PENDRAGON 3

The Cardiff Bay shuttle terminated at Queen Street and Davies got off to change trains. While he waited for the next Merthyr train to arrive, Davies spent the time checking on his fellow passengers on the platform. There was no-one he recognised. Two conservatively suited men stood muttering to each other and occasionally looking down the line toward Central Station. They fitted the bill for lookouts for Pendragon, but probably a little too closely. If Davies had to pick an unlikely couple of watchers it would probably be the two blond Danish tourists, incongruously clad in walking gear. He supposed a couple of tourists could have spent the night in Cardiff before dressing for a country walk and catching a train to Merthyr but it seemed an outside bet. Bound to attract attention and therefore unlikely and a great disguise at the same time. Davies tutted to himself. Too much second guessing. All he had to do was be aware of any obvious threat and make his way to where he hoped he would find Pendragon, or at least the next clue for the meeting.

The train, an old class 143 Pacer DMU set, chugged along from Central and stopped, almost gratefully Davies thought, at the platform. He waited as a Chinese couple got off and the two business men and the Danes boarded the train before he got on. So, we’re all going the same way he thought. He wasn’t going to narrow the field down that way at any rate. There were already several passengers on the coach Davies boarded. The Danes were with him and the business men were in the forward carriage. Most of the existing passengers looked like locals travelling back up the valleys but you would expect them to look like that Davies reasoned. He sat as far away from all the others as he could.

The journey up the line to Cathays didn’t take long, even for a diesel engine as old and battered as the 143’s. Built in 1987 they were a stop gap with an expected life of 20 years maximum. Nearly forty years on they had been passed down from BR through a variety of privatised companies until they reached the graveyard of rolling stock, the Valleys Line. The brakes squealed and the air hoses hissed and the carriages rattled to a halt at the back of the University Gymnasium. A couple of what Davies presumed, from their youth and dress, were students waited for the lights to announce that the doors could be opened. Davies waited for the students to press the button and get on before he suddenly stood and jumped through the doors onto the platform. The guard glared at him as he waved to the driver and got back on the train and shut the doors.  The Danes stayed on the train, but Davies found himself watching the two business men wander off down the side of the gymnasium towards Park Place in front of him. Behind he could hear someone crossing the tracks by the footbridge from the Senghenydd Road car park.

The walkway from the station led onto Park Place just opposite the north wing of the University Main Building across the road. Davies took a smart left turn and marched along Park Place to the Students Union. He trotted up the steps to the veranda cafe and bought a latte. He was pleasantly surprised to find that student palates obviously demanded more than the Norwegian Cafe clientele. As he sat he watched the two business suits disappear into the University Campus buildings. The unfashionably long haired character who had crossed the lines behind him stopped across the road outside the entrance to the main building and looked around. Davies was sure that he had seen him but the man never gave any clue as to whether he had seen what he wanted. He looked at his watch and then made his way down the road towards the city.

Davies finished his drink glancing at his watch to make sure he had time to make the rendezvous without running and went to relieve himself of the effects of waiting for contacts in coffee shops. When he came out and walked down the steps, the long haired man was walking back up the road towards Corbett Road and the University library. Looking for something, or someone, mused Davies. He waited for the man to walk along the slight bend in the road towards the law school before he stepped down onto the pavement. He walked smartly in the opposite direction to the man and when he saw a gap in the traffic, crossed the road and turned off down the side of the University towards Alexandra Gardens and the Temple of Peace. Just before he reached the Gardens themselves he turned left and made for the rear of a magnificent white civic building in a simple Classical style. Davies crossed a small employees car park and made for a service entrance and rang the bell. A man opened the door and Davies showed him his identification. After a second’s hesitation the man allowed Davies into the building.

‘What can I do for you Superintendent?’ the man asked him. Davies gave the man his serious but confidential look and brought his lips near the man’s ear. There was no need for this, they were alone in a room full of packing cases and materials for ensuring exhibits were not damaged in transit, but it was the conspiratorial touches that always helped Davies felt.

‘I’m supposed to be meeting someone here in ten minutes. It’s vital our meeting is not compromised and I fear I may have been followed. I know the Director personally and he has previously assured me that I can count on his help in these matters. All I need from you is access to the main upper gallery and then I can pass on my commendation to him for your assistance.’

The man may have been impressed by Davies’ identification and felt drawn in by the tone and the confidence Davies had shared, but he still felt a little wary of strangers approaching the delivery bay door.

‘Would you mind if I rang him?’ he asked Davies. Davies glanced at his watch and gave a snort of impatience.

‘Go ahead.’

The man walked through the rook to an office and picked up a phone. A minute later he was back, looking a little shamefaced.

‘Sorry about that.’ He said. ‘But you can’t be too careful these days can you.’

‘Not at all.’ Davies said. ‘You did exactly the right thing. Now can we go?’

The man led on and took Davies up a service lift to the upper gallery. Davies thanked the man who looked a little crestfallen at being abandoned at the exciting bit. He waited until the doors had shut and the lift had whirred away to the depths of the building before he turned and walked out onto the landing, looking down across the expanse of the lower floor of the National Museum of Wales.

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