Chapter Eleven
    “Old Acquaintances, never forgotten”

    Ernst Stavro Blofeld stepped down onto the floor from the steps with a macabre grin. “Is this not the face you were expecting?”
    Bond said nothing his jaw tightening so that he expected it to snap. He moved to the clear-dome sitting down on it not noticing the map of the USA underneath with little markers dotted across. His mind whirled. You wanted to face him and now you have your chance, a voice said in his head, you have that chance. Kill! Kill Blofeld!
    “Nothing to say, Bond?” Blofeld paused by a four foot-high replica of a missile fingering the sharp point. “I would have thought after the death of Teresa you would be itching to kill me.”
    “Nothing...,” Bond swallowed. His mouth was dry, his brow starting to sweat. He rubbed his hands together. “Where’s Whyte?”
    “Mr Whyte is alive, I assure you though he’s enjoying a little holiday. These Americans and their love for the Wild West.”
    Bond pictured ripping Blofeld’s larynx out and held his hands under his legs.
    The man looked the same as he had when Bond last saw him. That was when he was fighting the basterd on that damned bobsled. Bond could feel even now the vibrations as his helmet thudded along the run. Blofeld’s evil grin as he tried to smash Bond into the next life. Then Blofeld’s legs dangling from a tree...
    ...same earlobes, still missing from his Count Balthazar enterprise. The same shiny head, the same clothes for God’s sake. Bond stood though this take great effort it was as if the shock of seeing Blofeld was too much for Bond’s nervous system. He felt Tracy pressed against him the shards of glass mingling with the blood. He felt her soft brown hair as he pushed it from her eyes.
    I’ll avenge you, I’ll avenge you...
    “Why have you done this, Blofeld? What’s in it for you?”
    “Mr Bond, look around you. Whyte’s Empire rivals that of the former British doesn’t it?” Blofeld chuckled. “From anywhere in his company I can make missiles, bombs, planes, rockets and even nerve agents.”
    “You’re still keen on that then?”
    Bond moved parallel to Blofeld. Blofeld for his part did not react continuing to press a finger against the spear-tipped replica. “Not really, 007 –by the way congratulations on your renewed licence- I prefer to use anything to make my point.”
    “You keep losing, Blofeld. Take the hint. Kronsteen, Klebb, Largo, Volpe, Osato, your Angels of many have to die for you to be convinced?”
    “Many more. I’ve had three months to build up this company towards my aim. I’ve done it all in theory, by myself. Like chess pieces I move assets around, press buttons and voila, I have my profit. Piz Gloria and what happened there are insignificant...”
    Bond made his move with lightning speed lunging for Blofeld. As Bond flew through the air Blofeld picked up the replica spinning it in his hands like a baton before smashing the bottom end into Bond’s face. Bond collapsed in a heap trying to roll onto his back. On his side Blofeld shoved the point of the missile against Bond’s nose. “Oh, no, no Bond. No more please, not unless you value your sense of smell.”
    “From what I can smell down here it’s not that I’m worried about.”
    “Cute, Herr Bond.”
    Bond growled seeing Irma Bunt appear from his periphery wearing black trousers and a polo-neck sweater. Her red hair was still frizzled, her appearance toad-like otherwise. Also appearing were Wint and Kidd from Diamond Whyte. He tried to move stopping only when the point of the missile scratched his nose.
    “You bitch; I’ll get you when I’m free.”
    “That won’t happen I’m afraid,” Bunt said with quiet assurance. “Your death will precede mine by a long time.”
    “So Blofeld,” Bond tried another tack, “what do you hope to accomplish? You must have a plan.”
    “I do Mr Bond but all I’ll tell you is that thanks to the diamond industry I have the weaponry to do my plan. Mr Wint, Mr Kidd please take Mr Bond to his final resting place.”
    “Whatever you say,” Wint purred heading for Bond but stopped by Bunt. His eyes flashed with surprise. “Ms Bunt?”
    “One moment Herr Wint,” she glanced aside at Blofeld. “Liebchen, might I exact one measure of revenge myself?”
    “By all means.”
    Bunt walked to Bond, Blofeld lifted the missile stepping back a fraction. She bent at the waist so that her face was near Bond’s. He smelt garlic on her breath and winced. “I missed your wedding, Herr Bond thus I give you my present to you.”
    With that she straightened and smashed her booted right foot into Bond’s face.
