X for Xanthippe – Azure Spark. Part 24

[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

XANTHIPPE – Wednesday Mid-morning

Xylitol, xerostomia, x-rays, xerosis? I’m confused by the medical jargon. Wiley’s unconscious, and his skin is yellow and dry. Xanthic xerosis?

“Doctor, without the medical jargon, how is our colleague?”

He glances at his watch. It’s an hour since we brought Wiley into the A&E at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor – and another squad car took Vivian, restrained, to Porthmadog.

“He is unconscious but breathing. All his vital signs are acceptable. The x-rays show nothing is fractured. I cannot detect the supposed toxin – yet. There are more tests I need to run.”

I try to breathe steadily. Hope Wiley’s okay. He has to be.

“So, his pallor? His skin. What’s that from?” asks Kama.

“Xerosis or abnormal dryness can occur in the eyes – xerophthalmia – on the skin – xeroderma – and in the mouth – xerostomia. Of these, he exhibits the latter two. So, we will test for asialism, ichthyosis and other causes. Also-“

“Keep us updated via our PCSO,” I say, smiling as the same female officer who helped before.

Protection for one of our own? In a coma? But not with a gaff. An unknown toxin? Is that what’s in the canisters? A biological or chemical weapon?

Shivers set off my tattoos.

A for Abnormal and Avenger. B for Breathing and Biological. C for Coma and Chemical. D for Dryness and Death. V for Victim and Vigilante. I for Intent and Identify.

BAD? DIVA?

Vivian or Pia? We need answers.

WEDNESDAY – Midday

Njörðr Hämnaren is moored at Liverpool Marina?”

Uthyr answers on speakerphone in Ffion’s office.

“Yes, within a short walk of the city. But we are ready to stop them unloading.”

“If the canisters are biological or chemical hazards,” says Ffion. “The Swedes can release them from the boat – into the air or the harbour. I’ve alerted NaCTSO, but we need more evidence.”

The National Counter Terrorism Security Office will rely on us to keep them informed so they can co-ordinate the appropriate units. But we are acting on suspicions. My gut feelings.

“Has your rogue officer said anything helpful?” asks Uthyr.

“She’s evasive and shrewd. Playing with us. But she’ll talk.”

“I pray it’s in time to stop whatever the Swedes have schemed.”

“It will be, Uthyr. You know my dynamic-duo and rate them suitable for your unit.”

I wonder who leaked that. Have they discussed our future?

Ffion rings off and motions for us to follow to an interview suite – our only one with a two-way mirror. CPS approved.

“Suggested questions? I’ve tried the vigilante angle and DC Utkin wanting to dispense her own justice.”

Utkin. Xander. That triggered her reactions.

“Ask what drove her brother Xander to commit arson. And what divine law guides her.”

Ffion motions to the viewing room as she steps into the main interview suite along with the police sergeant who was inside guarding the door.

Vivian is sitting with the defence lawyer she has requested. Ffion switches the recorder on.

The lawyer plays his hand. “My client will only answer questions that relate to her arrest.”

“The attempted murder of two officers. The canisters on the yacht. Why she’s put another officer in hospital. So – everything.”

“Circumstantial associations,” says Vivian. “Evidence massaged by two officers that resent me and my colleagues.”

“Officers that arrested your brother Xander for arson. Valid? Or tampered evidence?”

Vivian stares hard at the mirror. Eyes burning into ours. Accusing.

” I know this room and that ridiculous mirror. They’re listening – your pet officers who arrested him. Yes, he deserved to be put away for his crimes. But they drove him over the edge.”

Ffion opens a file. Xander’s case?

“By ‘they’ you mean his ex-wife Dinah Quinlan and her partner Aerona Ogilvy? What did they do to pervert the law?”

Vivienne hesitates. Her lawyer shakes his head, then whispers to her. Does he suspect what she might admit? Vivian glares at him, at Ffion, at us. Anger triggered.

“The Lord’s Law. 1 Corinthians 6:9 – ‘Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men’. This is a Christian country and I respect that.”

