Chapter 42 – December 26th

Downtown Brooklyn – NYC

The atmosphere in the control room was tense, because the whole operation appeared to be getting nowhere and fast. At every turn we were asking more question, something had to give soon, there were lives and careers at stake. I could feel a headache coming on and asked the guys to arrange some hot drinks, which meant a fresh hot tea for me. That would wash down a few aspirins and help me to focus and I needed a cigarette but stood looking at the screens of images and data, there was just so much going on and my mind was far away in a very dark place.

The drinks arrived and I took a mouthful of tea that pushed the pills down my throat and lit up another rolled cigarette, there was about to be the usual expected groans and complaints which I fully understood but they never came because the screen watching the warehouse suddenly and un-expectantly come alive. Another black SUV had stopped outside the main gate and a man was talking into the microphone and then climbed back in on the passenger side. That meant that there had to be at least two people in the vehicle.

The gate opened and the vehicle moved forward into the parking area, but it did not go into the covered parking area which may or may not be full, but it was to our advantage, a little piece of luck at last. Susanna appeared at the warehouse door and gestured to the passengers to go inside. Something was obviously wrong as she looked both angry and impatient at their arrival.

A few minutes later they all emerged from the building and walked over to one of the sea containers which was then unlocked, and the steel doors opened outwards which enabled us to see the front of the Airstream that had been hidden inside. The vehicle was then driven out of the container and reversed to the side of the black SUV. A person wearing a head mask was pulled out and pushed across to the Airstream and forced inside. I told the guys to sort out the sound, so we could hear what they were saying, but they insisted that the signals were being jammed around the compound, so we had to just watch and wait as the scene unfolded on the screens.

The men then returned to the warehouse with Susanna and emerged a few minutes later with three additional persons, who were also wearing hooded masks. They were handcuffed together and struggled to walk as they were pulled over to the Airstream and pushed inside. Then Susanna appeared with what looked like a black medical bag and joined them in the vehicle. We could only assume that the bag held the drugs that would put them to sleep as they were obviously being moved to another location. The men transferred some cases from the SUV to the vehicle and had another heated exchange with Susanna before both men sat in the front of the vehicle and proceeded to drive out of the compound.

Holy shit, I called the director and asked him for satellite surveillance and took it for granted that we should follow as the guys prepared to move. Hot tea splashed over me as the driver started the engine and lurched forward in a state of delayed panic. I told the director that I would call again in a short while when we were fully operational again.

So much had happened so quickly that I knew we would have missed some details and told the guys to replay the tapes and concentrate, we had just had some incredible luck in watching the whole episode but there may be a whole lot more that we could use. I yelped as the cigarette burnt my finger, because I had completely forgotten about it while we watched the activity in the compound.

Firstly we needed to identify the men who had arrived in the SUV, the guys played around with the imaging equipment until we had some facial recognitions and the system came back with those bastards Smythe and Jones, what the hell were they doing there and how did they know Susanna?

We assumed some logic in that the hostages who had been removed from the warehouse building were Savannah and the English girls but who was the person that had been dragged from the SUV? The guys did their stuff but came up blank, so we started again and focussed on the hostage images but this time frame by frame.

One frame indicated a ring on the right hand, which was unusual, I could only think of Russians wearing a ring on the right hand, but it was also on the middle finger. The image was enhanced and showed a gold ring with three horizontal crossbeams and the bottom, a footrest as in the Russian Orthodox tradition. Another frame indicated that the person was wearing black pants but the shoes which were black appeared to be too small for a man. Was that person a woman, and could she be Russian or the relative of a Russian? At that moment the ring was the only clue that we had because there were no other distinguishing features or recognizable articles of clothing.

We had been concentrating so hard on the woman that we almost missed the communication channels indicating a conversation being conducted to and from the Airstream. The weather was impacting badly on the communication channels as we struggled to understand what was going on. The guys delivered and the links were restored, as we heard what sounded like the end of the conversation, but we did not know all the details of what had been said.

We only managed to piece together the concluding parts of the conversation conducted between Smythe and Jones in the Airstream and Susanna who was assumed to be still at the Warehouse which indicated that the vehicle was heading for Savannah in Georgia and would take approximately 12hrs and that would mean arriving at the target location would be between 8 and 10 pm if the travel conditions were favourable. We had to conclude that the vehicle and the passengers were going to the very same location as the other women targets, and that only raised more questions and looked more and more dangerous for all the targets involved. Susanna, Smythe and Jones simply had to know what had been happening on the news channels and the enormity of the situation. Or was there something else going on and we had not worked it out?

We were on our way to Savannah, GA, following our own Savannah and would there be more twists on the way? There simply had to be, because why else would Susanna want to put all of the targets together, she had to have a reason to do so, a very good reason!

I for one was struggling to grasp the situation and could not see the whole picture that was unfolding in-front of us all, and wondered why Cormack Walsh had not yet taken any action on the vehicles that had left the compound in Mountain View, MO. The news channels had not mentioned any connections between the young women and Mountain View and there would be agency reasons for that as well. I tried to evaluate what we knew and what we didn’t know, and it felt that the whole scenario was being controlled by forces that we had no possible control over or connectivity with. I was beginning to anticipate the worst and felt both vulnerable and frustrated, because we were missing something, but what the hell was that something. From what we could ascertain it was logical to conclude that the Airstream was heading for Death Valley, Georgia!

I told the guys to check their weapons because, because the whole situation was spiralling out of our control and into a very dangerous zone, and I was not prepared to lose anybody, not over this festive period!

I called the director who sounded totally pissed off, which was worrying on several levels. For the director to be pissed off, it was awesomely bad news, and not only us, but for those on the other side of the line. The Zodiacs were due to convene for a meeting around 1800hrs in New York, Cormack Walsh was on standby for Christmas Armageddon and we were on a highway to hell or worse!