Charles walked into the library and got the attention of the teacher. He explained that he needed Ivan, Joe and Sara to come with him. She nodded and sorted the three out as she sent students to different parts of the library. Charles thanked her and took the threesome with him out the back door and down a hall where he knew there were no cameras. Once they were back in the tech office, he explained that their uncle wanted them to wait quietly.
“Are there bad men in the school?” Sara asked.
Charles thought for a moment. “No, not at the moment, but your Uncle Luc is concerned. I need you to stay here while I go get the twins.” He started to leave when Sara stopped him.
“If there are bad guys, they will see you and Unky Wolfy. Seeing a kid won’t make them nervous.”
“You’ve got a point. But, they have cameras up and I’m not sure about this.”
Sara just sighed. “You need Eliot and Linsey. You going into the bathroom next door?”
“They have music in a few minutes. It would be safer to get them out of the music room.”
Charles blinked. It stung a little to be out thought by a nine year old, but he had to admit that she was right. He started to speak.
“An I can get them faster.”
“Sara, I… I can’t let you do that.”
“Yes you can. It would be safer. No one looks at kids.”
Charles thought about it for a moment. He knew that Luc would be back from the HVAC room in a minute, and he was nervous about leaving the three alone. “No Sara, I can’t let you do that.”
“Let her do what?” asked Luc as he came into the room.
“Let her go get the twins,” said Charles. “I was worried about leaving these three to get the others.”
“Didn’t think about that.” Luc looked from Charles to Sara. “Sara, you really think you can get the twins?”
“Yes. Where are the cameras?”
Charles drew a quick sketch on the dry write board. “They are here, here and two there.”
Sara looked at the drawing. “They go right by them into the music room. We could get them in the music room. But Unky Wolfy, what about all the other kids? If the bad guys come, they will hurt the kids left behind.”
Luc looked at Charles. “Don’t you hate it when they’re right?”
Charles nodded. “What now?”
Derek smiled as he walked towards the school. He had put the visitor’s pass back on his coverall and walked in a side door. He smiled as he passed teachers and students on his way to the HVAC room. Once inside, he checked the camera. The Internet system was still down, but he knew that often took a few hours to reboot. The camera seemed to be working, but just in case, he figured he’d add a new camera. He stepped out the door and headed towards the dead camera.
David and Seth were heading to the school as fast as they could. No sirens, just lights. When they got close to the school, they cut those as well. Neither man dared trigger the response teams until they spoke to Luc.
Sally was walking back to the office when she she saw the HVAC repair man. She didn’t remember him coming in, but figured she’d check the log. When she got back to the office, she did just that and realized that he hadn’t checked out the other day, nor returned his pass. Cold icy fingers ran down her spine. It might be totally legit, but she was nervous. Looking around, she didn’t see anyone she could send down to the tech office. Checking the hall, she didn’t see the HVAC man, and walked quickly towards the tech Office. She opened the door to find three students and the two men talking quietly.
Luc looked up to see Sally. She looked pale and worried. “What’s wrong?”
“That… that HVAC guy is back, only he didn’t check into the office. I got nervous and none of the janitors or Mr. Swanson are around, so I came to get you.”
“Where was he?”
“Near the HVAC room.”
“Sally, you come with me back to the office. Two policemen will be heading this way. Direct them down the hall when they arrive.”
“Why are police men coming?” Sally was perplexed.
“Charles and I found extra cameras on the system, and we called the police.”
“Oh. Okay. Shouldn’t we call a lockdown?”
“That’s why we are going to the office. If things are okay, no. If they aren’t, yes. Do you understand?”
“If I don’t call you on the radio after I go to the HVAC room, you hit that button.”
Luc and Sally headed back to the office. When they got to the main hall, Luc headed towards the back door to the HVAC room. Sally went into the school office, and waited. Part of her thought that they should hit the panic button, and start a lockdown, but she didn’t want to do it if everything was legal. She didn’t want to panic the students either.
