Chapter 10 - Deception
Special Agent Quinn
In Pursuit of Sasha Taylor
This is bad. This is really bad. It took 15 god damned minutes to get out of that frenzied crowd. Everyone ogling over their phones and collecting each other’s info, they acted like the technology was brand new, this girl had saved them from depravity and gave them hope.
I won’t lie, what she did back there was still engraved in my mind. But I couldn’t afford to be distracted by pretty thoughts anymore.
This is what I knew, Sasha’s intentions and words meant nothing to me. That phone she had in her possession had to be acquired by us; she was wide open now after that display, she will not be able to keep people off her trail anymore, she’s the most popular person in the world by now. I was running out of steam, and the mission was requiring me to push as hard as I could every step of the way.
“It’s still here Harry!”
“Go! See if they came by!”
Our only hope was to make it back to her car. She couldn’t leave without it, or so we thought. When we got back we noticed it hadn’t been touched; she had left it behind. I didn’t think she had it in her that was the last time I would underestimate her.
“She’s gone, Quinn.”
“She has to come back.”
“She’s not coming back, Quinn.”
I slammed my hands down on the hood of her car, and the alarm began to go off.
“Shut up!” I yelled at the inanimate object. The alarm continued to blare to an effect it almost muted the radio beep. Arnold was checking in, and Harry was just in time to receive the call.
“Arnold? How are ya?”
“What the hell is that noise?”
“We thought we could catch Sasha coming back to her car, but she left it. They must’ve found another ride. So Quinn, of course, got mad and set off the car alarm. Now he’s just throwing a fit.”
“Well, boss. I have some news that might make you very happy. I’m following a lead.”
“Quinn!” Harry waved me to come over to him, and we began to walk away from the obnoxiously loud car alarm echoing throughout the parking garage. Harry was about to call Arnold back on the radio but held off when he saw a man in an air force uniform heading in our direction. “Arnold? We will come meet you as soon as we can.”
“Wait. What? I need you two here now!” Harry cut off Arnold and silenced the radio. He stealthfully put it in his pocket, as the man in the air force uniform approached us. He had a radio in his hand.
“Hey, crew cut can we help you?”
The grunt said nothing and handed Harry the radio. I saw by his stripes that he was a Private First Class. Undoubtedly one of Gable’s I could only assume that’s who was about to speak over the other end of that radio. Harry glared at the grunt and pressed the button on the side.
“Special Agent in Charge Harry Westin here. Who am I speaking to?”
“There’s no need for formalities Harry you know who this is. You and the Olympic Torch have been very busy.”
“What did you call me you old bastard?” Harry pushed me back, and we continued to listen to Gable’s announcement. “I’m not fucking around here anymore boy. You two have destroyed evidence and are purposely disrupting a military investigation. They call that treason, do you know the justice system’s policy for treason?”
“Get to the point Gable. We both know you won’t waste the time to file a report against us.”
“Unfortunately you are very right Quinn. I am 2 hours away from you, and I’ve stumbled upon a new lead. You two have evaded me long enough, you will wait there with my messenger, and I will come to pick you up. This is your only chance to make up for your treachery earlier. If you leave Saint Louis or disrupt this investigation any further, you will learn that your actions have consequences. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Colonel Gable.”
“Good. I’ll be in touch.”
Harry threw the radio back to the messenger and looked to me; I knew what Harry wanted. “You’re the boss Harry.” I sucker punched the grunt and knocked him out with one hit. It hurt the hell out of my hand, but at least I knew I still had it in me. Harry smiled and turned his radio back on, through which Arnold immediately started yelling.
“Harry! Quinn! Respond! Respond!”
“We’re here Arnold! What did you find?”
Arnold had been eating at a fast food restaurant on the opposite street of the hotel. We sent him there because we knew he wasn’t trained for this like us, so we wanted to give him a break to rest his tiny brain. I never thought anything fruitful would come from his post there.
“Well I was eating this burger, and down the street a ways I saw this guy waving around a stack of cash in his hand. I thought who is walking around at this hour with 10,000 dollars in cash. So I followed him and eventually cornered him in this alley we’re sitting in right now.”
