Jinnie’s Story, Book Six – Chapter Four

The search is on

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Jinnie and Penny expanded their search for more debris that could have come from a drone. A walk around the pool deck revealed the burnt deck in several places and burnt piles of loungers, but nothing that looked like drone debris. Moving on they climbed up to the bar area that overlooked the pool on the next deck up. It was devastated. A bomb had hit the bar, and it was a mess with broken glass bottles everywhere. But the sprinklers in the ceiling over the actual bar seemed to have succeeded in killing the worst of the resulting fire and there they spied another electric motor and propeller, what looked like a commercial battery and charred waxed cardboard. Again, Penny rang Dan to get him to alert the forensic teams.

The next stop was the promenade deck, where passengers would have boarded lifeboats that hung above them. However, several of the lifeboats and one of the ship’s tenders were burnt-out hulks. Unfortunately, there were no sprinklers to save them and the fire seemed to have quickly spread from boat to boat and to their first viewing all evidence looked to have been lost in fighting the fire, as the burnt boats hung over the sea. The sisters were happy to leave the decks to the forensic teams and moved off to talk to the ship’s captain and the officer of the watch.


Back in the embassy, Dan was trying to set up an operations room in meeting room B2. The ambassador was being very helpful, and the embassy IT people had been instructed to find PCs. Someone had been sent out to Bridgetown’s leading computer store and within an hour the IT team was busy installing five top-of-the-range Dell PCs and a server. For security reasons they were on their own mini network but had a high-speed fibre link to the internet. IT were still busy installing the software and security when Penny phoned with the news that the theory that it had been a drone attack was confirmed. So at once he had passed the information on to the Barbados Police Service forensic department and then he searched the internet for cardboard drones.

Almost immediately Dan, using his mobile phone, found several cardboard drones available for a few hundred pounds. They all seemed to be quadcopters, most were for hobbyists, and they couldn’t carry much of a load other than a tiny camera. So he searched on until he found a story about the Australian Army buying waxed cardboard drones that could carry a bomb, had sophisticated electronics and were supplied to the army as a flat pack the size of a 24-inch pizza box. The kit contained everything from elastic bands to hold the wings onto the body, motors, batteries, a guidance system and a tiny controller. The information that Dan really needed like range, load carrying capacity and availability just weren’t in the article, so he headed for the maker’s website, only once again to find the vital information missing.

As he pondered his next step, the IT man approached him saying, “Your network is up and you can get on the internet, and we have installed a robust firewall and security software. We have installed phones and the red one over there, is a direct link to the operations room in the Cross. If you need anything else call me on extension 2525.” “Thank you,” said Dan. As the IT man left the room Dan picked up the red phone which rang once before being answered by a voice that said, “Operations.” Dan explained who he was and what he was doing and said, “I desperately need information on the cardboard drones that the Australian Army are purchasing, including range, capability and do the makers sell them to anyone else? Also, I wonder if any have gone missing.” “No problem,” replied the voice. “We have an excellent relationship with the Aussies, we are both part of Five Eyes and AUKUS and cooperate regularly. I’ll ring you back the instant we have any information.”

Dan decided to log on to the network and found Microsoft Office Suite had been installed so he started to set up an Excel Spreadsheet that was a timeline of the incident and actions with each logged and timed. He knew that if anything went wrong with the investigation, having a log would be the first thing an investigation would look for. He was deeply into it when his mobile rang, and Penny told him about the remains of the drone in the bar. Once again, he rang the forensic team to be told they had just arrived at the cruise port and were walking to the ship. Dan told them of the second find before adding it to his log.

Dan then went to ring the team looking for the drone launch site, but before he could do so the red phone rang. It was the man from Vauxhall who explained that the cardboard drones had already gone into service with the Australian Army who confirmed that it could carry a camera and a couple of hand grenade-sized bombs for a thousand kilometres. The built-in GPS and radio control allowed it to be used as a long-range Kamikaze drone or on a shorter-range round trip. However, the Army said they could account for every drone they had purchased.

