Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 14

Chapter Fourteen

Hector had devised the simplest of plans to gain access to Waterbury Enterprises.  All large companies needed routine pest control maintenance.  His team members had acquired uniforms of a local company and painted two vans with emblems from a respectable exterminator.  Hector was gambling that the normalcy of day to day operations would work in his favor to gain access.  Most large companies became lax with regards to daily operating procedures, falling into a deadly sense of security due to the routine.  It had worked for him in the past and he was hoping it would work now.  No matter how sophisticated a security system or surveillance measure, a business or corporation still had to function.  Garbage had to be removed, lawns maintained and pest control had to be addressed.  Plus, the exterminator company he was using as a cover was the one that serviced Waterbury Enterprises.  If his contact was accurate, Waterbury Enterprises was due for their monthly spraying.

The assassins had divided into three teams.  Hector and two members would gain access through a side entrance door.  Two others would make a direct approach through the front entranceway and the last two would access the rear.  If the blueprint they had studied was correct, they had to go down three floors to Shirley’s office.   The diagram had been a maze of intersecting corridors and offices and they had committed them to memory.

Hector parked the van on the edge of the road next to the side entrance.  His two men immediately placed red cones to the rear of the vehicle to alert on-coming traffic.  Next they each grabbed what appeared to be a pest control high pressure exterminating system.  The bottle and hose assembly actually carried the nerve gas they were going to administer to the occupants.  Inside their jacket was a gas mask to shield them from the deadly chemicals.

The side entrance was locked and Hector waited for his men to breach the door.  There was no need to try and gain access which would activate the electronic lock.  Their assault was based on timing and surprise.  Glancing at his watch, Hector motioned for his two accomplices to get ready.  Everyone would move in exactly two minutes.  If they stayed to schedule, Shirley Waterbury would be dead in less than three minutes. 

After walking Shirley to her office, Dustin Zane had turned her over to security at Waterbury Enterprises.  He preferred to accompany her to work and did not trust anyone to handle the head strong CEO early in the morning.  Shirley had a habit of doing the unexpected.  Dustin Zane smiled to himself as he acknowledged just how unpredictable she could be.

He had agreed to meet a prospective employee over lunch at Whiskers and Wings.  The young man had an impressive resume and Dustin Zane wanted to interview him for a position on Shirley’s personal staff.  To have a highly trained and mobile security staff required constant training and an abundance of personnel.  Members were always leaving for other assignments and with the company growing, new opportunities were developing.  Hopefully the interview would be successful for all concerned.

Dustin Zane slipped the key into his Harley Davidson motorcycle and listened as the engine roared to life.  The distinctive sound of the motor was reassuring to him and he enjoyed riding the bike whenever he could.  Easing out of his driveway, he accelerated towards Whiskers and Wings, his dark sunglasses glued over his eyes, his large body looking like it belonged on the huge two wheeled craft.

Rounding a bend in the street, Dustin Zane immediately slowed.  A pest control maintenance van parked on the edge of the road next to the side entrance at Waterbury Enterprises caught his attention.  It was the name of the last insect exterminator he had used.  The problem was that company no longer had a contract with Waterbury Enterprises.  To limit outside businesses access to the interior of the building, Dustin Zane had asked for the custodial staff to take over pest control duties.  Not only had it been a cost savings, but sensitive documents in the research section did not have to be hidden from outside eyes.  From a security perspective it made sense.

Slowing, Dustin Zane eased over to the van.  A solitary man was standing near the rear of the vehicle and looked at Dustin Zane as he approached.  The man went back to working on a small plastic container next to his feet, but he reached up with his left hand and unzipped the top part of his overalls.  Why would he do that?  It was still relatively cool and there was a breeze blowing.  Unless…..

Deciding to force the issue, Dustin Zane revved his bike and sped directly toward the man.  The man’s response was instantaneous.  Dropping the plastic pump sprayer, he reached inside his overalls to pull out his gun.  A large nosed automatic with a menacing silencer could be seen.  The man was dropping into a combat stance as he turned to face Dustin Zane.

Before the assassin could bring his weapon up to bear on the irate security chief, Dustin Zane was upon him.  Using his left foot he kicked the man in the chest as he skidded to a stop, knocking the man back and down.  As the gunman clawed to his feet, he found Dustin Zane had pulled his weapon and two quick rounds from the Colt 45 revolver threw the killer over a low row of hedges.  Not bothering to check and see if the man was dead, Dustin Zane slammed the throttle down on the Harley and tore off for the entrance to Waterbury Enterprises.

