Agent One had no choice – he had to confront Cassandra McLeish right now, before Security arrived. With any luck she would still have the blueprints and prototype with her, then this would be all over.
He burst through the door, and, taking advantage of her surprise, he managed to cross the room just as she reached into her desk and pulled out a small pistol. Acting on instinct and experience, Agent One twisted at the last moment, grabbed her outstretched arm and the gun clattered away across the floor as it went off.
Suddenly remembering the unconscious security guards at the lab, Agent One realised that this might not be the easy fight he had expected. In fact Cassandra McLeish was strong and athletic, and had clearly had some training in martial arts. This was bad news for Agent One, and it took almost two minutes of punches and throws for him to finally get the upper hand.
“Where are the items you stole?” he demanded.
She looked back defiantly, and he wondered whether she would tell him, or hold back and make this difficult.
She seemed to make a decision, and sighed. “I just wanted them to notice me,” she said. “I’ve been stuck as PA for six years now, and I’m twice as smart as the whole staff put together. I should be the one running this company! If I could steal this one thing, and develop it myself, they would have to notice me.”
Agent One finally understood everything. Cassandra must have used money from Camrich to pay off Dr Adams, and then stolen the bullet and the blueprints. She was obviously a force to be reckoned with. And in fact, that gave him an idea.
He let go of her, and stood up.
“How would you like to get away with this?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” she replied, getting to her feet.
“I mean, how about you come and work with me instead of here? I can’t offer you the safety of an office, but I can promise that your talents will be put to good use – not in committing crimes, but in solving them, and helping to keep your country safe. Come with me now, bring the items you stole with you, and I can make it happen.”
It took Cassandra less than five seconds to decide. Quickly she reached into the desk drawer again, and took out a small metallic briefcase. Meanwhile, Agent One picked up the gun and stuffed it in his pocket. With any luck they wouldn’t need it.
“We have to hurry,” said Cassandra – I just checked the security cameras and the guards are on their way.”
“This way,” said Agent One, “I can get us out of here.”
They ran back into the corridor, and Agent One used a fire extinguisher to break the nearest outside window. He then broke the glass on the fire hose that was on the wall next to the window, and threw the nozzle end out of the broken window.
Cassandra realised what he was doing.
“But this won’t be long enough to reach the ground!” she pointed out.
“It doesn’t have to – there’s a window cleaning platform about half way down the building – we only have to get that far using the hose!”
It was a squeeze getting out of the small window, but soon they were both climbing down the hose towards the platform. They had just reached it when a security guard leaned out of the broken window and called out. But by that time Cassandra had already found the controls for the platform and within seconds they were travelling downwards and reached the bottom of the building just as the first shot rang out – the security guards still thought that Agent One was a thief, of course!
They jumped over the nearest car to take shelter, and fortunately Agent One’s car was right behind it. They sped away and were quickly hidden in amongst the rush hour traffic.
Half an hour later they were back at the Agency Headquarters, and were handing over the prototype bullet, casing and blueprints to Agent One’s chief.
“Well done, Agent One,” said the chief. “And I gather that you have brought us a new recruit as well?”
“Yes ma’am, I have. Cassandra McLeish was the one who stole these items, but I truly believe that if she is given the opportunity to serve her country and use her skills in a job that really matters, she will never do anything like that again.”
Fortunately for Cassandra, the Chief seemed to agree.
…to be continued in the Epilogue.