By Rob Phayre
Reepaman didn’t like being out in public. The noise, the movement, the people, the traffic. Despite his dark glasses, noise cancelling headphones, and grey hooded top, he felt exposed. Reepaman knew that he had to go outside sometimes of course, but this project required far too much time in public for his liking.
It had taken him two days to get to Paris for a start. A train to Budapest and then a flight to Charles de Gaulle with its awkward timings hadn’t helped his current mood. He’d had too little sleep, drunken too many shots of espresso and his stomach was sour. The heat was building on this still summer day, and he knew it was only going to get hotter.
The glue from his fake beard itched, and it drove him crazy as he tried to stop scratching it. If he wasn’t careful, it was likely in this heat, to ride up the river of sweat on his face and end up on his forehead. There was little chance of him being recognised, but the passport he was travelling on had a beard, and for this trip, so did Reepaman.
He adjusted his medium frame in the uncomfortable aluminium slatted café chair. It wasn’t hard he thought, to make a chair that people actually wanted to sit in. Though on reflection, that was probably exactly why the café had them. The view of the Eiffel tower made this venue one of the most popular properties on the Trocadero. The owner probably wanted the clientele to move on quickly so that they could serve more customers.
The waitress came around again, asking quite pointedly if Reepaman wanted to buy anything else. He certainly didn’t want coffee, so he ordered a ridiculously priced bottle of sparkling water. When the waitress tried to take his espresso cup from him, he held his hand up and asked her not to. She looked at him oddly. It was empty, why shouldn’t she take it? She was too busy to hang around though and left it on the table.
Reepaman used a little treated cloth he kept in his pocket to carefully wipe the cup down. He used a chlorine hand spray to clean his hands and just happened to put a good dose inside the cup too. Then he wiped it down again. No fingerprints and no saliva traces.
Reepaman looked around from under his sunglasses. The shade given by the café’s tarpaulin was probably good for another hour or so. Any warmer though, and he would stick out too much with his hoodie on. Just off to his right, the sun was baking the ground. The trees along the promenade were the only respite for tourists as they stopped to take photos of the majestic tower. There were too many people, with way too many cameras he thought. Definitely not ideal. Reepaman just needed his target to arrive on time and then he would get out of there and all would be good.
He reached into the front pocket of his hoodie and pulled out what looked like a battery power bank. He plugged a cable into the port on its side and plugged the other end into his phone. All perfectly normal behaviour if anyone was still watching after his weird cup cleaning thing.
Carefully, he slid open a small hatch on the top of the power bank. He risked a quick glance in to make sure all was OK. There, nestled in protective foam, was a one hundred-and-eighty-thousand-dollar prototype. It was a tiny micro drone that looked a lot like a mechanical mosquito. It had ultra fine wings, a long needle for a nose and a single eye in the middle of its head. Its silver skin was unavoidable. Any paintwork would disturb its flight characteristics and make it too heavy. That would limit its range even further and a three-minute flight time was barely enough anyway.
Reepaman put the box on the table and closed the little hatch. He sat back in his chair and waited for his target. As the slats ate into his back, he kept his discipline and kept looking around. He was alert to any odd looks, stares that were a fraction too long, or faces that might have been on yesterdays flight.
A small part of his brain reflected on the job at hand. The little drone was very different to some of the tech he usually used. The request he had received from The Associate was very different too.
“Can you get me some of the target’s DNA?” The voice on the other end of the scrambled phone had asked.
Reepaman had replied, “You mean like dead skin, or a hair with a follicle attached?”
“No, I need some blood.”
“How much blood? Are we talking a pint, or a pin prick?”
There was a pause as the man on the other end considered that. “I need enough to leave a small drop at a crime scene, oh and it needs to be fresh. Liquid if you like.”
Reepaman knew better than to ask why, and anyway, his brain was already thinking the problem through. “When do you need it?”
“Eight weeks’ time, on the 26th, without fail.”
Reepaman thought that last bit was a little excessive. He hadn’t failed The Associate yet but let the edge to the words just wash over him. He finished the call with a simple “OK,” before he hung up.
The three black SUV’s pulled up directly to the kerb at the café. Reepaman watched critically as a six-man close protection team sprang out of the front and rear vehicles and did their thing. They were built a little too big for the bathtub he thought, the tight black suits, the earpieces and the dark glasses were a little much. At some unseen signal, the middle cars doors opened and another pair of protection officers got out before one opened the rear door.