    Reluctantly Bond lost his grip on consciousness and was pushed headlong into the abyss.

    Ten minutes after Bond’s departure from reality Mr Wint and Mr Kidd drove a brown sedan out of the subterranean basement emerging after some miles into the bright Nevadan sunlight. Mr Wint sprayed some potent perfume on his person as he hummed to the gospel song playing on the radio. Mr Kidd reached over through the front seats to flip a panel on the backseat offering a view into the trunk. There he saw the tightly wedged body of Bond.
    “Looks like our friend is still out for the count, Mr Wint.”
    “Most assuredly, Mr Kidd.”
    Wint turned the radio up full as Kidd swivelled back facing front. Shortly the car ploughed deep into the desert the sun high in the sky, the sky itself an azure blue and covering the cloud of dust that billowed almost lifelessly below.
  • SirHilaryBrayOBESirHilaryBrayOBE Chez Hilly, Portsmouth
    Posts: 66
    Onwards and upwards.


    Chapter Twelve
    “A Man Down”

    Tiffany tracked Felix across the room and back again as he paced. His hands kept clenching and unclenching sometimes the fingers clicked in staccato rhythm. In the dim light created by dusk he looked quite macabre.
    “Where the hell is he?”
    “I’m sure he’s fine, unless you think he’s been nabbed.”
    “By whom though?” Felix growled. “He was only meant to be investigating Whyte not take on the mafia.”
    Tiffany clicked a tongue against her teeth. Felix stopped to light a cigarette then shoved it into the corner of his mouth. As he resumed his pacing the trail of smoke resembled Indian smoke signals. Tiffany aimed a gaze at the ceiling as if she could see all the way up to the pent house.
    “Is it too much to ask to check upstairs?”
    “We need a warrant. Even the FBI and CIA needs one.”
    “That’s bull. Come on Felix, if he’s in trouble we need to look!”
    “Don’t tell me how to run my business, Tiffany. You’re here on an honorary basis.”
    “Oh, well don’t I feel touched!”
    Peeved Felix paced over to the telephone. “This is Leiter,” he said after dialling four digits. “We need to get up top. Okay?”
    Tiffany watched as Felix’s cigarette drooped to match the scowl on his lips. “What do you mean a sedan left the basement car park out into the desert!”
    When he hung up Felix had arranged for a group to go up to the penthouse. He stubbed out his cigarette stabbing a finger at her.
    “Come on Big Red, we have to go downstairs.”
    She followed, almost meekly, Felix into the lift outside going all the way to the basement. “One of my guys saw a sedan. It matches the description of Willard Whyte’s car or at least one of his personal cars.”
    “What’s significant about it?”
    “It could be carrying James.”
    “What about the pent-house?”
    “We’ll find out soon enough, Tiffany.”
    Felix led Tiffany to his car –a black Mustang that looked all too like her own. Felix drove round the basement looking around. “See any tracks that lead into a wall?”
    They drove round twice more before Tiffany saw tyre tracks leading past a lift into a cave-face. Felix spun the wheel heading away from the wall then turned 180 aiming for it.
    “Felix what are you doing?”
    “Hang on.”
    With a roar the Mustang charged on the cave face then was through it in a rendering screech of metal and breaking wood. Tiffany looked behind her as Felix gunned the engines. “That was incredible!”
    “Sort off. Now, get that map out.”
    They went up a slope for minutes before bursting into the desert with the sun setting low ahead.
    “Ahead is Death Valley Junction,” Tiffany remarked not seeing the desert speed past. Felix’s eyes were narrowed concentrating on the road ahead. In all his life he had never seen as many cacti as he did now. It took a while to reach the junction, when they did Felix pulled over. Getting out the two felt the heat but it was a low heat which made things comfortable. Tiffany spread the map out over the bonnet feeling the heat from the engine. “There’s little about.”
    “Death Valley,” mumbled Felix studying the map. “California.”
    “Does jurisdiction affect things?”
    “A little. There’s some sub-offices in California and of course the local uniforms. Highway Patrol etc.” He prodded the map. “I’m thinking somewhere in Death Valley. Trouble is there’s a lot of desert.”
    “You think James is about?”
    “Has to be.”
    He stared at the desert floor in front of the car seeing at least four tyre tracks. “They weren’t the only one’s though. We’ll have to go back to Vegas and see about clues at the penthouse first.”
