Authors: Robin Flett
The Independence movement in Scotland has been gaining strength for many years. Finally, and with great reluctance, the UK parliament agrees to a referendum. The people of Scotland will at last be able to vote on how their country should be governed in the future.
Then Buckingham Palace announces that Queen Elizabeth is terminally ill, and that her son Prince Charles will take the throne––but only on her death.
As almost his first act as established heir, Charles makes it known that the potential splitting of the United Kingdom––his kingdom––is simply not acceptable and must not take place.
With the Referendum date fast approaching, the Scottish people are incensed. Resentment against Charles, and the Monarchy in general sparks into life––and violence follows.
Charles has become a target, and not just in the political arena...
Copyright 2012 Robin Flett
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Prelude, Germany 2010
In the last few seconds time itself had become the critical factor. The angle foreshortening rapidly to the grey-blue eye squinting along the sights of the sniper rifle and down to the city street below. Moving gently to track the shiny black Mercedes limousine as it negotiated the traffic hazards of Berlin, easing towards the dilapidated three-storey building with the black, red and white banner draped from the first floor windows. Well, he was punctual, give him that. Whatever his other faults, and there were many, he was a zealot for time-keeping, give him that. Give him credit, let it be said, for not keeping the faithful waiting.
The man moved slightly to one side to keep the car in sight; visibility was limited in here but that was all right, indeed that was the whole point.
The small office looked like it had been ransacked. God alone knew what the cleaners would say when they rolled up on Monday morning. The barrel of the weapon rested on a broom handle which had been nailed horizontally across the backs of two chairs. To make way for this contraption the desk and two filing cabinets had been dragged to one side, spilling files, record books and miscellaneous paperwork onto the floor. A trolley carrying an old-fashioned Cardex file cabinet lay up-ended in a corner. And most oddly of all, bare vinyl tiles lay exposed in the middle of the destroyed office, where two large strips of carpet had been hacked out with a knife. One strip was nailed over the door, hanging down like some sort of demented tapestry. While the other was draped in similar fashion across the windows, leaving only a small gap.
To shoot through.
The Russian-manufactured Dragunov 7.62 sniper rifle is a semi-automatic, bolt-action weapon. A telescopic sight is a standard fitment and in the hands of an expert, the Dragunov is an awesomely-accurate killing machine. The report and the muzzle-flash would be trapped within the room by the carpeting and from outside the sound would be muffled and indistinct, lost among the many traffic noises. It would make identifying the source that much more difficult and at best grant him an extra few minutes grace. But even if it were only seconds it was still worth doing. A long kill of this sort presented no great difficulty, it just required experience and a certain amount of natural skill with the rifle. Disappearing without trace afterwards, now that was the trick.
The Mercedes had pulled up under the gaudy Party banner with it's black and red not-quite-swastika and there were only seconds remaining; a balding figure ducking out of the car and starting up the freshly painted stone steps, an arm raised in acknowledgement of the waves of the party workers and a few passers-by. The gunman was wryly pleased to note that his heart rate was only slightly increased, his palms were dry on the solid oak stock and the sights were steady. It was his considered opinion that he was getting too long in the tooth for this nonsense; but then he'd been saying that for years. He was genuinely surprised that he really couldn't remember how many missions had gone before.
Time stopped. Thought stopped. Without being consciously aware of it he took in a breath and held it, adjusted the sights by a fraction to allow for the easterly breeze and gently squeezed the trigger …
They saw him waving his arm, throwing a grotesque shadow in the headlight beams. The growling engines died abruptly, leaving a silence so profound it crossed his mind that deafness must be like this. With the bike propped safely on its stand, he pulled the black helmet thankfully away, shaking out a mop of damp straw-blond hair. In the darkness, a few miles to the north, the lights of Kimelford were bright and sharp. Some of those lights would be the hydro-power station on the far side of the village, but the hulking concrete structure was quite invisible in the quiet summer night.
'This will do fine, Les. Plenty of room on the grass here.' The Irishman, Con Moloney, trundled his 200cc Suzuki off the narrow road and propped it against a moss-covered rock. The blond man's name was Les Stewart, for his sins the nominal leader of this motley bunch.
Until Moloney decides otherwise
. He watched the hulking Irishman stretching his back, stiffened by the ride through the gathering darkness. Stewart checked that the others had made their bikes secure before rolling his own all-black machine in alongside them. One by one the other headlight beams blinked out, leaving the group standing in the pool of light in front of Stewart’s Suzuki. The main road was some distance behind them, semi-concealed by a bend, even in daylight; this was as good a place to leave the bikes as they would find.
'All right, Brian?' Brian Munro was the youngest member present and this was his first operation, so he needed watching—for his own safety as well as everyone else's.
