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My Little Mystery Part 17

My Little Mystery Part 17

Cricket finds out who is after her. The assault team gathers intel. They ready for war.

Emily and Leo sat with the team, eating a small meal while preparing to leave and go to Cal’s estate. They realized that the loss of two team members hurt, but not as much as expected. The two, Felicity and Christoph were the youngest members of the team and the least experienced. The reason they made the team, was due to their being ruthless and heartless, when it came to taking a life. When Leo and Emily trained at the Bard School, two thoughts burned into their minds about the past. They thought of those now as they sat there.

Emily remembered, “Don’t dwell on the past. Always look ahead and choose the proper pathways to walk.” It was a thought that stuck with her every day.

Leo remembered, “Well, we all have to move on and forget the past. It can't be changed, so make a new future.” The loss of two team members was in the past and time marched on.

Both sayings appeared many times during their education and they were still true now. Nothing can change the past and it gets further away every minute. Right now will soon be the past so move forward into the future.

The team stood, checked their sidearms, lifted their equipment for intelligence gathering and moved it to the big van behind the storefront. They returned for last minute briefings and listened to Leo and Emily with not a word said. Five minutes later the six of them left in two vehicles. Not a word passed between the two groups during the drive. The mission weighed heavily on the team. Intelligence gathering took great concentration and required precise execution to be effective.

Eric and Erin sat at their laptops and noted the departure of the two vehicles from behind the storefront. They followed the team from traffic camera to traffic camera as they left downtown Southampton and drove toward Cal’s estate. Gus and Hans watched Felicity, Christoph and Natalia. Cal watched out the front windows of the estate from a darkened room. Stefan watched the side of the estate and Damon watched the back. Natasha and Cricket waited quietly in her bedroom in the middle of the house. They were on the other side and watched out a window. Eric yelled out as the two vehicles approached the estate.

The estate grounds were dark, as the big van pulled across the driveway and stopped. One of the team got out and mounted a large parabolic microphone on the roof of the van, while another set up a video camera on a tripod on the side of the van. Eric watched this activity with a great deal of amusement. Inside the van, one member of the team sat at a large panel tuning the microphone and video camera, recording everything outside. Two other team members walked down the driveway toward the main house. Erin observed their movement carefully and called out to Cal. The two members, as they got closer to the house, separated. The group inside the house felt the tension in the air, but blew it off. Everything proceeded as expected, it was under control.

Emily and Leo slipped around the side of the gate opening and walked the perimeter of the estate. They stayed in the shadows of the wall of trees moving very slowly toward the barn. A light glowed dimly over the barn door, which rendered the thermal imaging and infrared cameras useless. As they approached the barn, they moved just beyond its side and walked out to the wall of the barn. They followed the wall to the back of the barn and walked around the corner. No one in the house observed his or her movements. From the back of the barn, it was a very short distance to the house. Crouching low, they duck walked to the house. Still no one saw them. “This was too easy,” Emily thought.

Leo got onto the back patio and placed a small camera with a transmitter out of sight. He moved across the patio and placed another camera pointing at the back door. Earlier, Emily planted cameras along the front wall to monitor the front of the house. Leo moved to the very back corner of the patio and placed the last camera pointing at the garage and barn. He backtracked through his movements and left by the barn again. He depressed a button on his watch that signaled the team members in the front of the house to start their retreat. As they retreated, Emily and Leo followed them along the tree wall back to the gate area. Leo and Emily emerged from the trees, stood in the driveway and waved to the occupants of the house. Inside the house, Eric and Erin stood dumbfounded looking at the images in front of them. They totally missed Emily and Leo’s movements. There were holes in the camera coverage, which they had to report to the group. The equipment disappeared from the truck and it left slowly followed by the SUV with Leo and Emily. The penetration ended as quickly as it began. When the trucks appeared in the first traffic camera Eric yelled, “They are gone!” The group relaxed and met in the dining room to assess the operation.

Cal spoke first. “That seemed relatively harmless. I watched the two guys as they walked down the driveway and around the side of the house.”

Stefan reported, “They took pictures as they walked. Nothing else happened.”

Natasha and Cricket reported. “We saw nothing.”

Damon reported, “I saw no movement at the back of the house.”

Eric was last to report. He delivered the bad news. “We did not see anything on our monitors, but just before they left, Leo and Emily stepped from the shadows by the wall and waved. I got the feeling that they had walked around the estate totally undetected. We need to check the perimeter of the estate and adjust cameras and sensors. We need to plug the holes out there. The technicians, Erin and I will work through the night to fix everything. The rest of you go to bed and get some sleep.”