“Are you still there?”
“Yes. Now here’s the good part.”
Arnold continued to talk over the radio, and Harry signaled to me to bring the car around. “I asked him about the cash at gunpoint, and he said that four kids came up and offered to buy his car for $12,000. Four kids, Harry, with a big stack of cash.”
“Damn good work Arnold, stay right there, we’re coming to pick you up.”
Harry switched off the radio and jumped in the passenger seat. “I hate to admit it, but the kid did well.”
“He’s capable of a lot more than you give him credit for,” Harry replied, starting to get annoyed by my one-sided tension towards him.
“I’ll try to go easier on him. But for now, we need to discuss Gable. What do you think he found?”
“He might be bluffing, but I know for a fact we wouldn’t bother to pick us up. He’s trying to get ahead, and we can’t let him. You need to realize that this is all just a game Quinn, we can never allow him to get ahead of us. Now step on it.”
We swooped up Arnold, and I drank my cold, but strong, coffee and I prepared for another day without any sleep. This time we would be right on Sasha, but we would have to wait for her to stop before we could move in. What Gable said stuck in the back of my mind, a lead? What could we have missed? I couldn’t stop thinking about it, it irritated the hell out of me and worried me greatly.
Colonel Jimmy Gable
Oklahoma City Residence.
I knew those fucking agency weasels wouldn’t listen, we were going to have to deal with them soon, but they had certain parameters they had to observe if they were going to take Sasha in. That would buy us all of the time we needed. I was not bound by any parameters. I was going to do everything it took to get to that girl. I took three of my best men with me to interrogate someone who I believed to know the whereabouts of her.
We needed to avoid suspicion, and what better way to do that then to dress up as the local authorities, no one raises an eyebrow at a local cop, we stood out too much in our military uniforms.
“Police! Open up!”
I knocked persistently on the man’s door until I heard his slow footsteps approach. He crept slowly out of the doorframe and answered our call.
“A little late for police work isn’t it? Can I help you?”
“You are Theodore Taylor?”
“Call me Ted. What’s this all about?”
“We need to have a word about Sasha, Ted.”
“Again huh? Come on in.” We entered his home, dirty and undisciplined as I had expected, we made our way to the living room and made ourselves comfortable as he suggested. He rubbed his eyes as he sat his fat ass back down on his recliner.
“I already talked to two of your officers earlier. I have no idea where she is, or where she is going. She came here to collect some food and clothes and said she was going on a trip. That’s all I know I don’t know what else you want from me.”
“This is about something else Ted. We found her.”
I knew he had already been questioned by the police, especially after word about her got out. He prepared himself mentally to convince the authorities he didn’t know anything. What he wouldn’t expect was to hear of her “death.”
He shot forward in his chair and engaged me, now desperate to know the answers; he would willingly listen to my lie.
“What do you mean you found her? Is she okay?”
“I’m afraid not Ted. They found her in a ditch outside Saint Louis.”
“Oh my god. Are you sure?”
“With this crisis going on we have to wait to process photos. But yes, we’re sure, her wallet and ID were on her at the time of her death.”
“I need a moment.” I saw tears stream down his face as he sprang up from his chair. He began to pace around the room and mumble things to himself.
“Take all the time you need Mister Taylor.” He nodded as he wiped his face and went into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. I remember hearing the faucet run; I wasn’t convinced that his emotional show was authentic. I couldn’t be sure, but there was no room for mistakes, we didn’t have the time. What was he doing in that bathroom?
Ted walked out of the bathroom and wiped the tears from his face. I knew what he was going to say next before he did.
“I think you gentlemen need to leave. I need time alone.”
“I’m very sorry for your loss. I can imagine how you feel. Do you mind if I tell you a story before I leave?” He wiped his face dry with a tissue and looked at me perplexed. He seemed confused at my offer, but he allowed me to continue. He sniffed consistently, and after a moment he nodded to me.
“It might help lighten your heart a little Mister Taylor.” I readjusted myself on the dirty couch and looked at him straight in the eyes while he leaned against the bathroom door.
