Disclaimers: See Chapter
One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Donald shrugged Jack's hands away, walked to the cooler and pulled out two beers. He twisted the cap from the first one and handed it to Jack, then did the same to the second one, sitting down heavily in the chair.
Leaning against the far wall, Jack waited impatiently for Donald to begin, Well?
Donald swept his hand over the day old beard growth on his face and began to explain, Remember when Bivin's came to Jacksonville a couple of years ago? Donald looked at Jack and saw him nod. Well he came from Colorado.
Jack cut off Donald's words, I know all of this. Donald, I'm the one who hired him, remember. He works for me!
Donald looked at his friend warily. Actually he works for me too, Jack. Bivin's was a detective in Denver and accidentally ran across a vein of the Hernandez organization while working a drug case out there. He knew it was a big case for the FBI, worked his way into the set-up, and only then contacted the local field office. Graham Richardson, the local man out there, let him into the agency on the condition that he maintained his cover as a bad cop. He didn't want anyone in the organization to think Bivin's was FBI, it would scare them away from him. Donald took a long pull from the beer and glanced at the screen, giving Jack a little time to absorb the information.
Jack sat down on the couch in front of Donald, Go ahead.
Anyway Bivin's worked his way in, but the head honchos in the Colorado division never quite trusted him, so they sent him to the Jacksonville organization. I guess they felt like he wouldn't cause any problems if he were located somewhere away from his family and known associates in the police force. Anyway, after he was settled in, he contacted me by way of Richardson, and we met. I put him on as a Special Agent, Jack, specifically to work this case.
The Hernandez organization wanted an inside man in your department so they sent him in to apply for a job. He went, you hired him, and his cover was complete. Donald took another long pull from the beer and glanced back at the screen. All of the agents were positioned near the warehouse, helplessly waiting.
Jack raked his hand through his hair and growled. So he was working for you all along. You didn't think you could tell me this before now, Donald?
Donald looked at his friend and comrade. No, I couldn't. I had orders from higher up
my hands were tied, Jack. Alex was the only agent we've had who had ever gotten as close as Bivins did. Actually, Alex had imbedded herself deeper, but when she was injured last year, we had no choice but to turn to Bivins. His contact with our office was José Gonzolas.
Well, José's dead Donald. Has Frank contacted you since the explosion?
Donald looked away and exhaled a long sigh, No, we haven't heard from him. I can only hope he is in that warehouse somewhere, and still on our side.
What do you mean, 'hope he's still on our side'? Jack was once again pacing the narrow lane in the cabin.
He's been avoiding everyone for a while; missing meetings, delaying the transfer of information. Right now, we honestly don't know for sure whose side he's on.
Stopping in front of Donald and glaring, Jack shook his head exposing his pulsing arteries, Great, this is just fucking great Donald. My best detective and your best agent are in there, and you're telling me you don't know whose fucking side anyone is on! You'd better be glad you don't work for me because I'd fire your sorry ass right now, then I'd beat the shit out of you for putting them in the middle of this cluster fuck without giving them all the facts.
Donald looked up at Jack in defeat, I don't blame, you Jack. If I were in your shoes, I'd feel the same way.
Jack pulled a service revolver from his pack, and stuck it in his belt, Well, you can sit here and feel sorry for yourself all night if you want to, Donald. Personally, I'm going to get those two out of there, with or without your help. Jack turned and climbed through the companionway leaving Donald below staring at the blinking screen.
Conner lay in the dim room trying to comprehend what Olivia had just done, but her mind was foggy and she couldn't stay focused on her thoughts. There on her chest, lay the key to the handcuffs. Now all she had to do was figure out how to get it from her chest and into her hands. She lay perfectly still, knowing if she made any movement towards either side, the key would slip down into her clothing. Her head pounded, she closed her eyes, tired, gotta rest.
The sound of the office door opening pulled Conner from the haze. A searing pain tore through her head as the light switch was flipped and the fluorescent lights flickered on above her head. She slowly turned her head to look at the guard, getting a glimpse of the cop before shutting her eyes against the pain.
Well, well, what have we here? He knelt beside Conner and ran his hand down her neck, picking up the small shiny key between his fingers. Someone leave you a little present, Harris?
Conner closed her eyes again, trying to block out the glaring lights, Fuck You. Garlic, he always smells like fucking garlic, Conner thought to herself.
The cop stood and walked past her. Leaning against the desk, he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, lit one and slowly inhaled before blowing out a thin stream of bluish smoke in Conner's direction. Looks like you got yourself in a little bind here, Harris.
Conner kept her eyes shut. Fuck You.
The man snickered. That bump on your face cause your limited vocabulary, or are you just not very talkative tonight?
