A New Order of Business
"Jade? Are you alright?" Her old friend worried, examining her head injury with his eyes. He was uncertain whether it was actually her because her appearance was altered from what he recalled.
"Andy, I really need to get someplace safe or it's going to be bad." Jade was unable to maintain eye contact as she concentrated on searching for shelter. There was nothing she wanted more than to get rid of the men who were after her, but being as disoriented as she was, she was at her most vulnerable.
Impulsively, she brushed the hair on the left side of her face behind her ear, and her distinctive hummingbird piercing was uncovered. That's when her friend was positive that this was the Jade that he knew so long ago.
"Hey, slow down. Tell me what's going on." Andy distinguished the urgency in her eyes, but he could not determine the source of her concerns. His mind was still fixed on how she was even standing right there in front of him. "How are you here?"
Before Jade could carry on, her pursuers were already within the building, directing their firearms at her. They reduced their speed after realizing that they were in the company of police officers, but it was apparent that eliminating their target remained the key objective.
"Stay behind me," Andy instructed, withdrawing his G22 and planting his body in front of Jade's to shield her if the situation was to get out of hand.
The other officers pointed their weapons as they marched onto the scene, aiming at the men by the entrance of the building.
"Parker, get into the conference room and make sure no one leaves until we handle this," Andy ordered the security guard while upholding his position.
"Yes, sir." The guard paced off from the commotion, demonstrating his distress at the circumstances as they amplified right in front of his eyes.
Pressures were high as guns were drawn on both ends of the lobby. Not a single person batted an eye, dreading that things could worsen at any given moment. Of course, the antagonistic side was more comfortable at the sight of numerous armaments, something that Andy sensed immediately.
"Captain Brown," a man began, standing at the front of his team with his G18 equipped. "I pictured us meeting again under different conditions."
"I thought I locked you up a long time ago," Andy asserted, intending to keep everything on a tight rein. If one firearm was to go off, the remainder would follow and create chaos within the business building.
"This doesn't have to be harder than it already is. Just give us the girl, and we'll be out of here. Sound easy enough to you, captain?" The man proposed, keeping the options open.
If Jade didn't know Andy any better, she would've been hesitant about his approach. Instead, she instilled all of her confidence in him, understanding that whatever he chose to do, it was for the best.
"If you think I'm going to let you go that easily, you have no idea what I'm about," Andy proclaimed, not giving into the uncomplicated exit.
"That girl has done some questionable things in her past. There comes a time where we must pay our debts," the man specified, not slackening his stance as he and his crew progressively advanced forward.
"You and your men need to drop your weapons right now. I'm giving you a chance here, Pierce." Andy had to devise a strategy to take care of the hostiles. As of now, the conditions were severe, and there was no solid way out.
"I don't think you have any idea what I'm about, captain. I always get what I want."
"We can talk this out. No one has to get hurt." Andy slowly knelt towards the floor and placed down his pistol. He then kicked it off towards the side, convincing his opponents that he wouldn't be able to grab ahold of it.
He proceeded to signal his team to reciprocate his motions, and although originally unconvinced, they followed their captain's directives with absolute faith.
Pierce compressed his lips, not anticipating the events to ensue in the way that he had just witnessed. He removed himself from his stance and sank his weapon to his side. "You sure know how to handle things under pressure."
To everyone's astonishment, Pierce and his squad abandoned their weapons and thrusted them off towards the side, returning the officers' movements. "You got me, captain. You know I like a fair game."
Within a split second, Andy detected a crew member at the back of the group transferring his hand into his rear pocket. Without a second thought, Andy pulled his taser gun out from his duty belt and fired at the men on the other side, leaving them restrained but alive.
The rest of the officers withdrew their taser guns as well and emulated Andy's actions, causing the opposing bodies to hit the ground, squirming and groaning in discomfort as they were incapacitated.
Jade was stunned by how composed Andy was on the spot and how much his team trusted him to deal with the situation. Never had she seen someone as poise and self-assured as Andy was, and she was glad that there hadn't been a massive firefight to end the morning.
"Get them all cuffed and take them down to the station for questioning." Andy commanded as his team moved onward and secured manacles onto the hands of the offenders.
