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The Imperfect Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE IMPERFECT PLAN

 

ALSO BY ED SILVA JR.

The Bitter Truth

Jessica Cardelini

ED SILVA JR.

THE IMPERFECT PLAN

This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions in this expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the material in this book.

The Imperfect Plan All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2015 Ed Silva Jr. V1.0

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I would like to dedicate this Novel to my wife Luana.

 

I would like to thank the Kindle Direct Publishing over at Amazon for all the answered questions. I would like to acknowledge Kyle, he was the one who helped me the most during the editing phase. To my father, who gave me the idea to begin writing this Novel. This book also goes out to Sedalia, who encouraged me to continue writing. To my mother, who loaded me with snacks during my non-stop writing sessions. Countless thanks to my wife, who is always found patient with me when it involves the book. To my dearest friend Anderson Galindo, who brilliantly came up with the concept and art cover for this book. To everyone who helped me in some kind of way, from listening to my ideas or giving me feedback. To my High School teacher, who said that I had talent for writing, and I took it as a joke. To Tionne Watkins (better known by T-Boz) I was going to present this project to you back in 2012. I would like to thank the reader, for without you, none of this motivation to create a book would have never occurred.

Ed Silva Jr.

THE IMPERFECT PLAN

 

1

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S.A

 

He knew they would come for him, and now he was running for his life. Gasping while adrenaline doubled his heart rate, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank Francisco Cardelini found himself heading towards his office desk. As he stopped to reach for the object that he was looking for, he saw through his peripheral vision the intruder opening the door that was located near the entrance to the third floor.

Light from the hallway spilled in.

The intruder was wearing a gray sweater with a hood over his head. He was tan with brown eyes and dark eyebrows. He could pass for various nationalities, and because the light overhead was dim, his complexion appeared darker than usual. As he entered the room, he adjusted his eyes to the dim light and calmly walked towards Francisco.

Francisco grabbed what he wanted and turned around. Bumping his left elbow at frames that were neatly on top of his desk, he sprinted around other office furniture- now towards what he desperately needed to use.

The alarm pad.

“Don’t move.” The voice spoken by the intruder was authoritative and demanding.

Francisco ignored and distanced himself from the intruder. Silver glow from the moon gleamed through the windows. Overhead lights illuminated the Federal Reserve Bank seal in the center of the room and green desk lamp shades brightened their surroundings.

As Francisco turned to face him, the intruder was already covering the few feet between them. Getting hold of Francisco, he sent him crashing to the floor. The intruder was a much more imposing figure now standing over the C.E.O.

“You didn’t have to run,” he spoke with a heavy British accent “I’m going to ask you again…”

Silence as Francisco just stared at him.

“Tell me what happened in the incident of 1997. What stopped you?”

Francisco went back the years in his mind…staying as close to the wall as possible, he decided to move towards the open door, where he had observed the shadow-

The intruder pinned Francisco to the floor and brought him back to the present moment.

“How did you find me?”

“That’s irrelevant.”

Francisco glanced away- puzzled. What could have gone wrong? Looking up, he saw the alarm button hidden beneath the table. Knowing that he had only one chance to hide the truth about his real identity, he used all of his strength to push away the intruder. Surprising him with this, he managed one desperate final lunge towards the alarm pad. I must reach it! He thought while struggling to get his finger tips to brush against the panic button.

The intruder slowly got on his feet. His shadow grew bigger on top of Francisco.

“That just cost you your life. Now you must pay for what you’ve done.” The intruder laughed in a sinister way.

Francisco’s eyes grew big as he noticed the intruder producing a 9mm semi- automatic from behind his body. It had a silencer screwed to the barrel. He felt the rush of fear surging through his body at the sight of the gun. Instinctively, he started crawling backwards, looking for cover.

The intruder aimed his 9mm at Francisco and the sound of the alarm was momentarily broken by a brass cartridge hitting the floor.

Francisco collapsed on top of the seal and released his grip from the object that he was holding. The intruder lowered his weapon to his side and glanced down at the C.E.O. He was still alive.

“The information that I read in your file was very confidential.” He paused and aimed the 9mm at Francisco’s forehead, “We know you’re connected to White Diamond. It’s a key isn’t it? Now tell me, where did you hide it?”

Francisco just stared at him while quivering.

 

Meanwhile, security guards from the bank rushed up the flight of steps heading towards the third floor. Their footsteps were synchronized. They had their guns drawn and flashlights illuminating the way.

 

The intruder crouched and looked at him in the eyes. Francisco saw a hint of smile on his lips.

“Very well.” The intruder said as he grabbed the C.E.O.’s access card that was clipped to the collar of his suit. He then took a second to look at the object- a picture that Francisco had picked up from his desk. He pried the frame from his hands and studied it. It was a picture of a woman with green eyes. Her long brunette hair was tied behind her head and she wore earrings made of diamonds.

“The truth will be exposed…” Francisco said with a rasping voice. His throat went dry and he felt the lack of air in his lungs. His right hand was pressed against the bullet wound.

The intruder returned his attention to Francisco as he heard him finish the sentence. Dropping the frame, it shattered the glass into several pieces, skittering across the floor.

“Go to hell.” He whispered while turning his back to Francisco and taking a step forward.

POLICE!” the security guard yelled as he appeared in the background.” Stop right where you are!”

The intruder froze. Turning slightly to his right, he saw the security guards across desks and chairs. The intruder was drawn by an object that didn’t quite belong. Looking down, he saw the gold key next to the helpless body.

Francisco had kept the key that he was looking for inside of the picture frame.

Three security guards started closing in with their weapons aimed at the intruder’s head. Flashlights beamed at him.

The C.E.O. said something. He sounded anxious, pleading with the hapless of a dying man. The security guards seemed to have noticed the tone of his voice also, because they all froze.

Play the scenario that was given to you…The intruder thought. Looking to his left, he saw the full moon through the window. He also noticed that he was at the north side of the bank. …The whole north side is flanked with water…

“GET ON THE GROUND! NOW!!” one of the guards demanded.

Good choice of words…The intruder slowly bent down. Then, at an astonishing speed, he snatched the chunk of gold from the debris and ran the few steps to the window. In that split second, one of the security guard shot at his direction. The bullet shattered the glass, and the intruder crashed though the window, plummeting into the water below.

 

2

The intruder emerged from the water while pulling himself onto a stairwell. He was gasping for air while coughing. His sweater was soaked and tightly fit on his body. Water dripped from the sleeves as he touched the stone walls. He stood inside of a dim lighted passageway located beneath the Federal Reserve Bank. The passage was high enough to stand in and it had an electrical conduit running along the ceiling, feeding lights in steel cages every fifteen feet or so. As he stood there, the file in which he had obtained information about this secret place flashed in his mind.

The file was referred to as the “blue prints”. He remembered having studied the Mason symbol on the top right corner of the paper for a long moment, and he wondered why it was there.

Back to the present, he took a step forward while hearing the faint gurgle of water. The air was thick with moisture and the smell of stagnant water was unpleasant. Looking ahead, he noticed that the passage had a slight curve to the left and he couldn’t see where it ended.

The intruder was a British spy who worked for an Agency known as Winterfield. His name was Lukas Vernon and he was taught by Special Forces instructors who demonstrated to him marksmanship, demolition, and hand to hand combat. They also taught him how to blend into foreign environments and speak foreign languages.

A cracked water pipe overhead dripped water to the ground, creating a puddle. He walked past the pipe and found a stairwell. Touching the banisters for balance, he descended while hearing his own footsteps. The stairwell ended and he walked a few more steps until stopping in front of a metal door. A light bulb illuminated the door from above. He noticed that the door was green with spots of acid that corroded the metal over time. Swiping Francisco’s access card into an electronic mechanism mounted on the wall, he heard the door unlocking with a click.

Opening the door, he went inside with rapid commanding steps of someone who knew where he was going and why. He was looking into a massive room that resembled nothing so much as an industrial factory when a tall man appeared from a corridor ahead. He appeared from the right. He was dressed like an F.B.I agent. The agent studied Lukas for a second, didn’t recognize him, and decided to reach for his gun under his suit.

Lukas glanced at a small metal table against the wall between them. Quickly assuming he could use it for cover, he ran to it. However, a moment later he realized he was wrong. As he ran to the table, he noticed two other agents standing at the end of the corridor. They were looking his way.

Grabbing the metal table, he flipped it sideways at an astonishing speed and turned towards the first agent. The agent trailed Lukas with his gun and pressed the trigger. Bullets lodged in the table as Lukas tried ducking behind for protection. Crashing the table against the agent, the impact smashed his body against the wall. The two other agents started running towards him. Lukas straightened, grabbed the table once again and tossed it at them. Nailing them both, they fell to the marble floor.

Returning his attention to the agent crumbled in front of him, he saw him reaching for his service weapon. Lukas crouched, placed his hands on both sides of his head and snapped his neck before he had a chance to raise the weapon. The other agents were gaining their positions for a second time.

Lukas grabbed the dead agent by the collar of his suit and spun him around towards them. As the bullets were embedding at the corpse, he raised the agent’s armed hand and helped him squeeze the trigger.

The other two agents fell to the floor. Dead.

The quietness of the corridor was broken by a brass casing rolling to the wall.

He pushed the dead body away from him, leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes.

“UGH!” he let out a deep breath. That was a close one.

As he sat there, he recalled how this operation got started…He stepped away from the window while drawing his 9mm semi- automatic and aiming it forward. As he continued to walk around the dining room table, the full moon created layout sections of light and dark spots inside-

He heard a noise that brought him back to the present. Looking around, his eyes were drawn to one of the agent’s radio illuminating the marble floor. He assumed the security guards upstairs were trying to contact them here. They have probably discovered that Francisco’s access card was missing.

Taking the nearest agent’s pants, button down shirt, tie, suit and shoes, he reached for a gun on the floor and checked the cartridge. He then searched for identifications and found an I.D. inside of a wallet. These men were from the department of Internal Affairs.

Walking down the hallway lit by overhead fluorescent lamps, he turned right and stopped in front of a sliding door. With adrenaline fierce through his veins, he felt his heart beating faster. Looking through the glass paneling, he saw the information that he has been searching for.

His reflection appeared on the glass.

Seeing a monitor mounted on the wall to his right, he read the screen. It was asking to slide an activation card. Sliding Francisco’s access card through the machine, ten dashes appeared on the screen.

The ten digit logarithms…he thought while pressing the key pad.

1-0-5-1-9-1-9-9-3-1

He hit enter and the screen which had the Federal Reserve Bank seal on the on the background faded away. A few seconds later the screen blinked with the word “activated” and the door unlocked with a loud click. Furrowing his brows, he looked to his left.

Now inside of the highly secured room, he felt a blast of cold air hit his face. The room consisted of cabinets above counters, ceramic table in the center of the room, and an odd looking machine at the far wall.

What the hell is that? He wondered.

Standing over the table, he studied the cover of a book titled: the daily log. Opening the log, he scanned dozens of notes on the front page until reading a phone number that looked vaguely familiar.

I think I’ve seen this number before…“but where at?” he said aloud.

He looked away and remembered that this phone number was written on a FedEx package receipt that he had found inside of the house where this Operation began. Flipping through the pages of the log, he spotted a page with lines and symbols printed all over. It was the full passageway layout drawn: A quick right, then another right, then a left, skip the next five rights, and take the sixth one. His eyes darted all over the page until he saw the exit. He could see all the traps and dead ends.

This is the dry way of escape. Chuckling to himself, he started walking towards the exit door. Then, a spectacular thought ran across his mind and he froze. Turning around, he faced the wall and dwelled about leaving a message.

A message that would express how they accepted things.

 

3

The sun started rising on the horizon when the driver of the unmarked vehicle made a left hand turn into the condominium. A sudden burst of sunlight illuminated the area as sunglow broke through the low clouds. Flashing devices mounted next to the letters G.M.C. on the front grille of the vehicle blinked red and blue; while the headlights flashed white.

The driver applied the brakes and squealed the tires as he came to a halt. Three other Yukon stopped behind the lead vehicle and agents stepped out, each to a specific location on the front yard of the house in question.

Clipping the radio to his belt, agent Riggs inserted the earpiece and adjusted the volume. The instructions to coordinate their movement were already being relayed. As he listened, he walked past a gray Nissan 350Z convertible parked on the driveway and headed to the front door. He breathed out in rolling clouds of steam.

Rigging the door bell insistently, he looked down at the worn door matt, then at the side windows. He noticed that the curtains were down and he caught a reflection of a female agent on the glass. The wind whipped a strand of long blonde hair across her face and she snagged it back behind her ear. Another agent appeared into view, this one checked for hiding places behind the shrubs below the window.

The door handle rattled, a bolt was unlocked and he returned his attention to in front of him. A moment later he was staring at a tall blond man with short curly hair. He had brown eyes with dark eyebrows. He was wearing a navy button down shirt with blue jeans.

He was suddenly aware of the Special Agents around his lawn and he wondered what the hell was going on. Clearing his throat, he asked. “Can I help you?”

The agent in front of him reached under his suit, pulled out his wallet and flashed his credentials.

“We are with the Department of Internal Affairs. Are you Michal Miller? The Federal Reserve’s Manager?”

Miller darted his eyes from the agent’s credentials to the agent’s face while feeling his stomach tightening. Why is the government interested in me? He arched his brows in concentration.

“Yes…” he finally replied.

“Sir, we need you to come with us.”

“Wow…wow…wait.” Miller hesitated, “What’s the matter? Where are we going? Why do I have all these agents on my lawn?”

As he was asking all these questions, the other agents started closing in with their hands under their suits.

“If I were you, I wouldn’t balk.” Agent Riggs said gravely.

 

4

The pedestrians crowded the sidewalk. Couples strolled by arm in arm, and gathered at various outdoor cafés in downtown D.C. Everywhere you looked, smiles and conversations from people that were enjoying the pleasant early morning.

Lukas Vernon stopped his BMW, cut the xenon headlights and turned the ignition off. Sitting there in the silence, he waited for his earpiece to beep. Then, listening intently to the instructions from his boss’ security personnel, he unlocked the door and stepped out of the car. As the communication ended, he turned and closed the door. Pressing a button on the BMW alarm remote controller, he locked the vehicle. A figure clothed completely in black stepped out of a recessed doorway and walked by Lukas. As instructed, he followed close behind, maintaining the silence of the alley.

Coming to another recessed doorway, they entered and the hustle and bustle of the street receded behind them. As Lukas followed, he was completely unaware of the figure following behind. He went down the hard concrete steps while scanning the poorly lit hallway. The building was silent except for the hum of the giant ventilation system. Due to the light fixtures not working properly in certain areas of the hall, some spots looked dimmer than others.

The figure clad in black turned left and knocked on a thick wooden door immediately to his right. Someone opened the door and the figure clad in black mentioned for Lukas to go inside. The Director of the Covert Intelligence Department of Winterfield hid herself from view in the darkness; she was quiet as a ghost. Invisible to the public eye and to any part of the British government, except for the Prime Minister and the Royal Family, the shadowy Director never appeared unless something earthshaking had happened.

“Were you successful?” she was from Poland and spoke in Polish.

Lukas took a step forward and a dim light came on, illuminating the top of his head.

“Yes.” he said while pulling the key out of his pocket and setting it on the table. It created a tinny sound as it striked the solid surface.

“And nothing was left behind that could lead back to us?”

“That’s correct.” He took a step back and the overhead light faded.

“You have done well.” The D.C.I. said while looking at the shiny object that was on top of the table. She sounded pleased.

“It’s an honor to protect my Country.”

Especially if the information I discovered in the Cosmati Pavement happens to be true!

She nodded. “And now, do you know what to do next?”

“Yes.”

“Rules of engagement?”

He thought of what he was about to do and replied with a face that betrayed no signs of emotions. “There are none.”

 

5

Michael Miller walked quickly to the dark GMC Yukon and got in. The vehicle took off with a squeal of its tires before Miller had the time to fasten the seat belt. The Internal Affairs Agent Riggs sat on the front passenger seat. He opened the glove compartment box and retrieved a small camera recorder. Flipping its screen, he turned the camera on and looked at Michael.

“Sir, at six hundred hours we received a warning in our surveillance monitors that the C.E.O had infiltrated a sector of the underground vault.” Agent Riggs waited for questions, but it never came. The Bank Manager just stared at him. “Take a look.” He said while holding the camera with the screen facing Michael.

The video on the screen flashed in and out as it trying to find its focus. A time frame started rolling at the bottom of the screen. At first, all he saw was an empty room with a door closed. A few seconds went by before the door opened and a tall man entered the room. Michael arched his eyebrows as he continued to watch the video.

The intruder started running until disappearing out of view. Another camera angle filled the screen. This one was mounted above the doorway, recording the corridor at the other end of the massive room. What Michael saw next was something he’d never seen in his life. The actions the intruder took were stunning, fast-paced, orchestrated.

“My God…” he whispered while looking puzzled at agent Riggs.

“We have agents at the headquarters searching for an identity match through our database. So far he is unknown and whomever he works for is a mystery.”

Michael looked out the window and noticed that they were now passing the Treasury building. The driver pressed the horn steadily in short beeps. Cars zipped by endlessly. Michael returned his gaze to agent Riggs. Then, he looked past him and noticed the traffic light turning red at the intersection ahead. He glanced at the driver.

“Slow down…can’t you see the red light up ahead?!”

Silence.

The driver seemed not to care. Michael closed his eyes and turned his head as they were approaching the intersection.

“We’re going to crash…”

“Mr. Miller, Please relax…” Agent Riggs comforted him.

“…I’m not ready to die…”

“…Nothing is going to happen, sir…”

“…Please God!”

The driver ran the red light, dodged between two D.C. Transit buses and rapidly accelerated. Michael slowly re-opened his eyes and noticed that the threat vanished. He shot a glance at Agent Riggs.

“What the hell is his problem?”

Riggs shrugged and smiled while staring straight ahead.

Michael felt a panic feeling settling in, and his mind flooded back with thoughts of the matter at hand…we received a warning in our surveillance monitors that the C.E.O had infiltrated a sector of the underground vault…Michael recalled what the agent had said. But the video he had seen was not of Francisco. Why? He leaned back on the seat. “Any idea on what did the intruder came after?”

“No sir, we are still working on that.”

 

6

In a room on the sub floor of a building just a few blocks away from the White House, the Chief of Operations was flashing his credentials to one of the D.C.I security personnel. His credentials were impressive. It had a gold embossed hologram representation of the constitutional Monarchy seal above his photo I.D. and a barcode.

“Nice seeing you Adams.” The D.C.I said, sitting across the room.

Adams glanced at her and nodded. “How are you Patricia?”

“Jet-lagged and exhausted”

A dim light shined above a man who stood across a marble table and Adams looked at him.

“Good morning, Sir.” The man said friendly.

“And you are?”

“Antognoli Manzitelli.” He replied. Then, he changed the tone of his voice, sounding authoritative now. “I’m from the department of defense at Winterfield and what I’m about to show you is classified as top-secret. Please take a seat.”

Adams took a seat and waited silently for him to speak.

“The unauthorized disclosure of any of this information to any person not authorized by the Prime Minister, the D.C.I., or myself to have access to this material is a felony. If you talk about Winterfield briefings, charges could be filled against you. Am I clear?”

“Yes sir.”

“Ok good.”

A projector came to life behind the Department of Defense Agent, and the image that appeared on the screen was a symbol that some people carried as a form of belief.

The Agent dimmed the lights in the room and Adams no longer had to squint his eyes to see the symbol. Old eye contacts…he thought, the prescription is probably expired…

“About six months ago, the British Government planted a mole in the F.B.I here in Washington D.C. to investigate Operation White Diamond. What he discovered poses the highest level of threat to our national security.” He paused and waited for questions, but Adams just stared at him. “Operation White Diamond created irreparable damages to our Government. Mistakes were made that we now must carry them for the rest of our lives. I-”

“I thought you were from the department that buried the past when it served no purpose to reveal it.” Adams interrupted,

The Agent shook his head. No.

“I believe that the only way to understand the present is by looking back at what was done in the past.”

Silence.

On the screen, the symbol faded away and Adams saw a small piece of paper that was typed with teletype fonts appearing instead. The note was burned on the edges and in the center, making one of the words miss a letter. The missing letter almost gave the note a double meaning.

 

 

 

 

This conspiracy your government created was meant to be kept top secret.

Now that i leaked, you must pay for the consequences.

“That note was found inside of an ashtray. Behind it, sat Scott Williams, the ex-Director of the International Agency with an exit wound in the back of his neck.”

The International Agency was now known as Winterfield. Adams raised his eyebrows in surprise. He had no idea that the Director had been assassinated. In his file it said: Suicide.

“Do you think a Mole did this?” the Agent asked.

“I don’t know. It’s possible, and we can’t rule out this being a form of terrorism. Since whoever did this went back to the sites where the assassinations of Operation White Diamond took place and set it on fire.”

“He went back to all sites except for one.”

Adams thought for a second, then, he nodded his head in recognition. “Yes, that is correct, all except the one in Liverpool, England.” He shrugged, “How come?”

“We don’t know.”

For a long moment Adams didn’t reply. He was always careful with his words. “Is the Prime Minister aware of this?”

“Not only is he aware sir, but also concerned.”

Silence.

“Do you know why the British Government created the International Agency?”

Adams recalled the day he was watching the spokesman for the British Homeland Security speaking on BBC World News and thought about what he had said in his speech…Today I step forward to tell you that we are going to prevent future World Wars and conflict between nations. I ask that we look at this situation as a whole. We need to fight together to put an end to terrorism and bring global security to a higher level. As I speak, there are Special Agents attempting to catch terrorists. Some are fighting to end government conspiracies and others are getting rid of World piracy in South America…

Adams came back to the present. Between you and me, was the spokesman hallucinating or what he said had a complete lack of reality?

“The British Government created the International Agency to strengthen Interpol.” Adams finally replied.

“Correct.” The Agent said and paused again. For some reason, all these pausing annoyed Adams.

“The creator of Winterfield came up with such a name to hide the Agency from the World. Not only this is a Black Operation Division, but it’s also deep within the British Secret Service. If any reporter dared to investigate one of our Operations, the media would always end up without enough resources: The International Agency of what?” the Agent’s eyes were twinkling with an almost conspiratorial gleam. “We are the shadow of World events, always manipulating things, so they be the way we want them to be.”

“I thought all that came from the Americans.” Adams said aloud.

“Yes.”

“Except, when things go wrong and the shit hits the fan, the British wants to run and hide dodging the crap; never taking the blame.”

“Not exactly.”

The symbol Adams had seen earlier, returned to the screen.

“Moving on, are you familiar with this symbol?” The Agent asked.

Adams looked from side to side and shrugged. “Who is not?” he spoke while using his fingers to quote: Anarchy. “Anarchism came from a Greek word meaning ‘without Government’, or government regulations.”

The agent nodded and pressed a button on the remote controller. The circumference of the Anarchy symbol brightened.

“Does that look familiar to you?”

The room fell quiet again.

Is this some sort of psychological evaluation test? Adams wondered. “It’s a circle.” He finally replied, sniffing.

“Obviously, but to be more precise this was the old Omega symbol.”

Adams looked puzzled.

“It was changed around the eight century B.C. by the Greeks, and to this day the Omega symbol is simply known as this…” He turned and pointed at the top left corner of the screen. As if by supernatural effects, the symbol appeared.

The file containing information about the Operation White Diamond flashed in his mind. Sniper Operative/Codename Omega was using this symbol between his shoulder blades when he was executing the Operation…

The Agent pressed another button on his remote controller and both images faded away. The Anarchy symbol remained and instantly the upside down V-shaped figure brightened up. The circumference now lacked brightness.

“Before you ask me if that looks familiar to me, I’m going to guess that symbol is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.” It’s also the symbol Sniper Operative/Codename Alpha used during Operation White Diamond. He thought while swallowing hard.

The Agent’s throat went dry and he reached for a bottle of water that was on top of the table.

He spun the cap off and took a sip of water.

“Now watch what happens if the middle bar of the Anarchy symbol is lowered to the end of the upside-down V-shaped figure”

“It becomes the symbol for Delta.” Adams whispered. “Which means transition or change…?” His voice trailed in confusion. The I.D. Cards bearing the names, date of birth, physical and psychological profiles of the Snipers Operatives started flashing in his mind. Every contingency had been planned for, every subtlety practiced. And yet, something went wrong…very wrong…and we have no idea what it was…

“If you flip the bar that is located in the middle of the symbol to 180 degrees, it symbolizes the letter ‘I’ take a look.”

The Anarchy symbol shredded a small amount of light. The bar slid to the left side of the screen as if it was being detached from the symbol.

NTERNATIONAL

Adams saw ahead of time what would happen to the upside down V-shaped figure. He felt skeptical about all this. What point is this Agent trying to make?

GENCY

“Adams, Many Anarchist throughout the World resorted to revolution and assassination in the belief that terror would correct what they thought to be evil.” He tapped his index finger on the table.

This sounds like terroristic Anarchism to me. Adams thought as he listened to the Agent. I wonder if he tapped on the table just to keep me from falling asleep. Please don’t take this personal.

The Agent continued. “No matter how you look at these symbols, Adams, the secret of the Agency’s highest level, risky International Operation is concealed in that note somehow. Maybe whoever did this caught the former Director doing something that was evil and he decided to render evil for evil.” He lowered his voice to a whisper while leaning across the table towards Adams. “But whoever that person was, he gave us a sign, something to look at. Intentionally or not, he opened up a can of worms that we intended to keep a tight lid on. Now we are finding innocent people dying because of this Operation, and it’s my duty to do everything in my power to locate the source of this threat and eliminate it.”

Adams smiled when he was done.

“What is so funny?” The Agent asked.

“ You made me go through all this- listen to all this bullocks, just to tell me you’re going to destroy Washington D.C. searching for these empty threats that you call ‘matters of National Security’?”

“That’s right”

“You could have saved us both a lot of time if you would have simply said this expression I’ve heard on T.V. just the other day.”

“And what did you hear?”

“First you would make me come in, and take a seat. Then you would remain silent for a few seconds and just say what I’ve heard on T.V.”

“What did you hear?” The Agent asked again.

“’If you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen.’”

 

7

As they approached the Federal Reserve, the Bank Manager Michael Miller looked out the window. Tall executive and professional buildings reflected on the glass of the Yukon. Edifice on the other side of the street hindered the sunlight, causing the street to look eerie. Michael observed that the street was cordoned off because of the incident that was occurring inside the Bank.

The Yukon came to a stop; the driver pressed the powered window button down and flashed his credentials to an Officer demanding identification. The officer looked past the driver and watched the passenger lifting his credentials also.

“Matthew Riggs, Department of Internal Affairs.”

The officer nodded and looked at the man sitting on rear seat behind the driver.

“Michael Miller, I’m the Federal Reserve’s Manager.” He raised his photo identification card.

The officer spoke on his radio, informing other Special Agents about the Bank Manager’s arrival while stepping away from the Yukon. The driver closed the window and rode slowly to an ambulance that was parked across the street from the Bank. Braking behind the ambulance, the driver cut off the engine while Michael and Riggs got out.

Michael waited for Agent Riggs to walk around the Yukon before crossing the street. He looked at the Bank’s underground garage and saw an empty guard shack. He wondered where the security guard has gone to. Was he being interrogated by the Internal Affairs Agents? Or was this a case for the Federal Bureau of Investigators? Agent Riggs touched Michael’s arm and broke his concentration. He gestured for him to walk towards the Bank. Michael nodded and as he walked, he kept his eyes at the revolving doors that were at the top of a broad flight of granite steps. He checked the time on his wrist watch, climbed the steps and entered the lobby of the Bank.

The lobby was illuminated by six branched fixtures that held light bulbs suspended from the ceiling. The information desk looked empty. Michael stomach fluttered and he recognized the tension of his mission at hand. Is everybody ok? Is there more to what Agent Riggs has shown me? He thought while following Agent Riggs across the lobby and to the elevator. They stopped next to a small potted palm tree and he watched Agent Riggs pushing the up-button. The door opened almost immediately.

The elevator was small with red carpeting, brass paneling and railing. Blue fluorescent lights illuminated the elevator. As they stepped inside, Michael watched Agent Riggs pressing the button to the second floor and the door closed. As he continued to look at the panel, like every time he did when he entered the elevator, he found something wrong.

Furrowing his brows in concentration, he felt the elevator moving and his pulse quickening. This can’t be…he swallowed hard.

The paneling was missing a bolt.

 

8

Now they have settled in Brazil. They are finally married and will be living together forever. In the darkness of his master bedroom, he found himself laying down in a king size bed next to the woman he loved. A pale blue light from the moon filtered through the window and glistened her jade eyes. They always made his heart skip a beat every time he looked at them.

She closed her eyes and moved her left hand across his shaved chest and stomach. She traced her hand over his chest. The muscles were solid as iron. She then hugged him and he immediately felt her hair upon his chest.

A thick facial hair.

Turning the lamp on, he raised his upper body and leaned his back against the head of the bed. He looked at her, trying to discover what was bothering him and couldn’t comprehend that the woman had disappeared. In her place laid a caveman who turned to the other side while hugging his pillow tightly against his body.

Turn the lights off!” the caveman pleaded while groaning.

In that instant he let out a scream of anguish that resounded through the Brazilian rainforest. Over the sound of his scream, he heard something hitting the window. He stopped screaming, looked at the window and saw a T-Rex. The dinosaur was knocking on the glass with his curved nails. The beast looked down at him and said.

Dude keep it down, I’m trying to sleep.”

Richard Maxwell awoke while gasping from a frightening nightmare, to realize that his pet, a Chihuahua named Flubber, was scratching the glass paneling on the sliding door with his claws. Suddenly, the phone started ringing and he growled softly while looking at the receiver that was on top of his computer desk.

“So that’s what woke me up?” Couldn’t they call at a reasonable time? Have some consideration. He chastised himself for criticizing the caller without knowing what time of the day it was.

Getting out of bed, he slid into a pair of dark blue jeans that was laying on the floor and grabbed a dark green shirt. As he walked to his computer desk, he flexed his abdomen while putting on the shirt. He had a six pack boxer’s abs. Snatching the cordless phone from the receiver, he rubbed his fingers through his dark blond hair and answered.

“Hello.” He croaked in a sleepy voice.

There was only silence over the line that made Richard sigh, gesturing impatience.

“May I speak with Jessica Cardelini?” the man on the other end of the line asked.

“Hang on.” Richard cleared his throat. “Just a second.”

He lowered the phone, covered the microphone with his hands and yelled. “JESSICA! THE PHONE IS FOR YOU!!”

He raised the phone up to his left ear, and waited a few seconds to hear her voice over the line. But she wasn’t answering. Now he wondered if she was even around. He walked out of his room barefooted, turned right at the hallway and passed by the kitchen. He stumbled around their Georgetown University dormitory while walking towards her room. The sun was casting slats of light on the living room wall.

As he approached her room, he observed that the door was closed. He heard sounds of music coming from the inside. He stopped in front of her door, knocked and waited to hear her response.

“Yes?” She said, prolonging the letter ‘E’.

“Hey Jessica, it’s me Richard.” He paused and wondered if she was even hearing what he was saying. He raised his voice, trying to speak over the music. “Listen, you’ve got a phone call.”

“Come in Richard.” that was the response he received.

He reached for the door knob, opened the door and froze under the door frame. His eyebrows were raised. Looking ahead, he found Jessica Cardelini facing the mirror while wearing a white short sleeved shirt, and tight low-slung faded jeans that fitted on her curves nicely. She had long sexy dancer’s legs that extended from her firm butt to the white and pink shoes. She was of medium height and had the body of a runner. She had long and wavy auburn hair, and dark eyebrows. Her eyes were stunning, fetchingly gray-green.

Richard diverted his eyes from her striking good looks and noticed that the doors to her closet were open. The clothes hanging inside were university standard issue: tight jeans, short skirts, and elegant dresses for upcoming homecoming nights. Richard’s image reflected on the mirror as he leaned against one of the sides of the door frame. He returned his attention to her and watched her finish putting on her set of drop diamond earrings. My God…I’m melting for this twenty-three year old chick.

She looked at his reflection on the mirror and noticed that his eyes gleamed with mild interest.

“What?” she asked, with a hint of a smile.

His gaze met hers. He stammered, and then swallowed hard. “You’ve got a phone call.”

“Who is it?” she turned around and glanced at the Roman numeral grandfather clock hanging on the wall in the hall behind him. It was 7:15 A.M.

He shrugged. “I’m sorry, I didn’t bother to ask.”

She picked up her cordless phone that was on top of the nightstand and pressed the TALK button. Richard ended the connection on his phone and turned to walk away.

“Hello?” he heard Jessica speaking to the caller.

Click.

 

9

Wearing leather gloves, Allan Longshore picked up the silencer from his suitcase, and screwed it to the tip of his 9mm semi-automatic. As he did, he glanced at his reflection in the mirror in front of him. His chrome watch was shining brightly on his right wrist.

He had sienna-colored skin, white beads at the end of his shoulder length braids, and brown eyes. He wore beige shorts that came down over his knee, with a dark blue shirt. He was dressed to blend in.

Finishing with his accessories, he lowered the gun to his side, pulled the slide back, and allowed it to slam forwards with a resounding metal on metal clank. A humming sound entered the room and he felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. Reaching for his phone, he flipped open and a photograph filled the screen.

The photo was of the person targeted for elimination.

 

10

Jessica Cardelini set the cordless phone back in the receiver and walked out of the room. Another song started playing. She tried to sing the opening lyrics in her head. She stopped in the middle of the hall and looked towards Richard’s room. The door was opened, but because of the layout of the dormitory, she couldn’t tell if he was actually inside of his room or not. She caught a narrow section of the floor and noticed that the room was furnished with beige plush carpeting.

“Hey Richard…” she headed towards his room. She had a seductive walk that could trouble the nerves and peace of mind of the guys in town.

“Yo…” she heard his voice coming from the bathroom.

She glanced over her left shoulder and took a few steps back to the bathroom door. Stopping under the doorway, she watched him brush his teeth. “Whoever called hung up.”

He washed his mouth with cold water. Then said, “Don’t worry, he will call again.”

He? Jessica furrowed her brows in puzzlement.

“You know how these guys run around looking for you.” Richard continued speaking. He used a dark blue towel that hung on the wall across from the toilet to dry his face. “After all, you’re one of the hottest girls at this university.”

Her cheeks bloomed pink and she beamed a smile at him guaranteed to melt ice. “Aw, you always say the nicest things.”

He let the sink water running and soaked his hair. “You deserve special treatment.” He said while moving his fingers through his hair.

Jessica was taken aback. Was that an insult? She wondered, Maybe it means something nice in his native language.

Richard was born in Czechoslovakia.

“And what makes me so special Mr. Maxwell?”

“For being the person that you are…” his hair was now so spiky that it looked like he had placed a finger in a plug and got shocked by it.

“What am I?” she stared at him with a curious look on her face.

“You’re gracious, benevolent, elegant, lovely…” he paused and kept staring at her eyes. She held his gaze. A strand of hair fell to the side of her face, and she didn’t even bother to pull it back.

She took a step towards him and gave him a peck on the cheek. Her mouth was cool, and he smelled perfume in her hair. Then, she turned around and walked out of the bathroom. Richard found himself staring into the mirror and asking okay, now what the fuck are you going to do?

Richard tried not to pay attention to Jessica’s hips moving beneath her jeans, as she was heading towards the kitchen. The sunlight that passed through the front windows beamed at her face. Stepping inside of the kitchen, she reached over the counter and opened one of the cabinets.

Richard darted around the wall that separated the kitchen to the living room and stopped by the refrigerator. “May I get you something to eat? Perhaps I could make pancakes or scrambled eggs with sausage?”

“Pancakes will be fine, honey.”

“And what would you like to drink with that?”

She closed the cabinet and looked at him. “I’ll drink whatever you’re having. But I’ll make the juice.”

He shrugged. “Orange juice is okay with me.”

“Perfect.”

Silence fell between them.

Then, she giggled. He looked at her with a puzzled expression. She shook her head and said. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Excuse-me?”

“Well,” she crossed her arms in front of her chest and curled her lips. “First you asked me if I wanted something to eat. Then you asked me what I wanted to drink.” Her voice crackled with sarcasm. “Dude, I thought I had walked in a restaurant.”

He thought about her ironic remarks and looked down while smiling. “That’s what I get for years of experience at costumer services.”

Returning his attention to the refrigerator, he reached above and grabbed a yellow cardboard box. “By the way Madam, this FedEx package is for you. Please go open it and check its contents while you wait for your order.”

He handed her the package. She checked the address. It was from Francisco, her uncle.

“You’ve been expecting that?” Richard asked, curiously.

Felling the weight of the package, she looked at him and replied. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”

She walked back to the living room, sat on the couch, and started opening the package. “But we are about to find out what is inside.”

 

11

Special Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck from the Federal Bureau of Investigation sat across the Bank security guard while grabbing a note pad from under his arm, and placing it on top of the table. He then, reached for a pen under his suit and set it on top of the pad.

He was wearing a dark suit, crimson tie, and a white button down shirt. He had blue eyes, with dark eyebrows and strong jaw lines. He was clean shaven. His hair was parted down the middle and neatly combed.

The smooth and shiny gloss of the table reflected their image distortedly. A water fountain at the far end of the room cranked its refrigeration system, and filled the room with a droning sound. There were ceramic pots with fake plants decorating each corner of the room.

Leo wrote the current date at the top right corner of the paper, as thinking things through. He was formulating a strategy. He did some hands movements, looked at the security guard and said.

“The Bureau is very interested to hear what you have to say.” He glanced down at the security guard’s I.D. tag clipped above his left breast pocket. “Mr. Walker, we are skeptical about this supposed homicide. We want answers and we want them now.”

Walker swallowed hard while feeling his heart pounding in his chest. He decided to say a famous phrase he always heard in movies.

“I need a lawyer.”

“Mr. Walker, you’re not being charged with anything. However, I suggest that whatever you saw today, you tell me. Otherwise you could be obstructing a Federal investigation. And you don’t want that in your record do you?”

He shook his head. “No sir.”

Ok, this guy is the bad cop. Watch what you say or you’ll hear it in court.

A vein abruptly appeared under the skin of his neck.

“How long have you been working here?” Leo asked.

“A little over two years.” A bead of sweat dripped from his chin.

Leo studied him for a second. He had a shaved head, and his scalp was shining against the overhead light. He also observed how nervous he appeared, his hands were shaking on top of the table.

“Are you alright? May I get you some water? Do you drink coffee?”

“No, I’m ok.” He sighed nervously. “It’s just that I’ve never been in trouble and now I feel a little uncomfortable.”

Leo shook his head gesturing that he understood. “Mr. Walker I don’t believe you’ve done nothing wrong. All I’m going to do is ask you a few questions about how Mr. Cardelini carried himself at his work place.”

What good is that going to do? He is dead! Walker thought, tough he found himself nodding again.

“Was Mr. Cardelini an easy person to deal with?”

Walker held Leo’s gaze as he spoke. “Yes. Mr. Cardelini had a sharp mind. He was very intelligent. Everything he did, he did it for a reason. It might even look puzzling at first, but it makes sense later. I’ve lost count of how many languages he was fluent in. He could read, write, and speak at least seven languages. He was also knowledgeable of cities around the World. I heard he used to take his niece to visit different countries around the Globe at least once a year.”

What kind of C.E.O. took his niece to visit countries around the World once a year? Leo wondered. “Lets focus on the event that took place here today. Did you see Mr. Cardelini arriving today?”

“No.” Walker replied while shaking his head. He had a flashback as he told his story…When I first saw him he was in the lobby. I was coming from the restroom when I spotted him standing by the information desk. He was speaking to one of the receptionist.

Leo wrote something on his notepad. He kept in mind that the receptionist was being interrogated by another Agent. “Did you hear what Mr. Cardelini was saying to the receptionist?”

Walker shrugged. “No, I heard faint murmurings, and while I waited for the elevator to arrive, I glanced at their direction. The receptionist was smiling at him with a flirtatious glance. By the way she is gorgeous. Mr. Cardelini looked happy; after all I also heard stories that he used to bang the receptionist here at the bank during broad day light.” He stopped speaking and the room fell silent.

Who do you keep hearing these things from? Leo wondered.

“Please go on.”

I entered the elevator while announcing on my radio that I was going to do a routine check on the upper floors. You know, just making sure everything is still under control.

“Was everything under control?”

“Yes.”

“What time was this?”

“It was ten after seven.”

Leo wrote the time on his notepad.

“However something was wrong that I couldn’t place a finger on.”

Leo stopped writing and looked at him with eyebrow raised. “Elaborate please.”

“During weekly basis, Mr. Cardelini is used to arrive here at the Bank around eight-eight thirty. Today however he was already here and it was only ten after seven.”

Leo thought about what he said and wondered why Mr. Cardelini got out of his routine. Could’ve been that he was being followed? Or was he supposed to meet someone?

“So you did a routine check on the upper floors? Then what did you do after that?”

“While I was sweeping the third floor, I saw Mr. Cardelini again. He was at the other end of the hall, walking away from me. I watched him go inside of the conference room. He stayed in there for maybe ten seconds, and then left in a hurry while speaking on his cell phone.”

“Who was doing most of the talking?”

“The person over the line did.”

Leo became aware that Walker was responding his questions too quickly. He stared at him for a second, searching for signs that he could have been lying. Every now and then, Walker flickered his eyes to the right. What did that mean again? He was divulging information on the short term memory, which was located on the right side of the brain.

“You’re lying.”

Walker arched his brows in concentration. “No.” he shook his head, sounding shocked. “No, what I’m telling you is really what happened here.”

Leo Nodded. He wanted to apply an intensive investigation, aiming to find the truth about this matter. He felt that Walker was lying to him, but he had to be sure and able to prove it. That way, if this turns out to be a court case and Walker is guilty; he’ll be convicted. There is a ninety percent chance. He also certain that by applying the right pressure, he could get the answer he was looking for. He underlined the phrase: check phone records on his notepad and asked without looking up.

“Did you go see what was inside of the conference room after Mr. Cardelini left?”

“I went to see but I never had the chance to see what was inside. Right when I reached for the door knob, I got a call on the radio. I was summoned to area thirteen. It was an emergency, Code Blue.

“What…is Code Blue?”

Code Blue means Bank Robbery.”

“Humph” Leo crossed his arms over his chest. Then his chin dropped down into his chest and he raised his right hand to pinch the bridge of his nose between his thumb and fore finger. “What did you do about it?”

“I did what any Security Officer on duty would’ve done. I drew my service weapon and ran towards the location they requested me to go to.”

“Ok.” This guy has an ego.

“The alarm started ringing. Security Officer Fernando and Officer Hernandez arrived shortly after I did inside of area thirteen.”

Leo wrote their names on his notepad and drew a question mark by their names. The question mark symbolized if they have been interrogated or not.

Walker continued. “Mr. Cardelini was laying on the ground. He’s wounded. I yelled at the intruder to freeze where he was, and he did. I took note of my surroundings and figured that we had trapped the intruder where he was, so I commanded him to get on the ground. He complied. But then in that split second he bent down and picked up something that was on the carpet. I thought he was reaching for a weapon, so I shot him. The impact of the bullet to his body swept him off his feet, and threw him against the window. The glass shattered, and he fell off the building. Now if he is still alive…”

“His body hasn’t been found yet?”

“No sir.”

Leo felt a chill running through his body. That’s not good.

“If we bring in one of the Bureau’s artist in here will you describe the features of the intruder? What does he look like? What was he wearing?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Great.”

At that moment, another agent opened the door and Leo and Walker looked at him.

“Sir, the Bank Manager has arrived.”

Leo nodded while inserting his pen in one of the breast pocket of his button down shirt under his suit and got up. Walker reached across the table for Leo’s arm and stopped him.

“There is something else you must know before you go.”

“I’m listening.”

“Right before Mr. Cardelini died, he said something…”

A strange constricting feeling filled Leo’s gut as Walker paused in mid sentence.

“Right before he died he said ‘I have been found.’”

 

12

Jessica pulled the item out of the FedEx package and shot a glance at Richard. He was inside of the kitchen making breakfast. She returned her attention to the item in her hands while feeling the soft bounded leather material. The sunlight coming through the living room window caught the white in her diamond earring, and they sparkled. She tossed her long hair over her right shoulder and crossed her left leg over her right. Whipping off the dirt from the front cover, she studied the book carefully. The book was definitely old, well worn. She read the title:

She opened the book to the first page. There was a note written in cursive at the top of the page. Jessica arched her brows and read it carefully:

Jessica,

I was thinking of you when I found this.

Allow me to reminiscence some of your memories.

With love and care,

Francisco C.

She flipped the page, glued to the center of the paper was a photograph of herself. She was on the terrace of the Empire State Building. She was smiling to the photographer while gesturing a pair of deuces with her fingers. She had a scarf around her neck and she was wearing a nice jacket made for heavy winter. Behind her, one of the main streets of New York expanded to where the surface of the earth and the sky appeared to meet.

Jessica read the date of when the photograph was taken, and recalled that it had been the very first time she had ever felt the snow. This was eight years ago.

Richard stepped out of the kitchen while carrying a plate and a cup of orange juice to the living room where Jessica was sitting. He placed them on top of the coffee table, next to a ceramic pot that was filled with spikes of flowers and bright colored bracts.

“Aw Richard, I told you I would’ve taken care of the juice.”

“It’s ok sweetie.”

She glanced at the pancakes and noticed they were steaming hot. The unmistakable sound of Richard’s cellphone chimed from his bedroom. He turned around and went to answer it.