Conner refused to respond, and lay there quietly, listening to him tap his foot on the floor as he finished his cigarette. When she heard footsteps stop near her head, she opened her left eye and saw his black boot. Slowly, he knelt beside her again, and reached out to run his hand across her neck. She knew the tattered shirt was the only thing protecting her from his groping hands, Tell me what you want Bivins, then get the fuck away from me?
Bivins looked over his shoulder towards the door, then back down at the battered cop. Leaning down close to her ear, he whispered, Believe it or not Harris, I'm one of the good guys. All I want is for you to get to the roof, give your team a signal, then find a hole to crawl into until all this is over. You're in no condition to help with this so stay out of my way, Conner. I'll make sure everything turns out alright
Conner opened her eyes a few moments later, found herself alone in the room, and realized she must have fallen asleep. She turned her head to the side, and although the pain continued to sear her brain, it wasn't as intense as it had been earlier. She looked down at her chest, and panicked when she couldn't find the handcuff key. Looking around, she released a sigh of relief when she saw it lying on the floor next to her body. Easing her body over onto her right side, she moved carefully until she felt the key beneath her fingers. She closed her eyes and concentrated until she had unlocked one cuff, but stopped and fell back, covering her hands, when she heard footsteps rapidly approaching the door.
Conner closed her eyes and listened intently as the footsteps entered the room, paused, then continued, finally stopping next to her head. The boot lightly kicked her shoulder and Conner opened her eyes to see Olivia standing over her. You lose something?
Conner looked confused for a moment before she realized what Olivia was referring to, Umm
Olivia removed the cap from a bottle of water, kneeled down, and gently lifted Conner's head. Here drink this. Olivia held the bottle to Conner's lips as she eagerly drank. Slow down, I'm not going to take it away from you.
Conner relaxed her head into Olivia's hand, Why are you doing this?
Olivia raised an eyebrow, What? This? she lifted her head indicating the warehouse. Or this? she lifted the bottle of water.
Both. Conner pulled her head back up and Olivia helped her drink more water.
I'm doing this because it's my job. She gently lay Conner's head back down, This, she looked at the bottle, I'm doing because, believe it or not, I care about you.
Conner looked at Olivia not knowing what to feel, or say. Before she had a chance to gather her thoughts, Olivia stood and walked across the room, I need to get out of here. Be careful. Olivia leveled a final glance at Conner and walked through the door.
Conner lay there for a few moments waiting and listening for any signs of movement beyond the door, then slowly sat up, unlocked the other handcuff from her wrist, and quickly untied the bindings around her ankles. A wave of dizziness rushed through her head as she stood and made her way across the room to the desk. Pulling the drawer open, she found Sig lying there beside two extra clips. Quickly tucking the clips into her pocket she headed towards the door.
Conner struggled to keep the dizziness and nausea at bay as she stood by the door. She turned the knob slowly and cracked the door just enough to peer into the hallway. Seeing no one, she pulled the door open, pushed the locking mechanism, and eased into the hallway closing the door behind her, remembering too late that she had left her vest inside the room. It took Conner a moment to organize her thoughts and remember the layout of the warehouse, before she eased down to the opposite end of the hall to the stairwell that led to the roof. Staying on the inside edge of the steps, she slowly made her way to the top of the stairs, and felt a cool blast of air as the door pushed open easily in her hands.
Conner closed the door quietly. Looking around for guards, she slipped towards the backside of the roof, staying low, so as to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. Reaching the parapet wall, she peered over. Seeing no sign of the guards, she crawled over the wall and gripped the same pipe she had previously used to access the roof. She quickly slid down the pipe and hit the ground hard, her head vibrating with pain. Not knowing where her other team members were located, she headed in the direction of the boat. All I have to do is get to Jack.
The pain resonated through her head with each step, and she continued the mantra on her trek across the warehouse grounds, Get to Jack, get to Jack, get to Jack. Her head was throbbing, she didn't know how much further she could go, and then she felt two strong hands grab her from behind, just as the darkness overtook her conscious mind.
Very clever, Alex, very clever indeed. Malcolm removed the diamond-studded ring from his fingers, and using Alex's shirt, polished her blood off the gleaming jewels. It seems we now have a dilemma on our hands. Malcolm returned to his seat behind the desk and regarded Alex with keen eyes that sparkled when he next spoke, Liv darling, I think it's time to show Agent Montgomery the little surprise I have for her tonight, don't you?
Alex turned towards Olivia and saw a moment of uncertainty in her face, and then returned her stare to Malcolm. What little surprise would that be, Malcolm? Alex continued to watch Olivia and felt a stabbing pain in her gut when her ex-partner refused to make eye contact with her.