Jade paced over to Andy's G22 that remained resting on the ground. She picked it up and yanked out the magazine, noticing that there were no bullets in the gun.
"Still not resorting to the old-fashioned method, are you?" She teased, shoving the magazine back into the pistol and offering it back to her friend.
"Yeah, somebody's got to be the one to keep everyone in check." Andy exhibited a smirk, acknowledging that Jade was as he remembered her. "I thought you were dead."
"I know. There's so much I have to explain." Jade was too bewildered to structure her next thoughts, so she kept her mouth shut, not desiring to increase anyone's apprehensions even further.
"First, let's get your head injury looked at. We'll discuss everything down at the precinct," Andy recommended, slanting his head to gesture her towards the door. "We should go before that business meeting closes."
Jade displayed a small smile as she lead the way out to the front of the structure, stepping into a police vehicle as Andy progressed into the driver's seat.
The authorities were a part of Jade's life now whether she liked it or not. Nothing had to be a secret anymore, and she didn't entail it to be. Restoring her former life without the penalties didn't sound like a regretful idea at all, and she was set on doing so sooner or later.
Andy reserved one hand on the wheel as he steered, tending his unoccupied hand to his walkie talkie that hummed a few times as a voice on the other end requested his presence. "This is Captain Brown."
Jade glimpsed over to the driver's seat as her friend was preoccupied on the boulevard. She wondered whether Mack had made it out of the metro in time or not. What about the explosive? She hadn't heard anything about any sort of outburst, and that troubled her.
"Captain, there was a 10-66 down on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. We have two men in custody right now," the other line notified.
"Anyone we know?" Andy questioned, sustaining his concentration on the road ahead.
"Not that we're aware of. There's an Arthur Pasternak and a John Mackenzie."
Jade leaned forward from her leaning position after hearing the latter name, thankful that Mack was okay. Whatever occurred back at Bryant Park was definitely spiteful, and there was no doubt in her mind about that.
"You know them?" Andy queried once he detected Jade rising up from her chair's cushion.
"Just Mackenzie," she informed, pursing her lips because she understood how much explaining the both of them would have to do once they touched bases. "He's a friend."
Andy rotated forward once more and brought his two-way radio up to his mouth, arranging to transmit a message. "Get them comfortable until I arrive, lieutenant."
With that, Andy laid his device down and followed with a heavy sigh. It was soundless for a minute as he contemplated about how he and everyone else were certain that Jade was dead, but here she was, sitting right alongside him.
"Andy," Jade began, budging herself in her seat to some extent so that she was facing him. "I know this is odd."
"How did you do it? Why did you do it?" He enquired, not shifting his attention in her direction. He was puzzled and exasperated, and Jade didn't condemn his judgment whatsoever. "Don't tell me my brother knew all this time."
Jade was unsure on where to start. She realized that Andy had many questions, but she doubted his willingness to listen to her responses, especially after paralleling how things used to be and how they were now.
"It's not Xander's fault." She seized a moment to collect her thoughts, accepting that in the end, there would be no secrets. "I didn't have much of a choice but to turn to him."
"Jade, we always have a choice." Andy avowed, not agreeing with her standpoint. "You could've come to the police for help."
"Do you know how many officers I've run into in the past five years who have tried to execute me?" Jade argued, ruminating back to a few moments ago when she was chased down the street by dirty cops with weapons aimed at her. "That's not exactly a warm welcome back into the city."
"You could've turned to me," Andy disagreed, ultimately turning to meet her eyes once the automobile reached a stoplight. "Above all people, you should've come to me."
Jade recognized that Andy had a point. He was one of the few people she could trust, particularly because he was not only a policeman but also a close friend. But she couldn't put all of her complications onto his plate because she respected the fact that he had a life apart from his career.
She couldn't take a gamble with the probability that he could lose the most significant part of himself. "You know I couldn't do that. How could I take you away from your family like that?"
Andy compressed his lips together, understanding that she was only thinking about the consequences of consulting him. "Look, I'm not angry with you. I just wish I had known."
