When I reported for work I went with the other security guards to a large area that acted as a meeting room and sometimes as a dining room. The head security guard stood out the front, the doors were locked, guards placed on them. ‘Today we are transporting spent fuel rods and other hot waste to The Cave,' said the head guard. ‘Twelve trucks will be sent. This is the most we have ever sent but The Cave has requested all we have. The first truck has already left and the next will be on the hour until they have all left.' He flicked a cover off a white board and Dan noticed he was due to go on the sixth truck at two PM with Duncan.
‘The trucks will have two drivers supplied by the contractor,' said the head guard. ‘You will follow in a company vehicle to provide security. Your duties will be to make sure the trucks have an easy passage and to intervene at any problems, such as demonstrators, saboteurs, or terrorists. Or anything that impedes the trucks.'
A man stood up and asked, ‘What do we do if any of those things happen?' he asked.
‘The first thing you do is call the police. We could have had a police escort but we decided it would draw attention to the shipment. You will be armed with an assault rifle as well as your side-arms to deal with most eventualities. The reason you weren't warned about this is we didn't want anyone telling the press. That is also the reason you will not leave this room until you are ready to escort your shipment. Any phones you have with you will be confiscated until after you return. Please hand them to the person going around.' I took my mobile out of my pocket switched it off and placed it in the bag. I knew Tracy would try to ring at ten o'clock, know something was on, and probably guess what was happening.
The Head Guard flipped another page and it showed a map of the various routes. The destination was up the coast about a hundred miles. We were also issued with smaller maps. I noticed The Cave was very near the coast and away from settlements.
Duncan drove while I watched the truck wind it's way down the secondary road. Our route was away from the main highway, we seemed to be finding every out of the way road. Duncan told me every truck would go a different way. He also thought some of the other vehicles on the road looked like undercover police, department of energy or FBI. After travelling for nearly three hours, we came back onto the main road and turned off towards the coast. Sand dunes rose on the right with rocky cliffs visible in the distance. Two trucks like ours met us on the way back from dumping their loads and we arrived at a huge cave blasted into the rocky cliffs. The straight lines of the opening suggested that it was man made. It soon became apparent this was our destination.
We were directed to an area were a large forklift truck lifted the container then dumped it at the entrance to the cave. Containers were piled up seeming to be oozing out of the cave. The area in front was fenced, I noticed armed guards patrolling and looking into the sand dunes near the entrance. I was sure Mac was out there and hoped they didn't spot him. The head guard came up to Duncan.' Any problems?'
‘Nar, it was easy Boss.'
The truck we escorted headed back the way it came in. ‘Get going back to the plant, said the head guard. ‘There might be some protesters when you get back. The press got wind of it but they were too late. We're holding back the last two trucks until it quietens down.'
‘How did they know, Boss?'
‘Not sure. Could have been watching for trucks. Get going,' he slapped the side of the four-wheel drive. Duncan drove away. We didn't even get out to stretch our legs.
Tracy handed me the encrypted smart phone. There was a message from Mac.
Lot of activity. Two helicopters are transporting the containers to a ship out in the bay. The ship's name is Guarna Two. Stay where you are, Dan. Security is very tight; you won't be able to get near the place. I got in before about a hundred security guards sealed the place off. And, get this, the cops have set up roadblocks on the main road; they are not letting anyone through. I mean real cops not guards. I'll stay here until the guards leave. I don't think I'd be able to get out. I left my car in trees four miles up the main highway and walked.
‘Dan, I've sent the name of the ship to Phil. I didn't think it would a good idea for us to use the laptop on an open line,' said Tracy.
We were getting somewhere. Now I had to leave the plant without arousing suspicion. I thought I'd leave it a few days before I left. Mac and Tracy could transfer to Los Angeles and check out Guarna. ‘Where's my meal woman? A sister should have a man's food on the table when he gets home from work.'
For a minute Tracy thought I was serious, her face dropped with her anger flaring until she saw the smile on my face. ‘Yes darling,' she said. ‘It's waiting in that nice restaurant down the street.'
