He had been watching Wallace & Gromit while standing in his kitchen, cooking dinner with his wife, when the special broadcast came on TV. “We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for breaking news. A bombing has just occurred at the site of the former Millennium Dome, in London, during an environmental rally and live concert being hosted by Greenpeace.”
“Oh my God,” Stacy said. They rested their elbows on the counter.
“We now take you to Tina Hamilton, at the scene. Hi, Tina.”
“Good evening, Robert.”
“What can you tell us?”
“It’s speculated that the attack may have been in response to an appearance by German politician Kurt Stover, who has come under intense criticism from environmentalists and others recently for possible illicit ties to Russian natural gas tycoon Yan Rudenko and suspected Russian mafia boss Aleksie Chichelnitsky.”
“Tina. Any word on casualties?”
“Not much confirmed as yet, but I’m told by an official that casualties were relatively light. We do know of five people taken to the hospital and we have a report that this was for trampling related injuries. When the explosive device went off, people panicked, and then apparently, there may have also been gunfire, which just increased the panic. The victims are two adult males and three adult females. Two of the individuals, an adult male and an adult female, were airlifted to Saint Thomas Hospital, in critical condition.”
“Any word on whether anyone might have been shot?”
“The authorities haven’t clarified that at this time. It’s incredibly confusing down here.”
“All right, that’s Tina Hamilton reporting from the site of the former Millennium Dome, in London.” Leaning over the counter, Ashley looked around for his phone and when he didn’t find it, went into the bedroom. He found it on the bed and opened it. Its LED screen lit up.
Five minutes later, he was speaking to a man at Interpol. He had the number on speed dial.
By the morning, MI5 and the police had been over the site with a fine-toothed comb. As they worked, a man and a woman from the CIA looked on. It was a little redundant. Anything they found would go straight to Interpol anyway. The bomb had been in a black backpack, which had disintegrated. There hadn’t been any shrapnel though, aside from bits of a battery, which was odd. Dynamite, like the bomb in Spain. Preliminary chemistry was quite different but even so, by this point, there was little doubt the two were connected. Someone had set up a projector and played a video just before the bombing. And Stover was here, who had been the target of eco-activism before. No prints had been recovered from the projector, but miraculously, they’d found a lens cap nearby that fit it perfectly and did have fingerprints. They weren’t in their databases but they had e-mailed them to the FBI personnel at the American embassy and luckily, their records across the pond had contained a match. They belonged to an American who’d been fingerprinted by the Office of Personnel Management for an application to the NOAA Corps. One John Andrew Marshall. They had begun to review surveillance camera footage to see if they could spot him using his Facebook photos as a reference. Incidentally, those had also enabled them to confirm that he was the individual in the security camera footage obtained from the lobby of the lodge where Stover was first harassed.
Then there was the smartphone. It had been left with the projector, Tony Fitzpatrick, a man from MI5, told the lady and gentleman from CIA.
“There weren’t any fingerprints on it, and most of the memory was wiped recently, but we were able to recover some deleted files from a web browser, among them logins for Amazon.com and eBay.”
“You work fast,” the woman, Sonia, said.
“With terrorism involved, you bet your arse. We were able to recover the passwords as well.”
“What’s the account holder’s name?” she asked. “Is it Marshall?”
“No. Someone named Christine Martel. We found an address for her on Amazon in Paris and Police nationale checked it out about half an hour ago. Unfortunately, there was nothing there. Just a folding table. We thought perhaps the address was old but the owner of the apartment complex confirmed she was a current renter.”
“Did he copy her passport?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, the passport was fake.”
“Correct, but it’s not all bad news. The eBay account on the phone gave us something interesting.”
“She’s sold twenty nearly identical items over the last year, all to the same customer.”
“What were they?”
“Old CRT TV’s.”
“That’s right. They were shipped between one and ten months ago.”
Sonia smiled. It was a cold smile. “That is interesting. Who was her customer?”
“Someone in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We don’t have his full name, just his screen name, but FBI is on it.”
Sonia’s associate turned to her. “Beg your pardon, Sonia, but what makes TV’s interesting?”
“An old TV tube might have just enough space to transport something.”
Tony nodded. The younger man shook his head, embarrassed that he’d missed something so obvious.
“Don’t lose sleep over it,” she told him. She turned back to the MI5 man. “What about the call to Interpol?”
“It was from a reporter named Ashley Argile, with BBC. He says he knows how to contact the individuals who’ve been harassing Stover and was about to send them a tip regarding misuse of water resources at the same site in Spain. But he was out doing a story in Portugal when the attack took place. He never managed to contact them.”
“How do they communicate?”
“Interesting.” The CIA woman wasn’t surprised. Activists frequently used the Darknet.
“Do you know anything else about the group harassing Stover?”
“More or less what you know,” the man from CIA said. “Like Marshall, they appear to be young, roughly college age or early twenties. The media, as you know, are calling them Blackbody Six.”
“Eco-warriors. Just what the world needs.”
“Blame society,” Sonia said. The MI5 man smiled briefly. She sensed it was entirely for her benefit.
“Okay. Well, we’re going through the surveillance footage here. You’re welcome to hang around and observe but this sort’ve thing takes a while. If he came here by car, hopefully, we’ll eventually nail his license plate. If he was too smart to drive then perhaps we’ll get the next best thing, a look at his associates.”
“God willing,” Sonia said. Someone gestured to Tony.
“Excuse me a moment.”
Tony turned to walk away and Sonia directed her young associate to take a seat. Reaching into her pocket, she took out her encrypted cellphone to make a call to London Station. Glancing at her partner, she saw that he was a little antsy. It looked like FBI was going to get a lot of the action this crisis. She had a small facial tick that was her equivalent of a shrug and she made it now. That was how these things played out sometimes. Right now, their job was to liaise with MI5 and the police. Sean, her partner, was fresh off the boat on his first overseas assignment and so was understandably impatient. Plenty of excitement to look forward to in your life, kid, she thought. The computer on the other end of the line recognized her phone and accepted her password. A moment later, Barry Stevenson, an operations officer from Concord, New Hampshire picked up.