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DiamondPrevious Story: Imprisoned Son

“Pa,” said Hosh. “I’m submitting a story for my College magazine. Can you read and check it please?”

“Sure,” said Rosh turning his chair around to face his son.

Hosh handed him six sheets of paper. They were neatly typed.

Rosh moved his papers aside on his desk to make room, while Hosh wheeled in his chair to sit beside his dad. Rosh started reading …

"Hello everyone. I’m Mr. Patel – your Head of Security today,” boomed Patel good-naturedly.

He was wearing casual attire. He didn’t look imposing like one could have expected a Head of Security to look like.

He had jet black hair, a simple smile, caramel skin and was moderately built. He was wearing black sun glasses, a thin gold chain around his neck, a lite blue polo shirt, blue jeans and Nike trainers.

“You don’t look like a Head of Security!” exclaimed one jewel guard.

“I’m covering for Mr. Khan, who is away on leave today,” replied Patel, a little shocked at his bluntness.

“We don’t know anything about this,” replied the same guard grumpily.

“I didn’t bring a copy of Khan’s email with me. I was kind of expecting you guys to be informed already.”

The jewel guard smirked and whispered something under his breath to the other guard. They chuckled.

Patel was beginning to feel uncomfortable. He rang Durban Head Office and fortunately the issue was sorted out quickly. The guard groaned, almost sorry that the opportunity to play around a bit more, had slipped him by.

“Next time, wear uniform!” he warned Patel with a parting shot. “So we can recognize you. No girls to impress here.”

“You mean to say,” Patel felt his temper rising, "there’s something wrong with my clothes. Or my sun glasses? I don’t see anything wrong with them. Nothing that would hamper my work.”

'Wrong?’ he thought, as he stared at them waiting for an answer. ‘Nothing wrong at all. My sun glasses are very useful actually. They protect my eyes from the harmful ultra-violet rays. And no one can see them when I don’t want them to. Professional reasons. I wouldn’t take them off, even if I wanted to.'

When the guards turned away from his steely stare and walked inside, Patel didn’t press the point. He quietly followed them inside.

“So,” he asked, trying to change the topic and get on with his job. "Can anyone tell me a bit more about the diamond we are protecting?"

The second jewel guard came and stood beside Patel, who was by now leaning on the solid glass Reception Counter.

“Myself, Mr. Luttu. He,” Mr. Luttu indicated towards the first jewel guard, “Mr. Pringle.”

“Ok. Nice to meet you Mr.,” Patel dragged the last word, but offered a handshake.

“Luttu. Mr. Luttu,” the second guard offered his name again, in reconciliation.

Both men looked into each other’s eyes and shook hands, clearing the air.

“You look like good man,” Luttu said meaningfully. “Decent. Me say sorry for Mr. Pringle. He also good man, but sometime he in bad mood. You know.”

“Yeah, I know,” replied Patel. “So, tell me about this diamond and its security arrangements.”

“Diamond name Noor. Very expensive, as is well cut and very big,” Luttu looked at it in awe. “You know much about diamonds?”

“Yea, a bit,” said Patel sincerely. "I love diamonds, but another quick lesson wouldn't hurt."

He knew Noor meant 'Light' in Urdu. What he didn't know was that the world's second biggest diamond, would in future years, be named "Lesedi La Rona", which means "Our Light" in Setswana, the national language of Botswana, the southern African nation where the 1,111 carat stone would be found in November 2015.

What he didn't know, was that the discovery of this biggest diamond found in over a 100 years, would send Lucara (LUCRF)'s, the Canadian company which would own that diamond, shares soaring.

Idly, he thought of the largest diamond, the 3,106 carat "Cullinan Diamond" found in South Africa in 1905. From that had been cut the "First Star of Africa," which now adorned the Royal Scepter - one of the British crown jewels now on display at the Tower of London.

Luttu turned on the virtual monitor above the Reception Counter and played a video file for him.

Patel kept tapping involuntarily on the solid glass as he absorbed the briefing that followed from Luttu, after he had finished watching the video. He didn't need it, as he had already done his homework, but it never hurt to assess the people he was going to work with.

“No good try break glass. It bullet-proof,” remarked Luttu comically, as he neared the end of his patchy report.

“Oh yeah,” smiled Patel, warming up to the man. “Skip the security camera bits, I know about them.”

