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 06th May 1809; Meeting at Headquarters
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:17 PM
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Sir Arthur shuffled through the various papers on his desk, noticing out of the corner of his eye the young lieutenant standing to one side stifle a yawn. He smiled inwardly. He was a naturally early riser, having got up that morning at six as habit dictated and several of the newer (and younger) ADCs were not used to his ways yet. He liked to be ableto make the most of of a day - although he'd heard some of them reckoned he merely did it to be sadistic. He snorted at that thought. If he wanted to be sadistic he could find much better of ways of doing it than that...

It was now seven o'clock. Breakfast would be served at around half past eight, but before that he was expecting to be joined by Doctor Maturin and Major Hogan. Sir Arthur felt somewhat guilty regarding the doctor, in that he had promised to see to arranging his duties the next morning after he arrived, but circumstances had drawn his attention elsewhere, meaning their introductory meeting had been delayed. By two days. Still, it could not be helped - hopefully Sir Joseph's man would not hold it against him.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:22 PM
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Stephen had woken up as the sun approached its zenith, and he had lain in a warm, grey daze until he remembered with a chilling shock that he was due to meet Sir Arthur Wellesley a little after dawn. With a low keen of despair he'd jumped from his bed, slammed into the wardrobe in his haste, and was tucking his nightshirt into his breeches, one hand to his throbbing forehead and cursing in Irish, before he noticed the note on a tray by the door. Kindly expressed apologies - urgent business required Sir Arthur's immediate attention - infinitely grateful if the doctor would forgive a delay - please to retain the room in the meantime. Stephen had followed his "Deo Gratias!" with a trip to the cathedral to light a candle and introduce himself to the priest, and had used the following two days, marked by more brief notes, to familiarise himself with the city and to catch up on sleep.

A new jacket would, however, take more than two days to be ready, considering how many ostentatious officers' uniforms were needed - they seemed to keep every tailor in the city busy - and a sword might take even longer, with Stephen's specifically and cunningly designed hilt needing special attention, but he was at least dressed in a new shirt and neckcloth, with a tolerably powdered wig and a scrubbed face and hands, as he trotted along one of the Headquarters' long corridors to his long-awaited meeting with Sir Arthur.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:24 PM
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It was only after the lieutenant had yawned a fourth time that Sir Arthur deigned to take any notice, turning in his seat to glare at the young man.

"Late night, Andrews?"

The lieutenant started.

"No, sir! I mean, not really."

The man's face had flushed pink, and the General decided that he did not want to persue the subject further. Besides, bringing him up short for yawning was a little excessive.

"Go on, away with you and find some breakfast," he said, in a much kinder tone. "I'll expect you back in an hour."

"Yes, Sir Arthur."

"And check to see if Dr. Maturin has arrived on your way out. If he has, please send him in."

"Very good, sir."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:25 PM
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Stephen saw the door at the end of the corridor open, and a young man peered out of it; he trotted the last few yards. "Good morning to you," he said to the young officer, who greeted him back, and held the door open to admit him into the room.

Wellesley was behind his desk again, sorting through papers, looking as immaculately turned out and awake as when they had met two days previously. Stephen was never at his best upon waking, and he tried to wipe the vestiges of weary grumpiness from his face as the General looked up.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:31 PM
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At the sound of Andrews ushering somebody in Sir Arthur looked up from his papers to see Doctor Maturin had indeed arrived. A smile twitched at the corners of his mouth, his expression softening a little as he could see the doctor looked somewhat cross-grained.

"Good morning, doctor. I hope you slept well?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:31 PM
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"Good morning, General; very well, I thank you." Chairs had been set out in front of the desk, at angles allowing the the occupants to see each other, while all being observed by Wellesley - objectively impressed and subjectively uneasy, Stephen took the one to the left. "I trust the morning finds you well?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:32 PM
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"Tolerably, thank you."

