I am on my way to retrieve an intern from the Psy Op’s test facility in Cwmbran. They have been borrowing him to assist with training. It’s been over three weeks now.
Time, I feel is of the essence, to get the intern back in the real world as soon as possible, I’ve requested a van and driver. Vans are perfect for this sort of thing, discreet, forgettable and with the advantage of a large area for say….a roll of carpet, if indeed you needed to roll something in a carpet in order to move it in a more convenient fashion.
A dilapidated decorators van complete with ladders arrives at the pick up point. ‘Simon’ introduces himself, although I am sure last time he was called ‘Mark’ or was it ‘Gary’, however, as with the van, looks can be deceiving.
“I’ve put trade plates on, so being pulled won’t be an issue.”
“Who are we today?” I ask, more out of self preservation than curiosity.
Most Police vehicles have number plate recognition and will react accordingly when they get a hit. 22 Regiment Special Air Service have full crown immunity. Besides, what traffic officer wants to explain to a van full of Hereford hard men why he felt the need to pull them over.
We have our own trade plates, but we get pulled over more often than you’d think. Just because they have a special branch they think it’s okay to try and get a glimpse at the latest spy gadgets. We’re all supposed to be on the same side, so being pissed off with them over a ‘genuine’ mistaken stop isn’t the done thing. Almost takes the fun out of it.
A Porsche 911 tries to cut in before the traffic-lights. Simon, professional to the last, hardly reacts. He simply holds down an indistinct button on the gearstick and answers before I can ask.
I later find out this is short for nitrous oxide, I say later because it takes a while for my brain to catch up. He slips the clutch and my skull is instantly mashed back into the headrest. I have no doubt our resultant tyre marks will later be used by people as a marker when giving directions. In the hands of anyone else this would be a death trap, but when he’s not driving for us, he teaches Royal Protection drivers evasion techniques. Although I am sure that her Majesty’s drivers don’t corner roundabouts at ninety.
Cwmbran arrives at warp speed, the electronic tags fitted to the van easing us through the main-gate. Once facial recognition, and retina mapping have confirmed who I am, I’m free to collect our package. Psy Op’s facility is located about a mile outside the town centre. Behind the security fence, and standing alone at the end of an immaculately clear gravel drive, is a single storey building that resembles an average garage, the sort you’d find outside any home in the Britain.
I am told that the Psy Op’s facility extends to four levels, and unless these pop up, I am presuming these are under ground. I say presuming, because to date I haven’t found anyone who’s actually managed to gain entrance to the facility.
Outside the garage is a single metal post housing a key pad. Once the correct code has been entered, a panel opens revealing a telephone. I put on a glove before picking up the receiver and announcing myself. This might seem old school and a little redundant, but this familiar object, that everyone is happy to use, is the niftiest way we have to date of getting someone to hand over finger prints and skin samples for D.N.A. . We’ve being using this sort of thing for ages…..why the glove? This is Psy Op’s we’re dealing with ! God alone knows what else they’ve developed.
After what seems like an eternity, the garage door rolls open. Accompanied by a member of the Psy Op’s team, our intern is escorted out. I say escorted, it’s more steered in the right direction. He looks like he’s experienced back to back Glastonbury’s.
“The effects should wear off soon. He’s been great, we’re really rather pleased. We’d be glad to have him back anytime.”
Simon helps our incoherent colleague into the back of the van.
“My teeth itch…….they gave me stuff….tastes like….orange…..had to look at lights………A VAN….COOL.”
The work they do is secret, you don’t want to know. No, really you don’t.