Rounding the corner to confront the glass doors forming the front of Shirley’s massive office complex, Dustin Zane gunned the engine and the bike stood up on its rear wheel, screaming in protest as it shot for the entrance.  Not waiting on the electronic proximity detector to open the doors, Dustin Zane impacted the glass with such force that it sprayed fragments all over the lobby.  The bike slid across the highly polished floor as the large man fought the wheel to keep control.

The two assassins had split up in the lobby.  One had taken the elevator to the lower level to join his comrades.  After shooting the security member assigned to the lobby, the second killer had remained behind and taken the receptionist hostage to keep up the appearance it was business as usual.  He had been caught off guard by Dustin Zane’s entrance and his momentary lapse was his demise.

Once again the Colt 45 found its target and the man was slammed against the wall, two bright crimson holes in his chest.  Yelling to the receptionist, Dustin Zane aimed for the elevators.

“Let me in!  Call Slade, Bubba and June!  Alert staff!  MOVE!!” screamed Dustin Zane, propelling the bike into the elevator and punching ‘3’ on the control panel.  Flipping open the cylinder on his revolver, he reloaded the weapon.  He was hoping he was on time and not too late.  Shirley!  It had to be Shirley they were after.  The stock purchase had flushed out the suitor…Dustin Zane let his thoughts trail off.  Now was not the time to worry about such details.  He needed to act. 

The elevator hissed to a stop and the doors silently opened.  Slamming the throttle down, the Harley roared out of the tiny shaft and Dustin Zane aimed it down the hallway, a two wheeled missile with an angry man at the controls.  Directly in front of him was a man wearing a gas mask and holding a silenced weapon.  Some type of airborne chemical!  Inhaling deeply, Dustin Zane held his breath and brought his bike up onto one wheel.  As the killer turned, Dustin Zane shot him at point blank range.  Pausing as he drew abreast of the man, he pulled the mask from the dead man and slipped it on.  Shirley’s office was around the corner.  Gunshots!  The killers had made entry!

Throwing caution to the wind, Dustin Zane accelerated the motorcycle down the hallway, the sound of the engine reverberating off the walls was deafening.  Sliding around the corner to Shirley’s office he saw the door had been blown.  More gunshots!  Time was running out.

Slade and Katherine had stopped by to see Shirley.  They had taken the place of her parents and they would routinely engage the young CEO in conversation to see how she was doing and to keep an eye on her ‘mental’ health.  She was very busy and had a habit of not taking time to slow down and re-charge her batteries.  A lot had happened to the young woman during the last two years and they wanted to make sure she knew she had two people who loved and cared for her.  Today the conversation had turned to Slade and Katherine’s engagement and it was obvious Shirley intended to be a large part of the extravaganza.  Honeymoon plans had been discussed and both Katherine and Slade had settled on Tahiti as the destination.  The length of stay was being debated. 

All had seemed normal until the outer door to Shirley’s office exploded.  Shirley’s personal secretary had screamed and then gone silent.  Slade was already on his feet and moving.  The spit he had heard was made by a silencer and he directed Shirley and Katherine to a recessed part of the office.  There was a rear door to the suite, but if these men were professional enough to blow the outer door, much less gain access to the building, they would have the rear exit covered.  Slade removed his Beretta 92F, but not before telling Shirley to call Bubba and June.  That was all he had time to say until the inner door exploded.

Slade watched as the two henchmen came in low, hooking to either side of the opening.  They were both wearing gas masks and Slade saw that one of them was carrying a spray bottle activated by a pump and dispensing nozzle.  That was the first one Slade sited on and he dropped the man where he was standing.  Before he could relish the small victory, two more men sprinted into the room, all firing in Slade’s direction.  The ex-LAPD Deputy Chief immediately returned fire, pinning the remaining three gunmen down near the entrance.  Slade was outnumbered and knew they would start their assault soon, flanking to either side to exploit his position.  There was no way he could cover all angles.

Hector motioned for his men to hurry.  It had never been his primary plan to blow the office doors.  Pedro had remained in the lobby, but had enough time to broadcast he had been shot.  But by whom?  Hector thought he had heard the roar of a motorcycle in the hallway.  Right after that he had heard gunshots – the distinct sound of a revolver.  Dustin Zane!  How had he figured it out?  No time to speculate.  The target was in the room and they had to move.

