Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
Alex called David's house first thing the next morning. Miri answered.
"Alex, what the hell did you do to my husband last night? He came home very late and in the foulest mood he's ever been in. I could barely get him to talk to me, and when he did, he made no sense. All he could said was something about falling axes and women holding guns in his face. What happened?"
Alex sighed. "Well, I kind of introduced him to an assassin. But he told me wanted to meet her."
"An assassin? Is she the one who was pointing a gun at him?"
"Yeah. David said the wrong thing, and Teren was tense to begin with. But she never would have pulled the trigger, honest."
Miri was quiet. "Is this person a friend of yours, Alex?"
Alex had to think about that for a moment. Did she consider Teren a friend?
"Well, um, you see, she's -- well, Teren's -- uh . . ." Alex bit her lip. Then she drew in a breath and said, "Yeah, she is a friend."
"Do me a favor, would you? Make sure your friend doesn't kill my husband. I've kind of gotten used to having him around."
Alex laughed. "I promise, Miri, I'll protect him from her."
"Good. Now, would you like to speak to him?"
She heard Miri set the phone down, and walk away. After a minute there were strange sounds coming over the other end of the line.
"Hello? David, is that you?"
"Arlea? What are you doing on the phone?"
"Ahhh, na ssstsstt laa."
The baby talk continued for a moment, then Alex heard David in the background calling his daughter's name. "Arlea, what are you doing? Give me that."
There was a yell of outrage from Alex's playmate, then David came on the line.
"Yeah. Nice to know you're teaching your daughter proper phone etiquette."
"Sure. Now if I can just get her to not slobber over the receiver, she'll be ready for the world."
Alex had to laugh. The image of David standing in his living room, holding a wet phone between two fingers rose unbidden in Alex's mind. She couldn't stop laughing, and after a minute, David got annoyed.
"It's not that funny, Alex. Now, get over yourself, and tell me what you learned from the tall one with the short fuse."
"Right." Alex let the last of her chuckles fade away. "Okay, long and short of it. We talked, we ate dinner, she dropped me off at home."
"Oh, come on. Details are required, partner."
"Well, she likes good wine, Spanish food, and her family is Greek."
"Good. Great. I'm sure those things will help us crack this case."
"I learned a few other things, but I don't want to talk about them over the phone. Do you and Miri have anything planned today, or are you available for kidnapping?"
"I see. In other words, you want us to work today."
"Yeah. Besides, I need to talk to you, and you need to tell me what happened over at the house when Cliff and the guys got there."
"Oh, now you're interested. Last night you just wanted to leave me there in the dark, while you went off with your pet assassin."
"I told you yesterday, she's not my pet anything, and I swear if you call her an assassin again, I'll let her shoot you next time."
Alex covered her eyes with her hands, realizing what she'd just said. It was enough to tell David that something was definitely going on.
"Alex, are you okay?" David's voice was soft and concerned. For a minute Alex wanted to tell him everything that had happened the night before. But she realized she really couldn't do so over the phone.
"Yes, Dave. But I really need to talk. Plus, we need to go to the office and look at some records. Can you pick me up?"
"When can you get here?"
"I'm on my way."
"Please let Miri know I'm sorry. I really didn't intend to interrupt any family plans."
"It's okay, Alex, I knew we'd probably be working. Miri knew it, too. Don't worry, she's not going to ground you from playing with Arlea or anything."
"That's good to know. I'd miss the little punk."
"Yeah, and she'd miss you. I'll pick you up as soon as I can."
"Give the girls a hug and kiss from me."
"Sending my wife kisses, Alex?"
"No, dummy. The hug is for Miri, the kiss is for Arlea."
"You just want me to get slobbered on."
David showed up half an hour later, and Alex met him at the curb. She'd been waiting on the porch for several minutes.
"Hey, partner, what are you hanging around in the cold for?"
"I don't know, just didn't want to sit inside anymore. Guess I'm a little eager to get to work."
David pulled the car away from the curb. "Okay, you want to fill me in on what tall dark and dangerous told you?"