“14-15 years ago I was in the middle east; I was with the 101st. We were undercover searching for an HVT - high-value target; he was a lieutenant of a terrorist ring we were in the process of breaking down. We had this kid that was our informant. He was our way into his home, a neighborhood friend of the HVT’s son he was about twelve years old. One day we got a hit that he had finally come back to the safe house we had been shadowing for months. We had this kid bring us to his front door; we were going to nab this son of a bitch.”
“What are you trying to say, officer?”
I pointed my finger at Ted and continued from his rude interruption. “This is important. We ran up to the safe house through the middle of a busy market. This kid knocked prominently on that door and as soon as someone from the other side answered, we made our move.” I paused to see if he was invested in my storytelling ability.
“So what happened?”
“We cleared every room, and he was nowhere to be found. The son of the HVT was the one who answered the door. We were confused; we would’ve seen him leave. So we made our way back to our child informant who was standing in the middle of the living room with 60 pounds of explosives strapped to his chest. We were convinced that we had him, but that terrorist knew we were watching him all along. As soon as I saw that bomb, I jumped out the window behind me. The other three soldiers did not, and they, the terrorist’s son and 50 other people died in a devastating fireball that day.”
My story disarmed his emotions; I needed to see if he was lying. But this one was stronger than I expected. He still held his sorrowful posture.
“My point is, Mister Taylor, from this point on I don’t trust anyone anymore. We never caught that man; he was willing to kill his own son to cover his tracks – he taught me the meaning of what will truly is. And after seeing three of my friends incinerated, I’ll always speculate when I meet new people. So I wonder, are you telling the truth or do you have a bomb on you?”
Slippery, quick to react, he once again responded by breaking down emotionally and shedding his tears. “You come into my home. Tell me that my niece is dead and that my son is missing. You have the nerve to accuse me of hiding secrets from you! Fuck you! Get out of my house!”
I nodded, and we quietly and respectfully took our leave. Ted was quick to show us to the door. “We’ll need you to identify the body. But I understand you may need a few days. We’ll be in touch.”
He slammed the door behind us, as we walked down the hallway made eerie by the flickering hall lamps my second in command, Sergeant Kline, looked to me. “That was our guy sir! We need to go back.”
“Patience Sergeant, he needs to see us leave through the porthole in his door. Then we’ll have the advantage of surprise. Remember nothing will hold us back.”
We nonchalantly made our way around the corner and stopped as soon as we were out of sight. I gave the signal, and they upholstered their weapons and prepared for a breach. I waited until my man downstairs arrived with the battering ram. As soon as I saw the shadow of his body we uniformly made our way back to his room.
“Stay frosty; you two go around back in case he tries to jump out the window.”
I cocked my pistol, and we quickly made our way back to his door. My three men rushed to either side of the door, and the breacher stood directly in front of Ted Taylor’s door. I waited till my four men were in the position to breach. I looked at my watch as I stood behind the breacher and nodded to my squad.
They raised their weapons, and I gave the signal. The breacher destroyed the lock on the door, and we rushed in. Ted with a small bag slung over his shoulder panicked and made his way to his kitchen window. Before he could even open the lock to raise the window my men pulled him to the ground and he quickly stopped moving.
“Going somewhere, Ted? I know liars far too well in my age.”
“This is unlawful! What are your badge numbers! This is out-”
“We aren’t cops Ted. Oh, my. What is this Ted?”
I looked on the ground near where my men threw him down and found exactly what I had thought I’d find. A working cell phone, I was astonished that Nyström’s experiment was a success. As I picked up the phone, he kicked and struggled to try and take it back from me.
“No! No! You can’t!”
“You have no idea what we can do Ted, even without our screens.”
I looked down at Ted’s phone and saw a message. He had been talking to Sasha, He made us when he went into the bathroom, and after we had left he sent her this text.
I’m glad you’re alive and well Sasha. Just know that I love you and Floyd more than anything in the world. Take care of each other and come back to me.
I felt very accomplished. With this in my possession, I would be miles ahead of those FBI snakes. I knew Ted would be the one to lead me to her; I didn’t think he would have the courage to spit in my face though.
“You are a liar! Who are you?”
