2 of 4 | Chapter 6

 

“What's up, Pat? Did your mum throw a tantrum again?” asked Jeff, seeing that her attention was wandering.

“Nah, not really. She kinda spazzes out if she knows I'm gonna be with you,” she answered. “What's under the tarp?” She gestured towards the back of the car, pointing to a small bump in the middle.

“It's a relay amplifier. With it, we can filter out atmospheric disturbances,” he grinned.

They had tried to use all sorts of devices for observation, but so far with no results. The only thing that kept them going was creative fantasy, along with their conspiracy theory blogs which were intriguing enough to attract several thousands daily visitors from whom their income came. Not long before they had all agreed to concentrate their attention on the DCG plant. The research center complex was constructed on such a huge territory that it made up almost one quarter of the entire area of Excolopolis.

Jeff and his team were keeping the place under observation with the help of a small modified remote controlled helicopter that was equipped with high resolution cameras. If nothing else came of their activities, at least they now had the developed a mean ability to fly remote controlled helicopters.

They were even prepared for wet weather, having developed covers for the air intake openings made from a water resistant fabric. The twin engines of the machine were covered with heat and noise suppressing foil. Because of the helicopter's stealth capabilities the team called it ‘Blue Thunder’, after the title of some ancient film. None of their knowledge came from books. It was all a result of experience, and trial and error. Many times during their trials incidents occurred—usually at the worst possible time—and they always had to be on their toes, figuring out and overcoming each problem as it arose.

The van stopped to pick Archer up.

He jumped in quickly.

“How high are we going to let it go today?” he asked, joining them in the truck.

“Well, my guess is that we go to one and half kilometers, because no one will be able to see it at that height with the naked eye. We'll be able to pick up the smallest blip from the helicopter with the relay amplifier.” Jeff was beginning to get enthusiastic. “Did you bring the recorder?”

“Of course I did! Do you take me for an amateur?” Archie answered irritably, and pulled the palm sized gadget from his backpack. “We'll record xwave files.”

“Cool!”

“What's up with you? Are you okay?” Archie turned to Pat, who was staring into space.

“I said something's not right with her! I've been asking her that too,” Jeff interrupted.

“It nothin'. It's just … this so called science center bothers me,” she said sceptically. “It's kinda … I dunno … something's not right. You know what I mean? I mean, what the hell are they doing there? I know that guy has some inventions, but the size of this place just seems wrong!”

The two boys looked at each other, reassuring themselves that there was nothing wrong with her, that she was her usual self.

Pat was their mental leader. She had an amazing facility for finding theoretical connections and was the one who put together the plans that they followed. She had the ability to convince others with the very rightness of her ideas and the two guys never doubted her.

Jeff needed this girl as she seemed to bring out the dynamism, energy and instinct that was the motivation for his actions. He was the leader in team planning and implementation. They were guided by the detailed scenarios in his head, and he always had a plan B and plan C. He could easily see through each problem and was ready to improvise as each situation demanded.

Archer was the technical genius, and saw himself as a soldier on a mission, serving the call of duty. It didn't matter what gadget he got his hands on, he always seemed to instinctively know what to do with it. He loved to automate anything and making machines capable of operating independently was his obsession. Because of his pedantic attention to detail and a certain level of paranoia, he always kept them safe. Jeff and Pat's company provided a fertile ground for him to develop these tendencies.

As they sped along the winding downhill road, tires squealing, they could see the city from above; the whole territory was covered in green areas as a result of the forced planting program the previous fall. Even the bases of the tower buildings were skirted in lush green.

*

Jeff's strategy demanded that they always approach their target from a different direction each time, to reduce the risk of detection. Today they drove in a larger circle than usual, and found themselves behind their objective. The four by four pickup was easily capable of traversing the heaviest terrain and they easily reached the more remote forest tracks via a muddy service track. When they arrived, Jeff got out of the truck and dragged the camouflage tarpaulin over the side of the vehicle overlooking the site.

Meanwhile Archer prepared the relay amplifier, plugging it into the recording device, then he checked the cameras on the helicopter. They had fixed five cameras to the helicopter. Four were used mainly for navigating when the helicopter was out of visual range. All of the cameras sent images, but their intelligence images were obtained from the miniature high-resolution camera that was fixed on the belly of the helicopter.

While the two boys were dealing with the equipment, Patricia poured herself a cup of coffee and started slowly sipping it, thinking. In the distance, the grey outlines of the science center buildings could be seen, with two darker skyscrapers rising from the middle. The roofs of each tower were divided in halves by platforms and several connecting bridges interconnected them approximately in the middle. Patricia observed the territory through binoculars. The full extent of the center from this distance was considerable, and she discovered more multilevel security along the borders of the complex.

“Well … with the new fuel mixture we can get an extra 25 minutes, and with the relay amplifier we'll be able to extend the range by three kilometers. We also have significantly improved recording capabilities as well,” Archer listed the improvements he'd made since their last mission.

“Sounds cool,” said Jeff. “Okay, guys, listen up! The plan is as follows: we will put the Eastern tower under surveillance, the one on the left from here. According to our calculations the top platform could be somewhere between 950 and 1,050 meters from the ground. We need to get higher than that, appropriately 1,500-1,600 meters. Blue Thunder can get into position within 8 minutes, and the return time is less, let's say within 5-6 minutes. So, if all goes well, with one and a half hour running time, and roughly 13-14 minutes travel time plus 2 minutes for refueling, we have a total of fifteen minutes down time to take into consideration, which is a lot,” said Jeff.

Pat and Arch nodded in agreement.

“All we need is fifty thousand euros and the problem is solved,” Arch murmured.

“But we don't have that kind of money…. How 'bout increasing the size of the fuel tank instead?” suggested Pat.

“I'm workin' on it,” said Arch.

“Okay. Are you ready?” asked Jeff, turning to Arch, who was making some final adjustments to the helicopter.

“Yep, sure am. This little birdie's gonna fly,” said Arch, gently putting the helicopter down on the ground. He flipped the remote console strap over his head and flicked the ignition switch. A short cough and the twin engines buzzed into life. As soon as the motors had warmed up they switched automatically into stealth mode. Jeff stepped over to the monitors set up in the back of the truck, checked the image transmission, then pushed the record button.

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH