We return to the hotel, but I decide to take my computer and go sit outside at a local restaurant that advertises wifi. MJ initially declines, but I assume he will show up later when he is hungry. After I obtain the wifi password form the waitress and order food, I send an email to Butch, followed by one to Amy McAdams, the computer expert at ITG. Amy responds that I should log onto chat almost immediately.
"I'm in a public place," I type into the text box.
"That's fine," Amy's text flashes, "Based on the information Butch gave us I've been able to get into the enclave's computer network."
"That's great news." I interject while waiting for more text to appear.
"I'll be giving you access to their network momentarily. The big thing for you is the cameras."
"Yeah, that's what I really wanted to know about." I send two seconds after she adds another line.
"There are several feeds, but most of them focus on the road coming up to the buildings or the building themselves."
"So you think there are blind spots?" I ask.
"I don't know you'll have to tell me. But there's some angels that don't seem to overlap with others."
"Cool, thanks a bunch Amy."
"No problem, just doing my job."
I log off of the chat as my food arrives. I begin by just eating, but I am too excited to not look at the computer feeds. My fork rests in my quarter eaten burrito as I search about the camera views Amy has given me access to. She's right the majority of the views focus on the road and the gas station, with a few on the dinner and mobile homes. There are six camera's which focus on the outside of a trap door and six focused on the inside, leading me to believe there are six entry and exit points. I gain precious little information about the underground bunk and its inhabitants. The cameras are meant to watch those outside the enclave not inside and there are relatively few underground shots. The hallways and a control or computer room are all pretty well watched, but only occasional vampires stalk the halls, the main living areas must be somewhere else. I observe no living humans. Outside, I notice a distinct lack of camera's on the opposite side of the hill from the gas station, there are two that clip opposite edges of the solar field, but based on the angles I gather they are about 90 degrees different in which direction they face leaving a broad blind spot.
This group is not expecting any sort of real threat I conclude after a while. They're concerned about turning away prying eyes, but not about any sort of offensive directed at the enclave. This will make our job much easier, but I wonder about it all the same. I finish my food, and return to the hotel room despite the lack of MJ.
When I get there he is watching TV and I show him the camera feeds we pull out a map and look through them more carefully, marking the locations we expect the cameras to be at and their field of vision and the location of the trap doors. We begin a rough sketch of the underground bunker based on the locations of the trap doors. By the time we finish it's nearly midnight, we both go to bed agreeing that tomorrow there's no rush. The plan for the next day is to do a little more reconnaissance on the back roads and confirm the camera range. We spend the next couple of days plotting out the cameras, each morning one of us drives up towards the area, taking back roads to avoid the main block of cameras and scoots along the hill. The other person stays back in the hotel and tries to give the scooter pointers on where the cameras might detect them. Unfortunately, the cell reception is crap up in this area and most of the suggestions do not get through. We manage to stay out of camera detection anyway, and by the time the Le gang is supposed to arrive we have plotted entry ways up to three of the six trap doors without being seen.
The Le gang arrives early on our fifth day in Santa Fe. They have rooms in the same hotel, but cannot check in right away so they come up to our room in the morning and we all go over the information MJ and I have collected. There are ten of them so the room is pretty packed. People sit on every available space.
"Thanks for coming everyone," MJ says with a charming smile. "I'm MJ, this is Laura, I've meet most of you, but she's meet none, can you all go around and say your names?"
A thin, well-muscled man stands up, "I'm Le, I suppose the only person here that might be news to is Laura." I crack a smile and the other's chuckle a bit. "I lead this band of merry men and women." Inside I frown a bit at that, I hope it does not imply he expects to lead me and MJ. In that he will be mistaken.
Another bigger man stands up, he wears a cowboy hat, blue jeans, and boots, making him the most conspicuous many places, but the least here, "I'm Matt. I suppose I'm as much second in command as anyone."
The woman next to him waves at me, but does not bother standing, setting a trend, "Jen, I handle most of the technology I suppose."
Xing, Allen and Jason are the next three men, they appear similar enough to be interchangeable to me, I nickname them JAX collectively in my head. Another woman, Yuan is memorable in being one of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, but was so stick think I could not imagine her being much use in a fight. The third woman is named Sara and the last to men, Lucas and Alejandro. Recognition stirs in my brain when I see Alejandro, but I cannot say where from.