The General scribbled his signature at the bottom of the page his was reading, sprinkling sand on it before putting it to one side and turning his full attention to the doctor. "We are merely waiting for Major Hogan to arrive before we can get down to business, but I do not believe he should be long. Would you like me to ring for a pot of tea or coffee in the meantime?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:34 PM
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Stephen smiled. "I would be indebted to you for some coffee, please." He could hear heavy footsteps coming briskly down the corridor, and he turned in his seat as someone impatiently knocked on the door.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:35 PM
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"Come!" The General called, and was satisfied to see Hogan enter the office.

"Hogan, at last! Do take a seat." He indicated the vacant chair next to Maturin. "I was just about to ring for some coffee; would you like a cup?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:46 PM
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Major Hogan took the chair next to Stephen - he was larger than himself, though still small in comparison to Sir Arthur, and about twenty years older than both of them - and grinned at him as he sat down. Stephen, slightly unnerved by such easy and expansive friendliness from a man associated with intelligence work (normally cold, odd-looking, reserved and subfusc - and with reason), leaned back in his chair, and fixed the Major's twinkling eyes with his own intensely pale ones, nodding civilly.

Hogan winked at him, and then turned to the General. "I would love one, Sir Arthur; quite delightful." He began rummaging through his pockets; Stephen's eyes darted back to Wellesley.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:47 PM
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Another smile quirked at Sir Arthur's lips. He had known Hogan for not even a week but the fellow was already starting to grow on him. How odd that the two men in front of him were both Irish... He rose from his chair and crossed to the bell-pull as he had done the night of Maturin's arrival, before taking his seat again.

"If you have quite finished, Hogan?" he asked lightly.

"I have, Sir Arthur, I have," the major replied cheerfully, taking out a small silver snuffbox and rapping the lid.

"Good. Major, if you would allow me to introduce Dr. Stephen Maturin of Naval Intelligence? Dr. Maturin, this is Major Michael Hogan of the Royal Engineers and my chief of Intelligence."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:48 PM
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Stephen stood and bowed. "An honour to make your acquaintance, sir." Details of the man's speech flooded to him - an Irish accent, not too strong, but certainly there; southern, and what's more, a Gaelic syntax and answer. The man was in his fifties, and he wondered how long he had been in intelligence work. The General's candour made him nervous, deeply nervous; there was little need to worry - Hogan had been named to him by Blaine himself - it saved time and did away with completely irrational, unnecessary beating about the bush, but to be introduced as "Maturin of Naval Intelligence" was enough to send a shiver up his spine. These thoughts flashed through his mind in an instant, and he hoped that his face betrayed none of his unease.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:49 PM
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Sir Arthur saw the slight quirk of Hogan's eyebrow at his candour, but if they could not speak plainly in his own office then where could they? And they were in no danger of being overheard - he'd checked that as soon as he'd taken possession of the rooms.

"I hope that you will forgive me for postponing this meeting for so long," the General began. He might as well not beat about the bush."Circumstances conspired to have my attention needed elsewhere, but hopefully now we can see how we can arrange matters to general satisfaction and see how the doctor's talents can be best employed."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:50 PM
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"Not at all, Sir Arthur." Sitting again, Stephen leaned forward. "I have observed that the English tradition when it comes to secret warfare is of separate intelligence agencies for the various facets of open warfare, independent of each other, and with little or no communication between them." Hogan nodded in agreement, looking thoughtful.

"There are certain men at the Admiralty who think it would be beneficial to reevaluate this arrangement. French agents are not to be found only in France, or in the Peninsula, but all over the world - the same applies to British agents, and those of other nationalities - and thus the far-reaching aspects of Naval intelligence can directly benefit Military intelligence, and information gathered in Portugal or Spain will aid agents on the far side of the world. That is why I am here: as a possible facilitator to greater communication on the Admiralty's side, instead of in Spain." He was keeping his cards close to his chest at this point - he would base how much information he would give concerning his private missions on the men's replies.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:50 PM
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Sir Arthur leaned back in his chair, gazing at the desk top thoughtfully and gave an imperceptible nod. Intelligence was not his forte, and it was probably the only one of operations of command that he felt he might possibly be happy not to look at every detail. Hogan was a competent man and had done a good job already of organising things out here, so all he merely had to deal with was the processing of any intelligence gathered, along with assigning missions accordingly.