“Thank you. You’re the best roommate I’ve ever had.” Jessica said as he disappeared around the corner.

“Enjoy your breakfast.” He replied friendly.

She brought her attention back to the book and turned the page. It was blank. The next page was also blank. Bewildered, she furrowed her eyebrows. The next page was blank. Blank…blank…blank….she leafed through the book faster. Now wondering why would-

Jessica stopped.

She found a laminated access card adhered to a page. The card was metallic gray with the seal of the Federal Reserve Bank in dark blue. Something drew her attention to the bottom of the page and she lowered her gaze to read:

CODE RESTRICTEDSECTOR ELEVEN

1-0-5-1-9-1-9-9-3-1

I have no idea what Sector Eleven means but these numbers…

I think I have seen them before…

Suddenly, a memory flashed in her mind. It was a moment of her childhood. She walked through her remembrance as if it was a movie, until she spotted this same book on top of a mahogany table. All of a sudden she came back to the present while slamming the book shut.

Not everything is what it appears to be.

She glanced at the title of the book while pulling a strand of hair to behind her left ear. Sun rays illuminated the gold letters of the title as they reflected the sunlight.

The tightening in her stomach got more intense and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise. She tilted the book towards the window to see them illuminating again.

How can that be possible?

This is so creepy…

Leaning towards the coffee table, she grabbed a pen and used her empty hand to brush her hair backwards. Then, opening the book to a blank page, she wrote the letters down.

e-t-u-s-l-c-e-s-r-e-c

Her hand writing was unique, big and round. Closing the book, she got up and walked towards Richard’s room with one thought in mind.

Just what the hell is going on?

 

13

The F.B.I. Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck stepped inside of the conference room, while thinking about the security guard hearing Mr. Cardelini say…I’ve been found.

What have you been running from Mr. Cardelini?

He wrote on his notepad: Check Mr. Cardelini’s background history. Who was he really? Other questions lingered in his mind. Why was he hiding, and for how long? Who was after him? Leo believed he’d have to study the surveillance cameras and consult with the F.B.I. forensics Agents at the crime scene in order to get a better understanding of the situation.

He closed the door behind him and looked around. The conference room was furnished with gray carpeting; it had a polished wooden table, and fluorescent lamps overhead. Leo took a few steps to a closet located to his right, and slid the door open. There were plastic cups and plates neatly stacked against the wall. Boxes of napkins, and forks on the lowest shelf; Trash bag liners were tidily organized on the ground. He didn’t find anything that would serve as an immediate threat to endanger Mr. Cardelini’s life.

So why did he leave in a hurry?

Leo slid the door closed, and glanced across the room. He caught his reflection on the mirror hanging on the wall and observed how the suit his wife helped him choose fit him nicely. He wondered if his clothes ever stricken anyone that it had actually come from the racks at a foreign shopping plaza.

The intangible voices in the hall brought him back to the present moment and he decided to get out of the conference room. Exiting into the hall, he watched a Special Agent approaching him while clapping his phone shut. The Agent was of Asian origin.

The hall was furnished with dark red carpeting, orchid and lilies that flowed out of brown ceramic pots, and oversized crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling.

“I’ve just finished interrogating the Security Guard in charge of the underground garage, and this is what he came up with.” He handed a sheet of paper to Leo. “It’s the log sheet of vehicles that were entering and leaving the Bank this morning.”

Leo noticed that the document had a seal of the Federal Reserve at the top right corner, along with the name of the Security Guard that was in charge of the Underground Garage, and the time stamp of when he started his shift. He scanned the rest of the paper. An armored truck left the underground garage at 06:32 A.M. with one passenger. Leo read the Driver’s and the Passenger’s name and their I.D. numbers. The armored truck’s code number was also listed in line with its final destination. He skimmed through the list of names. Seven lines down, he found the name of the C.E.O.

Mr. Cardelini had arrived at 06:49 A.M. He was alone, driving a Dark red B.M.W. Leo read the license plate, and parking lot number. He continued reading through the list. Nothing stood out, as he expected. There was no indication that one of these people was actually the intruder.

“Have you checked the underground surveillance cameras?” Leo asked the Agent, while handing the paper back to him.

“No sir, I haven’t had time yet.”

“Would like my advice?”

Leo had seven years of field experience, compared to this Special Agent that started just nearly a year ago. Leo was assigned as lead investigator of the case, because of the combination of leadership ability, street smart, and charisma.

“Sure.”

“Once you start checking the underground surveillance cameras, go back on the date of the tape as far as you’re allowed. Try to find anything unusual. If you’ve not found anything, check the security cameras outside.”

“Yes sir.”

“That’s all I have.”

“Thank you. Oh and by the way, we’ve reserved Room twenty-one ‘B’ downstairs for the Bank Manager.”

“Ok. Thank you, but advice Security downstairs that I’ll be going over to the Crime Scene first.”

The Agent nodded and walked away. Leo turned the opposite direction and headed down the hall. Behind him, the sky looked blue through the floor-to-ceiling glass pane. At the end of the hall, he turned left and passed by the bank of elevators. One of the doors abruptly opened with a ding. Leo glanced at the elevator cart and noticed it was empty. He moved on. A set of doors made of mahogany wood came to view to his left. He adjusted the suit coat he was wearing and closed one of the buttons. Then, he opened the door and stepped inside.

As soon as he entered the Crime Scene, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, telling him that something was wrong. He swept the room and found investigators everywhere.

This place needs to be organized; otherwise evidence will be swept away.

He was able to identify the Department they were from by the letters printed on the windbreakers they were wearing. To his left, he observed a ballistic Agent picking up a brass cartridge by an opening that once was a floor-to-ceiling window. Leo felt a cool breeze come in and he heard the birds chirping outside.

Before proceeding further into the Crime Scene, Leo watched the ballistics Agent looking carefully for the year stamp and the kind of ammunition. Nine Millimeter, he heard him telling the other Agent. The Agent then dropped the brass cartridge inside of an evidence bag and walked away from the window.

He noticed the lack of broken glass from the window on the carpet, and believed that the Security Guard Walker must have told him the truth up to that point. Leo glanced at a C.S.I Agent crouching by Mr. Cardelini’s body, as he was squirting sanitizer on his hands from a dispenser that hung on the wall.

He watched the C.S.I Agent taking photograph of his corpse. He saw three bright strobe flashes reflecting off the floor. Rubbing his hands together until feeling the sanitizer dry up, he wondered if everyone in this room felt like he did about the swine flu. He took so many methodical steps to prevent contracting this virus that almost made him feel paranoid.

The C.S.I Agent got up and slowly started walking around Mr. Cardelini’s body. Leo Approached her. She stopped walking by the right side of Mr. Cardelini’s head and looked up at Leo. The F.B.I. Agent pulled out his wallet and flashed his credentials to her and identified himself. She lowered the camera and nodded at him. Her brown hair was pulled over her ear in a tight and elegant ponytail. Through the khaki pants, her legs were muscled and firm.

“Who knows what repercussions this will cause the banking system.”

Leo hiked his shoulders and glanced at Mr. Cardelini. The body was laying on its left side facing the floor. Mr. Cardelini died with his left foot positioned on top of the letter ‘L’ of Federal and his right foot positioned to the first letter of Reserve. His right index finger barely touched the letter ‘K’ of Bank. Mr. Cardelini was wearing black kacky pants, with black suit coat open, which was casted skewed and flipped over his side. Because his coat was opened, it revealed a white button down shirt and a long black necktie. There was a red spot on the white shirt and a pool of blood underneath his body. Blood was crusted on the back of his head.

The F.B.I Agent turned to the C.S.I. Agent and asked. “What have you discovered?”

The C.S.I. Agent turned on the black light and crouched by Mr. Cardelini’s head. Slowly tracing the light up and down, her hands were steady and her gaze intent.

“His skull may be fractured.” She pointed to the location where Mr. Cardelini must have hit his head. “I’ll have to wait for the x-ray to confirm.”

Leo glanced at her face and saw her teeth. They were straight and purple under the light.

“The Security Guard who arrived here first suggested that Mr. Cardelini might have been tortured to give up information. What’s your take on that?”

“There are red lines at the corner of his eyes, and his pupil look dilated. This could mean signs of strangulation-”

Shit!” Leo interrupted.

Could Mr. Cardelini have known or have done something that he had to be killed for it? Did he die because he saw the National economy crash ahead of everyone and decided to keep it to himself, until…he was found!

“Agent Hingenbrinck this is where it gets intriguing.” The C.S.I Agent continued talking about Mr. Cardelini’s body signs of strangulation. “There are no marks on his neck or any bruising.” She shrugged, “Maybe the Unknown Subject wore gloves, maybe…”

“But if that was the case, then we might be dealing with a strong degree of planning and premeditation.” Leo suggested thoughtfully.

“Yes, perhaps he is an assassin-for-hire maybe.” The C.S.I Agent looked at Mr. Cardelini on the floor, then back at Leo. He was writing something on his pad.

“Or he wore gloves simply not to leave fingerprints behind.” Leo said without looking up.

“Infinite possibilities.”

“Are there any signs of defensive wounds?”

“His right hand is smeared with blood. He had probably pressed it against the bullet wound. We will check his skin tissues under his finger nails, among other things at the city morgue.”

“I’ll need the autopsy report A.S.A.P.”

“Yes sir.”

“Did you collect his personal belongings?”

The C.S.I. Agent checked her notes.

Silence.

“Yes. We collected a wallet, a keychain, and a cell phone.” Leo looked down and checked for a wedding band on his finger. There was none.

He noticed the broken picture frame near his right hand. He circled around Mr. Cardelini and crouched by the photograph.

What was so important about this photograph?

“Sir, his desk was turned over.” The C.S.I. Agent paused to point at Mr. Cardelini’s desk.

Leo straightened and followed her gaze. He observed that papers were scattered, the desk lamp was toppled, and the chair was knocked over.

Did the Unknown Subject do that?

“How many slugs did the ballistics Agents find?”

The C.S.I Agent pointed to a desk to the left of Mr. Cardelini’s. “Just before you arrived they seized up three .40 calibers casing by the leg of that desk. One of the Security Guards confirmed that the security detail was standing a few feet away from the location where those casings were found.” She turned her head towards the window. “A nine millimeter casing was found by the window. The casing was probably from the Unknown Subject’s weapon.” She looked back at Leo and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Assuming that the weapon the Unknown Subject used had the casing ejected at a force of three feet—and that the casing rolled a few inches after bouncing on the ground, I calculated the distance between the Security Guard to the Unknown Subject to be approximately seventeen feet and a half apart. That would leave the Unknown Subject five feet away from the window.”

“This is all I have for you now. Is there anything else I may help you with?”

Leo looked around. “Umm…” he thought of what he was going to do next, and pointed to the picture frame. “Could you put that inside of an evidence bag? I would like to take that with me.”

 

14

Richard entered his room and walked around his bed to the nightstand. His cell phone vibrated again. The blankets on his bed were tousled. A flag of his favorite soccer team from Czechoslovakia hung on the wall above the head of the bed. His Chihuahua started scratching the glass paneling on the sliding door with his claws again. Richard opened the door to let him in. The Chihuahua stuck his tongue out and breathed heavily. He wagged his tail and kept sniffing Richard’s feet.

“Hey buddy!”

The Chihuahua ran out the bedroom and turned towards the living room.

Richard picked up the cell phone and notice that the display flashed: UNKNOWN NUMBER. Frowning, he flipped his cell phone open while thinking that it was probably a prankster over the line. He answered the call.

After a brief moment of silence the caller started speaking and he listened carefully.

Sranje! He thought in his native language as the caller spoke.

 

15

Sir, could you tell me what is going on?” the Bank Manager asked as the F.BI. Agent sat across from him inside of room twenty-one ‘B’.

“I’m sorry, but we are not at liberty to speak at the moment. It’s an ongoing Federal investigation.”

“Is he ok?”

“I’m profoundly sorry for your loss Mr. Miller.”

“Please call me Michael.”

“Michael it is then.” Leo nodded. “I hope you understand and forgive me. But we follow a strict procedure and employ methods of interrogations that would allow us to collect information about our victims. I won’t ask questions in attempt to shock you.”

“All right.”

“How well did you know Mr. Cardelini?”

“I’ve known him for over ten years now. He was an excellent person, personally and professionally.”

“Did he have any enemies? Anyone made a threat to kill him? Did he receive any odd phone calls? Or did he take any anger management classes? Made any terrorist threat to anybody?”

“Sir, I’m not aware of any of this. Throughout the years that we have been working together, he seemed like a caring person. I found him to be bright, friendly, courteous, and honorable. He was a role model to a lot of us here at the Bank. It is a shame to hear that someone terminated a life of an honest man…” Michael’s eyes swelled and he started crying. I can’t express enough how strongly I feel that whoever did this should get caught soon and could one of you please put a bullet in their heads?

Leo placed an evidence bag on top of the table and spun it around for Michael to study. He saw Jessica’s photograph inside of the bag.

“What is this?” he read the red label at the bottom of the bag: EVIDENCE.

“Michael, do you know who is the person in the photograph?”

Leo watched his body language. He noticed that whatever he was thinking about as he was looking at the photograph made him sway.

“My God…” Michael whispered while feeling a nauseous lurch in the pit of his stomach. He leaned forward.

“Please sir, just don’t touch anything.” Leo reminded him. “Do you recognize that person?”

“Yes…Yes…I know who she is. But why did—where did you find this?”

Leo pulled out his notepad from under his coat and looked at Michael.

“That photograph was near Mr. Cardelini’s body. For now we have placed her as part of this investigation.”

Michael glanced back at the photograph.

Why?

Could all this be about Jessica Cardelini?

If Francisco had placed Jessica’s photograph near him when he died, it could have been in hopes that the F.B.I Agent in charge of this case would involve Jessica in the investigation.

Could it mean that he wanted them to protect her?

Leo noticed that he was taking some time to identify who she was. Could it be that he was thinking about holding something back? “Michael, could you tell me her name?” he asked while holding the pen against the paper.

“Her name is Jessica Cardelini.”

“Do you know what her relationship to Mr. Cardelini is?”

“She is his niece.”

“Do you know her contact number? Or where she lives?”

“Yes. But I don’t understand… why is she involved in this?”

“Michael for the moment the F.B.I. is calling her a person of interest. That is all. She is wanted only for questioning.”

Michael’s heart thudded heavily in his chest. Oh crap!

“We do appreciate your concern.”

 

16

Allan Longshore walked close to one of the brick buildings at the Georgetown University Campus while adjusting the strap of a leather bag hanging by his waist. The strap crossed his torso. He marched up the metal steps outside one of the buildings and stopped in front of an emergency exit door. The door was locked. He decided to look around before proceeding.

The parking lot was packed behind him. The flowers inside of the garden surrounding the mailboxes were beautiful. Shrubbery plants dotted the lawn, and heavy green hedges hemmed the fence across the parking lot. The sun rose over the buildings and the thin air was crystalline with line. Winking glints of sunlight appeared though the leaves and branches of the tall trees.

A woman Allan surmised to be in her mid-twenties appeared from behind the building to his right. She was jogging on the sidewalk while listening to a portable MP3 player. She crossed the Mailboxes and darted the corner of the building he was about to climb.

Just as she was disappearing out of view, he turned around and gripped the rail bar of the emergency exit landing. He got on top of the railing and stepped with his right foot on the handle of the emergency exit door. Next, he gripped the stoned ledge above the door frame. He kept taking deep breaths while looking for his next move. Firmly grasping the stoned ledge above the door, he brought his feet together for a split-second, and hung his feet in the air. Then, raising his right knee to the stoned windowsill, he stepped on top of it with the tip of his toes. Pulling his weight up, he instinctively raised his left foot to the stoned ledge above the door frame. He climbed to the roof of the building, and once he reached the edge, he carefully threw his leather bag over on top of the roof. He pulled his weight up over the two foot lip surrounding the roof and got on his feet. Clasping the strap of the bag with one hand, he carefully walked across the roof of the building to a designated area assigned by Winterfield’s Chief of Operation.

He could feel rivulets of sweat dripping down his back. Terror coursed through his veins upon hearing voices from below. I’ve been sighted. Ducking, he positioned himself behind a concealed stop next to an air conditioning vent and looked towards where he had heard the voices coming from. He caught a couple walking on the sidewalk heading away from him. He felt the muscles in his neck and shoulders begin to relax and the tightness in his chest beginning to ease. You’re ok…keep going.

Arriving at the designated area, he set his leather bag on the surface of the roof and crouched next to his bag. He unzipped the bag, reached inside and pulled out the scope of his rifle.

 

17

The F.B.I Agent Hingenbrinck walked to his silver Acura RDX. The RDX was silver with dark tinted windows and was equipped with chrome rims. He pressed a button on the alarm remote controller to unlock the RDX and opened the driver door. He climbed in and cranked the turbo charged engine. He took out his detective blotter from his breast pocket underneath his suit and keyed in Jessica’s address on the G.P.S.

He felt his cell phone vibrating on his waist. Snatching his phone from his waist clip, he checked the caller I.D. and set the phone inside of a slot below the radio. The accessories in his vehicle were capable of transferring the information from his cell phone to the radio in the dashboard. Now the number of the person who was calling was displaying on the screen of the radio and he heard the person’s voice through the speakers.

“Good morning my love.” Leo spoke to his wife while clicking his seat belt on.

“Hey honey.” Her voice was soft and calm. “Are you still at the Federal Reserve?”

“I’m leaving now, on my way to the next-of-kin.”

“The story is all over the news!”

“What time are you going to court today?”

Ms. Hingenbrinck stepped out of the walk-in closet wearing only bra and panties. She was slim and tall; had long sexy legs, and shoulder length hair. “I was planning to leave by nine. I’ve got files to review today.”

Ms. Hingenbrinck was a U.S. District Attorney.

Leo checked the traffic on his left side mirror, set the left blinker and shifted gears. He pulled into traffic and accelerated towards Independence Avenue. His wife was asking him a question when he started hearing a deep thump-thump of a helicopter. Looking up through the windshield, he saw one of the famous news channel helicopter hovering overhead.

“I’m sorry honey, I couldn’t hear you, what happened to Mallory?”

Mallory was their eighteen year old daughter.

“Did you speak with her boyfriend the last time he was here?”

Leo raised his eyebrows in surprise and pushed his sunglasses up his nose. “Speak to him about what?”

“About him taking Mallory to Germany for three weeks—”

“Honey, what do you mean he is ‘taking her to Germany?’ You’re sounding like he is forcing her to go.”

“No, he is not forcing her to go. But I wanted to know if you spoke to him about the do’s and do not’s he is to follow.”

“You wanted for me to use my job to fright the kid?”

There was a moment of silence.

“Well of course. Use your skills for a good cause for a change.”

“They are responsible for their own actions.”

“You promise me that if something happens to her, you will teach that guy a lesson?”

“I don’t understand why you’re so paranoid about that guy? They have been dating each other for over a year. Why worry now?”

“It’s something I was informed of recently.”

Leo started feeling concerned. “What seems to be the problem?”

“The drinking age in Germany is legal when you are eighteen years old.”

“But Mallory is not an alcoholic.”

“Right, but her boyfriend gets over himself every now and then.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“What I’m trying to say is…not only the age to drink is eighteen, but also there are no speed limits in the country. Now put these two things together and what do you get?”

Under skilled teen drivers.

Irresponsible teenagers.

Catching sight of an airplane up in the air in the distance, he wondered if Mallory’s boyfriend was planning to give her the best night of her life.

Introduce her to the Roofie… He glanced down at the Speedometer…And then move at the speed of light into eternity.

 

18

Patricia is in the Country! The caller said and hung up.

“Is everything all right Richard?”

His gaze shot to the door frame where he found Jessica staring at him. She was carrying Flubber in her arms.

His heart was pounding heavily and fast. “Yes.”

Jessica stopped rubbing Flubber’s head and lowered him to the floor. She walked to Richard and wrapped her arms around his torso. She leaned her heard against his chest and listened to the cadence of his heart.

“I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to.”

“Thank—”

There were three long: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Knock at the front door. Jessica felt Richard’s whole body tensing at the sounds of the knocking. Flubber turned his attention to the front door and ran towards the living room while barking.

What the hell?!

This person doesn’t know how to use the doorbell?

Jessica let go of Richard and they exchanged glances. She caught the warning look in his eyes.

 

19

He scanned the new territory. The buildings surrounding him were of red-brick façade, they had nineteenth century windows and shale rooftops. There was a two hundred feet clock spire to his left. Taking his eyes from behind the scope of his rifle, he flipped open his phone and checked the number marked on the door of the apartment house in question. He looked in the direction of the apartment. He caught movement on the hall, four doors away from his target’s location. He rotated a dial in the scope of his rifle and zoomed in. A woman was walking while speaking on her phone. He moved his sight and spotted a man dressed in a suit standing in front of an apartment door.

The man glanced in the direction of the woman that was approaching him, and then returned his attention to the closed door. The door was opened by a male. The man raised his right hand and flashed an Identification Card.

Who does he work for?

It was then that Allan caught a glimpse of Jessica Cardelini appearing into view.

 

20

F.B.I” Leo said to Richard and Jessica.

He held up his wallet. The gold badge was pinned to the outside of the I.D. case, so they would get the shield first and then the picture I.D. card last.

It’s a method of intimidation.

He then looked in the direction of the woman that was about to pass by them and gave her a quick glance. He waited for her to pass, and go down the stairs before continuing. “I’m sorry to meet you under these circumstances Ms. Cardelini, may I enter the premises? We need to talk.”

The F.B.I wants to talk to me?

Why? What have I done?

Jessica stepped aside and motioned for him to come in. Leo inserted his wallet in the same pocket he was keeping the tape recorder and walked inside. He stopped by a coffee table and looked around. Richard was standing next to him and Jessica was closing the door. Flubber kept barking at the Leo, until Richard told Flubber to be quiet.

Leo was drawn to a gigantic oil painting in front of him. On the right side of the painting was a sinner freeing himself with the help of an Angel, from the net of deception.

What is the purpose of this painting here?

What is the reason behind it? What is its history?

“The painting is called ‘Deception Unmasked’’.” Jessica clasped her hands behind her back.

“You did that?” Leo asked surprised, “It looks real.”

“No, it wasn’t me. But I’ve visited the site where this sculpture is located.”

“Where is this?”

Leo thought of what Security guard Walker had told him…He used to take his niece to visit different countries around the Globe at least once a year…

“It’s in Italy.” Jessica replied, “Inside of the Cappella Sansevero Santa Della Pieta Di Sangro in Napes.”

Leo nodded thoughtfully and observed how she said the name of the Chapel in Italian flawlessly, “Your last name, Car—de—lee—nee? Is that how you pronounce it?”

“I’ve heard worse.” She looked into his eyes and attempted a smile.

“Cardelini is an Italian name correct?”

“Yes. I was born in Napes,” She looked at the painting. “And the Chapel I’ve just mentioned is the location where I was baptized.”

After a moment of silence, Richard walked around the coffee table and stood next to Jessica. He was looking directly at Leo. “I’ve been thinking Sir, and now I have a question.”

Leo raised his eyebrows briefly. “Please ask.”

“How did you find Jessica here? Her address is not listed—”

“I am here because of Francisco Cardelini.”

Jessica felt a knot tighten in her stomach and she stifled a gasp.

Richard hovered between skepticism and belief. What do you know about Francisco?

“Mr. Cardelini was your uncle, correct?” Leo asked.

Was? Jessica looked uncertain how to respond. She finally said, “Yea.”

“When was the last time you saw Mr. Cardelini or spoke to him over the phone?”

“I haven’t spoken to him in four days.”

“Is that the longest you’ve stayed without talking to him?” he asked while pulling out his detective blotter.

“I’ve stayed longer.”

“Do you remember the topic of the conversation you were having with Mr. Cardelini?”

Jessica thought about their last conversation. What were we talking about again…? “It was small talk; he just wanted to know how I was doing. Was I learning anything new and how my grades were. Things like that.”

Leo looked at a FedEx package opened on top of the couch and quickly analyzed the hand writing. The package has the same hand writing found in notes scribbled inside of a calendar on top of Mr. Cardelini’s office desk.

“Did Mr. Cardelini send you this?” he asked while pointing at the package.

Jessica and Richard followed his gaze. “Yes he did.”

“How long ago?”

“I’ve just received it. I was looking through it when you arrived.”

“Would you mind if I take a look at it?”

Jessica looked at Richard for his approval. He shrugged, believing that it was not a big deal.

Leo took a few steps to the couch and grabbed the FedEx package. The box was very light. He looked inside, and then reached for a receipt slip. Pulling it out, he tucked the box underneath his right arm and read the receipt.

“It says here that Mr. Cardelini sent you a hardback copy of the book called National Treasure, and a pair of Contact Lenses. Are you in possession of these listed items Ms. Cardelini?”

He sent me Contact Lenses? Why if I have perfect vision?

“Um yes, well I do have the book. But I haven’t seen the Contact lenses yet. It should still be in there.”

Leo reached inside of the FedEx package and retrieved a container the size of the palm of his hands. The contact lenses were inside. “They are color contacts lenses. The power is plus zero, point zero zero.”

Jessica was still holding the book that came inside of the FedEx package when Leo looked at her in the eyes. “Why would you want to hide those beautiful eyes?”

OMG! Jessica glanced at Richard, and then returned her attention to Leo. Is he flirting with me? She searched accusingly for any engagement ring or wedding band on his finger. She found a wedding band.

He slid his hands in his pocket while frowning.

“What did you say the power were on those contact lenses?” Richard asked.

“They were plus zero, point zero zero. My take is that they are trial contact lenses.”

Richard hiked his shoulders and looked down at the floor while thinking.

Mr. Cardelini sent trials to Jessica. He didn’t want to change her vision, just the eye color.

Or could these Contact Lenses contain layers of digital data encoded in tiny pits?

Oh please…you ought to stop watching Science Fiction movies Richard.

Remember Richard… Patricia is in the Country! You’ve must leave as soon as possible.

Richard started putting the pieces together. If he was correct, Jessica is in grave danger.

“Sir, I’m sorry for the intrusion,” he paused. “Could you tell us why you are here?”

“I’ve already told you. I am here because of Francisco Cardelini.”

“You haven’t said what about him.” Jessica said quickly, already feeling a constricted sentiment of emotion inside.

Leo looked at her. “Ms. Cardelini please have a seat.”

Jessica raised a hand to her mouth. Her eyes started swelling up and tears started flowing. “NOOO! This can’t be what I’m thinking.”

“Please, have a seat.”

Richard helped her sit on the love seat. Leo sat next to her. Jessica used her hands to brush her hair and toss them backwards. Leo noticed that she had that telegenic look.

“I’m sorry to have met you under these circumstances and I’m very sorry for your loss; but your uncle was a victim of homicide.”

“NOOO! OH GOD!! PLEASE NO…” she started crying while feeling a nauseous lurch in the pit of her stomach.

Leo placed the evidence bag in Jessica’s hands and she looked at it.

There was a photograph inside of the evidence bag. Francisco had died while wearing his job’s attire. He lay sprawled on the floor of the Bank on top of the Federal Reserve Seal. What she saw made her sway, but she braced herself before the F.B.I Agent could pick up on her stunned surprised.

“When did this happen?”

“This morning.”

“May I make a personal request, Agent?”

“Sure.”

“Please, if you are planning to give me an answer to this question, I would like for you to be sincere with me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I want you to find out what happened. There has to be a reason.”

“I will do everything I can to—”

“It’s not enough.” She insisted. “Please, I have to know why he is gone. I need to know that for myself, for my peace of mind.”

Leo watched her for signs of guilt, then any signs at all. Watch the eyes…the slightest sign of guilt, take her for interrogation. The crime scene flashed in his mind. Mr. Cardelini’s body, and his right index finger barely touching the letter ‘K’ of Bank.

What am I missing?

Where does Jessica fit into all this?

Or doesn’t she fit in this at all? Maybe I should start looking at other lose ends.

Richard studied the F.B.I Agent. He knew that it was not the time to express condolences to Jessica. “Sir, every time I watched Hollywood movies, I saw F.B.I Agents moving around town in pairs. How come you are alone?”

Leo furrowed his brows at the question. “Mr. —”

“Maxwell, Sir.”

“Mr. Maxwell, this is not for your concern.” Leo reached inside of his suit, and pulled out an orange clasp envelope. “Ms. Cardelini, this is what brought me here.” He handed her the envelope and she took out another evidence bag. She eyed a photograph of herself inside of the evidence bag.

The photograph had been taken in some sort of a Park with pink flowered trees in the background. It was a raining day because the sky was gray and the sidewalk was wet. The good time depicted in the picture was so vivid that she could almost hear voices and laughter in her surroundings.

“I can’t believe this…”

“Take a look at the next photograph please.”

Jessica switched the photographs. She froze and felt cold sweat trickling down the sides of her body. Her uncle had died while pointing at her photograph.

This is the reason why the F.B.I Agent is here, your photograph popped up in the investigation, and now he is demanding answers.

You’re not the next-of-kin in this investigation, but a suspect.

Oh God…My mind is playing tricks on me.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Would you mind coming with me to Headquarters to leave a statement.”

“Am I a suspect?”

“Ms. Cardelini, I’m sorry but I’m not in position to divulge any of that information with you. I will be analyzing your answers at the Bureau. It’s not up to me alone to consider you a suspect. If at any time the Director feels we need to take you in for a polygraph, we will come for you.”

Jessica rose to her feet. “But I have an Alibi!” she looked at Richard. ”He can’t do that!!”

I’m sorry, but we are the F.B.I. sweetheart, ‘can’t’ is not part of our vocabulary.

Richard quickly gestured with his finger across his lips for Jessica to say nothing important in the presence of the F.B.I Agent.

Leo eyed him suspiciously. “Mr. Maxwell, do you have anything illegal under your possession? Do you smoke? Do any kind of drugs?”

“No sir, I’m clean.”

Leo was doing this just because he felt Mr. Maxwell was interfering with his interrogation.

“What do you have in your pockets?”

Richard instinctively lowered his hands and felt the outside of his left pocket. “I’m carrying my wallet.”

“May I take a look?”

“Sure.” He started reaching for his pocket when Leo raised his hand gesturing him to stop.

“Just put your hands on the wall, I’m going to do a perfunctory search of your person.” He looked at Jessica. “Please, go stand by the door.”

She nodded.

Richard turned around and waited for the F.B.I Agent to approach him.

“Please, spread your legs and place your hands on the wall.”

Richard sighed and followed Leo’s orders without complaining. He had the fluttering feeling in his stomach that often came when he was on the edge of a breakthrough to something hidden. He remembered the conversation he was having with his friend over the phone. He stood for a moment, frozen to the spot.

Patricia is in the Country…

No…This can’t be possible!

He thought about what Leo said of Agents moving around town in pairs…

Mr. Maxwell, this is not for your concern.’

He felt Leo’s hands moving around his left ankle. He shot a glance at Jessica. She was standing by the door with a sad look on her face.

I’m very sorry Jessica.

But you will understand everything later!

At an astonishing speed, he swung his left forearm downward and snatched the F.B.I Agent’s arms and hands out of contact from his left ankle. Then, he took a step back while spinning his body to the left and side kicked him. His foot caught his chest and the F.B.I Agent crashed on top of the coffee table.

“RICHARD! OH MY GOD!!” Jessica yelled over the sound of the shattering glass and splinter of wood. “Jesus H. Christ!!!”

“Oh God…” Leo started getting up. Dizzy.

The blow staggered him.

Richard leaned over Leo and back handed across his face with his left. Consciousness faded out.

There was an awkward silence in the room. He raised his eyes at Jessica. There was a look of confusion on her face.

Richard spoke calmly. “I’ve made a mistake in my life. I once got somebody killed that shouldn’t have been killed. You understand that? Now it’s not going to happen again.”

Richard squatted, searched for the F.B.I Agent’s service weapon and took it out of its holster. He then straightened and looked at Jessica again. “I also did this because I didn’t want him to see what was in my pocket.”

Jessica didn’t want to know it either. She could see his hand clutching the grip of a 9mm semi-automatic, but the way he stared at her, made it clear he preferred to use his gaze as his weapon. In a swift motion, he took the cartridge and magazine out of the service weapon and slid them in his pockets. He tossed the gun at her and said.

“I want you to leave now. Go to the second floor of ‘F’ Building and wait for me inside of room thirty-one. The key to unlock the door is under the sink in the female’s bathroom.”

Jessica didn’t move. She stood thunderstruck. She watched him grabbing the three evidence bags and handing it to her. “Take these and go! NOW!!”

She nodded and turned to open the door.

“Wait.”

She stopped and turned around. He was pointing towards the kitchen. “Use that exit.”

Nodding, she walked across the living room and headed towards the kitchen. There was a back door to the side of the kitchen that went down a fire escape. She reached for the door knob and opened the door. She looked at Richard one last time and left him there looking down at the F.B.I Agent.

I’ve made a mistake in my life. I once got somebody killed that shouldn’t have been killed.

Who are you Richard? She thought as the door slammed behind her.

Oh shoot! I’ve left my I.D. card in my purse.

After this day she was never able to think of this situation without the creeping certainty that she had made a dangerous mistake in her life.

 

21

Richard hurried out of the apartment house unaware of the crosshairs from a scope of a sniper riffle aimed at his head. He slammed the door shut and jogged towards the stairwell. He rushed down the steps while pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. He sensed a threat closing in—but didn’t know from which side. He darted around the left corner of the stairwell and headed towards the parking lot. He scanned the square in the center of the campus while squinting his eyes in the morning sun. Tree branches waved in the wind. The birds were chirping.

He pressed a speed-dial number on his phone and raised the phone to his ear. In that split-second a bullet bore through his left shoulder. The impact swept him off his feet, throwing his body backwards.

 

Allan unassembled his rifle and set the equipment inside of his bag. Zipping the bag closed, he gripped the strap of a bag and jogged to the spot where he had come from. Walking along the edge of the roof, he quickened his pace. Stopping just above the stairway landing, he tossed his pack down and calculated the distance needed to jump down. Scrambling over the two-foot lip surrounding the roof, he clung to the edge and let himself hang down still several feet from the landing. He released his grip and relaxed for the impact. Hitting the surface, he allowed his knees to absorb the shock and reached out for the railing. With a minor bend at the knees and waist, he was safe. He grabbed his bag and raced to the bottom of the stairs. Stopping to unzip the bag, he pulled out a 9mm semi-automatic. He slid his arms into the strap and tightened them, locking and clinching the waist clasp. He kept to the base of the building, moving quickly along the wall.

Stopping at the corner of the building, he cocked his weapon, tightened his grip and prepared to peer around the corner. Two men appeared from a breeze way to his left. Allan surmised they were professors. His instinct was to stay where he was and wait for the professors to leave. But his training said to proceed to the patio where Richard was.

If those two men turn left and start walking towards the patio, there will be a problem.

Allan kept an eye on their movements and watched them turning right and heading towards the parking lot instead. They passed by a vending machine for soft drinks and disappeared down the ramp for the parking lot.

He hiked the strap of his bag up his right shoulder as he was cutting through the grass and approached the area where he’d seen Richard fall.

Except his body wasn’t there; Richard was gone.

Gone?

He studied the blood pattern on the concrete and followed the shoeprints to a trashcan next to a wooden bench. He noticed that the shoeprints ended. He looked inside of the trashcan and eyed a pair of shoes inside. Richard left here wounded and barefoot. He glanced at the wooden bench, and back at the pool of blood.

At the moment of the shot, Richard had his cell phone in his hands.

What happened to it?

He visualized the moment of impact, the bullet hitting Richard’s shoulder and sending his body backwards.

If he were to release the grip from his cell phone, it would’ve landed around here.

But where is it though?

Crouching, he looked under the bench and followed the concrete line until reaching the trashcan. Then he stopped. Richard’s phone was under the trashcan.

 

22

Jessica sprinted towards ‘F’ building. In her background rose the campus red-brick façade, the nineteenth century windows and shale roofs. The clock spire was marking 8:17 in the morning. Slowing down, she reached the steps and went up one at a time. As she climbed the steps, her tattoo became visible on her lower back. It read: La Bella Vita. This meant Wonderful life in Italian.

Inside of ‘F’ building, she jogged down the hall, pushed the doors that would open to the stairwell and rushed upstairs. The doors slammed shut behind her. As instructed, she hurried to the female’s bathroom and pushed the door opened. She walked to the sink and stared at her reflection in the mirror while panting heavily. She leaned towards the mirror while resting the palms of her hands on the porcelain of the sink.

I’ve made a mistake in my life. I once got somebody killed that shouldn’t have been killed.

I want you to go to the second floor of ‘F’ Building and wait for me inside of room thirty-one.

The key to unlock the door is under the sink in the female’s bathroom.

Jessica came back from a trace while gasping.

The key to unlock the door is under the sink in the female’s bathroom.

She reached under the sink and searched for the key with trembling hands. The key was taped to the wall. She grabbed the key and left the bathroom. Her footsteps echoed throughout the corridor as she walked towards room thirty-one. She caught a glimpsed of the room four doors away. There was a light flickering above the door frame. Jessica stood in front of the door and tried to look through the window. But because of the ripples on the glass, she was unable to see inside.

She looked down and stared at the key in the palm of her left hand. The key was definitely old, well worn. She has never been inside of room thirty-one and she didn’t have a clue who taught the class. She glanced towards the end of the hall and felt herself suddenly reeling back to when she used to meet her ex-boyfriend by the windows.

Back to the present she watched through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the sunlight fading as a cloud passed over. She returned her attention to in front of her, and inserted the key in the lock. Opening the door, she peered inside before walking in.

As she had anticipated, the room was vacant. Jessica observed that this was a Science laboratory class. There was a microscope on top of a corner table to her left across desks and chairs.

She stepped inside and closed the door. Through her left peripheral vision, she caught a tall, muscle bond figure standing next to the door frame. She felt a knot tighten in her stomach and she stifled a gasp. She reached behind her for the gun but didn’t pull it out.

“Mr. Robinson?” She asked with a puzzle look on her face. “What are you doing in here? How did you get in?”

“First, as I’ve told you many times in class, to please call me Patrick.”

Patrick Robinson was her Cryptology teacher here at Georgetown. He looked handsome. His skin tone was tanned; he had short black hair, and brown eyes. He was wearing brown kacky pants and a white button down shirt. On the left breast of the shirt was a drawing of the Georgetown University shield.

This doesn’t make any sense, what is he doing here?

“With all due respect, what are you doing here?”

“I was…” He looked uncertain how to respond. “I was waiting for Richard to arrive because I needed to speak with him.”

“He told you to find him here?”

“Yes.”

Jessica’s eyebrows showed that she was confused, but then she was again filled with tension and anxiety. These feelings showed in her face and worried eyes.

Wait…Wait…Wait…

Why did Richard tell us both to meet him here?

“What’s wrong?”

I can’t talk about it.

“I don’t want to talk about it…” she whispered.

Patrick felt a sudden surge of concern.

“Please, have a seat.” He pointed towards the first desk in the first row from the door.

“Would you like for me to go get you something to drink?”

He observed that her hair looked damp and sweat trickled down the sides of her face.

“You’ve been running?”

She looked at him for a long moment and then a smile broke across her face.

“Yea, how did you know that?” Just don’t ask from whom I’ve been running from.

“I guessed.” He started walking across the room towards a closed door located next to the teacher’s desk.

Jessica trailed Patrick with her gaze and assumed that he was heading towards a storage room. He tried the knob, the door opened and he stepped inside. The angle she stood in the room didn’t permit her to see what he was doing inside of the storage area. She took this time that he was gone, to sit on one of the desk while rearranging the position of the F.B.I Agent’s service weapon on her lower back.

Patrick came back a few seconds later while carrying two bottles of water. He walked back towards where she was sitting and handed her one of the bottles.

“Thanks.”

He crouched in front of the desk and rested his folded arms on the table. He saw tears rolling down from her eyes. He raised his right hand to her neck and used his thumb to wipe of her tears.

“I feel so empty and lonely.”

“If you feel like you want to talk to someone I’m here for you.”

“The thing is…” she paused and looked up at the ceiling. “My…My Uncle died today…he’s been assassinated.” She looked back down at him. “That is so cruel.”

Assassinated?

“I am very sorry, Jessica.” He pursed his lips and then whispered. “Death is very hard to accept. Sometimes we feel like we don’t want to go on anymore. But I promise you this feeling will pass and you’ll see that your life will go on, and you’ll feel happy again.”

She nodded. Looking through the open sliders, she saw the light of dawn etching the roofline of a building across from the one they were in.

“This one F.B.I Agent came to my dormitory to deliver the news.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I forgot his name. But he was there –to talk to me about next-of-kin notification.”

“It was just one Agent present?” Patrick arched his eyebrows.

“Yes…” she looked at him with her brows laced in furrows. “Why?”

She wondered why Patrick and Richard both came up with the same question. Where was his partner?

Patrick stood silent. He seemed to be processing this information.

Maybe there was something about the Agent being alone that Patrick could explain why Richard acted the way he did.

“Is there something wrong about just one Agent being present at the next-of-kin notification?”

It’s not up to me alone to consider you a suspect.

“Or what if I was a suspect; would there have been more Agents present?” She pulled her hair back off her face and twisted it into a knot behind her head.

“I don’t know. The Feds don’t show up alone. F.B.I. rule: Overwhelming force trumps all. They would have come with about fifteen Agents and the Special Operation Division Team and the dogs and the body shields…”

So there is something wrong…

“To start from the beginning, I left the dorm in a hurry and I was holding this book. My uncle sent it to me I was checking it out when the Agent came. Have you ever seen anything like this before?”

Patrick read the title:

“I believe my mind was playing tricks on me when I read that title. Because eleven letters flashed in front of my eyes, I’ve no idea what that means but nonetheless I wrote them down. It’s on the back of the second page.”

Patrick opened the book to the second page and read the letters:

e-t-u-s-l-c-e-s-r-e-c

He kept looking at the words, while trying to unscramble them. Eleven letters for someone who would spend all morning doing unscramble on the back of USA Today was like nothing.

E—T—U—S—L—C—E—S—R—E—C…S—E—C—R—E—T—C—L—U—E—S.

What does ‘Secret Clues’ and ‘Our Journey Through the Famous Places Around America’ has in common?

Patrick flipped through the book.

“What happened with the rest of the pages?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ve seen people buying Journals like this one just to jot down personal notes, you know what I mean, like a diary?”

“Ok.”

He flipped the pages in the book.

“Do you think this book was meant to be a code between you and your uncle or he sent you this as a form of a sick joke? Have you recalled any memories of seeing this book in your past?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Do you feel comfortable sharing it with me; maybe we could figure this one out together.”

“If the book I’ve seen in the past was not this one, then it looked identical…”

Jessica told him the story…it must have been two o’clock in the morning, or some crazy hour. I was asleep, but some noise woke me up. I left my room. Approaching the stairwell, I looked down and saw a light from beneath the door coming from my Uncle’s study. I went down the steps very quietly, and once I arrived at the door, I looked around before gently twisting the knob. I stepped inside and looked for my Uncle, but he was nowhere to be found. His study looked terrific and clean. Red carpet, stoned walls, a leather arm chair that faced a fireplace paved with red bricks. Fire irons were hooked from above on a horizontal ledge. The wood made popping noises as they were burned in the hearth.

I noticed there were a few scattered printed papers by the hearth. Upon closer inspection, I observed that my Uncle was burning papers in the hearth, and those that were strewn on the floor were yet to be burned. I crouched to grab one copy but I didn’t understand the language. Back then I remember thinking while taken aback ‘My uncle speaks Arabic?’ I became aware though, that it seemed like those documents were Banking Account Balances, because there were dollar signs and euro signs everywhere on that paper; followed by massive amount of cash. I do remember seeing someone’s signature on those documents, but I don’t recall of who it was.

I started glancing through all those papers scattered on the floor, until I found an opened book beneath them. I studied the page that was marked and tried to understand why there were lines and symbols drawn all over. I remember flipping the page while tracing a red arrow throughout the map. The arrow led me to a star drawn with black ink. Next to the star was written ‘Sector Eleven’. I was about to flip to the next page when my Uncle stormed inside of the study. I became so frightened that I dropped the book on the ground and rushed out of his study and went back upstairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it. Later I tried to apologize to him and he said that those were his properties and I wasn’t supposed to look at them…

“…Now whatever was written on those pages it was meant to be kept secret, I don’t know if it was then that he tore those pages or not. But they are gone now.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Five years ago.”

“What was your Uncle’s profession?”

“He was the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank.”

And now your uncle was murdered?

That explains why the F.B.I. got involved.

Patrick straightened, left the book opened on top of the desk, and took a sip of water. Once he looked down at the book again, he saw an edge sticking out.

“What is this?”

Jessica followed his gaze and saw one of the edges from the Crime Scene photograph sticking out.

“Umm…” she rubbed a hand over her face. She was already beginning to feel the loss of her Uncle.

Patrick pulled the photograph out of the book and studied it.

What?

“How did you get this?”

“The F.B.I. Agent hand it to me.”

Patrick stared at her for a long moment. Then he shook his head.

“You’ve got to be kidding me? You’re telling me that a Federal Agent allowed you to see the photograph of a crime scene?”

She nodded slowly.

“Jesus H. Christ.”

“What?”

“Federal Agents don’t do next-of-kin notification like that. This Agent is faking.”

“Faking? What do you mean by that?”

“He was trained very poorly.”

Or he is either a decoy or a mole within the F.B.I

“I’m sorry, you’ve lost me. You said he is fake? But I saw his F.B.I. Identification card.”

