The drive to the docks was approximately a half hour for all three groups. Getting there without the tolls and the traffic would’ve been ideal, but in the end, each and every one of them reached their destination.
Lacey and Rick were required to return to the office after the urgent call from their captain, Jade and Xander rushed from their late night meal, and Mack needed to make himself the least bit presentable before departing from his hotel.
Andy and his crew arrived on the scene first, then Jade and Xander, and last but not least, Mack. Just when everybody believed that the day was done with and that difficulties were to be put aside until the sun came up again, there were additional matters to be taken care of.
“The guys unloading the crates found this camera,” Rick notified as he approached his associates with a Nikon 1 AW1 in his hand, examining it as he presented it to them. "You guys ever seen it before?"
Jade and Mack shook their heads, not bringing up a memory that was linked to the camera. It didn’t appear recognizable at all to either of them, but it evidently had something to do with why they were called there to begin with.
"I'll have to run this through Detective Dominguez, but we should be able to watch the footage once all of the excess water is drained from the camera," Rick informed, gradually walking off with Lacey once he made sure that there were no further questions.
"I appreciate you guys showing up," Andy acknowledged as he met eyes with Jade, Mack, and Xander, letting them know how appreciative he was for their attendance at such a late hour. "Any information you have can be beneficial."
"Yeah, of course." Jade was undecided on what else to say since she was purely concentrated on discovering whether the camera actually belonged to Brie. If it wound up being one of her old friend’s possessions, how did it become a piece within an import crate?
"Did they say where the imports were coming from?" Xander questioned, preventing his brother from striding off and leaving the discussion.
There was a sense of uncertainty as Andy prepared to disclose the initial whereabouts of the crate, recognizing that it would reveal exactly whether the situation was something they had to be concerned about or not. With heavy sigh, he uttered, "The United Arab Emirates."
All six of them gathered together, assembling to view the camera’s recording. Lacey, Andy, Jade, and Mack were grouped inside of an NYPD van packed with television screens along with other technical equipment while Xander and Rick remained standing right outside vehicle's rear, inspecting the displays to the best of their ability.
"I just want to let you guys know that you what you’re about to see won’t be pleasant," Lacey cautioned, hovering the mouse clicker on the single video file that was available on the camera’s memory card.
Jade glanced up to Mack who was positioned right behind her chair, making sure that he was ready for what was to come. He provided her a nod to ensure that he was going to be fine before he took a deep breath. As soon as he gave Lacey the go-ahead, she clicked onto the file, and the buffering began.
Once the clip loaded, every single one of them spotted Brie at the front and center of the screen as she clutched a cellphone up to her ear. She was settled behind a desk as her free hand rested on the innermost portion of her elbow, and her entire body trembled slightly as if she was anxious about making the call.
It was apparent that she was situated in a hotel room, seeing the exquisiteness of the cream wallpaper and the sizable framed mirror behind her. However, her precise location was indistinguishable just from those clues.
The camera Brie used was placed behind a few barriers in an effort to shield it from the open, but from time to time, she made eye contact with the lens to establish that she was certainly taping herself. She breathed heavily as the mobile phone’s tone echoed in her ears, and the tension rose both in her and those close to her viewing the footage all the way across the world in that NYPD vehicle.
Once Brie let out a cough, Jade knew exactly what the clip was going to parallel with. It was clear that Brie had filmed her own murder and that the message she left for Jade that night was not a piece of evidence that stood on its own.
"Jade, I know this is all unexpected, but I really needed to touch bases you."
Those words resonated within both Jade and Mack's heads as they maintained their focus onto the screen and kept their bodies still, not wanting to miss a second of what Brie had to share.
As the frightened young woman resumed, her sniffles and tears became obvious while she brought her free hand up to her mouth to muffle her sobs. She attempted to stay calm and collected, but everyone was aware that that wasn’t the case.
"Please just watch your back, and keep yourself safe. And keep my uncle safe and sound. By now, he's already too far in to turn back."
Without warning, the sound of a door swaying open and pounding against the wall erupted, causing Brie to hurry those last few words. The tears flowed out of her eyes as she shouted out for help, but it was all to no avail.
A soaring figure ambled into the room as half of his body emerged into the camera frame. He gripped a handgun right up against Brie’s head, not pulling the trigger right away as if to produce a good scare out of her right before.
Just as Jade anticipated, the gunshot rang. Mack flinched at the sound of the weapon going off, shutting his eyes to avoid becoming even more enraged at whoever had done something that heartless to his niece. The rest of the group had their hearts skip a beat, but they were unable to remove their attention from the appalling scene.