    They climbed back into the car both feeling dejected at not finding Bond. What made it worse for Felix was knowing that Bond was in a precious state mentally. He kept seeing those dead eyes. Damn it, James...
    Felix indicated left to rejoin road before doing a lazy circle and speeding back to Vegas.
    “We should find Willard Whyte.”
    Felix cleared his throat sharply. “We should, should we?”
    “Don’t be patronising,” snapped Tiffany scowling at him. “Whyte’s gotta be around this state someplace. I don’t honestly think that he met James in the penthouse and I don’t think you do either. If we find Whyte we might make a start on finding James.”
    “You think Whyte would know where James was?”
    “Not exactly. He would know where they might have put James but not where James was...if you see what I mean?”
    “God help me, I think I do.” Felix managed to light another cigarette as he drove. Ahead the bright lights of Vegas began to appear. “Where do you propose we start? Busting into the penthouse like the light brigade?”
    “You might scoff but that’s exactly where we should start.”
    Felix shook his head keeping his eyes on the road.
    “Tiffany, you’re going to make one guy miserable one of these days.”

    Chapter Thirteen
    “Stuck in the Mud”

    It’s quite alright, we’ll be moving on soon...she’s just taking a rest...
    James, my beloved Teresa...
    Sir, I request I have a leave of absence...

    Bond tried not to open his eyes willing them shut so that he could recover. As if he could recover. His head throbbed as if a locomotive was powering its way through his brain. He could still see in his minds eye that toad Bunt kick him in the face. He heard Blofeld goading Bond about Tracy. Never forget, I’ll never forget you Tracy. Kill Blofeld. Never forget...why was he so hot?
    His chest ached with the pressure of something wrapped around it. Like hardened cement. Opening his eyes Bond felt the sting of sweat splash upon his eyes and blinked furiously. This had to be a dream, no...It was a nightmare. All around Bond for a good twenty feet was thick, boiling, steaming mud. The mudpool was in a room only a fraction bigger than the pool. In front of Bond at the edge of the mud was a granite platform with a door behind it. The walls of the room were similarly granite in appearance giving the impression of a volcanic shell. The mud was arresting Bond constricting his breathing a fraction yet enough to make him wheeze. He could not move his arms, when he did they barely inched into the mud. He felt naked, as to whether he was he could not determine. His clothes could quite easily have been steamed onto him by now.
    “Isn’t a dream,” Bond told himself. “Have to get out.”
    That went without saying yet he had to otherwise his insanity would overwhelm him.
    The door opened letting in Blofeld still in the same outfit as before. No sign of Bunt just the evil man himself.
    “Welcome to hell, 007.”
    “Let me out, Blofeld.”
    “I’d rather not do that,” Blofeld stared down upon the helpless agent with a malevolent grin. “How can I ever trust you?”
    After a silent pause Bond finally said. “So, you intend to release me to kill me? Or is this how it ends?”
    “This is how it ends, 007. I really do wish that I had a better way of killing you. No, that’s not right. I wish I had the time to make you suffer. You have made me suffer and I shall...”
    “Made you suffer!” Bond shouted suddenly starting to struggle. His shoulders worked furiously –yes he was naked, otherwise he would not briefly amazed at how red his bare shoulders were- yet it was futile. “I stopped you from destroying lives! You have made me suffer! You basterd, you killed my Tracy!”
    Bond’s voice fell into a strangled sob. Bond could not let his emotions override his common sense. Sir James Molony was being proved right. Bond’s grief, his need for revenge was building rapidly under his shell. As Molony had told M Bond had a volcano building inside of him. Like all volcanoes it was a matter of when not if it would erupt.
    For his part Blofeld seemed quite amazed at Bond’s reaction. In all the time he had faced off against Bond, had studied Bond from afar he had never known this. He squatted by the edge of the platform. Bond’s eyes were narrowed, sweat or tears mingling with the dirt smeared across his face like tribal war paint.
    “I’ve done worse than kill you, James. If only I knew this from the start.”
    Bond struggled afresh, a small wave of mud rippled from him. Blofeld had an image of a monster from mythology bursting from the mud. He straightened.
    “If you want honesty, Bond we were aiming for you not your wife. But I’m glad we did what we did.” Blofeld’s eyebrows rose at Bond’s howl. Blofeld went to the door opening it but paused. “The heat will gradually intensify. You will either suffocate or drown. Either way, you’ll be with Tracy soon.”