“I don’t know, Jessica. Every step this Agent did seem to go against F.B.I rules. First he arrived at your dorm alone. Second he handed you a Crime Scene photograph of your beloved one and third—”

Jessica pulled the Agent’s service gun from behind her body and laid it next to the book. Patrick eyed the weapon with huge eyes.

“You—”

“No, not I, but Richard did this. The Agent wanted to search his person when he disarmed the Agent and knocked him unconscious on top of the coffee table. That is the main question I have now. ‘Why the—did he do that for?’ Before he told me run here he said that he ‘made a mistake in his life. He once got somebody killed that shouldn’t have been killed. He asked me if I understood that. And he also said that it was not going to happen again.’” She shook her head. “What do you know about Richard? Is he ‘America Most Wanted or something? Did he go to jail one time in his life? Where in hell did he learn how to fight like that? I mean he disarmed a Federal Agent like that.” She snapped her fingers to demonstrate how fast. “What I knew, or better yet, what I thought I knew about Richard; it doesn’t match the person I’ve met six months ago. Those moves piquet my curiosity, and now I want to know who he is.”

“I don’t know what to say.” He said and started taking another sip of water.

The condensations that were forming on the outside of the bottle were dripping on table. Some of those drops of water were landing on the blank pages of the book.

Jessica returned her attention to the book to move it out of the way, when her eyes grew big. Black ink started appearing on the page.

“Patrick…”

 

23

The F.B.I Agent Hingenbrinck slowly opened his eyes, and awoke while feeling a sharp pain on the side of his head. He raised his hand to rub away the painful sensation. His left forearm was also soar; he looked at his suit and noticed that his jacket was crooked around his shoulders and his tie loose around his neck. He got on one knee by gripping the couch padding and knelt over the shattered glass and splinters. Checking the time on his watch, he thought of how long he stayed out and how far had Jessica gone from him.

He quickly tapped his coat pockets and then his front pants pockets for his phone. Pulling his phone out with shaking hands he pressed a button on the speed dial while getting on his feet.

“Daniels.”

“Hey Daniels, I want you to listen very carefully.”

Agent Daniels was his F.B.I partner.

“Do you have Cardelini?”

Leo rubbed a hand over his face. Jessica was gone long gone.

“No, she got away. Is the F.B.I Alpha team engaged?”

“Yes sir, they are inside of an unmarked S.U.V. securing the parking lot. All Agents assigned to Cardelini are in high alert.”

The parking lot is secured, but what if Maxwell told Jessica to flee on foot?

What set of skills does Maxwell has?

Who is he?

Why is he helping Jessica?

“What is your twenty?” Leo asked Daniels after a few seconds of silence.

“Sir, I’m ten eighty four to Alpha team’s location.”

“Wait for me there. I’m on my way.”

“Yes sir.”

“Meanwhile find out for me if there is a parking lot number for Jessica Cardelini. If she does have one, I want a description of her vehicle and the TAG number. Better yet, send an Agent to watch over her vehicle.”

“Yes sir, I’m on it.”

 

24

Jessica leaned over the book that was lying on top of the table and arched her eyebrows in surprise. The ink kept spreading across the paper, forming a circle.

“This symbol…”She whispered, though the words barely left her mouth.

She felt as if she had seen that symbol somewhere before. For some reason, her uncle’s room flashed in her mind. She saw him standing inside of the bathroom, by the bathroom cabinet.

Francisco…

Patrick was looking at Jessica’s face while drinking water from the bottle when he saw her face registering what could have been awe. He followed her gaze and almost choked. He spit the water on the floor.

“Christ!”

Jessica shot a glance at him and placed her left hand on back.

“Are you ok?”

Patrick placed one hand on the table and used the other to cover his mouth.

“I’m…” he cleared his throat and nodded. His eyes were watery. “Yes…”

Jessica looked down at the symbol, though of what question she wanted to ask, and looked back up at his face again.

“What do you suggest this is about?”

Patrick studied the symbol carefully. He grabbed his magnifying glass and gave the symbol another attentive scrutiny. He read the numbers written inside of the Symbol.

KN: 76925256635464

The Key Number of Operation White Diamond…

Impossible!

Does this mean that Mr. Cardelini broke the secret behind the Operation?

“Mr. Robinson please talk to me…”

Jessica, where would you like for me to begin?

“This symbol is not—”

The alarm from his wrist watch started beeping. He had completely forgotten about the time and now he was late.

“We must leave” he said while grabbing the Crime Scene Photograph and placing it inside of the book. Then he grabbed Jessica’s left arm and pulled her towards the door. She yanked her arm from his grip.

“I can’t. I need to wait for Richard.”

He reached for her left forearm with an iron grip this time.

“Change of plans.” He paused and said seriously. “We’re meeting with him in the parking lot.”

 

Patrick eased the door open and quickly pulled Jessica out with him. They headed out into the brisk air that was being quickly warmed by the sun.

“I thought I heard on the radio that today was supposed to be overcast with chances of rain this afternoon.” Patrick said thoughtfully.

“They said on the weather channel there is an eighty percent precipitation of thunder and shower tonight.”

They went down the front steps of “F” building together, and turned towards the parking lot. Patrick stopped at the edge of the sidewalk and scanned the area. He walked to a grassy-garden island between the rows of parked cars. Richard was no where to be seen. He took a deep breath.

“What is the matter?” she asked, sounding more impatient than him.

He shook his head and mused at what the hell Richard was doing now.

I’ve put myself in this predicament, now how must I explain the situation to Jessica?

By telling her the truth.

Tell her the truth from the beginning.

Patrick turned towards her and said.

“I gave Richard the idea about you going to room thirty-one. He was in charge of getting his vehicle and wait for us here.”

“Wait what?” Jessica looked confused. “You too knew this was going to happen, before it took place? I’m lost. Please…”

Questions exploded inside of her head like fireworks and she couldn’t decide which one to ask first. Her cell phone vibrated inside of her pants pocket. She pulled it out and showed to Patrick.

“Check who is calling, but don’t answer it.” Patrick said thoughtfully, believing that the F.B.I could be tracking her calls. “After you’ve checked who is calling, I want you to turn it off!”

Jessica felt the adrenaline pumping through her veins and checked the caller I.D.

“It’s Richard!”

“Give it here” Patrick grabbed the phone from her hand and answered the call.

“Don’t speak.” Patrick didn’t recognize the voice. It had a mechanical quality to it. It sounded inhuman enough to make his skin tingle with absolute dread.

 

The F.B.I Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck walked across the campus while breaking the connection on his cell. He had reached the director of the F.B.I Fugitive Task Force to ask for more back up and assign an Agent to call Ms. Cardelini’s cell phone company to track her.

Stopping next to a vending machine designed for soft drinks, he looked straight ahead and studied the front entrance to one of the vocational buildings. He was about to start walking again when he heard voices in a distance. He turned towards the sound and glanced at Jessica with a surprise look of recognition. She was saying something to a man. The man was speaking on a cell phone, and by his facial expression Leo deduced that whoever was over the line wasn’t delivering good news.

Leo stepped out of view and leaned against the vending machine. He felt a shot of adrenaline, a hint of hope. He reached for his concealed weapon that was located on his left ankle and…

 

Jessica has one hour to be at Arlington National Cemetery” Allan said, “Or Richard dies.”

Patrick, if this man is involving Richard, that means he is already dead.

“Who are you kidding? Richard is already dead!” he finally said.

As the words came out of Patrick mouth Jessica felt a cold feeling settling in. She felt a sudden surge of concern.

What?

Richard is dead?

Oh my God…

She felt the tears coming again.

Patrick caught Jessica’s reaction to what he’d said and hiked his shoulders. He stared at her a long moment, wondering how he should proceed. Allan broke the connection and the line went dead.

He cursed under his breath and looked at Jessica. He knew that he couldn’t tell her the reason why Richard didn’t show up; he had to do something about the situation. His gaze shifted to the left of Jessica where he saw a person opening the driver door to a red Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

“Come on we must keep moving.” He touched her left elbow. “Let’s stay low as we cross the parking lot.”

Instead, she crossed her arms in front of her chest and recoiled while shaking her head. “No. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell is going on.”

Patrick stopped walking and looked back at her. “I’d really like to explain much of this to you. But right now, I suggest, is neither the time nor the place to do so.”

She hiked her shoulders while looking up at the sky and stretched her arms wide open. “Someone must give me an explanation. I think I deserve one and it has to start somewhere. Don’t you think? It has to start sometime.” She lowered her gaze and stared at him. “What better place than here? What better time than now?”

The F.B.I Agent Hingenbrinck stepped away from his concealed spot while aiming his weapon forward. Jessica’s thoughts were disrupted by Leo’s roar. “Ms. Cardelini stay right where you are! This is your warning!! ”

Patrick glanced at Leo and returned his attention to Jessica. Breaking to a sprint, they raced across the lot in a crouch, ducking between various vehicles.

Instinctively, Jessica reached behind her for the gun, but stopped, remembering it was not loaded. Stopping behind a white SUV, she pressed her back against the vehicle and looked at Patrick. She listened to the cadence of her heart. Her mouth went dry.

Patrick drew her eyes to the vehicle they were trying to reach and pointed to a hedge area one row away. Looking back at her, he said.

“That’s the vehicle we are going for. Make a break for it on the count of three.”

She pulled a deep breath and nodded.

“One…Two…Thr—” Patrick stopped short as a bullet ricocheted off a nearby car.

Jessica squinted and gave a short high pitched scream. Patrick waited a few seconds and said. “Let’s try again, ok?”

With agitation and a hint of fear expressed on her face, she could only nod. As they broke from cover, the sound of running feet, shouting, and squealing tires, blended together in an orchestra of chaos. Doing her best to stay low, Jessica caught movement out of the corner of her eyes and saw two men sprinting towards them on the other side of the hedge. Straightening herself up, she sprinted faster. Turning behind the hedge row, she saw Patrick pulling the owner of the Hyundai from getting behind the wheel and pushing onto an Infiniti that was parked next to them.

Jessica ducked as two more shots rang out.

“Stop! This is the F.B.I!!” the shouts continued.

“Patrick grabbed the keys from the door lock, got inside and inserted the key into the ignition. He then reached across and opened the passenger door just in time for Jessica to jump in. Turning the key, he threw the gear into reverse, placed his right hand behind the passenger seat while looking back and through the rear window.

Jessica barely had time to close the door as the car lurched backwards. Both of them flinched and she screamed as a male Agent came crashing through the hedge and jumped on the carbon fiber hood; grabbing at the wiper blades.

Patrick yanked hard on the steering wheel to the left and spun the car around. Causing the Agent to lose his grip and fly off the side of the hood. He rolled across the pavement and stopped under the parked car. Patrick then, slammed the brake pedal, spun the steering wheel to the right and shifted into first. They both looked in the side view mirrors as they gathered speed. Patrick noticed Leo jogging to the center of the road and stopping. He was speaking on his cell.

By now they already had the description of them both and the license plate of the car they were driving. With these information and a few more that Patrick started thinking about, he began to formulate a new way for them to get to Richard without drawing too much attention.

The only sounds within the car were the whine of the engine and their own labored breathing. Each deep in thought, neither of them spoke up as Patrick downshifted at the exit, turned left and kicked the gas. Squealing the tires again and drawing stares from students and pedestrians.

Patrick was the first to speak. “We need to get off campus; perhaps even out of D.C. whatever is going on has reached a high enough level—”

“And what exactly could I do about that? At this moment I have nowhere to go and I don’t have anything with me.” She took a deep breath and looked out of the window. “How the hell did Richard die? Did the F.B.I shoot him? Who were you speaking with using Richard’s number?” Jessica ranted frustration creeping into her voice. The more she dwelled on it, the more pissed she became.

Patrick sensed that she would eventually find his holes and gaps and possibly tie everything together. He glanced at her while she kept looking out the window and thought.

Just not now.

Not yet.

He needed time to get more information, develop a new plan and figure out who was the leak that led to the frightening Operation White Diamond.

 

Drawn out of his speculations, he began to slow down.

“You better buckle in.” he told Jessica. “It’s about to get rather bumpy.”

She had just clicked in when he gunned the engine and the car jumped forward. Looking ahead she saw why, at the intersection was the telltale vehicles of the F.B.I.—blue/black GMC.

“How could they—” but she didn’t get to finish as she breathed in and held her breath.

Patrick was heading straight at them with no indication of slowing down. She could see the Agents in the vehicle, and one was talking into a radio. As Patrick accelerated, all the occupants flinched, including Jessica. Closing her eyes, she braced for impact—but it never came.

Turning the wheel sharply to the right, Patrick jumped the curb and raced down the sidewalk. Pedestrians scattered, curses flew, and the F.B.I Agents halted for a split-second. Patrick hoped that was enough of a gap, but doubted it. Honking his horn to alert the people in front of him, he knew that he was also alerting the F.B.I as to where they were.

Screw them!

Let’s see just how good they are.

Seeing a gap in the parked cars along the street, he slammed on the brakes, skidded, and turned onto the street. He immediately jerked the wheel to the right and entered the flow of traffic. A delivery van swerved to avoid them, the driver cursed and crashed into a parked car across the street. With the sound of crash reaching Jessica, she finally opened her eyes, and was amazed to find themselves weaving through traffic. The sound she heard was not them, and she glanced in the side view mirror and saw the wreckage pilling up behind them.

There is no way the F.B.I could get through that.

It was only then that she’d been still holding her breath. Exhaling sharply, she inhaled deeply and tried to gather her thoughts, to make sense of the confusion.

Who could of possibly have murdered my uncle and why?

What was the association between Richard and Patrick? If there was one at all or is this too much of a coincidence?

She felt there was something not quite right, but couldn’t put her finger on it. Her thoughts were disrupted as the car skidded into an intersection. Patrick raced through a red light and turned into Rhode Island Avenue, scattering pedestrians who were ambling over a pedestrian crossing.

Now why would Patrick be going into the heart of D.C. right into the Government District?

Weaving in and out of traffic, Patrick maneuvered the Hyundai like a seasoned chauffeur. Unable to relax, his internal sensors on high alert, he could tell that Jessica was eyeing him suspiciously.

A SUV came screaming out of Wisconsin Avenue and turned alongside them. Startled, Jessica looked at Patrick and screamed.

“Oh my God, That’s him! That’s the guy from my dorm. How do they keep finding me?”

Patrick began to think the same thing and wondered whether or not she was bugged.

She is still carrying her cell phone with her!

But driving at nearly sixty miles per hour through a congested city avenue was not the places to start searching. Instead, he floored the accelerator and cut in front of the SUV, nearly missing a taxi that was pulling from the curb; heading towards Connecticut Avenue. Patrick knew that more Agents would be on them soon. He had to lose this one quickly. He glanced into the rearview mirror to get one good look at the Agent Jessica indicated, memorized his features and smiled. Just as they reached the intersection, Patrick put his hand out the window and let the Agents in the car know what he thought of them. Then, he slammed on the brakes, spun the wheel and disappeared around those vehicles that were stopped at the light.

Still staring at the gesture of the driver, Agent Hingenbrinck groaned inwardly and thought.

Who is this guy? And where did he learn how to drive like that? And just what did he have to do with Jessica Cardelini? And what’s more—

My partner just missed the turn.

She continued driving down Rhode Island Avenue.

“Jesus H. Christ Daniels! We better not lose them or you’ll be driving stakes into the ground rather than transporting vehicles.” Leo yelled, and then grabbed his radio.

“Suspect has turned south on Connecticut. It dead ends onto K Street. Has anyone made a visual?”

He clicked off.

He tried to guess, which way they would go upon reaching K Street.

East or West?

He made a decision. “Daniels, get us to New Jersey double time, or I will personally make sure you never have a license again.”

 

Jessica looked over at Patrick and saw the tension in his face, and something else; the ease and determination of someone who had done this before. It was time to begin voicing her concerns.

“You’re not really a college professor are you?” she asked while looking at him.

Patrick kept silent, not even flinching or looking her way. Swerving in and out of the traffic, his concentration on the street, he saw a gap in the traffic at the next intersection.

“Who do you really work for? And what does it have to do with me?” she continued.

He knew that he was going to have to tell her. He glanced in her direction and saw that she was staring at him and waiting for an answer.

“Well…” she nodded. Then bit her lips. His delay only reinforced her doubts.

“Hold on.” he said as he skidded into the intersection. Throwing the wheel into a severe left hand turn and lifting the vehicle onto its two right tires. The force of the turn threw Jessica into the door and she grunted, losing eye contact with Patrick and exclaiming rather unladylike.

Patrick hardly noticed as he cornered the car, straightened out and looked intently at K Street. The White House appeared into view from behind the tree lines to their right and Patrick thought about the mistake he was making. They were heading into the heart of security in D.C. and knew that the F.B.I. had alerted all available Agents. In order to keep them at bay, he needed to keep them guessing, and he had to deal with Jessica quizzing him.

“Once we get out of the city, I will do my best to explain everything to you.” He finally conceded and looked at her for a second.

She was settling back into her seat after pushing away from the door. He could see that she was frightened, but only on the fringe. The anger and determination he knew she possessed stood out, creating a gleam in her eyes. She started to straighten her hair and make herself a tad more presentable, but thought better of it.

Why bother.

In the calmest voice she could muster she then said. “I’d like that very much.”

But the anger was apparent in the grim set of her lips, and her posture as she faced forward and eyed the scene before them.

 

The F.B.I. Agent Hingenbrinck wondered if they were going to be able to intersect with Ms. Cardelini and her unknown companion. They were fast approaching New Jersey Avenue, the flashing lights on the dash and sirens made traffic part like the red sea. But he didn’t exactly feel like Moses right now. He had to make a decision, choose a direction and the other mobile Agents were not helping.

The red Hyundai was no where in sight.

Nothing!

Twenty—plus Agents racing through Downtown D.C. and not one visual.

“Continue through this intersection and prepare to turn right on K Street, ten-twenty to Massachusetts Avenue. Should be less traffic and hopefully that’s where they will be.” Leo led Daniels.

As Daniels sped through the intersection with New Jersey Avenue, she veered into the right lane and nearly missed the pedestrians entering the cross walk. Leo clicked on his radio and said.

“Has anyone got a visual on our Package?”

Several negative replies only reinforced Leo’s frustration and he had only one direction to go. Looking out the window, deep in thought, he began to think about landmarks that were located on the northeast side of D.C.

Patrick slowed down as they approached the rear of the White House. He didn’t want to attract anymore attention than they already had. The dossier of D.C. from Winterfield indicated that the White House had six men Sniper Team on the roof, and all Security Agencies were radio-Linked.

These Agents are radio-linked the same way the British Secret Service were during Operation White Diamond.

Operation White Diamond ended in a disaster, Mission Failed.

Why?

Patrick knew that a red sport car with chrome rims and tinted windows driving around the block would raise a red flag. One of the million things he intended to avoid.

 

The Radio Squawked as Leo and Daniels slowed to turn right onto K. Street.

“Visual on a 2010, red Hyundai, above speed limit. Ten-twenty is Eastbound K Street, approaching Massachusetts Avenue. License place number—”

Leo nearly jumped out of his seat in an attempt to grab the radio.

“Copy, Confirm bogey’s ten-twenty?”

“Eastbound K Street, behind opus-one.” Came the static reply a few seconds later.

The terminology indicated that the vehicle carrying Jessica had been spotted by the Secret Service Team covering the White House, and Leo recognized the call sign.

“Roger that. Continue visual and keep posted.” He replied.

“Ten-four.”

He looked at Daniels and said.

“You heard the man, get us to Massachusetts Avenue right now!”

Leo sagged into his seat as Daniels stepped on the gas and caused her Yukon to squeal as it accelerated.

Hopefully the other teams are converging right now. Leo thought. And no one better pull a John Wayne or they’d find themselves pushing horseshit instead of paperwork.

 

Patrick sensed something was wrong. It was the same feeling that had saved him on numerous occasions, and right now it was screaming at him.

Jessica had noticed when they slowed down and wasn’t sure why, but hadn’t questioned it. She was memorizing all the questions she had for Patrick.

Richard is gone…

She had questions for him as well. Maybe she’d visit him on his grave and ask him these questions. He had lied to her, and now she was on the run from the F.B.I with a man she didn’t know.

Not now, of course.

Just earlier today, he was my Professor.

And now he is what?

My bodyguard?

She noticed his left hand tighten on the steering wheel and muscles flex in his right forearm as he prepared to shift gears. Jessica kept quiet and braced herself. Then, she caught a glimpse of something that seemed to come out of nowhere.

“PATRICK!” She raised her voice with fear. “WATCH OUT!”

 

The SUV came out of a side street and clipped the front passenger panel as Patrick swerved to the left to avoid it. There were sounds of tearing and crushing metal. The F.B.I. Agents swerved with them and headed along K Street as well.

Patrick downshifted and jolted the car to the left, trying to separate from the SUV. Using the sight seeing on-lookers as barriers, Patrick pushed the car faster and veered onto the widened sidewalk. He knew that if there was one car on them, it was only matter of time before the others converged like a swarm. People were jumping out of the way as he continued to accelerate down the sidewalk. The F.B.I.’s SUV kept pace with them, swerving in and out of the vehicles along K Street.

“You better brace yourself Jessica.” Patrick yelled over the hum of the engine. “Things are going to get a bit hairy.”

She glanced ahead and then looked at him. “Like they aren’t already?” she yelled back.

Patrick didn’t reply, but smiled instead. He liked her spunk and knew that she would’ve made a great Agent under different circumstances. She was holding up rather well.

Jessica grabbed the handle above the passenger seat with her right hand and braced against the dash with her left. Just then, Patrick pulled up the emergency brake and the car begin to skid and fishtail. He held the steering wheel and threw the car into a right-facing skid. Directing the Hyundai towards a break between the parked cars along the sidewalk, Patrick caused the driver of the SUV to miss the stop. The driver slammed on his brakes a second too late.

Patrick swerved between the parked cars, hit the gas and darted behind the SUV and through traffic. Cars braked and skidded in all directions, creating a traffic jam of huge proportions. Patrick smiled again as the big SUV plowed into the truck ahead of it.

“Out of the chase!” he chuckled softly to himself while looking at the side view mirrors.

“What’s so funny?” Jessica asked.

“Nothing, we’re not out of this yet.”

He saw their escape plan right in front of them, written in white on a blue sign next to the traffic light pole.

He slowed only slightly as he worked his way into the right hand land and prepared to take the turn. However, as he glanced at the gas gauge, he spotted another problem.

It read empty.

 

Vehicle is approaching Massachusetts Avenue, preparing to turn right.” Came the static response over the radio.

Leo couldn’t believe their good luck. They were heading along Massachusetts Avenue as the announcement from the Secret Service came over the radio. He looked at Daniels and prepared to shout orders when Daniels surprised him.

“Yea…Yea—step on it.” She said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Or…what? You’re going to send me to Alaska so I could drive a plow for the Eskimo tribes?”

Even Leo had to smile at her sarcasm in the heart of the pursuit. Nevertheless, the game was on and he was going to do everything he could to come out with a victory.

 

Patrick knew that the other vehicle had radioed to any and all other personnel in the area, giving details and location. They were not in a good position and it was only going to get worse. The trick was to present an illusion and use it to draw attention away from their real direction. As he turned onto Massachusetts Avenue, he saw the plan take shape in his mind and knew they only had one chance at this.

There! Just a few blocks away.

Use the entrance to the Subway and an alternate route to Union Station.

If we could just make it before being spotted.

His eyes went to the gas gauge next to the speedometer.

Or if we don’t run out of gas by then.

 

Leo was impressed by how his partner was driving at the moment, but was not going to praise the young Agent just yet. There was too much at stake and they hadn’t caught up with Jessica Cardelini. As they sped through downtown traffic, Leo sensed the gap closing.

Close to what?

Up ahead, he saw the Hyundai, and before he could say anything, Daniels had gunned the engine and pulled into oncoming traffic to avoid the congestion at the intersection. Leo snatched the radio from the dashboard and pressed the talk button.

 

Patrick flew along Massachusetts Avenue, eyes peeled for any sign of the F.B.I. he knew they were here, but— as he sped through the intersection at 9th Street, he saw it, plain as day, a dark blue Yukon pulling into the oncoming traffic, with lights flashing and a pair of Agents inside. He knew what they were and the time had come to make their move. Slicing to the right, he cut off a pick-up and a bus and hoped to cause an accident behind them. He headed for the subway entrance at the corner of 6th Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Hopefully, they will get there on time to get lost in the crowd.

 

Leo saw them veer to the right and the vehicles swerving to avoid a collision. A gray smoke and smell of rubber filled the morning air. The accident congestion blocked up the right lanes and threatened to billow out into the lane they were in.

“Get us past that accident before it blocks the road.” Leo shouted, while gripping the dash.

Like any person whose career had been threatened, Daniels obeyed without saying a word.

 

Patrick cut through the intersection, slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop. Throwing open his door, he looked at Jessica and said.

“Get out of the car. We’re going down into the subway. Move quickly because they’re close behind us.”

Jessica started to look over her shoulders, but thought better of it. More important to listen to Patrick and get away from there rather than steal a glance at their pursuers.

I’ve done nothing wrong…

Why did Richard tell me to run?

He never told me why I had to run.

Jumping out of the car, she raced for the top of the stairs and as she turned to go down, she took a moment to look back and saw the Avenue looking like a battlefield.

 

Daniels kept her eyes on the clamor of cars and the chaos of oncoming traffic. Swerving to the left, then to the right, she squeezed between vehicles with drivers too startled to make a choice. She had just maneuvered past the accident, when she saw Leo pointing while shouting.

“THERE!”

 

Jessica could clearly make out the SUV in the wrong lane, speeding towards them. She saw, as in slow motion the passenger pointing directly at her. Until their eyes met, and she stood still, frozen to the spot.

Patrick grabbed her arm and practically pulled her down the stairs.

“NOW!”

Daniels kicked the gas pedal and aimed the Yukon right at where Leo was pointing. Leo saw them disappear down the stairs and he started to open his door even before the Yukon came to a complete stop.

 

Patrick and Jessica pushed the people aside as they sprinted down the steps two at a time. The only thing that mattered to the right now was to reach the departing gate before they were caught. The excitement and adrenaline were beginning to wear off and breathing was coming in gaps.

Now is not the time to catch your breath.

 

Leo jogged to the steps, looked back and pointed his index finder at his partner.

“Alert the other Agents that they’ve headed underground. Get the securities to set up a five miles radius around Union Station and find someone else to check monitors at the security room for a glimpse of them.” Even before Daniels could reply, Leo was spinning to a180° and leaping down the stairs.

 

C’mon.” Patrick said, hardly breathing heavy at all.

Jessica was surprised at how well he ran and the control he demonstrated. She followed him as they neared the turnstiles and wondered what they were going to do. Without missing a step, Patrick leaped and cleared the obstruction and hesitated just a moment to make sure she was able to do the same.

She stutter-stepped and sprung up, using the turnstiles to leapfrog forward and landed on two feet. Not quite as graceful as he was, but she was pleased nonetheless. After all, her life was full of surprises.

She just didn’t know all of them, yet.

 

Close, but still a few steps behind, Leo couldn’t afford to lose them in the crowd.

How could I get an edge and pick up the trail?

He had an Idea. Pulling out his Credentials from a pocket under his suit, he flashed around and yelled.

“FREEZE! THIS IS THE F.B.I!!”

Leo watched the crowd stop and turn in the direction of his voice, all but two individuals. Two people that he now raced after.

 

They heard the shout behind them and Jessica recognized the voice. Neither of them broke stride or even bothered to look back. Their complete focus was on reaching the departure platform and hoping that there was a car waiting for them. Heading down the ramp towards the departing subway, Jessica’s side began to ache and her breath came in ragged gaps. She was feeling a bit lightheaded and wondered whether she would make it.

Patrick could feel that Jessica was struggling to keep up, and wondered whether he was going to have to deal with the F.B.I Agent there and lose the advantage.

 

Leo heard the sound of the subway as it squealed to a stop. The place was about to turn into a busy ant mound. He kept his stride as he reached the top of the ramp. He watched Ms. Cardelini and her companion barrel their way through against the grain. They were on a maze of long underground tunnels and platforms where the red and orange lines intersected.

Graffiti covered the advertisement on the wall next to where he was running.

 

Running down the ramp, Patrick and Jessica pushed their way through the exiting masses. Grunts, curses, and threats followed in their wake. They had to reach the car before the door closed.

Jessica tripped and nearly stumbled as a businessman wheeled his briefcase behind him. Turning his grasp, the gentleman released the handle and spun to follow her movement. Shouting at her in a language she didn’t recognize or even bother to listen to, he used the only American gesture he knew.

He flipped her the bird.

 

Leo saw Jessica stumbling and thought that was the edge he needed. Noticing that the crowd was concentrated on the ramp, he grabbed the handrail and leaped over the edge while shouting for people to move out of the way as he landed. Turning quickly, he ran in the direction of Jessica and her companion.

He ran alongside the subway cart, trying to avoid the stragglers, both entering and exiting the cars, as well as those slow moving people that were trudging along after a long night at work. He had empathy for them, even a hint of jealousy, because his job had no-designated hours, days or perhaps an office if he didn’t catch Jessica.

 

Jessica saw the doors begin to slide closed and Patrick reached out to stop them when Leo Yelled.

“Stop Ms. Cardelini! This is the F.B.I.”

If you stop we can settle this at the Bureau.

Why did Mr. Cardelini die near your photograph?

Were you meant to be part of this investigation?

I have more questions for you.

Jessica turned her head at the sound of her name, seeing the Agent who had entered her dormitory only a short time ago. She staggered and sensed failure as she saw him move towards them, closing the gap with his weapon aimed right at her.

Everybody else dropped to the ground, giving Leo a cleared shot.

Jessica felt herself jerked to the right by someone pulling on her arm. Patrick was blocking the door from closing and grabbing her at the same time. Dragging her towards the door, he made her trip over her own feet, someone’s coat and the lip of the subway car as she landed hard on her knees.

 

Leo saw Jessica being pulled into the subway car. Knowing that the doors were closing, he got caught between vehicles and sprinted towards the door she had just gone through. Hurdling over a suitcase, he reached out to the shutting door and saw Patrick standing at the doorway.

He was prepared to block him and deter the F.B.I Agent from entering by any means necessary.

Why are you so over protective of Ms. Cardelini?

Jessica, slowly getting up to her feet, turned to look out the windows as Leo reached for the narrowing gap.

 

Landing awkwardly on the contents of spilled purse, Leo stumbled, lost his footing and his chance at grabbing the subway car’s door. He kept his balance, but lost his chance of acquiring Ms. Cardelini and her unknown companion. Staring through the window, he saw Ms. Cardelini rise from a crouch position and look at her companion and then at himself. She was gasping for air, although he thought that he had caught a hint of a smile instead.

The subway began to move and it filled the station with the swine of the engine and the TAC—TAC of the subway on the tracks. Leo kept looking at the wagon until it entered the underground tunnel and disappeared out of view.

 

25

An undistinguishable chatter filled the room. Someone was speaking on one of the D.C.I security personnel earpiece and he listened intently while touching his right ear. Then, he looked at the Director’s direction and waited for her to finish speaking with the Chief of Operations.

She was explaining to him what Government blind spots meant here in America.

“Mrs. Drumond, permission to speak?”

“Permission granted.”

“I was receiving the latest briefing on the facts as they were presently known and we have a situation.” As he spoke, a small icon the shape of an envelope appeared at the bottom of the flat screen T.V. in the room. He walked towards it and touched the icon. The envelope was opened and a file that was attached filled the screen. A detailed map of the D.C. subway system appeared.

“Mrs. Drumond,” the agent continued while looking at the screen. “The situation we have is that Ms. Cardelini got away.” As instructed, he pressed his finger over a red line and a photograph popped up on the screen. He then, turned towards the Director and said. “Those colorful lines you saw on the previous screen were subway routes. The red one I selected was the one Ms. Cardelini used to escape.”

The Director raised her eyebrows in surprise and stared at the agent. “What happened to our asset? Wasn’t he given the ‘GO CODES’ at Georgetown University?”

“Yes, he was.”

Jesus Christ!

How did she manage to escape then?

“What code number is the subway cart Jessica is in? Where is it going to? What time is it suppose to arrive at its final destination?”

“I’m going to find that out for you in just a second.”

“I want that information on the screen right now!” she spoke with a tone suggesting urgency.

“Uhhh…”

He touched the screen over a directory and a small keyboard appeared. He then, double tapped the photograph, held his index finger over a section and the photograph started zooming in. He waited for of the subway cart to sharpen in order for him to read the code number on the top left corner.

He typed the code on the keyboard and the information about the subway cart appeared.

“The subway is destined to arrive at Fairfax County in approximately eleven minutes. There are forty-eight passengers inside.”

“Can you reach the subway Operator? Or get us a live feed of the inside of the cart?” the Director asked.

“Yes. I can do both.” He touched his index finger over an icon and six separate videos filled the screen.

There was nothing on his face except blue light reflecting off the screen. The first video was of the subway Operator. He was alone in the cockpit. The second video was of the first subway cart. He double tapped on the center of the video and the image maximized. He studied the people sitting on the seats. The seats were bolted horizontally against the sides and windows of the cart. He caught flashes of white light through the glass.

No sign of Ms. Cardelini.

The next subway cart was overcrowded. There were people standing on the center of the isle. He took longer to study the people on this video, because the passengers that were standing on the isle were blocking his view. He was about to move to cart number three when the Director said.

“Wait!”

He froze and turned towards her.

“Check the two o’clock position. There is a man standing on the isle.”

The agent returned his attention to the screen and searched for what the Director was describing.

“The man is not facing the camera. His hands are gripped to the rail bar overhead.”

“Yes, I see him.”

But how are we going to get a profile on that guy?

The agent didn’t see anyone sitting in front of the man, so he couldn’t possibly be blocking a passenger from being recognized by the camera.

“I think there is someone sitting in front of him. I saw something move right when you were about to proceed to the next cart.”

That’s impossible!

But I’m not about to argue with the boss.

“Ok.”

“But it seems like the man’s leather bag hanging by his waist with a strap crossing his back is blocking our view—”

“There! He is moving the bag. Did you see that? I just caught a partial view of someone with long hair sitting in front of him.”

“We need to contact the subway Operator. Tell him to send a security guard to check cart number two and get a description on the man with the leather bag. Wait, wait he is moving the bag again. He is reaching for something inside of the bag. Ok there, find a way to freeze that frame.”

“This image will appear frozen on the top left corner of the screen in three, two, one, now.”

They both stared at the image. The instant that the image was frozen it had caught the face of the person sitting in front of the man with the leather bag.

It was definitely a woman.

But it wasn’t Jessica.

Where the hell is she?

“Crap!” The director cursed.

“We are running out of time. Elapsed time of arrival is set for nine minutes. Once the subway stops we will loose her if we don’t assign an asset to that location.”

“Move to the next cart, fast!”

“Moving right now, and to hurry up the process I’m going to activate the facial recognition program.” He said as he touched the options button on the screen, selected archives and pulled up an official photograph of Jessica Cardelini. The photograph was taken from her Italian passport.

The agent selected the option written: Begin and watched the faces of the passenger on the screen be filled with red and green dots. Five seconds later an exclamation mark appeared on the center of the screen and the image automatically zoomed in on a female seated on the right lower side of the subway cart. The computer said it was a match.

“Bingo!”

The director studied the still figure seated on the leather seat of the subway cart and observed what she was doing. Jessica was seated while leaning forward with her knees close together. Her hands were clasped on something resembling a book. She was looking forward with her eyebrows raised, and her mouth wasn’t moving.

“I want you to study and give me information on every human surrounding Jessica. I want to know if she is on this alone or if there is someone helping her. You have nine minutes to complete this.”

But there are at least twelve people in that wagon!

How am I going to background check that many people in less than ten minutes?

“I’m sorry, but I doubt it nine minutes will be enough to complete what you are asking.”

“Well, then you better find yourself a time machine.”

 

26

Jessica looked up, and stared at Patrick seated across from her inside of the subway cart number three. She noticed that he’d fell silent for a while now. A strand of long hair fell to the side of her face, but she didn’t even bother to pull it back.

“I don’t understand why my uncle did this.” she said over the TAC—TAC of the subway on the tracks.

Patrick gripped the rail bar and stood up. He crossed the isle and sat next to her. He sat so close to Jessica that when she turned her head to speak to him again, he could smell her breath.

Peppermint.

Her right leg was pressed against his.

“Then, again I’m afraid that I might find something I don’t want to know.” She continued.

“I am very sorry.”

Everything happens for a reason.

She lowered her head and spoke quietly. “It’s very hard to accept what they did to my uncle.”

Patrick didn’t respond. He just wrapped his left arm around her shoulders and she slowly leaned her head towards his chest.

“What did he do to deserve to be assassinated?”

Patrick looked to his right, scanned the Cart to see if there was anyone watching them; then he turned back to Jessica and whispered in her ear. “I don’t know. But there is something about the position of his corpse that picket my curiosity.”

Jessica looked uncertain how to respond, she felt a pulse of excitement. “I don’t understand…”

“But I don’t believe now is the right time to go over this, Ms. Cardelini. I will show you my point of view of that photograph when we are safe. I think there is something missing.”

Missing?

“Like something altered in the photograph? Is the F.B.I trying to hide something…another version or point of view that they saw on that photograph?”

The point of view of me being framed is just one angle they are looking at? How many other points of views are there? Three…maybe four?

Jessica turned her head and looked at him. “Could you please tell me what else do you see in that photograph? I want to know now, because I don’t know what is going to happen in the next sixty seconds.”

He grabbed the journal from her hands and opened to the page where the crime scene photograph was. Jessica could feel rivulets of sweat dripping down her back. Terror coursed through her veins and she swallowed hard. She fought back the tears.

You asked for it.

Patrick flipped the photograph ninety degrees and stared at it for a while. Then, he reached inside of his pants pocket and pulled out a magnifying glass.

Jessica was taken aback.

Who would walk around carrying a magnifying glass in their pocket?

Jessica, he is a Cryptologist. Of course he is going to carry things like that in his pocket.

Well then, what else is he carrying in his pocket?

Patrick looked at her and raised the magnifying glass. “Don’t ask.”

Looking through the magnifying glass, his left eye enlarged and he blinked a few times. He glanced up with a surprise look of recognition.

“What do you see?”

“I was looking at the photograph near his body.”

Right, that’s me on that photo.

“Ahom.”

“Your uncle died while pointing towards your photograph…” he paused as if to let those words to sink in. “The only clue I can see on that photograph, is the shirt you were wearing that day.”

Jessica sat silent for a few seconds. “I don’t remember what shirt I was wearing that day, may I see what you’re looking at it again?”

Patrick handed her the magnifying glass and she looked through it. Immediately upon seeing her uncle lying dead on the floor of the Federal Reserve Bank, a strange constricting feeling filled her gut. She pursed her lips for a second.

Oh, how I believe in the big circle…

What comes around goes around…

So whoever did this—

“Do you remember now?” Patrick interrupted her thoughts.

She blinked at the sound of his voice. Jessica felt herself suddenly reeling back to the day she was inside of that park. There were people walking behind her. She glanced at the pink flowered trees in the background, and then returned her attention to her uncle. She smiled at the camera.

“I was wearing a black t-shirt that had an ambigram design in the front.” She finally replied.

“That is what it seems to me.” Patrick nodded. “What I think is that we might be looking at that ambigram design the wrong way, maybe if we can get hold of that shirt, and turn it in a certain angle, we might get something…maybe a clue to a place.”

“But that don’t make any sense.” Jessica looked skeptical.

“What do you mean?”

“I donated that shirt a few years ago. So now it wouldn’t be plausible for my uncle to die, and ‘point at that shirt’, knowing that I don’t have it anymore.”

“Hum…” Patrick’s hopes withered. “I thought I was getting somewhere.”

“Maybe there was another object before that photograph. Something that he lunged to grab it before the Intruder did. But then, he passed away in…” While Jessica spoke, Patrick kept thinking about her scenario.

Could that be it?

Impossible!

Look at the angle that he died. Look at the position of his body.

The body was lying on its left side facing the floor. Mr. Cardelini died with his left foot positioned on top of the letter ‘L’ of Federal and his right foot positioned to the first letter of Reserve. His right index finger barely touched the letter ‘K’ of Bank. But cross the word ‘Bank’ and you end up at Jessica’s photograph.

What am I missing?

“May I see that again please?” he asked her.

Jessica smiled.

You don’t give up easy do you?

Patrick found himself surprised to see Jessica smiling under these circumstances. “You’re smiling? What happened?”

“There is an expression in Italian that says: ‘sometimes you have to smile to keep from crying’.”

“I’ve heard that expression in Portuguese too.”

He raised his eyebrows and returned his attention to the photograph.

Watch the details. Look at the surroundings of the photograph. There is something there that both of you missed.

Overhead, the nasal voice made an announcement. She said that they were approaching the Subway Station at Fairfax County. Patrick suddenly felt his stomach tightening. He took his eyes away from the photograph and looked at the metal floor. He didn’t even think how they were going to escape.

What if we get surrounded with police officers?

Should I use hand to hand combat?

But then I am going to reveal to Jessica my identity.

And she can’t find out my true identity.

Patrick glanced at the photograph through the magnifying glass one last time. He still couldn’t spot anything new. He felt the subway cart slowing down.

“Aha!”

Jessica craned her neck towards him. So did the other passengers. She pinched his right leg and he looked at her. “What was that for?”

Then he noticed that the other passengers had their attention turned towards them.

“Sorry.” He said while waving his left hand.

Jessica looked down at the photograph. “What is it?”

“You were wearing a diamond necklace.”

She furrowed her eyebrows in concentration.

What does my necklace have to do with anything?

“You were wearing a necklace, carrying a medallion of the Lincoln Memorial.” He paused. “I am certain now that that is what he was pointing to; and not to your shirt.”

Jessica felt a chill settling in her stomach.

“But now, answer me this. Do you still have that necklace?”

She looked at him for a long moment and then another smile broke across her face.

“Yes.” She nodded.

 

27

The agent started snapping his fingers to get Patricia’s attention and pointed towards the flat screen television mounted on the wall.

“Target is on the move.” The agent warned her.

Patricia turned towards the agent and then looked at the television. She noticed that Jessica was now standing and was gripping the railing overhead. The other passengers were also getting up, as the subway cart was coming to a stop.

Jessica stared at her own reflection in the glass as she waited for the door to open. She could feel rivulets of sweat dripping down her stomach. Patrick stopped in front of her and she fixed her gaze on his broad back.

Jessica, stop and think for a moment why you are here?

She felt a knot tighten in her stomach. Francisco tragic assassination was leaving her unnerving and unbalanced; devastated. She loved him deeply, and his loss was a constant keening pain.

Patrick glanced over his right shoulder and saw Jessica pulling her hair back off her face and twisting it into a knot behind her head.

Think of something that could make her feel better.

“I always wanted to tell you. From the moment I saw you I noticed that you have that telegenic look.” He said.

She pursed her lips for a second. “Aw, thank you.”

I also wanted to tell you how much you have tempted countless man into sin. His thoughts were disrupted by the hissing sound of the doors being opened.

“Let’s walk to the exit.”

She felt a fluttering feeling in her stomach that often came when she was on the edge of a breakthrough to something hidden.

Are we going to the Lincoln Memorial?

What is the connection between the Lincoln Memorial and my uncle’s assassination?

 

Patricia watched Jessica stepping off the subway cart and crossing the station. The agent studied her for a second; nothing on her face except light reflecting off the screen. Patricia exhaled, formulating a plan.

“Send a message to Fairfax Subway Station Announcer with information on Ms. Cardelini. The announcer can try to reach Ms. Cardelini over the P.A.”

“I am sending Ms. Cardelini’s profile to P.A. Announcer right now.”

Patricia rubbed her fingers on her forehead. She had a slight headache.

I’ve slept poorly ever since I heard about you Ms. Cardelini.

She tried to follow Jessica’s movement among the crowd as she watched her passing next to the restrooms.

But I’ve got a feeling this is about to end very shortly.

 

Patrick tried not to pay attention to Jessica’s hips moving beneath her jeans. He used both hands to pull his dark blue cap down tight over his hair before scanning the area.

There are two Security Guards coming your way.

Overhead the nasal voice made another announcement. Taken aback, Jessica stood for a moment, frozen to the spot.

Did they just announce my name over the P.A.?

She started turning her head towards Patrick, when she suddenly felt him gripping her left arm and forcing her to walk due east.

“Don’t panic.” He calmed her. “But nearly fifteen feet away from us there are two Security Guards standing by the information desk, and at the five o’clock position there are two Security Guards coming our way.” Patrick said from memory of his observations of the area they were in.

She nodded and continued walking while feeling the tightening in her stomach getting more intense.

I think I might pass out…

 

Someone just made contact with Ms. Cardelini.” Patricia said while pointing towards the screen. “I want to know who that person is walking on her left side. That person just touched her.”

The agent furrowed his brows at the question. “Are you referring to the person wearing a cap over his head?”

“Yes. The person wearing a light colored kacky pants and a white button down shirt.” She pointed towards her left breast “I see that there is a drawing resembling a badge or a shield on the left breast of the shirt that person is wearing. Can you identify what shield that is?”

“One moment please.” The agent replied.

He zoomed in on the shield that was etched to the man’s shirt and ran the mouse of it. Then, once the shield was highlighted, he hit the key titled: Options and then Search.

The information appeared on the screen of his laptop three seconds later.

“Ms. Drumond, what you saw etched on the man’s shirt was a drawing of the Georgetown University shield.”

Ms. Cardelini attended Georgetown University…

“Can you try and pull a facial recognition on that person walking by her left side?”

“I am on it.”