The man from Vauxhall Cross explained that he had talked with the makers who had confirmed that a pallet load shipped to Jamaica for evaluation had arrived short of ten drones from the 24 on a pallet. The Jamaica Constabulary Force had investigated but had come up with a blank. Dan said, “I think we have found some of them, they appear to have been used in the cruise ship attack.” The Vauxhall man then added they also lost half a dozen launcher ramps saying, “The drones can be hand-launched, but it is supposed to be a bit of an acquired art. The heavy wire launch ramp is supposed to be much easier to master with a powered cable launch.”


Paolo and Lenny had halted their search for a launch site for a few minutes to take a cold drink, it was warm in the Caribbean sunshine, when Lenny’s mobile rang. Dan explained that he had information on what they were looking for and explained what he had learnt and what the launcher looked like, before sending them a photo he’d just received from London. Happy to have a good idea what they were looking for Paolo and Lenny resumed their search with renewed vigour and pushed a bit further into the woods away from the tree line.

It was late afternoon before they stumbled into a clearing and immediately recognised three drone launchers. Careful not disturb the site, they edged around its perimeter until Lenny spotted a pair of discarded surgical gloves in a bush. Happy that this was what they were looking for, Paolo phoned Dan to let him know and to call in the forensics. Dan told them that the police forensic team were deeply involved on the ship but had called in assistance from the nearby islands of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The teams had flown into the island earlier that afternoon and were waiting at police HQ ready for a call. Dan suggested that they should guard the site until a forensic team arrived and then they should knock off for the day as there was little more they could do until the forensic reports started coming in.


Jinnie and Penny got back to the villa just as the Sun was going down. Jinnie loved how quickly it went from light to dark in the Caribbean and the beautiful sunsets. The twins rushed up to meet them completely uninterested in where they had been and what they had been doing and just wanted to tell them about their day on the beach with Izzy and Lucia. Penny asked if they had eaten as she was hungry. Izzy said she was waiting until they all got back, and she was expecting Paolo and Dan shortly.

Jinnie decided that it would be a takeaway meal that evening as no one felt like cooking and wished that they could ring up for a Dark Kitchen delivery. Instead, she phoned Paolo and Penny phoned Dan to see how long they would be and would a takeaway from the beach cafe suffice for their main meal. Paolo said he could ‘eat a horse’ and asked for a half-pound cheeseburger with salad, large chips and a chocolate milkshake. While Dan went for four pieces of fried chicken, garlic dip, chips and a large Pepsi. Jinnie, Penny and Izzy all went for quarter-pound cheeseburgers with salad, regular chips and various flavours of milkshakes while the twins asked for chicken nuggets and chips and vanilla milkshakes.

The sisters set off for the beach cafe and were surprised to find how many people were eating there, with waiters and waitresses serving candle-lit tables all laid with chequered tablecloths. The daytime beach cafe had become a sophisticated evening seafood restaurant. “Gosh this is a bit different to the daytime trade,” said Jinnie, “Do you think they will still be happy to do burgers and chicken?” “I hope so,” said Penny, “but there is only one way to find out.” Anderson, the owner, was happy to take their order and apologised that as they were busy it would take around 15 mins to prepare. Jinnie handed over her black Visa Debit card and saw Anderson do a double take.

Anderson came back with the portable card machine and asked her to tap in her code number saying, “Do I call you Dame Jinnie?” Jinnie smiled and said, “No, Jinnie will do,” and tapped in her number which was quickly approved. Anderson suggested they sit at the bar while they waited and have a beer on the house. In seconds glasses of chilled draught Banks Larger appeared in front of them and Andersen asked, “Are you royalty?” Jinnie laughed and said, “No, I got the tile for ‘services to the restaurant businesses.” “Wow”, said Anderson. “What sort of restaurant do you have?” Jinnie explained that she was the COO of chains of Italian restaurants, sandwich bars and delivery kitchens. Then she added, “I am also the MD of a chain of dark kitchens, which is half owned by the Italian restaurant business.”

