Coronado, San Diego
Sam spent four hours interviewing the members of Petty Officer Jackson’s SEAL team and the rest of the platoon. He, alongside Admiral James, talked to the men to get the picture of exactly what had happened in Korea. It had been tough on Sam and the Admiral to find that they had done as they were ordered by Ensign Holland or have their careers taken away from them. Owen Granger sat in another room watching the video surveillance from the interview rooms, seeing he was not welcome into the fold. Here he was an outsider and Owen was thankful that they had Sam on their side. It was hard on Sam to deal with SEALs who had gone bad, but after their testimonies against their officer in charge, he felt a little at ease knowing that these men had no choice.
Lastly, the Admiral called in Ensign Holland who was not impressed to see Sam there. Sam introduced himself as NCIS Special Agent, Sam Hanna and asked him to sit down. Ensign Holland looked over to his Admiral with confusion.
“Sir, why is he here? We deal with our own.” Holland gave Sam a dirty look of disproval.
“He is one of us, in fact he’s more honourable than you will ever be, Holland. Agent Hanna has always stood for our code of conduct.” The Admiral went on to list them. “Never Leave a Man Behind; Failure is not an Option; Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate; Serve with Honour and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield; Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit; Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates; Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation, Train for War, Fight to Win; Defeat our Nation’s Enemies; Earn your Trident everyday and the only easy day was yesterday.” Admiral James stood up and paced the small room. “You disgust me, Holland. You have failed your men who rely on you to lead them. You betrayed your country and tarnished our reputation with South Korea.”
“Sir, non of this is true.” Ensign Holland looked up at the Admiral in his defence.
“We have the testimonies from your men,” Admiral James sternly replied. “NCIS have proof, photos of what you forced your men to do in Korea.”
Holland turned his gaze on Sam and the distaste he had for Sam deepened.
Sam sat there, his brown eyes hardened as they met the disgraced SEAL.
“Where is Petty Officer Ken Jackson?” Admiral James’ voice boomed through the room and into the corridors.
“I have no idea where he is. He didn’t turn up to work this morning, I’ve issued a warrant to find him.”
“He disappeared last night from a bar,” Sam added in. “His friend saw Jackson for a few minutes before he dashed to the men’s room, right after some of your men entered the bar. He never returned.”
“I told you, I have no idea where he is.” Holland sat there simmering under the surface. His men had turned on him and betrayed him. They would pay, just like Jackson had. If only they’d found the thumb drive to destroy the evidence.
Sam leaned over the table, his muscles tensed under his shirt. “I will personally come after you if any harm has come to Jackson. Do you hear me?”
“He threatened me, Sir.” Holland turned his attention to Admiral James.
“Tell him, Holland. Your career is over. You have nothing left to lie for. What happened to Jackson?” James’ patience was running thin, the day had gone from bad to worse as he’d sat with Hanna to interview the men in Jackson’s platoon and team. None of them had admitted to kidnapping or hurting Jackson the night before, although they had admitted to what had gone down in Korea.
“I can’t tell you what I don’t know, Sir.” Holland was a stubborn man who irritated Sam and the Admiral to no end. He was not going to give in to anything. “I want my lawyer.”
Sam stood and exited the room, the Admiral followed. “Hanna, I’m sorry about Holland. I’ve never liked the man, but he was transferred from the east coast. Without Holland’s help, we have no idea if Jackson is alive or dead.”
“He must be close to someone who did the dirty work for him. If not in his platoon, is there someone else who he was close to?” Sam believed the men whom they had interviewed when they said that they knew nothing about Jackson’s whereabouts.”
“I will call a meeting with my officers and get answers for you, Hanna. You can continue to use an office here with your Assistant Director until we’ve found Jackson. We will hold Holland in that room with guards - men I trust.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Sam shook the Admiral’s hands and walked up the corridor to join Granger. He entered the room and nodded to Owen and then placed his attention on Holland, who remained sitting in the interview room alone. The man appeared to be relaxed, not bothered by anything that was going on, like he had nothing to lose. He narrowed his eyes as he watched him and pulled out his cell.
