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The Union is a fictional crime syndicate in the James Bond series written by Raymond Benson. Described by Benson himself as "a blue collar version of SPECTRE...with no qualms of dirty jobs", they are an organisation of murderers, capable of anything from petty theft to large-scale industrial terrorism, aided no end by an uncanny ability to infiltrate law organisations, which makes them seemingly impossible to capture.
Founding and usurping
The neo-Nazi former United States Marine and white supremacist militia leader Taylor Michael Harris founded the Union, primarily as a humble organisation of killers from everywhere in the world, but primarily restricted to North America, Western Europe, the former USSR and the Middle East, with their headquarters based in Oregon.
Soon, Harris himself was killed by the mixed-race Corsican criminal Olivier Cesari, with the backing of Harris' lieutenants and several minted people. Under Cesari (or Le Gérant, as he preferred to be known), the Union shifted from being just another militia to being the most dangerous crime syndicate in the world.
High Time to Kill
MI6 agent James Bond and his current girlfriend, Helena, are at the home of the Governor of the Bahamas, an old friend of his, when suddenly, the Governor is shot dead by an assassin, who is disguised as one of the Governor's guards. As Bond pursues the assassin, who eventually kills himself so as to avoid interrogation, it turns out the Governor had a severe gambling debt with an unnamed member of The Union, and had not payed the debt, due to the Governor thinking he had been cheated.
Elsewhere, Britain has created a new formula, which has been hidden in microfilm, codenamed Skin 17. Unfortunately, one of the scientists working on it, Steven Harding, and Royal Air Force officer Roland Marquis (a rival of Bond's), steal the microfilm, implanting it into the pacemaker of an elderly, unhealthy former member of the Chinese People's External Security Force, intending to take the British creation to China, or to sell to another power. Bond is sent to stop this from happening.
Bond tracks Harding, the old Chinese agent and Harding' bodyguard Basil to Belgium. Although Bond manages to kill Basil, the other two slip away. However, Harding himself is murdered on the orders of Le Gérant, whose ESP powers report Harding's plan to hijack the aircraft with the Chinese agent.
When Harding's body is discovered, Bond, along with his childhood rival Marquis (whose motif is yet unknown) and Hope Kendal, a mountaineer, are sent to lead a British expedition, containing undercover Union agent Paul Baak, to the Himalayas after the aircraft carrying the Chinese agent crashes there, killing him; the agent's death has caused a race for Skin 17.
Together, Bond, Kendal and Marquis destroy the base camp used by the Chinese team, forcing them to retreat. Soon after, Marquis kills everyone on the team, save Bond and Kendal, before revealing his ties to the Union. Bond pursues Marquis to the top of Kangchenjunga, where the British agent kills his rival and takes Skin 17 for Britain. As Bond and Kendal return to their base camp, Baak (who they thought had been killed) demands Skin 17, for The Union. He is killed by Bond and Kendal, who return Skin 17 to Britain.
Helena reveals that she is a Union operative, due to threats against her family. She is murdered on The Union's orders.
Stinging from their first failure in the previous novel, The Union is now in league with Rafael Espada, a Spanish nationalist bullfighter with ties to the mob, who dreams of taking Gibraltar back for Spain. The Union agrees to support him, by assassinating the Governor of Gibraltar and the British Prime Minister at a peace conference by using a James Bond lookalike, thus severely undermining the British government and tarnishing MI6's credibility, in retaliation for the events in the previous novel. They have identified Bond and Britain as their number one priority.
Espada is approached by Union strategist Nadir Yassassin, who plan to let Spain take Gibraltar back, plunge Britain into war and convince Bond that he is insane.
Following the events of High Time to Kill, Bond has been suffering blackouts, hallucinations and migraines. He is sent to see Dr Kimberley Feare, who discovers that Bond's problems have been caused by a lesion on his head. Feare and Bond have sex, but Feare is then murdered by The Union, identifiable by their calling card of slitting the victim's throat ear to ear, in a U-shape.
Bond spends most of the novel attempting to track down the Union's headquarters in Tangier, Morocco, successfully identifying Le Gérant as Olivier Cesari, all without the help of MI6 and whilst being pursued by identical twin CIA agents Heidi and Hedy Taunt. He is eventually captured by the Union, which has been attempting to draw him in all along; however, he manages to escape and foils the Union's plans for Gibraltar by posing as his own double and foiling the assassination attempt. The Union's losses include the deaths of chief tracker Jimmy Powers, chief assassin Margareta Piel and Espada, and Yassassin being captured.
Never Dream of Dying
Things have become progressively worse from The Union's point of view, as Western law-enforcement agencies have declared an all-out war on the Union. Bond and several friends from previous adventures (including Rene Mathis and Marc-Ange Draco) follow the Union to Corsica in an attempt to track down Olivier Cesari before he can carry out his next attack. What later becomes The Union's final plan is a horrible plot with Japanese criminal/terrorist Goro Yoshida, to destroy the Cannes Film Festival, in the name of protesting against Western decadence.
The story opens with The Union stealing CL-20 explosives, leading to Mathis going rogue to prove The Union's responsibility for the theft.
It is revealed near the end that Marc-Ange is Cesari's uncle, and was working for him all along. However, Bond suspects that Marc-Ange is not being entirely truthful, and feeds him false information in order to plan a surprise attack on the Union headquarters in Corsica; Cesari dies when his helicopter is destroyed, as does Marc-Ange, ending the scourge of the Union once and for all.