Out of Retirement Ch. 01byDinsmore©
"This one is fuel oil."
"How's it stored?"
"Hard to get to and even if you exploded something while swimming in it, the oil is not going to explode---floating cover prevents the buildup of flammable vapors. That stuff is not very volatile, relatively speaking. It'll burn, but they can pump it out from below and take away the fuel source of the fire. This one?"
"Natural gas, underground, retrofitted four years ago."
"Almost as unlikely to explode as the oil. New installation...probably has the latest safety protocols, security and fire suppression. Lighter than air...dissipates quickly. How about the third one?"
"Propane...old plant...above ground...due to be replaced in the next two years..."
"How many pounds?"
"Hold on. Millions and millions!"
"What does the plant he worked at use?"
"Propane and natural gas but underground, retrofitted in the last year or so."
"So with that plant planning an upgrade which his plant recently accomplished he could certainly come up with a rational to be visiting...maybe to consult on security---who knows? That's got to be the target. Look at the aerial map of the layout. It's surrounded by low end housing for as far as the eye can see. The plant is old---probably built before people understood that they could go to court and stop a plant from being built in their own backyard. The gas tanks are closer together than current standards would permit. If he sets a bomb on even one of those tanks---and from what I saw on his workbench he has more than one..."
"What about the nuclear trace detected on the work bench?"
Agent Wilson gave him the answer.
"Hell, that's not dirty bomb stuff. You could carry a few grams of that around in your backpack in a soup can for a week without any real danger. Every PC on earth has a little speck of it it...high quality time pieces...nope! That's part of the timing mechanism. Let's see if there is a file on here that gives us an idea of what kind of bomb or bombs he built...size...type of explosive."
Within a minute, Fred had found the file with the bomb plan. He studied it for another two minutes.
"One of you guys go over there to the work bench and count those inch long pieces of blue wire we saw."
"Damn! According to this schematic, that says five bombs---with roughly two pounds of reasonably high grade explosive for each one. Looks like military grade composition B---the stuff they used in older rockets, artillery shells, land mines and such. Sixty percent RDX and 40% TNT. Less TNT by far than C-4 but still damn lethal—hell, less volatile than TNT alone but with a bigger bang. The military started switching to less sensitive munitions back in the 1990s but there's a hell of a lot of Cyclotol still out there. Wait, there's another file link here."
Another sixty seconds of excruciating silence followed. Fred sat back from the computer screen with a start.
"There's where he plans to place four of the bombs. It's a perfect layout. The fifth one is essentially the igniter just in case the first four don't create enough carnage. Propane is heavier than air. He releases the gas with the first four bombs creating a low hanging cloud consisting of millions of cubic feet of Propane, then the fifth bomb sets it off---big, big boom! It'll look like a nuke going off and as close in and probably substandard as the housing around there appears---it'll have the same effect. That's why he needed super accurate timers. Death toll hard to compute...a hundred thousand?"
"Fred, how sure are you of this?"
"Guys, it's not my career on the line if I'm wrong but the facts we have add up to that site and---shit! He left the area around 2:20 AM---what's the Google™ map say is his estimated driving time?"
"Six hours and twenty-two minutes."
"Let's assume he wouldn't speed...needs at least one gas stop, maybe two...would want to check in to a motel, clean up, put on a suit or a pressed company uniform...maybe a cat nap in view of driving all night. Puts him in the general area by 9:00 A.M...a couple of hours to get cleaned up and maybe rest...is that a union operation?"
"Let me check...yes. Why is that important?"
"Lunch...mandatory breaks. He comes through the gate close to eleven. Look at the aerial view. There's a perimeter road that runs right through the tank farm. He's in a company uniform---has a company decal on his car. Pulls off the perimeter road---probably even turns on his flashers. Anyone asks why he is in a private car---some story about how the truck broke down and his boss told him he had to go anyway...not that anyone probably would ask. He's in and out of there in twenty minutes. He's not a suicide bomber...sets the timers to be damn sure he gets a couple of miles or more away before they go off but not so long that a rentacop starts getting curious. Damn! What time is it?"