“Also, inform the Fairfax Subway Station Chief of Security about Ms. Cardelini’s whereabouts. We need her captured.”

Cold sweat trickled down the sides of his body. Ms. Drumond with all due respect, but you’re a needy woman!

“What are the locations of our assets?” She asked.

The agent typed a few commands on the keyboard and a detailed map of Washington D.C. appeared on the screen. There were two green dots blinking on the map.

“One asset is eight miles away from target’s location and the other is arriving at Arlington National Cemetery.”

She stood silent for a few seconds.

“Ok. Thank you. I want you to send a message to them. Have one of them go to the Fairfax Subway Station just in case if Ms. Cardelini is caught. We can’t allow her to talk, she needs to be terminated.”

“Ten four.”

“And I want to read the message confirming the hit. Then, after I read the message I want you to send a copy to the Prime Minister’s e-mail.”

I need to create a task planner to work with this woman. The agent thought.

 

One of the Security Guard had just taken a sip of sweet tea when his radio went off. He snatched the radio off his belt clip and pushed the ‘press to talk button’. He responded the Chief of Security’s call and waited for a reply. He glanced at his partner standing next to him, and observed that he was tilting his head to listen to the Chief of Security’s request. Once, the response came, they both began searching for the description of the suspect.

…A female with long and straight dark hair. She was of medium height and possessed a body with supernatural beauty. She was wearing faded jeans and a tight white shirt. Her last known location was near the exit. Eighteen seconds ago.

The Security Guard threw the plastic cup he had been sipping the sweet tea in one of the nearby trash bin, and started walking towards the exit.

 

They stepped outside of the Fairfax Subway Station and stood side by side on the sidewalk. The trees were shady green bowers lining the side of the road. The leaves moved in the breeze. There were half-dozen taxis idling near the main entrance. Jessica raised her right hand over her eyes to adjust to the brightness just as a cloud passed over and obscured the sun.

Patrick checked his wrist watch and saw it was: 11:47 A.M.

Jessica has half an hour to be at Arlington National Cemetery. Patrick drifted off into a reverie as he thought about the Intruder and Richard. Then, he shook his head.

Thirteen minutes remaining.

We still have time.

“Lets get in a taxi.” Patrick said as he walked towards an idling taxi, opened the rear door and motioned for Jessica to get in.

The taxi driver craned his neck to look out the right rear passenger window towards the passenger that was getting in, and lowered the newspaper he was reading.

 

Over there!” The Security Guard yelled to his partner while pointing towards the woman that was getting in the back of an idling taxi.

There was a guy standing by the right rear door. He was holding the door open for her. One of the Security Guards raised his radio to his mouth and alerted the Perimeter Unit.

The driver of the Perimeter Unit acknowledged the call and said he was on the way.

 

Sirens howled somewhere in the distance, and he felt a thickening shroud of fatigue settling over him. Patrick motioned Jessica ahead of him through the open right rear door. Jessica got in and he slid beside her. An alluring whiff of Jessica’s perfume filled his nostrils.

Jessica tossed her hair over her shoulder as Patrick slammed the rear door shut.

“Where to?” The taxi driver asked.

 

They heard skidding tires coming from the intersection just as the taxi driver asked where they wanted to go to. Jessica looked past the taxi driver and watched through the windshield a white GMC appearing into view. The headlights were flashing. The driver of the GMC accelerated and started heading the wrong way of traffic; coming their way. Jessica stifled a gasp. She glanced at Patrick and observed the same warning look in his eyes.

We have been caught.

 

The GMC zipped past them as Patrick leaned over Jessica’s lap and followed the vehicle through the rear left passenger window. He noticed that the passenger was gripping the dash. Jessica turned her head to look out the rear window towards the white GMC. The driver jammed the wheel hard left and she watched two Security Guards with nightsticks in their hands jumping out.

Jessica took a deep breath and collapsed in the seat next to Patrick.

 

Three Security Guards started jogging towards the taxi where they had seen the woman getting inside. Angry drivers blew their horns at the white GMC blocking the traffic. The Security Guards were closing in. The first Security Guard to arrive at the taxi stopped by the driver window and knocked on the glass. The other two Guards stopped by the rear doors and reached for the handles.

 

I’ve just received an update involving Ms. Cardelini.” The agent informed Patricia.

“What have you got?”

“The results of the facial recognition came, and the person who made contact with Ms Cardelini was a guy named Patrick Robinson.”

Robinson?

“Patrick Robinson?” Patricia asked. Her eyebrows showed that she was impressed. There had been a slight tremor in the pupils when she mentioned his name.

“Yes. He is one of Winterfield’s cryptologists.”

 

The woman sitting on the rear passenger seat looked gorgeous. Her hair was wavy and glossy. Probably from all the running… The Security Guard surmised. She wore slim jeans and a white shirt. He glanced at the words written across her breast and his eyes grew big immediately.

Yes! I am wanted!’

Is this some sort of a joke?

The Security Guard looked puzzled at the passenger and realized they had reached the wrong taxi. He straightened, sighed and looked back at his GMC.

 

Patricia kept pacing inside of the room. She had crossed her arms in front of her chest.

This doesn’t make any sense?

Why is a trained assassin helping one of Winterfield’s targets?

“Do you have any idea where did Ms. Cardelini run to?”

“No. I don’t” the agent shook his head.

Patricia stopped pacing, lowered her head and took a deep breath.

Here is a clue about Operation White Diamond…

It will give you insomnia once you discover what it’s about.

 

28

The F.B.I Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck entered the J. Edgar Hoover Headquarters, went through the biometric identification process and stepped into an elevator that took him to the 8th floor. Once the elevator stopped, he got off and walked down the hall. He observed that several cubicles were empty and he deduced that almost everyone had gone to lunch.

At the end of the hall, he turned right and looked ahead. The door to his Boss’ office was closed with curtains drawn. As he approached the door, he read the words that were painted on the glass: Director of Intelligence Operations.

He reached for the door knob with his left hand, and knocked on the glass with his right.

“It’s open, Come in.” His Director said, with an authoritative voice.

Leo opened the door and raised his eyebrows upon noticing that the director was seated behind his desk while speaking on the phone. The director raised his index finger in a ‘Hold one second’ gesture and continued to speak with the person over the line.

“…Watch who you are talking to here…Yes. Right. Correct. Ok then.”

Leo smiled and studied his Boss’ desk while he remained standing by the door. He saw several pictures of the director’s family. His gaze shifted to an American flag hanging from a plastic pole that stood next to a wooden marker. The director’s name was written in gold letters on the marker: CHARLIE FOUST.

Charlie Foust, Former Deputy Secretary of State, Former Secretary of the Treasury, was recently appointed Director of the Intelligence Operations. Charlie was well fit for his age. He was Caucasian, with silvery and lustrous hair. Leo raised his gaze and looked past his boss’ rimless glasses and stared at the mesmerizing blue color of his eyes. They were twinkling with an almost conspiratorial gleam.

What kind of conversation is he having over the phone? Leo wondered.

He looked to his right and saw a photograph of his boss as an Army Officer. He remembered that Foust was the Officer who before September of 2001, stood face to face with Osama Bin Laden with his weapon aimed right at his forehead, ready to execute. But, Foust didn’t receive the ‘Go Codes’ from his supervisors. The excuse was that Bin Laden wasn’t the priority.

To this day he is still trying to figure it out what was the priority then?

Charlie hung up the phone, took a deep breath and motioned for Leo to have a seat. Then he leaned back with his hands laced behind his neck, looked up at the ceiling and exhaled loudly.

“Sir, is everything all right?” Leo asked while taking a seat.

“Yes, it’s just that I’m trying to solve one of my latest personal problems.”

Wait until you hear mine. “Is there anything the Bureau can do to help?” Leo asked.

“Oh yes. There is.”

My son stopped his vehicle on the side of the road, when someone lost control of their car and rear ended his. Police report came and it was stating that he is at fault for having parked his vehicle on the roadway.

Believe me, we’ll get that fixed. Quick!

We are the F.B.I., ‘can’t’ is not part of our vocabulary.

“That’s good to know. We are glad we can help.” Leo replied.

“How is the Federal Reserve’s case? Do you have a Lead yet?”

Leo stood silent a second, thinking of the best way to deliver the news.

And speaking of cars and crash…someone crashed my party.

He started spinning the chair, while pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and fore finger. Then he opened his hand and said.

“I’m suspicious of Jessica Cardelini.”

“Jessica Cardelini…?” Charlie furrowed his brows upon hearing the name. He consulted his detective blotter and found the notes he had on Ms. Cardelini. “She is the C.E.O’s niece? Is that correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“She is categorized as the Next of Kin.” He looked puzzled at Leo. “Not a suspect.”

“Yes, Sir. For the moment.”

“Why are you suspicious of Ms. Cardelini?”

“Sir, I believe it would be worth to do a background check on her. There are things I would like to know about her past.”

Specially of that guy Maxwell…

Maxwell… What was his first name again?

“What is troubling you?”

“I would like to know why her photograph is part of the Crime Scene. How does it fit in? Or is her photograph just a miss lead?”

“The one question in my mind, ever since I heard about this, was whether if it’s because of the National Crisis.” The director added thoughtfully.

“That seems to be the problem doesn’t it? If you don’t have any idea who the villains are, then it’s rather difficult to access their plans or their capabilities.”

“I believe someone must know something that could explain why Jessica got involved in that assassination.”

You’re right about that sir. And I know who you are talking about.

Last name: Maxwell.

First name: Unknown.

“How many people do you think is involved in this? How far can this go?” he paused, and thought of a better way to explain what he was trying to say. “What or who is between Jessica and Francisco. Example, what if we write Ms. Cardelini’s name on one side of a sheet of paper, and then Mr. Cardelini on the other end; what is in the between?”

Leo shrugged. “I have no idea.”

“Whom have you interrogated so far?”

Leo pulled out his own detective blotter and studied his notes. “I started this case by interrogating Mr. Walker, one of the Security Guards of the Federal Reserve Bank. He is the Guard who shot the Intruder. So far the Crime Scene Investigators haven’t found a body in the Tidal Basin or in the Potomac River. During the interrogation, Mr. Walker mentioned that the chances of this being the results of the National Crisis it’s slim. Mr. Cardelini had a good wealth. But there is more than what meets the eyes.”

“He said just like that?”

“Sir, this is not a direct quote. It’s what I understood of what he was saying.”

“I spoke to Mr. Miller next. He is the Bank Manager and has known Mr. Cardelini for years. I believe he answered my questions truthfully. Although once I mentioned where I had found Ms. Cardelini’s photograph, I noticed that he took a few extra seconds to come up with a comment. I am still wondering if he is hiding something or he was just in shock.”

“Check his life history; see what you can find on him. Then give him a polygraph on everything he knows about Ms. Cardelini.”

“Yes, Sir.” Leo replied, circled Michal Miller’s name and wrote: BH. For: Background History. Then, he looked up and continued. “I then went to Jessica and…” he paused. “…this is where everything goes down hill.”

“Explain.” The Director said with a puzzled look on his face.

How can I explain this?

“Ok. Umm, I introduced myself to Ms. Cardelini and her roommate.”

Was he her roommate?

“And I asked if I could come in because I had to talk to her about her Uncle. Once she found out that he had been assassinated, she was shocked. I felt her pain somehow. I then started to doubt myself if she was even involved in this. But I had to be certain and clarify the reason why would her photograph appear in a crime scene.”

“I understand.”

You say that now, but wait until you hear this!

“Ms. Cardelini asked me if I considered her a suspect, and I told her that I wasn’t in position to divulge any of that information with her. I also told her that it wasn’t up to me alone to consider her a suspect. If at any time the Director felt we needed to take her in for a polygraph, we would come for her.” he paused and shrugged. “I guess she felt that I didn’t believe her story, she even pointed towards her roommate saying that she had an alibi. I was about to say that I understood, I would have apologized and added that it was just part of the investigation. But then, I glanced at the direction in which she was pointing to and I saw Mr. Maxwell gestured with his finger across his lips for Jessica to say nothing else.”

“Umm…What did he meant by that?”

“I think they were onto something. I had to come up with a way to take Mr. Maxwell out of the picture, because I felt like he was interfering with the interrogation. I suggested bringing her here for a statement. But once Mr. Maxwell interrupted my interrogation one last time… ” Leo added. “I asked if I could do a search of his belongings, I was hoping he had something; just to give me reasons to arrest him or leave him under the watch of my partner outside of the dormitory until I was done with Ms. Cardelini.”

“Ok.”

“But then I got knocked out unconscious. I’m still not aware of how long I’ve stayed out. But once I woke up. Ms. Cardelini and Mr. Maxwell were both gone.”

“Are you ok? Do you need time off? Need to see a doctor? Have you filed a report?”

“At first I had a slight headache. But I am all right. Thank you. I want to solve this case. And no, I haven’t filed a report.”

“Crap.” The director furrowed his brows with concentration. “But you didn’t request backup? Nothing?”

“Yes. Sir, but they were all clear. No one had a visual on Ms. Cardelini. I was on my way to meet with my partner, Agent Daniels when I relocated Jessica Cardelini. And from there on, it comes to this.”

Leo produced a CD case from inside of his suit coat pocket and handed to his boss seated across the table.

“What is this?”

“Please, take a look.”

Charlie grabbed the CD case, opened it, and inserted in the CD-ROM slot of his laptop. While the information on the CD was being loaded onto his laptop, he got up and walked to the light switch on the wall. Upon noticing that Leo was also getting up; Charlie waved his left hand to order him to stay seated.

“I am just going to cut off the lights.”

“Ok sir and thank you sir.”

Charlie turned a dial on the wall, and the light softened. The windows polarized. As he was returning to his desk, he stopped by the window and looked outside. He watched the traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then decided to close the curtain. Charlie turned around and glanced at the screen of his laptop.

“The information has been successfully loaded.”

“Check it out, and don’t be embarrassed.” Leo said.

Charlie was taken aback. He clicked on the Play video Icon and a Media Player popped up. A projector on the ceiling shot out the video from his laptop screen. Leo and Charlie turned their heads towards the wall where the video appeared. They were looking at one of the surveillance cameras from Union Station Subway.

There were people seated on a bench near potted trees. College students were zoning out to their portable Mp3 players. Leo saw a female dashing through the crowd at the top of the screen. She was moving from the left to the right of the screen.

“There!” Leo pointed.

“Let’s change the camera angle”

They were now looking at the female running from the top of the screen heading to the bottom.

Charlie recognized that it was Jessica Cardelini. He looked past her and saw Leo pushing the people aside as he ran.

“That woman out ran you?” he paused. “You’re one of the bureau’s best. You are in perfect form, how did you let that happen?”

“I warned you not to be embarrassed.”

Charlie continued to watch the video. He saw Leo pulling out his F.B.I. Credentials and flashing it to the crowd. In that instant, everyone on the screen moved out of the way, creating a human hall for Leo to run across.

There was someone else running after Jessica.

“Who is that?” Charlie said while pointing towards the screen. He froze the video just in time to catch the man’s face at the bottom of the screen.

“Sir, I’ve been asking myself that same question. He helped Jessica escape.”

“Is that her roommate? The ‘Mr. Maxwell’ you mentioned?”

“No, sir.”

“Umm…” Charlie looked skeptical. “Well, then what happened to the ‘Mr. Maxwell’ you mentioned? And how can we connect all this? You said that maybe Ms. Cardelini and Mr. Maxwell left the dormitory together? Yet over here, we’re finding Ms. Cardelini with an unknown companion. How can that be explained?”

“Sir, Agent Daniels is getting a warrant to search Ms. Cardelini’s dormitory. Hopefully we’ll get an idea of whom are we dealing with here.” He thought of Jessica’s unknown companion putting his hand out the window and letting them in the car know what he thought of them. “I imagine—whoever this unknown companion may be—he has been trained restlessly to master the maneuvers of vehicles in most hazardous conditions imaginable.”

“Why do you say that?”

“We chased him in the vehicle he was driving from Georgetown to Union Station.”

“Should we do a background check on him too?”

“Well since he was the last one seen with Ms. Cardelini, I assume he is priority right now. Find him, and we find Ms. Cardelini.”

“Or that guy you mentioned Mr. Maxwell.”

“Correct. And there is something else, while I was talking to the Chief of Security at Union Station; we received information on Ms. Cardelini’s whereabouts. They thought to have seen someone with Ms. Cardelini’s description at Fairfax Subway Station. But Security was wrong and they stopped the wrong person.”

“So, now you don’t have an idea where she is?”

“No sir.”

Charlie picked up the phone, dialed an extension and asked for one of the Agents from the Lab department to come up to his office. Then he set the phone back down and glanced at Leo.

“I checked Mr. Cardelini background history.”

Leo felt his stomach tightening. Maybe he found something that could help them on this case. He watched Charlie typing a few commands on his laptop and Mr. Cardelini’s file appeared over the Subway surveillance video.

So Mr. Cardelini does have a background history!

Someone started knocking on the door and Charlie said to come in. He minimized Mr. Cardelini’s background history and the screen filled with the image of the Subway again. A tall Agent opened the door and just as he stuck his head inside of his office, Charlie asked him in a tone suggesting urgency.

“Do you see those two people on the bottom of the screen? The female wearing a white shirt, and the male frozen behind her wearing a hat and a button down shirt?” Charlie continued without giving him enough time to answer. “I want their entire life history on top of this desk before the day ends.”

The agent kept nodding while looking at the video.

“GET TO IT!”

The Director’s scream caused the agent to flinch and jump. He took a few steps back and said.

“Yes sir, I’m going to begin right now.”

He left the room and closed the door. Two seconds later, the agent opened the door again, and approached Charlie’s desk to get the DVD.

“Umm…I need that DVD.”

 

29

The taxi driver stopped the cab in front of the graveyard of the president John F. Kennedy and placed the transmission in park. He glanced at Patrick through the rearview mirror.

“Here we are sir.”

Jessica looked out of the window from behind the driver seat. The green rolling hills glowed in the sunlight with an unearthly beauty.

“Why are we here?” She asked while turning her head towards Patrick.

Patrick glanced at her, then back at the taxi driver.

“Please, keep the ferry running, I am going to be right back.” He started reaching for the door handle, but he then stopped and looked at Jessica. “I’ll explain this to you later. But for the mean time, you’ll stay here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will.”

I swear if I hear you say ‘I will explain this to you later’ one more time, I will check myself in a mental institution!

Patrick opened the door, and got out of the taxi. The smell of fresh cut grass filled the air. He heard the sound of a lawn mower somewhere nearby. However, a second later he realized that he was wrong; as a man appeared on top of a moped at Sheridan Drive, he recognized that the sound of a lawn mower that he had been hearing was actually the engine of a moped. Patrick stared at the rider as he crossed Memorial Drive. He rode past Patrick and then the taxi and continued to move towards the other end of the cemetery.

Patrick turned and walked up the paved patio towards the curator’s sanctuary. The oak trees offered pockets of shade. Clean white headstones rose from the earth. Patrick shot a vigilantly and attentive glance over his left shoulder towards the cab. He saw Jessica following him through the window behind the driver seat.

Unfortunately, you will never completely understand why this is happening…

But remember what I told you…Everything happens in its own time, which happens to be just when you’re most ready for it!

The patio led him past a statue that symbolized six soldiers that were raising an American flag on top of Hiroshima Mountain. He arrived at the front steps to the curator’s sanctuary and looked at the wooden doors. The right door was open a crack, and Patrick felt a chill running through his body.

Will I find the intruder inside?

Or will it be just the body of Richard Maxwell?

He took a deep breath and crept cautiously to the door. There was a squeaking sound as he pushed open the heavy wooden door.

Should I call for someone?

Patrick stood by the doorway while studying his surroundings. The inside of the Curator’s sanctuary was dark and quiet. The floor was furnished with dark red carpeting. There was mahogany table in the center of the sanctuary reflecting a faint yellowish glow from the candles across the asylum. Orchid and lilies flowed out of brown ceramic pots near the niches in the wall on both sides of the sanctuary.

If I were to find the body of Richard Maxwell, then it should be inside one of these niches.

Patrick saw a wooden door at the other end of the sanctuary.

Or maybe the intruder placed him in there.

The gap under the door permitted a crack of light. He took a step forward and watched a shadow crossing from left to right.

 

Allan pressed his body against the wall while holding the 9mm semi-automatic with one hand. Then, He raised his 9mm semi-automatic and outstretched his arm. Tilting his head, he peered down the barrel of his gun and prepared to deliver death. He was about to turn around and step from the shadows…

 

Patrick kept advancing through the sanctuary to the wooden door where he had seen the shadow. Out of the corner of his eyes, he caught moment to his right just as he was passing a niche. Allan suddenly appeared in front of him. Blocking his aim as a reflex action, Patrick delivered a lighting fast blow to his face with his right hand. The blow staggered Allan and he started losing his balance. He squeezed the trigger and the bullet sent splinter of wood flying into the air. Patrick gripped his armed hand and applied a technique that made him drop his weapon to the floor. The 9mm semi-automatic collided noisily on the ground and Patrick kicked it further down the sanctuary; out of Allan’s reach. Next, he swept his feet from under him, and sent him crashing to the carpet. Trained to survive any kind of physical pain, Allan recovered immediately. He started rising while lunging towards the 9mm semi-automatic he had seen on the ground. Patrick turned around and started running.

That didn’t go according to plan!

 

Patrick burst through the door and sprinted across the grassy—garden island between the sidewalks in front of the sanctuary.

“Put the car into drive!” he yelled. “And unlock my passenger side door!”

 

A popular song started playing on the radio and Jessica glanced towards the dashboard to see what station the radio was tuned to. There was a flash of recognition in her eyes; the station was one of her favorites. She shifted her gaze towards the taxi driver and noticed that he was studying her through the rearview mirror.

She felt suddenly taken aback.

If the F.B.I. was really searching for me, they could send a warning on the radio about two fugitives…

The taxi driver caught movement to the left of the cab and turned his head to see what it was. He squinted his eyes in the afternoon sun, and brought the sun visor down. Jessica followed his gaze and watched Patrick approaching the cab while yelling.

“Let’s go! Hurry!!”

Patrick opened the left rear passenger door and asked Jessica to move over.

“Sir, is there a problem?” the taxi driver asked.

“We must leave.” Patrick said as he got in and slammed the door shut. “We must leave immediately!”

“What happened Patrick? ‘What didn’t go according to plan?’”

“Sir, where—” There was a loud explosion as the driver window shattered and the glass blasted. The driver’s thoughts were disrupted as a bullet perforated through his head. The impact threw his body against the passenger seat. Brain matter, bone, and blood splattered on the dashboard.

Cold sweat trickled down the sides of Jessica’s body. “Holly—”

She raised her hands to her mouth as she felt a nauseous lurch in the pit of her stomach.

What kind of people is after me now?

Patrick gripped the back of her neck and yelled.

“Take long deep breaths and lean over to the floor board.”

She nodded; still feeling puzzled about the situation that was taking place.

Patrick bend over the taxi driver, reached for the door handle, and threw open the door. He pushed the driver out of the taxi and sat on the driver seat. Keeping the door opened, he placed the gear in reverse and leaned his body towards the passenger seat. He readjusted the rearview mirror and maneuvered the vehicle while accelerating backwards; towards Sheridan Drive. He accelerated the taxi up and over a curb onto a gravel divider. The rugged whir of the tires intoned a hypnotic rhythm.

Allan aimed his 9mm semi-automatic at the moving vehicle and started shooting. The spent brass kicked out of the ejection port, and the bullets bored through the windshield in loud thuds.

Patrick jammed the wheel hard left; carved a sharp turn and faced Memorial Drive. Changing gears, he squealed the tires, and sped towards Arlington Memorial Bridge.

 

The man on top of the moped appeared into view behind Allan and slowly came to a stop as he tried to understand what was going on. There was a body facing down on the asphalt twenty feet away. The intruder with white beads at the end of his shoulder length braids was gripping a gun with his right hand.

This doesn’t concern you, just turn around and keep going.

He pursed his lips for a second and tilted the steering bar to the left. Allan turned slightly to his left, looked over his shoulders, and observed a man on top of a moped speeding away.

STOP!” Allan yelled.

He watched the brake lights coming on as the man glanced over his shoulders but didn’t stop. Allan nearly broke into a jog to keep up with him.

THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING!” Allan yelled as he raised his 9mm semi-automatic and tilted his head to aim at the man on top of the moped.

The man stopped the moped immediately and raised his hands in an ‘I surrender’ gesture.

“Get out.” Allan said as he approached the moped on Sheridan Drive.

The man started crying while hitting the kick stand down and jumped from the moped.

“Please don’t kill me…” The man distanced himself from Allan. He then, turned around and ran towards the sanctuary.

You’re not the reason why I’m here. Allan thought as he watched the taxi on Memorial Drive.

 

Patrick straightened and saw the reflection of Jessica through the rearview mirror. She was sitting quietly in the back seat. He watched her for a long moment and felt an unexpected upwelling feeling of contentment. She leaned forward and put her hands on his right shoulder; giving him a quick rub.

“Are you ok?”

Patrick nodded. He felt the muscles in his neck and shoulders begin to relax; the tightness in his chest starting to ease.

“What happened back there?”

He hiked his shoulders, and stared at her a long moment, wondering how he should proceed.

What are you hiding from me Patrick? Jessica wondered.

They were driving on a two—lane street. The trees lined the side of the road.

“What happened to Richard? Is he—”

“Crap!”

“I’m sorry.” Jessica glanced at him through the rearview mirror.

“Jessica, this is not your fault.”

She followed the direction that he was looking at, and craned her neck to look out the rear window towards the Arlington National Cemetery. They watched the intruder gunning the moped across the grass. The moped shot off the five foot high stoned wall, cleared the curb and landed several feet into the street.

His sudden appearance elicited many curses from Patrick.

“Oh God…” Jessica said as she turned around and showed Patrick a face suggesting that she was terrified.

She shot a glance through the rear window again and saw the intruder merging the lane that they were in.

When will that piece of junk run out of gas?

I mean, come on… there is no way he is going to catch up to us on top of that thing!

She looked out the rear right window and her hopes of escaping the intruder quickly withered. There was a road sign posted on the side of the road that read: Caution. Construction workers ahead. Jessica stared through the cracked windshield and saw that the cars and trucks were slowing down. The traffic was becoming increasingly congested as they were approaching the Arlington Cemetery Station. Somewhere up ahead was an obstruction.

“You’ve got to be kidding me?” she asked as she felt the taxi also beginning to slow.

 

A dark blue BMW X5 abruptly merged into his lane and he pulled the brakes as hard as he could. Checking his right side mirror, he waited for a Pickup truck to drive by before changing lanes. He studied the traffic ahead and caught a glimpse of the taxi he’d been chancing, slowing down behind of a minivan.

 

Patrick brought the taxi to a complete stop as they were about to drive over Jefferson Davis Highway. The vehicles heading east on Memorial Drive were moving bumpers to bumpers. Jessica was filled with tension and anxiety. She looked back to see how far was the intruder and calculated just how long it would take for him to arrive.

Could he be the murder of my Uncle?

She looked down at her Uncle’s Journal on the palms of her hands.

Was my uncle murdered because of this Journal?

I can only assume that this intruder must feel threatened somehow by my existence…

 

Allan made a sharp left turn inches from hitting the rear bumper of the Pickup truck, and nearly broke someone’s right side mirror. He began speeding between the rows of idling vehicles. The passenger sitting on the front seat of a vehicle shot a puzzled glance at him.

And so did the chow dog on the passenger’s lap.

Jessica looked at Patrick and noticed that his white button down shirt was soaked with sweat against his body. His biceps bulged with every movement of his arm. His shoulders looked like boulders at the end of the arms. The muscles of his chest stood out and were very well defined; sloping down to an unbelievable chiseled six—pack.

Was he really as old as he stated? Jessica wondered while looking at his face. Your physique defied description Mr. Robinson.

“Patrick, I have been thinking…”

“Again?” He sighed, and looked at her reflection on the rearview mirror.

Her green eyes reflected lustrously on the mirror.

“Could this be the man who killed my uncle?” she raised the Journal for him to see. “And would it be possible that he killed him because of this Journal? And now he is after us because I’m the one possessing it?”

“But how would he know that you have the Journal?”

“I don’t know. Maybe before going to the Federal Reserve Bank, he decided to go through my Uncle’s house and search the place. Maybe my uncle kept the FedEx package receipt on top of the table and that’s how they found out about me.”

“I’m still trying to figure it out why would they come after a blank Journal.”

Jessica opened the Journal and replied. “Maybe they don’t know that.”

“So you’re saying that they are after this Journal because they think whatever Mr. Cardelini did, he decided to write it down for you to expose?”

“Maybe, I don’t know.”

Jessica drifted off into a reverie. She grabbed the photograph of her Uncle dead on the floor of the Federal Reserve’s floor and held her breath. She pulled her hair back off her face.

My Uncle died on the center of the Federal Reserve’s Seal…

She felt a knot tightening in her stomach.

He was pointing his right index finger towards my picture…Could that really represent that he was trying to point at my Lincoln Memorial necklace instead?

Patrick glanced at Jessica over his right shoulder. “It’s not good to keep looking at that you know…”

Jessica looked up at him while placing the photograph between the pages and attempted a smile.

“You’re right. Sorry.”

She started flipping the pages until she found the one that was marked with water.

 

KN: 76925256635464

“Patrick, you never told me what these numbers and symbol represents?”

Patrick glanced at the page she was holding up for him to read and returned his attention to the road ahead. They were approaching Arlington Cemetery Station. The building was to their right. He turned his head to the left side mirror and caught the Intruder approaching them by riding between the idling vehicles.

“Jessica I promise you that when we have time, I will go over everything.”

“When you say ‘time’ do you mean prison time? Since we ran from the F.B.I and that is a felony, or you mean ‘time’ as—”

“Umm…the ‘time’ I’m referring to here is that if we don’t act fast, we are about to go to hell for eternity.”

Jessica collapsed in the seat, and remained out of sight. She studied the page again, just when she was about to close the Journal, she saw a small arrow at the bottom right corner.

Wait a second…

The arrow was pointing to the right.

Could this be a clue?

She flipped the page and noticed that it was the end of the Journal.

If that was meant to be a clue then it’s gone, because the page was torn away.

Jessica traced her fingers over of what was left of the page that was missing. Then, she looked at the material covering the inside of the back cover and noticed it was bulging. She moved her fingers over the barely perceptible detail.

There is something here…

 

Allan continued dodging side mirrors of vehicles idling on both side of the road. His head appeared above the roof lines. He locked his eyes at the taxi that Patrick was driving and noticed that he was about to drive around the boundary channel bridge.

He was only fifteen cars away.

 

Jessica torn off the material covering the inside of the back cover and found that what her Uncle hid inside was a small piece of paper folded in half. She tilted her head and became aware that there was a five dollar bill underneath the piece of paper also. Jessica unfolded the bill and searched for clues.

You may need a black light to check for writings…

She studied the front of the bill. The portrait was of Abraham Lincoln, and on the back of the bill was the drawing of the Lincoln Memorial.

However, nothing stood out.

 

Allan was only nine vehicles away from them. He drew his 9mm semi automatic and prepared to jump down from the moped.

 

Jessica turned her attention to the piece of paper and unfolded it. Adrenaline doubled her heart rate. Patrick saw how close the Intruder was from them, and began pressing the horn steadily in short beeps. Someone pressed a horn back at him.

Jessica observed that the note was also written in cursive, with the letters slanting to the right. It was definitely her uncle’s hand writing.

Jessica my darling,

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

You’re the Angel of Truth.

finish the work that we have started? What are you talking about Uncle?

Allan was only five vehicles away.

Jessica arched her eyebrows and saw a section of the Arlington Memorial Bridge through the windshield. She knew that the bridge connected Virginia to D.C. and that the Potomac River flowed underneath it.

The Lincoln Memorial is just on the other side of the bridge…

Jessica searched for the Intruder through the rear window and wondered how they would lose him.

Did we already lose him? I don’t see him, where is he?

“Hey Patrick” Jessica turned to him and gripped the driver seat for balance. “I don’t—”

Then she saw him through the rear left window. The intruder gunned the moped up and over a curb onto a gravel divider. The moped shot out across the asphalt and bounced back down into the rotary. As Patrick rode around the boundary channel bridge, the intruder was riding through it.

“Patrick! He is using a short cut, are you aware of that?”

“Hang on!” he yelled back.

Patrick slowly depressed the brake pedal, checked the left side mirror, and looked for a gap to switch lanes. He set the left blinker and gave a thumb up to the driver who slowed down to allow him to merge in.

As Allan approached the taxi, he fired a round at the rear window and it shattered the glass. Jessica screamed and brought her hands to her ears. Patrick pressed his foot hard on the accelerator and maneuvered the taxi on the wrong way of traffic.

Allan scanned the traffic ahead and aimed his 9mm semi-automatic at a black GMC Acadia coming their way. He kept shooting the driver of the Acadia until he watched him losing control of the SUV. Patrick tried to swerve from the SUV. But there came a violent push to the side of the taxi; immediately followed by the sound of tearing and crushing of metal. The taxi spun while squealing the tires, and collided noisily against the concrete abutment on the side of the bridge.

 

30

The Director of the Intelligence Operations Charlie Faust fiddled with his pen and wiggled it between his fingers.

“Would you like some coffee before I begin going over Mr. Cardelini’s background history?” He asked Detective Hingenbrinck.

Leo spied the coffee maker on the edge of the counter. Day old sludge was congealing in the glass pot. Charlie’s gaze followed his.

“If you want to, I can make fresh.” He offered.

“Don’t, I’m ok. Thank you.”

“Well, then lets continue.”

A projector on the ceiling shot out a document from his laptop screen. Leo and Charlie turned their heads towards the wall where the file appeared. Mr. Cardelini’s photograph on the top right corner of the document gave him the resemblance of an actor from Hollywood.

“Mr. Cardelini was born on May 21st of 1965 in a city of Northern Italy called Parma.” A 3-D globe appeared and indicated that Italy was located in Europe.

“I had a feeling that Mr. Cardelini was bi-lingual.” Leo said thoughtfully.

“We reviewed his job history and discovered that Mr. Cardelini spoke seven languages.”

Seven!

“Wow!” Leo raised his eyebrows in surprised. “Very impressive.”

Not even the Pope in the Vatican speaks that many!

“Mr. Cardelini played soccer three times a week” The director went on. “What else is there? His criminal history is clean. The most he violated was a speeding ticket. He was going 63 MPH on a 45 MPH zone.”

Super speed.

“Did he do that in his BMW?” Leo added considerately; recalling that the document that he had found on top of the conference room table in the bank showed that Mr. Cardelini drove a red BMW.

Mr. Cardelini had arrived at 06:49 A.M. He was alone…

“Well, I wouldn’t be surprised. I always believed that whoever owned those kinds of machines, only knows how to go one speed. FAST!”

Charlie tilted his head. “If you’ll read his DMV records later you will be surprised with what kind of car he was driving.”

Leo smiled and raised his eyebrows. “I will look into it.”

“Mr. Cardelini’s past job history is sharp. He has never been fired and he doesn’t have any complaint reports in his records. Before he took post as a Chief Executive Officer in the Federal Reserve here in America, he was a manager of a Swiss Bank.” The director paused. “He was actively participating in Organizations that donated money to help the poor in Africa.”

“That was nice of him. I wish there were more people like that in the World.” Leo replied. “Are there any hints to why he was assassinated?”

“I’m getting there.” said Charlie as a photograph of a woman appeared over Mr. Cardelini’s profile.

The picture was of a beautiful woman. She had a tan, green eyes, and dark hair.

Is that the report from the Agent that he sent to get the profile on Jessica Cardelini?

“You think that Mr. Cardelini’s death has something to do with Jessica?”

Charlie glanced at Leo. “That is not Jessica that you are looking at.”

Leo stared back at him with a puzzled facial expression. He returned his attention to the photograph on the screen and observed that the woman had every portrait of Jessica. “That’s not Jessica?”

“No. that woman that you’re looking at is Jessica’s mother.” Charlie replied. “Her name was Gisele Cardelini.”

Was?” Leo noticed the way he spoke about Jessica’s mother.

Jessica lost her Mother?

Now she lost her Uncle?

Charlie pressed a key on his laptop and another photograph appeared. Leo observed that this photograph was of a person sitting on the couch. The photograph was taken up close and he noticed that there was an exit wound in the front of the person’s head. He also took note that the path of the bullet had literally removed a chunk of flesh in its passage.

“That is the body of Gisele Cardelini after she was found dead in her apartment room.” Charlie informed Leo.

“Lord have mercy!” Leo shifted in his seat. “How long ago was that?”

“Twenty-two years ago.” Charlie paused and looked at Leo. “Jessica was only eleven months old then.”

That is cruelty!

“What is the reason behind it?”

“The Italian Police reported that the murders were looking for something, because they found the apartment house turned upside down; specially Ms. Cardelini’s bedroom.”

“‘The murders’ Plural?”

“The Crime Scene Investigators believed it was more than one person involved. Because they found different boot prints in Ms. Cardelini’s bedroom that didn’t belonged to neither her father nor her brother.”

“Were these murders caught?”

“No. Gisele Cardelini’s case is open and unsolved to this day.”

“Could it be possible that whoever went after Gisele Cardelini back then, is the same person now? Or is someone else just affiliated with who did that twenty-two years ago?”

“I don’t know.”

“Could these assassins have gone after Gisele Cardelini searching for something that she was no longer in possession of? Maybe she had given to her brother to take care of instead.”

“If that is the case, now that her brother is dead, that ‘something’ goes to the next of kin…”

“Very possible! If that is the case, then the next of kin is Jessica Cardelini.” Leo added.

“But…”Charlie paused. “What is that they are after?” he wondered.

Leo hiked his shoulders. “I have no idea.”

He felt the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as soon as he replied. He had no idea that the news he would receive tonight would change everything in his life.

 

31

Jessica eyed the fresh blood that smeared the dashboard of the taxi and shot a glance at Patrick. He was craning his neck to look out the passenger window.

“Is everything ok with you?” She asked.

He saw Allan coming towards them. He was walking while holding a 9mm semi-automatic by his side.

“Yes. How about you, are you hurt? ”

“No—” Jessica started speaking but Patrick interrupted her.

“Well then need to leave this taxi now! Follow me as fast as you can.” He said while throwing open the squeaking driver door. Shattered glass from the driver window fell inside of the passenger compartment as he opened the door.

What? Jessica rubber the back of her neck, we just got in an accident here!

As he approached the taxi, he pressed the magazine release button, and the magazine slipped out. He let it fall on the asphalt and continued walking. Reaching inside of the left side pocket in his beige shorts that came down over his knees, he grabbed another magazine and slid it into its place in the handle. Then, he pulled the slide back and allowed it to slam forward.

Steadily aiming his 9mm semi-automatic at the passenger door of the taxi, he observed the driver opening the rear passenger door and dragging the woman targeted for elimination outside.

She was still alive.

Her heart thudded heavily in her chest. She struggled with a sharp pain in her knees while trying to keep up with Patrick.

This guy can run!

They were rushing down the Arlington National Bridge, heading towards the Lincoln Memorial. Jessica shot a glance over her left shoulder and searched for the Intruder. She heard dissonant two-tone sirens blaring somewhere in the distance.

He can also outsmart the cops…

She felt a knot tighten in her stomach.

But if at some point we get caught, we could go to prison for life.

She pulled her hair back off her face and stared straight ahead. She quickened her pace, and shortened the gap between her and Patrick. Through her peripheral vision, she saw his head swiveling back and fourth between her and the road, with a look of confusion on his face.

 

32

The Agent from the F.B.I. Lab department opened the door to the Director of Intelligence Operations office and stepped inside. He closed the door and walked to the director’s desk. He noticed that the F.B.I Agent Hingenbrinck was still present in the room. He was standing by a file cabinet with both hands stuck in his pants pockets.

“Sir, I have Ms. Cardelini’s background history.”

Charlie glanced at the Agent’s hands and saw that they were empty.

“Where is it?”

“I sent you her background history by using our computer Network System.” He paused. “And sir, because of certain discrepancies that were discovered in her background history, I contacted National Security and tried to understand this situation better. As I was receiving the latest briefing on the facts as they were presently known, I went to my supervisor and asked for the permission to send one copy of Ms. Cardelini’s background history to the Director of the C.I.A as well.”

C.I.A? Leo wondered while furrowing his brows at the mention of the Secret Service Agency. He pulled his hands from his pockets and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

Leo’s sudden movement made the Agent glance at him quickly. Then he continued speaking while looking at the director. He told him where the copy of Ms. Cardelini’s birth certificate was located. He also mentioned that he will explain why he sent a copy of Ms. Cardelini’s background history to the Director of the C.I.A.

Charlie followed the Agent’s instructions and located Ms. Cardelini’s file. He clicked on her birth certificate and it popped up on the flat screen mounted on the wall.

“May I begin?” he asked the Director and glanced at Agent Hingenbrinck again.

Mr. Hingenbrinck. “The Senior Agent.” Wait until you hear what I have to say…

They both nodded.

The Agent returned his attention to the screen and cited Ms. Cardelini’s information by memory.

“Jessica Cardelini was born on May 1st of nineteen ninety-seven, and she is twenty-three years old. She was born in Parma—Italy and lived there throughout her childhood and early teens.” He looked at Charlie. “Please, show us the next slide.”

Charlie nodded. This slide was about her education and job history.

“Ms. Cardelini is highly educated. She is fluent in four different languages and—”

Leo raised his hand and interrupted the Agent before he was granted time to speak.

“Could you tell me what are they?”

“Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and English.” The Agent replied without looking at him. “I was about to get there.”

Leo recalled how Ms. Cardelini had said the name of a Chapel in Italian flawlessly earlier this morning.

What was it called again?

“Ms. Cardelini attended Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg for two years and then got transferred to Georgetown University this spring semester.” The agent paused. “I discovered that Ms. Cardelini is currently topping the chart with the highest grade in her class.”

“What is her major?”

“Optometry; she is trying to become an eye doctor.”

Leo harked back to when he was reaching inside of the FedEx package and retrieving a container the size of the palm of his hands. They were the contact lenses.

Is that a clue to something?

“A DMV record shows that she recently moved from Richmond, Virginia to Washington D.C. I’m assuming because of her job, and also because she is attending college here.”

“What does she do for a living?” Charlie asked and prepared to take notes on his detective blotter.

“She is a Licensed Optician in a Vision Center located near East Capitol Street.”

Leo envisioned Ms. Cardelini wearing khaki pants and a white coat over a shirt. On the left breast of the coat was the name of the vision center she was working for, and through the khaki pants, her legs were muscled and firm. Her brown hair was pulled over her ear in a tight and elegant ponytail—

His thoughts were disrupted by Charlie’s question. “How clean is her DMV record?”

“Ms. Cardelini has one citation in her driving record. She was stopped because the tint in her driver window was too dark. The officer gave her a citation, she took it to court, and went in front of a judge. She said that when she bought the car it was already with the windows that dark and she wasn’t aware of such traffic law. The judge replied to her saying that ‘Ignorance of the law is not an excuse’ and told her she had to pay eighty five dollars for the citation. She also had thirty days to take the tint off.”

“Did you check her record with Interpol?” Leo asked.

“The International Police has never heard of Ms. Cardelini. I thanked them, hung up the phone and dialed the Italian Embassy. I asked them for a faxed copy of her information found in her Italian Passport. You will see that information in the next slide.”

Charlie nodded and a photograph of Ms. Cardelini appeared on the left of the screen. The shot was taken up-close; the Agents only saw her head, shoulders, and upper chest. They looked at the right side of the document and read her given name, surname, Nationality, date of birth and place of birth.

“Sir, this is all I have on Ms. Cardelini.”

Charlie exhaled, formulating a plan. His gaze shifted to an American flag hanging from a plastic pole that stood next to a wooden marker.

“I want you to make sure that her Passport Number receives a red flag. You need to invalidate this passport with all countries which Italy maintains diplomatic relations. If she steps in another country, let the security guards escort her to a waiting room and keep her there until an American Diplomat arrives.”

“Yes sir.”

“I would like for you to control her banking accounts. If she has a credit card or debit card, I want you to temporarily freeze them.”

“I’m on it sir.”

“One last thing that I need you to do, or have Mr. Hingenbrinck help you, is that I want to track down any other family relative that she could get in touch with. You will need to set a surveillance team on them.”

“Yes sir.”

Leo kept looking at the information found in Ms. Cardelini’s passport when he realized something that didn’t quite belong. The Agent was about to step out the room when he asked him to wait a second. The Agent turned towards Leo with a puzzled look on his face.

“Could you remain in the room while I check Ms. Cardelini’s birth certificate again?”

“Yes sir.”

Charlie tilted his head as he tried to understand where Leo was going with this.

“Sir, could you please go back to Ms. Cardelini’s birth certificate.”

“Of course.” Charlie returned the slide until Ms. Cardelini’s birth certificate appeared in the screen again.

Leo studied the certificate until he found what he was looking for. Then, he asked Charlie to show him the copy of her Italian passport again.

“What is going on Agent Hingenbrinck?”

“Sir, please hang on.” Agent Hingenbrinck read the information on her Italian passport. He read the name of the city under place of birth that Ms. Cardelini was born. It was the same city in her birth certificate and her Italian passport.

Something is not connecting the dots here…

Leo looked at Charlie. “Sir, I was just curious about the name of the city that she was born in Italy. It’s called Parma.”

Charlie nodded.

“What is this—” The Agent standing by the door started speaking but Agent Hingenbrinck interrupted him. He looked at the Agent.