I wave back at them all, "I'm Laura, I work for ITG like MJ." I consider making a joke, but conclude I am not funny enough to pull one off. "We appreciate you all being here and I'll let MJ fill you in on the details."
MJ nods at me accepting the floor, "Right, we're looking at an enclave that's believed to be about 250 vampires strong. We have access to their camera system." He waves to his laptop which is sitting out and Jen slides off the bed and into the chair in front of it. My hand twitches, I dislike sharing our information, but I picture no move to take the vampire enclave will involve keeping the Le group completely in the dark and away from our computers. "Most of the cameras are set to watch the road in and out of the area so we have very little idea of their actual living conditions. It's an underground bunker with six trap doors as entry points, they are all accessible without running across a camera line of sight." MJ motions to the map of the area we had made and Le grabs it off the table to show to the rest of the group.
One of the JAXs shakes his head at it, "They're not expecting an attack at all by the layout, it should be easy pickings. I thought ITG didn't go in for whole sale slaughter, not that I mind." he muttered the last bit and I doubted MJ or Le could hear him.
"We don't," I replied, "but this group has shown some dangerous tenancies. They're a part of a drug smuggling ring and one was the assassin in that strange case in Mexico you may have heard of."
The JAX, possible the A, shrugs back at me, "Whatever you have to tell yourselves." The comment makes him rise slightly in my estimate; perhaps I will try to relearn his name later.
Another JAX wrinkles up his face in disgust, "So that's when you're lot makes a move against these things? Once they've already committed crimes against humanity? With all you’re cataloging you could take every little thing out in a year I be."
"Enough," Le's tone cuts through the man's looming rant, "we're not here to discuss politics, let's deal with the situation at hand."
The man defers to Le, I expect this gang of hunter's is not as violent as the other's entirely because of Le. Some of the other members might be blood thirsty hounds, but I sense Le has a purpose to him that leads to a specific desired result every time he takes action. I study him out of the corner of my eye, the man has the attitude and charisma to be a CEO or a president I realize, what's he doing here?
The man acts deferentially to Le, I expect this gang of hunter's is not as violent as the other's entirely because of Le. Some of the other members might be blood thirsty hounds, but I sense Le has a purpose to him that leads to a specific desired result every time he takes action. I study him out of the corner of my eye, the man has the attitude and charisma to be a CEO or a president I realize, what's he doing here?
"One last, technicality before we go any further." Le raises a finger to stop the proceedings all his men turn their eyes to him, "We'll be taking any contraband found at the site. Drugs, guns, whatever they happen to have to smuggle."
I make eye contact with MJ, he is surprised, but hiding it well. "Fine." I say, "I have a demand as well." Le also disguises surprise well, but some of the others not so much, "We need to take back a body, preferably a body that's actually dead. This doesn't involve anything special from you lot, just stay out of our way at the end of this and we'll stay out of yours.”
Le cracks a wary smile, "Agreed." This is not the best deal I have ever made in my life. I do not like that I will be walking a away from the site with a corpse, nor do I like that Le's group will be walking away with drugs; however, all the previous ITG reconnaissance on the site suggests that the drugs are not kept there. Unless the Le group gets lucky they will be leaving with nothing, I comfort myself with that thought.
"Right returning to the business at hand then." MJ brings our attention back to him, "Everyone here has dealt with vampires before correct?" No voices contradict him. "Has anyone not encountered vampires." MJ's hand wobbles feebly in the air as a demonstration, nobody mimics him. "Good than. This lot has access to essentially doped up human blood, thanks to their partners in crime. It defiantly has erythropoietin, an over higher red blood cell count than normal, more steroids." The eyes of several of Le's men glass over, and MJ notices."Anyway the point is they won't be as corpse like as most vampires. This lot should actually put up a fight."
Yuan cocks her head to the side, "How much of a fight?"
"We won't know until we're in there," MJ answers, "More than we'd expect, but less than they would. Our computer team has accessed their network from what we gathered from their talk they are significantly weaker than what they were promised, most are much weaker than they were as living humans, but they’re not barely living corpses either."
"They won't have the blood hunger when they attack either though, that's good for us." Yuan adds a contemplative expression spreading on her face. I never knew a name for it, but I assume what she calls the blood hunger is the terrifying bull rush enacted by a vampire when it has starved into the corpse state and a living mammal comes upon it. The things will shoot out like lightening and attach themselves to the living until they are drained of blood, it appears to be a reflex and is the most deadly attack any vampire can mount.
