RR #26: Boys’ Toys

Lyle Ashley Tate and Harry Garvey


Mid-morning, Sunday 27th January, Mystery Island (Mata Api Kisiwa)

The sheer amount of equipment the men were toting into the room was amazing. It made Lyle wonder if he was equal to the task he’d been recruited to. Eidolon wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble to acquire him though if they didn’t believe in him. It even crossed his mind that they might have been the ones to out him to Vale, triggering the chain of events that had brought him here. There was the Flynn factor though, too. He knew now that they had wanted the street punk too, for whatever reasons.

Gideon had promised Lyle he would be getting the best kit, and he was right about that. Whoever and whatever Eidolon really was, they obviously believed in the phrase ‘no expense spared’. They certainly weren’t a charity, not judging by the manpower and the level of sophistication they were able to apply to their operations. Lyle was pretty sure they weren’t just about ‘witness protection’ either, if at all.

A technician was grabbing the packages as they were brought through the door and setting the items up. There would have been a nasty mess of wires trailing round the room if Lyle hadn’t taken charge of the deployment of the equipment to suit his own tastes and the ergonomic requirements of the tasks ahead of him. He hadn’t a clue what to do with some of the stuff, though. He recognised a radar screen, but other bits were utterly unfamiliar to him. He smiled, thinking of the tiny amount of equipment he’d smuggled in with him—stuff that he’d already deployed; it was a drop in the ocean compared to this stuff, but it was something Eidolon didn’t know about, a little one-up for his side.

“Watch it, mate…” Harry muttered as he nearly got swiped by techie on his way out of the room. Gideon had ordered–well, asked–that he go give Tate a hand setting up the IT centre. The tech muttered an apology and disappeared, presumably to collect more gear. Harry leaned in the open door and took a look at what was going on. The blond looked preoccupied, as if he was weighing up the stuff he didn’t recognise and trying to decide where to have the technicians put it all. As Harry watched, Tate asked for something to be moved. The tech who was attempting to fix the thing in question grumbled. Harry grinned. He wondered how often Tate had wanted things moving round. This would be interesting.

“Yes, again. I won’t have you lot here to shift this stuff later and I need help getting it positioned to the optimum for one man to run it all. So if you would oblige….”

“One man, eh? Who’s that gonna be then?” The technician’s tone was deliberately disrespectful, sly.

“Me. If you’ve got a problem with that, or with me, talk to Pierce. She recruited me specifically for this job. I’m sure she won’t mind spending her precious time explaining to a junior technician where I fit into all this, and why I get what I want here.”

“Knock, knock,” Harry said, by way of introduction. “Can I come in, or is this a no-go area?”

“Depends on who you are and what you want.” Lyle said a little testily.

“Harry Garvey; Major Sterling sent me to help.  Looks like you’re getting on fine on your own though, from where I’m standing.” Harry couldn’t help fixing the tech with a stare.

He never told me his rank, Lyle thought. Interesting. “If you know what these things are, you’re welcome.” Lyle gestured at a couple of items that had been plonked down near his feet.

“One’s part of a radar receiver. The other…” Harry walked in and picked up the device, turning it round. “I’ll tell you later.” He smiled as he spoke. No need to tell the techies everything. “I have a suggestion. Let these guys bring the stuff in, I’ll go through it with you, we can connect it up later when it’s all in place. How does that sound?”

“You can do that? I can programme like all hell, but like most software people, I rely on technicians to do the wiring and plugging together…”

“And I rely on software wranglers to make sure the stuff works once I’ve wired it. I’m a bit more than a techie though. We have to be…adaptable.” Harry picked up a bunch of wires and sorted through them, checking the connectors.

Lyle eyed the guy, wondering if that was an opening line or just a matter of fact. He hoped it was the latter, because the man was gorgeous, lean and muscular, the build of a gymnast. Gideon seemed to have chosen his team for their value as eye candy as well as for their military and technical capabilities.