“When I walked inside of Ms. Cardelini’s dormitory earlier today, there was this oil painting hanging on the wall—I cant think of its name—but she said something then, that is not connecting the dots now.”

“What is it?”

“She mentioned that she was baptized inside of this chapel that the statue in that oil painting was located.” He paused. “And that the chapel was located in the same city that she was born.”

“And what did she tell you?”

Leo consulted his notes in his detective blotter. “Napes.”

“Napes?”

“Yes. That is what I wrote once she told me.” Leo replied. “Now could you show us Ms. Cardelini’s birth certificate? There is something I need to point out there too.”

Leo had a flash of when he was standing by Mr. Cardelini’s office desk while reading his name on a business card. Then, he recalled checking for Ms. Cardelini’s name in Mr. Cardelini’s cell phone. He took note on how their last names were spelled.

“Aren’t their last names spelled C—A—R—D—E—L—I—N—I?”

Charlie checked the summary report on top of his desk and doubled checked the spelling of their last names. Leo walked to the screen mounted on the wall and turned to face Charlie as he waited for an answer.

“According to my reports yes! Why’d you ask?” He looked up at Leo, but his gaze went past him and he focused on the letters written to the left side of his head.

Jessica Cardelinni

 

33

The northbound traffic was at a standstill.

Patrick and Jessica were both about to make a low level pass over the Lincoln Memorial. The rear and sides of the Memorial were surrounded with trees and shrubs. Jessica glanced at the luxurious white stoned building and wondered why this monument had anything to do with her uncle’s assassination.

She continued to follow Patrick as he turned left on Lincoln Memorial Circle and ran away from the esplanade of the Potomac River. The trees were shady green bowers lining both sides of the bridge. She saw a transit bus emerging from the right of the Lincoln Memorial. Her gaze went further down the street and she observed a crowd standing by a bus stop.

Yes! Jessica felt herself suddenly reeling back to how they escaped from the F.B.I Agent. We’ve arrived right on time once again!!

She glanced over her right shoulder and caught the Intruder pursuing them.

Is he aware of any clues that could lead to the Lincoln Memorial?

Is that the reason why he is after me?

Glancing at her uncle’s Journal in her hands, she felt certain that she had seen the Journal in the past; and yet she could discern no clues of any significance.

Why are there missing pages?

She abruptly stopped running and turned towards the Intruder. She was panting while feeling the sweat trickling on the side of her body. Raising the Journal, she watched the Intruder closing in.

Is this what you want?

Patrick noticed that Jessica had stopped running and he halted as well while panting.

Now is not the time to start feeling any kind of pain in the sides of your stomach!

As he was reaching for her forearm, he saw her tossing the Journal on the sidewalk.

“Jessica, what are you doing?” He asked over the traffic noise.

“Patrick, I got this.” She responded and started jogging again. “Come on.”

He looked uncertain how to respond and started jogging with her. As he quickened his pace to keep up with her, he realized how wrong he had been to think that she had stopped because of stomach pain.

We’re talking about a woman who entered the University because of a track and field scholarship.

A minivan appeared in the flow of north bound traffic on Lincoln Memorial Circle and they waited for the vehicle to pass by before crossing the street. Jessica glanced back. She was hoping to see the intruder crouching and grabbing the Journal; but instead, she caught him literally hurdling over it.

What the hell?

“Crap!”

Patrick glanced at her. “What?”

He then followed the direction that she was looking at and saw the intruder closing in.

“He is not after me because of the Journal.”

No shit! Patrick thought about yelling at her, but instead he grabbed her left hand and crossed the street side by side.

The transit bus pulled away from the curb just as soon as they finished crossing the street. Jessica halted by the metal bench at the bus stop, but immediately felt Patrick’s grip tightening around her hand.

“I wasn’t planning to take that bus Jessica.”

Oh!

I thought we were!

She calculated the distance the Intruder was away from them. She kept staring at him with a puzzled look on her face.

But why aren’t we taking the bus? She returned her attention to Patrick and her gaze went to the square behind him.

If it’s not the transit bus you were after. Then what was it?

A couple started crossing the street while pushing a baby stroller at the other end of the square. She surmised that they were heading towards a strip shopping center that was facing the square. There were vehicles parked on the curb.

Are you planning to hotwire a car Mr. Robinson?

Returning her attention to the intersection across from the square, she watched a van stopping at the traffic light; then, a taxi slowing down behind the van.

Is that an unoccupied taxi?

Jessica noticed that the driver was preparing to make a right turn. She walked around the trashcan to the left of the metal bench and sprinted across the square.

I hope we make it on time!

Patrick looked at Jessica for a long moment as she distanced herself from him.

What are you doing?

You were supposed to wait for my signal!

He’d been using this time to study the square searching for possible threats and routes of escape. A pair of teenagers stood near a fountain in the center of the square while cuddling in a breeze scented with rose blossoms. He saw a couple of city policemen standing by the curb while talking to a man. He became aware that the man in civilian clothing had the telltale earphone of the secret service in his ear.

Something is not right that I can’t quite put a finger on it.

Is he really from the Secret Service?

If he is, then Jessica is making a mistake.

She is running right in the middle of it!

A cloud passed over and he narrowed his eyes in the afternoon sun. In the distance, the sunrays reflected on the Potomac River. Patrick turned around just in time to catch Allan standing across the street while raising his 9mm semi automatic and aiming at him. In that split second an eighteen wheeler truck passed by; while blowing the horn and blocking his view.

Patrick turned around and sprinted after Jessica. He passed by a boy who was sitting on the wooden bench near the fountain. The boy was throwing popcorn on the ground for the pigeons. However, the pigeons flew away as soon as they noticed the presence of Patrick. The boy spun towards his grandmother and frowned.

Patrick watched Jessica crossing the intersection and the driver of a black Volkswagen Golf squeezing hard on the brakes; stopping just short of her. Jessica’s hands went down firmly on the hood.

“I’m sorry!” she apologized to the driver.

He honked the horn at her.

She jogged around the Volkswagen and approached the rear of the taxi.

“STOP! WAIT…PLEASE!!” she pleaded while banging on the right rear side.

The driver suddenly stopped the taxi in the middle of the intersection and looked back at her. Jessica reached for the door handle and opened the right rear door. Patrick arrived shortly after and slid beside her. He slammed the door shut and locked it.

“Where to?” The driver asked while staring at Patrick then at Jessica through the rearview mirror.

Jessica glanced at Patrick then looked at the taxi driver uncertain of what to tell him about where they were heading to.

Why did I run to this taxi then?

Desperation…that is why!

As she thought about the Intruder, she looked over the back seat and out over the trunk.

“To Georgetown University, please.” Patrick responded.

We are going back to Georgetown University? Jessica wondered while fixing her eyes on Patrick this time.

The taxi driver turned his head and nodded at Patrick. Then shifting his gaze, he stared out the rear window and saw a third person approaching. The man also seemed to be in a hurry; his strides were strong and vigorous. The taxi driver watched him turning on 23rd Street NW and come up to the rear of the taxi while carrying a gun.

He is carrying a gun!

Oh hell no. I’m not going to get high jacked here.

Not now.

The taxi driver’s face registered what could have been awe. He stared at the lane he was turning into at the Lincoln Memorial Circle, and let go of the brake pedal.

Allan lunged at the left rear door and reached for the door handle with his left hand. It was locked. He saw Jessica through the glass of the rear window. Using the handgrip of his 9mm-semi automatic, he shattered the glass in one swift motion and shards of glass fell on top of Jessica’s lap. She covered her face while leaning across the seat.

Allan pointed his 9mm semi automatic through the busted window, and the barrel approached Jessica’s head.

 

34

Now I would definitely like to know why her photograph is part of the Crime Scene. How does it fit in? It has to fit in somehow.

The F.B.I Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck turned towards the Agent from the F.B.I. Lab department and asked.

“Sir, have you seen the photograph that was found at the crime scene; near Mr. Cardelini’s body?”

“Actually, yes I have. It will be shown on the next slide.”

As if on cue, The Director of Intelligence Operations Charlie Faust pressed a button, and the next slide appeared on the screen. It was a picture of a woman with green eyes. Her long brunette hair was tied behind her head and she wore earrings made of diamonds.

Jessica looks gorgeous. The Agent from the F.B.I Lab department thought.

“Sir, if you use your expertise here, what could you tell us about that Photograph?” Agent Hingenbrinck asked.

The Agent locked eyes with Leo and said. “I wore gloves while I was working with that photograph. I felt that the quality of that photo appeared to be second handed. What I’m referring to here is that that photo had been photocopied at least once.”

Silence fell in the room.

There had been a slight tremor in Agent Hingenbrinck’s pupils when the Agent mentioned that the photograph was a copy. He thought about different possibilities. Maybe Jessica Cardelini has seen that photograph somewhere else before. Maybe she saw the other copy somewhere…I don’t know… but if this is true, then because Mr. Cardelini died while pointing at that photograph, maybe as a reference for Ms. Cardelini to find the other one. He felt himself suddenly reeling back to the when he was showing Ms. Cardelini a copy of the Crime Scene photograph.

Or what if none of this is true…

He looked down and thought of something that made him swallow hard.

and actually Mr. Cardelini used a black marker to write something on that photograph for Ms. Cardelini to read?

“Is the photograph that was found near Mr. Cardelini’s body still upstairs in the F.B.I. Lab department?”

“Yes. It is. It will be held as evidence.”

“I’m going upstairs to go take a closer look.” He felt a shot of adrenaline, a hint of hope.

He glanced at Charlie. “Could you please follow me?”

 

35

The taxi driver saw a dark blue pickup truck coming their way on the opposite side of the road. He nervously glanced at Jessica Cardelini through the rearview mirror, and observed that her eyes were seeping with terror at the sight of the 9mm semi-automatic approaching her head. In that split second he jammed the wheel hard left while accelerating.

Allan quickened his pace and prepared to deliver death. He curled his finger around the trigger and—

All of the sudden there was a horrendous crash. He ran into the front left side of the pick up truck and fell painfully on the asphalt.

 

36

I’m starting to believe that the reason why we found Jessica Cardelini’s photograph near Mr. Cardelini’s body is because he wanted her to get involved in this investigation somehow.” Agent Hingenbrinck broke the silence in the elevator as it ascended to the 10th floor.

But why would he want his niece to get involved?

The Director of Intelligence Operations Charlie Faust studied his reflection in the metal interior of the elevator and straightened the knot on his necktie.

“What bothers me is to know that she ran away. If she was innocent, she would have stayed in that dorm; she would have cooperated once you mentioned for her to come to headquarters for a statement, and she wouldn’t have given false information about her place of birth.”

The elevator bells chimed, they felt the cart stop moving, and watched the doors opening. Agent Hingenbrinck stepped in the hall and turned in the direction where the doors to the lab department were located.

“I think the answers to our questions may be written in the photograph that we found at the Crime Scene. Maybe Mr. Cardelini knew he was in trouble and he searched for ways to communicate with his niece. The photograph on the ground was just one method.”

Charlie felt a cold feeling settling in his stomach. This can’t be possible!

They walked past Agents that were wearing white lab coats. Agent Hingenbrinck read the words written on the glass as they were approaching the closed door: AUTHORIZED ACCESS ONLY

Why do you think I asked the Director to come with me?

Charlie swiped his access card in the mechanism mounted on the wall and the doors opened almost immediately. They heard the sound of the air leaving the vents. Charlie glanced back at Agent Hingenbrinck, and he motioned for him to go inside ahead of him.

He noted the Agent’s courtesy for their superior and nodded. Upon entering the room, he looked about and observed that the lab was empty. Agent Hingenbrinck read the lab log that was opened on top of the counter, and discovered that the Agent on Duty went out for break fifteen minutes ago. He shifted his gaze towards the other end of the counter, and watched Charlie stopping in front of a lab tray next to a microscope.

Is Jessica Cardelini’s photograph inside of that lab tray?

Is that what Charlie is looking at right now?

He felt his stomach muscles tightening as he imagined the possibilities of catching Jessica Cardelini.

It would be awesome if this photograph gave me a clue to go to a certain place and catch Jessica there.

But what if I am late and this is happening right now…

Agent Hingenbrinck cautiously moved to the other end of the counter, where Charlie was standing. His eyes grew big as he peered over Charlie’s left shoulder and watched the photograph appearing into view. He felt his heartbeat accelerating at the sight of the photograph.

Am I feeling this because of the hidden clue in the photograph or is it because of the person in the photograph?

Get real Leo!

Charlie studied the photograph. It had been taken in some sort of a park with pink flowered trees in the background. It was a raining day because the sky was gray and the sidewalk was wet.

“Sir, I don’t see anything…”

Agent Hingenbrinck glanced at him. His eyes were twinkling with an almost conspiratorial gleam.

“You’re not supposed to.”

He crouched and opened one of the cabinet doors beneath the counter. Then, he unzipped a nylon bag and retrieved a black light. Getting up, he turned towards Charlie and asked for permission to turn off the lights.

Charlie nodded.

Once he hit the light switch, he turned on the black light and purple light illuminated their surroundings. He pointed the black light downward so it wouldn’t disturb Charlie.

We are coming for you Ms. Cardelini. It’s just a matter of time.

He felt the palm of his right hand beginning to sweat as he watched Charlie putting on latex gloves to handle the photograph.

It’s time to discover what you have done Mr. Cardelini…

Agent Hingenbrinck stood next to Charlie. Through his peripheral vision, he saw Charlie glancing at him. He turned his head and gave him a short nod gesturing it was time to lift the photograph.

Agent Hingenbrinck shined the black light at the photograph while furrowing his brows in concentration. He swallowed hard. Next, his facial expression registered confusion.

He moved the black light closer to the photograph and—

NOTHING!

There was nothing written on the photograph.

Mr. Cardelini didn’t write anything for his niece.

 

37

The vehicle settled into a monotonous eastbound hum on Rhode Island Avenue. Patrick looked at Jessica and reached for her right hand.

“May I ask you something?”

She glanced at his hand holding hers, and then their eyes met.

After all that I’ve been through and you’re the one wanting to ask questions?

“Yes.”

Patrick turned his head away and stared out the window. His image reflected on the glass. “Why did you drop the Journal? You knew we were going to need that information to connect the dots and catch the murder of your Uncle.”

Silence.

The taxi driver took his eyes off the road and glanced at Jessica through the rearview mirror.

Jessica made a noise with her mouth, as if she was disagreeing. She pulled two piece of paper from her pants pocket and handed to him.

“What is this?” He asked while unfolding the first piece of paper and setting it on his lap.

Jessica my darling,

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

You’re the Angel of Truth.

“How did you get this?”

“I found it inside of the Journal while you were driving the taxi away from the Cemetery…” Jessica drifted off into a reverie and explained to Patrick how she found that piece of paper…I traced my fingers over of what was left of the page that was missing. Then, I looked at the material covering the inside of the back cover and noticed it was bulging. I moved my fingers over the barely perceptible detail and I found that note. Then, we had that accident at the bridge. While you were craning your neck to look out the passenger window searching the Intruder, I was tearing these two pages from the Journal.

Patrick felt himself suddenly reeling back to when she had asked him if everything was ok with him. He saw approaching while holding a 9mm semi-automatic by his side. He then opened the rear passenger door and dragged Jessica out.

Patrick came back to the present moment while shaking his head. “Do you know what is the ‘work’ was your uncle referring to here? Did you help him with a project? Or did he share his plans for the future?”

Jessica hiked her shoulders. “Not really. The basic stuff he taught me was to go to school, maintain good grades; don’t drink to drunkenness, don’t smoke weed, don’t steal.”

“He was like a Father to you. A mentor?”

“Yes! Pretty much. The only thing I practiced and learned from all the stuff he taught me was to go to school, everything else I ignored.” She smiled.

Patrick’s eyes grew big.

Jessica punched his arm. “I was kidding!”

 

38

If it’s not because of this photograph, then where does Jessica fit in this investigation?

“What do we do now?” Charlie asked Agent Hingenbrinck while dropping the photograph back inside of the lab tray.

Agent Hingenbrinck lowered the black light just as his hopes of catching Jessica Cardelini quickly withered. He rubbed his hand over his face and exhaled loudly.

“Sir I’m going to need help. I believe that the only way to outsmart the people behind this will be by setting them up.”

Charlie furrowed his eyebrows in concentration.

“But we first need to relocate Jessica Cardelini…”

C—a—r—d—e—l—i—n—n—i.

“…Or whatever her name is.”

“Sir I agree.” Leo responded. “That would have been our priority under other circumstances…” He thought of the man that was speaking on a cellphone when they were at Georgetown University. By his facial expression Agent Hingenbrinck deduced that whoever was over the line wasn’t delivering good news. He then remembered Jessica’s unknown companion putting his hand out the window and letting them in the car know what he thought of them. “These guys have proven us how dangerous they are.”

Charlie raised his eyebrows. “How much help are you going to need from the Bureau?”

“I’m going to need to use the F.B.I safe house.” Agent Hingenbrinck paused to study Charlie’s reaction about his first request.

Silence.

“You’ve lost me.” Charlie blinked while looking puzzled at Agent Hingenbrinck.

The F.B.I safe house was the location where the F.B.I held cooperating witnesses.

And Jessica Cardelini is not cooperating…

Or she still can enter the safe house if she is placed in the protection program…

But she is not in danger is she?

“I’ve been formulating a plan.” Agent Hingenbrinck continued. “If you can grant me authorization to enter the F.B.I safe house and if I could get help from the F.B.I. Special Operation Division this afternoon—”

“You are delirious Agent Hingenbrinck! We can’t just do this in one snap of fingers. Do you think this is a plot for a movie?”

“This is not a plot for a movie and I’m not joking either.” Agent Hingenbrinck raised his voice while pointing towards the window. “The C.E.O of the Federal Reserve’s was murdered and if we don’t use all of our resources to catch the assassin, then who is going to stop them? How far are they going with this and when does it end? If there are information we aren’t aware of and it’s leaked to the media, how bad do you think is the Bureau’s reputation is going to be?”

“If you raise your voice one more time, I’m going to make sure you will be yelling because you will be singing karaoke in a bar. And the weight you will feel on the side of your waist will be nothing less than from a water gun. Do you understand me?”

“Yes sir. I’m sorry sir.”

“Now could you please step outside? There is an important phone call I need to make.”

Agent Hingenbrinck turned and took a step towards the door, and then he suddenly stopped. The last time he heard Charlie saying for someone to step outside because of an important phone call, his partner was dismissed from the bureau.

He is not going to terminate me because I suddenly raised my voice at him.

I doubt that.

Someone started knocking at the door and Agent Hingenbrinck saw it was the Agent from the F.B.I lab department.

“Sir, should I let him in?”

“Yes. Please.”

He waved him in and the Agent from the F.B.I lab department entered the room. He stopped next to Agent Hingenbrinck and stared at Charlie.

“Sir permission to speak?”

“What happened?”

“There has been an update about Mr. Cardelini’s case…”

Agent Hingenbrinck turned towards him.

“…Jessica Cardelini’s unknown companion is Patrick Robinson. He is a cryptologist at Georgetown University and he lives in a quiet upper—bracket suburb of Virginia.” He paused and allowed his words to hang in the air for a second. “He has been clean for his whole life. I’m referring to nothing on his records and the guy is thirty years old.” The Agent furrowed his eyebrows. “But then, the last piece of information I received was a paper from the city morgue.”

Charlie was taken aback.

There was another moment of silent.

“In the paper from the city morgue it states that this same Patrick Robinson died seven years ago.”

So how is he appearing alive in that video?

 

39

 

His footsteps echoed throughout the hall as he headed towards his apartment house. Light bulbs in decorative crystal glassware that were fastened to the wall shaded a small amount of light to his surroundings. He walked past several apartments doors. The doors were painted with a dark color; gold numbers were marking each apartment. He reached for his key chain located in the front left pocket of his jeans, and pulled it out. There was still a medical wristband wrapped around his left wrist. He was just arriving from the Hospital.

He stopped at the last door on the left and inserted the key in the lock. He caught movement through his left peripheral vision and turned his head towards the other end of the hall. He watched a female working as room service exiting a room while pushing a tray cart. Returning his attention to the closed door in front of him, he twisted the key in the lock mechanism and felt a cold feeling settling in his stomach.

The door was unlocked.

Instinctively, he reached behind him for his Heckler & Koch, and pulled it out. He carefully took a step towards the door and slowly turned the door knob. His heart thudded heavily in his chest and he swallowed hard.

The Doctor told me to come home and rest!

And the welcoming home situation I get is…

There has been a break in!

He advanced through the entrance to his apartment house with his gun outstretched. There was a sharp pain coming from his left shoulder. He winced and lowered down the gun. The heavy curtain across the window of the living room was permitting a crack of light, casting slats of shadows on the floor and bringing out a glow from his coffee table. Stopping behind the couch in the living room, he studied the area for a moment; nothing on his face except light reflecting off the polished surface of the coffee table. Various colored flowers were placed inside of a ceramic vase that was on top of the coffee table as a form of decoration. He noticed that the thick carpet still had the uniformed waves left by recent vacuuming.

This is strange.

Everything seems to be in order.

So how come the front door was unlocked?

He headed towards his bedroom, turned on the lights and walked to the closet. Sliding the door open, he crouched at one of the ends of the closet and pulled the carpet. He stared at a hidden floor safe. Opening the safe, he pulled out a briefcase and—

He heard a sound coming from the living room.

What was that? He looked over his left shoulder. No one was standing under the door frame. I’m being paranoid.

Feeling the contents inside of the briefcase, he straightened and took a few steps back to the king size bed. Laying the briefcase on top of the bed, he set the Heckler & Koch next to the briefcase and popped the clasp open.

He used this briefcase to keep his documents organized. He thumbed through each of them until finding the one that he was looking for. He then pulled it out, and studied the Federal Bureau of Investigation shield embossed on the flap. Opening the wallet, he read his name typed next to a photo I.D: Joshua Hemingway.

He was one of the Agents from the F.B.I. Special Operation Division.

 

40

There was a lot of dark wood paneling in the corridor where the Director of the Covert Intelligence Department of Winterfield was in. The carpet on the floor was red.

“Are you ready to go Ms. Drumond?” One of her security personnel Agent asked.

The director looked at him and nodded.

“I am ready.” She replied.

The security personnel Agent brought his left hand up to his mouth and spoke into his wrist microphone. The Secret Service Agent at the other end of the corridor listened to his request, and looked up and down the hall. There was a city police officer holding the elevator.

“The hallway is secured, over.”

The security personnel Agent turned to the director and motioned for her to proceed. A second security personnel Agent opened a door to her left and stepped in the hall. The director nearly broke into a jog to keep up with this Agent. Behind her, a third and then a fourth Agent appeared in the hall and went after her.

She stepped inside of the elevator with all four Agents, and watched one of them pressing the button to the first floor. The door closed. She glanced at her wrist watch and wondered how long until the Winterfield asset confirms that Jessica Cardelini was terminated.

Operation White Diamond lasted fifteen minutes…The words from the Chief of Operation echoed in her head. Fifteen minutes…Fifteen minutes. You know we have set a string of events that will change how this Country is perceived, is respected and accepted—

Patricia saw the elevator doors opening and observed another police officer waiting for them. The director smelled his cologne. It was the same kind that her husband used. She exited the elevator and her footsteps echoed through out the gallery as they headed to the front entrance. There was a big photo mural of the George Washington 1782 painting on the wall to their right. The painting was showing George Washington standing next to a white horse. As Patricia walked under the coved ceiling of the gallery, she saw through the archway of the front entrance; a Black GMC Yukon with an Agent standing by the rear door waiting for her arrival. The traffic noise from out on the avenue filtered throughout the gallery.

Patricia stepped out of the National Gallery of Art located just a few blocks away from the White House, and went down the steps of the façade. She moved into the sunlight. It was still warm though it was getting late in the afternoon. It was almost 3 P.M.

She approached the idling vehicle. Flashing devices mounted next to the letters G.M.C. on the front grille of the vehicle blinked red and blue; while the headlights flashed white. Patricia got in and one of her security personnel Agent slid beside her. The Agent standing by the rear door pushed the door closed and stepped away from the vehicle. The vehicle took off with a squeal of its tires and merged into traffic.

 

41

Nearly two blocks away from Jessica Cardelini, Joshua Hemingway stepped out of the elevator and walked to his Kawasaki Ninja ZX—10.

The hell with staying home and rest!

He messed with the wrong guy!

Matter of fact! They all messed with the wrong guy!

The bike was parked across from the elevator. He watched a woman walking around through the rear of a dark blue Chevy Silverado while pulling his key chain from his pocket. The woman was shuffling through the contents of her purse. Her sandals clacked with every step.

Climbing on his bike, he looked back at the woman through the side mirror of his bike and watched her butt wobbling with every step.

Think about your girlfriend Josh…don’t do anything stupid.

Inserting the key into the ignition, he started the massive engine, and prepared to leave his parking space. He rode his bike slowly through the underground parking lot as he followed the exit sign overhead. He began going up the exit ramp by riding over the metal spikes on the ground. The TAC—TAC sounds from the spikes echoed throughout the underground. Joshua prepared to exit the garage. He stopped on the edge of the sidewalk to check the traffic. A dark green Suzuki Jeep drove past him moving at high speed. His thoughts drifted from Jessica Cardelini to when he was reading the last untraceable e-mail from Scott Williams, the ex-Director of Winterfield. The e-mail was only eight words.

Kill EVERYONE that is part of the conspiracy!

 

42

The Director of the Covert Intelligence Department of Winterfield was sitting in the rear left seat of the GMC Yukon as the rugged whir of the tires intoned a hypnotic rhythm. She glanced at the agent sitting on the front passenger seat. He had an earphone, with a coil wire running behind his left ear to the receiver clipped to his belt.

“Ms Drumond, may I have permission to speak?” The agent turned his head and looked over his left shoulder.

“Yes Mr. Owens.”

“I was receiving the latest briefing on the facts as they were presently known, and we have set the location for the asset to pickup the object.” He raised the shiny object for Patricia to see.

She felt the adrenaline start to kick in.

The gold key!

“Will that key open the safe?”

“No…” The Agent shook his head.

No? The adrenaline dried up and Patricia felt deflated as the Agent Chuckled. Patricia thought he had been on to something.

“…It’s not the key that will open the safe.” The Agent explained. “But it’s the numbers engraved in the key.”

He used a sand paper to scratch the side of the key. He blew the fake gold paint away and stared at the silver beneath. Patricia started leaning towards the key that Lukas Vernon had taken from the C.E.O at the Federal Reserve Bank and read the six numbers.

30-05-10

 

43

Jessica opened the rear door of the taxi and got out. Her body charged by the chase. Between the escape from the F.B.I Agents and the Intruder, her resources were stretched to the limit.

I haven’t heard from Richard…

Where is he? I heard Patrick saying that he was dead…was that because of my Uncle?

Is there a connection at all between my Uncle and Richard?

If it’s not because of the Journal the assassin was after me…then why was he?

Jessica waited for Patrick to walk around the taxi before crossing the street.

“Are you sure we need to go back inside of my dormitory?” She asked him once he stepped on the sidewalk.

“Yes.”

“Could you please tell me why?”

 

The black letters written in a yellow tape “Police line—do not cross” nearly obstructed the F.B.I Agent Daniels from entering Jessica’s dormitory. She stepped in the living room and looked around. She was drawn to a gigantic oil painting in front of her. Glancing down, she observed four imprints on the carpet.

That must be where the coffee table used to be.

The C.S.I Agents took the remains of the table to the Lab Department to examine if Agent Hingenbrinck was really assaulted or not.

Agent Daniels stared at the kitchen and noticed that the light was left on. She walked towards the light switch; but stopped in the hallway and looked towards Richard’s room. The door was ajar, and she caught a narrow section of the floor. Her eyebrows showed that she was impressed to discover that his room was furnished with beige plush carpeting. She saw a digital clock on top of a night stand to the right of a king size bed. The digital display changed to 3:07 P.M.

Jessica Cardelini has been missing for nearly two hours now…

She spotted miscellaneous items being held by magnets on the door of the refrigerator and approached to scrutinize them. Wearing latex gloves, she pulled one of the business card from under the magnet and read the note: Richard’s dentist appointment Thursday the 7^th^ @ 2:45 p.m.

She studied the hand witting. This note was written by a right—handed female.

She glanced at her wrist watch and doubled checked the current date.

This appointment is four days old. Agent Daniels thought while tapping the card on the palm of her right hand. Why is it still hanging on the door as a reminder if this appointment is old?

Placing the card under the magnet, she turned around and went into Richard’s bedroom. There was a Chihuahua scratching the sliding door while barking at her.

Chihuahuas are annoying!

There was nothing at his computer desk that drew her attention. She moved to the closet and opened the sliding door. She looked up at the shelf above the clothes that were hanging and noticed that he kept one stack just for jeans, another for shorts, and the other for pajamas pants. Moving the racks of clothes suspended from a hanger all the way to the left, she stared at the carpet and saw three pairs of shoes and sandals neatly placed against the corner of the closet.

There was also a black shoulder bag lying on the ground.

It’s nothing but school work…Agent Daniels surmised.

 

Patrick felt a pulse of excitement.

“We need to go back inside of your dormitory. There is something that belongs to Richard that I need.”

The taxi driver took off with a squeal of its tires, leaving them standing on the sidewalk.

“Is there a chance he is still alive?”

He hiked his shoulders. “I am sorry, but I haven’t heard from him.”

“What is it that you need from him?”

“Richard, he was doing a private investigation on Francisco Cardelini…”

“What?” she was taken aback; puzzled. “Why?”

Patrick ignored her. “…And the result of his investigation is inside of a black shoulder bag.”

 

Crouching, Agent Daniels grabbed the black shoulder bag. She unzipped it and looked inside.

Why is this here?

There was an aluminum briefcase inside. She placed the case beside her on the floor; its material glistened as the sunlight coming through the glass of the sliding door illuminated the room. Feeling her heartbeat accelerating, she popped the sealed clasp and opened it.

 

Jessica followed Patrick as he walked down the sidewalk towards the staff parking.

Richard was doing a private investigation on Francisco Cardelini…

So after all there was a connection between my Uncle and Richard.

But what was my Uncle up to? Jessica wondered. Was he laundering money?

Or was it because he was helping the bank offer safe haven to the wealth?

Maybe to the Nazis or dictators— She thought about the flashback she had earlier…I became aware though, that it seemed like those documents were Banking Account Balances, because there were dollar signs and euro signs everywhere on that paper…Was he helping the people from countries affiliated to terrorism?

Patrick stopped in front of the driver door to a black Lexus SUV with dark tinted windows, and pressed the alarm button on his key chain remote controller. His vehicle side markers flashed, and the doors unlocked with a ragged thunk.

“Please forgive me for being rude here, but there is a problem.”

Trust me there are a lot of problems right now Patrick.

“What is it?”

“We can’t stay in the front. People might see us. So… we need to go to the back seat.”

Jessica saw a smile appearing on his lips. She rolled her eyes while thinking.

Whatever!

 

Agent Daniels learned that Richard Maxwell was a salesman for a multi-billion dollar company that sold microchips around the world. As she continued to study the documents, she noticed that there was a Federal Reserve’s seal stamped in one of the pages.

This is strange…

She proceeded leafing through the pages, until an eight by eleven inch photograph fell on the ground. Agent Daniels looked at it and furrowed her eyebrows in concentration. The woman was wearing a dark red button down shirt, gold earrings, and a lobster clip holding her hair on top of her head. Her lips were heavy with lip gloss.

This is a photograph of Jessica Cardelini…

Why is there a photograph of Ms. Cardelini in the middle of these documents?

And what does Sector Seven mean?

 

Sitting behind the driver seat, Patrick closed the door and looked at Jessica. In that instant their eyes met. He saw fear in her eyes. Indeed, she recently found out about the murder of her uncle, interrogated, chased and shot at. And here she sat, without any information as to why. Looking at him with as much determination she could muster, he admired her resolve. Yet masked within was an overwhelming sense of confusion. Her green eyes sparkled briefly in the afternoon light coming through the side windows. And that’s when he saw her reality—sadness and desperation. She was looking at him for the answers that eluded her to find the truth. A truth he was prohibited from giving her. As he continued to stare at her, she sighed and glanced away. He knew that his feelings were going to be difficult to avoid. He wanted to tell her the truth, about everything. Her past, her pursuers, and most of all his feelings for her; but all would have to wait.

Right now, the only thing that mattered was—how the hell to avoid the F.B.I!

 

Agent Daniels pulled out her cellphone and flicked it open. She touched the Menu icon, then Messaging. Next, she hit create message and a key pad filled the screen. The dormitory was still and silent; and she didn’t want to break that silence. She optioned to send a text message to Agent Hingenbrinck.

I think I have found something on Jessica Cardelini. She hit send message and closed the phone.

Less than ten seconds later, a humming sound entered the room and she felt her cellphone vibrating in her hands. Agent Hingenbrinck replied the text message. She read the words in the screen of her phone: Bring that information to J. Edgar Hoover.

Patrick raised the rug behind the driver seat and pulled a white legal envelope from underneath. There were medical records and articles relating to Operation White Diamond inside of the envelope. He knew that as the investigation after the Operation took place proceeded, the media would record and print the new developments in the newspaper; and that was the beauty of the written word. It was invariable taken at face value and granted permit to be spoken as the truth.

However, Patrick had analyzed the data carefully and discovered that it was all a cover up story.

A bunch of lies…

Corruptions…

A conspiracy made to fulfill the desire of some individual’s needs.

But once you conform to the real facts behind the Operation, you come forth; offer the Supreme Legislative of Parliament a deal, and sit back to watch the spectacle.

Chaos!

“Where to begin?” Patrick whispered to Jessica.

Jessica looked at him. A strand of hair fell from above her head to the side of her face. She nervously glanced at the envelope and swallowed hard. Her eyes grew big at the sight of the envelope in his hands.

“At the beginning.” She nodded.

 

The surrounding Georgetown University buildings blocked the weakening rays of sunlight as Agent Daniels went down the steps, walking away from Jessica’s dormitory. Gloom pervaded the deserted patio. She pulled out her cell phone and sped dialed a number.

“It’s me…where are you?”

“Where would you like for me to be?” The other F.B.I Agent replied.

“Meet me at the same location you dropped me off.”

“Roger that.”

Looking down, she was about to hang up the phone when she spotted dry blood patterns on the concrete.

Ew!

 

Patrick listened to the cadence of his heart as he pulled a stack of paperwork from inside of the white legal envelope. He laid the stack on his lap and fanned the pages to signify how much information he had. Jessica lowered her eyes to the center of the front page and read the red stamp with black fonts: British Department of Homeland Security.

“Richard Maxwell—” Patrick began, but suddenly stopped in mid-sentence as a dark SUV zipped past them.

They immediately turned their attention to the dark SUV as the driver skidded to a stop and both rear doors opened. Jessica stifled a gasp. Then, they exchanged glances and she caught the warning look in his eyes.

 

Both passengers that got out from the rear of the SUV were unsmiling men who wore sunglasses. They were also wearing identical black suit, white button down shirts, and black neckties. A gust of wind blew one of the Agent’s suits and exposed a sidearm by his waist.

Law Enforcement…Jessica thought. They might be all over my dormitory searching for clues to my whereabouts.

And here I am…

 

With all due respect Jessica…”

Forgive my roughness.

“…please lean over the to the floor board.” Patrick demanded while quickly scanning the situation outside their window.

The two Agents were approaching the SUV they were in. Jessica leaned her back against the front passenger seat instead and—

Where did you get that from? She wondered as she stared at Patrick screwing a silencer to the tip of a 9mm semi-automatic.

The Agents reached the sidewalk two cars—length away from the SUV they were in.

“Where are you going?” Agent Daniels asked as she appeared in their background.

Both agents stopped and turned towards her. One of the Agents took off his sunglasses and looked at Agent Daniels. She had stopped under one of the side entrances to the university.

Jessica raised her head and peered over the lower window frame of the rear door. She saw the two Agents with their backs to them. They were very near. She lowered her gaze to see who they were talking to and noticed it was Agent Daniels. She looked frightened as she leaned her back against the front passenger seat again.

“What did you see?” Patrick asked.

“It’s her” she mouthed while pointing towards the window.

“Who?” Patrick furrowed his eyebrows in concentration.

“The woman who was driving the SUV during our chase from here to Union Station; The F.B.I Agent that interrogated me was with her.”

Patrick hid his face behind the driver head rest and squinted his eyes.

“Agent Daniels.” The Agent who took off his sun glasses spoke. “We were summoned to the Main Administration building because we were told that we have a cooperating witness to Ms. Cardelini’s case.”

 

Patrick watched them leaving.

“Ok Jessica, you can get up. They are leaving now.”

“Patrick, I want you to be honest with me…”

He raised his eyebrows and stared at her. She continued. “…If you have any idea who is involved in the Murder of my Uncle. Could you please tell me why he was assassinated? I just wanted to know for the peace of mind.”

Patrick looked down at the thick stack of papers on top of his lap. “…And how about you give it to me straight!” Jessica suggested.

“Richard and I are working for Winterfield.” He paused and studied her facial expression.

She just stared at him; as if she already expected this.

“What is—or who is Winterfield?” She now looked skeptic. Her vocal cords surfaced below her skin as she spoke.

“Winterfield is a branch within the British Secret Service.” He explained. “There, you have several lines of work. You have Field Agents, logistics, securities, cryptologists…”

Patrick Robinson is a Cryptologist for Georgetown University!

Are you telling me you’re faking this role?

“…I was recruited seven years ago because of my code breaking experiences.”

“You are referring to code breaking experience ranging from computer hacking to reading Egyptians drawings in a cavern?”

“Yes…”

“Do you believe that it was this…Agency you mentioned…Winterfield—who killed my Uncle?”

“Yes.”

“And you work for such Agency?”

“Yes.”

Then I run to you…who is working for the bad guys… so we study the photograph of the person who you guys assassinated…and discover that he is pointing at my Lincoln Memorial medallion…

And you suggest for us to go there…so you could get what he is hiding?

What a coincidence.

This is just like you’ve mentioned earlier…A conspiracy made to fulfill the desire of some individual’s needs.

“Why are you here?” She finally asked.

“I was sent to recruit students to work for Winterfield.”

Jessica pursed her lips. “Oh and you have the courage to lie at my face!” She threw open the right passenger door. “I am turning myself in to the F.B.I. I might feel safer that way.”

She was about to jump out of the SUV when Patrick grabbed her on the arm. “If you leave you will be making a big mistake.”

“Why do you say that?” She glanced over her left shoulder.

He held up his wallet. She studied the gold badge that was pinned to the outside of the I.D. case. Jessica caught the shield first and then the picture I.D. card last: Patrick Robinson…Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent.

She turned around and looked at his face. She recalled what he told her earlier…Federal Agents don’t do next-of-kin notification like that. This Agent is faking…

“Jessica, all Winterfield Agents are using fake F.B.I credentials to get to the end of Operation White Diamond.”

*Operation White Diamond*…What the hell is Operation White Diamond?

Patrick handed her a piece taken from a Newspaper. Jessica observed that it was an article about a double homicide that took place somewhere in the United Kingdom.

LIVERPOOL, England— Authorities are investigating a double homicide of two residents found dead inside their house earlier this afternoon. The discovery of their bodies was found after an anonymous caller notified the County Police…

Jessica continued reading and learned that the discovery of their bodies happened around 3:12 P.M. in a mid August of 1997. Authorities identified one of the women as Victoria Lockhart. She handed the article back to Patrick and rested both hands on her forehead. She lowered her head.

“Is that the reason why Winterfield was after my Uncle?” she whispered.

“Yes. Phone records showed that your Uncle was the anonymous caller.” Patrick nodded. “The Director was afraid that he could identify the killer someday so he sent Agents to tie the lose ends. I am Sorry Jessica.”

 

Agent Daniels flashed her F.B.I credentials to the cooperating witness. They were facing a large open room with several couches pressed against the wall; bay windows saturated the space with the afternoon sunlight.

“I am the detective in charge of Ms. Cardelini’s case and I was told you have information for us?”

The other two Agents exchanged glances with eyebrows raised.

Wait until Agent Hingenbrinck discover you took his role Agent Daniels.

The cooperating witness handed his driver license to Agent Daniels. She read his name.

“Robert Self?”

“Yes.”

“What do you do for a living Mr. Self?”

“I am a Mathematician. My classroom is located down the hall from Mr. Robinson’s classroom.”

Agent Daniels handed his driver license back to him.

“What do you know about Mr. Robinson?”

“He hijacked my car earlier this morning. He pulled me from getting behind the wheel of my Hyundai and pushed me onto an infinity that was parked to my left.” He pulled his insurance card from his wallet and gave it to Agent Daniels. “That is the proof that I do own a Hyundai and I’m not making any of this up.”

“Mr. Self, we have already located the vehicle that Mr. Robinson was driving. However, we are going to first write the vehicle’s V.I.N down and see if it’s a match.”

“Was Mr. Robinson apprehended? What is about this case that the F.B.I is so interested in?”

“The man is helping a fugitive.”

A fugitive?

“Does the fugitive happen to be a woman?”

Agent Daniels felt a pulse of excitement “Yes. Why’d you ask?”

“Because while I was standing in my classroom, I had a view of the staff parking and I saw a woman getting inside of Mr. Robinson’s vehicle.”

Agent Daniels raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Really?”

“Yes.” Agent Daniels looked at the two Agents standing by her side.

“Would you mind taking us to his vehicle, please?” She returned her attention to him and asked while tilting her head towards the door.

 

She felt the tears coming again.

Now that my uncle is dead, could he have sent me a series of clues to help me get to the person who started all this?

Is that why he sent me this Journal? She thought about the note that she found inside of the Journal. She pulled the piece of paper from inside of her Jeans pocket and showed it to Patrick. He unfolded the paper and read:

Jessica my darling,

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

You’re the Angel of Truth.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about that note lately.”

“Aw. You have? Well thank you for your concern.” She placed both hands on his cheeks and looked into his eyes.

“Actually, since you brought this up…” He continued. “I would like to research something online.” He pulled his laptop from under the passenger seat and powered it up.

“What do you mean, research? It’s only a note. What else could two simple lines mean?”

“It just came to my mind that ‘Angel of Truth’ is the name of a frieze located inside of the Lincoln Memorial.”

As the words sank in, she felt her delirium pierced by an instant of clarity and the first line of the note making sense.

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

The first line was also a clue.

 

Agent Daniels walked outside of the Administration building and asked the cooperating witness. In her background rose the campus red-brick façade, the nineteenth century windows and shale roofs.

“Mr. Self, could you please tell me how do we get to your classroom from here?”

He pointed towards the clock spire and said. “You go to the second floor of that building behind that clock spire and walk to the last door at the other end of the hallway. My class is located on the left side of the hall.”

She nodded.

“And you mentioned you have the view of the staff parking from inside of your classroom?”

“That is correct, I do.”

She glanced at one of the Agent following them.

“Sir, I want you to go to Mr. Self’s class room and set up surveillance there. Send me an update of any vehicle you see leaving the staff parking. I’m going to have our driver ready for pursuit.”

“I am on it.”

They walked past security lamps located on the side of the Administration building and wondered why they didn’t check the surveillance tapes.

“Agent Daniels, this way.” He pointed towards a short flight of steps.

I just came from here!

They descended the steps and walked to the edge of the sidewalk. Their S.U.V was parked near the curb.

No, Mr. Self… they couldn’t possibly be in this lot. We have an Agent right here!

Self turned towards the parking spot where Patrick always parked his S.U.V.

“His Lexus is parked right—” He stopped in mid-sentence.

Patrick’s parking space was empty.

“No!” he turned towards Agent Daniels. “I swear they were here.”

 

Agent Daniels raised her wrist to her mouth and spoke on her wrist microphone.

“Lead, please come in.”

She waited for his response as stared at the idling S.U.V.

Nothing.

She was trying to reach their driver. “Lead, please acknowledge.”

Again, he didn’t respond. She sprinted around their S.U.V and approached the driver door. The window was down. There were no shards on the asphalt.

“Lead, please check—”

She stopped speaking and froze on her tracks. She stifled a gasp and raised her hands to her mouth. Her driver had leaned his head on the steering wheel. He was facing her. She looked into his eyes and observed they were no longer alive. The path of one of the bullets had cut through the skin of his neck, literally removing a chunk of flesh in its passage.

 

44

Allan lay still face down on the asphalt. His 9mm semi-automatic had fallen near his body. There were faint murmurings from the pedestrians that were peaking over rooflines of stopped vehicles. He felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket and glanced down at his pants pocket. Straightening, he pulled his phone out, flicked it open, and stared at the screen.

He read the text message that the Switchboard Operative from Winterfield sent him: Go to the Washington Monument, stand near the pole of the American flag, and wait.

 

45

Agent Hingenbrinck, this is Daniels. We have an officer down at the West side entrance to the Georgetown University.” She spoke to him over the phone. “This is an emergency.”

“What happened? Are you ok?”

“Yes. I am fine, thank you for asking.” She said while staring back at the driver door of the SUV.

But he isn’t!

“I was coming down from inspecting Ms. Cardelini’s dormitory when I met with two Special Agents near our unmarked vehicle. They mentioned about a cooperating witness to Ms. Cardelini’s case. We went to check it out. This took approximately ten minutes. He mentioned to have seen a woman entering Mr. Robinson’s vehicle. We came down to the staff parking to investigate and we found the lead driver leaning his head on the steering wheel; Dead.” She paused and looked at the cooperating witness. He was speaking to one of the Agents. There were a lot of hand gestures. “Agent Hingenbrinck, it could have been me in that car!”