“Nell, I need everything you can find on Ensign Luke Holland. His family, his friends, where he hangs out. Phone calls, emails, trace his movements back to two weeks ago, after his unit returned from Korea.”
“On it, Sam.” Nell typed away on her keyboard, the buttons clicking under the pressure from her fingertips. Eric sat beside her at his station, still trying to find footage from the bar and the surrounding streets and alley ways, to figure out what had happened to Jackson. So far, beside the footage of Jackson meeting his friend, Adrian Prior out front of the bar and entering, he’d come up blank.
“Ugh! This isn’t working.” Eric moaned and pushed his chair out from under him. He rubbed his face with his hands, trying to remain focused on the job at hand.
Nell looked over to him and frowned. “Beale, what’s up?”
“I’ve tried everything, but I can’t find Jackson. Anywhere. It’s like he vanished within the bar.”
Nell raised a brow. “Hmmm!” She typed in a number and dialled Kensi and Deeks.
“Hey guys, how far from the bar are you?”
Kensi looked over at Prior who had done everything he could to help them find his friend. “I’d say fifteen minutes. Why?”
“Eric can’t find any trace of Jackson ever leaving the bar. I have a theory.”
“And you want us to go there with Prior, to see if we can find him?”
“Yes. Or a possibility of an access out of there that Eric’s not found from this end.”
“Okay. We’ll contact you when we arrive.” Kensi disconnected the call and looked over at her partner and Prior.
“Nell’s asked that we go to the bar, Eric can’t find any evidence that Jackson left the bar.”
Deeks nodded, he looked over to their witness. “You ready to take us back to the bar to go through what happened last night?”
“Yeah, sure.” Adrian Prior stood, pleased to be getting out of the windowless room. It was stuffy and he needed some air. Kensi felt the same. She’d managed to pull herself together after her initial dash to the bathroom, she hoped there wouldn’t be anything gory at the bar that would set her off again.
Seaworthy Bar, San Diego
Kensi, Deeks and Prior stepped out of the SUV and stood outside the front of the bar. “Eric, can you see us?” Kensi looked up at the security camera out front of the bar.
“Yes, we can.” Eric watched, bringing up all cameras in the area and waited. He couldn’t get hold of the cameras inside the club, he relied on Kensi and Deeks to capture the inside on the button cams they had on them. He wished he was there so he could tap into the closed circuit cameras inside the bar, but he was stuck back in Los Angeles, this had to do.
Deeks knocked on the bar door and waited for the door to open. He flashed his badge and they were allowed in.
“How can I help you?” The manager looked over at them, surprised by their visit.
“We believe one of your patrons vanished from your bar last night and hasn’t been seen since. It would help us if we could look at your security systems and at all of your access points in and out of here.”
The manager narrowed his eyes. He looked over at Prior and a flash of recognition reflected in his eyes. “You were here last night with a friend. You were asking my employees if anyone knew where he’d gone to.”
“I remember. No one saw him leave.” He turned his attention to Deeks and Kensi. “Why are Federal Agents looking into his disappearance?”
“He’s a Navy SEAL.”
The manager nodded. “This way to my office. You can have the tapes from last night.”
It had been easier than expected. Within minutes, Kensi had connected the security system into Ops and Eric was able to pull the camera feeds from the night before.
“Can you show us all the exits to this place?” Deeks scanned the bar, taking in the surroundings as Kensi stayed with the security footage.
“This way.” Brian Mallyon led Deeks and Prior out to the side and rear exits.
Deeks noticed the large skip out back and opened the lid. Before he even saw the dead SEAL, he could smell the decomposed body. He stepped back and allowed Prior to take a look and identify his friend. He saw the grief, the shock hit him that his friend was dead. He gently placed his hand on Prior’s arm.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” Deeks moved forward and took photos. “Eric, can you see out the back where the skip is?”
“No. It’s a dead zone.”
“Your choice of words couldn’t be more fitting, Eric. We have found Petty Officer, Jackson. His body was dumped in the skip last night.”