“So, your fellow officers become legitimate targets – even if they attend chapel like Sparkle. Or Wiley Yates who is as heterosexual as you.”

Vivian shakes her head. “He agrees with your dike pets and does nothing to correct their delusion. Unlike my friends. Their belief is firm.”

Ffion pauses and flicks through the file. Page by page. Vivian shuffles and sweats.

“Who is next? Me, another Christian who believes in her officers? This vendetta won’t end with two or three dead colleagues. What’s in the canisters, DC Utkin? Or are you as immoral as your brother? A criminal and not one of my officers?”

Fists on the table, Vivian shakes her head.

“And if I help, what do I get? I only did this to correct what our system failed to do – protect people. Without the police presence, vigilantes are dangerous. I can stop that. With me involved, they will help us.”

“Help us do what? Do we need the containers? Do we want them?”

“Xanthippe, they called me – confrontational. The Swedes thought I wasn’t to be trusted. I challenged their aims too much. But I know the best way to deal with misfits not them. This was my chance.”

“Now I’m offering you the chance to stop this – earn respect.”

My mobile rings. The PCSO at the hospital.

“DS Yates is recovering. The doctor says there was no venom. Just a heavy sleeping draught. When he is well enough to talk, I’ll get Wiley to call.”

A bluff. Vivian is the fraud spinning a yarn.

R for Respect and Revenge. Y for Yacht and Yarn. A for Abnormal and Avenge. D for Death and Duplicity.

YARD. A railway goods yard?

I message Ffion. “Wiley okay. Say he died. Not her intention. So will break her.”

Ffion sits back, shakes her head and cries.

“Wiley. Why him? Didn’t he love you enough?”

Vivian claws her head, body shuddering.

Another red herring.

C for Casualties and Cons. K for Kisses and Kudos. O for Opportunists and Objectives.

DOCKYARD. My tattoos convulse me.

Knees buckling. Mind churning letters and clues.

Kama’s arms around me. “Cariad. Not again?”


Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, from Guillaume Rouillé‘s Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthippe

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
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^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

W for Whiplash – Azure Spark. Part 23

[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

WHIPLASH – Wednesday Dawn

Wounds washed by waves, we lie waiting. Bodies wrapped around each other in what remains of our splinter-lacerated wet-suits. The wind carries the sound of an outboard motor approaching.

A boat draws near to the rock island in Aberdaron Bay. Seabird residents watch our rescuers – the two detectives investigating our deaths.

“Thank God,” says Wiley in English as he rushes forward. “We were on the Llŷn when control alerted us.”

“Some locals reported glimpsing bodies out here on Ynys Gwylan-bach.” Vivian stares at us, eyes wide. The rips and gashes? “Actually, the two guys that found your wrecked boat. Helpful.”

I wriggle from Kama’s embrace. Wiley lifts me and Vivian assists.

“If you can walk, we’ll get you to the boat. Then we’ll return for you, Kama.”

I stagger. Feign weakness but drag myself upright. Wary, but there’s a witness. Padrig watches from the boat and hoists me as I struggle aboard.

“Welcome back. I feared my lessons had been wasted when we found your boat.”

While Wiley and Vivian retrace their steps to Kama, Padrig continues in Welsh.

“They show concern, but I’d watch out. They’ve been asking strange questions.”

Subtle tingling. A for Alert. W for Warning.

“Like what?”

“For one, how we found the boat and where? That was okay until today. They asked about this rock island – Ynys Gwylan-bach. Why here so far from the wreckage? Currents should have carried you and the wood from the hull in the same direction.”

“We swam towards the bay.”

He nods as our detective allies return. A for Allies. W for Weasel.

“We need to get those wounds treated,” says Wiley. “Splinter slashes might get infected.”

Once aboard, Vivian sits beside Wiley, knees touching as Padrig heads to Aberdaron.

“We have your belongings from the B&B in our squad car,” she says. “We went to Penrhos yesterday – in case you had both returned there.”

