“Excuse me guard. What is your name? I need you to cordon off a 32 foot perimeter in all directions of this stake. My excavation crew is going to take some baseline readings and measurements at this central point. They will be bringing in an earthmover and dump truck in a few minutes to dig away a few feet of the soil in this area. I need to make sure the sample area is clearly marked. We’d like to get this completed and covered back up before the heat of the day. It’s gonna be another hot one.”
“Yes sir. The name’s Sanders, sir. I’ll use the orange caution tape and the reflective stakes for better visibility.”
“Thank you Sanders! The crew will be along shortly. Radio me when it’s ready.” Dr. Baxter had a hard time staying in character. He was new to the ‘cloak and dagger’ act.
“Baseline readings?; Bill snickered. “What does that even mean?” Both men laughed at Jeff’s nonsensical improvisation.
“I don’t know. I had to make it sound both official AND boring. If he were to mention it to a superior, it might get back to our NSA buddies and then there would be questions. With any luck, he’ll just keep it to himself. I don’t have an excuse prepared that would fool one of their scientists. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that or they’ll start to suspect that we are operating outside their influence.”
Sanders radioed Dr. Baxter that the specified area was marked according to his request. He thanked him and then gave the signal for the covert operation to commence. The work was painfully slow at first and magnified by the concern over being detected. The texture and composition underneath of the object was identical to the top side.
At the hour point, they were only half way to the target depth. Sunrise was only a couple hours away. If it was still under excavation at dawn, it would surely attract unwanted attention. Bill pressed upon the equipment operator how urgent the mission was. The rest of the crew helped to reinforce the tunnel wall to prevent a collapse. At last they reached the three meter depth and aimed a spotlight at the ceiling. Just as Chu had predicted and Sung Yi had pinpointed, there was the missing inscription! Jeff and Bill took several dozen photographs for Chu’s team to analyze.
With daylight rapidly approaching, they had a big decision to make. If they completely filled the tunnel back in, their hard work exposing the final glyph inscription would be lost. There was a remote possibility that the photographs alone might not be enough. It was also possible that an entrance into the enigmatic structure might be near the hidden inscription. On the other hand, if they only tried to hide it, there was a real possibility that the ‘partner team’ might discover it.
“Bill spoke candidly with the crew about the dilemma. He asked if they could wall-off the entrance to the tunnel to prevent leaving it exposed. In short order, a sturdy cap was placed over the opening, which was then covered back up with sand. After some deft camouflage work, it was impossible to tell with the naked eye. The covert digging crew managed to return all the earthmoving equipment back to the storage location before dawn. Jeff removed the caution signs and for all practical appearances, the location was just as it was before their clandestine efforts.