Liv, why don't you go retrieve our little package? Malcolm continued to carefully watch Olivia as she abruptly turned and walked down the hallway. Turning back towards Alex, Malcolm sat and waited silently until he heard footsteps draw near. His face broke into a malicious grin as he watched Alex's face pale when she saw the women enter the room, Alex, my dear, you must remember that I am always prepared for the unexpected. His laughter echoed off the concrete walls of the warehouse, as he savored the tortured look on Alex's face.
Alex lunged from the chair and was over the desk with her hands around Malcolm's neck before any of the guards could react and stop her, You fucking bastard. I'll kill you.
Malcolm rubbed his throat as the guards pulled Alex away and pinned her back into the chair. My, my Alex, I thought you would be delighted to see your sister after all this time. Karen, Mrs. Fairfax, please join us for a glass of wine.
Olivia pulled a chair on each side of Alex and motioned to the women to sit. Karen rushed towards Alex and fell into her arms, God, Alex, are you all right?
Returning her sister's embrace, Alex kissed her cheek, and whispered, Yes, baby, I'm fine. Now just do what they ask, okay?
Karen nodded and sat in the chair next to Alex, but continued to grip her hand. Catherine sat on her other side carefully scanning the room, as Alex turned back towards Malcolm.
You see Alex, the tides always have a way of turning in the blink of an eye. One moment you're floating on a peaceful sea, the next you're swept away in a violent vortex. One must always be prepared for those changing tides
and the consequences of being caught unprepared, Malcolm chuckled as he sat with his hands interlocked behind his head. I do believe it is time for you to make that call now, Alex.
Alex glared back at Malcolm, I don't think so. As I told you before, it's not an option.
Malcolm stood and walked around the desk. Taking Alex's chin in his hand, he leaned close to her face, I think your sister has been through enough the past year. I would hate to have to kill her now and see all her suffering be for naught.
Alex tore her face from his hand, Fuck you, Mal-
Karen cut her off before she had a chance to finish. In a quiet voice she spoke to Malcolm Hernandez for the first time, Mr. Hernandez, I'm not sure what your little game is here, but I can tell you this. Obviously, my sister believes that bringing you down is the right thing, otherwise why would she have given up as much of her soul as she has, to this case. Glancing at Alex and Catherine she saw the shock on both their faces.
I stand by Alex's decision, and if my dying is what it takes to get you off the street, then so be it. Death can't be nearly as bad as what she and I have had to live through this last year. Karen held his stare, never wavering, nor blinking. So, which one of your guards would you like to have the honor, Mr. Hernandez? Karen dared another glance at her sister, Personally, I think it should be Olivia, since she knows both of us so well. What do you think, Alex? Karen sat back and smiled when she saw all the color drained from Malcolm's face.
Conner woke up to see Jack's concerned face looking at her intently, Hey Kid, you okay?
Conner blinked several times trying to bring Jack's face into focus. Suddenly, through the fog, she remembered why she was trying to reach him and struggled to speak, Help
Jack felt Conner's body relax in his arms and gently lay her back on the ground. He knew he had to make some fast decisions. Obviously from the last transmission, Alex was being held hostage, and Hernandez knew they were on the grounds as well. He pressed the mic on his chest and directed the Special Ops team to switch to the secure channel. While he waited for each member to call in, Jack thought about the situation. They had the Hernandez group pinned in the warehouse with no method of escape. He couldn't guarantee that Hernandez wouldn't harm Alex, but with the agent being his only means of security, he doubted the man would be so foolish. At least that would buy them some time to reorganize.
After each member had called in, Jack directed all but Bannister, Willis, Seay, and Garrett to meet him at the dock. Then lifting Conner, pulled her arm over his shoulder, and headed over.
When Jack arrived with Conner, Donald was waiting, dripping water on the weathered boards under his feet. Jack simply raised a brow at Donald's appearance, and gently sat Conner on the deck. He took off his jacket and placed it around her shoulders.
Conner's eyes widened and as she stood the pain ripped through her head, Alex
she's in there, the roof
Jack pushed on Conner's shoulder easing her back down, Easy Conner, everything's under control just relax. He looked up at Donald for the first time, Gather everyone up, will you Donald.
Donald began walking towards the team that was gathering at the edge of the dock. Jack had left before he could catch him, and after hearing Jack break radio silence, calling everyone together, he had no other way to reach the shore except swim. He was now out of breath and facing the Special Ops team. They looked at him with questioning eyes, but knew to stay quiet.
Jack joined them a few minutes later, Conner walking along beside him. The pain was still searing her brain but she forced herself to focus on what had to be done, Someone hand me a floor plan.