I shiver, apprehensive but not from the cooler air. E for Evidence.

Ashore, Padrig says, “I’ll be in the bar if you need me, genethod. Dywed yn dda am dy gyfaill, am dy elyn dywed ddim.”

Do our English colleagues understand? ‘Speak well of your friend; of your enemy say nothing.’ It doesn’t matter. He verifies the tremors – our quarry is near.

In the National Trust car park, Wiley opens the white Ford Focus’s tailgate, and nods at two suitcases with stickers promoting Patagonia.

“Apologies.” He palms his forehead. “We should have collected more suitable gear at your home. But nobody knows the codes –”

“–for our weird security doors,” says Kama. Not exactly true as Ffion does have them. “I’m okay with these colours – for a few hours.”

We change in the pub’s washroom. Wearing pastels instead of black is an acceptable price if we expose the vigilante. I repeat Padrig’s warning on the island to Kama – in Tamil. Public toilets have ears.

Outside, Wiley leads us back to the car park. “DI Baines wanted us to get you checked by a doctor. So were going to Tremadog – as it’s near the station.”

But with minimal facilities. Why are no paramedics here? No A&E arrangements? Ffion knows our injuries are superficial. But who cancelled routine medical response?

O for Orders. M for Misdirection.

Wiley hands Vivian the keys to the Focus, then climbs into the backseat beside Kama.

Are we being separated? I’m motioned to the front passenger seat by an unsteady Wiley.

“All this messing around in boats is exhausting.”

Vivian laughs and fastens her seatbelt. Then drives off along the B4413 towards Pwllheli.

“How long were you swimming before you reached the island? All night?”

Suspicious of our story. Both of them or just Vivian?

S for Suspect and Swimming.

I smile back. “Most of Tuesday night. We tried to land but there were rocks and cliffs. Hard to find anywhere at night.”

“Ynys Gwylan-bach was the first place we saw where we could land. By then it was light,” says Kama. “We slept for hours. Until you found us.”

“Keeping each other warm seems – strangely sensible.”

Our secret relationship is illicit in her eyes. AMOURS or ARMS?

Time this right. Wrangle it out. Wary.

“Basic survival. Our wetsuits were useless in the cold air.”

Silence. Vivian seems satisfied. Wiley is dozing.

Sweat on her forehead. She’s thinking. Plotting? Remembering?

The case that convicted her brother for arson?

“Have you seen your brother recently?”

She grits her teeth. Blinks but stares at the road. “He took me to the races at Chepstow on a recent day-off. Backed a few winners. He’s taking me to Ffos Las for Ladies Day later this month.”

Intentional evasion. She’s talking about her brother Quincy the goading polo player.

“And Xander?”

“Deservedly locked up – unlike the women that put him there.”

Her fingers grip the steering wheel tighter, turning white. Hate. Kama and me? Xander’s ex-wife and her queer partner? All of us?

“He set fire to the stables and poisoned their horses. Unprovoked and the jury found him guilty.”

“And ignored what drove him to breaking the law. You and your partner were the arresting officers. You ignored the provocation. Failed to report all the facts. Scorned divine law. I can’t forget, but enough said – for now.”

Impassive but sweating.

So, divine law makes me guilty. I’ve been a sinner for years – in chapel eyes. Even if I attend – when crime allows. Guilty. Vigilantes against Gay Pride? Unreal and yet too possible.

West of Mynytho, Vivian throws a left onto the smaller B4415. We’re thrown to off-balance as she weaves to straighten up down the lane between two stone walls.

Wiley is sound asleep. Trees close in.

“Where are we going?”

“Bangor – the A&E. Or aren’t you really injured?” She smirks as she accelerates. “You two are such fakes – except for your disgusting perversion.”

I try to grab the steering wheel, but she just wrenches it to the side again, scraping the stone wall.

“This time, I’ll dispose of you properly – and Wiley.”

