The Mandarin

Prologue

For this Diary I'll use the name Madeleine – Maddy for short.

I'm small and pretty, with long blonde hair, a great figure and I'm a contract killer.

You can't properly call a woman hit-man. Nor can you say hit-woman or hit-girl or, even more classy, hit-lady. So I prefer the term Assassin. When selected to this calling I gave my life to it as a nun does to religion.

I entered University with two languages and came out with six, along with two top degrees and – as with all young people – a need to change the world.

The chance came when, recruited within days of leaving, I agreed to an interview in an expensive house on the edge of town. Stunned by the rich opulence of the place I hardly heard the opening words of my Recruiter.

'We saw your potential in finishing school and followed your progress ever since. In University you collected four more languages, two great degrees and excelled at sport. You avoided alcohol and drugs, played every possible sport and took on and beat men in martial arts. Your father showed you how to handle guns before the age of ten and you became a superb shot. You have everything we need and if you agree you will become rich in your own right but give up what is seen as a normal life.'

He explained the job in detail and said, 'Think before you agree. To say yes means you'll act out a lonely life in the shadows.'

I still said 'Yes'. Why shouldn't I? My whole lonely life so far had been an act. Adding shadows would make no difference. And I found the thought of killing people who deserve to die quite attractive.

They sent me straight to wilds of another country for three years detailed training in two more martial arts, three more languages and many ways to kill.

My training included tracking and killing Targets in towns, villages, mountains, ravines, deserts and seas and skills in escaping after a Hit from those towns and villages and over those mountains, ravines, deserts and seas, with or without equipment.

It included the art of disguise and fading into the background in any crowd, city or situation before or after a Hit.

It included the stripping, maintaining and shooting every possible weapon an Assassin might use.

It included burglary, lock-breaking, safe-breaking, the disabling of security systems, the elimination of armed guards by knife, bare hands or silenced pistol.

It included killing Targets in a dozen different ways, using knives, handguns, sniping rifles, poisons and chemicals or, again, bare hands.

And it included detailed training in many kinds and styles of sex. Lots and lots of sex.

I enjoyed every moment of the whole course, but most of all I enjoyed the sex. Instructors, both male and female, showed me how to seduce using Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and American techniques. American? Yes. They lead the way in some really interesting ideas.

And Indian sex. 'Not that too vague and time consuming tantric rubbish. Stick to the stuff on temple walls. You'll need to stay fit and supple but I'm sure you'll handle that.'

Before release at the end of the course I asked, 'Have you turned me into a psychopath?'

'No,' said my Recruiter. 'We've enhanced what you already had. Not many get even halfway through. You've passed with flying colours. Now go into the world and await your first instruction.'

Final advice from Recruiter: 'Go to where you don't know the language. Learn it and never use it outside that country so no-one can ever trace you home, including us. Who knows? The day may come when we need to eliminate you.'

I flew to another continent and disappeared into a secret life. Not even my Handler knew where I settled.

 

Chapter 1

My first Assassination assignment to kill The Bishop in France must have pleased my Employers.

Apart from a two million dollar bonus popping into my hidden bank account, they increased my already generous monthly payment by a large amount.

And they left me to rest for six months.

Just as well because it's tiring being an Assassin, with all the strain of hunting down a well protected Target and making sure you stay alive to complete the job.

I remained happy and secure in my secluded woodlands house for almost seven months, helping the nuns and disadvantaged children two days a week.

Work in completing and editing my three travel books kept me busy the other days and gave good excuse to avoid contact with neighbours.

Shortly after publication of the third book my Cloud Mail-Box pinged its first coded message for some time.

Go to the Turks and Caicos and await instructions.

So now I have to go out and prove myself again.

Chapter 2

The nuns seemed sorry to see me leave for another trip but wished me God speed and safe return.

I tidied, packed, and, once again the quietly dressed, intellectual travel writer took a zigzag route round the world, watching my back at every airport and every hotel until sure I had no followers.

My agent, pleased I intended to travel again, sent a message: 'Do some more of those dirty books about brothels and sex clubs. Our publishers lapped the last three up. Add in a few cathedrals as well, just to show we offer a bit of culture.'

'I feel more at home in sex clubs,' I replied. 'Cathedrals don't turn me on in the same way.'

I took three weeks to reach Turks and Caicos, dropping into several major cities along the way, for a bit of the fun and shopping I'd missed during my six months resting among trees and nuns.

For fun I worked in a few brothels and spent a week in one Middle East country as a hard working call-girl. Those Arabs have some interesting ways of expressing themselves. I came away with cane stripes across my backside and a few bruises in strange places but earned a lot of money and gave and received plenty of pleasure.

For shopping I replenished my wardrobe and disguises; buying three wigs and a variety of clothes that allowed me to change character as quickly as it took to whip a wig on or off.

As in Nice on my last job I could be the rich American heiress on vacation, looking for a man or men with her rich clothes, startling underwear and shoes to die for – or to kill in. How lovely to be again my dear sophisticated friend Eleanor, who cut such an elegant swathe along the Cote d'Azure.

Or I could be Simone, the slightly bemused young woman out for the first time from a sheltered home life, needing a masterful man to guide her in the wicked ways of a puzzling world.

Best of all I could be Dominique, my little mouse, who also worked so well in Nice. So retiring and shy in her scrubby dress, flat shoes and twisted, greasy mop of black hair. Not a creature to be noticed or remarked upon, but such a good killer. Perhaps Dominique is my favourite.

Of course I plan different names for my new assignment, but for this new Diary they'll be as we know them from before. That way none of us will become confused.

By the time my light aircraft flew in from Florida and settled onto the runway I felt ready for whatever job Handler would send me on.

Chapter 3

This little group of islands is certainly a pleasant place to while away a few days before receiving my Target information.

I settled into a luxurious beach hotel on the main island and spent time swimming and exploring off the amazing beaches, refusing many offers from bronzed and hunky young Americans holidaying and looking for girls.

After a couple of days I took up with an older but fit and active American millionaire.

I like millionaires, especially when they have big yachts.

He asked me to move on board, so I did.

Using my best techniques I gave him the sort of sexual drubbing he'd been seeking all his life. He professed eternal gratitude and undying love.

But it didn't last. His wife turned up and, in panic, he almost tossed me overboard at Grand Turk. This suited me as an hour or so before, my anonymous Cloud Mail-Box pinged an instruction to go to that island and prepare to act.

I hopped off at the marina and he swung straight back to sea in the hope of meeting his wife at the main island airport. 'She'll kill me if I'm not there,' he quivered. 'It's her money I live on.'

A kind man though. As I climbed off his boat, he tossed me an envelope with two hundred thousand of his wife's dollars, 'To keep you going for a few days.'

I waved and he called, 'Will you be here next year?'

'Not a hope, I'll be busy elsewhere.'

I widened my knees and made a lewd movement with my hips.

He laughed and blew me a kiss.

Finding a taxi I found another beach hotel and the next day my Cloud Mail-Box brought a new cover name and instructions to go to the personnel office of a cruise ship company I'd never heard of.

Sign on as a sea-going security officer. You are expected. The job is agreed. Further instructions when you are on board.

 

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