    Bond waited until Blofeld had closed the door then rocked his head from side to side slowly. He closed his eyes going still. He tried to block out the memories of Tracy. Those months of wooing where he once swept her off her feet before they hid under her long skirt to kiss. Or when they went horse-riding and raced each other into the mountains. Instead he focused on Blofeld. The gleaming bald head, the gloating smile...
    Kill Blofeld...
    Bond started to rock his arms back and forth gradually. His muscles went tight as he strained to break out of the mud. His feet tried kicking, his eyes opened wide. As he went limp, weak with effort James Bond finally crossed that unseen line. The Edge where his feelings and anger went out of control. It would not be shown straightaway or manifest itself just yet.
    After a few seconds Bond started anew to get the hell out of it.
  • Samuel001Samuel001 Moderator
    edited August 2014 Posts: 13,353
    Keep it up Sir Hilly.
  • SirHilaryBrayOBESirHilaryBrayOBE Chez Hilly, Portsmouth
    edited November 2015 Posts: 66
    As I toil through the Bond films, work on Bond/non-Bond writing (the Bond stuff to get the non-Bond going), I think, what the heck, someone here wanted this stuff here and so here's some more.


    Chapter Fourteen
    “To Find a Needle”

    “Fan out but don’t touch anything. Forensics will be here shortly,” Felix ordered as he led his team of six out of the lift. The penthouse echoed to their footfall as they spread out across its gargantuan width. Felix dressed in a pale blue suit stood hands on hips by the glass dome set into the floor looking about. Sweat glistened on his brow in spite of the steady beating of the fans above him. The sound of items being looked into, pulled apart came from other rooms. He just hoped his men had the good sense to use gloves. No sign of Bond but then Felix had not expected to find his friend here. He took his hands from his hips squatting by the dome peering into it. Various names denoted the various outposts of Whyte’s empire. The southernmost one on the west coast was the Baja oil rig right on top of Mexico. Scanning around Las Vegas apart from Diamond Whyte Felix could only find one marked at Zabriskie Point. It struck Felix as odd that Whyte would have someone right inside Death Valley. It was not called Death Valley for a joke after all. Stories abounded of people who had driven into the valley only to never return. All that was found was a car with the doors open.
    “Found a teletype message, Felix,” one of his fellow agents announced emerging from a room. Felix straightened pinching at the knees of his trousers. The message was short to say the least.
    “To Willard Whyte, From: Saxby,” read Felix aloud, “RE: Ranch. Our guest continues to ask for details on his business. Claims we’re not being as forthcoming as we told him. He is getting persistent despite telling him we need for another week. Signed, Bert.”
    “Guest?” added Felix quietly brow knitted. “Whyte has a guest?”
    “Probably. Who knows if the man’s a recluse?”
    “Something doesn’t add up, Carl. Why would Whyte need teletyping about some guest? There’s a phone use it. If he’s busy though...,” he stroked his chin feeling a days stubble rasp against his fingertips. “Where would he have a ranch?”
    Carl gazed over the dome by their feet. “Ten miles east of here out by Fort Rigg.”
    Felix dropped his eyes to the dome then smiled. “That’s a start but don’t tell me it’s that easy.”
    “Half our work is easy,” Carl added then asked, “Do you want a party organised?”
    “Do it but on the QT. I have a feeling someone knows what we’re doing at the best of times. Where’s Saxby?”
    “Downstairs. He works the tables for Whyte.”
    “Check if he’s there then if he is, arrest him.”
    “But that’ll set Whyte off.”
    “Maybe,” Felix waited until Carl had gone then looked at the dome again. Something wasn’t right. Why did he feel the ranch was too on the nose? He thought of what James had been saying (trying to ignore Bond’s feverish state that seemed to grip him) and closed his eyes. Whyte gone for three months, Blofeld gone for three months since Tracy’s death, Bond needing to find Blofeld...something of a must...M’s message (“Bond must be looked after. He’s like a loose cannon.”). Three months. Whyte Industries’ sudden growth in that time. Whyte gone for three months, a recluse yet still sending out orders. If I was a recluse I’d keep stum. Saxby and his guest. Blofeld gone for three months...
    “Sweet Jesus!” breathed Felix his eyes opening. He caught sight of one of his team passing by. “Harry, get Carl from downstairs! He’s not to touch Saxby!”