A belt whips around her neck and I wrest the wheel from her, steering us onto the rain-soft verge where the wall ends.

“Never let an officer sit behind you with a whip for a belt. Wisdom 101.”

I blow a kiss at my colleague as I cuff Vivian, then drag her onto my side of the squad car.

“What did you give Wiley? A sleeping draught?”

Another sick laugh. “Nothing so inept. Diluted weever fish toxin sweetened with xylitol – no known antidote. But he knew the risks of not punishing criminals. Death.”

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Why? Pric pwdin.”

“I don’t have to say anything. Not to you two dikes. To our DI, Ffion Baines – perhaps. Then, I will mention everything that I will rely on – if this ever gets to court. If anyone survives to witness this.”

A warped version of our police caution. Do we need to warn her officially? Yes.

Kama does as she secures Vivian inside the squad car.

X for Xylitol and Xenial. A for Amours, Arms and Alert. N for Nervous and Names. D for Directions and Deception. E for Envenom and Embittered. R for Retaliation and Revenge.

XANDER. How is he connected to murder? Is he the real threat?

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
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And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

V for Vendetta – Azure Spark. Part 22

[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

VENDETTA – Tuesday 1 p.m.

Vague visions vex me as they vanish. Memories return as Kama kisses me.

“You fainted, cariad. You need more time to recover.”

She’s kneeling on the grass with my head in her lap. She caresses my face.

“No. We haven’t got time. I fear what Lagens väktare means.” I look up at Ffion and Uthyr, their brows creased. “I need to go online. On my sister Gwawr’s computer.”

We sprint to the house and I sign to my deaf sister.  

Upstairs in her room, the four of us squeeze behind Gwawr as she types Lagens väktare  into Google Translate.

“Guardians of the Law”

“Above the law. Vigilantes. That’s their motivation. And my hyper-active tattoos are screaming Arms.”

“Explosives?” asks Ffion. “Like they used on your boat? Or guns?”

“The canisters were not tall enough for long weapons,” says Kama. “But disassembled ones, handguns, or components would be a viable guess.”

Uthyr waves me to the doorway. I trust my sister, but guessing she can lip read, Uthyr asks, “Should we talk outside?”

“Gwawr’s my trusted researcher – and my late tad knew that – as does Ffion. She knows more than mam-“

“-About you and Kama as well?” His smile eases my racing pulse. “Yes, I suspected when I arrived. You make a great couple and my unit would validate that.”

As they look over at us, we call the others over and suggest grabbing tea or coffee and sitting outside.

Drinking as we sit on the wooden bench overlooking the farm, I attempt to relax. This is almost home – this working farm. The sound of sheep. The glistening water where Kama and I swam before not making love. Better to dive in again to banish the nightmare.

Utkin. Xander Utkin.

“Ffion, does Vivian’s personnel file show any relationship to Xander Utkin, the guy Kama and I put away for arson, earlier this year?”

Our DI closes her eyes. A long pause when I wonder if this thread is coincidence.

“Vivian admitted Xander was her brother when she applied to join CID, three months ago. However, she was estranged from him and said he deserved to be locked up.”

Connected. Disapproval.

“Any sign that she feels that we are too soft on crime?”

“None. Like all of us she sympathizes with the victims. Works tirelessly to resolve cases. I suspect that’s one of the reasons that Wiley-“

“-Obsesses about her,” says Kama. “Those two are inseparable. Perhaps another team.”

Perhaps vigilantes. Or are they virtuous?

“Their follow-up on your deaths,” says Ffion, “has been exacting and sensitive.”

V for Vigilantes or Virtuous. E for Exacting and Explosives.

A mobile phone rings. Uthyr’s.

“Varley.” He listens, one hand rubbing his neck. “On the move? Which direction?” He nods then glances at his watch. “I’m forty minutes away at least. Follow them and keep me informed.” He snaps his phone closed.

Njörðr Hämnaren has cast off?” I ask. “Heading where?”