“Come down Agent Daniels, I understand your frustration. Listen, we will catch the person who is behind all this. I have discovered some discrepancies about Ms. Cardelini’s documents and the Director have already assigned another Agent to investigate that side of her life. Meanwhile, we are searching for her whereabouts because she may help us understand this situation better. She is wanted only for questioning. I want you to come back to our cubicle and cool your head.”

“Agent Hingenbrinck, I’m constantly running through scenarios; trying to understand how could this have happened. I’m talking to you, but my mind is else where. I’m putting myself in the place of that Agent dead inside of that S.U.V.”

The Lead driver glanced at his left side mirror and saw a S.U.V approaching. Ms. Cardelini was the driver. She stopped the S.U.V next to his, and watched Mr. Robinson jumping out. The Lead driver noticed who it was, and immediately reached for his radio. As Mr. Robinson approached the S.U.V, he kept his left hand behind his back; while raising the other to flash his F.B.I credentials. The Lead driver looked puzzled at him, and lowered his window. Then, Mr. Robinson pointed his silenced 9mm semi-automatic through the open window and pressed the trigger…

If this was really what happened…where could they have gone from here? Agent Daniels wondered.

“Do you still have the information you found on Ms. Cardelini?” Agent Hingenbrinck asked. He was standing inside of his office while looking at a huge map of Washington D.C. hanging on the wall. He had written in-depth subject profiles of Jessica’s latest whereabouts in lime—green post—in notes, and stuck them to certain sections of the map.

“Yes I do.” He heard Agent Daniels responding over the line. Her response was immediately followed by a sigh.

He grabbed a blue tack from inside of a transparent container on top of his desk and pinned it at the location of where Georgetown University was located on the map. The university now had two flat headed nail.

She was there when I first met her… Agent Hingenbrinck moved his gaze across D.C. as he followed Massachusetts Avenue with his finger. He stopped at another white tack and read the lime—green post—in note: She arrived at Union Station approximately at 09:56 A.M. He moved his gaze down to below the Potomac River and stared at the white tack above Fairfax Subway Station. False whereabouts. Report came in at 10:27 A.M. He moved his finger back to Georgetown University and kept taping his finger on the second white tack. He checked the time on his watch. Now, she came back to the University after going away for nearly four hours.

Where did she go between Fairfax Subway Station and Georgetown University?

Could she have met with Mr. Maxwell?

He turned and stared at the Summary Report that the Agent from the F.B.I lab department left on top of his desk. Another question lingered in his mind. If it was indeed Ms. Cardelini inside of Mr. Robinson’s S.U.V at the University…then, where would she be planning to go next?

He put his hands on his hips and turned back to the map. There must be a location I can intercede with Ms. Cardelini and Mr. Robinson.

The question is: Where?

 

46

The pale wash of the halogen headlights skimmed over the crushed gravel as Jessica maneuvered the vehicle. The rugged whir of tires intoned a hypnotic rhythm. Sitting on the passenger seat, Patrick unfolded the five dollar bill and stared at it. He observed that the bill was from the current year. Raising the bill, he studied the watermarks against the afternoon sunlight coming through the windshield. There was no writing of any significance. He lowered his arms and opened the glove compartment box.

“Did you find something?” Jessica asked. Her head was swiveling back and fourth between him and the road.

Patrick grabbed a black light he kept inside of the glove compartment box, and pointed towards the front side of the five dollar bill.

“I’m just curious about if your uncle wrote a clue on this bill.” He replied. “But there is nothing written on the front side of the bill…”

“How much does it cost to get inside of the Lincoln Memorial anyways?” She asked as she stopped the S.U.V. at a red traffic light.

I’m sure it will cost more than just five dollars…

Patrick hiked his shoulders. She glanced at the five dollar bill and then back at his face. Her gaze went past him and she watched through the front passenger window a City Police Patrol Unit coming to a stop next to their S.U.V. She kept staring at the officer for a long moment and then swallowed hard. He was taking a bite out of a doughnut.

 

47

Patricia’s thoughts drifted to when she was sitting on a chair behind her office desk inside of Winterfield Headquarters in London. She was reading a page from the Summary Report of Operation White Diamond…Field Operatives rarely stayed in the same place for long. They worked undercover most of the time, using several different identities…Her thoughts were disrupted by the deep thump—thump of a helicopter overhead and she glanced up at the sky through the left side window.

They were about to make a low—level pass over the Washington Monument. The sky was pink neon mixed with gray paint. The leaves on the trees surrounding the Monument were beginning to change color. Patricia glanced at the Agent maneuvering the GMC Yukon as she felt the vehicle slowing down and observed that they were stopping behind another Yukon that was idling near the curb.

The Agent sitting on the front passenger seat spoke into the microphone under his lapel.

“Ms. Drumond is arriving.”

An undistinguishable chatter filled the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Someone was speaking on the Agent’s earpiece, and as he listened, he touched his left ear.

“Roger that. The Yukon has been sighted, and the Asset is now on the move.”

The Agent turned and looked at Patricia.

“Ms. Drumond, I have been practicing our trade for a while, and I have met very few people with your natural talent for this line of work.”

“Thank you.” She smiled and nodded.

The Agent turned around, opened the passenger door and got out of the Yukon. He walked around through the front of the vehicle and headed towards where Allan was standing.

Patricia continued watching the Agent through the glass of the rear passenger window, until he handed him the gold key. A smile broke across her face and her straight white teeth reflected on the glass.

The conspiracy that the British Government created is finally coming to an end.

 

48

The traffic light turned green.

Jessica nervously studied the intersection, and eased her foot off the brake pedal. She slowly accelerated while watching the City Police Patrol Unit through the right side mirror. The Unit was still idling at the traffic light. As she continued to look at the Unit through the side mirror, she caught Patrick studying the five dollar bill through her peripheral vision.

He was flashing the black light on the back side of the bill. There was a drawing of the Lincoln Memorial on that backside.

“Besides the Ornamental…” Patrick started whispering while looking at the bill.

Jessica heard his voice barely audible over the howl of the wind and the hum of the engine.

“What did you say?” She asked while taking her eyes off the road and glancing at him.

“Your Uncle…he—”

“Oh my God!”

Patrick suddenly looked up and followed her gaze. She had a concern look on her face as she kept staring at the rearview mirror. He turned around, looked at the backseat and out over the trunk. The City Police Patrol Unit was approaching them with flashing lights. Instinctively, he reached for the 9mm semi-automatic that it was on top of the left rear seat and held the 9mm with one hand.

Is this how it’s going to be from now on? You will kill everybody that threatens my life?

Why is everyone interested in me? Some to kill…others to protect?

Who am I?

As he turned back around, he glanced at the right side window and watched the City Police Patrol Unit zipping past them.

Why?

He felt the muscles in his neck and shoulders begin to relax, the tightness in his chest beginning to ease.

“What was that about?” Jessica asked.

He shook his head. “Let us stay vigilant.”

She nodded, and quickly changed the subject. “What were you saying about my Uncle?”

Patrick glanced at her and then looked down at the five dollar bill.

“Your Uncle…” He moved his fingers across the top of the bill and raised his eyebrows in surprise. “He wrote another clue on the top corner of this bill.”

 

49

Agent Daniels stepped away from the rear of another unmarked S.U.V. and walked to the front entrance to the J. Edgar Hoover building. Because the entrance doors were made of glass, fluorescent light spilled out on the patio. She looked up at Agent Hingenbrinck’s office and watched two silhouettes crossing the office. The lights were extinguished. She sensed Agent Hingenbrinck’s gaze on her as he stood behind the curtain.

Street poles illuminated the parking lot and the patio with orange light. As she headed to the front entrance, she watched another Agent standing under the door frame while holding the door open for her. She felt the keen late afternoon wind. The leaves moved in the breeze. She approached him, and flashed him one of her engaging smile.

“Thank you.”

Sometimes people think that I don’t have any problems because I am always smiling… But they are wrong.

I can be full of problems to solve. I just choose not to expose them…

Like the F.B.I Agent that was just shot on the neck…that could have been me in that S.U.V.

Would you be smiling right now?

She entered the main lobby and got in line to pass by the biometric identification screening. Everyone was required to pass through the metal detector. It was her turn. She walked through the metal detector and the sensors triggered the alarm. A couple of Agents poked their heads behind her to see what was going on.

One of the Security Guards approached Agent Daniels and asked if she could go through the metal detector again. She complied, and again the sensors triggered the alarm.

“Are you carrying a weapon Ms…?”

“Sir, I am Agent Daniels.” She flashed her F.B.I. credentials.

“Agent Daniels, are you carrying a service weapon?”

“No, I am not.”

The Security Guard eyed the black shoulder bag in her hand and asked if he could do a perfunctory search of her belongings.

“My apology. But this is evidence from a Federal Case and by the orders of the Director; I am not allowed to let anyone see the material inside.”

The Security Guard glanced at a small document in a frame hanging under the clock on the wall next to them.

“Well, according to this document, which was signed by the Director himself; it is stating that all suitcases and shoulder bag that triggers the alarm are to be inspected.” He returned his attention to Agent Daniels. “Those who deny the search won’t be able to proceed from here.”

What are you going to do?

 

50

Jessica stopped Patrick’s Lexus S.U.V in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Lincoln Memorial Circle and killed the engine. She kept the key in the ignition and stared straight ahead.

“I would like to know what my Uncle wrote on that five dollar bill before we go inside of the Memorial.” She looked at him. Her eyes were twinkling with an almost conspiratorial gleam. “Could you please show it to me?”

Patrick glanced at her. “Yes of course.”

He finally agreed to something.

He moved his fingers across the top of the bill and flashed the black light on the reverse side.

Jessica leaned across the seat and read the phrase:

Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature.

“Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature?” She looked at Patrick. A strand of hair fell to the left side of her face. “Is this old English or improper English?”

Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature.

“That phrase is a fragment.” Patrick noted. “We could consider revising it, maybe re-phrase it or use a thesaurus and replace the words.”

He had a point. “But if that was the case, why did my Uncle write it this way?”

“Did he speak good English?” He gave her the impression that he was just being sarcastic, opened the door and got out.

Taken aback, she continued to watch him. What was that supposed to mean?

His warmth and kindness seemed genuine.

Patrick opened the passenger door and got out.

Washington D.C…

Terrorist hot spot…

Patrick was aware that D.C. was under constant satellite surveillance. He wondered if his features were already being run through a facial—recognition program in the F.B.I database.

Specially through Patricia’s database!

He looked back at Jessica, and as if on cue, she got out, walked through the front of the S.U.V and approached him.

The Lincoln Memorial stood on a high terrance that was reached by an imposing flight of steps. Shrubbery plants with evergreen leaves surrounded the monument.

Jessica followed Patrick until he stopped at the beginning of the steps. She noticed that he wouldn’t take his eyes away from the massive marble building. The Lincoln Memorial was fifty eight meters long and was thirty six meters wide. It had a great hall surrounded by thirty six doric columns. They begin going up the steps together.

Above these columns… the names of the forty-eight states that existed when the building was dedicated were engraved on the ceiling… Jessica remembered when she was taking a preparation class to enter Georgetown University and found her History Teacher explaining the History behind the Lincoln Memorial…It was dedicated to the 16^th^ president of the United States. Abraham Lincoln.

Patrick stopped at front entrance landing and turned around. He saw the churning currents of the Potomac River with silt and foam from heavy rain. A couple walked in front of him as he was turning his head to study the movement near his S.U.V. He raised his gaze and saw the sun hiding behind the cupola of the Capitol building. The obelisk Washington Monument reflected on the still waters of the Reflecting Pool.

His circumnavigation brought him back to Jessica. He noticed that she struggled to conceal the awe in her face.

“Shall we?” He raised his left hand and showed her the note that she had found during the escape from Allan.

She glanced at the note in his hands, then looked back at his face and nodded.

 

51

Agent Daniels was escorted to a room across the lobby. The Security Guard walking in front of her opened the door and motioned for her to go inside.

“Please, will you set your bag on top of the table and unzip it?” He asked as he closed the door and stood at the position of attention.

Agent Daniels threw the black shoulder bag on top of the table and unzipped it. She felt her heart beat accelerating as she thought of what could have triggered the alarm.

The Security Guard pulled out his flash light from his waist holster and turned it on. He flashed inside the bag and saw an aluminum briefcase inside. He glanced at Agent Daniels and then back at the briefcase. He watched her reaching for the handle and pulling it out of the bag. Then, she popped the sealed clasp and prepared to open.

“Enough.” The Security Guard said as he gripped the handle of his service gun.

Agent Daniels stopped.

“Step away please.” The Security Guard approached Agent Daniels, opened the briefcase and scanned the material inside.

He picked up the stack of papers and threw it on the table. There are no weapons here…

So why did the sensors trigger the alarm?

He glanced shyly at Agent Daniels. He noticed the mean look in her eyes. She had this will cost your job if you don’t find anything type of facial expression.

The security Guard reached inside of the black shoulder bag and searched for any metal devices. There was nothing there either.

I just need a pin!

He sighed and moved his hand to the right of the shoulder bag. He froze as he brushed his fingers against a—

“Did you find something sir?” Agent Daniels asked with her eyebrows raised.

The Security Guard moved his hand inside of the bag again and arched his brows.

What am I gripping to…?

He retrieved his hand while holding a— He tilted his head at the sight of the object.

He brought the object up to his face.

It was a fake bottom cover.

 

52

As they approached the Great Hall opening, the statue of Abraham Lincoln appeared to their left.

The Great Hall has three sections…Jessica found herself reeling back to when her Professor was lecturing about the Lincoln Memorial. In the center section sits a Gigantic, Majestic statue of Lincoln. He is sitting down with both arms resting on the arm rest of an armchair. His jacket is unbuttoned, revealing a vest beneath and a bow tie around his neck. His official robe worn on formal occasions as President; draped over his left arm, and fell to the left of the seat. His hair was combed to the right and his face betrayed no signs of emotion. …

Three abrupt flashes brightened Lincoln’s face and it broke Jessica’s concentration. She suddenly looked to her left and saw a couple that were wearing the French soccer team jersey posing in front of the statue and waiting to get another picture taken. She heard Patrick speaking, but couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. As she turned to face him, she felt him grabbing her right arm with an iron grip and pulling her to one of the side sections of the Great Hall.

“Why are you in the hurry?” She asked. “Just let go of me.”

He did as he was told. “Just so you know there are cameras inside, whatever we are looking for in here, we need to look for it quickly.”

She nodded. The air inside of the Lincoln Memorial was cool and damp, heavy with history.

“I completely forgot about the security screening! What are we going to do?”

“Just maintain calm.” He reassured her. “I am sure your uncle thought about this when he came up with the clue.”

Jessica swallowed hard. My uncle is dead!

She passed through the security screening while feeling sad, she was nearing the point of a breakdown.

My uncle was murdered because he was at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Why was he in that house?

They strolled in a corridor lit by crystal chandelier and stepped in the room where the Second Inaugural Address was displayed. Jessica immediately recognized some of the friezes on the wall. She observed that they were also displaying paintings that symbolized Lincoln’s accomplishments. Jessica looked above the door frame and read a quotation from his writings. There was a group gathering in the hall behind them preparing for a sight seeing excursion throughout the room. Someone pointed to the tablet on the wall where they kept an excerpt of the Second Inaugural Address and the group moved towards it.

The faint echo of footfalls and tourist murmurings reverberated around the room. A strange constricting feeling filled her gut.

If we have indeed connected all the clues leading to the Lincoln Memorial, then the answer to our ambiguous quest is only a couple feet away.

 

53

The F.B.I Agent Leonardo Hingenbrinck stepped inside of the room without knocking and flashed his Credentials to the Security Guard immediately.

The Security Guard looked at Agent Hingenbrinck. The Agent raised his eyebrows and said.

“Agent Hingenbrinck, I am with the F.B.I. and I am here to escort this Agent to the Director’s office immediately.”

Agent Daniels looked at him. The Security Guard shrugged.

“Sir, this bag triggered the alarm and I am just following procedures.”

“This bag belongs to the Director, and whatever you are holding to, I would like for you to put it back and step away from it right now!” He pointed to the fake bottom cover. “It is an ongoing investigation and you could be tampering with evidence.”

The Security Guard dropped the fake bottom cover on top of the table and stepped away. Agent Hingenbrinck closed the door behind him and looked at Agent Daniels.

“Is everything ok with you?”

“Yes. What does the Director wants with me?”

“Nothing, He is actually going home.”

“What?”

“I just finished going over Patrick Robinson’s background history, and the guy is clean. Do you believe that?”

“No.”

“Yea, me neither.” He put his hands on his hips and walked to the shoulder bag that was on top of the table. He took note of an aluminum briefcase opened next to the shoulder bag.

“Listen, I spoke to the Director earlier this afternoon and he came to a conclusion that if we get to Ms. Cardelini, we are to take her to a safe house in D.C. for interrogation.”

“Ten-four,” She nodded. “But which safe house?”

“You will be going over to the plan of action meeting shortly.” He turned his attention to the black shoulder bag. “But before you go, could please call the Agent from the Lab Department, I firmly believe that we are going to need him here.”

 

54

Patrick inhaled deeply as he stood in the center of the room where the Second Inaugural Address was displayed while searching for Security Personnel Guards.

Why would Jessica’s Uncle have her come to the Lincoln Memorial?

He sauntered in slow-motion through the room searching for security cameras.

Go over every step again.

Is this where it ends for Ms. Cardelini?

He observed that there was only one way in and one way out of the room.

Think about the angle that her uncle died. Look at the position of his body…

Dark red velvet ropes stopped the tour guide from getting too close to the wall and touch the friezes and the Second Inaugural Address document.

Her Uncle died on the center of the Federal Reserve’s Seal…He was pointing at her photograph. A photograph that was taken while she was wearing a necklace with the Lincoln Memorial medallion…

Patrick stopped moving and furrowed his eyebrows in concentration. He found what he been looking for and read one of the quotes from the Second Inaugural Address carved next to the frieze called The Angel of Truth on the wall.

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

“This is it.” Patrick pointed to the wall while glancing at Jessica. He chuckled. “We made it.”

He read the phrase that was carved on the wall while thinking of the best way to explain to her what her Uncle did.

His body was lying on its left side facing the floor. Mr. Cardelini died with his left foot positioned on top of the letter ‘L’ of Federal and his right foot positioned to the first letter of Reserve. His right index finger barely touched the letter ‘K’ of Bank.

“Everything makes sense now. It is all about the position of your Uncle’s body on the Crime Scene photograph. He died while pointing at a letter. The same letter that completes the word ‘work’ in the phrase he wrote you.” He looked back at the frieze on the wall. “…the same word that is carved on that wall.”

Her face registered what could have been awe.

“He hid something behind the letter ‘k’ of work.”

 

55

Daniels opened the door for the Agent from the Lab Department and watched him adjusting the cord that he placed around his neck to hold his F.B.I Identification Card inside of a transparent case. He stepped inside and approached Agent Hingenbrinck.

“Thank you for coming so quickly. What you see on the table is evidence from a top priority Bureau case. The bag is empty and I would like for you to find out why it still triggered the security alarm. I don’t care if you have to cut the bag open and spread it on the table just to find a G.P.S tracking device. I just want answers.”

“Yes sir.” The Agent from the lab department grabbed a pair of scissors and wearing latex gloves, he cut open the shoulder bag.

Agent Hingenbrinck and Agent Daniels stood in the background watching.

The Agent from the Lab Department laid the pair of scissors on the table and carefully spread the bag material on the table. What Agent Daniels saw, made her instinctively bring her hands to her mouth.

Who are we dealing with here?

Agent Hingenbrinck slowly walked back to the table and stared at the objects that had triggered the alarm.

Black leather gloves…

Garrote…

He swallowed hard at the sight of the 9mm semi automatic on the table. It was identical to the one he had on his shoulder holster. But the one on top of the table had a—

Perforated silencer…

“I want you to cut the leather gloves and check for fingerprints on the fabric inside.”

The Agent from the Lab Department nodded while pulling out his blogger and a pen from under his coat. He wrote down fingerprints.

“Then I want you to check for dry blood on the garrote. Also…” he looked for any electronic devices in the pile.

There weren’t any.

“That will be all, thank you.”

The Agent from the Lab Department raised his blogger and pointed it at Agent Hingenbrinck. “I’m on it.”

“Keep me updated please.”

“Yes sir.”

Agent Hingenbrinck tilted his head as he started at another leather material under the gloves.

Is that a wallet?

“Sir, hang on a second.”

The agent stopped.

“Since you are wearing latex gloves, could you remove that object from under the pile and show it to us.” he pointed at the wallet under the gloves.

“Yes, of course.” The Agent from the Lab Department walked back to the table and removed the object from underneath the gloves. He flipped it open.

Agent Hingenbrinck leaned over the object while holding his tie closely to his body. He quickly recognized the photograph of the person on the Driver License. He moved his gaze to the name next to the photo I.D. and read: Richard Maxwell.

Maxwell…

I finally got your first name!

Richard!

He checked the address listed under his name and straightened. He arched his brows in confusion.

The address listed was not of Georgetown University. However, it was still familiar to him. He looked away, puzzled. Then, the image of seeing himself sitting behind his office desk while reading the report on Patrick Robinson flashed in his mind.

Richard Maxwell and Patrick Robinson had the same address.

 

56

Jessica Cardelini looked to her left as they were approaching the frieze on the wall, and observed an elderly woman dabbing a white cloth on her face. She was standing in front of a painting called The Spirit of ’76. The painting was showing Abraham Lincoln marching ahead of soldiers that were carrying the American Flag. He was marching while playing a flute. There were two men by his side, and they were playing the drums. Jessica found herself reeling back to when her Professor mentioned that The Spirit of ’76 was about the American Revolution in 1776.

As they were getting closer to the frieze called The Angel of Truth, She started making sense of what the curator was saying to a group that had gathered near the Second Inaugural Address document. Her voice echoed throughout the room.

“…The end was clearly in sight when Lincoln took the oath of office a second time in March of 1865. During that month, the Civil War General had besieged American confederate General weary troops at Petersburg, Virginia. The American Union General left a wide track of destruction throughout the State of Georgia. As a result, Lincoln concentrated on reuniting the Nation. In his Second Inaugural Address, he explains that the Civil war had to be fought to take the country away from…”

They stopped behind the red velvet rope and Jessica stood next to Patrick. He was looking down at the piece of paper that her Uncle had written her. Jessica scrutinized the same phrase on the wall as she continued to listen to what the curator was saying about Abraham Lincoln.

A fluorescent light bulb on the ceiling began to burn the electricity unsteadily. Shadows flickered on the wall in front of them. The flickering light gave Jessica the illusion that the words carved in granite block were gradually popping further out of the wall.

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

The flickering light unexpectedly stopped and everything came back to normal.

“G…God!” She stammered, while opening her eyes wide open.

 

57

The Bank Manager Michael Miller sat behind his computer desk while flicking the cap of his cigarette lighter open and close. In a paradox of self awareness he fought the images of how Francisco Cardelini could have been found.

Why wouldn’t they let me see the body?

The more he fought the imaginary images away, the more they filtered through. Then, harshly he was living it all over again…Sir, could you tell me what is going on? He asked as the F.BI. Agent sat across from him inside of room twenty-one ‘B’…I’m sorry, but we are not at liberty to speak at the moment. It’s an ongoing Federal investigation…

The image of him staring down at the photograph of Jessica Cardelini drifted in and out. Nervously, he swung his computer chair to the right and looked at the computer screen. He studied the Federal Reserve Seal in the center of the screen as wallpaper.

for the moment the F.B.I. is calling her a person of interest. That is all. She is wanted only for questioning…

There must be only one possible explanation why Francisco was assassinated.

He recalled when he was inside of the elevator with the Internal Affairs Agent…As I continued to look at the panel; like every time I did when I entered the elevator, I found something wrong…The paneling was missing a bolt…

He looked at his watch on his left wrist.

I saw Francisco placing a highly valuable object in a vault underneath the Bank once… and he was talking to someone over the phone saying that they would know exactly when the time was right to expose a deadly secret. A secret that has taken many lives.

Who was he talking to?

Michael opened one of his lower office desk drawers and moved papers out of the way. He was searching for a screw driver.

 

58

Patrick felt a pulse of excitement. He looked up and down the velvet rope and watched the tour group moving away from them.

Let us strive on to finish the work that we have started.

There must be something behind the letter ‘k’ of Work…

He slowly began raising his left hand to the stone letter ‘k’ of work carved on the wall. He brushed his fingers against the letter while feeling his heart beat accelerating.

Nothing happened. The letter wouldn’t budge. There was nothing there for them to find.

“Excuse me SIR!” Someone called from behind.

Patrick turned around while lowering his hands. There was a curator standing a couple feet away.

“I am sorry, but visitors are not allowed to touch that.”

Patrick stuck his hands in his pockets and smiled shyly at her. He turned to Jessica and whispered.” We have wasted our time.”

I doubt my Uncle would have defaced a monument and placed something there for us to find.

She thought while studying the frieze on the wall. Carved in the granite was an angel, with its broad wings spreading out. The angel was using both index fingers to point towards the sky. Jessica followed the angel’s fingers and raised her head. She found herself staring at the ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial. She contemplated revising their last clue.

Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature.

Besides…

The words began shifting into other translations as she tried to follow its meaning.

Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature…

Ornamental Motif…

Motif…means ‘A repeated design in a decoration’ in French…

No…no…no…I am getting it all mixed up. Motif mean ‘motive’ in French.

“Hey, Patrick…you still have that five dollar bill that we found inside of the Journal?” She lowered her head and shot a glance at him.

“Yes, here it is.” he pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to her. “What is in your mind?”

I am trying to translate and re-phrase that sentence. Think of word scrabble…

Besides the Ornamental Motif, an Entablature…Besides the beautiful work, a motive.

Jessica didn’t want to share her reasoning with him just yet. Instead, she unfolded the five dollar bill and studied the back side. She concentrated on the drawing of the Lincoln Memorial…

“The next clue is outside.”

Patrick was taken aback, outside?

“How?” he asked. She sounded so convinced.

“Take a look for yourself.” She handed him the five dollar bill. “Look at the shadow in the shape of a triangle between the column Georgia and Connecticut.”

Patrick saw what she was describing and wondered if Mr. Cardelini was indeed using symbols hidden within the American currency as a clue. The shadow was so obvious and so clear. As if the artist who drew the Lincoln Memorial intended to make one of the Doric columns block the sun light and create the illusion that it was forming an arrow.

“Maybe there is something in that column that we need to go take a look at.”

“But that is too simple—” He started protesting, but Jessica was already walking towards the exit without giving him enough time to complete the sentence. He went after her.

As she headed outside, she was drawn by a granite block above the exit door. There was a quotation engraved inside and she read:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool,

Than to speak out and remove all doubts.

There was a smile on her face.

Lincoln was giving her a hint of what was coming, but she completely ignored.

 

59

The Bank Manager locked the door to his office, turned away and headed towards the elevator.

Sir, at six hundred hours we received a warning in our surveillance monitors that the C.E.O had infiltrated a sector of the underground vault…He recalled hearing the Internal Affair Agent Riggs speaking to him while they were inside of their Unmarked vehicle.

But that wasn’t the C.E.O at all!

He looked down at the screw driver in his hands as he headed towards the elevator and thought.

Who was the guy that I saw in the video?

And what was he after?

 

Agent Riggs walked past several offices, doors all closed and bearing names of Bankers on small silver plates. His cell phone went off and he reached down and silenced it without taking his eyes off the Bank Manager’s office. As he approached the door, he observed that the curtains were drawn and he was unable to see inside. He knuckled rapped on the glass and waited for a response.

“Mr. Miller, this is Agent Riggs. We are here to escort you back to your premises.”

The Bank Manager didn’t respond. Agent Riggs waited a few more seconds.

“Mr. Miller?”

Nothing.

He raised his wrist to his mouth and spoke into the microphone under his lapel. “X9, what is Mr. Miller’s twenty?”

 

Michael walked inside of the elevator. The elevator was small with red carpeting, brass paneling and railing. Blue fluorescent lights illuminated the interior. He turned to the control panel and brushed his fingers against the hole where the bolt was missing.

Then, raising his index finger, he pressed the button to the first floor and watched the doors closing.

 

Agent Riggs saw the elevator door closing.

“Agent Riggs” He heard an undistinguishable chatter in his ear as he listened to the response of another Agent speaking on his earpiece. “The Surveillance Video is showing that the Bank Manager just entered the elevator.”

Agent Riggs ran forward and replied. “Copy that.”

Arriving at the elevator, he glanced up and watched one of the numbers glowing above the door. He felt a sudden surge of concern. Where is the Bank Manager going?

He pressed the button for the elevator cart, and a few seconds later the doors opened.

And the cart was empty.

 

60

Thin hazy clouds blurred the clear view of the Capital Building across the Washington Monument. The tall trees along the Reflecting pool shaded the weakening sunlight. Jessica glanced at her wrist watch and saw it was a quarter after five.

“We don’t have a lot of time left. They are about to close the Memorial. Help me find the name Georgia. If you look at the ceiling, near the Doric columns, you will find the names of the States that the columns represent.”

These columns stand for the states in the Union at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s death.

Patrick looked up while walking towards the south end of the Memorial and read: Rhode Island…Pennsylvania…New York…

Search for the column Georgia…

He saw Jessica stopping while looking up. “Here we are! This is our last clue!”

As Patrick scanned the Doric column, his hope withered quickly. When they completed their fruitless search, he stopped and looked at the tourist walking in and out of the memorial.

There was nothing hidden for them here either.

Impossible!

We missed something. It got to be here.

How her uncle laid out all the clues to the Lincoln Memorial…and when we get here…we can’t find anything!

Feeling a shimmer of hope, he walked around the column once again. He then approached Jessica and shook his head.

“Nothing!”

Jessica lowered her head and felt frustrated about their unrewarding hunt.

Could all this be a mistake?

What made me believe that my Uncle died while pointing at my Lincoln Memorial medallion?

Maybe he didn’t have any intentions to point at the medallion, but instead he was trying to reach for something…

What could that ‘something’ be?

She wasn’t aware that there was a person walking towards them at that very moment and that he was holding the answers to her question.

 

61

The Bank Manager turned to the control panel and brushed his fingers against the hole where the bolt was missing. Then, raising his index finger, he pressed the button to the first floor and watched the doors closing.

Arriving at the elevator, Agent Riggs glanced up and watched one of the numbers glowing above the door. He felt a sudden surge of concern. Where is the Bank Manager going?

Inside of the elevator the Bank Manager unscrewed the top bolt from the control panel, removed the panel from the frame and held it with one hand. Behind the control panel was a switch that would activate the elevator to go to the sub-basement level of the Federal Reserve Bank.

I need to get to sector eleven of the underground vault…

He felt the elevator stopping. The doors opened and he stared at a dim lighted passageway located underneath the Bank. He deactivated the switch, placed the panel back in the frame and screwed the bolt in place.

He stepped out of the elevator.

Agent Riggs pressed the button for the elevator cart, and a few seconds later the doors opened.

And the cart was empty.

 

The passage was high enough to stand in and it had an electrical conduit running along the ceiling, feeding lights in steel cages every fifteen feet or so. The air was so thick with moisture and the smell of stagnant water was very unpleasant that Michael brought his hands to his mouth.

I should have brought a surgeon’s mask!

He started walking down the corridor; then, descended a couple of steps. His eyes glittered at the prospect of honor. This secret has taken many lives… Francisco’s voice echoed in his head.

His line of sight was limited by the spiral of the staircase, and then at the last step it made the corridor round into view. The stairwell ended and he walked a few more steps until stopping in front of a metal door. A light bulb illuminated the door from above. He noticed that the door was green with spots of acid that corroded the metal over time. Swiping his access card into an electronic mechanism mounted on the wall, ten dashes appeared on the screen.

Ms. Cardelini’s first name…He thought while pressing the key pad.

J-E-S-S-I-C-A

How did I get ten digits out of her name?

I substituted each letter of her name for its numerical location in the alphabet.

J” = 10^th^ letter. “E”=5^th^ letter. “S”=19^th^ letter. S” again=19^th^ letter. “I”=9^th^ letter. “C”=3^rd^ letter. “A”=1^st^ letter. 1051919931

1-0-5-1-9-1-9-9-3-1

He hit enter and the screen which had the Federal Reserve Bank seal on the on the back ground faded away. A few seconds later the screen blinked with the word “activated” and the door unlocked with a loud click.

 

62

She noticed that he had fallen silent for a long moment and hoped that he was using his experience in Cryptology to find another meaning for—

Patrick looked at all of the Doric columns supporting the front of the Lincoln Memorial with his eyebrows arched with disappointment.

Keep it simple Patrick. The answer is here.

He looked up at the Doric column Georgia.

What brought you here?

Jessica’s Lincoln Memorial medallion flashed in his mind. He believed that her Uncle had only seconds to pass his message. A flawless message; silent; secret; and hidden.

“Patrick…” Jessica grabbed his left arm. “Take a look at this.”

He stopped looking up and glanced at her, he then followed her gaze. She was staring at a tourist that had stopped at the Great Hall entrance. He had his back to them.

“Does he look familiar to you?”

“No…”

Then Patrick saw it.

The tourist was looking at the palm of his right hand. With one simple motion with his thumb, he did something to the object in his hand and; this motion signified that they were at the Lincoln Memorial for the wrong reason!

We solved at the clues all wrong.

You got to be kidding me!

Is that what I’m thinking it is?

The tourist turned slightly towards them. He was still looking down at the object in the palm of his hand.

It was a Lincoln Memorial Medallion.

The necklace fell through the gap of his thumb and index fingers. The medallion attached to the necklace had a locket.

“Did your necklace have a locket too?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that an hour ago?”

“You never asked.”

He continued watching the tourist as he descended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and headed towards the Reflecting Pool.

In actual fact, her Uncle died while pointing at her necklace. However, it was not an actual clue for them to be at the Lincoln Memorial, but it was instead a clue that they had to find her necklace before someone else did.

“Do you know where this necklace is?” He asked.

Jessica turned towards him. “Yes. But I don’t have the key to get it.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s locked inside of an Institution and he was the only one that had access to it.”

 

63

Allan Longshore stared at the one hundred and fifty million dollar building design, topped with wing shaped steel and glass roof structures that glowed at night. He glanced at the front door and began descending the flight of steps to a patio filled with summer flowers and oak wood trees. As he descended, he caught the view of the nearly empty parking lot to the left of the building. He looked towards the fading horizon. The lights across D.C. were coming on and the sky was pink neon mixed with gray paint.

Reaching for the door knob, he took note of a surveillance camera located at the corner left side of the building moving from left to right.

This Institution houses important documents that support the structure of the American Government.

He walked into the United States Institute of Peace voluminous main lobby. Overhead the bluish glass roof shimmered in the late afternoon sun. Casting rays of geometric patters in the walls and giving the room a sense of grandeur. Angular shadows fell across the white tiled walls and down to the marble floor.

Allan approached the front desk while pulling out his wallet from his back pocket and raising it to the receptionist.

“I’m Agent Longshore.” He said. “And I am with the F.B.I.”

 

64

The Bank Manager felt his heart flutter with fear as he pushed the door open and heard it squeaking. He opened it slowly while peering inside. He smelled the stench of rotten dead body. He immediately focused his eyes on two corpses laying facing down across the room.

Dear Mother of God!

He stepped in and walked towards their bodies while observing the puddle of blood beneath them. He noticed that one of them was only wearing white underwear.

Did the Intruder wear his clothes to disguise as an Internal Affair Agent?

If so…did he go commando out of here?

He paid close attention to the position of the second body. The victim appeared to be sitting with his legs stretched out and he had his back against the wall. His torso was slumped to the left and what appeared to be very peculiar was the position of his head. It seemed like the Intruder tried to snatch his head off his neck.

I must expose what I know…this is becoming dangerous.

If they discover that I know about this place, then my identity will become compromised.

The F.B.I. should be notified immediately!

He raised his gaze from the dead Agent and looked above his head. He was immediately taken aback. There were two phrases written with blood on the white wall.

Is this the Agent’s or the Intruder’s blood?

He found himself approaching the wall to reach the phrase clearly.

Don’t believe everything you are reading!

He is using scare tactics.

Or could this mean that he actually being serious?

I still could reveal the truth…Be a media luminary…and make History.

Then, I’d apply for the F.B.I. Witness Protection Program.

He narrowed his eyes at the phrase written on the wall and read it one last time.

The conspiracy goes beyond what you’re thinking.

Expose what you know, and you will die.

 

65

The Agent sitting on the passenger side of the unmarked Crown Victoria was staring at Jessica’s Cardelini’s profile when there was an undistinguishable chatter in her earpiece.

“This is Agent from Surveillance One to Agent at Surveillance Three. Please come in.”

There is a hitman after Ms. Cardelini…Why?

Ms. Cardelini is in danger…Why does her life begin out of nowhere?

She needs to be protected…But where is she?

She raised her hand to her mouth and spoke in the wrist microphone while staring at the file she received from the Chief of Operations at the plan of action meeting.

“This Agent from Surveillance Three. Go ahead.”

“We have just sighted a dark S.U.V entering the Complex. The vehicle tag number is “I” as in International…Five…One…‘R’ as in Roger…‘V’ as in Vehicle…and ‘F’ as in Falcon; copy.”

The Agent flipped through the pages quickly and stopped at the divider where the information about Patrick Robinson began. She scanned the document, turned the page again and found a copy of his driving records. She wanted to confirm the license plate number that was registered to his vehicle at the D.M.V records. I51RVF.

The license plate was from the state of Florida.

What the hell is he doing all the way in D.C.?

The Agent glanced up and spotted the dark S.U.V appearing at the other end of the Road. It was coming their way. Although the weakening sunlight still illuminated the city, the driver had opted to drive with the headlights turned on.

“This is Agent from Surveillance Three to Agent at Surveillance One. Targeted Vehicle is in sight.”

“Ten four.”

The Agent continued to watch Patrick’s S.U.V until it began to slow down and pull up into one of the driveways. As the vehicle turned, she caught the silhouette of a human head through the passenger window, and the sunlight caused the set of diamond earrings to sparkle momentarily.

Could that really be Jessica Cardelini?

 

As the S.U.V went up the driveway, Jessica looked out the windshield and studied Patrick’s house. The grounds were formal with bushes all cut to the same height and shape. The late summer blooms presented in all their colorful and symmetry glory. There was a medium sized tree with branchless trunk topped by a crown of long yellow leaves in front of the bay window. The wind blew the leaves off the trunks and made them fall on the Saint Augustine grass. The house was painted in yellow with white windows trims. The garage door was also painted white. Patrick pressed a button on the sun visor and the garage door opened. Jessica looked to her right and eyed a Harley Davidson bike with its kick stand down near the door to the house.

“Nice bike!”

“Are you into cars?” he asked.

“I am not a fanatic, but I can fix something here and there. Is there something wrong with that bike?”

“No. I was just wondering.” It’s because you have the body of those females who wear provocative clothes and pose for photographers to take pictures of them on top of bikes and hood of hot rods.

Patrick cut off the vehicle and closed the garage door. He and Jessica got out of the S.U.V.

Maybe we could start a photo shoot…

 

Agent Hingenbrinck stopped his vehicle next to the unmarked Crown Victoria and glanced at his rearview mirror. A telltale vehicle of the F.B.I. — a navy blue GMC stopped behind him. Agent Daniels was the driver. He then saw a van pulling up next to Agent Daniels’ vehicle and heard the engine cutting off. The Agents from the F.B.I. Special Operation Division were arriving.

Jessica stepped in the living room and looked around. The house was still and quiet. The heavy curtain across the window of the living room was permitting a crack of light, casting slats of shadows on the floor. A potter was placed on top of the coffee table. Inside of the potter, there was a plant with long evergreen leaves and small brownish flowers. She observed that the window treatments in damask created a good backdrop for the lighter furniture choices.

Patrick walked past her, and dropped his keychain on top of the dining room table. He then, walked to the U—shaped kitchen. Jessica pulled her hair off her face and twisted it into a knot behind her head. She wondered if Patrick had chosen the deep rich colors of the mahogany cabinets in the kitchen to keep a consistency in color and design through out the house.

These furniture style look like they were part of a collection selected over a long period of time.

“Your house is beautiful.” She commented while spotting pictures on top of a crotch—mahogany credenza. She approached the picture frames. There was a painting of Saint Veronica hanging on the wall above the mahogany credenza. The painting was of a woman standing while holding a key on her right hand and a handkerchief on her left. The image on the handkerchief was of Jesus Christ. This painting symbolized the handkerchief offered to Jesus Christ by Saint Veronica on the road to Calvary.

“Are you Catholic?” She asked. On top of the credenza were several photos of a woman either alone of with him.

“No. But my wife was.”

Was? Jessica looked at him. He was standing behind the kitchen island drinking water.

“Would you like anything to drink?”

“I am ok for now, thank you.” She looked back at the photograph of Patrick’s wife. “How long were you married?”

“Three years and seven months.”

“What happened to her?”

He walked towards her “She passed away.”

“Aw Patrick I’m—”

“It was hard to accept in the beginning. I was on my fourth year working in the protection detail of the Prime Minister of England when I received the news that my wife died.”

“I am sorry.”

“What hurts the most was that she was an innocent bystander. She didn’t die of natural causes; she died doing what she loved the most. Working as a BBC World News reporter, she was dispatched to Afghanistan to do a report about the War. She was inside of the BBC World News van when the vehicle they had parked next to exploded. Nine people died that day.” He found himself raising his voice as he spoke. “I couldn’t accept what happened to her or to the other eight people. With the permission of the Prime Minister, I used all available resources to find the person responsible for this terrorist act. It took me over two years, but I found him.”

Jessica felt a pulse of excitement.

“He was hiding in a small village near the capital of Afghanistan. When I got face to face with him, he was sitting in the living room having lunch with his family. At first I couldn’t comprehend how could a human terrorize the World, and then go back home and sit with their families to have dinner. I remember that I didn’t even speak when I got there. I simply kept my weapon steadily pointed at him. His wife brought her hands to her mouth and started crying. But I didn’t care how sad she was feeling; I shot him twice in the head and walked away.”

Jessica pursed her lips for a second, and then touched his left shoulder. “I am sorry for bringing this up. I didn’t know.”

“You’re fine Jessica.” He nodded. “The past exists only in memory. And here we are yet again because of more bad decision from the people that are in power. But I’ve learned that these bad judgement only have power over me if I continue to give it, I have the freewill to do what I think is right.” He turned around and walked to the stairwell. “What they did to you Uncle was wrong.”

 

There were six F.B.I. Special Operation Division Agents inside of the van. These Agents sat across from each other, while wearing rubber boots, black jeans, gray shirt and a black bullet proof vest over the shirt. The letters F.B.I. were printed on the front of their vest. The captain heard a static on his ear piece and then the line beeped.

The man in charge was about to relay his plan of action.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck raised the radio and pressed the button to talk.

“Surveillance One standby…”

“Roger.” He heard the static response.

“Surveillance Two standby…”

Surveillance Two Agents where the F.B.I Snipers Operatives on the rooftops of the nearby buildings a couple blocks away from Patrick’s house. One of them had their rifle scope crosshairs aimed at Patrick’s bedroom window and the other had his on the living room bay window.

“Surveillance two…clear.”

 

Jessica arrived upstairs and faced a pair of antique sword hanging on the wall in the hallway. They were crossed one over the other, forming a large ‘x’.

“They are just a personal hobby.”

Jessica was taken aback and narrowed her eyes.

Personal hobby?

She followed him inside of his bedroom and saw that the sheets of his king size bed were tousled.

“It was in this room where Richard and I went over your background history.” He looked at her. “Are you still interested in working as a Cryptologist for Winterfield?”

She shook her head. “No, not after what they did to my Uncle.”

“Come on, you said you’d be the best Cryptologist they ever had. You said you’d volunteer for every assignment, work over time if you had to. You also mentioned you would give your life for the Country—”

“Patrick!” she snapped. “I said no! Applying to work for the Agency that killed my Uncle was the biggest mistake I made.”

“Since we couldn’t get to Richard’s black shoulder bag, I will only be able to show you half of the investigation that he was working with.”

“Yes, it will be much appreciated if you could share that with me.”

As he walked to his computer desk, Jessica studied the room. In order for him to focus on the applications that had met the requirements to become a Cryptologist for Winterfield, he kept this room monochromatic. Gray carpet; White walls and ceilings; even the computer desk was white.

Patrick started flipping through the folders that he had scattered on top of the desk. Then he froze.

“Something is wrong.”

“What?” Jessica looked puzzled at him.

Why am I thinking of Patricia Drumond?

Why am I suddenly feeling excessively concerned about Jessica’s life?

He sensed that something was about to occur. He took a few steps to the window.

He visualized himself opening the curtains and in that instant an assassin from Winterfield would be punching the glass, shattering the window and reaching for the collar of his white shirt.

“We made a mistake of coming to my house.” he replied as he came back to the present moment. He looked at her and then at the window. “You are in danger.”

He was still staring at the thin horizontal slats of the window blind. They were lowered, blocking the view of the outside.

“What are you talking about?” She watched him reaching for the pull cord. “What is going on?”

 

Agent Hingenbrinck glanced at the clock on the dashboard and it read: 5:49 P.M. He then glanced at the clipboard lying on the passenger seat and stared at the layout of the condominium.

Surveillance one is located at the entrance to the condominium.

Surveillance two is the Snipers Operative.

He raised his gaze and started at the vehicle idling next to his.

Surveillance three are watching over the front of the house.

Surveillance four is located at the road behind Patrick’s house. That end of the house is covered as well.

“This is Agent Hingenbrinck to the Captain of Special Operation Division. Please come in.”