‘Typical,' I said. At least I got her to call me darling.
It took me three days to extricate myself from the plant without arising suspicion. I told the security supervisor my father had died. There was the funeral, then afterwards my mother wanted me to take over the family security business.
We decided to use another of our prepared identities, I became James Ingram, Tracy was my wife Cassie, and Mac was Gordon Jackson. Tracy booked us into a hotel near the Guarna building with Mac on another floor.
Mac took our rented car back, rented another one at a different company. He paid cash.
The Will Rogers Memorial Park was ideal for our discussion. Manicured lawns ran down to a clump of trees where many city joggers sweated on their torturous journey along the paths. Seats were placed in selected shady areas while we sat on one where we had a view of all the approaches. ‘The Guarna building is not very large only three stories,' said Mac. ‘There is a guard at the front but most of the security is electronic. The workers have to tap in a code for doors to open.' He showed Tracy and I some photos. ‘I don't think we could get in in the daytime. At night they have two guards in the building who mostly check monitors and only occasionally walk around the building,' he showed more photos, infrared this time. ‘The guards are in this room on the top floor, most of the time.' He said pointing to the photo.
‘We have to get in and out without them knowing,' I said. ‘Did you find out what kind of system it is?'
‘A Crime Guard system. I checked it on the net and there is a lot in information. It's a bit over my head though.'
‘That's what he's for,' I said pointing to a young man jogging slowly towards us across the lawn.
‘Who's he?' asked Tracy.
‘I was told to call him Zac. Phil sent him. He's a security system expert.'
‘He doesn't look very fit,' said Mac.
‘He doesn't have to be.'
The moon slipped behind a cloud as I signalled for Zac, Mac, and Tracy to follow me. The Guarna building was in darkness except for security lights on each of the three stories. We were all dressed in black with our faces blackened. Around the side of the building, we found the window shown on the plan Zac had obtained from the city records with a substantial bribe. It was about ten feet off the ground; I unfolded a ladder, then placed it in position. The window had security strips running across the glass and Zac pointed to wires running to the window locks. He produced a special hook tool that slipped under the lock then opened the window while keeping the trip device down which he taped so they wouldn't set off the alarm. We climbed into the room Zac pointed to some stairs that went down to the basement. ‘The alarm systems are usually placed in the cellar,' he whispered.
My torch illuminated a large box like structure that ran from floor to ceiling. It had a keypad. Zac had a device that he placed over it. It took about a minute for the numbers he needed to open it to show in a window on the device. He keyed in the numbers then opened the box. It was like a row of computers. ‘The trick is to take a shot of the scene in the guards monitors so they think nothing has changed. Then to up load the photo. It looks like there are coded entrances to most of the doors, safes, and cabinets on the second floor. I'd say that's where you will have to look for what you want. I can unlock all that from here. It will take about an hour so you can relax.'
‘What if the guards move about?' I asked.
‘Unless they try to open the doors on the second floor, they won't know anything is amiss as long as they don't come down here. It's my guess they won't know the codes for the second floor anyway.'
Zac's magic device kept whirring after he plugged it into one of the computers, it gave him all the passwords he needed. It started on the door-locks, paused, bypassed the lock, and went onto the next one. He used the keyboard to the monitors and somehow copied the scene showing for each camera and copied it back into the monitor so it wouldn't show any activity. Sometimes he placed disks he had bought with him into the computers, copied some things into it, and sometimes copied stuff from the computer onto the disks.
‘Won't they know we've been here?' I asked.
‘A smart computer nerd would, but I'll have everything I need to disable the system on these disks. I'll just take them with me.'
I noticed Mac and Tracy checking the walls. They were carefully examining every square inch. Mac stopped and dug at the wall with his key. ‘Over here, Dan. We've got trouble.'
It was almost impossible to see, because it looked like a large nail head. It could be a camera. I signalled Zac. He came over to shine his torch at it, and then placed a small stethoscope against the wall and listened. ‘It's working. I think it's a stand-alone camera not on the security system. Smart. I'll have to find it and erase the tape or disk. I'll do it while you heroes are looking upstairs. Good job you found it.'