“East. Possibly towards Liverpool so outside the NWP’s operational area. But not my Marine Unit’s. If necessary, I’ll contact our colleagues at Merseyside Police. We’ll continue monitoring the transponder signals. Ffion, your team must find the vermin that think they are above the law.”

M for Merseyside and Monitor.

Uthyr leaves us strategizing beside the llyn.

“If we’re to draw them out,” says Kama. “Sparkle and I are the prime bait and-“

“-Your usual jeopardy approach,” says Ffion. “Last time nearly got you both killed.”

“Nearly is not stopping me. Fainting was just a memory recall device – that worked.”

Like my tingling tattoos.

W for Weapons. A for Arms. E for Explosives. S for Strategy.

V for Vendetta. Ours.

WAVES. Staggering ashore having survived the watery nightmare. Where?

“Sparkle and I must return to Aberdaron Bay and drown again.”


Aberdaron Beach – © Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

U for Undermine – Azure Spark. Part 21

[Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

UNDERMINE – Tuesday Midday

Unarmed, unaware and useless. My decisions. Why come here? Unsound understanding of my tattoos.

Kama’s tongue traces the heart where only she goes. Licks her way inside. Inviting me inside her.

I’ve betrayed her. Making love is impossible now. Even if my brain wasn’t scrambled.

“You’re distracted, cariad. Why? Your grandparents’ disapproval? They don’t know. Adjoining rooms don’t mean we’re lovers – even if we are.”

Peaceful sounds. Sheep. A tractor.

But nothing is normal now.

“My grandparents suspect – but don’t want to know. But I’m doubting myself. Stupidly blaming my tattoos–”

” -which have always led to the right conclusion.”

Shake my head. Crush her pillows.

“Only when I unscramble their weirdness.”

Each tattoo is a watershed moment in my life – becoming a goth, my first girlfriend, that first heartbreak. Culminating in our secret hearts. But upheavals – always.

Passion postponed, I dress in black – jeans, T-shirt and Doc Martens. Focus on positives. Ignore the pounding in my head.

Undetected. We can still thwart the Swedes and their NWP informer.

Outside, an ultramarine Land Rover Discovery draws up. We go downstairs and greet Uthyr Varley.

“Glad you got the coded message, sir.”

“Uthyr, please. Especially as this is unofficial – and you two are presumed dead. ‘Unacceptable fatalities’, the Chief Constable stated to the media.”

“Best if Sparkle and I remain dead until we’ve outwitted the suspects. Undercover and unseen beyond here. How much has the Marine unit uncovered so far?”

Without the involvement of the North West Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit, I know that NWP is in an unwinnable situation.

We sit on the wooden bench outside, overlooking a view I will always love. Mountains speckled with sheep.

“Forensics identified the explosive used from the wreckage recovered by Messrs. Thomas and Pugh as untagged Semtex – used primarily in blasting.”

“Traceable?” I suspect not, even if the Chief Constable is alerted.

“No resources, I’m afraid. We’re tracking the cargo you raised and tagged. The four containers are still on the yacht Njörðr Hämnaren in a marina between Llandudno and Conwy. No attempt has been made to unload them. What do you suspect is in them?”

Our dilemma. My unease. “Unsure at present.”

A white Peugeot 308 pulls into the farmyard and parks by the new farmhouse built for my grandparents and mother.

Uthyr looks at his watch. “Ffion Baines on time as usual.”

Our DI points down to the llyn – the lake that gives the farm its name: Tyn-y-llyn. The lake where I learnt to swim – and we still do.

“Coffee, tea and gossip can wait. Today it’s urgent that we unmask whoever betrayed my officers. Ugly prejudice taken to unacceptable lengths. But why?”

“Money,” says Uthyr. “usually the ulterior motive.”

M for Money. P for Prejudice. Unlikely. We are missing the reason.

“Anyone behaving unexpectedly?” asks Kama. “The team must be devastated – or should be.”

“When officers die, everyone pulls together. United – as we are in Porthmadog. Wiley Yates and Vivian Utkin volunteered to investigate your murders. I gave them access to some – but not all – of your files.”