I smiled still looking at Ted’s phone. “You made us out very quick, but I was quicker. Your niece has stolen something precious from us. I need it back.”
My men brought him against the back of the wall, and I pushed my pistol against his temple. “You are going to tell me where she is, or I am going to kill you.”
“Then do it!”
I clicked the hammer back on my pistol as one of my men moved from behind him. This elicited a reaction from him. “Wait! Wait. She’s headed east towards Virginia.”
I laughed and took my gun away from his skull. “I helped engineer this catastrophe, Ted. You think I’m stupid? She’s either headed towards Philadelphia, Cambridge, or Buffalo, which is it?”
Ted froze, he knew he was powerless, and nothing was going to make him talk. But then I almost forgot. “But why ask you when you probably have the answer on your phone.”
Ted panicked and shook vigorously trying to escape the grip of my soldiers; he then cried real tears, he was about to hand me the ticket that would lead to her demise.
“You won’t be able to figure it out!”
“I helped design it Ted; there’s nothing you can do to save her now.” Strange, I expected him to beg for his life, for her life, but I think he knew that it was hopeless, or maybe he kept his hope inside. I didn’t care either way; he was about to lead us to our prize. To our salvation and assured fortune that VIRGIL could provide.
But I should’ve known it wasn’t going to be that easy.
“Anything you want to tell me before I open the GPS Ted?”
“Yeah. Go fuck yourself.”
“Cute.” I nodded at my sergeant, and he punched Ted in the face. I smiled as I swiped open the tab, but when I did, a blinding light pierced my eyes and a very high-pitched sound emitted from Ted’s phone. It was like a flashbang grenade went off in my hand.
“What the fuck!” I turned away from my phone, and my men too felt the shock of the device. But Ted was consumed by his determination, he saw the opportunity and lunged towards me. He forced me back over a nightstand in the living room and grabbed the phone.
“Drop it, Ted!”
“Drop the phone!”
“With pleasure officer!” Ted took his phone and threw it against the ground as hard as he could. The phone hit the floor, and the screen exploded when it did. The battery broke, the casing shattered, and just like that our lead was gone.
We recovered, and all converged on Ted. He smiled at me as I broke his nose with the butt of my handgun. “That was a very stupid decision,” I said when I felt the need to stop beating his face. Ted smiled through his bloodied teeth and spat up blood on my shoes.
“I will do anything to protect her. And I’m not the only one! You will never catch her asshole.”
I should’ve known there would’ve been a security measure; I will not make that mistake again. I shook my head in disappointment at Ted as my soldiers picked up the remnants of the phone. “Is there any chance of saving it?” I asked. My men shook their heads, the phone was far beyond repair, and we didn’t have the time. I knew what I had to do, I backed away from Ted and gave him one more decision to make.
“You know I can’t let you live. Where do you want it?”
Ted knew the path he chose and immediately responded to me. “I want to have an open casket for my son and niece. Shoot me in the chest.”
“I admire you, Ted, like I, you understand courage better than most.”
“Shut the fuck up and-” I pulled the trigger and shot him in the head and left a giant bloodstain on the painting hanging on the wall behind him. Sometimes I am not a man of my word. Once his lifeless body hit the floor, I turned him over with my boot and took one last look at him.
“No open casket for you Teddy. Shouldn’t have done that.”
“What now boss?”
Almost as if it was fate, my radio began to ring. I had five men follow the FBI fuckheads after they tried to elude me. Keep your enemies closer. “Sir, I’ve found agents Quinn and Westin.”
We then quickly made our leave, there was no time to clean up. “When you reach our trusty agents, hand them your radio, I have a message I want to deliver.” I wish we could’ve planted a bug on their car, but nothing would work, so we had to rely on our wit and our luck.
I had plenty of both.
I thought about Ted for a moment before we drove back to the chopper. That man sacrificed everything to protect Sasha; I didn’t understand she was like a daughter to him, I had to admire what he did it cost him his life. And I will take as many lives as I have to, I will accomplish my mission and finally, get my reward once we reach the supercomputer that VIRGIL comes from. No one understands what it is capable of; nobody left alive anyway.