A momentary silence was in effect as Jade faced forwards, edging closer towards the side window and propping her elbow up so that she could rest her head in her palm. The light converted to green, and the car continued moving while she peered out into the open, taking in the simple elements of the city.
"So you've been back in the city for five years," Andy stated as if he was orally piecing everything together. "And Xander's been helping you keep this new life active."
Jade accessed her blazer pocket and pulled out her wallet, opening it up and removing her ID card to present it to Andy. "I've been Emilia Paul for half a decade. I feel like 'Jade' is slowly fading away."
"Funny. I wasn't sure it was really you until I saw your piercing," Andy mentioned as he alternated between studying the identification card and watching the road, the picture of her accessory still embedded within his brain. "You look like a whole different person."
Jade appearance's had transformed considerably from the last time he had seen her. "Well, last time you saw me, I was nineteen and inexperienced."
Whether it was her hair, her style, or the way she held herself, it was unlike anything Andy had ever seen from her. "Times have changed, haven't they?"
Another pause in conversation ensued as both comrades were undecided on what to say next. It seemed surreal that all the difficulties Jade underwent had transpired within seven days. She kept speculating whether it would conclude before long.
"How's my brother doing?" Andy asked, his tone seeming tentative.
"Great," Jade replied, fathoming that the relationship between Andy and Xander remained obstinate. "You guys haven't talked?"
"No, I heard there was a shootout at his restaurant the other night," he began, swapping hands on the wheel as he inhaled a deep breath. "I tried calling his cell, but no answer."
"I guess not everything has changed."
The rest of the trip was silent as Jade linked the past with the present. She developed a completely new identity for herself, but she didn't feel that much different. Emilia Paul may own her individuality now, but the potential of returning to being Jade Bennett still seemed conceivable.
Now that Andy knew about her status, it was her turn to talk. The burden lifted off of her shoulders because in that moment, she appreciated the fact that her friend would be there for her in spite of the madness. He needed to know what had been taking place and what led her to such a hectic life, and now was the time to start updating him.
Mack sat in an interrogation room at the 17th Precinct in Midtown Manhattan as the same lieutenant from earlier was settled across from him. He zoned out, not concentrating in on the officer's words considering that a great deal of matters were on his mind.
He was uncertain whether he was a suspect in the metro crash or not, but the briefcase containing the IEDs had been discovered on the scene of the collision and traced back to him.
Mack had zero influence over his anxiety, but in a situation like that, being in the possession of authorities did not have much of an optimistic outlook. He couldn't even organize a statement on how to elucidate himself, being as distressed as he was.
"Mr. Mackenzie," the lieutenant chimed in, breaking Mack out of his state of bemusement.
"Yes?" Mack was acquainted with how the process worked: The officer started off the exchange informally just to make him feel calm, but the questioning was currently in effect.
"The bag has your prints all over it," the lieutenant disclosed, staring down at the lab report located on the table, providing a barrier between them. "I need you to tell me exactly what happened, and I need the truth."
"I already told you, lieutenant," Mack uttered, tilting forward as he relaxed his forearms onto the table top. "I was set up."
"Do you have any evidence of that, Mr. Mackenzie? All signs seem to point otherwise." The lieutenant narrowed the gap between them to guarantee that his words were getting to Mack. Suddenly, he had a further point that might drive Mack towards admitting to the alleged crime. "You see that window there?"
Mack tracked the lieutenant's index finger which directed at a one-way mirror positioned on the wall to his right.
"Behind that is Detective Dominguez," the officer persisted. "She's the best of us all, so make this simple and be honest or you're going to have a really difficult time around here."
Outside of the room, the detective stood watching her colleague grill Mack. As she concentrated and interpreted his mannerisms, she didn't know what to make of it. She gradually perceived footsteps increasing in volume as they approached her from the back.
"You don't think he did it, do you?" Andy asked, walking up beside her as he overlapped his arms and looked through the glass and into the chamber.
"Either he's not budging or he didn't voluntarily bring that bomb down there. His body language isn't matching his purported actions, so I don't know what to think."
"I think I have a good reason," Andy gazed towards her, hoping that she would understand his judgment. He trusted Jade and all that she explained back in the car, but now he had to explore and figure out the whys and the hows.
