Chapter 8 Tuesday, 1000 hours (10 AM)
Joshua saw it floating lazily over the zoo. He trained his binoculars on it and saw a small drone aircraft - little more than a model really. It had a compact fuselage and enormous wings. The fuselage was tiny, but Joshua knew the radio controlled craft held a downward-pointing video camera. He was prepared for this.
Joshua sprinted for a particular zoo maintenance cart which was provisioned for such a contingency. He was halfway to the cart when his walkie-talkie alerted him of the aircraft. The tramway rider had noticed it too. Good. The spotters were doing their work. Jack, who was just starting his rounds, caught up and asked to go along. With Jack in the bed of the cart, Joshua drove to a sparse area near the Bronx River, the wide, slow moving tributary that flows through the zoo.
Joshua jumped from the cab and unboxed the shoulder-held surface-to-air missile launcher. Joshua aimed, and fired the heat seeking projectile.
"That drone hasn't a chance," said Joshua.
They observed the display. The missile, made for far bigger game than a little drone, had entirely immolated the aircraft as well as itself. A few flaming fragments fell into the river bringing forth miniature hissing puffs of steam. Joshua was trembling slightly since now in reality, not dream, he had brought down his aircraft, his first.
Joshua re-packed the launcher and Jack drove them back.
Joshua was content, but not so Jack.
"That plane had to have been launched from the apartment house roof," said Jack, "where we have a bug. We should have been warned. I'd like to go to the communications room to find out who goofed up."
"What?, Sure. Of course."
Joshua was occupied with his own thoughts. The drone was an omen. No, a portent. It was his nightmare playing out while he was awake. Joshua knew what it meant. Armageddon. Operation Zoo would have to become Armageddon.
Joshua followed Jack as he stormed into the communications room for an explanation.
"The bugs? What bugs? Oh yeah. Look. We cant do everything. We cant be everywhere," said the techies.
"Well turn them on now," said Jack evenly.
For the next fifteen minutes Jack, Joshua and the techies listened with satisfaction to curses and recriminations uttered on the distant roof.
"See that this kind of goof-up doesnt happen again," said Jack as he strode out of the communications room.
Joshua stayed for a moment and watched as the head technical Calfer flipped on the scan control for the listening devices. Now with the receiver polling each of the bugs, they could hear any activity at any zoo entrance, as well as on the apartment buildings roof. For a while all they could hear was the sounds from the apartment building. The only action was there. Soon however, another bug came alive with the sound of police sirens and then slamming car doors. A few minutes thereafter, another bug came on-line and then another and another. It was clear now, that the police were at every zoo entrance. The eavesdroppers looked at one another and understood, some of them for the first time, that they could no longer come and go at will. They were also captives, like the animals, and like the hostages.
"All the world's a cage," said Joshua softly as he left the room. He went directly next door to activate his Ministry of Information. This was what the membership called the two intense Calfers that Joshua had selected personally. They projected an aura of high-mindedness, youthful sincerity, and truthfulness, and they could speak for hours at a time. Together, they spoke four languages, English, French, Spanish, and Japanese. It was the job of these two to get the word of Operation Zoo out to like minded organizations around the world. They were also to be a conduit to the media. When they had nothing else to do, they were to phone in to as many talk radio shows as they could.
Joshua walked in as they were setting up their phones, two to a desk, and plugging in their coffee pot. One of them couldn't live without coffee, and as a precaution, brought an electric pot along with him to the Zoo invasion. The phones were scrounged from other offices.
Joshua, a media oriented person himself, liked these Calfers, and understood them well. They had grown up entirely in the modern age. They understood information, and how to manipulate it. Joshua handed them the media folder he had prepared and gave them a pep-talk which they didn't need. They had been pumping up each other ever since they had set up their room. Happy that they had work to do, this Ministry of Propaganda divided up the pages between them and got to their phones. Feet on the desks, phones to their ears, they began to bring the news of Operation Zoo to the world.
Joshua left them. He had almost succumbed to the temptation to have them phone up the police and ask them what the hell was taking them so long. Didn't they know the zoo had been taken over. No. Have patience. The police will get their act together, especially now that one of their drone aircraft had been blown to smithereens.