Eric and Erin with the help of the technicians refocused the cameras giving a broader view of the estate and grounds. They checked every camera and made sure they all functioned. The technicians made a sweep looking for new devices planted by the team. A continuous loop now ran in all the devices Emily and Leo planted. They completed the reprogramming and adjustments by morning.

Leo and Emily set up their laptops and watched the cameras planted the night before. They felt good about beating the group for once. Everyone slept soundly for the next eight hours. Leo and Emily left the storefront to get some sleep and clean up after a successful night.

Everyone knew the assault would come at night, so daytime meant spending time analyzing data collected. Cricket and Natasha went back to the offices of Wolf’s Head Oil. The investigation of the Wall Street oil investment firm continued in earnest. It was still a deep mystery. It had long tentacles, which stretched into and around Cricket’s life. Cal’s contacts pushed to find these investors. Cal’s phone buzzed. It was his former employer in Sweden. He found an obscure reference to the investors of the firm harassing Cricket. He faxed the article to Cal. The list of names was short, but very interesting. Over half the names belonged to former executive managers of Wolf’s Head Oil. The same managers Cricket disgraced when they failed to remove her from control in an earlier coup attempt. Cal immediately called and faxed Cricket the article. She took the article and quietly cursed, but thought long about what to do. These men where prominent in the oil industry and held power over the oil bought and sold in the United States. They controlled the oil flow. If they wanted, they could destroy any oil company in the world in a matter of hours. Cricket knew this and thought how to retaliate legally and stay in control. Earlier it took the talents of Stefan, Monica and Cal to defeat these men. What would it take now? She had no idea, but had a few new tools and technology at her disposal.

Gus and Hans watched Felicity and Christoph carefully. Natalia went with Stefan back to the storefront. The two newcomers worked in the kitchen making coffee and preparing for the night assault. They felt badly about leaving Emily and Leo, but were in no hurry to return. Cricket and the group treated them well and made them welcome. Hooking back up with Natalia made acceptance easier and switch sides. They wanted to fight, it did not matter whom.

Cricket called Cal. “Can you gather Stefan, Natalia, and Damon and join Natasha and me for lunch in my conference room? I will have lunch brought in. We need to evaluate this threat and formulate a response in kind to it. I want to end this quickly and do not care how much noise I make.”

“Sure, I will get right on gathering them. I will talk further to my friend in Sweden about these men. Maybe he can give me some insight to their weaknesses and how to take them down once and for all.”

“That sounds wonderful. We will see you here soon.”

“Natasha, we know a lot more now and I think we may need to enlist the aid of some computer professionals who are very discreet. Is there anyone here at Wolf’s Head we can trust?”

“Before I started seeing Damon, I spent a lot of time with two computer guys from here. They bragged a lot about hacking sites and potentially disrupting the flow of business at our competitors. I think they might jump at the chance to really wreak havoc on someone electronically.”

“Good, let’s invite them to lunch too.”

The group of six sat at the conference table finishing a good lunch. The two computer people were entertaining with tales of how they hack into sites all over the world. They go there to see if they can, not to disrupt anything. The group listened with rapt attention. They wanted to hear about these exploits. Cricket stood and the room went silent.

“As you know, I have been the object of an attack against the company and my personal life. The attack came from a group of former managers who tried to remove me from the CEO position. They have enlisted the assets of a company called Hooligans Ltd to attack me physically. Up until this morning, I did not know who they were. Thanks to Cal and his contacts we know who and where they are. It is time to fight back. I cannot ask you to risk your life for me, but would count it as a personal favor if you stood by me during this time.”

A murmur went through the assembled people in the room. To a person, they all accepted, even the computer professionals. Cricket smiled.

“Thank you. It is not going to be easy, but we can beat them now. The physical threat, we know about and have taken steps to handle. Tonight will be the showdown to see if that succeeds. The other threats have been in the company. Those are a little harder to quell, but we will put them down as they appear. Right now, we are solving one problem in the Gulf of Mexico. I am sure there will be others.”