"You can't pass it on, Dave, and I can't tell you everything. But I got the name of the guy that was with Mather in Europe."
"His name is John Treville. He works at East Penn Telecom."
"That's where Brogan works."
"Right." Alex pulled out her pad of notes. "He's also a friend of Martin Richmond's. He serves on the board for the Christian Men's Front."
"Damn. I guess you're telling me you do think Richmond is involved."
"I think it's more than likely."
Dave nodded. "Okay, what else?"
"We need to go back into the records on the shareholders of Kittredge. Treville should be listed. We need to find the paperwork to trace him, because we can't let anyone know Teren told us."
"Come on, Alex, what if the trail isn't there? How are we gonna connect him without her statement?"
"We won't. I'm not going to argue this with you, David. She told me the story in strictest confidence, and I won't break her faith in me."
David drove quietly for several minutes, concentrating on the roads though the capitol.
He knew there was something Alex wasn't telling him, but he also knew if he pushed, she would probably not tell him anything at all.
"You like her, don't you, Alex."
Alex sighed. She knew what David was asking.
"Yeah. I think I do."
David shook his head. "Why are things always complicated with you, Alex? Why can't you ever like someone normal? What about that woman you had dinner with the other night, the one you met at Sarah and Maggie's?"
Alex looked at him. "Dave, that was Teren."
David paused. "Oh, yeah."
Alex just laughed.
They pulled into the underground parking lot, and David turned the motor off. He started to open the door, but Alex stopped him with a hand to his arm.
"Okay, what else do you need to tell me, Alex?"
She pulled the key from her pocket and handed it to him."That look like a safety deposit box key to you?"
David looked at it closely. "Yes. Where'd you get this?"
She looked at the floor a little guiltily.
"You took it from the house last night?"
"Accidentally. What Teren was looking for last night was something that got left behind when her partner was killed. It meant a lot to her, and she found it inside the box of money. She asked me to let her take this little leather bag. She swore it had nothing whatsoever to do with the case. I figured we owed her one, so I let her take it. After dinner, when she was dropping me off, I asked her to show it to me, just so I could know for sure."
"And it was this key."
"No. It was a pocket watch that Mather had taken from her partner's body. Teren said she didn't know if Mather'd had it with him when he got blown up, but she hoped he'd left it at home. It's a beautiful watch, David, very old, over a century. I was glad to let her have it."
David nodded. "Okay. The key?"
"When she showed me the watch, I opened it. The key was wedged on the inside of the case. I took the key, and Teren took the watch."
Her partner nodded again. "So. How do we explain how the key got here?"
"Well, Teren and I came up with a plan, but I 'd rather tell Cliff the truth. He's the one who told me I should try to work with her, and offer to share resources."
He looked sideways at her. "Do you think she has any other resources to share?"
"She's willing to help. She said she'd try her own contacts in the agency to find all the links. The way she put it was, 'I'll give you the names, you guys get the evidence.'"
"Well, good. Maybe it will start a new era in cooperation between the Bureau and the CIA."
"I doubt it. Teren's not really CIA anymore."
"I doubt it, too. Anyway, Cliff is supposed to be here today. He said last night that he'd be in around ten."
Alex looked at her watch. It was nine-thirty. "Well, you want to be there when I tell him the story?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I'll be there. Don't want him going ballistic without me around. Besides, Teren saved my life last night, even if she did want to kill me later. I wouldn't begrudge her the opportunity to get her partner's watch back from that slimebag."
"Thanks, David. Now, if we can just find the box this key fits."
"Oh, didn't I tell you? We found a slip for a bank downtown, right here in DC. It was for the rental of a safety deposit box."
Alex just stared at her partner. "You're kidding."
"Nope. But now we have the number, and the key. We shouldn't have any problem getting into it this morning."
"Want to go there now?"
"Uh, let's talk to Cliff first. "
Cliff was indeed in his office. He listened as Alex told him the story of her evening with Teren. She glossed over most of the details, explaining only that Teren had finally given her the name of John Treville. When she told him about letting Teren take the pouch, his eyebrows shot up, but he remained silent until she finished.
