So far we have posted two chapters of our new fanfiction which takes a look at what happened to Bill, and Anatoly, once the children board the wrong plane.
Later that day Bill marched back into the office, issuing orders and demanding reports of all the surveillance and intelligence they had from any of their strategically placed agents on where the plane may have been heading.
He commandeered a board room to dole out orders and people to bring him any intelligence they received. He looked around as the door was closing, and noticed one face was missing. Irritated, he bellowed, “SOMEONE FETCH ME PETROV!”
Anatoly barrelled in two minutes later, paperwork flapping and a triangle of toast hanging from his mouth. He had managed to have a wash and shave and a fifteen minute catnap between running around between the qualified agents, but had only just found something to eat.
“You sent for me, sir?” he said as soon as he had put down his bundle of papers and removed the toast from his mouth.
Bill nodded at him to sit down. “What have you got for me so far? Has anyone found the planes’ direction? I very much doubt they would have permissions to enter some of the airspaces they might pass through, which could give them real issues. They might even be… shot down,” Bill faltered at the thought that the children may have been in a plane crash because the pilot may have not been requesting permission to enter other countries’ air spaces.
“Well,” Anatoly hedged, taking a seat and feeling everyone’s eyes on him. He put his toast surreptitiously, uneaten, on the table and shuffled his papers. Why was Bill asking him all the important questions? “We have ruled out South America, despite the men’s links to several countries there. They would have needed to stop and refuel on one of very few islands with runways and refuelling capabilities by now, and they have not.” He paused and cleared his throat. “So, er, we suspect that they have been headed for mainland Europe. Perhaps flying with false credentials. One good thing is that we have had no reports on any plane of that size being shot down or challenged by any European authorities.”
Bill nodded along as Anatoly spoke, wondering if the young Russian knew that he had been given an important role in bringing together all the information gathered by other agents and putting it together to form a hypothesis. He was every bit as brilliant an analyst and strategist as his father had been, and Bill had known he could handle the role, despite not being a qualified agent yet. If he decided that active service wasn’t the right world for him, then he could easily land a job in his father’s former department.
Everyone listened and took notes, checking off places and theories as they went.
“I reckon we are looking at middle Europe,” said an experienced colleague of Bill’s who had worked with him on many previous cases and had met the Cunningham-Trent children on one of them. “There are plenty of suggestions that Nazi gold, stolen from various places is still missing and the likely place is somewhere in the Alps. Plus we believe that various Nazis escaped to the South American continent. The two we apprehended, and who stole the plane, were being detained as we found they had links to escaped Nazis. We hoped to fly them Nuremberg for their teams to interview them to find out exactly which Nazis they could identify.”
Bill tapped his pen on the desk, a sure sign he was getting frustrated.
“I have got junior trainees searching the aerial photography of remote locations on the continent where a plane could be landed,” Anatoly interjected. “Then we can look at putting agents in the most likely places.”
“Yes. I suppose that is our best plan for the moment,” Bill said, a little despondent. He knew if the plane had been spotted he would not have had to wait for this meeting to find out, but he had still hoped for something a little more concrete. He would personally pore over all the logs Anatoly had compiled for him, though he didn’t expect to find anything. “Dismissed.”
Anatoly hung back for a moment when Bill dismissed the room. He didn’t quite know what he wanted to say but he knew that Bill might want someone to talk to.
“Sir, were you serious about sending me?” he asked a little hesitantly. This would be his first mission and surprisingly enough he was a little nervous about flying solo. There seemed to be a lot riding on this, his job, Bill’s job, children’s lives, Nazis. It was beginning to look like a very complicated situation.
“I’m certainly not in a mood for joking around,” Bill replied, already drawing Anatoly’s stack of papers towards himself, ready to examine them. He paused before getting stuck in and looked at Anatoly carefully. “Do you have a problem with me sending you? If you do, you need to speak up now.”
“No, no problem at all, boss,” Anatoly said hurriedly. “I am glad you think I am ready, I thought it would be a while until I was sent on field work this important.” He looked at Bill and swallowed a lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat. He wasn’t sure how exactly to ask his boss about the lost children or where to start. He hedged slightly. “Where do you think that plane may have gone, sir?” he asked. “My thought that it was probably more towards Austria and Czechoslovakia, deep into secure Nazi territory, if that is the lead we are going with.”
Bill read to the end of the sheet he had started on. “Honestly, I wish I knew. If the Nazi link proves to be the right one, well, then I think your guess is probably right. I just hope we’re not missing something else.” Normally Bill was a decisive man, he had to be. It was different, though, when you had a personal stake in the job at hand. He was very fond of the four children. They were each smashing in their own way. Philip with his love of animals, Jack and his bird obsession. Dinah and her fiery temper and Lucy-Ann with her sweet nature. He would never forgive himself if anything had happened to them.
Anatoly shrugged, “It is as good as any, boss.”
He shuffled his papers a bit and bit his lip. “I will go and get kitted out then, sir? Head down for a new identity and weapons? I assume that even with the children in this, I am allowed to take a gun.”
“Yes, I want you armed,” Bill confirmed. “Nothing too high-powered, though. Armstrong will advise what’s appropriate for your level. No shooting at aeroplanes taking off, though.”
Anatoly flushed. “I would not have done that, sir, if I had even thought for a second that the children were on the plane!”
Bill put down the map he had been studying. “Children or not, it’s unwise to shoot at a fuel tank from such close quarters. When we get back I want a report from you, outlining where you went wrong on that one and what learning you have done to ensure you don’t make the same mistake again.” He felt bad for giving Anatoly a hard time over it, but he wouldn’t make agent without learning a few hard lessons along the way.
Anatoly nodded, “I was not thinking, sir. I just wanted to help down the plane”. He knew it wasn’t much good in telling Bill this when he wanted a report, but he felt it was unfair that this seemed to be a sticking point from the night before.
“I know. You had good intentions. There’s a lot to be said for acting on instinct, but you need the backup of knowledge so that your instincts don’t steer you wrong. I wouldn’t dwell on it too much, we all make these sort of mistakes when we’re learning to handle weapons. The important thing is that Yates stopped you, and that’s why we put an emphasis on team work too. Now, off you go and get yourself kitted out.”
Anatoly saluted and finally left Bill alone with his paperwork.
To be continued…