"There is much sense in what the gentlemen of the Admiralty suggest," he said slowly, as if thinking out loud. "I cannot speak for other commanders elsewhere in the world or gauge what their reactions might be, but as for Intelligence operations in the Peninsula I should be happy to see if both Military and Naval Intelligence cannot work in harmony."

He frowned.

"Though it would take time our networks to be integrated, for trust to be gained and many ruffled feathers to be smoothed over. Though to be perfectly honest, Dr. Maturin, my main concern at the moment is not so much our coming at odds with our brothers in the navy, but those loose cannon from the Foreign Office."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:51 PM
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"It would indeed take time - I am thus here as an experiment as to the viability of the operation, and not a widely-publicised experiment either, even within the Admiralty. I will be frank. The relationship between the Naval and Military intelligence agencies is strained - Naval intelligence is seen as too far-flung, stretched too thin of be of use, and the military is viewed as too concentrated, insecure and permeable, and few agents of either side are willing to trust their lives to the other. I am seen as somewhat less vulnerable due to my own connections in the area, and should the operation be a success, the Admiralty has indicated that they would be willing to trust more of their agents to the army. You, Sir Arthur, and your advisers," he nodded to Hogan, "are of course free to make your own evaluations. If you are willing to take part in this experiment, then I thank you, for I personally think a greater integration of our agencies can only be for the good, and I am willing to risk my life to prove it." He was surprised at his own candour now - his intelligence work was of the utmost importance to him, but his instinct told him that he was with intelligent, forward-thinking, discreet men, and his instinct was rarely wrong.

The Foreign Office... He shook his head. "I am afraid I cannot speak as to the actions of the Foreign Office - I know little of their inner conflicts and struggles, and they know even less of me. Are the difficulties of a diplomatic nature?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:52 PM
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Sir Arthur was impressed. The doctor's plain statement of belief in the 'experiment' as he called it was impressive beyond belief. Seeing Maturin's state on arrival and only really having what he remembered from Dublin to go by the General had had his doubts as to the usefulness of this man, despite Blaine's glowing praise; but now as he sat listening to the little man getting himself into his stride he was becoming convinced that this may be a good idea after all. It was communication and Intelligence that was helping him to fight this war, to retain good relations with the locals and keep alliances from crumbling.

"If only it were," he said ruefully. "The Foreign Office has, at the moment, developed a certain taste for intervention in military matters they do not understand - I have this morning received word that one of their men is on his way out here as we speak. I find the way they approach matters to be somewhat underhand - even for espionage - they think themselves the highest authority and so refuse to answer to anyone save London; a strategy which in itself presents problems. Plus they are somewhat motivated by internal politics and personal ambition, which means that their agents are quite often not up to scratch with unclear allegiances or just downright dangerous in the field."

Decency held back what he would really like to say about the Foreign Office, but he was satisfied that he had provided a fair assessment.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:53 PM
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Stephen nodded - the General's overview tied in exactly with his own evaluation of the Foreign Office's intelligence activities. Embassies were a notorious hotbed for agents - and double agents, as the case of Edward Griffiths had proven; it had been Stephen who had gained the information of that betrayal, and at a dear, dear price - but the Byzantine hierarchies and personal agendas often resulted in imprecise or non-existent information, and had even caused danger to agents from other departments in the past. "There is indeed great cause for concern then." He weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of his next question carefully. "May I ask who the Foreign Office is sending?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:53 PM
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"Lord Pumphrey." Sir Arthur could not conceal the distaste in his voice. "The man is a molly and an outrageous dandy with a thirst for blood."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:54 PM
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Stephen started - Pumphrey was infamous in the elite echelons of the Admiralty. He remembered Sir Joseph's tirade, wholly unusual in its absolute violence from such a cold, rational man - Osmond, a fine agent, trapped in Madrid as the French approached, armed with important information concerning the Spanish network. He'd had a plan to escape, but Pumphrey had ordered his assassination before it could materialise. A number of men had applauded Pumphrey's quick thinking - distasteful, but the action had saved vital names from falling into French hands - while Stephen and Blaine had privately mourned the unnecessary murder (for that was how Stephen viewed it) of a gifted colleague. Stephen did not care an iota about his behaviour or his rumoured sexuality, but he knew that Pumphrey was a dangerous man, especially to an agent of Stephen's past, methods and personality. Mahon, in particular... he shuddered.

