McLeary entered the master control facility with his thoughts scattered like confetti on a gameshow stage. The reality of his situation closing in like the walls in a padded cell, he struggled to compartmentalize Brian’s situation and keep Seth in his prayers without coming unglued at the seams. Without his sons, he had nothing. Nothing except a mission he set out to finish in a vain attempt to make the world a better place by saving innocent lives entangled in a convoluted plot dreamed up by a band of cowards hiding behind a veil of holy war. “They’re targeting the monorail system,” he blurted at Kriegel, who looked incredulous at the notion of such an attack.
“How do you—”
“A hunch won’t cut it on this one, Mac. There’s too much at stake to risk another bad call.”
McLeary pressed on, undeterred by Kriegel’s lack of confidence borne more from his own mistrust than any evidence contradicting the potential target of opportunity. “How many men are covering the trains?”
Kriegel thought about the question, then deferred to the station manager running the network operations center from the main control console in the room.
“We have video surveillance at every station,” said the network operations manager. “We also have men positioned at every stop along the way.”
“What about inside the trains?”
“We do random patrols. At any give time, maybe three or four men depending on the volume of tourist traffic.”
The manager shook his head. “The whole park…”
“How many trains are up and running?”
“Seven at the moment,” the manager replied, rising out of his chair to engage in discussion without constantly looking over his shoulder. “The express train runs directly from our location at the TTC. The other trains will pass the Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and every stop in between.”
McLeary leaned over the command console and studied the monorail paths outlined on the plasma screen. He traced the colored lines with his finger until he found a common junction. “How fast can these trains reach the storage terminal?”
“All of them.”
McLeary looked at Kriegel. “The sooner we take control of this situation, the better.”
“Trust me on this one.”
“We don’t have the manpower.”
“We don’t have a choice. We’re talking about thousands of people contained in a small space with recirculated air and no immediate exit. The monorail fits the profile for a mass attack scenario. A lethal incubator full of women and children.”
Kriegel crossed his arms at his chest. He drew a deep breath through his nose and exhaled sharply as if the action would somehow purge the tension from McLeary’s intractable position. “Assuming you’re right, we can’t divert our manpower to this effort without exposing other targets.”
“The more passengers we transport around the park, the more likely we’re exposing them to a lethal threat.”
Kriegel rubbed his forehead. “What if you’re wrong?”
“What if I’m not? What if Beckman’s theory holds—”
“I’ve heard it before, Mac.”
“Then you know we need to quarantine these trains and get every passenger on board to a safe location.”
Kriegel turned to the station manager. “Pull up every schematic you have on this system. I want to know every detail. And get your pilots on the horn. Tell them to return to home base.”
The station manager looked perplexed and agitated. “I can’t proceed without authorization.”
“I am your authorization,” said Kriegel.
“There’s nearly fourteen miles of track. This won’t happen in an instant.” The manager flipped a switch and grabbed the microphone stalk to alert the blue train bound for the Grand Floridian. “Monorail blue from Central.”
“Blue bye,” the pilot answered.
“Proceed beyond switch beams nine and ten and return to barn.”
“Ten-nine! What about my passengers?”
“Our diagnostics show voltage fluctuations outside the normal range. Return to barn immediately.”
“Ten-four, central. Be advised my ten-fifty-two is at least twelve minutes.”
McLeary studied a monorail schematic from a three-ring binder. He skimmed the chapters on propulsion, braking, operations, and safety procedures. “How fast can these trains run?”
The station manager let go of the microphone stalk and swiveled his chair toward McLeary. “They top out at fifty-five miles-an-hour but we can’t rack-em and stack-em at more than ten.” He glanced at the electronic map to view the blue train’s signal heading toward the maintenance barn. He keyed the microphone to address the next train in route from the Epcot Center. “Monorail orange from Central.”
“Proceed beyond pylon forty-five and return to barn.” He waited for the pilot’s reply and heard nothing for several seconds.
“What’s happening?” asked Kriegel.
“I’ve got a rookie on the orange train.” The station manager checked the timetable log and ran his finger across the pilot’s assigned route. “He shouldn’t be there,” he said, staring at the command console.
“Can you get the pilot on screen?” asked McLeary.
“No, but I can override his controls from here and divert the train with autopilot.” He typed a password on the keyboard and clicked through the maze of pop-up windows to pin-point the train’s auxiliary control panel.
“Can you bring him in alone?”
“Not entirely. Not without the pilot’s cooperation.” The station manager leaned into the microphone and watched the train’s LED remain stationary at the Epcot Center location. “Monorail orange from central, please switch to automatic.”
“I don’t like this,” said Kriegel.
“Excuse me!” a voice shouted from the back of the room, prompting Kriegel to acknowledge a woman from the Disney security team. “You should see this.” She pushed her way through the crowd of agents huddled over the master control console and adjusted the video surveillance display. She rewound a prerecorded segment from a video surveillance camera and pressed play. A figure dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume appeared on the station platform.
“What am I watching?” said Kriegel, staring at the image of a Mickey Mouse figure entering the monorail near the pilot’s compartment.
“Mickey Mouse doesn’t ride the monorail,” the woman replied.
“Where’s the train headed now?” said McLeary.
The station manager eyed the grid on his screen. “Magic Kingdom.”
Kriegel weighed his options in his head. “What’s their ETA?”
Kriegel turned to McLeary. “Can we get a team there in time to intercept their location?”
“Maybe. But if they see us coming—”
“There’s a maintenance hatch beneath the third car,” said the station manager. He pointed to the train’s location on the electronic map. “If you position yourself below the staircase on the rail support beam at pylon thirty, I can cut the power long enough to bring the train to a full stop above you.”
“I thought you said you can’t control the train without the pilot’s help?”
“We can’t force it to go where we want it to, but we can cut the power from the remote junction box.”
“Which is where?”
“The doghouse. It’s an underground power substation that feeds the main rail. From there, we can override the power supplied to the train.”
“What’s the status of your other trains?” said McLeary.
“I’ve got three more in route to the maintenance barn. Two are already there with a couple hundred irate passengers demanding answers.”
“Keep them there.”
“What am I supposed to tell the pilots?”
“Tell them to stay alert for suspicious activity. We’ll send a team to secure the area.”