Cliff stood up and walked over to the window. He had to admit he was a little disturbed that Alex, one of his top agents, had allowed evidence to be taken from the house. He couldn't really blame her, though, since he was the one who encouraged her to foster a working relationship with the former spy. He wondered now if that had been the right move.
He turned back to his two investigators.
"I don't like it. Not even a little bit. Alex, consider yourself written up for this. I won't actually do it, because it wouldn't do any good. I don't believe any harm will come of it, so I'm not reporting it. But I won't put up with this again."
Alex opened her mouth, intending to defend herself, but shut it again when Cliff raised his hand.
"I understand you were trying to keep Teren happy. But she has to understand that the FBI runs under different rules. I'm willing to have her on this team, but only if she understands, and follows, the rules. Is that clear?"
"As for her pulling a gun on David, I suppose we can balance that against her stopping that axe. But if it happens again, I'll see her up on charges. It's one thing to have a temper, it's another thing to have a violent temper."
Alex hesitated, then nodded.
"Alright. Do you have any way of getting in touch with her?"
"Yeah, she gave me a pager number."
"Good. Call her. Ask her if she'd like to be there when we open this box. Tell her I'd like her there, at Washington Federal. I've made an appointment for us at eleven o'clock. Afterwards, I'll take her to lunch."
"You will?" David sounded skeptical.
"Yes. I think it's time I had some direct contact with Ms. Mylos."
Cliff turned back to the blond woman. "I'll let her know you protected her secrets. And I agree that the rest of the team doesn't have to know about this. It's not important for them to know how we got the name, and I can say I found the key among some of the evidence taken from the house last night."
"Thank you, sir. Do you want me to go with you and Teren?"
"No, I don't think so. I'd like this to be a one-on-one, candid conversation. She can choose the restaurant if she wishes."
"I'll let her know." Alex stood up. "Is there anything else, sir?"
"No, that's all. Mark and Ben are supposed to be here soon. They were still mapping out some connections, and they wanted to keep going. They said they thought they were close to something."
"Great. David and I will see if we can help them."
"First, make that phone call. Then, check in, but don't get started on anything. We'll have to leave in about twenty or twenty-five minutes to get to the bank."
"Right." Alex made eye-contact with David, silently asking him to give her a moment. He sighed and shook his head, but excused himself and left.
"I'm sorry I let you down, Cliff."
"You didn't, really. I just think you took a suggestion a little too far."
"I guess I shouldn't have let her keep the watch, huh?"
"I would have given it to her." Alex looked surprised. "But I also would have demanded to see it first. You didn't know what it was. I think the only mistake you made was letting her take it without you, and David, knowing what it was from the start."
Alex dropped her head. "I didn't want to push her, Cliff. She's a bundle of contradictions, wrapped in a keg of dynamite." She raised her eyes to his. "When you have lunch with her you'll see what I mean."
Cliff nodded, and put a hand on her shoulder. "Alright, Alex, tell me something."
"What in the hell did David say to make her almost shoot him?"
Alex frowned. "He accused her of wanting to steal the money, and then he called her a killer."
Cliff shook his head. "That was dumb." He paused. "Do you think she would have shot him?"
"No." Alex didn't even have to think about the answer. "I think she wanted to prove a point. He provoked her. And she could have killed us both in an instant, her draw was that fast. But the point was, she's not really a killer. She didn't want to kill him." She shrugged. "Something tells me she was really good at her job, but didn't really enjoy it. Unlike George Mather."
Her boss rubbed a hand across his face. "Okay. Get out of here. Make your call."
Alex headed for the door, but stopped when Cliff called her name again.
"I want to ask you one more question, and I want you to think about the answer. Don't give it to me now, tell me later, at the bank, okay?"
"Okay. What's the question?"
"Do you think, if you hadn't insisted on seeing the watch, would Teren have given us the key if she found it on her own?"
Alex opened her mouth, then stopped. Cliff motioned for her to leave, and she did, closing the door behind her.
"So, what happened?"