    “Right, Felix.”
    Felix hurriedly swept his gaze over the Whyte Empire. So James was right. Blofeld WAS Whyte or at least had been for the past three months. God, how stupid was he!? Not your fault, you thought James had finally snapped.
    This ranch out by Fort Rigg was too obvious. Or was it?
    What if one place held Whyte and the other, James?
    Carl reappeared looking flushed. “I was that close, Felix what is it?”
    Felix quickly explained earning some sighs from Carl and finally: “You gotta be kidding.”
    “No, I’m not. We follow Saxby. He has to leave sometime. The ranch is one place but the other...”
    “Diamond Whyte,” Harry said.
    “Exactly,” Felix snapped his fingers. “Yes, where we would not be expected to look for someone!”
    Carl went to the phone by the kitchen. “This is Henderson. I need a tail fixed on Bert Saxby. Yeah, moderate height...silver hair, craggy face...”
    Felix used another phone to organise his teams. The ranch at Fort Rigg would be searched but only once Saxby had led them to it or Diamond Whyte. If he went somewhere else, so be it.
    It was growing dark when Tiffany entered the penthouse. The redhead was clad in skintight jeans and a blue shirt with the top few buttons undone showing off glistening tanned skin. “Felix...”
    “I told you to stay downstairs, girl.”
    Tiffany made a face. “I’m not some girl who listens to men’s orders. Not anymore, Felix. Have you found, James?”
    “Maybe,” Felix grounded the word out. Damned if he wanted her following him. “You’re a goddamn pain in the ass.”
    She smiled sweetly hooking her thumbs into her jeans. “Oh, Mr Leiter, sir I do surely oblige to do that.”
    Felix caught Harry lingering nearby and the smirk on his man’s face. “Yes, Harry?”
    Harry regained composure. “Sorry, Felix. Downstairs says Saxby is on the move.”
    “Let’s go!” Felix went for the lift grabbing Tiffany by the arm as he did so. “You wanted a ride, sweetheart so you got one!”
    Ten minutes later Tiffany’s red Mustang driven by Felix roared out of the Whyte Tower car park onto the Strip where ahead of it was Saxby and a Diamond Whyte minibus. Gradually around them the other members of Leiter’s team took formation.
    It did not take long for Saxby’s destination to be revealed. After all it would either be west out to Diamond Whyte or east to Fort Rigg.
    “He’s heading east,” Felix muttered just heard above the roar of the Mustang’s engine. Darkness had settled leaving a trail of headlights in the night. “Ever been to Fort Rigg?”
    “Once for my interview.”
    “Well, we’re going to need you there then.”
    Tiffany didn’t say anything, Felix didn’t add anything and so on they drove into the night.

    Chapter Fifteen
    “To the Edge”

    Bond felt as if he were tied to an anchor that had sunken to the bottom of a harbour. The mud around his legs had become as strong as concrete restricting his now pathetic little kicks. Sweat had continued to roll down his face like a waterfall. His lips were cracked, dry as the Mojave. He tried to lick them yet it was futile. It had been a few hours yet he continued to survive. His mind could not process how long he was meant to last before he died. His mind indeed was starting to merge reality and thoughts into one. Bond was continuing to pass through the threshold mentally. A small part of him had given up the fight realising that now perhaps this was his final stand. It was a small understatement to say that Bond’s mental reckoning had taken a knock.
    Bond tried to claw at the mud to pull himself out though this time it barely worked. His fingers slid through the dense gritty substance uselessly. Once again his shoulders slumped, his chin touched the mud and he gave up. His thoughts turned to home. Would M allow some kind of ceremony for Bond or was that the height of ego? Bond deserved some kind of ceremony. Poor Moneypenny, poor Goodnight, poor Loelia...
    So avid a climber...
    It’ll take more than cutting of your earlobes to turn you into a count, Blofeld.
    Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and bridegroom, Mr and Mrs James Bond...
    Kill Blofeld.
    With a muted guttural growl Bond arched his back wiggling as best as he could his hands clawing at the mud harder than before. Damned if he would die in a mud pit. He kept going then slumped again. His claw marks were a few inches deep. He had barely moved. As his mind closed down Bond failed to hear outside the sounds of activity.