The video continued further than the message Jade had received. In the coming moments, they perceived Brie's body falling motionless onto the ground as the man with the weapon angled his upper body down towards her in examination.
Mack compressed his lips once the clip was paused, remaining speechless after what his eyes and ears had just taken in. He discerned Jade's glance coming up to meet his for a second time as she offered him the comfort of her presence.
He identified that she, too, had lost someone she was close to. An amount of weight lifted off of his shoulders since he knew that he wasn't on his own and that he had a whole group of people willing to assist him in making the one who was responsible for Brie's death pay.
"Is that all, detective?" Andy questioned as his voice cracked to some extent, feeling the emotions run high within the van.
Lacey cleared her throat before providing the captain an answer, being that she was shaken by the event herself. "That's the end of that incident, but the camera stays on for about an hour after this."
"Whoever did that to her didn’t know that they were being recorded, but someone had to turn the camera off and toss it somewhere for it to be here with us now," Xander chimed in, crossing his arms as he leaned his side onto the vehicle.
"After matching up the phone audio with this video, I scanned through the rest of the clip frame by frame to make sure I caught every little detail of the remaining hour or so," Lacey described, clicking on a few things as her eyes fastened onto the computer display.
"And what did you find?" Andy enquired, repositioning himself in his standing position behind her chair.
Lacey faltered before replying as she distinguished that the answer was one they had all seen coming. "Tesla walks into the room and reacts to the victim's corpse on the ground."
"You're positive it's him?" Jade interjected as her heart stopped, seeing that they were all moving towards some very significant proof.
"Check it out for yourselves." With that, Lacey skipped to the portion with the scene she explained and pressed play, leaning back in her seat to allow the clip speak for itself.
"Shit. What did you do?"
Although the figure's head was out of frame, it was evident that this man wasn't the same one from the earlier segment since his stature and clothing were dissimilar.
Mack instantly acknowledged the voice and pursed his lips together. The burning sensation in his chest was too much to contain, and he ended up declaring, "That's Donnie."
The answer to the question within the clip was inaudible as the individuals worked out what to do with Brie's corpse, their hand gestures and body language appearing a bit desperate.
"Alright, take her to the roof. Everyone heard the gunshot, so we'll have to move her from there."
Donnie then revolved towards the camera and froze, recognizing that the full exchange was being monitored. He made his way over to the desk and removed the device. With a heavy sigh, the camera was shut off.
Mack couldn't understand why the sigh came out of his former friend’s mouth, but there was no way it was out of compassion. There was nothing that could change his mind at that point. He had seen it all, and he was eager to make the next move and put an end to it.
The entire group took a moment to process the clip, all mindful that they now had the facts necessary to turn the issue into a major operation.
"Does that hotel look familiar to you, Jade?" Lacey asked, turning to her left where Jade was seated.
"No," Jade started, unfortunately not clicking the hotel's scene with her memory. "When I worked for Donnie, we usually stayed at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi."
"Lacey," Andy began, exhaling at the horrific scenes of Brie's assassination before proceeding. "I need you to find out the exact location of this video and how it got sent here."
He then rotated towards Rick and paused before giving his next orders. He never wanted the situation to escalate, but it was happening. “Rick, we'll need to gather a larger team. This is going to be a lot more than we anticipated."
"I'll help him out," Xander cut in, following Rick as they made their way towards another area of the docks. If there was anything he wanted more than taking Donnie down, it was making sure that everything was going to run as smoothly as possible to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The clip replayed throughout Mack's head as Brie's final words resonated. He shut out everything else around him because he knew that the impossible was now reality. Just a few days ago, he had talked to his niece on the phone and flown across the country to see her. Now she was dead, and he wasn't going to let it go until he got the necessary vengeance.
"Mack." Jade glimpsed up at him once more, not saying anything else because his eyes had revealed enough to her.
"I'll be there on Sunday. Just get my name on that guest list." Mack paced off after that, expressing his gratitude towards the authorities and bidding farewell to his friends.
"If this is too much for him, we can always have him at the station instead of on the scene.” Andy was skeptical about whether Mack had the mentality to deal with the mission, seeing as he had just witnessed his niece's untimely death.
"He's tougher than he gives off. He'll be okay," Jade replied, assuring Andy that he could confide in Mack and his abilities to withstand the adversities in any given situation.
She knew that now was her chance to play a larger role, so she took a stab at requesting to integrate herself into Sunday's plan. "Andy, I have to get in there."
