Tuesday 19 February 2013
Papers and files flew from the desk and were shortly followed by a Swarovski crystal paperweight, which landed inches from the opening office door. Terence Blackwood was not a happy man and his personal assistant, Dale Austin, was going to have to deal with his rage.
‘Thank you, Mr. Blackwood, but I’m not a fan of having crystal embedded in my body.’ Austin was the only member of staff who could get away with such a comment. Despite seeing him as a personal slave, Blackwood had a soft spot for his assistant. Austin was the only person in the company who would stand up to him; he was the only person who would discuss with Blackwood the hard stuff. For that, Blackwood had to respect the young man.
‘I’m sorry, Austin. Would you mind retrieving that for me and picking up my mess?’
Dale Austin didn’t have a choice in the matter if he wanted to keep his job, so he promptly picked up the crystal paperweight and ferreted around for the papers, piling them back on Blackwood’s desk.
‘Anything I can help you with, Mr. Blackwood?’ he asked. The head of Blackwood Research and Development considered the offer. Austin, practically standing to attention in front of him, knew to give the man his space and wait for the next instruction. It came as a shock.
‘Yes, there is. Contact General Clayton Darnell at the Pentagon for me. Put him through as soon as he’s on the line. And contact Verity Flynn. Tell her that I want copies of everything that her team has salvaged emailed through to me immediately. Send it via my secure email and then she’s to destroy her copies and wait for further instructions.’
Austin noted down all of Blackwood’s instructions, turned on his heels and left the office. He returned to his own desk where he placed a call through to the Pentagon. General Darnell was immediately connected with Blackwood.
‘What can I do for you, Terry?’ the gruff voice of the five star General boomed down the phone line.
‘Facility Five has gone catastrophic.’ Blackwood’s reply was concise and told Darnell everything he needed to know.
‘Waiting for it to be emailed through. I’ll contact you again when it arrives. Shouldn’t be more than an hour,’ said Blackwood as he surveyed the world below him through his office window.
‘Is everything in hand?’ Now the General was getting to the real point of the call.
‘It was, but someone in the team is thinking outside the box on this. I strongly suggest Hawkwind is put into effect.’
The line went quiet. Blackwood, feeling a little nervous for the first time since he was an intern at his father’s side, strained to hear if Darnell was having a second conversation with anyone. He flinched ever so slightly when Darnell exhaled.
‘I’ll authorise Hawkwind. When you receive the salvaged information, you call immediately and Hawkwind will commence.’
The line went dead before Blackwood could reply. This had been his biggest deal with the military, and he’d guaranteed Darnell that it would not fail. His word, his guarantee was now worthless – Facility Five had failed, and in such a public and grand way. He wondered if the corporation would be able to survive such devastation.
* * * * *
Austin made a short video call to Verity Flynn who was, evidently, still at ground zero. The woman sneered when he passed on Blackwood’s instructions. She’d never been pushed along by Blackwood or his assistant at any site before today, and viewed the updated instructions as a slur against her name and her ability to get the job done. Failing was not something that she was accustomed to. Bitterly, she replied to Austin.
‘As he wishes. I’ll begin the process presently. It shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes.’
She disconnected the video call and stormed off to find her notebook computer, sure that it was somewhere in the SUV. Noticing that the car was not where she had earlier parked it, she stormed over to Gus Portland.
‘Where the fuck is the car, Gus?’
‘Thoms,’ he said startled, ‘I told Thoms to take it. She shouldn’t be long now.’
‘Fucking call her on her cell and tell her to drop whatever she’s doing and get her ass back here. I need my computer and it’s in the back of the fucking car,’ she snapped.
Gus nodded, pulled his phone from his inside jacket pocket and dialled Hilary Thoms’ number. She answered in three rings.
‘Thoms, get back here now. Flynn needs her computer. It’s in the back of the car. How did you go with following up that lead?’
‘On my way, Gus. You should be able to see me now,’ she replied. Gus looked around him and finally saw the black SUV driving back towards ground zero.
‘The lead?’ he repeated.
‘No luck,’ Hilary replied.
* * * * *
General Clayton Darnell strode from his office to a nearby conference room, two Majors in tow. The Pentagon was a busy place and no one would look twice at a five star General and two Majors commandeering a conference room.
‘What’s the problem, Clay?’ asked the taller of the two Majors.
‘Facility Five is off the table. Hawkwind needs to be prepped.’ Darnell watched as both of his juniors’ faces turned ashen.
‘But the ramifications of Hawkwind –’ started the second Major.
‘I know what the ramifications of Hawkwind are, George. Just get your team together and prep it. Make sure that we’ve got the best media team on board. I want all forms of media covered, traditional and social. We need to quash this before anything gets out into the public. Well? What are you waiting for? MOVE!’
When the Majors had left the conference room in search of their respective teams, Clayton Darnell, a forty-year veteran of military service, slumped into the nearest chair.
‘Hawkwind is going to be a bitch to explain to the public. Blackwood, you asshole, I’ll have you up before a Senate hearing over this.’
The world as General Darnell and Terence Blackwood knew it was about to change. Drastically.
. . . To be continued . . .