“That they didn’t want no one from around here getting a close look at what’s going on up there,”
Arizona announced. “That’s what it tells us.”
“Probably knew the Willis brothers couldn’t be bribed to keep their mouths shut if they saw something suspicious,” Gabe said. “Everyone knows how Walter and Torrance talk.”
Lillian had an urge to stomp hard on the toe of his large running shoe. She managed, with an effort, to resist.
“Stands to reason they would bring in outside contractors when you think about it,” she said quickly.
“Hannah and Rafe have been keeping the Willis brothers busy for months turning Dreamscape into an inn. They wouldn’t have had time to work on the new wing.”
They all ignored her. So much for being the voice of reason, she thought.
“Volume of overnight and regular freight deliveries has picked up recently, too,” Arizona droned on. “I staked out the loading dock for a couple of days. Took a whole series of shots with the VPX 5000.
Amazing how much equipment and material is being moved into that place.”
“High-tech stuff?” Gabe asked.
“You bet. Tons of it.”
Gabe looked up from the photos. “What about heavy-duty heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment?”
Lillian glared at him. He paid no attention. He was really getting into this, she realized with a shock.
Arizona gave him an approving look. “They started unloading HVAC crates last week. Got ’em on film.”
Gabe shook his head. “Not good.”
The Heralds murmured among themselves, obviously agreeing with that conclusion.
“What do you mean, it’s not a good sign?” Lillian knew her voice was rising but there was nothing she could do about it. She was getting desperate. “Any large, modern business structure needs a lot of computers and commercial-grade heating and air-conditioning equipment.”
This time she was totally ignored.
“I’d estimate their security level as Class Three at the moment,” Arizona said. “Fences have gone up around the construction perimeter.”
“Perfectly normal,” Lillian said. “The last thing the institute would want is a lawsuit filed by someone who happened to trip and fall over a pile of pipes.”
“Guards on the premises?” Gabe asked.
“Yep. Disguised as low-profile security, though,” Arizona said. “Didn’t see any weapons. Probably knew that would attract too much attention in a small town like this where there’s not much of a crime problem. Expect they’ll wait until after the big move before they go to Class Two status and arm the guards.”
Lillian clutched her untouched croissant. “What are you talking about? What big move?”
“We all know what’s happening up there,” Arizona said. “Problem is, we’ve got no hard evidence yet.
I’m stepping up my surveillance work, though. I’ll try to get us some pictures that we can take to the media.”
“You’re a true hero, Arizona.” Photon looked at her with unconcealed admiration. “If it hadn’t been for you, we wouldn’t have had a clue. Who knows how long Project Transfer would have gone undetected?”
Lillian was amazed to see Arizona turn pink.
“Just doin’ my duty.”
“It’s people like you who keep this country safe for democracy,” Gabe said.
“Excuse me.” Lillian held up her hand. “As the sole representative of the naïve, innocent dupes of Eclipse Bay, I would like to ask a question.”
“Go right ahead,” Arizona said.
“What, precisely, do you think is going on up at the institute, A.Z.? What is this Project Transfer you mentioned?”
Arizona made a tut-tut sound.
The Heralds shook their heads sadly at Lillian’s failure to grasp the obvious.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Gabe hide a quick grin behind his coffee mug.
“Thought it was as plain as the white lines out on the highway,” Arizona said. “The secret gov’mint agency in charge of Roswell and the Area 51 facility has decided it’s attracting too much attention. The Internet was what did ’em in, I reckon. After those satellite images of the old test site went online, they knew they had a real problem. That’s probably when they started making plans.”
Gabe nodded knowingly. “Had a feeling those mysterious fires in New Mexico a while back weren’t accidental.”
“You got that right,” Arizona said. “No such thing as an accident where this bunch is concerned.”
“Plans to do what ?” Lillian demanded.
Arizona rocked back and forth in her boots and looked grim. “Pretty clear they’re gonna transfer the bodies of those extraterrestrials they’ve got in deep freeze in Area 51 along with the remains of their spaceship and all that alien technology right here to Eclipse Bay.”
Gabe got into the passenger side of Lillian’s car and closed the door. “Makes sense when you think about it.”
“What makes sense?” Lillian turned the key in the ignition and checked the rearview mirror.
“Transferring those frozen aliens and their UFO equipment here. Who’d ever think to look for them in Eclipse Bay?”
“I knew it, you were enjoying yourself back there, weren’t you? You were actually encouraging A.Z. in her idiotic conspiracy theories.”
“Not like anything I said would have discouraged her. Everyone knows she lives in her own parallel universe.”
“Doesn’t it worry you that she’s glommed onto the Heralds?” Lillian snapped the car’s gearshift into reverse and backed out of the parking space. “It was one thing when she was the lone conspiracy theorist in town. But now she’s got a bunch of enthusiastic assistants.”
“You’re right,” Gabe intoned darkly. “I don’t like the sound of this.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake.” She turned the wheel and drove out of the parking lot. “You’re determined to make a joke out of it, aren’t you?”
“Look at it from my point of view.”
“What is that?”
“Pondering the possibility that some secret gov’mint agency is getting ready to transfer dead space aliens and their technology to Eclipse Bay makes an interesting change.”
“Change from what?”