    It had taken two hours to drive out to Fort Rigg and a further fifteen minutes to find it. Fort Rigg had been built around the time of the Civil War though with interests purely in defending Union interests against would be marauders be they Mexican, Indian, Confederate and even Canadian. A town had flourished then died by the turn of the century leaving a collection of buildings reminiscent of a Wild West film set. Two corners of protecting wall remained of the Fort as well as the garrison commander’s house which became the ranch. Willard Whyte must have seen something in this.
    “Carl, have the teams arrayed behind the town. We’ll move in when ready,” Felix waited for Carl’s confirmation then threw the walkie-talkie in the backseat of the Mustang. In the darkness beside him Tiffany studied the faint outlines of Fort Rigg.
    “Pretty gloomy place. Do you think James is there?”
    “If not, someone is,” Felix could see tell-tale traces of smoke in the night sky though he wondered if it was his imagination. When he heard the walkie-talkie rasp to a steady beep he hit the accelerator speeding up towards the ranch. “When we get going try to stay out of the way. Understood?”
    “I hope you do. Your death is something I don’t want on my conscience, sweetheart.” Seconds later Felix had stopped the Mustang by the ranch’s steps. He stopped to draw his Magnum before leading the charge into the ranch. No sooner had he opened the door then bullets thudded into it. He was fortunate to have opened the door from a crouched position. Raising the Magnum he aimed and fired. His carefully targeted shot hit the shooter in the face pitching him back. Running down the corridor from the main door he passed several WW emblems before reaching the shooter. He winced at the mess that was the man’s face then swept around the corner to see if anyone else was there. The place felt hot, even for the desert. As he turned the corner he saw Carl and a few others enter from the opposing end.
    “Back door,” Carl said by way of explanation to Felix.
    “Right. Search every room and see if there’s a basement.”
    Felix went to the first door kicking it open only to find a lounge. He checked the next room and the next. When he saw Tiffany he said. “Do you remember anything from your time here?”
    “Not much.”
    “No basement, no attic?”
    “There might have been a basement.”
    “Great,” grumbled Felix flinging a fourth door open. Peering into the shadows he saw a sign reading CAUTION EXTREME HEAT. “Where?” he mused aloud.
    Walking into the room that felt and looked like a closet he felt the opposing wall with the palm of his hand. He took the hand away. “They weren’t kidding that’s piping hot.”
    Biting his lip he shrugged taking a few steps back then before Tiffany’s amazed eyes he charged the wall. Luck was on his side for Felix struck the door just on the handle. He tripped over the threshold hitting a platform on his shoulder. Quickly standing for fear of firing his gun by accident he looked down and swore.
    “Christ, James!”
    His friend lay in a pool of mud that positively bubbled with the heat. Bond looked dead. Indeed, he might well be dead. Taking off his jacket putting his gun down Felix jumped into the mud plunging into it up to his shoulders. He waded through to Bond. His hands sluggishly made their way through the mud to grab Bond under his arms before he was able to drag Bond to the platform where Tiffany waited.
    “James,” she whispered too dazed for words.
    “Help me!” snapped Felix gasping with the exertion and the heat. It was like a blast furnace in here. Together he and Tiffany hoisted Bond onto the platform. Bond was naked though his dignity was in part preserved by wet and drying mud. Bond’s eyes slowly opened.
    “Felix,” he rasped.
    “Hey buddy. You look like the Thing from another world,” Felix joked emptily. His smile felt just as hollow. “Help’s on the way.”
    Carl came in just at that point perhaps drawn by Felix’s shout.
    “Get an ambulance out here now.”
    Felix then ordered Tiffany to find the controls for the pool. The redhead was able to find them by the door in a panel carved into the wooden surface of the wall. Even in the few seconds after she flicked switches the steady drop in temperatures was noticeable. Felix checked Bond’s pulse. It was weak at best.
    “Tiffany I need some water.”
    Tiffany otherwise would have complained but concern over James Bond’s welfare overrode her reaction. After she had gone Felix rocked back on his haunches wiping at his brow. The hand came away heavy with sweat.
    “You idiot, James. Why did you have to go off like that?”
    “Blofeld,” his friend said eyes closed again.
    “Knock it off,” Felix felt weary with it all. His patience was wearing thin with Bond.
    “No it was. You have to believe me Felix. Him and Bunt.”
    The force of Bond’s words for a man of his state surprised Felix. He scrabbled closer lowering his head to hear better. “Blofeld and Bunt?”