“What is a dark kitchen?” asked Anderson and Jinnie launched into the explanation. When she finished Anderson asked, “Are you here scouting out a site in Barbados?” “Not really,” replied Jinnie. “I am really on holiday, and I haven’t thought about opening that sort of business here.” “That’s a pity,” said Anderson. “I think two lots of six kitchens would work beautifully here, one in Bridgetown and one in say Speigthstown and you could cover the whole island. I would love to get involved with a business like that. I wonder if I can get some of the other local restaurants interested.” Thinking quickly Jinnie said, “Please don’t do that. I am a bit tied up at the moment, but if you give me a few days I will talk to my board of directors in England and recommend we look at opening up here with you as a partner. I am really on holiday, you have probably seen me here at lunchtimes with my husband, twins and their nanny but I will get a director or two to fly out and talk to you.”

As they walked back to the villa laden with bags full of food Penny said, “Sis, you never stop do you? First it was buying a restaurant, then setting up a chicken shack chain and now it’s dark kitchens. Oh, and don’t forget your working for the SIS on this cruise ship thing.” Jinnie chuckled, “And I’m officially on holiday, at this rate I’ll need a holiday to get over this holiday.” As they walked up to the villa, they knew the boys were home because the people carrier and Paolo’s Italian consulate car had joined Jinnie’s and Penny’s parked outside.


With the meal over and the twins tucked up in bed Jinnie decided she needed to talk to Alberto, Ro and Brian and Belinda, and perhaps even Mick, the DKL COO, to keep the DKL board informed as to what she had in mind. She knew that Alberto trusted her judgment and she already had the go-ahead to talk to the restaurant and chicken shack but what would he think about the plan to open a DKL business in Barbados? Would he agree with her that they should take a delivery kitchen or two? As for DKL, she was the MD and if she told them they were opening kitchens in Barbados that was how it was going to be.

Looking at her watch she worked out that with the five-hour time difference to the U.K. it was after one in the morning there, so she decided to leave her calls until later and get up very early in the morning to make them. Jinnie was up just after 5am local time and made her first call to Alberto’s mobile. She quickly explained that the restaurant was in the bag, all bar the final price negotiation and for that she needed Brian to negotiate and Belinda to get an idea for the refurbishments required. She then talked more about Auntie JoJo’s Chicken Shack and her idea of a chain across the Caribbean and even in the U.K. She explained she was busy on government business and needed help from Brian and Brooke who was now an indispensable member of the team when it came to the takeaway side of the business. Alberto knew better than to ask what she was doing for the Government and simply said, “This all sounds good, but I would like to see all this myself before saying yes. But isn’t it going to cost a lot flying four people out to advise and negotiate?”

Jinnie explained that she thought that DKL would pay for Belinda and Brian’s flights as she also had an idea about setting up a couple of small dark kitchens and was about to talk to them about flying Belinda and Brian out to meet with a potential partner and discuss setting up kitchens. Alberto said, “I’m happy with that, but do you envisage us taking takeaway kitchens?” “We can talk about that more deeply when you get here, but basically, I think maybe a posh takeaway offering based on the new restaurant and maybe a second based on the chicken shack. I reckon SuperBurger would jump at the chance of opening a Caribbean delivery business, McDonald’s have a presence on the island, but it is pretty weak. That would leave three kitchens to fill, and I was thinking the leading local fried chicken chain would take one, but that would mean we couldn’t sell fried chicken deliveries from Auntie JoJo’s. Maybe we should look to a roti chain they are popular here. Also, the potential partner would take another, that would leave just one to sell. Can you and Brooke book open return flights? I suggest you also book a hotel and a hire car to pick up at the airport. You should be OK they drive on the left here! But make sure you have an international driving licence.

Looking at her watch again, Jinnie saw it was just past 10:30 a.m. in London, so she dialled Ro’s direct number. Ro answered immediately and after exchanging pleasantries Jinnie asked if Brian was in his office. Ro answered, “Yes.” And Jinnie said, “Please can you transfer this call into this office, and you join him, shut the doors to your office and his and put the call on speaker.” A minute later Ro said, “OK Jinnie, Brian and I are here, and the doors are closed.” Jinnie said, “Thank you, by now I expect you have guessed I don’t want this going around the office, but I have come across what I think will be an excellent business opportunity. Now the first part of what I’m about to tell you really is only necessary for background, as it is really Trattoria Trevi business, but it will become clear why in a minute or two.”