"Nothing. We just talked. He wanted to know what stupid thing you said to make Teren pull a gun on you." Alex left Cliff's outer office, and headed for her cubicle.
David followed. "I didn't do anything. She's just oversensitive."
"Dave, you called her a killer."
"Well, she was."
Alex stopped outside her doorway. "You think she needs to be reminded of that fact?"
"Well, I --"
"David, do you like being reminded of the time you had to shoot the guy in Minnesota?"
David stopped, and stared at her. "You know I don't."
"It was in the line of duty."
"Well, yes --"
"But you didn't like doing it."
"Don't you think maybe Teren feels the same way?"
David blinked. He tried to say something, but there was nothing to say. It wasn't something he'd thought about.
Alex sighed. "I have a phone call to make. Why don't you see if Ben and Mark are here, and let them know we'll be around this afternoon to help."
Her partner nodded. "Right. Meet you in the control center?"
David looked like he wanted to say something else, but he turned away. Alex almost felt bad for bringing up the one time both she and David had had to discharge their weapons. But her mind played back a picture of the way Teren looked when telling about her partner's death, and she knew she was right. Everyone assumed assassins killed because they liked it. Some probably did. But what if it was simply your job?
She shook her head, and entered her office.
"I got your page, what's up?"
"Teren, you have a personal invitation to be present when we open Mather's deposit box. We have an appointment at the bank at eleven."
"Washington Federal, the main branch."
"I'll be there, and thanks for the invite, Alex."
"It's not from me. It came direct from my boss. He wants to meet with you, and he's offering to take you to lunch."
"What? You're kidding me."
"Will you be joining us?"
Alex smiled. "Unfortunately, no. But I'd love to be a fly on the wall."
She could here Teren chuckle. "What restaurant?"
"He says it's your choice."
"Really. This should be interesting." She was quiet for a moment. "Okay, tell him I'll do it. I'll see you at the bank at eleven."
"Great. And Teren?"
"Think you could leave your gun at home?"
Teren laughed, then stopped. "No." She hung up.
When they arrived at the bank, Alex didn't see Teren at first. She was trying to keep an eye out for the dark haired woman, and still follow the guard escorting her, David and Cliff. She was beginning to think Teren would be late, when suddenly Alex felt a presence and looked up to see Teren standing at her side. She'd never even seen the woman approach.
She whispered an aside to the taller woman. "Damn, you're good. Even when I'm watching for you, I don't see you."
"Part of my training." Teren said just loud enough for Alex's ears. "Become invisible until you want someone to see you."
She gave Alex a wink, and followed the agents as they entered the deposit box area.
David looked over at Alex, blinking when he saw the tall figure beside her. "Teren, when did you get here?"
"Just minutes before you. How are you, David?"
"Better." He grinned. "Can I ask you a favor?"
Teren sighed. "I won't shoot you today, alright?"
"That's good, but that's not the favor."
"The next time you feel like shooting me, just punch me. You'll feel better, and I won't have nightmares about the muzzle of your forty-five." His smile got a little wider. "Deal?"
Teren had to chuckle. Alex was right, she thought, David was okay. "It's a deal."
Cliff finished his conversation with the desk personnel, and motioned them to follow him into the room. He spotted Teren, and nodded at her. She nodded back, and followed Alex.
Once they located the box, and the keys had been turned, the guard left the four of them alone in the room. The three agents all pulled on rubber gloves, then Cliff lifted the lid off the box, and set it aside.
There were two items wrapped in newspaper. Cliff took hold of one and began to unwrap it. David took hold of the other one. In a short time they were staring at a silver cup, and a dagger with a beautifully carved handle.
"You think this is that silver chalice, Alex?"
"Probably, unless you guys found something else at the house."
"Nothing that someone would offer several grand for. I wonder if he was trying to sell the knife as well."
Teren spoke up. "I doubt it. He loved collecting weapons. You probably saw the box under his bed?"
"The one filled with swords? Yeah, we found it."
"He would have kept the dagger to add to his collection. I'm just not sure why he would put it here instead of keeping it at home."
