Target Acquired

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The Suspect

Risby stared through the two-way mirror at a shifting and complaining Billy Dubo as his agents set up in the conference room down the hall. Nikki and Jack would arrive soon, having had the furthest to travel. He would wait for them to arrive before he began his interrogation.

Kost entered the room, softly closing the door behind him. He made his way through the room to stand next to his superior and friend.

“There is nothing outwardly suspicious about Adrian. He hasn’t said anything out of the ordinary nor did he obstruct finding the evidence we needed, and he seems to truly believe in what he is doing.” He turned to face Risby. “Why did you want me to watch him?”

Risby didn’t move from his position, not looking at Kost as he replied, “Jack says there is something off about him. Plus, there is something going on that I can’t tell you about. I need you to trust me on this.”

Kost sighed and folded his arms, turning back to the mirror. “You know I trust you. Whatever is going on, I will follow your lead.”

At that moment, the door opened and Adrian stuck his head through. “Nicole and Jack are here.”

“Thank you. We will be there in a minute.”

“Billy Dubo. Do you know why you are here?” Risby took a seat in the chair opposite from Billy, leaning casually against the back of his seat. Adrian stood to the side, standing upright and professional, watching their prisoner with hawk-like eyes. Billy shifted again, his tall frame barely fitting in the small chair provided for him.

“No, I don’t.”

Risby opened the file he had brought in with him and pulled out the photo of Billy purchasing the shoes. “Is this you?”

Billy barely glanced at it before saying, “Yeah. What about it?”

“Those shoes were discovered to have been at the scene of a crime. Do you know these people?”

He laid out the photos of the missing agents, laying the one of Robert on top. Billy’s eyes flickered briefly in recognition but he looked away. “No, I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

“Interesting,” Risby commented. He stared the man down, making it clear he didn’t believe him. “I guess you also don’t know why a mark that matches your shoes happen to be at the place where they were kidnapped.”

Billy scoffed, folding his arms across his chest in a show of defiance. “I’m not an idiot. I would never wear shoes like that to a major hit.”

“So you’re admitting to being a part of other hits then?” Risby’s voice sounded harmless but his eyes were anything but. Billy gulped, realizing his mistake.

“Ah, no, I mean… I just watch a lot of cop shows. That’s it, I promise!”

Risby suddenly reached across the table and grabbed the man’s shirt, his voice hard as he growled, “We matched your DNA to the blood that was left at the crime scene, a mark from your shoes was there, and a witness saw you following Agent Robert. With this evidence and as the head of the International Defense Agency, I have the power to lock you away for the rest of your life. I suggest you start talking, and fast.”

Billy’s face had grown pale during Risby’s speech, and he nodded frantically. “Alright, alright! Put me down! I’ll tell you everything!”

Risby held on a moment longer then gently let go and sat back, seemingly laid-back once more. This time, however, Billy could see the steel in the way the man sat and moved, in the way his head tilted to the side as he studied Billy like a viper studies its prey. This was not a man to mess with.

“So a few months ago, Jud, the leader of the gang, comes up to me and says to watch this guy for a few hours on a specific date. Of course, you don’t say no to the head man, so I did as he said. I wore my special shoes that day cuz I had just gotten them and they were comfy, but I didn’t wear them during the hit. I meant it when I said I wasn’t an idiot. I know I don’t look it, but I’m good at what I do.”

“What about the agents? What did you do with them?”

Billy’s eyes shifted as though he were preparing to lie, but a small movement from Adrian revealed a gun, and Billy swallowed heavily. He really didn’t want to go to prison for the rest of his life.

“We brought them to a warehouse by the river, the old Watertown port that was shut down years ago. The boss said something about holding onto them for a while. I’m not sure if they’re still alive. I’m not high enough to know that stuff.”

Risby frowned, his mind running through several different scenarios. “Why were the agents targeted?”

“Jud said that they had found some info on us and didn’t want to chance exposure. Like I said, I don’t really know much else.”

Risby scrutinized the man sitting in front of him for any signs that he might not be telling the truth, but there were none. He glanced at Adrian who shrugged. No more questions - Billy had told them everything he knew. Risby stood abruptly, his chair falling to the ground with a sudden crash that made Billy flinch away, and strode out the room, Adrian on his heels. It was time to see what the team thought.

“Adrian, I want you to contact your informant. Two days will have to have been enough time to find something. Ask him for details about this warehouse and the schedules of the guards who are stationed there. We need all the information we can get.”

“Yes sir.” Adrian pulled out his phone and punched in some numbers. Risby next addressed Sarah.

“Get me everything you can find on the Watertown warehouse.”