    “Both of them?” at Bond’s nod Felix wiped his upper lip flicking sweat into the pool. “James, I don’t know whether to believe you or not.”
    “That’s your right but when I recover I’m going after him.”
    “You’re not going anywhere,” Tiffany said as she returned with a bottle of water. “This stuff should be alright.”
    “Splash it on his lips. Best not to swallow. Learnt that much in training,” Felix remarked. Bond licked his wet lips then tried to sit up. Felix held him down. “Stay there, pal. You’re not going anywhere.”
    Tiffany’s eyes narrowed. “This again?”
    “It’s a familiar tune,” confirmed Felix standing. He studied the pool wondering why Blofeld, if it was him, chose that method. It took half an hour for paramedics based in Vegas to reach them. Felix had Bond loaded into the ambulance with Carl more or less a bodyguard. “Keep an eye on him. We’re going to hit Diamond Whyte.”
    “You reckon WW is there?” Carl asked as Felix held the ambulance rear door open.
    “If he’s not we’re back to square one. Something definitely is up with this and if it is Blofeld...,” Felix stood back slamming the door shut. The ambulance skidded on the dust then was away. Felix trotted over to the red Mustang where Tiffany waited. “We’re going onto Diamond Whyte. I’m gathering you know the layout better?”
    “Like the back of my hand.”
    Felix cast her a sidelong look then chuckled. “I’ll bet.”
    Leaning out of the driver’s window Felix shouted to Harry at the front of the ranch. “Get the Marines to meet us at Diamond Whyte, pronto.”
    “Check! We’ll be right behind you.”
    Felix pulled on the clutch then was off. Tiffany was usually quite protective of her red beast though this time she was more or less happy with Felix driving. She gathered her car had been ‘borrowed’ by the US government.
    The drive was a fast one. The advantages of Nevadan highways benefitted the Mustang as there were few cars on the road. Felix said nothing other than into the walkie-talkie to coordinate teams into position. At this time of night Diamond Whyte would be manned mainly by guards and the few nightshift workers.
    “How many guards on duty, Tiffany?”
    “Pretty exact figure.”
    “We need that many just to keep an eye on the stuff in case rival companies try something. On top of that there’s the R&D stuff to look after.” Tiffany paused her hair flickering in the breeze that whipped through the car’s open windows. “Is this Blofeld as dangerous as I think he is?”
    “More,” was all Felix said.
    At Diamond Whyte the truck full of Marines was parked by the gates. Felix did not slow as he swerved towards the gate headlights bouncing across the gravel track. Tiffany shouted at him as the car slammed into the gates. The two gates slammed together with a metallic twang than away from the snub nose of the Mustang. The Marines followed then by Harry and the other CIA agents. Felix gave the place a quick glance about as he sped down between two immense white buildings that resembled zeppelin hangars.
    “Tiffany where would you hide someone?”
    “Beats me. One of the spare hangars or the Space Lab.”
    “Space Lab?”
    “Hang left at the next corner then keep going.”
    Felix did as told hanging so hard left the car lifted onto one wheel though only for a few seconds. Headlights swept down the valley formed by the complex buildings. Guards were starting to appear in the grounds each armed. Felix made out a building dead ahead that faced side onto the road. A pyramid shaped building with a giant Stars and Stripes emblazoned across one side.
    “That is the one?”
    Executing a hard handbrake turn Felix came to a stop pushing open the door Magnum already in hand. He saw three black clad guards with baseball caps bearing WW on them blaze out of the Space Lab. Felix held his Magnum up.
    The three guards opened fire with carbines forcing Felix to take cover behind the driver’s door. Tiffany had kept down and was holding her head in hands. Felix lifted his head up firing back. One of the few times he cursed having a Magnum. Each shot forced his wrist to recoil.
    He was in luck as the Marines finally caught up. Two Marines simply leant out of the truck returning fire. The three guards crumpled on the steps of the Space Lab dead or very near it. As the Marines piled out of the truck Felix went to Tiffany.
    “Alright, Red?”
    “Yeah, just...”
    “Get me inside that lab, now. We need to see if Whyte’s there.”
    Tiffany led the way careful to avoid looking at the bodies of the guards. The door to the building had been left open by the guards. Inside the place echoed to their footfall. It was by and large empty save for a lunar landscape to one-side complete with mock-ups of the Lunar Excursion Module presently used as well as Whyte Industries equipment. To the other side was the labs, Felix assumed. Gesturing with his Magnum he simply nodded.
