It took less than ten minutes for Bill and Jeremy to explain the situation to Kinder. It took far less time for the ex-cop to agree to join them.
“I just have one request,” he said. “I need to bring Tex.”
“Sure,” replied Bill. “You're entitled to bring anyone you want. Who is Tex?”
“My dog,” answered Alan. “I gave up on people a long time ago. Tex got me through the bad time when my wife died. He's been my only family for the last six years.”
Even as the men discussed security measures, across the country things began heating up at the Eden site. Several of the truckers wanted answers and the officials there had no intentions of providing any such thing. It took less than minutes for the army's top brass on scene to realize that the truckers would have to be detained. All of them.
Curses filled the air as military police began surrounding the small building they were waiting in. When the announcement was made by Captain Daniels to the truckers that they would be taken inside the complex and everything would be explained, very few of them trusted the man's smiling face.
“Why you got all them guns out there?” asked one trucker.
“Yeah! Suppose we don't want to go? You gonna shoot us?” yelled another.
As the angry men grew more disturbed, several of the police moved closer and loaded their tear gas shells into their guns. Daniels quickly backed out of the room as the first canister broke through the window. Behind him, several more police wearing gas masks prepared to enter the room. In less than five minutes, more than twenty-five truckers lay face-down outside, hands starpped behind their backs with zip cuffs. Overhead, army helicopters insured that no news team would capture such an outrage on film. For Eden to work, it had to remain a secret for another four days.
A quick phone conversation reminded that the importance of the operation depended on secrecy. The immediate threat now was the two astronomers. A nod of a head and suddenly another call was being made to the local police in Gainsville. The chief of police there nodded as the high-ranking official explained that the two men were in danger. They needed to be taken into protective custody immediately and held until the FBI arrived. As the police mobilized, a quick call to Alan Kinder asked him to locate the two men and send the cars directly to them.
“They left the building an hour ago,” he said. “They must have gone home.”
Minutes later, the two frightened men climbed into their new security officer's pick-up and sped away towards their new home in the swamplands of southwest Florida. They hastily agreed to continue with their plan by leaving Kinder in charge of contacting the rest of the team. He would have to persuade the others now without the benefit of having the two scientists to back him up.
The next morning's alarm pulled a groggy Ray Granger from his bed. It was only five-fifteen, an ungodly time to wake up, but it would leave him just enough time to get to Salina Municipal. He hoped Janice would do what she said, that she wasn't full of herself.
“For once,” he thought, “please be as important as you think you are.”
The coffee he grabbed on his way out of town was bitter and tasted like “half-assed dishwater”, but it was waking him up. The waitress was never thrilled when Ray entered the tiny shop and his assessment of her coffee only served to make her less inclined to fix him a fresh cup. He deserved last night's reheated she figured.
On the road, he noticed the state trooper following him almost immediately. Now he knew he was on to something. He wondered if they had actually watched his house all night as well. He also wondered what they would think when he drove off with the famous Janice Rand in his passenger seat. What he didn't know was that Janice had already gotten a good bit of information about the strange happenings in Kansas and had a solid hunch of her own to check. They wouldn't be leaving in Ray's car, but in the helicopter that was fueling even as he drove.
If her hunch was right, they would be intercepted some miles out and escorted around Twin Butte. That's when they would land near Tribune and the four-wheel drive Jeep that waited for her. The news story of a train accident and deadly chemical spill near the mountain just smelled wrong to her.
“If it smells like bullshit,” she would often say, “better not step in it. Especially if it's government bullshit.”
To her, this is exactly what she smelled. She remembered the story of the Eden Project from a few years back and put two and two together. The government was quickly stocking Eden. First she had to prove it and then she would find out why.