Who do we trust? Wiley knows our secret and understands. Vivian is an unknown.

U for Understands and Unknown.

Her surname Utkin is familiar. From where? Another case? A chill. My stomach seethes. Like my mind. Shredded, ever since the explosion.

“Pia Pilkvist said something in Swedish before attempting to kill us. Kama?”

“It sounded like ‘larger victory’ as if they had accomplices elsewhere acting underhand–”

“–like in other police forces,” says Uthyr.

Silence. Even the sheep are unvoiced.

“Or it was another attempt to undermine us – sow doubt.” I shake my head. “But it makes no sense killing us then.”

K for Kill. V for Victory and Volunteers. A for Accomplices and Anxious. T for Traitor and Threats.

KVAT means nothing. My tattoos are failing us.

“We have grounds to arrest the Pilkvists,” says Ffion, tensing her shoulders. “I’m desperate as they intended to kill you both. But I can’t until we’ve uncovered their informer and other accomplices.”

Our safety requires uncertainty. Remaining hidden. Blood from chewing my lips. Gritted teeth instead. Not inactive if we want to lure them out. Think. Untangle my mess.

“Thwarted.” Uthyr clasps his hands behind his head. “I’ve asked HMRC if they have grounds to seize the canisters, but they were inside UK waters when raised. Nothing to point conclusively to their overseas origin. Too circumstantial. But we’re primed to respond.”

“And if they contain drugs or worse?” My skull vibrates. Just tight. Weak. “Time was imperative, they said. Why?”

T for Time. V for Victims.

VAKT.

Head spinning. Brain swamped. As my knees fail, I remember. “Väktare. Pia said Lagens väktare.”

Falling. Where’s Kama?

Snowdonia

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
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^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

T for Treachery – Azure Spark. Part 20

[Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

TREACHERY – Tuesday 1 AM

Tossed. Tumbling through turbulent water toward treacherous rocks. Thunder in my head. Eyes seared by the explosion. Nothing, not even stars.

Dead. That was their intent. Arms around me, tugging me. Kama towing me.

“Don’t thrash.” A shout penetrates the storm that tramples my mind. “I can see. I’ll get us ashore.”

“Where? A cove? I remember only rocks and cliffs.”

“There has to be one nearby. I glimpsed Bardsey Island from the yacht.”

Doubt. Before we sailed to the dive site. Then cliffs. Cold and tired.

“Relax, cariad. We’re a team – survivors.”

“If you can see, I’ll swim behind. I can hear – sense you ahead. Swimming will keep me warm – alert. Please, thozhi.

Kama fastens a tether strap around my wrist. “I’ll attach the other end to my ankle. Safety 101.”

Tremble and smile. Warmth. Her ankle with a rose tattoo that matches mine. Our eternal love.

We swim together. Trust.

A sound. Waves slapping on a clinker-hull. A voice – robust. Welsh.

“There. Alive and swimming.” Guto Thomas, and he shouts at us. “Genethod, we heard the explosion – muffled but definite. What happened?”

“Rescue us and we’ll tell,” Kama says. “But officially we are dead. In reality, wounded. Sparkle was blinded – still is.”

Arms pull us aboard. A second voice says, “Back to Port Meudwy then.”

“Padrig. We must vanish,” I say. Smiling in the total darkness.

“Your new secret is safe with me,” he says. “Just as your earlier ones were – cousin. Us Pughs are a smart family.”

Even if I feared his kinship, he’s true. Not every Pugh is as prejudiced as my thaid, my grandfather Hywel Pugh.

Plan. Move ahead of the Swedish smugglers – and the traitor in NWP. Lure them out.

In front of the fire in Guto and Padrig’s cottage, we eat bowls of Cawl – lamb and vegetable stew. Warmth, and with my eyesight returning, we devise tactics.

“First, messages to our DI, Ffion Baines and to Inspector Uthyr Varley to activate tracking of our concealed transponders.” Kama writes the coded message. “Officially, we have to be missing or dead.”