He froze for a moment, presenting her a look that conveyed how absurd he thought she sounded. "I can't risk that, Jade. What if something happens and we’re not prepared for it?"
"We'll be positioned all the way up on another building where I'll be fine behind my rifle."
Whether deciding to get behind her weapon was to satisfy her own hatred for Donnie or to put her abilities to good use was unknown, even to her. Without a doubt, she solely wanted some sense of closure for the horrible things that she witnessed Brie endure.
Before Andy could further his reasons as to why her idea was flawed, he was summoned by Rick. He didn't articulate another word to Jade as he exhaled and ambled off, leaving her to help Lacey find the origins of Brie's video clip.
"Captain, should I call a SWAT team for Sunday?" Rick suggested, holding a phone to his ear as he gathered around the back of another van with a group of authorities.
"Have one on standby. Tesla knows Jade's in the city. There's no knowing what he'll do." Andy eyed around the area, taking note of his crew scattered throughout the docks as they continued with their tasks in preparation for the gala.
"Roger that," Rick affirmed, returning back to his phone call as he collaborated with the other officers.
It was almost three in the morning, and everyone was already hard at work. It wasn't long until even more authorities showed up to search the other import crates, making sure that all the pieces of evidence were collected.
Andy glimpsed towards his right and noticed his brother by the edge of the port, leaning his side onto an unlit lamp post as he stared out into the water. He knew that Xander wasn't the type who enjoyed silence, so he paced right over and provided some company.
"Are you okay?" Andy questioned, glancing over at his brother but not receiving the same gesture back.
Xander held a cigarette between his fingers, exhaling smoke as he maintained his eyes on the river. It was remarkably serene as the water swayed ever so slightly, and the moon's reflection ignited the scene. Even then, he had nothing to say to Andy.
"Xander, you know we don't have to go on like this." Andy disliked the strained relationship between himself and his brother. However long he had to mend it, he was going to use up every second.
Xander contemplated long and hard about his attitude, knowing that eventually, he would have to stop acting as immature as he had been for the past decade and a half. He continued the conversation shortly after and simply uttered, "That could've been her, you know."
"I wouldn't let that happen. And I know you wouldn't either."
"Still, you can't say the same about mom and dad."
The thought of Jade being in Brie's place was one that the two of them couldn't stand to imagine. Losing their immediate family was one of the hardest things they’ve had to endure, and adding close friends to the list was not something they anticipated on doing.
"I was doing the right thing," Andy defended, thinking back to the time when he had to make that exceedingly difficult decision. "I wasn't going to let you run around and do whatever the hell you wanted."
"I had him, Andy. I had him, and you just had to show up." Xander took another huff of his cigarette, holding the smoke in a little longer this time around as he and Andy stood in silence.
"Do you think that's what mom and dad would've wanted? You tearing up the streets, acting like some hero?"
"At least I was doing something for them. So I would know that they didn't die in vain." Xander had his reasons, and he was going to stick with them. Although he and Andy stood on opposite sides of that situation, there was no telling who was truly right or wrong.
Andy reflected on that incident fourteen years ago, seeking something optimistic out of it even though none seemed palpable. "I know that they would be proud of who we are now."
Xander ultimately made eye contact with his brother, discerning that he was being genuine with his words. "You're the captain of the NYPD."
"And you're a successful businessman and philanthropist," Andy added, giving his brother the credit he deserved. "We both paved our own path, Xander. Everyone becomes who they're meant to be."
"Now you're starting to sound a lot like me," Xander kidded, his brother joining in with a chuckle.
Even though it had been long since their last authentic exchange, they still felt comfortable with one another. So much had changed since then, and no time spent together could ever make up for that, but they could always try.
Andy was aware that his brother's mind was distressed at the thought of Sunday's operation going downhill, so he provided the reassurance needed to ease that apprehension. "Jade's a fighter. If anyone's capable of running Sunday's plan, it's her."
Once again, Mack was back at his hotel room. The horrific scenes he had observed moments ago hadn't left his thoughts. Not that he expected himself to get over his own niece's death that hastily, but he pondered how merciless someone had to be to take away a young girl's life.
He strolled over to his bed and removed his coat before setting it down. Travelling straight into the bathroom afterwards, he filled the tub up, lowering himself in once the water was almost filled to the top.
Mack rested on the back end of the tub as he placed his arms on the sides, shutting his eyes and taking a deep breath. To this left, the sight of the city was present, shining in all of its grandeur as the lights never ceased to stand out. Still, everything within his mind was on edge.