Harry turned away and seemed to be fiddling with another piece of tech when he suddenly burst out “Oi, for the love of God!” Lyle startled but he wasn’t the butt of Harry’s ire. “Who hired you? That goes in there… Look, if you don’t know your arse from your elbow, bugger off and fetch the rest of the stuff, I’ll deal with this later. Go on.” He watched the disgruntled tech storm out. “Good riddance. These guys are okay with standard stuff but all this needs a little more sophistication.” He turned back to Tate. “Right, now he’s gone, I can show you properly.  All of this stuff is high spec, but some of it is prototype. Some is straight out of Eidolon’s stable, never before seen. We’re using the most advanced gear money can buy here. Gideon wants it locked down so tight a fly couldn’t fart without our knowing.”

Did the man’s knowledge of this kit mean he was solidly Eidolon? Lyle had got the feeling that Gideon—Major Sterling—felt some ambivalence toward the organisation, but what about his men? Could they be trusted? Who did they really report to? Whose orders did they follow?

“So, if I show you this stuff, what it all does, you can tell me where you want it, yeah?” Harry had specific orders, to allow Tate to dictate how he wanted the room set up. Gideon must trust Tate’s skills as well as his allegiances if that was the case, which was good enough for Harry.

“I’ll need showing rather than just telling. You know how this kit runs in the field? I never even saw most of it before. I can’t say where it should go because it’s unfamiliar. Could we set it up how you think, then adjust it as time goes on? Will you be around a while?”

“My orders are to help you establish this set-up, so until it’s finished, I’m all yours.  Unless we have a problem, that is, and I get called out. We have several options. We can group according to usage–you know, all the cctv for the whole island in one place–or we can go for zones. If you’ve got eyes and ears and countermeasures set up in one zone, we could group that all together. We’ve got the surveillance and counter surveillance measures, cctv and radar, communications…”

“Movement sensors―the stuff they use to record animals using trails―that kind of stuff too? Night vision cameras? Audio-trips?”

“Among other things we have to do is make sure the EMSEC is kept to zero.” Harry paused, seeing Tate’s blank look. “TEMPEST?” he queried.

“Currently, technobabble to me, but I’ll learn if you’ll teach me.” Lyle knew what Harry was meaning, but figured it was best to play dumb. He hadn’t actually had a lot of experience with the gear, just had seen it operating and had ducked under and round it a few times.

“EMSEC, stands for Emission Security or Emanations Security. Compromising emanations. Basically, anything that can be read by an electronic device which puts your security at risk.”

“Inadvertent data leakage. I get it.”

Harry smiled. “TEMPEST is the code word for it all, that’s all. We need measures in place to make sure we don’t do it. There are lots of backronyms for it—you know, mnemonics people have made up after the fact—but personally I like Tiny ElectroMagnetic Particles Emitting Secret Things. Very technical.” He grinned. “Sweet, simple and to the point.” He grabbed a bunch of wires and peered at the back of a computer.

Lyle watched, wondering whether Harry Garvey might discover the GSM bug he had set up in Gideon’s office before he could get anything useful out of it.  Hopefully not, the EMSEC and TEMPEST stuff was unlikely to be fully operational before bed time. Fingers crossed.

Too, he wanted to see if he could get some hardware into Pierce’s hut, but he’d have to tread carefully on that one with so many new people running around the complex. He’d use some of the new equipment that had come in for her place; hopefully it would be fall far enough within the safe EMSEC parameters Harry had talked about to go unnoticed.

“Good, let’s get the gear positioned, the technicians out from under our feet, and then you can start showing me how it all works, so I can get to thinking how to get it to gel with the rest of my shit.” Lyle grinned. This was fun. This was home ground for him, stuff he knew and stuff he enjoyed doing. He felt properly useful for the first time since the trials, since Richard’s death. If this Harry guy shared his passion he’d maybe just found a new friend, if he could be trusted. That was the biggie though, wasn’t it? At the end of the day, it all boiled down to who they could trust and with what.

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