“We’ll let Hetty, Sam and Granger know.” Nell and Eric’s visage saddened at the news about the Petty Officer’s death. He’d died trying to do the right thing. They hoped they found those responsible, as far as they knew, the officer in charge of Jackson’s team was behind it, but he hadn’t done the dirty work. “Does the bar have a camera out back?” Eric asked hopefully.
Deeks looked around and spotted one just above the door he’d exited. “Yes.”
“Good. I’ll take a look at the footage and get back to you.” Eric typed away and he searched the footage from the night before. After twenty minutes of fast speeding through, he found the time when Jackson met Prior out front and entered. They grabbed some beers and settled in a booth towards the rear of the bar. Eric could see the agitated state that Jackson had been in.
“He’s definitely worried about something.” The sliding doors whooshed open and Eric felt the presence of their Operations Manager from behind. He swivelled his chair and faced her.
“You got my message.”
“Yes, Mr Beale. I did. It’s always a sad day when someone good dies. We won’t allow those responsible to get away with Petty Officer Jackson’s murder.” Hetty studied the video footage that Kensi had keyed into Ops.
“Whose on this side of the bar, Eric?” Nell couldn’t help herself, although she was working on finding contacts whom Holland had used to dispose of Jackson.
Eric looked between the cameras from the bar and found the corresponding time from a different angle.
“Jackson recognised someone, can we blow the image up?” Hetty stood with her hand on the back of Eric’s chair.
Eric enlarged the image and he captured the men, and placed them into a facial recognition database. They waited while Nell returned to her own searches.
“U-huh!” Eric and Hetty looked over to Nell and noted what she had found.
“Holland was buddies with these two men. Chief Warrant Officer, Raymond Jeffries and Master Chief Petty Officer, Carl Weatherton.” Within seconds of Nell reading out their names, the men from the bar’s identifications came up as a match.
“Well, Miss Jones, Mr Beale, it’s time you called your team and gave them the news.” Hetty was pleased with her team’s performance. Within hours they had solved the whereabout of the missing Petty Officer and who had killed him and why. Satisfied, she exited the tech filled room and made her way back to her office. She needed to call Leon to update him on her team’s success.
Coronado, San Diego
The atmosphere at Coronado was glum, when Admiral James brought in his men to arrest Ensign Luke Holland and his associates, Chief Warrant Officer, Raymond Jeffries and Master Chief Petty Officer, Carl Weatherton. With Holland under guard, he’d had no opportunity to warn his buddies, their capture went smoothly. Sam called the local MPs who took the men into custody to await their trial.
“I’m sorry to have returned under such difficult circumstances.” Sam shook the Admiral’s hand.
“So am I, Agent Hanna. I can see that you are doing good at NCIS. We miss you down here, but I’m glad that we had you to find justice for Petty Officer Jackson and his family.”
“Me too, Admiral.” Sam walked out of the building, the sun was setting over the Pacific Ocean, it would be dark before he arrived home. He stretched his limbs, it had been a long day.
“See you tomorrow, Granger.”
“You did well today, Sam. I know how hard this case was for you, but I am glad that we have you on our side. Drive safe.” Owen Granger watched the former Navy SEAL climb into his black challenger and skid out of the carpark. That man loved his vehicle and Owen had to smirk as he watched him leave.
Deeks and Kensi said goodbye to Adrian Prior and the Operations Manager down in San Diego. It had been a really long day and now they had a long drive home. Kensi yawned and stretched out like a cat.
“I think I should drive home, Fern. You can nap, I’ll be quiet on the drive home.” Kensi nodded and slipped into the passenger seat. Deeks smiled as she nestled into the edge of the seat and rested her head on the seatbelt strap. Many thoughts about them together floated through his head as they headed north home to Los Angeles. The orange hues from the setting sun as it sunk down below the horizon and midnight blue replaced the sky, jewelled with stars and comets. Deeks had the music low as he hummed along, without warning their car suddenly slammed into another vehicle as they were herded across the multiple lane freeway.