He was worried for Sunday, but he was going to stick it out. It was crucial for him to do it for Brie because it distressed him to know that someone who was like a brother to him had played a role in executing his only living family member.
Accomplishing the mission during Donnie's annual gala wasn't going to be an effortless assignment, but it was an essential one. Now that they had pinpointed the location of their target, they had to take advantage of it.
Jade watched the screen as Lacey scrubbed through the clip and attempted to retrieve the location of where it was taken. She considered what Brie thought about in her last moments of life. All she wanted to do was keep her family and friends safe, and she was met with the darkest fate.
"How are you doing, Jade?" Lacey questioned, moving her eyes back and forth from the monitor to the keyboard as she typed.
"I've been better." Jade pressed her lips together and glanced at the detective who was seated to her left, not knowing how to elaborate.
"We're really grateful for your help," Lacey responded, giving Jade her attention for a brief moment before returning to her task. "Without your input, we would've never known about Tesla or his whereabouts."
"Well, when you know someone for so long, you pick up on a few things," Jade voiced, the thought of Donnie teaching her all that she knows now clouding her mind.
With a quick tap of the enter button from Lacey, she let out an unyielding, "Got it."
Jade's expression lit up as she rolled her chair nearer to the screen, witnessing a wide range of encryptions visibly narrowed down to one single location where the video was taken. Suddenly, a memory clicked.
"That's the Ritz-Carlton in Dubai," Jade uttered, staring at the screen as she double-checked to make certain that she wasn't relying just solely on her recollection.
"You've been there?"
"Yeah," she began, leaning back in her seat as she contemplated why Donnie would've been organizing his operations at that same hotel. "I just didn't recognize the room."
"How do you know this place?" Lacey probed, eyeing Jade as if there was a critical piece of information she wasn't disclosing.
"That's where I was recruited. That's where I met Donnie eight years ago."
The detective felt perplexed, not putting two and two together since Jade’s accounts of her past before seemed to contradict her current report. "Wait, I thought you said you met him in Abu Dhabi."
"I must've lost track of the many hotels we've stayed at."
Lacey thrusted her chair back and made her way to the end of the van, exiting the vehicle before searching for her captain in a horde of other officers. When she finally caught sight of him, she summoned him over. "Captain, we got something."
Andy set down a clipboard as he excused himself from a group of authorities and jogged over towards the van. Once inside, he noticed Lacey and Jade with their eyes glued on the computer display.
"This is the location," Lacey presented, pointing her finger at the screen as Andy looked on. "Jade says this is where she and Tesla first met in 2007."
"In Dubai?" Andy enquired, peering down at Jade who remained in her seat with her arms crossed.
"Yeah," she started, unaware of how to make up for mixing up on a slight detail. "Sorry, we stayed at multiple places throughout my time with the government. It's tough to remember it all."
Andy acknowledged that everything going on was demanding on her already: being hunted by her former boss, watching one of her close friends die, and being pushed back into a life she worked so diligently to leave behind. Whether she was distraught enough for all of that to interfere with her memory or she wasn't revealing everything she knew to the cops.
"What's going on?" Xander appeared from the outside, pacing into the van and halting right before his brother.
"Captain, we're missing a portion of the puzzle," Lacey conveyed, glimpsing up at Andy who stood right behind her seat.
"Jade, I know it's difficult for you to concentrate right now, but I need you to tell us everything you know," Andy urged, gazing right at Jade as he noticed her waver back a bit in her chair.
His tone wasn't unforgiving nor forceful, but it was pushy enough for Xander to interrupt. "Hey, we're all going through a rough time right now. Let's just take it easy."
"We don't have time," Lacey declared, voicing her uneasiness about Sunday. "Before the gala, we all need to be ready, and right now, I'm feeling like that's not the case."
"Detective, we all want to take Tesla down. I just lost track,” Jade rationalized, not desiring to turn the whole miscalculation into more than it already was.
“I don’t know if I can trust your judgment on that.” Lacey didn’t elaborate any further as she stepped down and allowed Andy to take charge of the situation.
Before Andy could finish his sentence, Jade had already prepared hers. “You can decide whether or not to believe me, but I would never put anyone’s life in danger. I just lost my friend for fuck’s sake.”
With that, she took off from her seat before departing from the vehicle. Xander watched her progress towards the outside as his brother’s voice emerged from the muteness.
“Sunday.” Xander trailed Jade out after his final utterance. There was no way the operation was going to discontinue at that point, so leaving the scene on a neutral note was a decent enough move.