Beginnings….


The dark of the night seemed to crowd in on the windows of the workshop, hidden away between the trees at the bottom of the garden path. The plain concrete slabs forming the walls held in place by the steel frame, the structure topped by a raft of corrugated iron sheets, painted a dull olive green to blend in with the encroaching foliage. One door and three windows are the only access to the structure, the frosted glass in the frames preventing the observer from seeing more than the diffuse light inside and the occasional shadow as the occupant moved inside. A solitary figure, now pacing, now bent over some undiscerned task, now blocking the light, now disappearing from view into the deeper recesses of the building. For six months, every night the occupant had walked the path from the house to the workshop, always alone, always with a preoccupied air of someone with too much on her mind. Always dressed in the same manner, bib fronted coveralls and a long sleeved sweatshirt, industrial workboots and a knitted wollen cap, unmindful of the prevailing weather conditions the clothing taking on the essence of a uniform, workwear for an undefined task. Her previous life, her routines, established over fifteen years service to the military-industrial complex, and before that five years of undergraduate and postgraduate study at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, has embedded in her a sense of order and structure that is impossible to break. The pressure of a woman operating in the extremely male envionment of engineering and even more so military engineering research has given her a single-minded determination and an intensity of focus that precludes mundane concerns of fashion or social interaction.

A bright, sharp light flashes within the workshop, the harsh actinic blue glare of an arc welder, the sputter and fizz of molten metal as pieces are fused together. The cover of the trees and the postion of the structure make accidental observation almost impossible. An observer would have to know what they were looking for in order to discern anything of the activity inside. She was on a watch list, everyone associated with the projects she had worked on until she walked away six months ago was. High security risks, high risk of being tartget by the opposition. Security awareness had been drilled into her early in her career, and as with her style of dress, had remained with her, ingrained in her psyche. Her routine, though rigid, allowed for variation of working hours, of movements, strategies designed to confuse and disorientate any watchers trying to establish a pattern of behaviour in their target. Her personal security awareness paying dividends now as her personal project neared completion. The security extended to the sourcing of materials, a trick learned fully seventy years earlier by minds more attuned to subterfuge than hers. The secrecy surrounding the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb, no supplier being given enough material orders to guess at the eventual use, the secret being kept despite hundereds of thousands on people with a small amount of knowledge but no idea of the bigger picture. It had made sourcing materials far harder but she slept more soundly knowing that she had done everything she could to avoid detection.

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