Noor had been kept in a large room in the Castle, and the human guards were mostly for show. Cameras maintained their vigil inside and out, as they were mounted in well-chosen places. The big ones were explicitly visible, while the really tiny ones were properly camouflaged.

Luttu seemed to be on the verge of finishing his description of the security arrangements.

“Inside," he was concluding, "sensors connected to Infra-red light and alarm. Lasers come on if alarm goes. Laser will blind man, if see direct into light. Also big electric shock waves come out, if Noor glass cover break. Jewel lifted, doors lock. No can get out. SCB come.”

“SCB?” Patel interrupted.

“Special Crime Brigade.”

“That’s excellent Mr. Luttu. No thief should be able to escape then,” Patel said, moving finally away from the Counter. “I’m going to check the Computer Command Centre (CCC). Then I'll go over to check the electrical circuit boards in the control and refrigeration rooms.”

Luttu handed him his walkie-talkie. “Take this, if you going over to CCC,” he said, “I share with Mr. Pringle. Mr. Khan’s one locked in his locker, sorry can't give.”

It was the standard make. No need to dial any numbers like on a cellphone. Just press to hold and speak. Release to hear, auto adjust frequency. Patel thanked him and spoke into it telling Pringle where he would be if needed. Pringle grunted acknowledgement on the other end.

Patel visited the refrigeration room, and checked the electrical circuitry. He spent quite some time there. Before he had finished, the serene quiet of the Castle was disturbed by the alarms jangling.

“Patel, get out of Castle quik. Fire!” Luttu’s panicked voice blurted out of the walkie-talkie.

“Ok. Get Sir Zubin to safety. I‘m coming.”

A large group of people was gathered outside on the Castle grounds. Many were coughing. Sir Zubin had been brought out safely and was being cared for by the Castle nurses.

The Fire Fighters had quickly put out the fire, but thick, black smoke still belched out from where the electrical circuitry section had been. Sir Zubin’s SCB were on the scene and busily investigating for clues, along with the local police and detectives in plain clothes.

Soon, the chief SCB detective came to report to Sir Zubin.

“So,” Sir Zubin demanded, "Is the diamond safe? Where was the fire from?"

“Sir,” reported the chief detective, "the diamond’s gone."

“What! How?” Zubin began to lose color fast.

“Fire was caused by a short circuit at the electrical circuit boards,” answered the chief detective. "The short circuit also tripped the CCC fuse. Back-up generator was shut down earlier today for pre-scheduled maintenance, so there was no electricity."

“Crap!” fumed Zubin. “Noor was protected by state-of-the art systems in an impenetrable fortress, the best private security firm in South Africa and SCB. There are hordes of sensors, alarms, lasers, cameras, Infra-red, unbreakable glass and cutting edge technology...”

“All this electrical stuff needs electricity," the chief detective said resignedly. "So they were ineffective. The fire alarm made the guards leave their stations."

"Noor’s own alarm was muffled in the fire alarm noise. But how the thief escaped the Infra-red sensors is still a mystery. We are investigating. We’ll keep you posted”.

“Crap!” raged Zubin. Phlegm spat out of his contorted face as he tried to speak, "You were the elite team. Is that all you got so far? No other clues? What about this thief? Anything on him? Or her? Or is it more than one? Got to be. How did they get away with this, despite all these arrangements?"

“Because of the smoke and panic," offered the chief detective, "no one may have seen them escaping. It was well-planned and perfectly executed. All I can add at this point is that there was inexplicable water around Noor’s glass chamber."

"We don’t know how it got there. Is there anything you know about other private security arrangements for Noor, that we don't know about?"

Zubin stared hard at the detective, but shook his head.

"Obviously done with inside help," the chief detective shrugged, "but no concrete clues at the moment. We are working on it. By the way, we found this walkie-talkie near the crime scene.”

“That’s ours,” snapped Zubin. “Crap! Where does that leave us? Where is my Head of Security now? Why haven’t I seen him yet?”

"Let me see if I can track him down for you," the chief detective replied and walked away.

He was glad to be moving away from Zubin. He wanted to get on with his job. It was going to be a long night and he hated debriefing and reassuring clients straight after incidents. But someone had to do it.

He shrugged again and dialed a preset number on his cell phone. When the call was answered at the other end, he spoke into the mouthpiece, “It's me. Noor’s gone.”

He talked into the phone for a few more minutes, then disconnected his call.

Next Story: The Diamond Heist 2

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