"I know the man. I do not think he knows of my work, thank the Dear, and I will do my utmost to keep it that way. He is a dangerous man." He turned to Hogan. "I would beg you to protect your agents from him - he will have no scruples about killing any of them if he thinks it would benefit the Government. He had one of our agents murdered in Madrid, and if anyone is trapped or captured by the French, they are in as much danger from him as from the enemy."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:55 PM
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It seemed that Pumphrey was not only unpopular in the army then...

"I assure you, doctor, that I have already resolved to take the utmost care of my agents and contacts," Hogan replied. "From what Sir Arthur told me of him I thought it would be best."

The General thought he might elaborate on Hogan's statement.

"I was unfortunate enough to come into contact with Lord Pumphrey in '07, during Copenhagen. There was an unfortunate incident involving a large amount of gold - one of their own damn rogue agents - and Pumphrey was put in charge of recovering it. In the process of this, though I am somewhat unclear as to the connection, he ordered the assassination of one of our retired agents and his daughter. The agent had been recently tortured, but the information gleaned was destroyed in a fire - and though one could see Pumphrey's logic in silencing the man, the whole thing was a highly distasteful business."

"It was partly Pumphrey's bad handling of the situation that the man's name fell into the hands of the French in the first place," said Hogan bitterly.
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:56 PM
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Stephen stared in horror at Sir Arthur. "He murdered the man's child? God between us and evil."

He looked at Hogan - the twinkle had entirely vanished from his eye, and his lips were small in anger - and back to Wellesley. "When does he arrive? Will he be stationed here, or at the Embassy?"
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:57 PM
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"Either tomorrow or the day after." Pumphrey had left the same time as the despatch had, and so would not be far behind. "He would be stationed at the Embassy, if I had anything to do with it, but I have not been given any indication of what his orders might be and so must wait for his arrival for any further clarification."

Damn them. Not only were they sending him dangerous men, but refusing to confide in him. How was he supposed to win this war if his superiors refused to tell him anything?
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:57 PM
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Stephen nodded, sighing - Pumphrey added a volatile element to an already extremely dangerous situation. He also felt relived at the independence Sir Joseph gave him (not that he had much of a choice though) as he studied Sir Arthur, who looked annoyed and harassed, and he felt sympathy for the man, having to keep so many threads in place, with so many lives depending on his decisions.

As he leaned back in his chair, Hogan caught his eye; the other Irishman sniffed and said, "So, where to put you, in this case?"

Wellesley focused on them again. Stephen replied, "Ease of travel is the priority. Some of my planned operations will take me behind enemy lines, but I also think it would be beneficial to be in a position where access to yourself would not be too difficult - I prefer to deliver any information I gather myself."
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 Posted: Apr 18 2018, 11:58 PM
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Now where? That was the problem. Sir Arthur cleared his throat, wondering at the feasibility of the idea before it even presented itself.

"Doctor, as I understand it you are a man of medical and natural science, and though whilst these are admirable qualities and a masterful guise in the navy, they are not so in the military. The army does not really have a call for natural philosophers, our Exploring Officers tending to be engineers and our agents residents of their surrounding countryside. However, I doubt even if you very an engineer your methods would be in line with those traditionally used by our agents. Therefore what I am going to propose is somewhat unorthodox, and may not meet with your approval."

He paused here to try and gauge Maturin's reaction so far.
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