The Golden Seas
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In 1962 the Government feared that Russia would use nuclear weapons to attack Great Britain. So, they resurrected plans, first used in 1939, to ship the country's gold reserves to safety in Canada for use after the coming holocaust. But, a small portion was to be hidden closer to home to finance guerrilla warfare and resistance against the invaders. Sworn to secrecy, Bank of England staff, guarded by the Special Boat Service, packed the gold into boxes and transported it to the Cornish port of Falmouth. There they loaded it on to a ship which joined a heavily protected Royal Navy convoy bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia.
And, unknown to all but a chosen few, the SBS loaded that small portion, just nine tons of the bullion, on to a fishing trawler with the task of secreting the gold in the sea off the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall. Known to even fewer, the SBS loaded ten other, smaller, cases containing one of the deadliest chemical weapons ever made, alongside the gold. There was no known antidote to this hideous weapon and the Government wanted it sealed in lead and concrete and lost deep in the Atlantic Ocean, never to be found. Their worst case scenario was to allow the chemicals to fall into Russian hands.
Soon after the destroyers left Falmouth for Nova Scotia, the trawler left, too. A week later the Royal Navy convoy arrived safely in Halifax, Nova Scotia. But, the trawler was never heard of again until a series of events coincided in Autumn 2014.
The first seemed innocent enough. Scuba divers had long been a common sight around the Islands diving on the estimated five hundred ships which had foundered on the surrounding reefs and rocks. 2014 wasn’t the first year in which divers had accidents. But it was the first time that two divers resurfaced, screaming in agony and with their wetsuits, literally, smouldering and flaking from their tortured bodies. By the time rescue boats arrived the men were dead.
The second event was the horrible death of two local fishermen who had brought a seemingly diseased shark into their boat. And the third event was as perplexing, but more upsetting to the islanders. A boat carrying two hundred illegal immigrants sank off the Islands and all aboard died. Some were washed up on the shoreline, horribly mutilated and with parts of their body looking as though they had been burnt.
A fourth, seemingly unrelated, event affected each of the 2,500 strong Scillonian population. When the local fishery protection vessel was lying at anchor off the islands she was rocked by a huge explosion and an enormous inferno engulfed her. There were no survivors.
Amongst those on the islands during this time was Commodore William Smart, Head of the International Marine Police who had been holidaying on St Mary's whilst investigating the disappearance of the gold lost over fifty years earlier.
And with the Commodore's arrival began the IMP's latest mission: was there a connection between the seemingly unrelated events. If so, what was it? The Commodore asks Ben Petersen and Ellie Bannerman, two of his top operatives, to help him find the gold and work out why four such appalling tragedies occurred close to one of the country's most scenic and peaceful holiday resorts. The difference between all previous IMP missions and this latest is that the Commodore's own family become unwittingly entangled in the dangers lurking off England's most westerly archipelago.