Alex took the dagger from David and unbuttoned the strap that held it in its sheath. Slowly she edged the blade out.
"Look at this." She pointed to a swastika that was etched into the blade. "If I had to guess, I'd say this dagger is from the second World War." She looked closer at the etching. "I'm no expert, but I think this might be an original blade from an SS officer."
"How can you tell all that from a swastika, Alex?" Teren sounded skeptical.
Alex looked up. "Because I've seen them before. Plus, we have pictures of Mallory Gerlach receiving one, as a gift from Ernst Remer."
"Who is Ernst Remer?"
"Remer was a body guard for Adolph Hitler. He survived the war, and actually became the leader of the neo-Nazi movement in West Germany. It is believed he was a large part of the ODESSA network, though nobody could ever prove that. He came to speak at a convention here in the states, proclaiming that the holocaust never happened. While he was there, he met Mallory Gerlach. He gave Gerlach a dagger like this. Gerlach had it insured for over one-hundred thousand dollars."
David took the dagger from Alex and held it up in the light. "Are you sure its the same, Alex?"
"No, I'm not positive. Like I said, I'm not an expert. But it shouldn't be hard to verify its date, and the date of the etching."
Cliff nodded. "If Alex is right, then at least one of our crispy critters had contact with someone high up in the Nazi movement. You don't find those kinds of things just lying around."
Teren looked at Cliff in surprise. "What did you call them?"
David laughed. "That's the nickname Cliff gave to Mather and Wilford. Crispy critters, because they were both fried to a crisp."
Teren's eyebrow rose. "You have a morbid sense of humor, Mr. Jackson." He shrugged at her, and she smiled. "I think you and I are going to like each other."
This time it was Alex who raised her eyebrows.
Besides the chalice and the dagger, the group discovered a number of gold coins in a bag stuffed inside the silver cup. The coins were from Germany, and all carried a date in the nineteen- thirties. They also had the profile of Adolph Hitler.
While Teren and Cliff left for lunch, Alex and David returned to the office, stopping at the SubStore to eat first. After dropping off their latest discoveries at the lab, they returned to the control center, where they found Ben and Mark huddled over several computer printouts.
Ben looked up and grinned at Alex. "For once, I get to toot my own horn, so to speak. I think we got somethin', Alex."
"What is it, Ben?"
He motioned her to sit down, and then slid the papers in front of her.
"You know those trips White took? Well, this," he pointed to a column on the sheet, "shows the dates and times he was there. This 'un," he flipped to another sheet and pointed again, "this 'un shows the same dates and places for Martin Richmond."
Alex compared the two. When Derek White was in New York, Richmond was there as well, which wasn't really a surprise since he lived there. But Alex wondered what he was doing in Colordao Springs at the same time as Derek White.
Mark came over with still another sheet. "And this one shows the same time period for our newest pal, Treville. Notice anything?"
Not only had Treville been home in Philadelphia at the right time, he had also been in Colorado Springs, and Williams Beach, Virginia.
"Let's start with Colorado. Do we know where White went, who he visited?"
"Well, surveillance records say he went sight-seeing in the mountains, and he visited the headquarters of this group called RFA, Religious Family Association."
"I've heard of them," David said. "They put out some national newsletter, don't they?"
"Yeah, and lots of books, and several radio programs. Their director, Jacob Dawkins, even has his own column in about a dozen newspapers."
"Okay, Mark, so who did he visit at RFA?"
"Couldn't tell you. But I can tell you that Richmond was in the building at the same time."
"One of the papers in Colorado had an article about him meeting the director of RFA. I checked the date and it matched."
"Well, I don't know for certain, but the papers did mention that Richmond was accompanied by another member of the Board of Directors for CMF."
Alex looked at the papers once again. "Okay, what about White in New York? Do we know his activities?"
Ben shook his head. "Not really. Seems he slipped his surveillance up there -- they lost him for a full day."
"Do we know where Richmond was on that day?"
"Nope. Can't say anything for certain."
David pulled a sheet of paper off the wall, and put up a fresh one. Alex watched him out of the corner of her eye, while she continued looking at the travel itineraries for the three men.
