“Well are you ready to try our luck as tourists?” I asked Jerrod.
“Why of course honey,” he replied. “If it becomes necessary, I can even kiss you.”
“But, if we have to do it for the cover can you screw me?” I asked.
“Sure, if you were to really helped out. I just wouldn’t enjoy it so much.” he said honestly.
“Fair enough I will try not to inflict myself on you,” I said. “Do you know what this is?” I showed him a small hand held electronic game unit.
“A children’s video game system?” he guessed.
“That’s what it is supposed to look like, but it is a ten in one data system. It is an infrared unit among others. It’s how I know who is behind the walls. Working for the government has it’s perks.”
“I wondered about that. Very cool,” he said. It was of course a kid’s game set bought at Walmart for $90 before we left Aster.
“Let’s go look at a temple,” I suggested. I knew that in most cultures I needed to step back and take a secondary role. If I had to assume control I could, but it was better to let the locals thing Jerrod was the boss and I was a hanger on.
We stood outside the gate after Jerrod knocked. We waited patiently for someone to come to greet us. We could hopefully convince that person to open the gate and allow us entrance. While we waited Jerrod was very calm. I liked that about him.
The priest came to the door dressed in white robes. He spoke Spanish of course which was fine. Jerrod’s Spanish wasn’t as good as mine, so I explained to the priest and interpreted for Jerrod. I could have cut him out of the loop completely, except that it would look all wrong to the priest.
The priest allowed us in to look around and to say a prayer for the departed. I had a couple of ingenious bugs. One was a roach looking beetle. That one I left in the Sanctuary. I had no hope at all that it would pick up anything worthwhile there, but I had to try.
I explained to the priest that Jerrod was a builder back in France. I begged him to allow us to tour the building’s working parts. I managed to get a bug into the office area. I got it on the underside of the desk. We just couldn’t find a way to get inside the rear building. I did get onto the grounds though. I found the other three people in that house were household staff. I made that assumption from their movements inside the kitchen area.
My best guess was that Williams was not in the temple or the house. I needed to get bugs inside the living quarters of the priests. It was the only way to be sure they were not involved, but at that moment they looked innocent. That was those particular ones. That did not mean some other members of their sect weren’t responsible.
We checked into a park’s camping area just outside town. I bought us a tarp and a blanket. Since the forecast was for clear and warm weather, I figured we would be fine. We had stored the packs in the rear of Olivia’s Mercedes, but were all set up to sleep on the ground in the park before the sun set.
After she had left Jerrod and I sat leaning against a tree discussing the night ahead. “So exactly what do you plan to do?” he asked me.
“I plan to slip over the wall in the middle of the night. and plant three microphones in the walls of the house, then get the hell out without being seen,” I informed him.
“And what is my job?” he asked.
“You are to stay outside so that you can rescue me, if it all goes terribly wrong,” I suggested.
“Then I need to assemble the two AK 47 rifles. If I need to rescue you, we will need some heavy firepower.” he said.
“That would be my assumption as well,” I said in agreement. “We need to find a place with some light so that we can assemble the rifles.”
“I am a legionnaire just a place to lay it out will do.” he suggested quite seriously. I took him at his word. People in our position should not exaggerate. If he was prone to do so, it was as good a time as any to find out.
In the half light of a campfire on the back of a trap, Jerrod assembled two Chopped down AK47 assault riffles. I assumed they would work since he was risking his life on them as well.
We leaned against a tree discussing everything. Mostly I told him stories about Aster and he told me stories about his home town. He was definitely trying to cram a lifetime of memories into a single night. It might not help but he would know more about Aster than any of the other new residents. They tended to want to fit the town to their lifestyle. Jerrod on the other hand was determined to fit into the lifestyle of the the town. I had to admire that.
All that was interesting and it did help to pass the time, but it was off the subject at hand. “So you are just going to slip over the wall and plant the bugs and get out?” Jerrod asked.
“Yes, I’m going over the wall with three long thin bugs and an battery power drill. The walls are mud. I just need to drill a hole in the wall above the floor line then slip the bug inside the wall. They supplied us with a radio transmitter so that the conversations go up to a satellite then back down to a listening post. I did not tell him the listening post was the farm.
I had already received a message that they were picking up the bugs in the temple and they were revealing nothing. We all knew that our best shot was the living quarters of the priests. I would be able to tell a lot from just the infrared signatures. I had no expectations that we were really going to find Williams in the house, or alive at all for that matter. The odds were long against us.