“This is the Captain of Special Operation Division, go ahead.”

“I want your team to standby for entry…” He paused, and spotted a dark GMC Yukon through the windshield.

Whose vehicle is that?

And how come I wasn’t notified of this movement?

The vehicle came to a complete stop on the left side of the road, ten houses down from Patrick’s.

The passenger was an unsmiling man who watched the road from the front seat. He and the driver were both wearing sunglasses and black suit coat open, revealing a white button down shirt and black necktie. The left rear passenger door was opened and a woman got out of the S.U.V. She was dressed in tight blue jeans, with a white spandex shirt and a jeans jacket over the shirt. It was hard for Agent Hingenbrinck to tell if the woman had brown or black hair. She was very tall.

And very attractive.

Who is she?

Inside of a poorly lit hotel room where the only source of light came from a lamp on top of the nightstand, the remixed version of a hit song started playing. The woman traced her hand over his chest. The muscles were solid as iron. He had boxer’s abs and she thought about biting each muscle of his six packs.

Brushing her straight blonde hair backwards, they cascaded over her shoulder, causing the tips to stop just above her breasts. She started lowering her head to his stomach, halfway down; she stopped and looked at him.

In that instant his cellphone beeped twice on top of the nightstand, and she glanced at his phone.

I told you to turn it off!

As if on cue, he grabbed his phone and checked the display. The message was from Patricia Drumond.

Your identity has been compromised. Primary target’s niece is alive and this is her current location…

 

Patricia Drumond continued to stare at the movement near Patrick Robinson’s house. She watched the tall and handsome F.B.I. Agent getting out of his unmarked vehicle and readjusting the coat he was wearing. He stood by the opened driver door while resting his hands on his hips. The Agent looked around, glanced down at the asphalt, then at the van behind his vehicle.

She watched another Agent dressed in black combat gear jumping down from the rear of the van, and walk towards the F.B.I Agent. The F.B.I Agent glanced at his wrist watch, pointed at Patrick’s house, and then at her direction. She felt a cold feeling settling in her stomach and decided it was time to go back inside of the S.U.V.

 

As Lukas Vernon got out of bed; the woman sat up and looked at him. She watched him pulling his pants up, and then grabbing his gray sweater with a hood from the floor. Glancing up at his face, she opened her mouth to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out.

Just tell him he is still going to have to pay for full service…

He dug his right hand through his pocket and brushed against—

My reward… The woman surmised by the look she saw on his face.

His fingers closed around something cold and his hand emerged gripping a butt of a 9mm semiautomatic. The woman stifled a gasp and recoiled to the head of the bed. Lukas reached inside of his left pocket and withdrawn a perforated silencer.

No! The woman started shaking her head as she watched him slowly screwing the perforated silencer onto the barrel of the 9mm semiautomatic. The way that he stared at her, made it clear that he preferred to use his gaze as his weapon instead. Then, he stared at the closed door and walked towards it. Who the hell is this guy? She wondered.

 

The F.B.I sniper Operative One watched two Special Operation Division Agents going up the driveway to Patrick’s house and heading towards the backyard. He eased his right eye behind the scope of his rifle and glimpse down at the closed front door. He made the final adjustments to the telescopic sight. He observed the wind rose spinning inside of his scope, and noticed that the wind current were flowing northeast at five miles per hour.

He moved the scope up to the second floor and focused the sight at one of the rooms upstairs. The venetian blind were closed. His earphone chirped and he heard the man in charge reporting in.

“…Is everything set on your end?”

“Affirmative.” The curtains slowly began going up. “I am spotting movement in one of the rooms upstairs; at the two o’clock position.”

Agent Hingenbrinck turned towards the house and continued listening to the sniper Operative.

“…I am at point blank range. Target is a male, approximately thirty years old, tan…”

He centered the crosshairs on Patrick’s head and waited for Agent Hingenbrinck’s response.

“You have authorization to shoot.” Agent Hingenbrinck replied. “Execute your mark.”

 

Patrick looked out the window and scanned the street from suspicious vehicles. Heavy green hedges hemmed in to the left side of his house, blocking his view from seeing the F.B.I Agents.

Jessica looked worried. “What kind of danger are you talking about?”

He suddenly let go of the pull cord and turned towards Jessica. She saw his dark eyes intent, and the lines of his face were serious.

“We have to get to the bottom of the Operation White Diamond. I mean it right now! Because if something happens to me—”

He suddenly froze.

 

Keeping low, the Agents from the Special Operation Division jogged towards the back of Patrick’s house. The smell of fresh cut grass filled the air. One of the Agents darted around the corner of his house and approached the sliding door with his back against the wall. The Second Agent moved swiftly to the door that would lead to the basement while hearing a—

Dog barking!

Strange! He thought while looking around. I don’t remember seeing a sign warning us to ‘be aware of dogs.’

Another noise filled his ears between the deep barking, causing him to glance at the other Agent.

Did you hear that?

Were those footfalls breaking branches?

Was that someone running through the woods?

The Agent that was leaning his back against the wall motioned for him to move towards the fence instead. The second Agent nodded and drew his service weapon as he cautiously headed towards the fence.

 

Although Patrick had undergone rigorous training preparing him for tense situations, he still felt his pulse rising. He looked at Jessica and their eyes met. Their faces expressed the same thought.

The neighbor’s dog was barking…

That usually meant the dog had spotted an Intruder…

 

More barks filled his ears.

The surrounding trees were blocking the sunlight and the birds were chirping. He raised his service weapon as he approached the fence. Adrenaline doubled his heart rate. He visualized himself peeking over the fence and finding their target trying to hide.

The objective is simple.

Protect Ms. Cardelini. Shoot target. Ask questions later.

With that thought in mind, he grabbed the top part of the fence, and lifted himself up.

 

Patrick started thumbing through the folders that he had scattered on top of the desk until reaching for a white envelope. Jessica observed that whatever he kept inside of that envelope was very thin, because the envelope appeared empty. He opened the envelope and reached inside.

“Does this look familiar to you?” He handed her a small piece of paper.

She unfolded and read the small print:

76925256635464

“These numbers…” Jessica looked at Patrick. “They were written on my Uncle’s Journal…” Her voice trailed off in confusion. “But I still don’t know what they mean…and how do you know about this?”

Patrick tried to think of the best way to explain how these numbers connected to her uncle.

“Remember that article about a double homicide that took place somewhere in the United Kingdom?”

LIVERPOOL, England— Authorities are investigating a double homicide of two residents found dead inside their house earlier this afternoon. The discovery of their bodies was found after an anonymous caller notified the County Police…

“Yes, I remember.” Jessica nodded. “You said my Uncle was the anonymous caller.”

“Yes he was. We have already checked his phone records.” he paused. “It came positive. However, let’s focus on one of the woman dead on the ground. Do you have any idea who they were?”

Jessica had no idea, “No Sir.”

“One of them was the British Royal Family’s private nurse.”

Silence.

She nodded. Getting more confused now.

“And those numbers that your uncle wrote on the Journal were her Medical Identification Card Number.”

“Wait, wait…slow down please. So you are saying that the woman murdered was one of the British Royal Family’s private nurses?” She looked puzzled.

“Yes.”

“What was she doing in that house?” She asked. “And why would my Uncle write her Medical Identification Card Number? Was he trying to blackmail someone?”

“I don’t know.” Patrick’s raised his eyebrows. “But that is exactly the reason why I wanted to get to Richard’s black shoulder bag.” He looked at her. “The answers were in there.”

 

The F.B.I Agent peaked over the fence.

He found a dog barking while looking towards the bottom of the fence and wiggling his tail. The Agent followed the direction where he was barking and glanced down. The cat quickly ran away from the fence towards the front of the neighbor’s house. Disappointed, the Agent jumped down from the fence and turned around. Placing his service weapon back in his shoulder holster, he scanned the windows of Patrick’s house and searched for movements.

Pressing the alarm button on his key chain remote controller, Lukas’ BMW side markers flashed, and the doors unlocked with a ragged thunk. He opened the driver door and got inside. The engine turned over and the big—bore mufflers throbbed. Shutting the door, he gripped the gear stick, and threw the gear in reverse. He rested his left hand behind the passenger seat head rest, and backed out of the slot; while looking through the rear window.

 

Patricia watched three Agents from the Special Operation Division jogging towards the front steps of Patrick’s house. There was a driver baking up a navy blue GMC into Patrick’s driveway. As she continued to observe, her eyes went to the tall and handsome F.B.I. Agent and she followed him on the front lawn. He was also preparing to go inside of the house. She leaned towards the driver and pointed at the windshield.

“I want you to keep an eye on that unmarked navy blue GMC.”

The driver looked over his right shoulder and nodded. He had the telltale ear phone of the Secret Service in his ear.

“Yes Ma’am.”

 

Lukas saw a police barricade at the intersection ahead. He saw flashing blue and white lights beyond the barricade. He stopped at the blockade, got out of his vehicle and flashed his credentials identifying him as a supervisory special Agent of the F.B.I.

The officer demanding identification waved him through and he continued walking towards the backyard of the house that lead to Patrick’s. There was a dog on a leash at the back porch and it kept barking at him. He drew his silenced 9mm semi automatic and kept it by his left side.

 

Jessica felt a hideous, sickening, and panicky stomach lurch seizing her as she continued to stare at the small piece of paper in the palm of her right hand.

76925256635464

This was the British Royal Family’s private nurse Medical Identification Card Number.

What was my Uncle up to?

What did he discover that the British Government had to come after him?

“My heart aches for you.” Patrick whispered. “And I am sorry.”

I asked Patrick about these numbers earlier and he said he didn’t know what they were, and now I discover that he was lying…then what else is he hiding from me?

She nodded. Her fear dissolved in a violent rush, replaced by a fury beyond any she had known. Someone will pay for this…

“Come on, let’s go downstairs to drink water.”

 

Lukas noticed that Patrick’s backyard was empty. He scanned the windows and the sliding door and saw no movements. Climbing the fence, he jumped into Patrick’s backyard and cautiously crept towards the basement door. As he approached, he aimed his silenced 9mm semi automatic at the door latch and fired a single shot. The door knob exploded and he slowly opened the door.

He advanced through the entrance to the basement slowly. His silenced 9mm semi automatic outstretched. He tilted his head and peered down the barrel of his gun.

 

Patrick entered the kitchen and opened one of the cabinets overhead for a glass cup. Jessica came down from upstairs. When he looked at the living room, he saw her stopping at the archway, and resting her left shoulder on the wall next to the refrigerator. Her hair was mussed. Her mascara was smudged beneath her eyes, a sign that she been crying.

“Could you hit the light switch for me please?”

She followed his gaze and flicked the light switch. When she returned her attention back to him, she noticed that he been watching her.

“Things will get better.”

Jessica’s smile was wry, fragile, quivering at the corner of her mouth. Grief bowed her down. She used the fingers of her right hand to comb her hair backwards.

“Its funny how just yesterday I was talking to Richard and I told him that I hadn’t felt this happy in years.” She looked into his eyes and attempted a smile. But the thought of Richard made another tear drop roll from her eyes.

Patrick suddenly looked past her and felt a cold sweat trickling down the sides of his body. Someone appeared in the background, across the table behind Jessica.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck, I’m with the F.B.I.” he flashed his credentials at Patrick while steadily aiming his service weapon at him with his other hand. “Patrick Robinson…”

Jessica suddenly turned around at the recognition of the Agent’s voice. As she turned, she spotted a phone mounted on the wall. She slowly lifted her hands to the phone—though it seemed like she was raising her arms in submission.

Agent Hingenbrinck aimed his service weapon at Jessica instead. “I won’t hesitate to shoot.”

“What do you—?” Patrick took a step forward, but he stopped in mid sentence as Agent Hingenbrinck pulled the trigger.

 

Lukas was about to reach for the door knob when he heard voices coming from the interior of the house.

Agent Hingenbrinck, I’m with the F.B.I… Patrick Robinson… I won’t hesitate to shoot.

He stood still waiting for more sounds, when suddenly he heard a gun firing. Immediately after that, the Agents from the Special Operation Division busted through the front door and rushed inside with service weapons aiming forward. He kept looking at the light coming from under the door and saw it breaking twice.

Two people just passed by…

I need to stop them before they take Jessica!

 

Agent Hingenbrinck spoke into the microphone under his lapel.

“Surveillance Three standby for exit…” He grabbed Jessica’s arm. “Escort Team, we will be arriving with the package in seven seconds. Stand by.”

“Ten four” he heard the static response from Agent Daniels, “Escort team is engaged.”

The F.B.I Agent pushed her towards the front door.

Why is he not handcuffing me?

As they were crossing the living room, Jessica glanced over her left shoulder and stared at Patrick lying motionless on the kitchen floor.

Things will get better… She recalled him talking to her just a few minutes ago. Is this where it ends?

While Jessica maintained her attention at Patrick, Agent Hingenbrinck suddenly turned his head at the adjacent hallway where a door busted open. There were two Special Operation Division Agents in that hall; they also turned their attention to the opened door.

Lukas opened the door so fast that a poster fell on the ground. He stepped in the hall already pointing his arm towards where he saw movements and shot the nearest Agent in the head. The bullet entered just about his right eye, sending him airborne and causing him to crash and flip over the living room couch. As the metal casing fell to the ground, Lukas weapon’s side locked back into open position and the clip emptied.

The second Agent looked terrified at the turning of events and raised his service weapon at the Intruder.

My turn!

In that split second Lukas knocked the service weapon out of his hands and it hit the roof. Then, the service weapon fell nosily on the wooden floor. Lukas quickly stomped on the Agent’s ankle and snapped it out of place. The Agent screamed in agony and tried to push the Intruder away. Blocking the Attack, he ducked his head and threw an upper cut. Hitting him right on the chin, it loosened his teeth and he fell unconscious on the ground.

Lukas stood still for a second, breathing heavy and looking down at the Agent. He heard shouts coming from the outside mixed with the static voices coming from the radio on the Agent’s hip. He hurried to the bay window. He observed that the weather outside was enervating. The wind roared in the tree tops and the glass rattled. His image reflected on the glass. As he continued to observe the movement outside, an unmarked Crown Victoria pulled away while squealing the tires.

There was a female F.B.I Agent waiting by the opened left rear door of the navy blue GMC parked on the driveway. He saw a male F.B.I Agent helping Jessica get inside of the GMC and then closing the door.

They can’t take her away!

Turning away from the window, he crouched next to the dead Agent positioned upside down on the couch and grabbed his service weapon. Getting up, he walked towards the living room table while aiming the service weapon at the hallway, and then at the kitchen.

Patrick Robinson is facing down on the kitchen floor.

There is a pool of blood beneath his chest.

He turned and set sights at the contents on top of the table.

My objective is simple. Kill Jessica before she speaks to the Federal Agents…

Snatching the Harley Davidson bike keys, he turned and walked into the garage.

 

A Special Agent from the F.B.I in charge of cleaning up the mess and was also assigned to create a report of the situation that happened at Patrick’s house, stepped in the hall and raised his microphone under his lapel.

“This is Agent from Surveillance four, we have a Special Agent down, and we need an ambulance immediately.”

“Ten four we are confirming your current location and sending an ambulance to your twenty.”

The Agent sighed, and as he was lowering his arm, he felt the house rattling. He turned towards the door that lead to the garage.

“There is someone in the garage!”

 

Patrick waited just until the Agent disappeared into the garage and weakly got up. Pressing his right hand against the bullet wound, he snatched the key to his S.U.V from on top of the table and rounded the wall that would take him to the garage.

He went after the Agent.

His blood dripped down between his fingers. But the burn gave him strength.

Without suffering there is no glory!

 

 

66

The receptionist studied his F.B.I Credentials and then looked at him.

“How may I assist you today Agent Longshore?”

Allan produced a white envelope and pulled out a warrant to search and seizure.

“This is a matter of National Security…”

British National Security

“…And I have a warrant to search and seizure safe number twelve oh seven.”

The woman nodded. She handed the warrant back to him.

“Someone will be here shortly to escort you to the safe.”

“Thank you.”

 

Joshua Hemingway slowed the bike as he approached the curb to the front entrance of the United States Institute of Peace. He hit the kick stand down and got off the bike. In a distance, the clouds coming in were dark and threatening. The parking lot behind the Institute was huge, with streetlights illuminating the few vehicles that were in the lot.

He descended the steps leading to the front door as the shadow streaked the court yard. The statue of a wing spread eagle made of glass on the ridge of the roof was being illuminated by a blue fluorescent light coming from below it. The sparkling rainbows reflecting the fluorescent light on the eagle was gleaming to his eyes.

Coming within reach of the door knob, he pulled it towards him. But the door was secured with a metal bolt. Josh let go of the handle and looked around. He glanced at his wrist watch and checked the time. Once he looked up again, there was a woman standing on the other side of the glass. She pointed at her own wristwatch and mouthed the phrase: “we are closed, sorry.”

Josh tapped his wristwatch and replied to her aloud.

“I have one minute, its six fifty nine!”

“I am sorry.” She spoke up; her voice came muffled through the glass. “We will open at nine in the morning.”

He watched her turning around and walking towards the interior of the Institute.

Americans are so…

Josh placed his hands on his hips and bit his bottom lip. Then he decided to call her back. He brought his head to the glass and stared at the lobby of the institute.

He caught movement at the right side of the lobby and watched the woman that said the Institute had been closed, walking towards a man that was standing by the elevator.

How come there are still costumers inside?

Wait a second, is that Allan Longshore?

I definitely need to come up with something to stop Allan from getting to the safe.

He can’t get there before I do!

He glanced back at his bike.

Will that work?

 

The elevator doors opened and Allan followed the woman out into the hall. He glanced across the atrium and took note that they were walking on the third floor. He caught two business women walking adjacent to them on the other side of the atrium, and wondered if they were part of the security personnel.

The air in the hall was cold to him and he decided to stick his hands in his pockets. He felt the key that was taken from Francisco Cardelini inside.

The Safe Number is 1207 and the locker combination is 30-05-10.

The woman stopped in front of a closed door and reached for the door knob. She pushed the door opened and motioned for Allan to go inside. He felt the adrenaline doubling his heart rate as he watched the door opening. Immediately upon entering the room, he observed that there were two security guards posting by a wooden door across from him. He also saw a security camera mounted on the top right corner on the ceiling. The room was furnished with dark red carpeting, and orchid and lilies that flowed out of a brown ceramic pot.

“Sir, we are not allowed to go beyond this point.” She said as she stood under the door frame.

He glanced over his left shoulder and watched her gently closing the door.

 

Patrick navigated his Lexus S.U.V with pain on his right shoulder. Wondering if he was being followed, he checked his rearview mirror. No one was tailgating him. His short hair was soaked with sweat, and the drops of sweat dripped down on the side of his face. His cell phone vibrated on his lap. Someone had just sent him a text message.

This is Josh, and this is my new number!

His phone vibrated again.

Is Jessica safe?

Patrick felt a cold feeling settling in his stomach, because he had no idea where she was.

How could I have been so naïve? My house was never the safest place to take Jessica…

Another text.

I saw Winterfield Asset Allan Longshore inside of the United States Institute of Peace.

Patrick felt himself suddenly reeling back to when he was with Jessica at the Lincoln Memorial and they were talking about her necklace…Do you know where your necklace is? He asked…Yes. But I don’t have the key to get it. What do you mean? She turned towards him and replied. It’s locked inside of an Institution and he was the only one that had access to it.

He was scheduled for a meeting tonight, and with this turn of events, things was not looking good for him. He needed something to represent the loss of Jessica.

Josh just gave him an idea.

 

Josh gunned the engine of his bike as he approached the top of the stairs. Then he accelerated again once he hit the front walk leading to the U.S.I.P. building. As he cleared the top steps, he lifted up on the handle bars and prepared for the jostling he was about to take.

The back wheel bounced down the stairs and he leaned back slightly as the front wheel came down. Holding tight, he aimed the bike at the glass doors leading into the building. When he reached the base of the stairs, he revved up again and felt the back tire twitch with power. Leaning back, he slid off the bike as it took off away from him dead set on target for the front doors. With a little stumble and a roll, a move perfected from dropping motorbikes too many times, he came up in a crouch and watched the motorcycle crash through the doors with an explosion of glass and a screeching of metal. Sliding along the lobby floor, the bike careened into the information desk and lay smoldering. The back tire spinning out of control as the bike lay on its side.

Keenly aware that his surprise entrance was no longer an option, he approached the gaping hole left from the crash and entered the building.

 

Allan walked along one of the rows of safe deposit boxes while reading the numbers engraved in the gold tags.

1215…1214…1213…

He began taking slower steps as he approached the safe deposit box that he had come for. Then, he stopped and faced the box number 1207. He glanced down the hall at the direction he came from before raising his hand to the lock on the box.

Returning his attention to the lock in front of him, he began spinning the first number into the combination.

30…The hum of the air conditioning filtered through out the room.

05… He mentally juggled through items that could be inside of Francisco Cardelini’s safe deposit box.

10… A severe tremor shook the foundations of the building, causing Allan to stand for moment, frozen to the spot. The fluorescent lighting flickered above his head.

What was that? He thought while looking back down the hall.

 

The receptionist returned back to her office and caught movements out of the corner of her eyes. It was Josh slowly pushing his bike while casting glances all around in hopes of spying Allan. She brakes into a run for the alarm pad to alert the authorities; her heels echoing throughout the lobby.

“Ma’am!” Josh yelled; trying to catch her attention.

But the woman continued to run away from him.

“Hey Ma’am!!” He raised his voice this time. “I am a Special Agent from the F.B.I!”

No answer!

Like she is going to believe you anyhow!

Frustrated and tensed, he continued to walk to the security desk. Peering over, he saw the bank of monitors and the images on each screen.

 

Allan opened the safe deposit box and looked inside. The box was covered with a soft red cushion on the sides and bottom.

The box is empty!

For a second he stood incapable of taking action.

How could this be!

Puzzled, he pulled the cushion towards him and an object appeared. The fluorescent lamp overhead shined the highly refractive and colorless crystalline. The gemstones glistened. He tilted his head, carefully studying the object with awe in his face.

Mr. Cardelini had entrusted a diamond necklace with a medallion of the Lincoln Memorial for safekeeping…Why?

Grabbing the necklace, he turned and walked towards the front door.

 

Josh continued to study the bank of monitors.

Outside One…Main Lobby…

He saw himself on the screen; he had his back to the camera.

Great…He thought as he looked at the next screen.

Atrium Cam One…Second Floor East Hall…

Just as he saw Allan appearing in one of them, the alarm erupts and flashing orange security lights illuminates the lobby and upper floors. Cursing under his breath, he looked back at the monitors and caught Allan shooting two Security Guards. The label on the monitor indicated a 3rd floor room.

Getting on top of his bike, he cranked the engine and headed for the stairwell at the far end of the lobby. The wheels squealed as it skidded on high waxed floor. Hitting the stairs at the nearly thirty miles per hour, he skipped up and went to the 3rd floor landing. Going airborne as the stairs ended, he touched down, slammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt just inches from the wall.

As the alarm continued to scream at him, he looked quickly around the 3rd floor layout. He found himself halfway between parallel balconies that ran from the landing towards full frontage windows. Both balconies had stairs leading up.

“Where is that son of—?” His thoughts were interrupted by gunfire from above.

Bullets riddled the balcony near his feet, sending up splinters debris. Gunning the throttle, he raced down the right side. Planning on catching Allan, he drove the bike up the stairs. Halfway up, bullets ricochet off the railing.

Allan was across the atrium, emptying his clip and reloading while quickening his pace towards the descending steps. He focused on reaching the 2nd floor landing and then to the stairs leading back to the lobby. As he reached the stair, he caught sight of Josh at the other end of the atrium.

Josh knew he needed to change direction quickly. There was no way he could race around the 4th floor landing.

Go back down the stairs and catch up to Allan.

He was running out of time.

In the confusion, he failed to notice the alarm stopping. However, he knew that wasn’t going to hinder the authorities’ arrival. Squeezing the front brake handle, the bike lifted up on the front wheel, carried by its momentum. Using riding prowess, he spun the bike through a 180° maneuver and faced back down to the 3rd floor. Kicking it into gear, he raced down the steps. Seeing Josh changing direction, Allan panicked at the base of the stairs. He knew he wouldn’t make to the main steps. With a slim chance of hope, he rushed to the 2nd floor. Stepping into the 2nd floor lobby, He decided to run along the balcony towards the front window.

The emergency exit.

Hitting the 3rd floor, Josh slowed down to turn right towards the opposite balcony and saw Allan running to the windows one floor below. He accelerated.

Nowhere to go, but he is the one who’s armed, and all I have is this motorcycle…uuhhhmmm….

Allan reached the end of the balcony and saw the emergency exit to his right.

Josh revved the RPM to the red line, lifts up the front wheel and jumped from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor. While crossing atrium, in mid—air he released his grip from the handle and kicked the motorcycle away.

Hearing the rev of the engine closing on him, Allan dropped to a knee, spun and aimed his weapon at the bike. The bike came from above and there wasn’t enough time for him to avoid a collision. The front tire slammed into his midsection. Driving the wind out of his lungs and causing him to bend over the handlebars; his head hitting the gas tank. Dazed with the weight of the bike forcing him backwards, his mind raced through the image of his life.

Josh crashed into the floor and skidded to the floor to ceiling windows.

Smashing his back against the window, Allan felt his ribs crack at the instant the glass shattered. While he and the motorcycle flew through the window, he realized the finality of his situation. Outside, Patrick heard the crash through the window and he looked to the right of the building. He had parked his S.U.V. at the front entrance of the U.S.I.P building. Staring in disbelief, he watched the bike hurtling to the ground.

“Holy—” The words unable to leave his mouth as the explosion rocked the S.U.V.

Brightening the dark lot while hurling debris in all direction, his first thought was whether or not Josh could have survived the crash.

Getting out of the S.U.V, he approached the fiery remains. There within the wreckage was the flame ravaged body he was praying would be ok. His body was ablaze as he walked out of the fire. He headed towards Patrick with his arms wide open. The fire made a popping sound as the flames found the last strength that he carried within. He dropped to his knees and fell face down the asphalt.

This is definitely not what I had planned.

Pulling out his weapon, he faced the building. His head momentarily broke the radiant light from the sun.

“Allan had to be stopped at any cost!”

Sirens roared in the evening air, definitely approaching at a high rate of speed. He wondered if he had enough time to run inside the building.

 

Josh’s vision was closing in on him when he focused his eyes on something that didn’t quite belong. Trained to notice such things, he rolled to the side. His brows arched with intensity. As he approached he noticed that the jagged shards prevented the diamond from falling off the building. Kneeling next to the diamond, he looked down and noticed that he had misunderstood what he was looking at. It was Jessica’s diamond necklace. The wind blew the Lincoln Memorial medallion around. Josh grabbed the necklace and got up while feeling a lot of pain, specially coming from his left shoulder.

 

There was no time to finish this now. Spinning towards the S.U.V, Patrick walked while looking at the U.S.I.P front door. He held his weapon while his shirt flapped as the wind blew on it. He touched the bandage he had placed where he got wounded by the F.B.I Agent. Getting inside of the S.U.V, he closed the driver door.

 

Josh ran out of the front door, rushed up the steps and crossed the sidewalk. Patrick started driving away. Stopping in front of the S.U.V, his hands went for the hood. Patrick looked puzzled at Josh and slammed on the brakes. Josh walked around the S.U.V and opened the passenger door.

“What—” Patrick started to protest.

Josh showed him Jessica’s diamond necklace. He held the medallion and popped the locket. There was a microchip inside.

“Drive to East Capitol Street.”

Chuckling at the strange turn of events, Patrick casually took his foot off the brake pedal just seconds before the police and fire department came into view.

 

67

Looking through the rearview mirror, Agent Daniels noticed that they were being followed by a man on a bike. As she approached the intersection, she read the name of the street they were in and glanced at the rearview mirror again.

Lukas Vernon was closing in.

At the intersection, Agent Daniels jerked the steering wheel to the right, and skidded the navy blue GMC Yukon into the avenue. A driver from the opposite direction of traffic pressed the horn while dodging the Yukon. Agent Daniels drove around a taxi and yelled at the woman in the backseat.

“Lean over to the floor board!”

The woman opened her mouth to protest and looked back through the rear window. Lukas was turning at the intersection.

“Please I recommend you to do what I say Ma’am.” Agent Daniels glanced at her again.

She returned her attention to the road ahead and continued speaking. “Lady, this is for your own protection!”

She nodded and leaned over to the floor board. The hood of her sweater covered her head. Ahead, Agent Daniels saw the traffic light changing from yellow to red. She cursed under her breath and flickered—on the police light that was on top of the dashboard. The blue light stated revolving. Traffic began to slow down as she approached the intersection. Thinking about driving on the sidewalk, she looked to right and saw a black escalade exiting a parking garage.

In one fast motion, she spun the steering wheel to her right, kicked the accelerator and squealed the tires. The Yukon went up on the entry way. Now inside, she quickly veered left and turned into an adjacent parking ramp.

Lukas downshifts and followed the Yukon into the parking garage. Missing the evasive maneuver, he continued on a parallel row separated by a line of cars. He drew his 9mm automatic with his right hand aimed at the Yukon.

A married couple that were getting inside of their car, turned their attention to the bike and crouched to the floor upon realizing that they were in the line of fire.

The row of cars were about to end and Agent Daniels let go of the accelerator. As Lukas approached, he fired a round at the window on the right rear door and it shattered the glass on top of the woman sitting on the rear seat.

She screamed.

The roar coming from the exhaust pipes of Lukas’ bike caused some of the vehicles to set off their alarms. The woman still crouched next to her car reached inside of her purse and grabbed her cell phone. Next she dialed 911.

At the end of the ramp, Agent Daniels pulled the hand brake and swerved to the right. The Yukon skidded sideways and the left side got smashed into the parked cars. Her body jarred from the impact, bruising her left shoulders.

The Yukon came to a complete stop with smoke coming from the under the hood. In a passing nano—second everything fell silent. Then, Lukas appeared from behind a parked car and saw the Yukon across from him. He stopped the bike across from Agent Daniels and stood at the opposite side of traffic; aiming his 9mm automatic directly at her.

Agent Daniels’ heart raced and her mouth went dry. As if in slow motion their eyes met. Triggering images in her mind of when she was inside of the Federal Reserve Bank, she recalled reading the notes that Agent Hingenbrinck had written about Lukas.

The guy is fearless…a trained assassin…Why did he kill the C.E.O?

Agent Daniels came back to the preset moment while curling her fingers on the twelve o’clock position of the steering wheel. Then, she threw the gear in reverse, placed her right hand behind the passenger head rest and looked through the rear window. Pulling away as fast as she could, bullets ricocheted on the front bumper. One of the headlights exploded. As the smoke rose in the air, the smell of burned rubber assaulted their nostrils.

Agent Daniels touched the brakes, spun the steering wheel to 180° degrees and smashed the rear of the Yukon into a parked car; suffering whiplash.

The body of the woman on the back seat bucked.

As she took the time to glance at Lukas, A bullet exploded the passenger window. She ducked her head and looked straight ahead.

Shit!

The adrenaline doubled her heart rate. Shifting gears again, she stepped hard on the gas pedal. The woman lying on the back seat used her hands to cover her ears.

Lukas squeezed the trigger and shot at the Yukon as it went towards the ramp until it disappeared out of view. The gun shot ended and the woman opened her eyes. She was sitting on the seat when Agent Daniels exited the garage.

Didn’t I tell you to remain laying down?!

Orange light from street lamps illuminated the interior of the Yukon.

The Yukon bounced hard as it moved from the incline ramp to the avenue. Swerving to her right, the tires skidded again and more rubber was burned. She drove around a van coming from the opposite lane.

The woman seated on the rear seat removed the hood from over her head with shaking hands. Looking straight ahead, she studied the traffic with fear in her eyes. In a distance, wailing police sirens disturbed the evening.

Agent Daniels drove with her left hand, and kept the accelerator pedal to the floor.

Lukas exited the garage without looking and a horn was blared at him. Dodging vehicles, he accelerated into the left lane and pulled almost even with the Yukon. As he brought his 9mm semi-automatic up he aimed it at the—

The woman looked at him and her look made him disappointedly release the throttle.

The woman wasn’t Jessica Cardelini at all!

How could this be?

He wondered what could have taken place…Agent Hingenbrinck grabbed Jessica’s arm and pulled her towards the front door. Once they got outside, Agent Daniels was going up Patrick’s driveway with another female resembling Jessica’s appearances. She opened the rear door of the GMC and helped her get inside.

Agent Hingenbrinck continued to escort Jessica down the driveway to his idling Crown Victoria parked by the curb.

They used a ploy against me— He thought.

The prolonged sound of a loud horn broke his concentration and he looked forward. A truck started crossing the intersection. Lukas started squeezing the brakes. As he leaned and tilted the bike to his left, he began to skid towards the intersection.

How could I have chased the wrong car? He continued thinking. Now, I never would of have guessed that I would be stopped by something so common as—

As he passed beneath the trailer, another horn blared. Then, a transportation bus slammed into him and tossed him in the air.

The bike continued to slide across the intersection. His crumpled body fell back to the ground; and he felt a pain running through his body.

I have failed!

His final thought was broken by a Jeep running over him; spewing brain matter and body parts everywhere.

 

As Agent Hingenbrinck drove through the network of streets, crisscrossing multiple times to insure they weren’t being followed, the silence weighted heavy; and brought with it a tension that was tangible.

Jessica sat in the backseat struggling with too many questions and no answers, and the Agent driving was as silent as a statue.

What did my Uncle discover that the British Government had to come after him?

Where are we heading to and why?

When am I going to get some answers, and from whom?

Why are so many people interested in me?

All those questions were making her dizzy and trying to follow where they were heading wasn’t helping. She closed her eyes to block everything around and breathed deeply.

 

68

Agent Hingenbrinck glanced at Jessica in the backseat and saw that her eyes were closed. As he studied her, he wondered what importance she held and why someone wanted her dead. There were too many holes in his information and no one seemed to be able to fill them in. Only by bringing her to the safe house could they begin to gather the information needed to close the gaps.

And it all started with the lady in the backseat. He watched her through the rearview mirror. Who are you exactly?

As they continued to drive through the heart of D.C. the weather began to turn for the worse. Dark clouds gathered in the east and started to push their way into the skies over the city. It was going to be a long night and the weather did nothing to ease the stress of the situation.

Agent Hingenbrinck turned on the headlights and slowed down to make the left turn to the safe house.

 

Patrick’s S.U.V easily moved through the early evening traffic to stay within eye contact of Patricia’s Yukon.

“How did you figure this was the Director’s vehicle?” He glanced in the rearview mirror to see Josh making preparations with his equipment.

“I was inside of the conference room where the Chief of Operations was going over the action plan.” Josh was running through his own agenda, completely unaware of Patrick’s constant glances at him. “He was going over the steps on how to assassinate Jessica.”

“And where is she going to be assassinated at?” Patrick’s eyes grew big.

Josh looked at him and narrowed his eyes.

“Location A is the safe house.”

 

Hey you are bleeding!” Patrick noticed a patch of blood forming beneath Josh’s shirt.

Josh checked his left shoulder.

“It must have started after I fell from the bike! This area is very sensitive, and sore.”

As they made their way through the city, his concentration was on his equipments. Looking up towards Patrick, he gave the ok sign, nodded quickly and returned to the task at hand—to finish the Operation he had been assigned to—Jessica Cardelini.

Eliminate the target.

No questions asked.

 

Patrick followed the vehicle, saw it slowing down and pulling in front of a three story townhouse. But he continued driving until he passed it and turned the S.U.V. into an alley diagonally left from the F.B.I. safe house. This alley gave access to an abandoned condominium that was on the market. A perfect spot for what was planned.

A perfect cover for tonight’s termination…

But would it really end?

 

Agent Hingenbrinck pulled up in front of the safe house and glanced around, using all of his mirrors to pick up on anything suspicious. Nothing out of the ordinary, but he did notice a black unmarked S.U.V. slow down and enter an alley across the street. He sloughed it off to coincidence, and not a threat. He knew the area too well and the alley led to the back of an apartment building and several restaurants.

Yet the Passenger did look familiar…

 

Jessica slid across the backseat towards the drivers’ side as a well—dressed man approached the rear door. With her paranoia at the edge of breaking, she trusted no one at this point. Agent Hingenbrinck noticed her movement, breaking his own thoughts and he turned in her direction.

“Ms. Cardelini, for your safety please trust us. He is one of ours and will escort you into the building. At which we will attempt to piece together the current situation. I’m sure you have several questions, as do we, regarding the last twelve hours.”

Jessica nodded towards Agent Hingenbrinck.

“I really think that it is you that needs to provide the answers. I’ve been chased and dragged across D.C. Informed of my Uncle’s death and now you’re promising my safety; from what or whom?” She didn’t want to bring up anything about Patrick until these people gave some answers.

“I’m not at liberty to divulge anything at this time. Please, Ms. Cardelini.” Agent Hingenbrinck said as the other Agent opened the rear passenger door. “It would be best for you to follow this Agent inside.”

“Best for me?”

“Yes, in every aspect imaginable.”

She saw the seriousness in his gaze. Sliding towards the open door, she heard Agent Hingenbrinck opening his door and exit; then closing it behind him.

Exiting to the sidewalk, Agent Hingenbrinck met her there, glanced around and casually nodding in the direction of the town house. Jessica watched the door open as Agent Hingenbrinck and the other Agent directed her towards the front steps.

Just what the hell was going on?

 

Patrick stopped the S.U.V. between the back entrance to the apartment building and the delivery ramp for an Italian restaurant, and placed it in park. He didn’t expect any trouble. But nonetheless he checked his gun and watched Josh slide out of the side carrying a backpack and his sniper case. Glancing at his watch, he wondered how much time they had and almost mentioned this to Josh, but knew that it was moot point. They could not rush the delivery of the package nor estimate the extraction time. All they could do was to be in place and be ready.

Josh slid the side door closed, looked up and down the alley and walked around front of the S.U.V. so as not to be seen from the street entrance. Approaching the rear of the apartment building, he stole one more glance along the alley and entered through the back door. Inside, he faced a long hallway and a set of stairs heading up to the second floor and beyond. Just how far he had to go he could only guess, and as he closed the door behind him he stared at the stairs, took a deep breath and began to ascent.

Patrick kept staring Josh as he closed the door to the apartment building. Turning towards the GPS tracking device, he pushed the function key to pull up the menu. Keying in the add command and enter, he then pressed the refresh key. He pulled up all the sensors they had placed.

And there it is… the yellow light approaching our location.

He knew it would be…That was the plan wasn’t it?

At least that was how it had begun. Only he had been made of the alterations and he had only shared the “need to know” details with Josh.

 

Jessica stepped from the front landing, entered the first floor of the safe house and stopped in the foyer. Looking around, she noticed the sparse furnishing, but recognized the contemporary style. Her attention was drawn back towards the front door as it closed and she saw Agent Hingenbrinck lean in and whisper to the other Agent. The Agent re-opened the door, left, and Agent Hingenbrinck closed it again, locking it as he did so.

“Before we head upstairs, is there anything would you like to drink?” he asked, motioning in the direction of the kitchen.

“No, but I’d like to know why we’re here and how long you plan on keeping me here? Am I under arrest? When is someone going to start answering questions rather than creating more?” She replied with a slight edge to her tone.

Agent Hingenbrinck sensed Jessica’s attitude, but wasn’t about to let it interfere with the investigation. He had many questions of his own, and planed on playing his first. That’s how he worked and she was just going to have to follow along, whether she liked it or not.

“You are not wearing handcuffs, this place doesn’t exactly look like a holding cell, and it would be your best interest to assist us and lose the attitude.” He replied, keeping his eyes locked on hers.

They both glared at each other, unspoken words passing between them. Jessica was the first to flinch, looking away and exhaling softly. She had been unaware that she had been holding her breath, and her hands clenching into fists at her sides. The tension had been steadily building and had reached the thresholds but she wasn’t about to break.

Do this for your Uncle! She thought while taking a deep breath.

“Are we going to continue this little questionnaire here in the foyer or a place a little more comfortable?”

Holding back his own agitation, Agent Hingenbrinck extended his arm towards the stairs.

“There is a den upstairs that we can converse in…” he paused, and waited for her response. But it never came. He continued. “And begin pulling our information together.”

Without saying another word, she brushed by him, paused at the first step and turned.

“It would be best to share everything.” She said and continued going upstairs without letting Agent Hingenbrinck reply.

Two could play at this game. She thought and smiled.

 

As Josh reached the half-floor, he paused and inserted his earphone into his left ear. At once it was blasted by Patrick’s voice and he adjusted the volume.

“…Report in once you’ve located the general location of the F.B.I. Parcel.”

“Roger that. I’m heading upstairs.”

Josh knew that he needed to enter the apartment facing the street to gain a visual of the Safe House. As he reached the top of the stairs, he turned right to orient himself, and then continued straight. He needed to check every apartment to ensure they were unoccupied.

Better to eliminate any extra baggage before it became a witness, or a burden.

 

Patrick looked out of the windshield and noticed the darkening effect the storm clouds were creating.

Perfect!

With this type of weather rolling in it would only make it easier to conceal our Operation.

It was time for his own preparations and with that thought in mind, he entered the back of the van unaware of the vehicle that had just pulled up in front of the Safe House. A black Yukon with an attractive woman in the rear seat, sharply dressed, and armed.

Her intentions known only to herself.

As Patrick pulled his knapsack towards himself and unzipped the top, the yellow light and red light on the G.P.S device on the dash flickered one last time, blinked out and a single orange light appeared; blinking slowly, and ominously. Patrick glanced up as the first drops of rain hit the windshield and the roof, echoing in the S.U.V. stealing a glance at his watch, he checked the time and returned to the task at hand.

 

When Agent Hingenbrinck and Jessica reached the 2nd floor landing; she glanced around to get a perspective on her surroundings. A long hallway began at a window overlooking the street with a door adjacent to it on the right, open at this time. Further down the hall were two doors both closed. The hall ended at another door, open. Apparently leading into a bedroom based on the furniture she could see. A shadow passed by as she stared through the door, bringing to mind—who else was here?

“This way please.” Agent Hingenbrinck stated and indicated the front of the Safe House.

Jessica headed down the hall and entered the den. The furnishings were typical—couch, coffee table, end tables and leather chairs. But what caught her eyes was the elaborate computer set up on the desk and additional electronic equipment she didn’t recognize. And yet another Agent seated behind the desk and tapping on the keyboard. In addition to the bookcase on the walls, she noticed two windows overlooking the street and the building they faced.

What exactly do they want from me? She looked puzzled and skeptic. What is this equipment for?

Breaking her reverie, Agent Hingenbrinck motioned towards one of the chairs.

“Have a seat Jessica and we’ll try to figure out where the beginning is.”

The beginning?

She wasn’t sure herself. But it gave the impression she was going to be here for awhile.

“I’d like that drink now.” She casually looked over her shoulder as she took a seat. “And make it a tall one, please.” She continued with as much steel in her voice as she could muster.

Turning to head back downstairs, Agent Hingenbrinck concealed his smile.

She is a tough one.

But when it all played out—will that be enough?

 

Working his way from the rear of the second floor while checking every apartment, Josh took care to make sure there would not be any collateral damage. He had no problem with killing. It was in his blood, but he took great pains to minimize the innocents. He chuckled quietly.

A killer with a conscience.

Finally arriving at the apartment facing the street, he entered and surveyed the surroundings—decrepit furniture tantalizing curtains and trash a shrew over the floor.

Whoever lived here left in a hurry and could be returning soon as the weather outside continues to turn ugly.

Josh pulled the curtains closed, leaving only a slit open, so as not to draw attention to this apartment or himself. He noticed the F.B.I detail across the street and the lookouts posted on the roof and alleys. Then, he saw it. The black Yukon parked in front of the Safe House.

A woman was making her way towards the front door. Because she had her back to him, he was unable to make identification.

Putting down his pack, he reached in and grabbed the G.P.S device. No identification was necessary, he knew who the woman was and with that, he began to set up his tools of the trade.

Smiling.

 

Jessica looked around the den, glancing furtively at the Agent behind the computer. His focus on the screen, he never looked up or acknowledged her presence.

Talk about being immersed in your work.

She chose not to draw his attention or begin talking until Agent Hingenbrinck returned with her beverage.

And what exactly was his role in all of this?

What Jessica didn’t know was the extreme interest the Agent showed to the images on the screen. Tapping furiously, he was trying to get information regarding the vehicle that had just stopped in front of the Safe House and on the woman who had approached the front door.

The only people aware of this situation were already here. Agent Hingenbrinck being the only outside Agent that was supposed to arrive. Concern knitted his brows, and he continued to type with an urgency spurred by adrenaline.

Who was she?

What was she doing here?

And in the recess of his thought…What if there was a leak?

 

As Agent Hingenbrinck was preparing the beverages for Jessica and himself, the sound of the ice hitting the bottom of the glass mashed the opening and closing of the front door. Further distracting him were the many thoughts and questions he had about Jessica and the attitude she displayed. He wasn’t going to let her get to him, or direct him to do her biddings. He was in control and vowed to keep it that way.

Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one. Breathing deeply, he knew there was a no smoking policy in the Safe House. The Director abhorred smoking. But, what the hell? It helped him clear his head and right now it was completely muddied with too much information. Ashing into the sink, he leaned against the counter and began to organize himself for his talk with Jessica.

She was just going to have to wait for her drink.

