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Mark Dawson

1000 Yards

PROLOGUE

Three hours into the flight and he realised he was about to have the dream again. The cabin was quiet: meals cleared, drinks served, lights dimmed. Just the steady drone of the engines. The other passengers were relaxing, some of them beginning to sleep. He reached for his gin and put it to his lips. His hand shook; the ice cubes rattled against the side of the glass.

It did not come often now. He had made it that way, with the force of his will, yet, on those occasions when the dream did overcome him, it came with all its old strength and vigour. He knew the signs: that familiar feeling of being hollowed out, an empty vessel into which it would pour. Fatigue weakened his defences, and he had not slept for two days. He squeezed his eyes shut and gripped the armrests so tightly that his knuckles whitened. His shoulders locked and the muscles behind his knees, and in his calves, tightened. He sagged back into the seat, trying to breathe normally but knowing that he was gulping each breath. He was helpless, impotent, and paralysed.

Trapped.

He squeezed his eyes tighter, so hard that tiny pinprick explosions of red and yellow light cascaded against his lids. The dream raced towards him like the pitch black mouth of a tunnel, inexorable and unavoidable, and, suddenly, he was plunged into it. It was as vivid as reality. As it started to unspool, like a familiar film he tried to hide away in a dusty box, his rational mind was able to observe and assess it, to compare it with the past, and to acknowledge that he was far from cured.

The desert.

The village.

The madrasa.

The children.

The cheap plastic football, swerving in the wind.

The young boy.

The plane, coming in fast and low, the roar of its engines echoing through the valley.

* * *

From: <redacted>

To: <redacted>

Date: Monday, February 14, 5.55 P.M.

Subject: DPRK

Dear Foreign Secretary,

The P.M. asked for further information on last month’s attacks. I therefore attach a report originated by STRATFOR which apparently confirms what we suspected to be true. I note that our American friends have reached the same conclusion, and that they share our frustration at the impunity with which the DPRK is acting in this regard. They concur with us that the time has come to let them know that there is a red line beyond which they must not cross, and that consequences will flow if they do. I know that the Ambassador has reported these sentiments to you.

If there is any follow-up once the P.M. has considered this intelligence please do, as ever, let me know.

Sincerely,

M.

* * *

>>> BEGINS

* * * EYES ONLY * * *

PUBLICATION: analysis/background

ATTRIBUTION: STRATFOR

SOURCE DESCRIPTION: North Korean diplomat

SOURCE Reliability: B

ITEM CREDIBILITY: 2

DISTRIBUTION: Alpha

SOURCE HANDLER: Reva

DPRK sources suggest last month’s massive cyber-attack on banks and media companies throughout SK and the West was planned and executed in Pyongyang. SK Banks including Shinhan, NongHyup and Jeju, together with TV broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN were all taken offline as code affected circa 48k PCs on their networks. Evidence indicates the attack originated with DPRK’s General Reconnaissance Bureau / Military Intelligence Division. The attack spread “wiper” malware — named Jokra — that deleted the master boot records from PCs and attempted to delete volumes from Unix/Linux servers. This resembles previous DPRK hacking patterns. S.K. Ministry of Science, Information, Computer Technology and Future Planning (MSICTFP) confirms validity of evidence and hypothesis.

ENDS <<<

* * *

From: <redacted>

To: <redacted>

Date: Tuesday, February 15, 4.25 P.M.

Subject: DPRK

My dear M.,

The P.M. thanks you for your prompt response to his query. He has discussed the issue at high level (including, I believe, with POTUS) and, given the excellent assets that you have secured within the DPRK, approval has been given for you to investigate whether there is something that we might do to give them a bloody nose. This latest attack follows the endless posturing with their missiles and the attacks on S.K. assets, and, as I indicated in my previous email, it has long since reached the point where something must be done. US assistance is available if you deem it necessary but, knowing you as I do, I suspect that you will want to make a demonstration of our effectiveness when working alone. (I can also report the P.M.’s support for that sentiment).

I wonder whether this might be something for our mutual friend? This is, of course, eyes only.

My regards to you and your wife,

Morgan

* * *

From: <redacted>

To: <redacted>

Date: Tuesday, February 15, 4.50 P.M.

Subject: FWD: DPRK

Dear Control,

I forward the email that I received from the Foreign Secretary yesterday. We have a cell of three indigenous agents active within the DPRK and, while we have no reason to believe that the Politburo is aware of their existence, they are not equipped with either the training or the materiél to mount the kind of operation (which you might charitably describe as audacious) that is currently on the table. Group Fifteen, on the other hand, does not have those problems. You have been tasked with considering whether it is practical to work with our assets in the DPRK in this regard, possibly involving an agent from the Group. How practical would it be for you to insert one?

Regards, etc,

M.

* * *

From: <redacted>

To: <redacted>

Date: Wednesday, February 16, 3.42 P.M.

Subject: DPRK

Dear M.,

I have given consideration to your request. It can be done, and I attach a way in which it might be carried out. You are right to describe it as audacious; as you well know, the DPRK is the most difficult state on Earth within which an enemy operative may operate. I am confident, however, that this plan will deliver an agent into the country and, once there, the man I have in mind will have a fighting chance of giving the generals the black eye the P.M. intends.

I wait for confirmation that the course that we have suggested has been approved.

Best regards,

Control

<attachment redacted>

* * *

From: <redacted>

To: <redacted>

Date: Friday, February 18, 3.42 P.M.

Subject: DPRK

Dear Control,

We have confirmation from both the P.M. and Washington. The plan that you outline (including assistance from assets in the south of the PRC) is approved. Of course, the existence of this plan — and of your operative, should he be compromised — will be denied should it ever come to light. Standard operating procedure in that regard.

You are on your own: there will be no further correspondence on this matter.

Good hunting.

     

 

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