"Okay...I don't see him as planning to go out in a blaze of glory...unlikely that he's driving along with a detonator in his hand. Must have figured he's a suspect in his mother's murder but doubts that law enforcement has put the pieces together this fast. "The bombs...in the trunk? Probably in some company toolbox. Need to take him down before he gets through that gate---we know he has a gun...can't let him get close to the tank farm. Even if he doesn't have time to place the bombs correctly, if he thinks it's over he will go out with a bang and do enough damage to kill a bunch of people. He's getting in his car...checking the time...he's heading for the gate...probably within twenty minutes or so at the outside."
The two agents looked at each other. The senior agent, Wilson made his decision and punched a single number into his cell phone.
"This is Special Agent Wilson. The target is a Propane gas tank farm at the power plant in______. Subject, one Brian Evans, white male, late twenties driving a 1998 Ford Taurus with a power company sticker and ID badge. Subject is armed with at least one 9 mil handgun and has multiple bombs with him, probably in the trunk. Once on the premises he presents an extreme hazard. Recommend all tactical teams proceed to that location immediately and attempt to take him down at the gate. He is almost certainly enroute and will arrive at the gate around 11:00 AM."
"No, sir. Yes, sir. Damn sure, sir...as sure as I can be. We're running out of time sir; the time estimates are an educated guess---he could already be there. Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." The phone call ended. Wilson turned to his two companions.
"It's going to be tight getting a response team to that gate on time. If he suspects something and bolts, he could set those bombs off someplace else---maybe without the same catastrophic effect but who knows. Low grade rental security at the gate. If we simply tell the local security to close the gate he'll know something is up. Fortunately as this scenario unfolded, I called and activated the tactical teams so they were rolling. You have to know that my superiors put too many eggs in the nuke plant basket. Two regular agents without tactical gear are within two minutes of that gate---but their tactical backup is thirty minutes out."
"So...we wait. Not much more to see here. I suppose the locals will let you know when your experts get here from Quantico. I need another cup of coffee and some food and my dogs are probably getting hungry. Let's go back across the street to my house."
Fred put on a new pot of coffee and toasted some fresh bagels. Eleven o'clock came and went. Fred turned on Fox News in the background, muting the sound. Just prior to 11:45, Agent Wilson's cell phone rang. It was a decidedly one-sided conversation ending with a simple, "thank you, sir." He turned to his colleagues.
"Brian Evans arrived at the gate a few minutes after eleven. He was taken completely by surprise. The local agents played it right, opening the gate and having the security guard---actually an agent dressed as one---approach so that he would have to roll down his window. When the second federal agent came out of the car behind him with his gun drawn, Evans appeared to be reaching for something under the seat---his 9 mil Glock™--- and he was shot four times. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead in the ER. He did in fact have five bombs with timers in a pair of tool boxes in the trunk which have since been disarmed."
"Well, that's good to know. I suppose it would have been nice to take him alive but he probably didn't really know anything. If there is any trail back up the chain of command, it's in that computer across the street. He was a splinter cell---a one man operation. I don't recall reading anywhere that we've run into those before---other than that moron with the exploding shoes. Kind of scary in terms of the force multiplier effect."
"Fred, I don't know how to thank you. If we'd used our traditional procedures, sure, we'd have eventually put all the pieces together---after the fact. You are as talented an intuitive investigator as I've ever seen work." Agent Wilson observed.
"A lot of years trying to walk in another man's shoes---and some luck. You and I both know there are any one of a number of places along the line where we could have read it wrong---and we'd have headed off down the wrong trail."
"We'll be in touch, Fred...we'll be in touch. Rest assured that I'm going to tell my bosses exactly how---and who---cracked this one. Hell, you'll probably get a medal...not that I sense you give a damn."
"You're right on that count. It was a pleasure working with you two. It renews my confidence in the current state of the FBI. Don't be strangers. Drop by any time."
As he was exiting the front door, Agent Wilson turned and spoke after his partner was out of ear shot. "What kind of writing do you do anyway, Fred?"
"Some call it erotic fiction but it's basically porn. Nothing terrible bizarre---no underage, family pets, barnyard animals, violence or anything like that. Just good old fashion heterosexual activity between consenting adults with a healthy dose of romance and a happy ending. I haven't figured out how to make any real money doing it. I enjoy writing it and a fair number of people seem to enjoy reading it. Let's keep that between us, if you don't mind."
"You bet. Take care, Fred."
"You too, Bill."
Edited by Techsan