Hector moved along the far wall and eased toward the last place he had seen the man fire his weapon.  It was an automatic and sounded like a 9mm.  That meant Slade Lockwood, the ex-LAPD cop, was in the room.  Surgically Hector and his team moved forward, alternating gunfire to keep Slade pinned down.  It was messier this way, but soon the occupants would be dead.

The roar of the motorcycle caused him to turn around.  Bursting through the doors was Dustin Zane on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a long barreled Colt 45 searching for a target.  The young French member of his team rose from behind cover and Dustin Zane killed him where he stood, a single gunshot to his head.  Hector sited on the large man and fired, smiling to himself when he saw he had hit the large man in the left shoulder, partially knocking him from his bike.

Slade saw Dustin Zane when he entered, but did not have time to yell the killers had split up.  When Hector fired on Dustin Zane, Slade left cover and advanced, laying down a stream of fire.  The first round caught Hector in the chest knocking him against a table and causing him to fall toward Slade.  The next three rounds finished what the first had started and Hector landed face forward on the carpet.

A round whizzed past Slade’s head and he ducked and turned all in one motion.  The third member had moved to intercept Slade.  Firing quickly, Slade’s burst of gunfire stopped the assassin from advancing and he started to return fire.  Dustin Zane had regained his balance on the motorcycle and brought his gun up on target.  Simultaneously he and Slade opened fire and the killer was felled in his tracks.  Swiveling his head from side to side, Dustin Zane glanced at Slade.

“No more in here!” yelled Slade.

“One dead outside and one in the lobby,” replied Dustin Zane.  “Have you contacted Bubba and June?”

“Yeah, Shirley called them.  We need to move.  I don’t know if they had time to dispense any of that stuff,” Slade had motioned toward the spray pump.

“Agreed.”  Dustin Zane had removed his gas mask and now slipped it back on.

Slade moved forward, grabbed a mask from the nearest killer and obtained two more masks from the last two assassins.  Retrieving Shirley and Katherine from their hiding place, he quickly fitted the masks over their faces and adjusted the fit.  No need to take a chance.  Some of the chemical could have leaked out and if it did, then they needed to be prepared. 

Slade marveled at how well the two women were holding up.  Both were frightened, but there were no tears or hysterics.  Without question they followed him as he joined Dustin Zane who was still astride the motorcycle.

“Get on,” ordered the security chief.  Both women slipped on behind him.

“Take them to Professor Johansen’s lab.  As soon as I hook up with Bubba and June I’ll join you.”  Slade slammed a new magazine into the butt of his weapon.  “You okay to drive?” asked Slade, glancing at the blood on the man’s shirt.

“Yeah.  I’m fine.”

Without another word, Dustin Zane spun the bike around and was gone.  Katherine glanced back at Slade but he was already moving to the rear door of Shirley’s office, his gun held low, his eyes searching for any more intruders.

Just as Slade reached the rear door to Shirley’s office the sound of gunshots could be heard.  The distinctive sound of a shotgun echoed through the walls and small arms fire came dully to him, muffled somewhat by the thick walls. 

Opening the door, Slade peered into the hallway.  Two dead men were crumpled on the floor and a dozen guns were trained on Slade.  Bubba and June were at the front of the security forces for Waterbury Enterprises.  Removing his gas mask, Slade stepped forward, slipping his weapon back into his holster.

“Shirley and Katherine okay?” queried Bubba, walking with the aid of a cane as his injured leg would not allow him to go too fast.

“They’re fine.  Dustin Zane has taken them to Professor Johansen’s lab.  He said he killed one outside by the side entrance on the east.  We need it checked,” ordered Slade, his tactical mind evaluating possible scenarios.

“Take three of the men and start a perimeter search.  I need the rest to divide and start a search of the interior and I want constant communication.”  Bubba had motioned to key members of the staff as he barked the orders and they moved within seconds to carry out his demands.

“These two men are ours.  New hires.”  Slade looked over the two dead bodies in the corridor. 

“I know.  They came highly recommended.”  June kicked the guns from their hands.

“Let’s join Dustin Zane.  By the way, he’s been hit.  I don’t think it’s too bad,” said Slade, starting off down the hallway.  Parked about fifty feet from Shirley’s door was an electric golf cart.  Waterbury Enterprises was so expansive the golf carts were used to navigate the maze of hallways.  Jumping onto the rear seat Slade waited for Bubba and June to get aboard.  June turned the cart around and they sped off for Professor Johansen’s lab. 

