NAME: Bland, James Bland
MISSION: Undercover Accountant
LICENSED TO BILL
"You asked to see me, N?", said Bland as he entered the office. He was unaccustomed to anyone senior showing the slightest interest in his work - they were normally only concerned with the more violent and melodramatic missions.
"Sit down, Bland. Something's come up. Or rather it hasn't. We need you to take over 007's duties for a while. He's a little, em, indisposed at present."
"You mean someone has finally managed to shoot him?", Bland asked incredulously.
"Oh, nothing like that. He was testing a special pair of Speedos for his next assignment. They were fitted with a flame thrower. Unfortunately, it backfired." Bland winced and crossed his legs.
"Quite. They can do wonders with reconstructive surgery, these days", said N, "but a lot of women will be very disappointed in the meantime."
"I see", said Bland, "you want me to take over? Well, just give me their phone numbers and I'll get onto it straight away."
"That's not exactly what I had in mind", said N apologetically. "I want you to take over his next assignment." He handed Bland an envelope. "Tickets and passports. And pack some beachwear. You're going to a Black Sea resort, supposedly as one of those millionaire playboys.
"The region is also known for its caviar, and we've had reports of suspicious activity. That caviar will be being harvested for the UN Annual World Leader's Dinner in two week's time, so you can understand our concern."
"Absolutely", said Bland, "with global caviar supply down 15.78% over the previous quarter, coupled with increasing investment by the futures sector, they're looking at a 31.45% increase in price compared with last year. Which as a percentage of the GDP of..."
"Just go there and find out what's happening", interrupted N. "What's in your holster these days?"
With the lightening speed of a specially trained agent, Bland drew his weapon. "The Casio 1256D", he said proudly, "specially modified by Q, of course. Not only will it calculate Standard Deviation, but it also handles scale adaptive nonparametric regression and has an audit function key."
Suddenly, there was a pop and the claculator leapt out of Bland's hand and exploded. "The Walther PPK", said N proudly, "specially modified by Q, of course. A match for any calculator. I think you'll find it much more useful on this mission."
Almost a day later, Bland stood at the door of his luxurious "Executive" suite at the Hotel Paradiso. He tipped the porter then wrote the amount down in his notebook so he could claim it on his expenses. Suddenly his highly trained senses told him he wasn't alone. They also told him that someone had put their hand over his mouth. He slowly turned round, protesting with "mmm! mmmm!" sounds.
His "attacker" was a young lady whose Slavic features suggested that she was a local. Silently she made a "shut the fuck up" sign and handed him a card, went to the door and slipped out.
The card was for a nightclub, the Cossack Cellar. On the back was scrawled the following:
Must tolk with you. Room buggered. Tonight 10.00
However, before he'd finished reading it, he heard a woman's cry, and a "pop". He opened the door, rushed into the corridor, and fell flat on his face. As he got up, he realised that he'd tripped over the girl. There was a small red hole in the middle of her forehead. Funny, he'd not noticed that before.
There was something lying beside the body. He picked it up. And found himself looking straight into the barrel of a gun...
A voice behind him said, "I'd put that down, if I were you, Bland. You might hurt yourself."
For the second time that evening he turned round slowly.
To Be Continued...