The man at the computer was getting frustrated. Derek had been gone for nearly an hour. That should have been plenty of time to get the camera checked and hopefully fix that Internet system. He drummed his fingers on the desk.
David and Seth walked into the school and headed for the office. The secretary looked scared, and yet relieved to see them. She checked their ID and then began to talk.
“Luc said to wait a minute or two before I triggered the lockdown,” she said.
“How long has it been?”
“About two or three minutes.”
David looked down the hall. “We’ll wait a minute longer.”
Luc opened the door softly. It was behind a few racks, so the man who entered a moment after he did never saw Luc. Luc moved forward until he was only a few feet from the man.
The man pulled out a cell phone and made a call. “Yeah, system is still down. What do you want me to do besides replace the camera? No, I don’t think so. Too many people in the building at the moment. No, I know which kids, I just don’t think this is the moment. Give it a day or so. Yeah, right. Look, it won’t hurt to wait a day. Besides, some of the kids are at the library, and… Yeah. Fine. Talk to you in an hour.” The man closed the cell phone. “Damn bastard. Do this, do that! Can’t wait a day or two to grab kids. Not this guy. Oh no,” he said to himself. Sitting down at the computer, he tried again to make the system work.
The man at the computer slammed his fist onto the desk. Derek would pay. He’d find someone else to do the snatch and grab. He opened a file and began looking down the list he had on the screen. Finding the name he wanted, he dialed the number.
Luc had enough. Moving out from the racks, he stepped up behind the man and clicked his radio. As the man reacted to the noise, he turned and half stood up. Luc grabbed the man by the throat and hoisted him up towards the ceiling. As the man tried to fight and get out of Luc’s grasp, Luc keyed the radio once more. “Sally, if David is there, send him down please.”
Sally startled when the radio squawked. She didn’t have time to pick it up, before David and Seth were heading quickly down the hall. “They’ll be there in a second, Luc,” she said when she finally picked up the radio.
Luc was growling and squeezing the man’s throat tighter when David and Seth entered the room.
“Luc, you can put him down.”
Luc looked at Seth and growled.
“Come on Luc. Can’t scare the kiddos,” David said softly.
Luc brought the man down slowly, but didn’t let go of his throat. The man tried to kick and swipe at Luc when the pressure lessened due to being closer to the ground. Luc reacted quickly, swinging the guy up high again, and gripping the throat tighter. David grabbed the guys feet and as they brought him down a second time, Seth cuffed him.
“Dhon’t mohve,” Luc growled. He let his shifted eyes be seen by the man. The man would have squeaked if his throat would have let enough air pass. “Cell phhone.”
Seth searched the man’s pockets and came up with a few bills, an ID saying he worked for an HVAC company that matched the shirt, a cell phone and two numbers. “Got it. Now how do we get him out of here without being noticed?”
Luc let go of the man’s throat and shook himself. He worked the shifted muscles back into place, and took a deep breath. “Go tell Sally that everything is okay. Then we go out this back door.” Luc pointed to the door he’d entered. “It leads to the back parking lot.”
The men nodded. David went to tell Sally that things were taken care of, while Seth and Luc escorted ‘Bill’ out. After stuffing ‘Bill’ into the police car, David and Seth spoke to Luc.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” David asked Luc.
“Yes. I’ll turn the camera back on, and the guy bankrolling this will think that ‘Bill’ here has fixed the problem. From the conversation I overheard, I don’t think ‘Bill’ would call the guy back. However, we now have a cell phone with numbers you can trace. In the mean time, you talk to this guy while I call the family.”
“What if he doesn’t want to talk?” asked Seth.
“Shift. Just enough.” Luc glared at the police car.
“Okay. Meet in an hour?”
“Yes.” Luc headed off to the tech office to let Charles know that things were okay. Plus, he wanted to send the threesome back to class. Luc knew that Sara would be better eyes and ears than those cameras.
The man at the computer smiled when the cameras came back up. Maybe Derek would work out after all. He watched the students file thought the halls, noting where certain ones went and made notes. In a few more days…