    “Labs, the offices...,” Tiffany jogged over to a metallic door with the usual keep away signs. She entered a code into the keypad stepping back as the door swung outward. Felix led the way this time reloading his Magnum as he went. The place smelt strongly of disinfectant. It took ten minutes to search the offices finding nothing of note. Felix banged his gun against a table. “Damn it.”
    “Mr Leiter,” a Marine called. “A Harry on the radio.”
    Felix went over noting the Marine’s rank tabs.
    “Thanks lieutenant,” he took the bulky radio from the soldier. “Go ahead, Harry.”
    “We’ve found nothing. Whyte if he’s here is well hidden.”
    “Understood. Do a second sweep. Search everywhere. More so where least expected.”
    Handing the radio back Felix asked the Marine to organise a thorough search of the lab. Felix and Tiffany walked to the lunar landscape. Felix frowned at the golf club leaning against the LEM.
    “What’s this doing here?”
    “Beats me. The scientists here have a quirky sense of humour.”
    “I’ll say,” Felix lifted the club hitting it against the nearby fake lunar surface. The lunar rock rang loudly but with a hint of something soft. When Felix hit the surface again something gave way a few feet over behind the LEM. Part of the rockface opened to reveal a shaft of yellow light. Putting the club down Felix shook his head.
    “I amaze myself.”
    “You’re lucky. I didn’t even know we had a bunker here.”
    “It looks new,” Felix commented setting off for the door. At the door he noticed a flight of stairs leading down. Descending Felix felt the cold air hit his cheeks. The place was well conditioned that was for sure. At the bottom the stairs opened out in a lounge. Felix stood there dumbfounded.
    “What the hell is this?”
    Tiffany did not know feeling a little nervy as she stood there behind Felix. The lounge looked like an alpine retreat with its rug, fireplace and fixings. It was some weird place in Felix’s opinion. A lounge in a bunker beneath a lunar mock-up. As they studied the place a toilet flushed which only added to the sheer oddity of the moment. Felix once again lifted the Magnum as the bathroom door down a hallway opened. A tall gangly figure emerged heading his way. He wore a simple blue shirt and jeans.
    “What in Sam Hill are you doing here?”
    Tiffany pushed past Felix stepping in front of him smiling. “Mr Whyte, I’m so glad you’re alive.”
    “You bet I’m alive!” Willard Whyte lifted his head a little defiantly. “You look familiar, missy. Lemme see...Tiffany Bolt...?”
    “Right,” he pointed at Felix. “You though ain’t no worker of mine.”
    Felix carefully lowered the Magnum. “Felix Leiter, CIA. You’ve had the world worried, Mr Whyte. You’ve been a recluse for three months.”
    Whyte frowned. “What are you on about? I’ve been here all the time.”
    “We...,” Tiffany began then said forcibly. “Sir, you’ve still been running the company.”
    “I’ve been stuck down here for three months unable to run the company Miss Case,” Whyte sat down in an armchair rubbing his forehead. “Saxby put me in here reckoning there was talk of war or something stupid. Then it became this case of me being needed to stay out of the way so that the company could recover. Me being seen to be on holiday would do some good.”
    “Did anyone else see you, Mr Whyte?”
    “No. Just Saxby.”
    Felix quickly explained all that had happened to a rapidly surprised looking Whyte. Whyte’s subsequent cursing was nothing Tiffany hadn’t heard before.
    “ mean I’ve been seen to be smuggling diamonds in for weapons manufacture!”
    “Yes,” Felix said simply.
    “Goddamn it!” Whyte was on his feet. “I need to get back to Vegas. Assuming it’s there of course.”
    “Last time we checked,” Tiffany provided. “And Saxby.”
    “I’ll fire his ass when I getta hold off him.”
    “He’s been arrested,” Felix told Whyte leading the way upstairs. “We’re working on getting the impostor.”
    “With me upstairs that should prove easy enough.”
    Whyte did not seem surprised to see the innards of the Space Lab suggesting he already had seen it before his enforced exile. He was surprised though at the sight of the Marines. Felix piled ‘WW’ into the Mustang pausing to give orders to the Marines before driving off.
    There was still the small matter of Blofeld and of course, James.
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