Turning to the two computer professionals she asked, “Can you hack into their computers and find anything that we can use to put them out of business and render them harmless? I do not want to do anything blatantly illegal, but if we can gather information of an illegal nature and pass it to the right authorities, it would go a long way to ruin them yet again. These men are ruthless so I know they have not been totally above board in their dealings. They were behind the goings on in the Gulf. That is where I would start looking. Maybe they left a few crumbs implicating themselves. Also, look at the company as a whole. The only way they could get this big so fast has to be from some other shady deals.”

“We can get you whatever you want and need.” They replied with a bit of bravado. “When do we start?”

“Get started as soon as you get back to your desks. I would like to keep this work off our computer systems so if there is a broader investigation it cannot point at us. What would be ideal is to have it appear as if they have a whistleblower within their ranks. That will give them fits and turn them against themselves.”

“They will be hit hard from within. We will make them vulnerable and take them down. This looks like it will be easy.”

“OK, guys don’t get too cocky. We need to be very careful and covert, the fewer, who know of this the better.”

With that, the computer people left the conference room. The group sat there for a few minutes in silence. Cal looked over at Cricket and did not like what he saw. She looked run down and very frail. Recovery from the accident took a lot from her and still did. The others saw it too. Having Cricket run things was good, but she paid for it a little each day. The group needed a strong leader. Cal stood and walked to her side. When he got there, Cricket leaned into him for support. She sat slowly never letting go of him. Cal took over for her.

“I talked with my friend in Sweden on the way here. He told me that the group who runs the oil investment firm is very devious. They have been buying futures at crazy prices and selling them at a huge discount. This has put several smaller firms out of business. Wolf’s Head Oil seems to be the target of the group. So far, we have weathered the onslaught. Our non-oil business is keeping the company going and very profitable. Our stockholders are loyal and stand by us. That can change though. We need to be very careful with what we do in the future.”

Stefan hit the table with his fist. He released his anger in a long diatribe of expletives. Everyone looked at him and laughed. He laughed too. He said what everyone else thought. They needed that release to relieve the tension in the room. Cricket looked at him and smiled, mouthing a heartfelt “Thank You.”

Stefan said, “If we are done, I suggest we go back to the estate and get some rest in preparation for tonight’s attack. Cricket and Natasha can stay here to monitor what happens with the computer people.”

Natasha strongly protested. “No! We are coming back to the estate now too.” With that, the conference room emptied.

At the storefront, the level of activity increased. The team slept until noon. Shortly after they awoke, a very large heavy delivery came. It consisted of seven large wooden crates. The big van at the back of the storefront turned around and backed up against the door. The team filled the van with the contents of the crates. The team leader called Leo to tell him the shipment arrived and they loaded it into the van. Leo was pleased and called Emily with the news. Tonight was the night for the all out assault on Cal’s estate.

Emily and Leo met in the hotel bar for a celebratory drink, before driving to the storefront. Tonight promised to be a busy night. The survival of Hooligans Ltd hung on the outcome. If it failed, Leo, Emily, and the team died. If it succeeded, Hooligans Ltd became the U. S. campus of the Bard School. Leo kept this a secret from Emily. He wanted to reward her with the headmistress’s job upon success. He knew that Cricket and her group were under consideration too. Tonight meant a lot to Leo about his future and he wanted to win badly at any cost. Emily knew she had a chance of revenge against Cricket. That motivated her to keep going each day. She wanted to see Cricket fail. Cricket’s failure became the most important thing in her life. After the drink, Leo and Emily drove to the storefront and inspected the team and the preparations. They went into the storefront, gathered the team and reviewed the strategy for the assault. It was eight pm and the waiting began. The assault took place at one am.

Cal, Stefan and Eric walked the grounds of the estate checking the cameras, the garage and the barn. Everything was ready. The estate was in total darkness outside. The lights in the house burned brightly. They remained on until ten pm. Cricket and Felicity sat in her bedroom waiting. Cal and Christoph sat in the front part of the house. Stefan and Natalia sat on one side of the house ready for action. Damon and Natasha held the kitchen and the back patio. Eric and Erin set up in the dining room with Hans and Gus watching over it all. At ten pm, the lights went out. The estate was very dark and on high alert. No one moved inside and it was very quiet. At midnight, Eric saw the van load up with the team and move out followed by the SUV. The assault started. The next few hours determined the fate of both forces. The better force would inherit a lot. The losing force forfeited much more.

Time moved slowly as they waited. No one heard a sound except for the hoot of a lone owl in front of the house. The tension mounted and everyone sweated nervously. In the vehicles, tension was high, no one talked, not even a cough.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Cal Erickson, aka frogprince

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