Sarah nodded firmly, her fingers already tapping away at a rapid pace. Risby turned to Jack

“Jack, get the assault gear out and ready. As soon as we have the info we need, we move in.”

“What about the local police? Will we ask them for backup?”

Risby shook his head. “No. The Fanged Wolves no doubt has eyes and ears all over the local law enforcement and there’s no time to call in for help from the IDA. We are on our own.”

Risby saw Jack’s frown deepen, but the agent moved to obey him without any more questions. Risby sighed. He knew that Jack had doubts about the whole situation, had told him so from the start, and had only grown more apprehensive as the investigation continued on.

Risby had not dismissed Jack’s thoughts; he knew the dangers that this case would bring. Detective M had warned him of all the traps and pitfalls that could arise because of his decision to find his missing agents. It was why he had chosen the agents that he had. Jack’s instincts combined with Sarah’s technological skills and Kost’s experience would help keep all of them alive in this game between two unknowns: M and the Institution. He just wished he knew where Adrian and Nikki fell into this.

“What do I do sir?” Nikki piped up. She had listened as he had given out orders to all the agents except her and was impatient to help. Risby smiled at the girl. Despite M’s warnings, he couldn’t help but like the cheerful and independent girl. He remembered how the first time he had seen her had been when she had dived straight for the cookies. That experience summed up her personality well. She was confident in herself and didn’t care what others thought of her. She was eager to help and get things done but without doing anything to jeopardize the mission. But in order for M’s plan to work, he needed to be on his guard.

“You will help me plan an attack on the warehouse. Once Sarah gets the blueprints, we can start mapping out what would work best.”

Sarah jumped out of her seat and ran to the printer that was spewing out two poster-sized papers with designs all over them. She placed them on the table.

“This is the main floor of the warehouse. From what I was able to find, there are still some shipping crates inside of it that we will need to watch out for, but otherwise the space is empty. There are metal grate stairs here and here that lead to the catwalks above the ground floor. The catwalks just hug the walls of the warehouse, nothing spanning the middle of the room.”

She pulled the second paper on top of the one she had just described. “This is the outside of the warehouse. Here is the dock outside near the river. A lot of it was cut off a few years ago by a massive storm and flood, but enough remains that we can use it to sneak around that side. It’s open land everywhere else, with only some small shrubs and trees.”

Nikki was already tracing her finger over the paper, finding the best routes to get inside the warehouse undetected. She paused over the left-over dock. “We need to know where the guards are going to be, but the dock might not be the best way to get in through, at least not in the initial attack.”

“Hmm. That is true, but if two agents were to wait until the others attacked, the guards who are posted out there might be called inside the warehouse as backup, letting our agents get behind them and possibly take their place.”

Leaving Nikki to ponder that possibility, he moved over to where Adrian was finishing up his phone call. “Let me know if anything changes.” Adrian put his phone on the table as saw Risby waiting for him. His eyes flashed with something that put Risby on his guard. The head agent watched as Adrian pulled out a scrap of paper from his pocket wrote something on it.

“This is the number of my informant should something happen to Nicole or me,” Adrian told his superior, but the look on his face told Risby to look closer. Adrian handed him the paper and passed by to go to the blueprints so he could draw in the location of the guards. Risby looked down at the paper in his hand. Indeed, there was a string of numbers written on it, but what was far more intriguing was the intricate “M” drawn on the bottom left corner.

Risby pulled out his phone, making it seem as though he was going to type the numbers Adrian had given him into it. Instead, he found the codename he had Detective M under in his contacts and studied the numbers - they were the same.

He couldn’t help but chuckle. It all made sense now, the complete identities of the two new agents, how M seemed to know their exact moves, and Jack’s instincts regarding Adrian. M had made his identity with one flaw that only the best would be able to find, thus giving Risby a reason to suspect the two agents with limited explanation. Jack would now be on high alert on the coming mission, and his protectiveness of Nikki would lead him to watch her closely, allowing him to stop her if she tried to do anything out of the ordinary. Kost already knew that something was up with Adrian and would keep an eye out for him, although Risby doubted that Adrian would try something. M was too important to the world to risk it unnecessarily. With his cover as an Institution Agent, his situation was precarious as it was.

On the other hand, M had asked him to help lead Nikki to the truth about the Institution. Already, there was probably doubt in her mind about the ease they had found the evidence linking the missing agents to the Fanged Wolves, and Risby had no doubt that there would be something in the warehouse to lead it back to the Institution as well. From there, it would be up to M to convince Nikki that the Institution needed to be stopped.

Jack stepped through the doorway, a Kevlar vest already strapped on. “I’ve got the armor ready. How are we going to do this?”

Risby looked at the map, a plan of action already forming in his mind with his goals at the center of it. “Here’s how we’ll do this…”

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