Brian scratched his head vigorously, using both hands. The July night was mild and it had been a warm and sticky ride for all of them in the mandatory leathers and helmets. Now the midges were biting, drawn to the sweat. 'Aye, fine, Les.' Brian grinned at him, the confidence of the innocent—he knew what was going to happen tonight, but it hadn't stopped being unreal for all that.
'How far is it?'
Stewart looked over at the shadowy figure of Alison Munro. 'About half a mile, Aly. There's only the one house, we won't miss it!' Stewart grinned as the girl fussed over her younger brother, moving his bike a few centimetres for no reason at all. His eyes drawn to the denim stretched taut across her backside, sidelit in the headlight beam. If only. But that Irish bastard had got in first unfortunately. Literally. Stewart was half an inch over six feet and built to match, but nobody in their right mind tangled with Con Moloney. Mad Irish bastard.
But he would be in his element tonight.
The last member of the group was John MacKenzie. Another hard case, this time from Drumchapel in Glasgow. It had been MacKenzie who had first interested Les Stewart in doing more than just moaning about the plight of his homeland within the increasingly fragmenting United Kingdom. Voting for the Scottish National Party was all very well, MacKenzie had said. And the Scottish Parliament was sure enough a cushy enough place for a politician to while away the time until retirement. But no-one was actually
anything to get Scotland out of the clutches of the English. Maybe everyone was hoping the whole creaking ediface of the UK would eventually fall apart under its own weight; and maybe they were right, but … He had gripped Stewart's arm with a hand like a bench vice, and his voice went down two octaves, although the din in the pub was considerable. 'Some of us would like to give it a push, like.'
Stewart had stared at him. 'What do you mean
'It worked in Ireland, didn't it?' He waved a hand as Stewart protested. 'Yeah, all right, the IRA were well over the top, we all know that—but they certainly put Ulster at the top of a lot of agendas. And in the end they got most of what they wanted. Shit, Les, the fact is they
Stewart had drained his pint and looked blankly across the dirty, formica-topped table.
'I know some guys in the SLA, Les. They'd be happy to have you join us.'
The Scottish Liberation Army.
As far back as the mid-seventies, various groups had arisen in pursuit of Scottish independence, in direct response to the British government’s actions to prevent devolution from occurring, and the upsurge of public resentment that ensued. Naturally, the Scottish National Party was targeted by the media as somehow being involved in the appearance or support of these militant groups. With not a shred of evidence ever coming to light, Fleet Street gradually lost interest.
However, one such group, the SNLA, achieved short-term notoriety through a series of attacks on English residents in Scotland. A letter bomb had even been sent on one occasion to Downing Street. The resulting headlines were satisfactory to those concerned, but the fact remained that none of the Scottish militant groups ever achieved anything worthwhile and in due course settled into obscurity. From time to time there were hoax bomb calls, and threats of violence made against several members of the Royal Family, but the police and security forces came to treat these with disdain––and indeed contempt––for the empty posturing they really were.
Through the eighties and nineties, the militants grew older and in middle-age became more interested in jobs and mortgages than bombs and violence. The SNLA and their rival groups disappeared into history and were all but forgotten. All the more so when Devolution became a reality following the Referendum of 1997.
During the ten years that followed, in the streets and offices and pubs of Scottish cities, long-term irritation at Westminster’s continual cynicism towards the Scottish Government, and all things Scottish, had begun to give way to resentment and anger. From this nest of vipers arose the New SLA, the Scottish Liberation Army. A new generation, with new ideals and a new sense of injustice. With examples of international terrorism playing out nearly every night on their television screens, the founders of the new movement had a clear idea of the mistakes and inadequacies of their predecessors. This time things would be different.
time the SLA would do it right.
After a lacklustre performance by Labour in the early devolution years, the Scottish National Party gained a small electoral majority and took control in Edinburgh. Universally dismissed by politicians of all colours, they surprised everybody––and possibly even themselves––by the success they achieved. In the following Scottish Parliamentary election, and with a new respect among the electorate, the SNP won a clear and decisive majority. A result that shook the foundations of the national government in Westminster to it’s very roots.
The independence movement was once again rampant, this time with Scotland’s SNP government promising a referendum on full independence. But Westminster knew they had to act, and act quickly. An amendment to the Devolution Bill was proposed, specifically removing the right to hold a referendum on any subject from the Scottish administration. The outcry was loud and predictable.
With great reluctance, the Prime Minister realised that public opinion couldn’t simply be ignored this time, as it had on so many occasions in the past.
No, when even English MPs were aghast at the implications of such blatant interference, something else had to be done. If sabotage couldn’t be fast and direct, then it would have to be more subtle and very much indirect. And it had to come from a source that was beyond reproach and beyond protest.