It took both of them to move to door, but once through, Carter looked at Amy and said, "Start talking."
As they descended a spiral staircase leading deep under the facility, Amy explained that Carter was not the only shoulder on which the President had tapped. She explained that he had developed a small network of reliable people to call on when the wheels of government simply turn too slowly or too combatively. She did not know anyone else in that network but herself and Carter. Her role was to break out certain technologies from the development and procurement cycle when needed – like the suit she was wearing.
"When I found out you had invited yourself on this little sojourn with my team, I thought it might come in handy," she said as she finished her tale.
"What's it do?" asked Carter.
"You know your little friend on the bus?"
"Well, you’re looking at her."
"That and a little more, it’s protective, and it gives something of a strength boost – I could have opened the door myself."
By this time, they were at the bottom of the steps and making their way through the series of tunnels that had been dug just after Sophiasjia's accident. The cement sarcophagus surrounded the former nuclear reactor on all sides, as well as above and beneath. The tunnels had been dug at great cost in human life and health, but they had done the job and the miners that came in to do it were all "Heroes Of The Soviet Union".
It was immediately obvious what was going on. The Russian mob was stealing material out of the bottom of the pile, using the tunnels and doing the extortion. It was also obvious that it was a heck of a criminal enterprise. There was nothing there to indicate that they were handling the amounts of material the records indicated. Obviously, having control of the tunnels and small amounts of the material was enough to accomplish the extortion.
They went past a heavily shielded room and looked through what had to be 12 inches of leaded crystal. They were looking at the bottom of the radioactive pile. They saw several small holes in the concrete and steel shield that had been built. Through these holes the small amounts had been extracted.
Carter followed the signs to tunnel 5. There, his last remaining question was answered. He could see that they were pulling almost pure radioactive fuel from the bottom of the pile. From above, the boron sand used to extinguish the core fire had diluted everything, but from below they could reach reasonable chunks of really hot stuff. This accounted for the large loss in radiation levels for the relatively small amount of material removed. It also accounted for the heavily shielded boxes arrayed in front of him.
Immediately to his right was a small office. There were signs of life – so he pointed to it. Amy donned her hood and disappeared. Seemingly by itself, the office door opened and by the time Carter had walked through, the office's occupant was sitting in a desk chair and appeared to be pinned by someone who wasn't there.
"Ilya?" asked Carter
"Da," came the reply from the clearly confused and befuddled mobster.
"We need to talk…," was all the farther Carter got before some sort of monster burst through a door in the back of the office.
"So, that’s how they do this," thought Carter to himself as he examined the creature. It was clear it had once been human, but most of the resemblance was gone. More machine than biology, Carter figured that this cyborg thing had been created either purposefully, or as a means of repairing some victim of the radiation. It was clearly designed to handle heavy loads of radioactive material, fitted with drills and loaders, and its few biological components were in a heavily shielded dome. One thing was for sure, short of a crane, it could never leave the tunnels.
Next thing he knew, Ilya was flying across the room at Carter. He heard Amy's disembodied voice yell, "Go!" as he saw one of the less useful appendages break off the thing.
Carter hesitated, holding Ilya, who at this point had a very sinister grin, but again he heard Amy, "I can handle this, GO!"
Ilya was just afraid enough of the disembodied voice and having been pinned by nothing that he did not argue too hard as Carter shoved him out the door. As they made their way through the tunnels, it was apparent a titanic struggle was going on in the office. Titanic enough to shake the walls, making both men fear a collapse. Ilya, a coward at heart, began to lead them out through the shortest path possible. There was an exit staircase much closer to their location than the one Carter and Amy had descended.
As they started to climb, Carter heard a scream and looked back to see an arm, obviously ripped from Amy's body, come flying down the hall. His marine training took over, "Live now, mourn later."
They came up very close to the tour he had abandoned. As they rejoined, Cater explained to the guide that he had gotten lost finding a bathroom and his new friend Ilya had helped him find the group. He also mentioned that Ilya needed a ride back to Kiev.
Ilya did not argue. It was obvious he was afraid of what Carter might do after what he had just witnessed. Once on the bus, Carter slipped Ilya a sedative and the mobster passed out immediately.