In the room, the lieutenant pressed on, not easing up on his aggressiveness. "How do you know Arthur Pasternak?"
Mack kept himself hushed since he was out of additional ideas on how to convince the officers to release him. If he wanted to leave, he had to think fast, and he was willing to do almost anything at that point.
He wondered if Jade was all right. His cellphone had been confiscated, so he had no method of communicating with her. She was skilled enough to elude any unpleasant situation, but whether she was able to after deserting the Suburban was what he worried about.
Brusquely, the door swayed open and the captain poked his head into the room, scanning Mack with his eyes before glancing over towards the lieutenant.
"Captain, we're just about done here," the lieutenant reported, emerging from his seat in case something crucial had come about.
The captain situated half of his figure into the room, not giving off the impression that he would stay to interrogate Mack. "Aquino, let him out. We all need to have a chat."
Mutually, the lieutenant and Mack had confounded expressions upon their faces, but the turn of the events called for it. What had occurred that resulted in Mack getting set loose so effortlessly?
He departed from the room, tailing the detective as the lieutenant followed behind him, striding down the hallway and into another section of the precinct.
He eyed around the area, noticing workstations inhabiting most of the space as employees migrated about. Shortly, he saw Jade settled down with a nurse at one of the desks, acquiring medical attention for her head injury.
Mack was alleviated to see that she was alive, exhaling at the sight her presence. When she discerned that he had walked into the room, she got to her feet, equally as relieved to see him unharmed.
"Hey, are you okay?" She enquired, examining him up and down to ensure his state of well-being.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Mack was fortunate enough to not have been caught in the middle of the incident, but he reeked of sweat, and his clothes were disheveled from the moment he stepped down into the station to aid passengers in their escape. He exhibited no wounds which stunned him since he had cheated death enough within the past week. "How about you? Are you okay?"
"I'm good," she responded as she pointed up towards her forehead where a contusion was easily visible. "No concussion or anything."
"Mr. Mackenzie," the captain began, inserting himself into the conversation and extending his hand out. "My name is Andy Brown."
Mack acted in accordance with the handshake, acknowledging Andy's company. "Please, call me Mack."
"Mack," Jade initiated, stepping in between her two friends. "Andy is Xander's brother."
The name sounded familiar, but in the midst of the metro pile-up, Mack's brain was not as sharp as he would have liked it to be. "Nice to meet you, Captain Brown."
"Please, call me Andy," he articulated before turning to locate the lieutenant and detective so that they could receive proper introductions as well. The two of them joined the discussion once they noticed Andy's signal.
"This is Lieutenant Richard Aquino and Detective Lacey Dominguez," Andy presented as his colleagues shook the hands of Jade and Mack, respectively. "They'll be helping us out on our operation."
Mack wasn't sure what Jade told Andy, but was teaming up with the police on a case like this the greatest idea? He didn't know who to confide in after all that has transpired, specifically after Jade was ambushed by a crew of supposed police officers.
Andy advanced over to a crystal counter that was set in front of a plasma display, separate from the cubicles. He proceeded to activate it so that the NYPD database popped up. The rest followed him, encircling the table as their eyes glanced up onto the massive screen.
"So Mack, you said that the bag was not yours to begin with." Andy made use of the touchscreens rooted within the worktop to influence what the monitor exhibited, and soon enough, the analysis of the briefcase appeared.
He glimpsed over towards the right end of the table where Mack stood to further clarify who the question was concerning. Mack, with his eyes glued onto the screen, answered with a prompt, "Yes."
"Jade told me everything that's been happening to you guys in the past seven days," Andy started, tapping on a few more controls as his eyes moved back onto the display. "I need you both to know that you can trust every one of us here at this precinct."
The fact that Andy was related to Xander made Mack feel a lot less distrustful about the NYPD's involvement, but the dirty cops within the city still bothered him. How could he be so certain that they were going to be secure in a place full of people they didn't know?
Mack was unconvinced, so he resorted to the one thing he could think of in that moment. He looked over to Jade who was situated to his left, concentrating on the monitor. "Can I have a word with you?"