"Okay, let's look at Philadelphia. Do we know what Derek was doing there?"
"He visited his cousin's house."
"Yeah. As a matter of fact, there were several people at the house that night. We don't know who, though."
"Did Richmond ever go to Philly?"
"Once, nearly nine months ago. Curiously, White was visiting his cousin at that time, too. And there were several men there."
Alex raised her head and looked at Mark. "Think Mr. Brogan hosts dinner parties often?" She noticed David had continued writing and drawing lines on the paper.
"I don't know, but I'd really like to know who the other guests were."
"Me, too." Alex looked back down at the sheets. "Okay, somebody tell me about Williams Beach, Virginia."
"Headquarters for Christians Unite. And before you ask, yes, Derek White was there. He went to church services -- on the same day that the papers said Richmond was supposed to meet Steve Radcliff, who is the head of the political group Christians Unite."
"Hot damn. I think we're getting somewhere."
"Oh, but we ain't told ya the interestin' part yet."
She looked at Ben, who had a huge grin on his face. "Okay, Ben, what's the interesting part?"
Mark sat down across from his partner. "All the aforementioned individuals, and several that were not mentioned, are either shareholders in Kittredge, or they sit on the Board of Directors for The Talcott Companies."
David even turned around at that. He was just in time to see Alex do a very good impression of a fish, as she opened and closed her mouth.
"Uh, that means, um --" Alex swallowed. "Are we saying that the heads of three of the most important religious right organizations in the country are involved in a conspiracy to kill left wing leaders?"
"No." Ben said. "Like ya said yesterday. We're just makin' the connections."
"Oh." She nodded. "Damn good connections, guys."
David was waiting patiently by his new sheet of paper. Alex glanced at him, and he waved her over. Ben and Mark followed.
" What do you have for us, David?"
"Well, I just decided things were getting a little complicated, so I wanted to draw it out. Kinda like you were going to do yesterday."
He looked at her. "Don't say shoot today, Alex."
She grinned. "Go ahead, Dave."
David pointed to the sheet. "All I did was write down the names of everyone we've run across in this investigation, including the newest ones that Ben and Mark came up with. From there, I drew solid lines between those individuals we can definitely link together, and dotted lines between those we think are connected. Not much, but maybe it will help if we just flesh out what other connections there may be."
Ben nodded. "Looks good, Dave. I think you got all of 'em."
"No, you missed one," Mark pointed out. "We can connect Brogan to Treville; they both work for East Penn."
"Right." David drew in the line. He looked at Alex. "Alex?"
His partner nodded. "Alright, Dave, try putting a K next to everyone we know is a shareholder in Kittredge."
David put K's next to Brogan, White, Gerlach, and Treville.
"Now, put an A next to anybody who's on the board for Atlantic Properties."
An A went next to Richmond.
"Mark, would you put a T next to everyone who's on the Board of Directors for Talcott?"
Mark placed T's next to Treville, Dawkins, and Radcliffe.
"Good. Last thing. Put CMF in parentheses beside Richmond and Treville."
Mark frowned, but did it.
Alex nodded. "I think that's the next angle we look at. Treville is on Richmond's Board for the Christian Men's Front. I want to know who else is on that."
"For one, you can include Jacob Dawkins. He's an original founding member."
They all turned at the sound of another voice, and Alex blinked in disbelief. Teren stood there, casually leaning against the doorjamb.
No one spoke for a moment or two, and then, David cleared his throat.
"Um, Ben, Mark, this is Teren Mylos. Teren, Ben Cleaves and Mark Garnett."
"It's nice to meet you, Ben. How's your eye, Mark?"
He nodded. "Fine. What are you doing here?"
"Cliff asked me to join your team. Unofficially, of course."
Alex finally found her voice. "I take it you agreed?"
Teren nodded, her blues eyes coming to rest on Alex's green ones. "I did. Is that alright with you, Alex?"
"Great. Welcome aboard."
Ben nodded. "Good to meet you, Teren. Was it you that got David there all riled up? He was sayin' last night he thought he was gonna die."