‘See if you can find anything else,' I said.
Zac took a scanner out of his kit and walked around the room. ‘That's it,' he said. ‘Only the camera showed up.'
It took a little over an hour for the computer to bypass the employee's cards and codes. We left together with Zac staying in the basement. Tracy, Mac, and I climbed the stairs to the second floor where the location of the security told us was the important area. We listened for the guards but they appeared to be on the top floor looking at the screens showing the picture that Zac wanted them to see. We decided there would be no talking and we did everything by hand signals. The small security light gave some view and I signalled for Tracy to take and office on my left and Mac on my right. The middle office opened easily, I closed the door, and took out my small torch.
It looked like an executive's office with a large desk with cupboards and filing cabinets. The top draw on the desk was locked so I picked the lock. There wasn't much in the drawer just some papers and keys. I tried them on one of the filing cabinets and it fitted. The files were mostly correspondence. Most of it was addressed to Myron Shaddock the Chief Executive of Guarna. Some of them identified customers from the US, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, and many other countries. I took out my camera turned my torch up to photos and photographed them.
The next draw I hit paydirt. There was a copy of all the directors and photos. The chairman's photo I recognised because he was Conrad Halladay the President of the US before the current president. I took the whole file out and snapped like a happy snapper. The door opened and Tracy entered. She signalled there wasn't much in the office she looked at. I gestured to her to check the bottom draw. Soon she was photographing files as quickly as she could. I noticed a letter with the white house seal from one of the President's secretaries. It congratulated Guarna on doing a great service for the country and the President sends his best wishes.
Tracy shoved a paper in front of me that showed a ranch in Nevada. It belonged to Conrad Halladay it was obviously set up to run the operation. This office was a legitament front for the clandestine operation. She photographed it.
I signalled her to stop and we put everything back the way we found it. I heard a noise, and then the flash of a torch under the door. Someone was walking down the corridor. It wouldn't be Mac because we wouldn't hear him. The person coughed, which I thought was good because it meant he wasn't aware we were here. The guard must have a round and this was it. The noise disappeared but we waited. About fifteen minutes later, we heard the lift. He must have walked down to the ground floor then came back in the lift.
The door opened and Mac entered. I signalled for us to leave. He smiled, gave thumbs up. We crept down the stairs back to the basement. ‘I got some good stuff,' said Mac. ‘Shipping schedules and such. The manifests say they are shipping machinery to South Africa.'
‘We got some correspondence and we know who's behind it,' said Tracy. She looked at Zac. ‘Did you fix the camera?' he nodded.
‘Ready to go,' he asked. I gave the thumbs up. He took about five minutes to shut down his set up, finally, he said, ‘Let's go.'
Back in our hotel room, we fed the digital photos into the smart phone, encrypted them, and sent them to Phil. Tracy went on the net and looked up Conrad Halladay. A picture of a white haired middle-aged man with handsome smiling features stared back at us from the screen. The current President was his vice-president and it was rumoured they were very close. I tried to remember what it was that was unusual about him. Then I remembered, he decided not to run for a second four-year term when the political analysts thought he could win easily. Maybe it was to set up this operation. Tracy flicked to more information and came to a college photo. Next to a younger version of Conrad Halladay stood a handsome curly haired Carlton Saunders the President.
‘I'll bet what Halladay is doing is known to the President,' said Mac.
He was staring over my shoulder at the screen. If he was right then there was trouble. I couldn't see what the Australian Prime Minister could do about it. If the American President knew what was happening, then we have to assume the Government did too. Then if you take that a bit further other Governments would know. That was a giant conspiracy against Australia. I was pleased I wasn't in the big bloke's shoes. ‘Yeah, this is going to be the biggest can of worms we've seen,' I said.
‘What now?' asked Tracy.
‘I was thinking of checking out Halladay's ranch in Nevada. But, I don't know now. We have all the information Phil and the Big Bloke wanted. We'll stay put and see what happens. This mission could be over.'