She immediately switched her focus onto Mack, who eyed her with an urgent expression on his face. She nodded at his request, and the two stepped off slightly towards the side of the room where they could attain some privacy.
Mack sighed before speaking, distinguishing that he could be alone on his judgment. "Are you sure about this?"
"Sure about what?" Jade questioned, not fully understanding where Mack was coming from. She knew that he was skeptical about relying on people he had never met, but he had to recognize that it was their best option, bearing in mind the circumstances.
"How do you know we can trust everyone here?" Mack simplified, locking eyes with her.
"I've known Andy for a long time. If he says we can trust these people, then I believe him."
"That easy? Did you ever think about those cops who tried to take you out earlier?"
"If Andy wasn't there to defend me, I would be dead by now. He's as dependable as they come, Mack." Jade paused, taking a second to find a way to win Mack's vote of confidence if her argument was unsuccessful. "Please, trust me on this."
Mack moved his eyes up and examined around the room for a second time, evaluating the environment. He was analytical when it came to his and his friends' welfare, so he had to be certain that this decision was the right one. "Fine."
With approval from her comrade, Jade presented a smile. She understood that she was taking a huge risk by including the cops, but at that point, it was their safest bet at taking down Donnie.
The two rejoined the group as Andy prepared to convey his next statement. Whatever strategy Jade had up her sleeve, Mack had to have faith in her.
"Jade, you said Donnie Tesla is the one behind all of this madness, and he's trying to kill you because he has some inexcusable incentive. And Mack, you were sent here to recover Jade, not knowing who she truly was or what Tesla wanted with her, correct?" Andy enquired, hoping to clear the air on a few details.
"Yeah, that's right," Mack answered. "The steam pipe explosion in Herald Square, the shootout at Red Rooster, and this morning's MTA collision were all his doing."
"Wait, Donnie Tesla is behind all of this?" The lieutenant blurted, dumbfounded by Mack's remarks. "How can someone have that much power over an entire city?"
"There's more to Tesla than you all know," Jade added, preparing herself to release the whole truth if the situation called for it.
"And how would you know, Miss-"
"Bennett. Please, call me Jade." She was marginally aggravated because she hadn't dealt with problematic people in so long, but she didn't blame the lieutenant. It just felt liberating to be able to go by her birth name for once. "I was a CIA government assassin, recruited into Tesla's program when I was nineteen years old."
"So he just screwed you over? Just like that?" He did not believe her allegations for the reason that they all seemed unconventional. No one could possibly imagine one of the most affluent men in the country being the mastermind behind the mass murders in one metropolis.
The lieutenant then turned to his captain and asked, "Sir, are we really supposed to accept these accusations?"
"Rick, I know this is tough to consider, but this is our job. We watch over people who need protection. If they say they're in trouble, we need to look into the issue," Andy retorted, expecting his colleague to understand.
Rick stood down, not quarreling another word as he pondered Andy's utterances.
Jade was appreciative now that she had the floor and prepared to continue on. "I've known and worked closely with Donnie for three long years. If I know anything about him, I know that he is a rogue and a saboteur."
"What kind of government program allows this sort of behavior?" The detective probed, maintaining her position across the counter from Jade.
Jade swallowed, knowing that her next statement was going to add something new to the table. "His program's been nonoperational since 2011, the same year I escaped. I have a good reason to believe he's been continuing these campaigns since then."
"And what's the CIA doing about this?" The detective persisted, furthering her queries. "They can't just permit one man to wreak havoc whenever and wherever he wants."
"Detective, any effort I've made has led me to a dead end. There's nothing they can do, and I've been told that this isn't their responsibility anymore."
There was a brief pause in discussion as each and every individual surrounding the table seized a moment to gather their understandings. The next order of business was to formulate a plan which required the entire group's input.
"Tesla's hosting a gala this Sunday at the Top of the Rock. If we can set ourselves up around the area, we're bound to be onto something," Jade suggested, choosing to let the NYPD in on the scheme that she and Xander concocted.
"Those invites have been undisclosed for years. How'd you manage to determine the location?" Rick enquired, trying to piece it all together.