The two security men outside the lab had their weapons ready and were aiming down the hallway.  They lowered the guns and opened the doors as they recognized Slade and company.  June stopped the golf cart just inside the entrance.  Professor Johansen and his staff were wide-eyed and nervously kept looking around.  Harry Sloan was also in the room, his personal body guard assigned by Dustin Zane standing nearby.  Dustin Zane was having his shoulder addressed by two members of the Professor’s staff.

“The rest of the security staff is searching the main complex and doing a perimeter check.” Slade spoke to Dustin Zane as he moved up next to him.  “Did it go all the way through?”

“Yeah.  Didn’t see the other guy.  Thanks.”

“You came in too fast and I couldn’t warn you.  What tipped you off?” asked Slade.

“The pest control company.  I terminated their contract after last month’s spraying.  It made it easier from a security perspective.  But I did not have time to inform everyone associated with security.  That oversight may have saved our lives or the two insiders would have alerted the assault team.”  Dustin Zane winced as a member of the staff pressed gauze against his flesh to stem the flow of blood.

“You need to go to the hospital,” instructed Bubba, flipping open his cell phone and calling another member of the security staff.

“Not until I’m sure we have this perimeter locked down,” replied the angry security chief.  It was obvious he was taking the breach of Shirley’s headquarters personally.

“We have Bubba, June and Slade here.  They can handle the….the security stuff,” said Shirley.  “You will go to the hospital, but with security for you as well.”  Shirley smiled when she saw Bubba nod his head in agreement.

Before anyone could say anything, the doors to the lab burst open and members of the security team breezed inside, accompanied by law enforcement and paramedics.  Dustin Zane spoke first, even as the EMT staff moved to take over the doctoring of his shoulder.

“How many are dead?”

“We lost four members of our staff and the temporary assistant filling in for Ms. Waterbury’s secretary was killed.  From what we can tell, there were only seven from the outside.  I have activated security level Prism per your protocol.”  The young man turned and spoke quickly to two other team members, who left to carry out further orders.  “Per your pre-arranged instructions, all security decisions will be funneled to Bubba.  By the way, we had two traitors on our staff.  They were assaulting the back door to Shirley’s office. They were the last two you hired.” 

Dustin Zane nodded his approval.  He had settled on ‘Prism’ as the name for the highest level of security.  The entire security shield needed to be transparent and internally visible for each team member to function effectively while instituting a cohesive plan to deal with a breach in safety.  Based on the three prong security approach of communication, coverage, and flexibility, his highly trained staff would be able to adapt to changing scenarios.

“I knew there was something about them I didn’t like.  There file was too precise, too perfect, but their references checked out.”  Dustin Zane let his voice trail off, his brow wrinkled in thought.

“Don’t worry about it now.  We’ll clean it up later.”  Bubba turned to the staff and started to give orders. 

Without another word, Dustin Zane allowed himself to be placed on a stretcher and two members of his team followed him out the door. 

“We have it from here,” said Slade, giving Dustin Zane the thumbs up.

“I’m gonna be busy for a few hours.  I know the police will want to talk to us all.  Shirley, I would suggest you use your secondary office or the conference room as your headquarters until this can all be resolved.”  Bubba looked over at June and Slade.

“I’ll stay with them.”  Slade slipped his arm around Katherine. 

Harry Sloan walked slowly up to Shirley. “This was a bad idea on my part, Shirley.  Dustin Zane was right.  The suitor was not beyond killing you.”  Harry wrung his hands in frustration and fear.

The young CEO, though scared as well, reached out her hand and placed it on his shoulder.  “Nonsense.  People like this will stop at nothing.  Your actions were the right ones.  We need to sort through what went wrong.”  Shirley forced a smile across her face.  She then turned to face Bubba, walked up to him, and very softly addressed the older man.  “I fought your suggestion when you wanted to upgrade security and I complained when you hired Dustin Zane.  I will never debate or contest your security recommendations again.  Thank you.”  Shirley stepped forward and kissed Bubba on the cheek. 

Bubba patted the young CEO on the back and nodded his head.  This time it had been real close.  Too close.

“We need to move.  Let the professionals do their job.”  Breaking the moment, Slade took Shirley and Katherine by the arm and directed them out the door.  Four security members were in attendance.

Slade’s mind was racing.  Who had the money and the courage to order a contract on Shirley Waterbury?  She was the richest woman in the world.  Was this all over a pharmaceutical company?  As they walked quietly, a knot in the pit of Slade’s stomach was telling him there was more at stake than a hostile take-over.  A lot more.

Read Chapter Fifteen