Subsubsection: 13 April 2016 (Ishiyama Lumber) Up Subsection: Operation Hard Sell Subsubsection: 11 May 2016 (driving towards Eugene) 

28 April 2016 (Lunton Biochemical)

Looking further, it seems that whatever chemical processing is being done is fairly small-scale: there are small chimneys, but no huge scrubber stacks. The team comes back at night, when the guards on the gates are as before, but there are only five cars in the car park. One of the cameras seems to be scanning more slowly than the others, and could possibly be evaded, but Diamond flies over to the first-floor window; it’s locked, so she comes back with David, who breaks in.
There’s a large office with a computer, but David finds very little of interest – just the regulatory correspondence that the boss needs to sign off. The pair moves out into an open office area with stairs to ground level, belatedly spotting a security camera (though there’s no illumination, so it probably can’t see much). Diamond fetches the other two, and Stephen checks the far door, which leads out to a catwalk overlooking the factory floor. As David has a quick scout round, it appears that there’s mixing of two different feedstocks, some minor processing, and then sealing of the result into more barrels, all with some care to prevent even minor leakage. At the far end is a storage and loading area, with a forklift and a large pickup-type truck.
There’s a door at ground level back into the office section, where a reception desk (with security monitors) is unattended. One side office seems to have no windows, and is labelled “Shipping Office”, so the team heads in there; there’s a substantial minicomputer, and David gets down to it. Thorfin stays inside with him, while Stephen and Diamond keep an eye on things in the main office area.
David manages to confirm some of the information from Ishiyama, and learns further that this place is also sending money back to Kanawa; that Lunton Biochemical has been shipping its output to a base known as “Hard Sell” east of Portland (still in the Living Land); and that a report from the base says “edeinos and humans respond to virus predictably; vaccine less reliable; testing will continue”. There’s a map of the California-Oregon area with stela boundaries drawn in, Eugene and Portland circles, and an X at what might well be the base site.
After about fifteen minutes of this, Diamond hears stealthy footsteps upstairs. These get much louder, with all attempt at concealment dropped, as four guards start down the stairs, torches and guns drawn. Stephen opens fire; Diamond shoots the front doors in the hope of getting the team away quickly, but the glass stars in a way that suggests it’s heavily armoured. David reckons the lock and hinges are substantial too, and the thing’s been installed quite recently. Thorfin intimidates the guards and they start to fall back up the stairs. As Stephen and Diamond shoot them (aiming for their heads when it becomes clear they have decent bullet-proof vests), David moves to the back door to see if that’ll be any easier to get out of; it isn’t.
With three guards down, the last one pulls back further, and things go quiet for a moment, until a grenade starts bouncing down the stairs. Everyone takes cover, and Stephen and Diamond charge up and shoot that last guard. Thorfin works on the door with his troll-claw knife while Stephen and Diamond head on to the factory catwalk, since there seems to be more opposition there.
As they get out, the door behind them starts to swing shut (Diamond catches it and holds it steady, with some effort). Lights come on, and a voice (from a source that’s not visible) claims to be “Tak Lo Chien, honourable scientist and businessman” and that they are his prisoners. Concealed fighters rise from behind the machinery (they clearly weren’t there a few minutes earlier) and cock their weapons as he calls on the pair to surrender.
Diamond and Stephen force the door fully open and slip out; it slams shut behind them, bolting itself, and there’s the sound of cursing in Japanese. Diamond checks the window the team came in by, but that’s relocked itself, more thoroughly than before; Thorfin seems to have the best chance of getting out, so the team gathers there. Some fast-moving objects fly down the stairs towards them, curving towards their targets, and one of them hits Stephen (it seems to be a shuriken of some kind), but Thorfin eventually manages to smash down the door, and the team retreats to the truck and safety.
 Subsubsection: 13 April 2016 (Ishiyama Lumber) Up Subsection: Operation Hard Sell Subsubsection: 11 May 2016 (driving towards Eugene)