"I have a really good friend who happens to also be a particularly wealthy individual," Jade divulged.
Andy scoffed, realizing for a fact that Xander would be the one willing to go through a mission that precarious. "My brother always liked putting danger and life together."
"So we're just going to use Xander Brown as our inside man?" Rick continued.
"What choice do we have?" Jade knew that this was their chance to gain an advantage over Donnie. Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the conclusion to it all.
"And how does Xander feel about this?" Mack interjected, reminding her that she had to let him know before involving him.
"We'll find out once I ask him." Jade was assured that Xander would oppose to the idea after discovering that his brother was playing a part. Whether he wanted to run with the plan or not was up to him, but she was determined to carry it out with the assistance of the NYPD; not that there was much of a choice to begin with.
"Any clue when Tesla's flying into the city? Last I heard, he was still in San Francisco." Rick questioned, gathering more information in an attempt to prime himself for the upcoming days.
"Saturday night is my best bet. The latest would be Sunday morning," Jade replied, knowing from past experiences how Donnie's demanding schedule corresponded with his annual galas.
"Tesla's unpredictable," Andy announced, pressing a few more buttons to bring the diagram of 30 Rock up. He then rotated towards his co-workers to give them their next orders. "Rick, I need a team equipped for Sunday. We can set up in the surrounding areas as Jade said. Lacey, I'm going to need you there that day on standby, just in case."
Instantaneously, he turned to Jade and Mack to give them their simple directives. "Be ready."
Rick and Lacey nodded and took off to their offices as Mack, Jade, and Andy remained.
"Do you guys need anything else from us?" Andy posed, giving them his undivided attention.
"No," Mack started, preparing to leave the scene but not before he said his farewells for the day. "I'm heading back to Hell's Kitchen."
"Be safe, Mack. We'll be in touch," Andy stated, presenting a small smile as if to promise that things would be okay. He then proceeded to hand Mack his cellular device back.
Mack expressed his thanks to the captain and gave Jade one last smile before parting off and summoning a cab back to his hotel. It hadn't been long since he was there, but he longed for the serenity of everything around him. The least he could do was savor it for as long as he could before situations would begin to arise once more.
Andy and Jade watched Mack stride out, both grasping that this was difficult for him to deal with. He had no intention of being in the middle of the outcomes derived from locating his best friend's supposed niece, but there he was, taking it bit by bit and living with it.
"I'd take you back to your place, but I have to grill those guys who gave you a hard time at the Chrysler Building," Andy declared, looking down at Jade whose eyes lingered towards the exit. "And I don't think a taxi would give you the greatest security, considering the circumstances."
"Xander's been nice enough to let me stay at his place," she disclosed, still upholding her focus down the hallway's extent.
"He truly cares about you, you know." If Andy knew anything about his brother, it was that he had a big heart. The dedication Xander had to the ones he cared about the most was something Andy had witnessed firsthand.
"And I care about him too. I just don't think he should have to deal with all of this." Jade glanced up at her comrade, considering the situation at hand. She was caught in the middle of two identities: She was Jade Bennett to her close friends, but she was Emilia Paul to her co-workers and patients.
"Jade, I need you to continue on as Emilia Paul for now," Andy advised before turning his body so that he could ensure that he had her full attention.
"I've done it for five years," Jade began, aware that staying under the radar was the wisest thing to do. "I can keep it up for a while longer."
"Be careful out there, okay?" He urged, giving her the look of worry.
Jade provided a small beam, letting her friend know that she was going to be fine. There wasn't going to be much of an issue with maintaining her cover, but she had to watch her back more prudently now that things had escalated.
"You need me to call Xander to come and pick you up?" Andy enquired, arranging to access his duty belt for his mobile phone.
"I think I'll have better luck." With that, Jade pulled her cellphone out of her pocket and unlocked it. She clicked onto Xander's name and held the device to her ear, waiting patiently for an answer as she turned her back to Andy.
Andy took a few steps towards the other side of the room in order to move onto his next assignment, but before he did so, he had one last suggestion for Jade. "If you want to join me in the interrogation room while you wait, you're welcomed to."