We had yet to get instructions about what to do, if we got him killed or found out he had been killed early on. I had a feeling that if it were Deacon’s choice, we would wipe out everyone involved, which actually was a good plan. It was not a good thing for people to go around bragging about killing Americans.
Since I didn’t exist, and Jerrod wasn’t an American, we could bend the rules a little more than the average team of operatives. At least that was my take that night as we rode our bicycles back into town and then to the rear of the temple.
I left my bike against a tree with Jerrod’s. He stayed to guard them. More than just guarding the bicycles Jerrod was locked and loaded. At the first sign of trouble, he would be bursting through the front gate. At least that was the plan.
“I am going over the wall with just a knife, so listen carefully there won’t be a lot of noise, if this goes rank,” I suggested.
“I got it,” Jerrod said. “And good luck in there.”
We had found me a tree limb, so I was able to get over the wall easily. The spot where I landed was covered with a couple of inches of standing water. It was a muddy mess but that was good. A place like it was less likely to have people using it to empty their bladder or bowels. When I landed from my fall, I was within three yards of the building.
I applied my sensors and found that there were three rooms. My guess was that the largest was a bedroom. I went to what was likely a less used corner of the room. I found the floor height from the level of the figures standing in the room. I drilled a hole in the wall about two inches above the floor level.
When I inserted the microphone, I had no way to check it myself. I just assumed that I had done everything correctly and moved on. I placed another one in what I thought was the living area. Finally I installed one in the kitchen area of the house.
I was ready to extract myself, when I saw a heat signature just vanish. That is pretty much impossible, unless the inferred device is defective and mine wasn’t, or the person goes somewhere that blocks the heat signature.
The house obviously had a hidden basement. Now that was interesting, I thought. The most important thing for me at that moment was to get the fuck out without being discovered. Believe it or not I just walked out with a group of pilgrims. It was the middle of the night, but pilgrims were still coming and going. I just mixed with a group and walked out the front gate. I was nervous as hell, but I figured it was as good an idea as any.
Once outside I set up the little broadcast station behind the local school building. I hide it pretty well, I thought, then Jerrod and I went back to the camping area. He had been up all night and unlike me he had a need for sleep. I was down to about half power so I needed to charge.
I found a restaurant near the camping area with a connection to the Santa Cruz power grid. It wasn’t the most dependable, but it worked long enough to get me to full charge. I pretended to listen to the MP3 player while I charged.
I did get messages from the farm during the down time. I explained about the heat signature so they did some shucking and jiving around with their contacts. I could see the temple from the restaurant where I drank strong coffee and changed my power pack for several hours.
Do you think that Williams is in that basement? came the message from the farm.
I have no idea. What i do know is that someone went down there at 3AM last night. I have no way of knowing what the normal schedule of that house is. It does seem strange that anyone would go down there in the middle of the night to get a loaf of bread, I suggested.
We tend to agree, came the reply. If Williams isn’t in that basement what the hell could be down there to warrant that middle of the night visit?
I have no idea. Why don’t you listen to the bugs closely for a while. Something should come from them, if Williams is there, I suggested. I mean hell if I went to the trouble to plant them they could at least rely on them. We had no decent intelligence otherwise.
I wanted to see Olivia. If we had to wait for the farm to gather information from those bugs, I wanted to look somewhere else.
I told the controller that I wanted to get busy again, so they managed to get Olivia to show up with more information. It was her information that a gang of criminals had submitted a ransom demand, but that the local police didn’t think that they really had Williams.
“We kind of feel that if you were to question Mr. Esposito that it would save us a lot of time,” Olivia said looking away.
“Have you picked him up yet?” I asked.
“No he is with his men there are three of them. We don’t really have any reason to do so. I am pretty sure that Esposito has no information for us.”
“Well point me to him and we will interrogate him for you,” I suggested. Olivia was more than happy to agree. I had to wonder what my government was getting me into. There seemed to be no question that Olivia knew Jerrod and I would use aggressive interrogation techniques.
The three men were inside of a bar with very thick walls when Olivia pointed them out to us. “Too bad we can’t just walk in and take them out with us. The body count would be too high,” Jerrod said.
“One or more of them will have to leave sometime,” I suggested. And sure enough it happened around dinner time. It was obvious that one of them was tasked with picking up dinner and returning it to the bar. He never made it of course.