In the Blink of an Eye

Chapter 4

Just as Callen had predicted, the city's coroners couldn't identify the men killed back at the warehouse. They were mercenaries that were well trained and who knew how to make sure that they couldn't be found out. So, Callen and Sam drove to the station of the officers who had taken charge of the supercomputer until it was to be released back to the lab where it had been stolen from by its engineer, Mitch Calder.

"Excuse us, we're with NCIS, here to collect the supercomputer you took in earlier today," Sam spoke up as he and his partner walked up to one of the policemen in the reception area of the station. "We called and spoke with your supervisor earlier."

"I'll go let her know if you'll wait here," the man responded and then walked away.

Another one of the officers spoke up from behind them and said, "I hope you guys have an easier time transporting that monstrosity than we did."

Callen smirked, then replied, "We'll manage. We've got some help."

"Unfortunately, you'll have to send them back," the supervisor of that department stated as she walked into the room.

"What are you talking about?" Callen asked in confusion. "We'll need them to help us transport the supercomputer back to our headquarters."

The woman stood in front of them as she answered unhappily, "I'm afraid not. Somehow, your computer has gone missing after we had it transported back here. Rest assured, I am looking into the disappearance with everything at my disposal. I'm Sergeant Williams by the way."

Sam responded coldly, "The only way it could have been stolen would be if your thieves had help from someone here inside your department. That computer is the key to stopping what is most likely a plot to cause chaos and massive panic here in Los Angeles. If it isn't found and that happens, then you will be the one that is held responsible."

"Not to mention us," Callen said firmly. "How long ago did you find it was taken?"

"Just after you called," Williams replied. "I am sorry, gentlemen. I really do hope that you can stop whatever our thieves are planning in time. I do believe you're right about them having inside help and when I find out who it was, I will make sure that they are punished to the full extent of the law."

Callen answered, "That doesn't make us feel any better. As soon as you do discover your mole, you will turn him over to us for our own interrogation."

The sergeant responded angrily, "When he or she is discovered, they will be dealt with in house. It is only right. The traitor is one of ours, not yours."

"If you'll forgive us, that is precisely why we'll be the ones to talk to the traitor," Callen replied coldly as he moved to stand directly in front of her and stared off with her. "Besides, we've got a bit more riding on solving this mess than you."

"And what exactly is that?" she asked.

Sam answered for his partner, "A friend of ours' peace of mind."

A short time later, Hetty was sitting at her desk when Nell walked in and stood in front of her, then Hetty stated, "Welcome back, Miss. Jones. It's unfortunate that the circumstances are so dire."

"I stopped by Eric's as soon as I arrived back here," the youngest member of the team responded sadly. "But he wasn't home and he wasn't out on the beach or in the water. I'm worried about him, Hetty. I should have been the one who was there, not him."

"You're absolutely right," Hetty replied sadly. "Though, I would never wish for you to ever kill again either. I have no doubt that in time, Eric will be all right, even if he doesn't come back to work with us again. He is stronger than he knows himself to be."

Nell nodded, not really sure if she could believe Hetty, then spoke up again as she asked, "What can I do?"

Callen and Sam walked in as he answered, "You can help us find the mercenaries and the traitor within the LAPD that are responsible for all of this."

"It's good to have you back, Nell," Sam spoke up. "We're going to need you to work your magic."

"You guys are giving me way too much credit," Nell responded in frustration. "How is it that you all still underestimate how much Eric does for us? I may be the one trained for the field and know how to hack computers, surveillance cameras, and traffic lights, but Eric is much better at it than me. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without him."

Nate, Kensi and Deeks walked over to them after they heard that their teammates had returned and overheard Nell as she raised her voice, then Kensi replied, "We know that, Nell. He is every bit as valuable to our team as the rest of us."

Callen agreed as he said, "We don't really make it clear, which might be part of the reason why Eric is having such a hard time dealing with this, and that's on us, but right now we need to focus on…"

"What is it, Mr. Callen?" Hetty asked as he suddenly received an urgent text message, followed by the rest of the agents as well, one right after the other.

"It's Eric," Deeks stated quickly. "He's in trouble."

Hetty looked at her own message, then looked between the four agents as she quickly answered, "Go, go, all of you! Bring him back here right away!"

By the time the agents arrived where Eric's message had said for them to come, they came upon a crime scene outside of an electronics store that was surrounded by several police, a large number of onlookers, as well a few paramedics who were attending to a few bystanders that appeared to have been injured.

Callen, Sam, Kensi, and Deeks pushed their way through the crowd and ran over to the officer that appeared in charge as Kensi asked, "What happened here?"

"Most of the witnesses believed at first that it was a robbery here in the electronics store, but after three armed men wearing masks broke in and began shooting up the place, they soon abducted one of the store's customers, who tried to fight back, and took off in a black, unmarked van," the man responded. "We got here as soon as the calls came in, but we were too late. There was only this mess and a small number of witnesses that remained behind, at least three of them being injured."

"The person that was abducted, was he a young man with glasses and most likely wearing shorts and flip flops?" Sam asked one of the witnesses who was currently being treated for a gunshot wound in his shoulder.

The man only nodded at Sam, who then turned back to his friends as Callen spoke up saying, "Damn it! Because their man that was working for them to unlock the supercomputer's encryption was killed, the mercenaries must have decided that they needed to find someone else that could complete the job. They must have learned about Eric somehow and then followed him until they decided to kidnap him."

Deeks asked, "You don't think it was out of revenge then, on Eric for having killed their engineer?"

"No way," Sam replied firmly. "Mitch Calder was just someone our killers enlisted to do their dirty work, whom they probably didn't care if he died once he finished."

"The reason doesn't matter," Callen continued. "But they are going to hurt Eric in order to get him to do whatever they want. We have to find him as soon as possible."

Deeks looked around the computer store and kept his eyes trained on one spot within the store as he asked, "Do you guys see what I see?"

As the others all turned to look, Kensi smiled as she answered, "A surveillance camera. At least it's a start. Hopefully Nell can find us something that can help."

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