Josh finished setting up his rifle and peered through the scope, adjusting the dials to bring the F.B.I Safe House into focus. Keeping the view trained on the second and third floors, he turned his attention to the laptop at his side, flipping open the screen and hearing the familiar beeps and whirs as it came to life. With the additional connection from his earpiece, he plugged into the laptop and brought up the media file from the microchip found inside of Jessica’s Lincoln Memorial medallion.

As the file initiated the program, he pressed his receiver and checked in with Patrick.

“Set up completed. Program initiated. Now I’m attempting to locate package.”

Josh looked through the scope again, switching to infrared until he identified the familiar haze of a human form.

Now which one was the package and which one was the target?

Patrick finished arming himself and moved towards the front of the van. Josh’s check—in replayed in his head. As he sat in the driver’s seat, he looked at the dash and his pulse quickened.

Are we up to the task?

Could the package be acquired and the threat be eliminated?

All of this and more swam through his head as he opened the door and was pelted by the rain. He worked his way along the alley in the direction of the street, while being careful to stay in the shadows for any exited movements.

As long as the Agents weren’t reacting to a panic situation, everything was as it should be inside…

…at least until it was time…

The female F.B.I. Agent paused for a second in the foyer, listening for anything unusual. She heard the tink of ice cubes and then saw a brief cloud of smoke coming from the kitchen. She was well aware of the layout of the town house, having received the plans as soon as she knew of its location and purported use. She also knew about the no smoking rule inside of the building.

Casting one last glance down the hall, she headed up the stairs, comfortable that she would find what she was looking for upstairs.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck took a deep breath and put out his cigarette in the sink. Turning on the faucet, he washed the stub down the drain and filled himself a glass of water. Taking a long drink, he steeled himself for the conversation ahead of him. Hoping it would shed light on the recent events and provide insight into what importance Jessica held. Placing the empty glass in the sink, Agent Hingenbrinck grabbed the tray of beverages and headed towards the stairs.

 

At the top of the stairs, she stopped and glanced up and down the hall, listening.

There!

The faint sound of a keyboard…

The Agent still had not been able to identity her or she wouldn’t have made it this far. Heading in the direction of the sound, she reached under her jacket and removed her weapon from its holster. Clicking off the safety, she held it at her side and approached the door to the den.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck came to the base of the stairs and casually looked at the front door and stopped. His pulse quickened. The door was unlocked. He knew for a fact that it had been locked earlier. Placing the tray on the tea table, he reached for his gun and looked upstairs. His brows were raised. As he slowly moved towards the steps, he thought he caught a shadow of movement in the hall. Crouching, he slowly made his way up the stairs. Halfway up, he heard a door closing.

 

Josh listened intently to the voice that was recorded in the microchip. The voice was of an old guy, he sounded maybe to be in his sixties. He sounded authoritative. He was a man of power.

“…If Patricia Drumond fails to kill Jessica, then I want you to go in, extract Jessica out of there and take her to Lincoln Square where I will be waiting…”

Josh felt a cold feeling settling in his stomach once he discovered that the person listening on the other end of the line was Patrick Robinson.

Entering the den, concealing her gun behind her right thigh, she eyed Jessica and quickly looked at the Agent behind the desk. The startled, questioning look told her everything she needed to know. Reaching towards the door, she grasped the edge and began closing it as she brought her 9mm up to bear straight at the Agent. As he tumbled for his own gun, she fired twice, hitting him in the chest and head—killing him instantly.

The silencer muffled the shots and all that was heard was the click of the door as it closed. Standing there face—to—face after all these years…Patricia looked at the countenance of Jessica and saw the striking resemblance of Royalty.

 

What in God’s name was happening across the street?

“Have you located the package?” Patrick raised his wrist to his mouth and spoke into his writs microphone.

“Her last known location was in the den on the second floor. Front of townhouse. Her conditions are unknown at this time.” Josh sent in the response.

Cursing under his breath. He didn’t want to give Patrick too much information, knowing he was on the bad guy’s side now!

He was on the bad guy’s side all along!

“Confirm, and then report back.”

“Roger that.” Josh signed off and adjusted his sight for a clearer image of the people in the second story room.

The Agent behind the computer was nowhere to be seen. Jessica was seated in the same chair, a look of shock and fear on her face.

Why?

As he panned to the right, there it was the reason for Jessica’s expression…

The Director of Winterfield…Patricia Drumond.

Patrick was on the move before the name had even left his ear.

 

Jessica stared at the woman before her, with a silenced 9mm semi-automatic aimed at her.

Well! So much for a conversation…

 

Agent Hingenbrinck crept to the top of the stairs and peered along the hallway. The door to the den had been closed.

Shit!

Who had come in unnoticed, made their way upstairs and now had entered the den?

All without any commotion or alert from the other Agents.

He headed towards the second floor bedroom first, knowing how important it was to secure the area before advancing.

Always have your back covered…

 

Patricia stared at Jessica, not bothering to lower her gun.

“It’s certainly a pleasure to meet you face to face Ms. Cardelini.” With that statement, Patricia saw several emotions pass across Jessica’s face. Primarily fear. “Yes, I am aware of who you are and your importance. There isn’t much time, just tell me what you know.”

Jessica had trouble swallowing, her mouth as dry as a desert.

She thought about what they did to her Uncle and how coward they were.

Where in the hell are the other Agents?

She could only stammer. “I k—k—know you are a bitch!” in barely a whisper.

 

With his gun raised, he entered the bedroom and nearly shot a F.B.I Agent coming out of the bathroom. Lifting his finger to his lips to indicate quiet, he motioned towards the end of the hall. They had an unobstructed view all the way to the den and could see that the door was still closed.

Nothing could be heard at this end of the hall and that could only mean that the F.B.I Agent on the computer was dead and Jessica—

Using hand signals, Agent Hingenbrinck and the other F.B.I Agent began to move, their weapons leveled.

 

Patrick came out of the alley in a dead run with a drowning rainstorm attacking the city. With his weapon raised and his eyes alert for any suspicious movement, he came upon the Yukon in front of the Safe House and took stock of his position. Traffic was light due to the inclement weather and the F.B.I Agents were easily distinguishable in their standard issue trench coats.

Reaching into a front pocket, Patrick removed a timed explosive and pressed it to the driver’s side wheel well. Flicking the trigger switch, he broke running back across the street to the alley containing the van.

I only got ninety seconds.

 

Well, let me first begin by saying that I had hoped that this meeting would never have taken place.” Patricia said. “See, I usually don’t get involved in matter such as these, but you left me no choice. And for that, I commend you, and appreciate what Richard Maxwell saw in you.”

With the mention of Richard’s name Jessica’s chest tightened. The look of recognition on her face gave her away.

“Yes, Richard. He worked for me, for Winterfield.” She continued. “Your existence only became known to us upon your submission of your application and resulting of background check. At which point I sent out an Agent to take care of you…”

Jessica thought about Richard’s role in her life. She recalled watching him disarming the F.B.I Agent inside of their dormitory.

She was referring to Lukas Vernon.

“…But the listed address was that of another gentleman, Francisco, a former employee of Winterfield. Were you aware of that? I supposed not.” Patricia paused to allow that to sink in.

My uncle…was a former Winterfield Agent?

“You were living with him at the time that you wrote his address on the application, but when the Agent got there the house was empty—.”

Jessica looked away. So you are saying I killed my own Uncle?

“What do you people want with me?” Jessica snapped, interrupting Patricia.

Silence.

“I have to tell you that you are a young woman who embodies the ideals of a new era. But anybody who drives the society towards insecurity and disorder is a hated person in the view of my country. Our country…” she pointed at Jessica and then at herself. “And that is why we created Operation White Diamond. To pursue anyone who portrayed a threat to the United Kingdom.”

My Uncle and the Royal Nurse were assassinated because of this Operation called White diamond. What threat were they to…

the United Kingdom?

 

Agent Hingenbrinck and the other F.B.I Agent came up on the door to the den and overheard a female’s voice inside speaking without urgency—which surprised him. Raising his hand to indicate stop, he kept his right shoulder to the door jamb and craned to hear what was being said. Catching only words and phrases like: “Winterfield…” “White Diamond…” and “United Kingdom.”

What it all meant he didn’t know and was unsure whether he ever would unless he could find out who was speaking, take her down preferably alive and keep Jessica alive as well. As Agent Hingenbrinck looked back over his shoulder to signal their next move, his only thought was.

What the f—

Josh reflection appeared on the mirror that hung on a door behind them. The door was partially open. Giving a clear view of Josh in a building across the alley aiming his rifle at…

 

Josh was aware of the time limit and knew that he had to act fast. There would be no time to secure all the equipment once the shot was made, so he set the explosive to go off two minutes later. Enough time to grab the laptop, stop Patrick from getting to Jessica and run downstairs to the van.

Is Patrick really going to turn Jessica in?

Or was he going to protect her like they had agreed to?

It was hard to say which he was going to do because there was no date on the conversation he just heard.

Focusing on his target, he turned on the laser sight and aligned it to the head. It didn’t matter if anyone noticed; it would be over before anyone could take action. With that belief in mind, he placed his finger on the trigger and prepared to pull.

 

Patricia could sense that their time was fleeting and re—telling the entire story was no longer an option.

“I am sorry Jessica, but our time is nearing an end and I will not be able to give all the intimate details to satisfy your curiosity. Suffice it to say that your existence is a link that the British Secret Service tried to snuff out many years ago, and it jeopardized everything we’ve worked for. To that end, you must be terminated.”

Jessica’s heart fluttered with fear.

Patricia aimed her gun at Jessica’s head only to pause at the sight of a red dot glowing on the side of her head.

Who else is targeting Jessica…if both Winterfield Assets were pronounced dead one hour ago?

As she turned to look out the window the almost inaudible tink of glass was heard. The bullet entered just below her left temple, exiting in a cloud of red mist and gray matter. A scream pierced the air just as the first explosion ripped through the night.

 

Delivery completed. Rendezvous in two. Trace eliminated.”

Patrick smiled as he sprinted from the alley, but it was short lived. The concussion from the blast knocked him to his knees and took his breath away. He would not let it deter him from his objective.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck heard the scream an instant before the blast shook the building. A look of shocked crossed his face and he flinched at the sounds of chaos he heard coming from the outside.

“Get down there and secure the entrance!” He directed the F.B.I Agent. “I will handle up here.” He motioned towards the den.

The F.B.I Agent took off down the stairs as another blast took the front door off its hinges and blown down the hallway.

 

Patrick knew that he had to enter fast and forcefully or never make it back out. As he ran around the smoldering S.U.V., he aimed at the converging F.B.I Agent and took him out with one shot. Tossing a semi—charged grenade at the front door, he crouched at the base of the stairs and waited.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck kicked open the door to the den and was immediately accosted by a mist he could not identify. Then he realized what it was—rain. The windows had been blown apart by the explosion outside. As he looked around the room, he noticed the furniture in disarray, an unknown woman laying dead in a pool of blood and the legs of the other F.B.I. Agent protruding from behind the desk.

Where in the hell is Jessica?

 

Using the smoke and debris as concealment, he entered the building. There at the base of the stairs in a crumpled heap lay another F.B.I. Agent, his body at odd angles. Remembering the words that Josh had told him, he raced up the stairs.

Her last known location was in the den on the second floor. Front of townhouse.

 

Agent Hingenbrinck glanced back over his shoulder as he heard the second blast come from downstairs.

Who are these people?

Not knowing where Jessica was and guessing it was probably too late, he turned to see what was going on on the first floor. As he exited the den into the hallway, he came upon someone he recognized, although thought to be dead, with the skills of a trained professional—Patrick.

“Hold it right there!” Patrick said as he saw Agent Hingenbrinck. “And drop your weapon!”

Agent Hingenbrinck froze. Staring at the barrel of 9mm semi automatic inches from his face, he did exactly as he was told.

Patrick kicked the Agent’s weapon, sliding across the hall.

“Where is Jessica?”

Agent Hingenbrinck just stared at Patrick. With his arm by his sides and his eyes imperceptibly looking for a way out, only two words came to mind—No win.

“This is going to be a quick and one sided conversation. Where is Jessica?” Patrick repeated and took a step forward; showing he meant business by not lowering his weapon.

Agent Hingenbrinck blinked and paused for a time.

What can I say?

I have no idea either.

Then a voice made him turn his head slightly and that was a mistake he couldn’t afford.

“Patrick!?” came the female voice from the den, indiscernible from the noise coming from the outside—the roar of the flames and the approaching sirens.

Agent Hingenbrinck knew that he was in trouble, but tried to gather himself.

Patrick is wounded. Trying pressing on his bullet wound!

Bending his knees, he tried to bring his arm up in a blocking maneuver, but it was too late. The blow caught him on the side of the head, sending stairs across his vision and the taste of copper to his mouth. Another one to the back of his head brought with it darkness, but not before one thought clung to his memory.

Jessica is in danger!

Patrick looked into the shattered remains of the den and saw Jessica climbing out from behind an overturned chair. Her expression said it all and he hugged her.

“I don’t know what Patricia told you but we’ve got to move, quickly, and without hesitation.”

 

Patrick what is your twenty?” Josh asked.

A few seconds went by.

No answer.

He looked at the second floor of the Safe House across the alley and searched for movements. A sudden blast of rain slammed against the wall of the F.B.I. townhouse.

“Do you copy?”

He still didn’t have an answer.

Did Patrick get caught?

Is Jessica now dead?

Adrenaline doubled his heart rate as he thought of the worse possible scenario.

Where is Lincoln Square?

How far is that away from here?

Stepping away from the window, he grabbed his sniper rifle and walked to the exit door.

 

Running downstairs, Jessica saw another Agent at the base and the darkened remains of the front door. Patrick approached Jessica from behind while turning off his connection with Josh. As he did, they both listened to the fury outside.

 

69

Josh crossed the alley while pressing the safety of his sniper rifle off. Approaching the emergency exit door receded into the wall; he aimed the rifle at the door and fired a single shot at the door latch. The lock exploded and he swung the door opened.

At the other end of the building, sirens split the night air as Patrick hustled Jessica outside, into the street and into his S.U.V. shutting Jessica’s door closed, he jumped into the driver seat and started the S.U.V.

“Patrick where are you taking me?” she asked, sounding scared.

Patrick thought about his motives of why he was doing this. He was assigned to turn Jessica over to the Deputy Prime Minister of England because—

The S.V.U. rattled and it took his concentration away. The earth shook as flames combust towards the street in a red—and—yellow eruption visible from miles. Looking through the rear view mirror he saw what just happened. The explosion took out the entire front façade of the safe house, scattering debris for half—a—block in both directions.

Any trace of their presence gone except five words etched in the mind of one person…

Winterfield…White Diamond…United Kingdom.

 

Josh sprinted towards the other end of the Safe House while hoping over debris and dead F.B.I Agents. Staring straight ahead, he froze to the spot upon seeing red brake lights coming from the street in front of the Safe House. He watched the driver gunning the S.U.V. up and over a curb and making an illegal U—turn.

He advanced through the remains of the front entrance to the Safe House and watched the S.U.V appearing on the east bound traffic on 3rd street. He stepped off the curb so the driver would see him, but the S.U.V. continued to speed away.

He spun towards the safe house and ran inside.

Lets just hope this building don’t collapse on top of my head.

 

He suddenly felt a new compulsion igniting within him, his priority now was simple. Stark. Primal. He had to find Jessica.

Patrick will be taking her to Lincoln Square.

He jogged past several rooms, doors all closed and bearing names of Agents on small silver plates. Then he was facing a large open room with several couches pressed against the wall. At the other end of the room there was a map of Washington D.C. hanging on the wall. There was also a T.V. turned to a news channel. It was muted.

He hurried to the map and stared at the blue tack representing the location of the Safe House. He moved his gaze to the left side of the map and found the Lincoln Memorial.

Washington Monument…He used his index finger to guide his way through the lines representing the streets of Washington D.C. White House… Stanton Square by Union Station…Capitol Building…Seward Square…7^th^ street…Lincoln Square!

He heard a sound and looked over his right shoulder. There was a man standing under the door frame. He spun around while raising his sniper rifle.

Agent Hingenbrinck aimed his service weapon at Josh’s heart.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now?”

Josh swallowed hard and heard a thunder booming outside.

Patrick killed the engine and opened the door. He walked around the front of the S.U.V and opened the side door for Jessica. The asphalt was wet. A few cars were parked on the curb and the street was deserted. Outside of the vehicle, Jessica looked ahead and was blinded by the bright lights of Lincoln Square.

At that moment about three blocks away from Lincoln Square, the man whom Patrick was turning Jessica over to, walked inside of the City Morgue accompanied next to three British Secret Service Agents and flashed his credentials to the Medical Examiner seated behind the booth.

“I am the Deputy Prime Minister of England, and I am here to see the body of Francisco Cardelini.”

Jessica sat on a wooden bench and looked about.

The symmetrical arrangement of the garden in the square showed all shades of rainbow in its abundant display of flowers. The wind wailed through the shrubbery plants. The fountain in the center of the square sent a stream of water skyward, causing it to fall like a cascade.

Water billowed.

Street poles illuminated the red stepping stones. The asphalt was still wet from the storm and the lights from the nearby buildings reflected on the asphalt. They heard a dog barking in the distance. As Patrick crossed in front of Jessica, she calculated the distance she was from his S.U.V. and estimated her probabilities of reaching the driver side before he got to her. The engine was still running with the headlights beaming. The driver door was opened and she could hear the faint murmurings of a talk show on the radio.

“Who are we waiting for and why are we here?”

“You are worth a lot of money, and I am turning you in to those who want you.” He reached for a zip—tie inside of his pocket. “And he will be here shortly.”

I’m worth a lot of money?

Is he turning me over as a sex slave?

Am I about to become a victim of human trafficking?

“You played me all along!”

He acted like he wasn’t even listening to her.

Just as he got behind her and reached her hand, she yanked her hand away from him and sprinted towards the S.U.V. She saw a vehicle passing by behind his S.U.V.

“HELP!!” she yelled, stretching out the word as far as her lungs could carry.

Within seconds she felt Patrick closing his grip around her arm and realized that she had underestimated her opponent. Jerking her towards him, her body whiplashed.

The wheels of the gray crown Victoria skidded on wet pavement. Edging to the next cross street, a pedestrian alley, Josh turned into it. Agent Hingenbrinck sat on the passenger side of the vehicle and gripped the dash.

What he told me sounds unreal.

There are British spies posing as American Federal Agents?

I couldn’t believe the information I heard stored in that microchip!

Operation White Diamond is a huge British conspiracy.

How much money does the British Royal family has?

Because that is how much Jessica is worth!

Orange street lights reflected on the windshield. As Josh drove down the alley, startled homeless leaped out of his way. Ahead, drug dealers ran for cover believing they were busted. Obscenities flew. As he floored the gas pedal, his mind flooded with two thoughts of Jessica.

She has been abducted…

And my feelings for her are inextricable.

 

Inside of the autopsy room everything was neatly arranged. Two personal work stations were situated on one side of the room and two examination tables with drainage holes and surgical instruments were situated on the other. The fluorescent lamp overhead illuminated the room. The Medical Examiner lead the Deputy Prime Minister to the other end of the room and stopped in front of a stainless—steel door.

 

Josh made a right turn and saw the bright lights of the square half a block away. The street was deserted at this time of the night. Parking the Crown Victoria behind of a Volkswagen golf, he turned off the headlights and glanced at the digital clock on the dash. Turning the key in the ignition, he looked at the rear view mirror and caught movements to their right. He watched a couple exiting a building and heading away from them.

He looked at Agent Hingenbrinck.

“Let’s go.”

He opened the driver door, but Agent Hingenbrinck gripped his arm.

“I have a question.”

“Ok, ask.”

“Who are you?”

Silence fell in the interior compartment of the vehicle as they just stared at each other.

“I am the guy who fell in love for Jessica and her story.”

The Medical Examiner opened the large stainless—steel door and walked in. A few seconds later, he emerged while pushing a gurney with a sheet covering the dead body. Threads of chilly air escaped from the refrigerator room. One of the Agents approached the gurney and grabbed the sheet.

As he began pulling the sheet, they all stared down. Surprised.

His features were obscured in the dark. As he approached the opening to the square, he raised his arm and stared at the scope of his sniper rifle.

Agent Hingenbrinck walked behind him, while looking around for suspicious movements.

My back-up team should be arriving at any moment now!

Josh zoomed in at the black S.U.V parked at the curb…then he moved his aim to the right and centered Patrick’s head on the crosshairs.

He was speaking on his cell phone.

Who was he speaking to?

The British Broadcast Corporation in Washington D.C. had just been tipped about Jessica’s location.

I’ve got a cooperating witness that has all the information regarding the assassination of the Princess of Wales in 1997.

The Operation was Called White Diamond. If you would like to know more about it, then come to Lincoln Square.

 

Francisco looked like a ghost. Blue skin, opened eyes. Frost formed on his eyelids.

“This guy has no finger prints…the skin under his fingers are smooth. Apparently he burned them for some reason. His blood type is A. and—”

“Could you lift the sheet over his right leg?” The Deputy Prime Minister asked the Medical Examiner. “Please.”

The M.E. nodded.

The Deputy Prime Minister approached the other end of the gurney while staring at the M.E. pulling the sheets from above Francisco’s legs.

“Yes. It was him!” The Deputy Prime Minister nodded at the other Agents. “His right leg is thinner than his left. There are exactly twenty four stitches scars on the back side of his leg.” He looked back at Francisco. “He was born prematurely and the nerve on his right leg had yet to be develop completely.”

“Why were you so interested in this man?” The M.E. asked.

“This man assassinated one of the British Royal Family’s private nurses.”

 

He pulled the trigger without hesitating.

Patrick’s body crumpled and hit the floor. A puddle of blood began to form beneath him. In a distance, Josh stepped out of his concealed spot and walked towards Jessica.

 

Jessica opened her eyes while getting up from the bench. Looking ahead, she was unable to believe her vision…someone was approaching her with a sniper rifle by his side. Arching her brows, she looked puzzled.

“Richard?”

Joshua Hemingway was Richard Maxwell. He started using another identity after fleeting from Georgetown University.

As Richard continued to walk towards her, a song came on the radio of the S.U.V. He noticed that the delicate beauty of her face, with the resolute jaw that seemed to signal her willingness to stay strong—began to shiver.

She gave him a hug and he was surprised at how tightly she squeezed him, for one long moment their bodies were compressed together. Her hands lightly traced the hard muscles of his back and shoulders. Her skin was warm and damp.

“I don’t think you’ve been out of my mind for more than thirty minutes ever since you ran from that dormitory at Georgetown.”

“Aw.” She looked into his eyes, and looked past the mesmerizing blue color. They were twinkling with an almost conspiratorial gleam. She looked at him for a long moment and then a smile broke across her face. She leaned her head towards his.

Her mouth was cool and her tongue was swift. She tasted faintly of lip gloss. He could smell perfume on her skin and in her hair. He felt her breast against his chest. Then she stopped moving. Held still and pulled away while opening her eyes. She was breathing heavy.

She hugged him and that was when she saw Agent Hingenbrinck standing near Patrick’s S.U.V. she pulled away from Richard’s embrace. He followed her gaze and noticed that she was staring at the Agent.

“Jessica, everything is fine.”

She returned her attention to him and stared at his face.

“There are things you don’t know about my past. Things that, I can’t for security reasons tell you.” He explained. “Everything you’ve heard about Operation White Diamond is real. The woman you saw dead on the photograph that Patrick showed you was the British Royal Family’s private nurse.”

“Why was she in that house? Why was she important to the story?”

“She was in that house to take care of you.”

“Of me?”

“Yes.”

“Why and what was my Uncle’s role?”

“Francisco was not your Uncle. He was a Winterfield Agent.” He paused.

The woman at the Safe House said the same thing…

What is going on?

“…Francisco was in that house to kill your Mother.”

What are you talking about?

“I don’t understand…” She looked puzzled at him. “…Why?”

“Francisco hid this microchip inside of your Lincoln Memorial medallion explaining a huge British conspiracy. It has conversations from powerful people in the House of Parliament.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“In the end of 1997 you became the last Royal Bloodline of England.”

Epilogue

Cardiff, Wales

August of 1997

 

The weather was awful, gray and dreary. Rain pelted the window in driving sheets. It was just another typical day in the United Kingdom. The traffic was light with a few pedestrians braving the cold, winter day.

It was under such conditions that Sniper/Operative—1 codename Alpha observed the entrance to the hotel across the street. He was assigned to the Prince because of his recent rendezvous. After following him for days, everything was about to come together, and he was going to be a big part of it. As he unpacked his rifle, and began the meticulous process of setting it up, he wondered whether his name would go down in History for saving England.

 

Paris, France

The Princess stepped out of the Palais Royal waving at the crowd of onlookers, reporters and paparazzi. She hid her distain for the photographers and her own inner sadness by smiling and putting on an air of happiness.

Meanwhile, her inner struggle with the thoughts of divorcing the Prince weighed heavily on her.

How could he have done this to me?

To the Royal family?

To England?

While she descended the stairs, her bodyguard watched everything and everyone. She crossed the sidewalk, headed towards the waiting vehicle and paused at the door of the Mercedes.

With a heavy sigh and a final wave, she turned back to the waiting Agent as he held the door open for her. She got inside of the vehicle and the Agent closed the door.

The strong aroma of champagne assaulted her nostrils. Furrowing her eyebrows in frustration, she sensed that things were not well. Leaning forward and touching the driver’s shoulder, he slumped against the window. Passed out.

“Oh my God!” her right hand went to her mouth, causing the sound of her voice to barely escape her lips.

Fear gripped her. Unable to move, and unable to speak, her thoughts were the only thing to stir.

What is going on here?

 

Liverpool, England

The Sniper/Operative—4 codename Delta, also known as Francisco Cardelini, pulled out his binoculars and scanned the rear of the house. Hidden among the shrubbery and landscape, he searched for movements. After a sunny morning, the sky got overcast and started growing dark.

Rotating among the windows, he glimpsed motion upstairs, as he brought his binoculars into focus, his objective came into view. The woman had opened the curtains and stood there for a moment.

That is her bedroom. He surmised.

Clad in only a bikini and a robe, she seemed to have just gotten out of the pool. His target was a twenty five years old woman from Wales and her name was Victoria Lockhart. After modeling in the United States, she recently signed a contract with Hollywood to be in a movie. The filming will start at the beginning of next year.

Until then, she decided to relax at her mansion…

Francisco noticed that she turned from the window and disappeared from view. He left the concealment of the surrounding foliage and sprinted towards the rear of the house. Staying low and to the few bushes that dotted the lawn, he kept an eye on the lower French doors and the second floor balcony. He then ducked behind a pillar, and checked for any movements coming from the inside. From this vantage point, he was able to take in the full detail of the patio area. The floor on the patio was painted with a peach color. Well—manicured bushes dotted the edge of the patio. The pool was also well designed. At one of the inner curves of the pool, there was a Jacuzzi, being fed by a statue of a naked woman pouring water from an ornate pitcher.

A small cabana/supply hut sat off at the opposite side of the pool. Next to the cabana/supply hut, he located the sliding door.

He drew his 9mm semi-automatic and walked towards it.

 

Frantically grabbing the door handle, fear and confusion stole the Princess’ breath. She opened the door and shouted for her bodyguards.

At that moment, chaos erupted around the vehicle. One of her bodyguards pushed through the crowd and inserted himself between the Princess and the photographers. Peaking at the car, he followed her gaze and saw the problem. Slumped against the driver’s door was the chauffeur. Pressing the vocal sensitive microphone strapped to his wrist, he called for backup.

Less than seven seconds later, they heard the squeal of tires on the pavement. The other security member parted the crowd and provided a space for the second car to pull up.

Grabbing the Princess by the arm, two Agents quickly ushered her to the shiny black B.M.W. 735. After the Princess got inside, the driver forced the engine into gear and smashed the gas pedal to the floor. Speeding away, they left everyone to question what just happened…

…Except for one.

Sniper/Operative—3 codename Fox, chuckled to himself as he watched the G.P.S. signal flashing while moving across the screen. It was all going according to plan, as he expected it would. Calmly sipping his bottle of water, he glanced back at his rifle and waited for their arrival.

 

Sitting in the desk chair while making some final adjustments, Alpha looked through his 10—50X Seiko scope at the entrance to the building called The Connections. As he clicked to the final setting, the glass doors became as clear as if he was standing directly in front of them.

Leaning back slightly to stretch his achy, shoulder muscles, he reached overhead towards the ceiling. His thoughts of going to Dubai once this was over were momentarily broken by a click in his earpiece.

“Alpha, what is your twenty?” The female Operative from Winterfield’s switchboard asked.

Equipped with advanced telecommunications equipment that was used by all government Agents around the United Kingdom, he could speak with just a press on his wrist to activate the microphone and get a response into the attached earpiece within seconds.

“Positioned and sighted.” He replied.

“Wait for further word on target movement. Do not deviate from the plan.”

“Roger that.”

As he scanned the area, he saw two S.A.S. Agents exiting The Connections. They casually glanced up and down the street. They separated and headed the opposite directions to secure the perimeter.

Alpha just smiled.

 

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Sniper/Operative—2 codename Omega, accelerated his dark blue Audi A4 inside the parking lot of the International Airport of Edinburgh and pulled into an empty space. Killing the powerful engine, he took the key out of the ignition, grabbed his parking ticket and got out of the car. Opening the trunk, he grabbed his luggage, slammed the trunk and locked the car. He scanned the lot and located the elevator. Walking towards it, he heard the sound of an airplane in a distance.

 

Making note of the perimeter positions of the S.A.S. Agents, Alpha knew the next maneuver that would be followed even before it happened. Having been fully briefed on the S.A.S Tactical Inspection of the Perimeter for Security or T.I.P.S. for short; he felt being ahead of the game.

The third Agent exited the hotel, as if on cue, doing his best to bend in casually, even after a gust of wind whipped his trench coat open, causing his Hoch & Keckler pistol to be exposed. The Agent crossed the street at the nearest intersection, nodding almost imperceptibly, but for the trained eye, he positioned himself with a direct view of the Hotel’s revolving doors. The other two Agents took note of his new position and its reason behind it.

The Prince was about to come out.

 

Quickly moving across the patio, Francisco came upon the French doors leading inside. Having already reconnoitered the house, he was aware of the security alarm and its basic functions. As he expected, the door chimed three times as he quickly entered and closed it behind him. Whether she noticed the sound or not, he didn’t care. He was trained to the point of removing all emotions and tragic loss of his family two years ago only made that task easier.

“Bridget?” Victoria’s voice filtered down from above. “Is that you?”

No footsteps followed.

He eased himself across the kitchen and kept an eye on the main hallway. Outside, the sound of a sudden rainstorm assailed his ears. Winter brought a lot of rain to this area. Usually in the form of thunderstorms. As in the response to his thoughts, thunder boomed and the house seemed to shake.

Having memorized the architectural plans, he chose the doorway to his left. The one to the secondary stairs leading up.

Trying to decide which door to pick…he thought…It’d make you feel like a lab rat searching for some cheese.

Without so much as a whisper, he went up the steps, his weapon leading the way.

 

The plane will be here on time. Gate nine.” Delta said while looking at the arrival monitors. “E.T.A: fifteen minutes.”

“Information transmitted to central.” The Operator said.

He then, disconnected and scanned the area; near the British Airways checking line, two Security Guards eyeing everyone.

Overhead, the nasal voice made another announcement, inviting the last passenger to board some aircraft departing to Sao Paulo. Locating the directional that hung on the ceiling he read the direction he’d have to take to get to terrace view. He wove his way through the crowd and entered the service stairwell. Reaching the top, he opened the door that lead to the outside and a cold crisp air hit his face.

 

Following the dot as it moved across the screen, Fox calculated the progress and the arrival to the kill zone and believed it was time to check in.

“Fox to Central.”

“Go ahead Fox.”

“E.T.A: Twelve minutes. Everything is according to plan. Ready on your mark.”

“Ten four wait for final confirmation. Out.”

As the Princess’ car sped through the city, heading out of the Country, Fox started making final preparation through his scope. Observing a couple walking along the sidewalk, overlooking the River Seine while holding hands, he longed for a similar life.

After this Operation, anything was and would be possible.

 

Stepping onto the roof, Omega quietly closed the door behind him. Causally looking around, he noted the positions of the four MI-6 Agents.

As part of the protective surveillance, his presence was approved and accounted for. Moving towards the edge of the building, he overlooked the tarmac and nodded at the Agent that approached him.

“Identification please?”

Omega produced his fake I.D. for this Operation and kept his eyes focused on the Agent. He prepared himself for any sudden movements.

Checking the credentials, the Agent glanced at the picture and up at him. Seeming satisfied he handed it back stating.

“E.T.A: Ten minutes. Go ahead and set up over there.” He pointed to a concealed spot next to an air—conditioning vent.

Omega looked at the spot and nodded. Walking towards it, he contained his amusement at the ease at which these MI-sixes could be deceived. Crouching, he begins extracting the rifle from his luggage. Placing it on the edge, he got his first view of the tarmac, and saw the mass of reporters behind the barricades.

Witnesses…He thought…Witnesses that will see History being made.

 

Arriving at the top of the stairs, no one was visible down the hallway. Francisco spotted five doors along the length, two on the left, neither of which was open. The two to his right were open and the closet wasn’t. Wondering how he would be able to find his target without alerting her, he caught a glimpse of a shadow across the opening of the last room to his right. Causing his heart to beat stronger.

 

With a final calibration, Omega locked the sight in place and checked the wind readings. It marked six inches of deviation. However, knowing the caliber of his rifle, that equated to a six millimeter differential. With a glance at his watch, he had five minutes remaining until Central’s authorization of the go codes.

 

The proximity sensor went off. The electronic dot and accompanying glow alerted Fox of the remote’s approach.

They are one mile away.

He knew that the dot would quicken as the distance narrowed.

Like a final countdown.

 

The whine of the gulfstream’s engines filled the afternoon air. Omega watched the Jet slowing to a stop and the gate attendants wheeling the stairs to the door. He then, eased his right eye behind the scope of his rifle and aimed at the jet’s door.

 

Francisco stood still for a second. He was less than ten feet away from his target. Staying as close as possible to the wall, he decided to move towards the open door, where he had observed the shadow. He kept listening to the rain pounding on the roof. Keeping his weapon leading the way and his attention focused forward, adrenaline pumped through his veins.

He froze at the beginning of the secondary stairwell as the sound of an approaching vehicle filled the interior of the house. Turning around, he looked down at the front window and caught a glimpse of a dark gray Rolls—Royce Phantom Coupe coming up the driveway.

I am too close now.

There are just going to be additional casualties.

That is how it is going to end.

Although Winterfield didn’t explain the reason why they wanted his target dead, he overheard some conversations that lead him to believe that the Prince was involved. He heard the front door opening and the sound of the alarm brought him back to the present moment. He focused and thought for a last time.

The objective is simple. No survivors.

 

Three minutes to alter History…Alpha thought.

Three minutes to right the wrongs.

Three minutes to set in motion a string of events that would change how this Country was perceived, was respected and accepted.

Inside of the building across the street, his target was on the move.

The domino effect begins now…

 

The sensor’s alert was becoming more rapid. Peaking through the scope, Fox saw that the couple stopped at the intersection. The woman wrapped her arm around her partner’s left arm and gave him a peck on the cheek. Then, they started laughing about something.

As they shared another kiss, Fox’s hand went to the rifle’s grip and rested his finger across the trigger. With his thumb, he clicked the safety off and waited.

 

Alpha watched the door beginning to revolve.

As he expected, an S.A.S. Agent exited first. Ten seconds later an unmarked Mercedes—Benz Sedan pulled up to the curb in front of the hotel. The Agent looked up, down the street and approached the vehicle. Placing his hand on the rear door handle, he turned and nodded at the revolving door.

It was time for Alpha to act.

 

The door opened onto the platform, revealing a partial view of the lush interior. Even from this distance, Omega was able to see the shutter flashing without scope. Then, he noticed the never ending quest for a story from the Reporters across the barricade and thought to himself.

Here is a story for you!

 

The door began its slow movement to allow another person through. Clicking the safety off, Alpha placed his finger on the trigger and inhaled deeply.

 

With his finger on the trigger, Omega watched the S.A.S. Agents step onto the platform, pause and slowly begin to descend the stairs. Clicking the safety off, he heard someone shouting, but chose to ignore it.

There is only one voice I am going to listen to and it is the one from Central.

 

The shiny black B.M.W. 735 slowed as it approached the corner, with its left turn warning lights blinking. The driver stopped at the intersection and the Princess peered at the young couple and smiled.

Looking at the vehicle, recognition crossed their faces and they started pointing at the Princess.

What was really going through her mind?

 

The Duke of York stepped out of the plane with his arm raised above his head while waving at the crowd. Omega aimed his crosshairs at his head and squeezed the trigger. The Duke was still waving when the bullet entered his right eye. Exiting with a cloud of skull fragments and brain matter. A mist of blood lingered in the air as his body crumpled to the ground.

The S.A.S Agent froze, turned around and leaped to protect a dead Royal.

Fine Job!

A true example of your Country’s best.

 

With a final glance down the hall, Francisco’s senses were in overdrive. Something wasn’t right and he couldn’t place a finger on it. Every contingency had been planned for, every subtlety practiced, always arriving at the same conclusion—Mission Accomplished. With that in mind, he took a few steps, stopped at the doorway and aimed his weapon at his target.

 

The bells in the tower above the cathedral Notre Dame tolled the three o’clock mark and the driver turned left at the intersection. At the second interval of the tolling bell, Fox pressed the trigger; the couple heard the chink of glass followed by a muffled sigh.

Stopping in the middle of the Île St. Louis, the woman jumped at the sight of blood ballooning and splattering the inside of the B.M.W. The bullet had passed through the radio and embedded itself in the firewall before the sound reached the Princess. Stunned into action, she watched the weight of the driver’s body pressing down the accelerator. Panic and shock overwhelmed as the car fishtailed at high speed towards a concrete pillar from the Paris underpass called Pont de L’alma across the Seine.

 

The prince stopped just outside of hotel and lit his cigar. A gust of wind blew the curtains of Alpha’s rented hotel. Picking the window of opportunity, Alpha believed it was time to take his target out. Squeezing the trigger, the bullet entered just under the Prince’s shoulder. Penetration his lungs, severed his aorta and exited through the 21st and 23rd ribs. His trench coat fluttered by the wind and concealed the spray of blood that left the body. The bullet tore through his coat, ricocheted off the pavement and grazed off the building.

All in less than a second.

The S.A.S. Agents followed the sound of the carom while the Prince crumpled to the ground. Exhaling a thin line of blood that joined the rain in mid air, it became a pink stream. During all that chaos no one saw the windows being shut, followed by the curtains drawn and Alpha disappearing without a trace.

 

Out of corner of his, Omega saw the S.A.S. Agent approaching him with his pistol drawn. They knew it was Omega who had fired because the bullet grazed the wall exactly where he had been crouched. Now, Omega had to act fast before the other converged.

Crouching and spinning to his right, he rotated while pulling out a 9mm semi-automatic with a silencer attached to the muzzle. Aiming slightly to the left of the Agents, he squeezed the trigger and watched Agent ducking his head behind an air vent.

The attempt failed.

The bullet caught him in the upper chest. Knocking him off balance, and causing him to slump in the air vent. He then, scanned the surrounding roof tops for movements.

Nothing.

However, he knew the Agents were aware of him and that left him with two thoughts in his mind.

Don’t be afraid to take chances.

And do whatever it takes to survive.

 

The dead chauffeur crashed the Beemer onto a concrete pillar from the Paris underpass at high rate of speed and smashed the front of the vehicle inward. The sound of windows exploding broke the still afternoon air and reverberated through out the underpass.

The air bags didn’t activate.

The vehicles from the oncoming traffic skidded to a halt and caused other cars to look their brakes to avoid a major accident. Some drivers chose to smash their vehicles against the wall of the underpass instead of rear ending another vehicle. Impatient drivers leaned on their horns, some longer than the other.

A business woman got out of her Pegeöt while listening to the dispatcher of a hospital answering the call.

“Centre d’ urgence, vous desirez?” Emergency center, may I help you?

“Je constant un accident de voitere.” I’m reporting a car accident.

“Ěs tű survivante?” Are there any survivors?

The woman who placed the call sighed and felt her heart pounding hard. The breeze flowing under the underpass blew through her long wavy hair.

“Je ne connais.” I don’t know. She replied and quickened her pace past a black SAAB and walked around a blue mini Cooper.

Glancing at the B.M.W. she gasped at the sight of blood that was splattered all over the front window.

“Il trompe de route.” He went the wrong way. She continued to explain the accident.

“J’ aperÇois el mourir sur le coup.” It appears that the driver died on the spot.

Approaching the B.M.W. through the left side, she looked at the backseat and froze. She was sure that if someone had sneaked up behind her and sliced her throat, no blood would have come out. It was all frozen inside.

“La Princesse Royal…” She whispered. The Royal Princess…

The dispatcher heard part of the whisper and asked her to repeat.

Silence.

The scene in front of her left her speechless.

“Ma Dame.” Madame.

“La Princesse…” she hesitated, finally breaking the silence. “…J’ étais mort.” The Royal Princess is dead.

 

With his back against the wall, Omega strained to hear anything above the noise of the airport. Up against trained professional, it was not going to be easy. He also knew that his only chance of escape was to get off the roof. However, the S.A.S Agents would probably be blocking the stairway by now.

Moving to his right, he began to cover the perimeter and keeping the rooftop’s edge as a barrier. A shadow appeared at his peripheral vision and it caught his attention. With a duck and roll, he avoided the gunshots and worked his way towards the Agents. Keeping his back against the frame of sunlight, he peered the corner.

Gunfire erupted and the bullets riddled the rooftop. Losing ground, Omega knew that more extreme measures were needed. Drawing two flash—bang grenades from his belt clip; he pulled the pins and tossed one at the center of the rooftop and back among the ledges.

I need the distraction.

As the grenade went off, a gray cloud with a white flash filled the area in front of the Agents. Omega raced directly at the position of the two Agents. Catching them momentarily blinded, he pulled out a knife and sliced the first Agent’s throat. In the middle of the smoke and silent screams of Agony, the Agent squeezed the trigger as he feel to the floor.

The crowd at the tarmac ran for cover. Reporters dropped their cameras and microphones and the stragglers stepped on top of them. The white smoke from Omega’s grenade filled the air above the airport.

Sprinting towards the edge of the roof tops, Omega caught a glimpse of an Agent coming from his right and tossed his knife at him. The knife went through his eyeball and pierced his brain. Just as he squatted to grip the slender edge of brick with his strong fingers, he heard an Agent shouting for him to freeze as she appeared from behind.

Francisco froze.

He tensed and prepared to deliver death. In the passing of a nanosecond—recognition their eyes met. The reason for this Operation was answered for them both.

His target was breast feeding her infant. She was looking resolutely at Francisco. A mixture of worry and guilt expressed on her face. Then, she closed her eyes and a tear drop rolled down on her face.

In that split second Francisco had a flashback of something that happened to him two years ago…he was making a left turn into a poorly lit road. Looking ahead, he spotted his house, the second from the right to the left at the cul-de-sac. The lights inside of the house were turned off. However, as he approached the house, he saw through one of the windows, a blue glow reflecting on a wall in the living room. The television was on. Crossing the intersection, he took note of a white Citroën parked on the curb near his house. He saw the silhouette of the driver, but couldn’t make a face.

Walking to the front door, he passed while rubbing his legs against the zinnias that dotted the right side of the driveway. He approached the front door, reached for the door knob and pushed the door opened. He stepped inside and stood next to a mirror that hung on the wall to his right.

The volume coming from the T.V. was low, barely piercing the silence inside of the house. From where he stood, all he was able to see was the top of his sister’s head. She sat on the couch facing the T.V.

Gisele?” her name echoed in his mind as he remembered calling her.

She didn’t answer. He figured she’d be sleeping.

Walking around the couch, he started getting in front of her and noticed that she was cradling her daughter. He swallowed hard upon sensing the something had gone wrong. Touching his sister’s left shoulder; he looked at her and saw her head moving to the left…

Her face was covered with blood!

The infant was also dead.

He suddenly heard someone starting the engine of an automobile. From where he stood, he looked through the kitchen window and caught a glimpse of the white Citroën squealing tires and departing.

Panicking, he sprinted to the front door, rushed outside and caught the Citroën’s taillight disappearing in the night…

Back to the present moment, Francisco took a deep breath and aimed the 9mm semi-automatic at the head of his target’s daughter…He felt himself suddenly reeling back again to when he was looking at his sister’s eyes.

The death of my family was not accidental…

He drifted off into a reverie, and then shook his head. When his target opened her eyes, she watched him aiming his gun at her forehead instead.

“Thank you.” She mouthed.

“I will not allow your daughter to pay for your mistakes.”

All it takes for wickedness to prevail is for good men to do nothing. He thought, and with that in mind, he lowered his weapon.

269


The Imperfect Plan

What happened in August of 1997, in Paris was just the tip of the iceberg for the British Secret Service. Embrace yourself to discover the reason behind Operation White Diamond... Jessica Cardelini wasn't your typical suburbanite. Majoring in Cryptology, she was used to puzzles; however, the biggest puzzle she would face would be her past. After the murder of her Uncle, her life went into disarray. Finding herself in a tug-of-war between the F.B.I and unknown forces, she turns to the only help available, Professor Patrick Robinson. Together they traverse through D.C. looking for what her Uncle left behind...The Imperfect Plan.

  • ISBN: 9781370486199
  • Author: Ed Silva, Jr
  • Published: 2017-02-25 05:50:36
  • Words: 78016
The Imperfect Plan The Imperfect Plan