"Anyway we are still going to be outnumbered, about twenty five to one." MJ continues, "Our plan is this," he turns to the map and points to each trap door, "These three are the hardest to get to, the plan is to station one person at each, at a marked time two people will put explosives down these two, simultaneously we'll knock out the cameras on the inside and outside of each remaining trap door. After a minute the third trap door will be bombed. The remaining people will be clustered around the other three trap doors and we'll enter after the first bombs."
Le cuts him off shaking his head, "I think it would be better if we bombed all the doors to knock out as much infrastructure as possible."
"Do we have enough explosives?" I ask Le.
"Ah, I see." He jerks his head up, "Yes, we do. We have several pounds of demolition grade explosives, enough to bring the whole place down like a tomb actually. Neither of us seems to want that, however, and it would not guarantee the the vampires were all dead anyway. Lucas will be in charge of the explosives, he'll weigh them out to cause maximum destruction with minimum collapse. We have an array of guns as well, I am sure you'll find a weapon you like." I doubt that statement and conclude I will make a trip to buy a baseball bat and crowbar at the first opportunity.
The conversation continues on in this vein for quite some time. We break at one in the afternoon, the Le's check into their rooms and we all scatter to get lunch, vowing to regroup around two or two-thirty. After a brief conversation with MJ, I prepare to go acquire my baseball bat. I run into Lucas, Alejandro and two JAXs on my way out, their room is only a few doors down from ours. When I tell them were I am going, Alejandro elects to come with me.
"I could use some rope." Alejandro says as we climb in the car. "If there is a thing that ever comes in handy in a tight spot it's rope or maybe duct tape. I'll get some duct tape too."
I snort at this. "Where are you from originally?" I am still trying to place him.
A bit of surprise flashes on his face, "Torrance, same as you. I knew your brother. I was at his funeral."
He pauses before adding the last bit, "I wondered where I'd seen you before."
Alejandro shifts uncomfortable, "I would have graduated high school with your brother. I liked him he was a good guy."
I notice he does not say it was a tragedy my brother died so young, but then no one who know my brother has ever said that to me, and calling him a good guy was a bit of a stretch. I take his sympathy for what it is worth and move the conversation on, "So how'd you get in with Le's group. How'd you become a paranormal hunter."
A roaring peel of laughter rips from him, than he sighs and tugs one side of his shirt showing a tattoo. I glance at it guessing what I would see, my brother had the same tattoo. "I tried to get out for a good long while," Alejandro says, "There was never much of a way out for me. It's not like I could go get a decent job, but a few years back we started having problems with, you know, things that weren't human. Anyway, Le's group had always been part of a more organized underground, we got in contact with them to take care of the situation and they tried to recruit a few of us. I volunteered, I'm not exactly out now, but my life expectancy has probably gone up. Nobody really bothers us, Lucas, Sara and me, unless there's a problem back home, and then we deal with that. Occasionally we'll bring in hauls like this one, and that's considered good enough."
I understand, this life is not an improvement for most people, but Alejandro was likely in a situation that could not get much worse.
At the store we separate, I find a baseball bat, crowbar, and a good, heavy hammer. After a minute of debate I pick up a tool belt too. I expect a comment from the cashier, but she does not even give my items a second look. Alejandro is waiting for me with his rope and duct tape.
Upon returning to the car he asks, "You prefer hand to hand."
I nod, "I don't like guns or gunpowder, or explosives for that matter. I've never been on a job that could be traced back to me so easily."
Alejandro grins at that, "I'll tell Lucas to keep the explosives in our room than."
When I return, MJ is the only one in our room even though it is nearly two. "I've been thinking." I say to him, "When this is over I'll take the vampire body and rental car and just leave straight away for Butch's. You get a ride back with this lot, than take the earliest flight out."
"Fine. I'll admit I'm not to psyched about staying with these guys if they plan to have as much illegal crap as I think." MJ agrees.
When the others arrive I run the suggest past Le, he shrugs agreement without insult, and MJ books his flight out and calls the rental car company to inform them of where and when the car will be turned in. We spend most of the evening ironing out the details of our plans. Nobody wants to stay here too long, the attack is set for the next morning, we all agree to leave the hotel at three in the morning to arrive at about five, and we should all be in place by sunrise if everything goes off without a hitch.