If I tell you this you’re going to have to sign the Official Secrets Act.

It also might contain some spoilers especially for the fourth and fifth books.

Sundance is a character (based on a friend’s guinea pig) who we first meet in Princelings and the Pirates.  I think the best thing is to give you a few quotes about him and then some from later books, then summarise all I’m prepared to reveal about the security services!

Then of course, you’ll have to eat this blog.

“We don’t really know anything about you,” [George] said. “We met up in the Golden Guinea, you helped us escape, you seem very self-sufficient and able to cope…  How do we know we can trust you?”
Sundance paused for a bit before he spoke.  “You don’t,” he said, and he looked round them all one by one as if reading their faces.  “And I don’t know whether I can trust you … With me, you will stand a better chance of success than you will on your own.”
“How did you get that scar?” asked Fred, waving in the general direction of Sundance’s eye.
“I trusted someone against my better judgement,” he said. [Pirates, Chapter 6]

Fred introduced the rest, starting with Princess Kira, who received a deep bow from both Robert and Bailey, and named the others, hesitating a bit over Sundance, whom he left till last.

“Mmm, Sundance, eh?” said Robert, looking closer at him.  “Pleased to meet you, but I will conveniently forget you as soon as you need me to.”

“Thanks,” said Sundance, with a slight grimace.

Fred looked at George as if to say “What was that all about?” [Pirates Ch 10]

 “Sundance,” said Baden, “isn’t he that chap in intelligence that got whisked off by the senior army staff when they found him at Fortune?”

“Yes, the same,” said Fred. “I thought I recognised him when I first saw him, but I couldn’t place him till he reminded me.”

“What was he doing in Arbor?” asked Lupin.

“Well, he told me that I was sworn to secrecy, and if I told anyone he would have to have me assassinated,” Fred embroidered a little, “so if you don’t mind, I’ll just say he was working, and leave it at that.” They laughed. [Lost City Ch 12]

And then there was Montgomery… the first rather secretive person that Hugo (Lord Mariusz) met on his first few travels down the time tunnel.  Lord Mariusz narrates:

 “Are you carrying any equipment?” [Montgomery] asked me in a cautious way.

“You mean my sample box?” I asked, wondering if he meant what I thought he meant.

“Er, no,” he said, “um, personal protection equipment.”

“Is it the kinda place I need it?” I asked, understanding that he meant exactly what I thought he meant.

He made a wry smile and nodded.  “Maybe, if you’re that way inclined.”

I looked at him and asked directly if he knew any suppliers in town.  He got up and I followed. …

“My friend here would like a small handy piece, unobtrusive-like,” Montgomery said to him.

The person nodded, opened a drawer and took out a small hand gun … it would do some damage if any ordinary person was trying to do something to me I didn’t like.

We agreed terms and I put it away safe, but handy.  Montgomery and I stepped out into the rain again.

“I think I’ll take a turn up the street, walk off the journey,” I said, even though there was wailing in the wind.

“Mind if I come too?”

I said no, but I wondered why he was staying this close to me.  I was starting to feel I needed to know more about him, like what line of business he was in.

“What line of business are you in?” I asked, or rather half-shouted as we battled the wind and rain, and got wet feet in the rivers running down some cobbled paths.

“Security, sort of,” he said. “I’m looking for someone who came here a while back.”

“What should I do if I find him?”

“Nothing.” He plodded on then added, “get your piece out and point it at him and tell him to come and find me.”

“Is he dangerous?”

“Only sometimes.”

“How will I know him?”

“He’ll probably ask for me by name.” [Traveler in Black & White, Ch 6 … (editing)]

So, what do I know about the security services?  They are highly skilled, resourceful, dangerous, and licensed to kill.  Kings and the senior ranks of the army know about them and respect them, and may be involved in their deployment.  Oh, and they are allowed to carry out a bit of private enterprise as well as their official assignments.  Hugo (Mariusz) knows that.  Fred and George don’t, and neither does Victor.

Now you know why you’ll have to eat this blog post!

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