I watched the canals like a hawk.

He did…send me to the right place, didn’t he?

I mean, Amsterdam’s a big place, and…

 

There they are!

Nakia, Valerian Strauss and a couple of his goons were boarding a speedboat.

 

‘Nakia!’ I yelled, ‘NAKIA!’

 

She sat stiff in the boat and gazed ahead, in a trance. They’d got to her! The speedboat roared to life and sped down the canal. I had to catch them!

 

Over the protestations of a geriatric in a captain’s hat, I hijacked a speedboat and yanked the throttle after them. Dodging boats and ducking under bridges, it wasn’t long until Valerian noticed I was on his tail.

 

‘No matter what happens, keep going!’ he yelled at his subordinates, climbing to the back. I’d just about caught up with them when Valerian leapt over the gap and grabbed the hull of my speedboat.

 

I weaved as best I could, but Valerian had been at this spy business a lot longer than I had, and it wasn’t long before he rugby-tackled me away from the wheel.

 

AND WE FOUGHT AND WE FOUGHT AND WE FOUGHT AND WE FOUGHT…

Bloodied, bruised, battered, I finally had him pinned to the cabin seat as the speedboat careened out of control down the canals.

 

‘Why him?!’ I grabbed Valerian by the collar, ‘why the NATO Secretary-General?! I would’ve thought he’d be on your payroll already!’

 

‘Oh he is! It’s not about the man, it’s about the act!’ Valerian grinned through broken teeth, ‘you were a poor candidate for an assassin, to be honest! Chances are the media would have blamed it on a lone wolf or incels or whatever. But Nakia! She ticks so many boxes! The people won’t know who to be scared of!’

 

‘What if I tell the world it was you?!’ I yelled, ‘what then?!’

 

‘Go right ahead! One more crazy paranoid narrative to add to the bonfire!’ Valerian bragged, ‘tomorrow will light a spark that shall engulf everything! The world shall return to its natural state! Neighbour will make war against neighbour! The strong shall root out the weak! And finally, there shall emerge the Last Man! The Overman!’

 

‘And that’d be you lot, would it?!’ I challenged.

 

‘I wouldn’t presume to judge!’ Valerian smirked.

 

‘And your plan to bring about this new world is literally the plot of Zoolander?’ I blinked out the rushing salt spray.

 

Valerian scoffed, ‘a classic starring Frank Sinatra is right there for the comparison and you went with Zoolander?!’

 

‘Yeah! I compared your plan to a Ben Stiller comedy! You don’t deserve Frank Sinatra-!’ I just realized something, ‘…why are you laughing?’

 

‘Because we won, you idiot!’ Valerian settled in the runaway speedboat, ‘your friend is gone! Our plan is nearly complete!’

 

I looked up in panic. A barge had blocked the way ahead and we were speeding right at it. I reached for the throttle but it was gone.

 

A guffawing Valerian held up the wrenched throttle, wires dangling uselessly, ‘I’m ready to die for what I believe in! Are you?!’

 

Well arse. I leapt off the speedboat face-first into the canal. Seconds later the speedboat impacted into the barge and exploded in a massive fireball, taking laughing Valerian with it.

 

I fished myself out of the drink, caught my breath and ran to the station. I had to get to Brussels and save Nakia before ODESSA’s plan could come to fruition!