The mission I had chosen to accept would be a long and arduous one, there was no doubt about that. Three previous search and rescue teams had spent a collective six years on this project and had come back discouraged and defeated.
“How did you find me, anyway?” my particular set of skills necessarily clandestine.
“Your credentials and success rate were brought to our attention quite by accident while we were working another cold case. It is better for all concerned that we do not reveal to you the specifics or our source.”
Cutting edge technology had served me well over the years, combined with an uncanny ability to recognize the value of new tools for my profession. My newest acquisition promised to surpass even my expectations.
MAVIS (Maverick in Search), a glorified amphibious catamaran, was outfitted with the latest gadgets and would single-handedly aid the island search for the proverbial needle in a haystack, it's souped-up engine at the ready with a simple switch flick.
Spartus Island was a local anomaly for its very remoteness. Most tested its mysterious pristine nature only once, not willing to hack their way through vines thick enough to strangle an elephant, only to be rewarded by a bad case of poison ivy or a body covered with mammoth mosquito bites. Some, like me, however, were still drawn to its banks if only to admire a place that humanity had not yet conquered.
That is why, six years ago, when a tourist unwittingly stumbled upon a stashed cache of BRINKS money bags, law enforcement was duty-bound to solve the crime theft. Dr. Ratify, a retired botany professor, had been climbing a hill on Spartus to view a magnificent plant of the rare Casuarinaceae family, when he tripped on a partially covered tree root, falling headlong over a precipice onto some brush below. He was as surprised as anyone else, when, underneath the foliage, a stash of BRINKS canvas money sacks was found to have cushioned his fall!
His discovery and subsequent visit to the Brakesfield Police Station initiated a thorough investigation by agencies that triggered a stampede of treasure seekers to the island almost surpassing the famed California Gold Rush of 1848. The island, still unfriendly to human traipsing, seemed reluctant to produce any other loot or clues to nab a robbery suspect. After a couple of years, interest in Spartus dwindled.
Although the money was traced and delivered back to the bank it originated from, the FBI was still very concerned about a still missing valuable case of diamonds taken from the same BRINKS truck. They further believed that, if found, these jewels would give them the DNA and forensic evidence necessary to convict a person or persons “of interest.”
“Come on, MAVIS, baby, do me proud,” maneuvering through nooks and crannies heretofore unattainable.
Her upscaled minuscule engine revved up for our dozenth search. Equipped with high-tech cameras that could probe previously unaccessible regions, MAVIS valiantly scanned even the thickest trees for any sing of human disturbance, ground cavities already yielding nothing except animal bones or ancient fossils of not particular importance. After three months of fruitless scans and as a last ditch effort, I sent MAVIS down the cliff where Dr. Ratify originally found the BRINKS money sacks. This time, I hand-lengthened her extension appendages below the find site into the expanse below. The cameras beaconed their scopes optimally, funneling into underbrush and blowing loosened nature every which-way, much like a Wizard of Oz tornado.
I caught my breath when a smidgen of bright neon blue flashed across the monitor screen and stalled the engine for further investigation. Sure enough, there WAS definitely something—a piece of blue fabric? Nylon? A parachute? A PARACHUTE! Further scoping scooped up dozens of diamonds sprinkled between the bones . . .
What was left of the harnessed parachuted corpse produced DNA fodder that kept forensic scientists busy for months; but, finally, dental records revealed the identity of one Brandon Carter, one of the FBI's most wanted felons, who had escaped their radar and was thought to have escaped to a distant country.
MAVIS was awarded the Medal of Search Engine Honors, just the beginning of an illustrious career that surpassed even mine.
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