Everyone in the café was watching with interest now. Was it a movie star? A politician? Reepaman knew the man from his photo only. There was almost a collective sigh of disappointment from the diners, when a perfectly normal looking short fat man in a suit got out. He was escorted to a table about four over from where Reepaman was sat.
The protection detail took up positions in a wide circle leaving the man to sit on his own at the table. The waitress, eyeing a big tip, was straight over there taking the order. Reepaman noted sourly that his sparkling water hadn’t arrived yet.
Despite that, he put a twenty euro note down on the table and placed a pepper pot on top of it. Then he subtly opened the hatch on top of the little battery bank that was still connected to his phone. Gently he rubbed his finger down the spine of the drone in the way he had been told in order to activate the battery.
He entered the code on his phone and pulled up the flight control app. A three-minute timer started in the top corner, and he saw the view from the drone’s single eye on his screen. Reepaman checked the breeze by looking across at the nearby trees. Anything too strong and the very expensive piece of hardware would just blow off down the boulevard.
Using his thumbs on both hands he assumed control of the drone. To an observer, he was probably just playing a driving game or something. He looked over at the fat man’s neck, just a few meters away. Just a glance mind you. Reepaman didn’t want the guy with the muscles to think that too much attention was being given to his paycheque.
Time to go. Even though the drone was right in front of him, when it took off, he couldn’t hear it. No buzz, nothing, just the noise of the Parisienne street. Just like when he had done his practice run, the drone was super sensitive. The drone-eye view helped hugely though and through his phones screen he was suddenly looking down at himself at his table.
Twenty seconds had passed already and Reepaman turned the drone towards the man in the suit. The fisheye view made judging distance a little tricky. He lined up the man’s neck in the centre of the screen and he committed to the dive. Half a second after he’d started though, he had to abort. The waitress was back, stepping in front and blocking the direct route.
Cursing, Reepaman moved the drone left three meters. The timer showed that a whole minute had passed. He brought the drone down again until it was just a meter or so from the man’s neck. With a move of his thumb on the screen, he flew in fast and close. He knew he needed some inertia to get the very fine needle into the blubber of the man’s neck. That would give him the best chance of getting the sample. When the target was absolutely guaranteed he pressed a small icon on the screen. The drone now in fully automatic mode accelerated. Reepaman was focusing on the screen, but even if he had been looking directly, he wouldn’t have seen the drone with his naked eye.
Half a second, that’s all that the drone had, based on a reflex action that his tech team had worked out. It had to penetrate the flesh, activate the tiny pump, and suck whatever it could in that half second. Then it had to pull back and away, before the natural reflex of the man to swat at the sting kicked in.
“Aghh!” came the yell, as the fat man leapt up from his chair grabbing the back of his neck. That action prompted the whole close protection team to react. They stood up, looking at their principle who was cursing. The lead protection officer fussed at the man, before being angrily pushed away. “It was a bee, or a wasp, or something! Can you see it?”
Reepaman was having some trouble. He was trying to blend in with the crowd, looking open mouthed at the spectacle, whilst also trying to fly the fully loaded drone back to his table. Fifteen seconds left on the timer. Was it enough? The drone was so slow now it was full. He hadn’t practiced that and wasn’t expecting it. Five seconds left. He could see his table in the bug eye view. Come on!
The screen went blank just as the drone landed on the checkered tablecloth in front of him. Ever so carefully he picked it up, avoiding the needle nose, and he put it back in its little compartment in the power bank. He had to take it on faith that the drone had done its job. The tiny amount of anti-coagulant in the drones ‘stomach’ should keep the blood fresh enough, but now Reepaman was under pressure to get it to The Associates contact.
Reepaman took one final look at the Eiffel Tower before he slowly stood up from his table. He was being stared at by the nearest protection officer, but Reepaman didn’t mind. That guy had already failed in his job of protecting his principle. He just didn’t know it yet.
If you enjoyed this short story, you can start at the very beginning of the series, or you can subscribe for weekly short stories as part of the #Reepaman series. It’s all free and available on the authors website www.reepaman.com.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, scenarios and events are imaginary, and any coincidences are unintended.
Having said that.
The technology to execute the events described is here, now.
There are those with the capability and intent to use it…
#MilitaryThriller #TechnoThriller #Fiction #ShortStories #Free2Read #RobPhayre @Robphayre
#ReepamanChapter3 #DroneDNA #Paris #EiffelTower
#Drone #RPA #UAV #ICAO #AttackDrone #DroneCountermeasures #DroneDefence #Artificial Intelligence #AI #dronelife #DronesForBad #dronepilot
© Copyright worldwide. Rob Phayre Ltd.
Images produced using #BingAI