Quincey handed over the map and Conner knelt down to spread it out on the ground. They gathered around as Conner pointed out Hernandez's location and the probable location of his men. She also looked at Jack and with disappointed yet angry eyes informed him of Seth's involvement, as well as Bivin's and Olivia's, Seth's definitely turned, but I think Bivins is ok. As for Olivia, well, I think she is struggling with something, but I believe when things start going down she'll be with us.
Jack sat stunned for a moment as he absorbed the news of Seth's betrayal, Well Harris, looks like you're the only one around here that I can trust. Jack turned to the Special Ops team, Okay, listen up. Here's what we're doing
Jack made the assignments as Donald hung in the background, defeated. He knew the mistakes he had made in handling this case were probably going to end his career, and he resigned himself to letting Jack call the shots. As Jack finished talking, the team looked towards Donald with expectant eyes, You heard the man, get going, his voice harsher than he had intended.
Jack turned to Donald, Why don't you take Conner back to the boat, and put a call in for the paramedics, and backup.
Conner stood slowly, No, I'm going back in with you. Before Jack or Donald had a chance to disagree Conner added, I know the way in and out, and
she's in there. She wouldn't leave me, I'm not disserting her either. Seeing the looks in their eyes, she started walking towards the warehouse as she called back over her shoulder, You coming Cappy, or am I going to have to do this all by myself?
Jack grinned and shook his head, Right behind you squirt. Jack turned to face Donald, The dinghy is in the grass over there. I'd take that if I were you. You're too damn old to be swimming. With a sad smile, he turned from Donald and trotted off to catch up with his spitfire officer.
Donald retrieved the dinghy and quickly motored back to the boat where he called for backup and a medical response crew. As he was gathering his extra gun and ammunition, and was halfway back to the dinghy, a thought crossed his mind. Turning back to the cabin, he quickly grabbed his cell phone from the desk and punched in the number in Miami.
Conner led Jack back to the warehouse where they met up with Garrett and the other three Special Op's. members. Jack quickly gave the men their orders and motioned for Garrett, Seay, Bannister and Willis to follow Conner and him to the roof. Conner led the way to the back of the building, then stopped and turned to the men, There is only one way into the warehouse from the roof. We'll enter by way of the stairs, two at a time. Captain, you and Seay give us two minutes then follow us down, then Willis and Bannister.
Conner waited for an objection from Jack but when none was forthcoming, she continued, When you get to the bottom of the stairs the hallway leads directly into the main warehouse. There will be crates stacked along the aisles to give you some cover but the guards will probably be in there as well, so keep your eyes open.
Jack knew they would have to improvise once they reached the main warehouse area, I want us to get into a position to reach Alex, then we'll give the signal to the men outside. Jack eyed the lead team for any questions, and then nodded his head, Let's move out.
Conner let Garrett lead the way. Once he was safely on the roof, she followed, and took up the 'watch' position, while the other members ascended the wall. They made their way to the door and as Conner looked back at Jack, he winked and gave her a thumbs up, Let's knock'm out kiddo.
Conner returned the smile, slowly opened the door and eased into the darkened stairwell. A chill ran through Conner as she thought back on her previous decent of the stairs and the events that had occurred shortly thereafter. Shaking off the ill feeling, she crept down the treads with Garrett following close behind.
Conner peered around the corner, found the hallway deserted, and edged towards the door of the office. Wanting to retrieve her vest she twisted the doorknob of the office, but found that it remained locked indicating that her absence had not been noticed. She and Garrett maneuvered further down the hallway and into the main warehouse. They took a position near the hall so they could monitor the other members' entrance, as well as the adjacent area. Conner watched the darkened lane until she saw Jack and Seay two minutes later.
Jack took Conner's place as lookout, as she, Garrett, and Seay spread out through the warehouse. The tall stacks of crates and boxes provided sufficient cover to keep them well hidden. Conner watched as a shadow fell over the gap she had ducked into. She held still as the guard walked by then stopped a short distance from her. He lifted his head as if straining to hear, then turned and once again started in her direction.
Conner pulled the stun gun from her belt and waiting until the guard was directly beside her before she pressed the device against his back. He collapsed into Conner's arms as the electricity surged through his body, and she quickly pulled him into the gap. Gagging and binding him quickly, she then moved out in search of the next guard.
The team outside listened as the clicks continued to sound over their earphones. So far, seven guards had been disabled and Andrews calculated that there were now only six armed guards remaining in addition to Olivia and Hernandez. Andrews motioned to his men to move out. Three would enter the building from the roof as the initial entrance team had done, and he and the other two members would enter straight through the front door.
Andrew's pulse quickened as the minutes ticked off and more adrenaline rushed through his bloodstream. The time was near, some would live
and some would die. The question that loomed large in all their minds was, who?
Part Twenty-Six of Storm Surge
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