Jinnie explained about the restaurant in Bridgetown and the nearby chicken shack that Brian already knew about but went on to tell them about the idea of building a pair of six dark kitchens. She said that if they went ahead with the kitchens, Trattoria Trevi would probably take two, one to deliver posh food under the Continental Restaurant name, and one to deliver the fried chicken shack food. She explained she believed she had found a local investor who would also take a kitchen to deliver seafood and, of course, she expected SuperBurger to take a kitchen. She then added she would suggest they approach a roti business as that was very popular. If all that worked, they would only have one kitchen to market.

Then Jinnie said, “Brian, I need you and Belinda out here ASAP, I am stuck on something I can’t talk about, so I want you to take over on the DKL project. We need a preliminary cost for it and if the numbers look good, I will drive it through the board. Brian, can you talk with Belinda, I really would like you both on a plane tomorrow morning. BA and Virgin both have daily morning flights to Bridgetown. Ro, please can you talk to our travel people to book the flights, I need them out here like now, so if Business Class is full get them in First. Get travel to book them a hotel room and a hire car to pick up at the airport. Can you do that now please Ro and phone me back to tell me if it is on or not. In the meantime, I need to talk to Brian.”

There was some background noise and Brian said, “Right Jinnie, Ro has gone, what do you want to chat about?” “We need to talk about the restaurant and the chicken shack. You are going to have to take over negotiations for both of them as well and I will brief you properly when you get here. I need Belinda to talk refurbishments and new kitchen cost, and to talk to contractors. Alberto and Brooke are both flying out as well. Brooke to get involved in the chicken shack plans, she really is our in-house takeaway expert, and Alberto is of course chairman of both companies so he can be useful in all the negotiations.” “OK,” replied Brian, “Do you know when they are flying?” “No,” said Jinnie, “but knowing Alberto he will be looking at Economy and will not be in a hurry. Come to think of it I have no idea if Brooke even has a passport. Can you message me back when you have told Belinda? I suppose I better tell Mick what is going on so he can update the board. Can you switch me through to him please?”

Jinnie told Mick only that she had met someone who wanted to join them in setting up a couple of six-kitchen dark kitchens on the island and that she was pretty sure she had customers for at least four kitchens on each site. But could he talk to Jerry and get him to sound out SuperBurger to find if they wanted in? “But to do it very cautiously as I don’t really want anyone jumping in on our plans. You know, tell them the kitchens would be in the Caribbean but until we get a tentative commitment we can’t say exactly where.”

Jinnie left her phone on the bedside table and went to check on the twins, they were still sleeping peacefully and looked angelic. As she stood watching them, she heard her mobile phone ring in her bedroom, before she got back to it she heard Paolo saying, “Hello Ro, she’s coming, I can hear her footsteps.” Paolo handed the mobile to Jinnie who said, “Hi Ro, what’s happening?” and Ro replied, “We’ve got Brain and Belinda on the Virgin flight in the morning, but we have had to get Upper-Class tickets as that was all that were available. We have got them both hire cars to pick up from Hertz at the airport. Belinda said she would need her own car as she planned to visit contractors and sites while Brian was busy negotiating. I wasn’t sure what the time was out there, so I rang you back as soon as I had news. The travel people are still working on the hotel room, there seems to be a lot of very expensive hotels in Barbados. I think they are looking at £200 or £300 a night but some want £800 or more, and breakfast is extra!”

“Tell the travel people not to go too cheap, I really need them here, and if we have to pay for it, I will sign off their expenses. Is Brian still in the office?” “He has gone home to sort things out,” replied Ro. “He said he had a couple of meetings and a dinner invitation he had to cancel and packing to do.” “Right,” said Jinnie, “I expect he will message me soon.”

In Chapter 5 – The investigation progresses

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