Safeguarding The Peace Can Be a Deadly Business.

A North Korean diplomat comes to Berlin wanting to speak with the German chancellor, Claudia Meyer. He suggests that the country is ready to topple the Communist regime and seek peace with the West.

But when the plot is discovered, the diplomat is condemned to death by his government. A cold-blooded female assassin is sent to kill the diplomat and thereby send a warning to others. Department 89 is tasked to protect the diplomat, but have they finally met their match?

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The long passport line at Berlin’s Tegel airport inched forward slowly as the two uniformed passport officials sat behind their desks, scrutinising people coming into Germany.

The Hainan Airlines flight was from Beijing and all of the passengers were bone-tired and desperate for bed. So they looked ahead with exasperation and wondered how long they were going to have to wait before getting out of the airport. Some of them were also most likely wondering how to jump the line without getting lynched.

One man in the line was extremely nervous and it showed with the sweat running down his face. True, he was tired too, but he had been tired his whole life. Tired of the stressful life, tired of looking over his shoulder constantly, tired of the daily grind. 

He wanted it all to be over. Whether it would be over would depend entirely on the German government.

He had chosen Germany because of Chancellor Claudia Meyer. She was not a friend of his country. In the past, she had also proved herself to be tough and uncompromising. He admired that. He and his group needed someone like that if they were to succeed in what they were about to do. Now was not the time for weakness and vacillating.

But first he had to survive. And to survive, he had to convince these underpaid overworked passport officials that they had to protect him. That he deserved serious attention. 

He took a deep breath as the passport officials waved two of the passengers through, and the line shuffled forward a couple of steps.

Eventually, after another fifteen minutes, he saw one of the passport officials beckoning him over. This was it. He had to get this right.

He walked up to the desk, clutching the passport so tightly that his knuckles whitened.

“Passport please” said the officer impatiently.

“Please listen to me” said the man, “I am a North Korean diplomat. I wish to speak to your intelligence services immediately.”

The passport official stared at him and his colleague also turned and stared, mouth slightly open.

“Give me your passport” he said finally.

The man shakily handed it over. It was wet from his sweaty palms. The passport official gingerly opened the damp passport with a couple of fingers and looked at the glossy photo page.

“Myong Soo” said the official, reading the page, “alright, come this way please.”

The official pressed a button underneath his desk then led Myong away into a side-office.

As they disappeared into the office, the passport line kept moving forward slowly.

* * *

At Department 89’s headquarters in the centre of Berlin, Sergeant Max Amsel was temporarily in command. The chief of the unit, Major Sophie Decker, and her deputy Captain Wolfgang Schmitz, were both recuperating from being wounded in the line of duty. It fell to Amsel as third-in-command to hold the fort until Decker and Schmitz returned.

To his credit, and to his great surprise, he found himself doing rather well. A sentiment that was being repeated by others higher up the food chain. He had never thought of himself as a natural administrator but he found he could clear away paperwork with his eyes shut. He also learned the other great secret of leadership.

Delegate the grunt-work to those lower in rank.

It was past 2.00am and Amsel was contemplating going home for a few hours sleep, when the phone rang. He groaned. Of course the phone would ring when he thought about going home. He was convinced the phone could read minds.

He briefly thought about ignoring the phone and saying later he had already left. But quickly decided against it.


“Sergeant, it’s Klaus Wagner here. How are you?”

Wagner was the Deputy Director of the regular German Intelligence service. He was Department 89’s only ally in the “regular” German intelligence community.

“Fine sir, what can I help you with?”

“Someone with a North Korean diplomatic passport arrived at Tegel airport earlier this evening and demanded to speak to German Intelligence. When he was interviewed by a senior airport official, the diplomat handed over a sealed letter addressed to the Chancellor. It was handed to me and I opened it. The letter was signed by a variety of high-ranking government officials in the People’s Republic, including stunningly enough the Foreign Minister. I have to say it took serious brass balls for him to sign that letter. If it ever got back to Pyongyang…”

“What did the letter say?” asked Amsel.

“Here’s the part you’re going to love. Hold onto your ass. It seems the foreign minister, backed by all those government officials want to overthrow the communist regime and reunite with South Korea.”

Amsel was astonished. “They put all that in a letter? How do we even know the letter is genuine?”

“Well the diplomat is genuine. His name is Myong Soo and he has held a number of positions, including the United Nations. So he is a known face. We have also compared the Foreign Minister’s signature with the copy we have on file. They are either a perfect match or somebody is very good at forging signatures.”

“So what are we going to do about it? What do they expect Germany to do about it? Help them?”

“Yes but not in the actual act. They claim to have all that in hand. What they need help with is getting weapons to the rebels. Since they don’t know which way the military will go, they can’t risk taking weapons out of military supplies. So they want us to supply them with weapons.”

“Yes but why us? Why not the US?”

“Well, the current occupant of the White House is not rather well-liked. And Myong says that Meyer is widely admired for her toughness and decency. Their words.”

“God, don’t tell her that” said Amsel, “her head will never fit through the door.”

“This all has to be done on the down-low” said Wagner, “if the parliament ever found out that we were thinking about supplying weapons to North Korean rebels, they would have a collective aneurysm. I need you to go to Tegel and talk to Myong. Get more details out of him. The senior official who did the initial interrogation did a good job but now it’s time to take it up a notch. Pin him down on details and sweat him. Find out how exactly they plan to take down the regime.”

“Shouldn’t Major Decker or Captain Schmitz handle this?”

“As you well know, Schmitz is out of commission for the moment and Decker has been ordered to stay on sick leave” said Wagner, “this is your moment Sergeant. Own it. Do a good job and you will likely not stay a sergeant for long.”

Before Amsel could respond, Wagner had hung up and he could hear the soft purring of the phone line. Briefly considering calling Decker, he quickly dismissed the idea, got his jacket and gun, and made his way to his car.


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