Current day, 11:10 AM,
Radii Defense Systems laboratory,
North of Thompsonville, Virginia.
“Did someone shit in here!?!!” Saint Nick exclaimed as he opened Dr. Lawrence Royal’s office door. He waved a hand in front of his face. “Oh, good lord that’s awful!”
Aaron shook his head and pushed past the large man. “Damn. It looks like this Dr. Royal character beat us here.”
“Aaron?” the earpiece in the agent’s ear buzzed.
“Go ahead, Cole,” the field commander acknowledged.
“The lab’s empty...”
“Gone. It’s all gone,” Cole replied. “Anything up there?”
Aaron backed from the room and closed the door. “No, it’s a bust up here, too. Everything’s been cleaned out.”
“Me and Fitz, we’ll look around a bit more, but I ain’t hopeful, boss.”
“Alright, do one more quick sweep and then come back up and meet us on Level One. I saw a conference room we could use.”
Twenty minutes later, Cole, Aaron, Fitz, and Nick were seated around a rectangular table made of some sort of brown acrylic.
“Interesting material,” Cole noted, running a finger over the table’s glossy surface.
“I was thinking the same thing, son,” Nick added.
Aaron plopped the G.I.Z.M.O. documents down in front of him. “Excellent work, Agent Hitchens...excellent work!”
Cole shook his head. “Biltmore’s dead because of me, sir. I don’t consider that excellent work.”
Fitz looked over at Cole. “Agent Biltmore is confimed KIA, then?”
“Yessir.” Cole shot a thumb over at the large agent next to him. “Nick found his body earlier today near the cabin he was using as a safe house. He died helping my family get away from these clowns.”
“I’m sorry, agent. I understand you two were close.”
“Yessir, we’ve been through a lot...” Cole nodded at Nick. “We all have.”
Fitz looked over at Aaron. “Field Commander Hinds, I need you and your team to understand I have gone out on a limb and broken at least a dozen laws and CIA regulations to assist you...a small price to pay to stop what you say would’ve happened were it not for your team’s efforts. However, I hope...no, let me rephrase that, I need to see what evidence you have beyond the documents here that actually ties Director Moore to all of this. I have to admit, I let my chauvinism blind me. I never gave Annalisa that much credit and she evidently used this bias against me.” Fitz wrapped his fingers together in front of him as he looked down at the table. “If I had just left my prejudice at the damn door, none of this might have happened. I would have seen her for how intelligent she was and paid more attention. Always, so dismissive...”
“Agent Fitz, no one knew. Now, speaking of someone going out on a limb, you wanted to see our proof?” Aaron extracted a photo from a manila folder marked Top Secret and set it down. He tapped it with his finger and then slid it over to Fitz. “There’s our proof.
“Who is this?”
“Dr. Sally Cao.”
“Like Vice President Arnold Cao?”
“That’d be the one,” Nick replied, attempting to lean back in the uncomfortable, ergonomic seat. “Damn shitty these chairs!”
Cole pursed his lips to keep from laughing. He needed that small dose of Saint Nick’s humor.
Aaron rolled his eyes and looked over at Fitz seated across the table from him. “Believe it or not, your two paths crossed over in Afghanistan, but she indicated that when you did, you were unconscious.”
“She must have been the doctor that patched me up, then. Huh...well, I would like to meet this brave lady in person to thank her.”
“We have the good doctor hidden safely away for the moment. She’s our one and only piece of evidence, because even with all of these documents Agent Hitchens has procured, none of it points back to Director Moore. She has been very, very methodical.”
Suddenly, Cole’s burner phone rang and he raised a hand. “Sorry ya’ll, hang on just a second. I need to get this.” Cole retrieved the device from his ammo vest’s pocket and lifted it to his ear. “Uh, hello? What?...Yeah, I’ll tell you that you’re on a secure line if it makes you feel better, idiot...”
Aaron and Fitz looked at each other in confusion.
Cole continued, “...right. Okay. That’s great! Thanks, Kev!” He smiled as he lowered the phone.
“What was that about?” Aaron asked, watching Cole disconnect his call.
“One more piece of evidence.”