“We can retrieve some of the wrecked boat,” says Guto. “Evidence – your people will know what sort of bomb.”

“Forensics will come.” Kama anticipates what I suspect. “Then some detectives – perhaps even the one that betrayed us.”

“Kama and I can’t stay here. We have to get to Tyn-y-llyn.”

“Ivor Pugh’s farm,” Padrig says. “I’ve been there a few years ago. I’ll take you. Covert?”

We all laugh.

“My family are used to my weird ways. So, if we turn up at the Pugh farm hidden in some trailer – no surprise.”

N for Nightmare and Nemesis. K for Killed and Kinship. P for Pugh and Protection. U for Unseen and Uncle. I for Ivor and Intent. C for Covert and Code.

UNPICK. Unscramble the tangled threads hiding our traitor.

When we make sense of Pia’s parting words.

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

S for Sabotage – Azure Spark. Part 19

[Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

SABOTAGE – Monday Midnight

Stars shining on the sea should settle our nerves. Impossible now we are sure the scheming stinks.

“How will we find these containers you say was swept overboard during the storm?”

Peder hands Rashmi an electronic tracker.

“Switch this on and our cargo will be transmitting a signal. Simply follow that. When you find the cargo attach the items to the rapid deployment lift bags. Once inflated they will bring the cargo to the surface for retrieval. Straightforward.”

Mind racing. Hesitate from asking what the salvage is. My senses say don’t.

“How many containers? You’ve given us eight small bags.”

“Four to search for. Two lift bags per canister.”

Pia strides over, tapping her watch. “You better leave now.”

At the stern, we climb back down to our boat, already loaded with the scuba tanks and lifting devices.

We cast off and raise the sails. Our craft slices apart the sheen on the water from the moon and stars. Perfect weather.

Sudden dread as spasms seize me.

P for Panic but also Precautions. Slow breathes.

The mini-sonar directs us over the area where the cargo should be. We lower the sea anchor and release the rapid deployment lift bags – weighted to sink steadily on a long hawser.

A last scrupulous check of each other’s equipment, then we drop backwards over opposite sides into the serene darkness. The beams of our head-lamps stab into the depths.

The strengthening beeps guide our cautious descent.

When we reach the bags, we lower them. Deeper, past jagged rocks. Seaweed. Curious fish.

Containers – canisters designed for underwater recovery. Not just for the deck of a Swedish ship in the storm. Not swept overboard but jettisoned.

I sign Rashmi to strap two balloons to the first container as I adjust their regulator pressure gauges for the correct depth. Then we scrutinize the containers. No signifying marks. Nothing to divulge the contents. But designed for lifting straps.

However, there is a suitable slit where I insert our own tracker – a signal we can follow. Security 101.

We open the valves on the two scuba cylinders that inflate the bags. Swim clear as the bags lift and carry the container towards the surface.

Same procedure with the second canister – and second transponder. Two more balloons. Then the final two canisters.

A for Ascent.

Almost over. Tension not disappearing. Breathe slowly. Don’t waste precious air.

Our ascent takes longer as we need a stage decompression. Longer climb than our descent and time working on the seabed. Time enough for the waves to have picked up above.

The beginning of a squall.

No sign of the rapid deployment lift bags.

P for Panic as my stomach churns.

But the Njörðr Hämnaren has sailed closer. They’ve already winched the cargo aboard.

Relief and Apprehension.

We take off our tanks to simplify our return journey.

Tattoos hammer T for Timing.

“Too easy,” I say to Rashmi. “Be prepared for anything.”

Like the semi-automatic shots that spray the sea. R for Revenge.

Pia hails us. “Time to stay where you are, detectives. Yes, we know who you are and thank the North Wales Police for their assistance. Lagens väktare. May you swim in peace.”

I dive at Kama as I spy the carelessly stowed spare sail and scream.

TRAP. The boat is ripped apart.

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

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And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride