Had time to knock out the third part while sitting here. I figured that might make soem happy.
Finish Part II first though, it makes no sense otherwise.
Read and enjoy.
BRIGHT LIGHTS: PART III
The lodge was built with fifteen occupant rooms for people to rent. It also boasts a small bar, the Park Rangers office, a small infirmary, (just in case), a kitchen and three other offices used during the off seasons. There is also a main meeting room that holds about seventy-five people, for groups to rent for business meetings, weddings, and whatever. Rounding off the building is three attached storage rooms for chairs, tables, supplies and everything that isn't being used, depending on the season.
The little kitchen in the lodge wasn't meant for any kind of large gathering. It does suffice for the small groups of hunters that make reservations for the lodge during the various hunting seasons. But it wasn't meant for cooking any main meals held at the lodge. Those were catered. Corson's men made due with the limited facilities here, though they did fill in the rest of the lodge. Good thing it was an off season.
Corson made short work of making grilled cheese sandwiches and taking liberty of a huge pot of chili simmering on the stove. Rounded off with a fresh coffee, it wasn't a bad meal on short notice.
One question bugged me since the mention of "The Stano's" hall and I asked what happened to the staff after the police left.
"Well, after sending the police on their way, we explained to the staff that the spider was part of a zoological loan. And that the "donating" country would be very unhappy to find out their prize had gotten loose and killed. So, for the sake of international goodwill, they weren't allowed to talk about it. That we needed to build better relations with the "donors" and this leaking out would do some serious damage."
"What about the girl who was bitten?"
"The venom isn't fatal, unless you're allergic to it. She isn't. But she is in one of our hospitals receiving anti-venom treatments. It is a paralytic after all. And, we are also "persuading" her, it didn't happen the way she remembers."
"It will be awhile before she is released. But, she will go home, and back to work, once she is...well enough."
Frankin didn't like the pause, or the inflection on the words, "well enough". Sounded to her like this girl wouldn't see the outside of that hospital until she had no reliable memory left of the incident. The things we do.
They finished the rest of lunch in silence. After cleaning up, Corson asked if she was ready to see the "real thing".
After all the build up, she decided, she had to. And, her stomach was telling her, that neither food, nor Scotch, was making it any happier with this mystery hanging out there. Best to get on with it.
"OK. Let's see the freak show. Do I need to buy a ticket?"
Corson smiled at the comment. "This will be worth the price of admission, I guaranty it." And with that, he led the detective to one of the storerooms.
"This one is refrigerated. For the hunters to store their 'prizes'. So, be ready for the cold, it'll come as a shock at first. But, with these things being cold blooded, it was decided to keep them cold. Puts them in a state of quasi-hibernation, and slows them down quite a bit."
The temperature inside the storeroom was around thirty degrees. There was an armed uniformed soldier inside the door. Towards the back of the room was a large, glass looking container about two feet tall, by six feet long and wide. Corson moved closer, with Frankin following. About three feet from the container, Corson stopped.
"Here you go, detective. Take a look at the quarry. These are the two we captured at the mine."
Frankin looked through the slightly fogged "glass". Inside were two spider-looking creatures. Their coloring was all wrong though, a burnt orange covering, with dark brown and black spots and stripes, a mix of leopard and zebra. A form of natural camouflage not seen before. At least, not by her.
But the size of the things is what made her want to recoil. Imagine a soccer ball sized pumpkin, with eight legs, and natural camouflage, wrapped in Kevlar, and hungry. NOT, something you want to find in the corner of your ceiling in the middle of the night.
Corson, reading her reaction, leaned closer and said, "All this, AND they've been clocked at better than thirty-five miles an hour. Imagine that coming at you in the middle of the night and all you have is a service ‘38 or maybe a Glock 9mm. Neither will pierce its hide."
Straightening up, Frankin headed for the door, and a little warmth, trying to wrap her mind around what she just saw. The questions started running around in her head, and she wasn't sure which one would surface first. Corson saved her the trouble.
"Now, let me fill in the gaps. As I said earlier, we found seventeen hatched casings, two are under that Lexan cage, one is dead with a carving knife in its back. That leaves fourteen loose."
"And, I mentioned, they give off a slight radioactive signature. We have four choppers in the air, with monitoring equipment, keeping track of thirteen of them in the mountains. The choppers also have heat-sensing equipment to differentiate the 'spiders' from the soldiers. My men's electronic equipment gives off just enough radiation to give false positive readings. When the time comes, we'll close on the 'spiders' and remove them."
"And, that leaves one. That one, we've tracked into the city. Unfortunately, with all the ground cover, as well as background interference from cell phones, ground transportation, microwaves, home electronics and such, tracking it is difficult at best. Add in the things’ speed, and you can see our problem. We don't want to send troops swarming into the North end of the city looking for this thing."
"Where you come in is, we need a presence in the city that won't attract attention. One that can move freely, with our guidance, to catch and, or, destroy, the last 'spider'. Quietly."
"Quietly? You already said they were damn near bullet proof. That it would take an armor piercing round to take one out. Exactly how do you propose, 'quietly'?"
"Ohhh. Those 'rods' we picked up earlier." Realization soaking in. Frankin continued, "must be time for the second show then, huh?"
"Follow me." Corson said, holding open the lodge door.
"Follow me…follow me", Frankin muttered under her breathe. That line is seriously pissing me off, she thought, as she headed through the door.
"The techs from Inventink should be ready for us now." And Corson headed off through the forest with Frankin right behind.
"So tell me, how are you keeping people out of the area?"
"My team relieved the Park Rangers and secured the area. We have sentries on all points of access, and more moving through the woods to create a 'herding' presence, keeping the 'spiders' in our perimeter."
Corson gave her more information that would be needed later, when she returned to the lodge with her crew.
"Most of what we needed was already here, and assembled, when I picked you up. The remaining material will be finished shortly. What we have for your team has just been finished."
They entered a clearing onto what looked like a target range. Benches and tables were set up at the edge of a slope into a valley. Powered reels, for retrieval and replacement of targets, hung from the trees on this side of the valley and stretched to the other. Lying on the tables were items that resembled flame-throwers. Off to one side, was a large camping trailer. There were also eleven uniformed men milling around the area, all of them had that air of purpose, that focused look about them meant there was no nonsense, or ease, about that camper.