by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
Seated at the head of the conference table in a secure top secret lair known as The Bakery, Aristotle Spode AKA ‘The Baker’ looked at the other twelve faces in the room and smiled conspiratorially. There they were, the top thirteen criminal brains in the country, gathered in one room for a single purpose, to discuss their newest and most ambitious operation to date.
The plan, code-named Neptune’s Trident, was to hijack the Royal Navy’s new missile submarine Neptune and, using its compliment of atomic warheads, hold the Governments of Russia, China, Great Britain and the United States to ransom. It was an audacious plan, and one that would make each member of The Baker’s Dozen rich beyond the dreams of mere mortals.
Of course, the rewards of such an operation carried with them great risk, but The Baker was a master planner. His subordinates trusted his ability to think of every possible contingency scenario. The room they were seated in was itself a testament to The Baker’s genius. Concealed below what appeared to be an ordinary warehouse, guarding the entrance to the reinforced air-conditioned vault they now occupied, were three separate electronic security systems in place to prevent unauthorized entry.
The first was an electronic combination lock, requiring a corresponding entry card. Each electronic card was linked to the code generator within the lock’s mechanism and each was updated every 2 minutes with the new entry code.
The second measure was a bio-metric challenge requiring a retinal scan, fingerprint scan and DNA test. This system was accurate to within 0.0000001% accuracy, effectively making it impossible to fake.
The third and final fail-safe was the most discerning of all. It was also designed to kill. A chair was positioned in front of a keyboard attached to a screen, which displayed a paragraph of text at random. The operator keyed in the text as shown on the screen, while the sensors under the keyboard registered the exact weight and force of each keystroke. If the readings did not match the pre-recorded patterns unique to an individual operative, a lethal burst of electricity would be discharged by the operators chair, ensuring the impostor’s demise.
Together, the security measures made The Bakery the most impregnable room in the country, enough to stop anyone who tried to force their way in unannounced. It did however have one weakness – it had never been designed to prevent anyone from being carried inside by one of The Baker’s Dozen.
Inside one of the thirteen briefcases lined up in a rack by the end of the conference table, Matthew Harding gazed through the tiny periscope in front of him and thought for the thousandth time about Professor Humbold and the remarkable Minimiser device he had invented.
Father Unwin had briefed Matthew about their latest mission en route to the airport, where they were to put the first phase of their plan into operation. The Bishop had learned through his considerable intelligence network that the Baker was planning a massive strike against the world in the near future. When The Baker was spotted leaving the United States, bound for England with a large case, The Bishop decided it was time to act.
It had been a simple matter to modify Matthew’s travel case to appear outwardly identical to The Baker’s, and with some assistance and expert play-acting by Father Unwin at the airport security check, the cases had soon been switched.
There was no question about it, he would never have stood a chance at breaking any of the security measures he had seen as he was carried inside by the unwitting Baker. Now Matthew was able to hear and see everything going on in the room, including the faces of all thirteen members of the notorious gang, some of whom were previously unknown.
The Baker drew the meeting to a close and everyone prepared to leave. But just then, one of the operatives asked The Baker a question, to which he replied that he had a copy of the document in his case. Matthew held his breath as the seemingly gigantic hand moved towards the viewfinder of the tiny periscope and then reached for the release mechanism of the case…
TO BE CONTINUED…