Teren chuckled. "Yeah, I guess that was me."
"You guess? You guess? I didn't see anybody else there threatening to shoot me."
Alex stood up. "And I didn't see anyone else there stopping an axe three inches from your face."
Teren's eyebrow rose. She hadn't expected Alex to defend her actions.
"It was four inches," David grumbled.
Alex rolled her eyes, and turned back toward Teren. As she did, Cliff appeared behind the tall woman.
Cliff nudged Teren further into the room, motioning for her to take a seat. He followed her in, walking up to the table, and turning to face them all. He leaned back and cleared his throat.
"I have a few announcements to make. I trust you've all met Teren by now. I'd like to thank her for being willing to help us out with this. Her position is unofficial, but she may have some connections that will help. I'm going to ask her to work with Alex and David, since she already knows them."
Alex nodded. Teren gave a ghost of a smile. David covered his eyes.
"Now, as of Monday it will be official. Rick Price, from Philadelphia, will be a part of our team. He'll be partnered with Ken Thomas, and since we've still got a suspect in Philly, that's where they'll be staying. They've been part of the surveillance team on Brogan, and they think they've got him spooked. We were discussing having David and Alex go back up there to try to shake him up a little more, but I'm afraid that's not going to be possible."
Alex frowned. Cliff took a deep breath and continued.
"I just got word that Ann Seffren was shot this morning in Denver."
There was a collective shock that passed through the room. Teren could almost feel the energy as it passed among the gathered agents.
"Teren, since you may not know, Ann Seffren is a gay rights and pro-choice activist whose name was on the list of potential victims." Teren nodded. Cliff sighed again. "I have to say, I thought the killings were over. But, obviously, they've just switched killers. That's the bad news. The good news, is that Seffren is still alive. Also, they caught this guy. He was shot by a police officer, but he's still alive as well. They've posted guards to try and make sure he stays that way."
"I know her name was on the list, Cliff, but are you sure this is related? Couldn't it be a random shooting?" Mark asked.
"I don't know, Mark, but it sounds very familiar to me. The guy was on the roof of a nearby building, and used a high powered rifle. He tried to escape down the back stairs, only to be caught by a couple of cops doing a drug bust in the alley. Like I said, it sounds familiar." He shrugged. "As to whether or not it's connected, I'm going to send Alex and David out to Denver to ask questions. David, please tell your wife I'm sorry, I know its the weekend, and I'll give you as much vacation as you want as soon as I can. But I need the two of you on this. Your plane leaves at seven."
David was shaking his head. "She's gonna kill me."
Cliff turned to Teren. "I wish I could send you out there as well, Teren, but since your position has to be unofficial . . ."
"I understand. Still, I'd kind of like to go. If you can make the reservation, I'll pay for the ticket."
"Done." Cliff nodded. "Alright. Ben, Mark, I guess you're going to be my coordinators. The other three teams should be getting back here tonight or tomorrow. I understand there's news from LA, and it's not good."
"Like I always say, ain't nothin' good come outta Hell-ay."
"You may be right, Ben. From what I hear, they found the shooter, or rather his body. Seems to be an epidemic, don't you think?"
"Well, maybe Alex and I will get lucky, and this guy in Colorado will be alive when we get there."
Cliff sighed. "Maybe. That would be nice for a change." He looked at his watch. "Okay, it's three-fifteen. Alex, David, you'll need to get moving if you want to make your flight. You're set up with e-tickets. I'll give you the flight information before you go. Teren, I'll call and see if I can get you on the plane." He looked at all of them. "I guess that's it. You all know what to do. Let's get going."
It was a mostly silent crowd that filed out of the control center. Alex headed to her office to call Sarah. Somebody would have to take care of Appleby.
Alex and David met by the elevators.
"Did you call Miri?"
"Yeah. She's not happy, but at least she's not talking divorce."
"What did she say?"
"She called Cliff several foul names, and said I was to spend the next few nights on the couch."
"David, you'll be in Colorado for the next few nights."
"I know. Good thing, too, since that couch is really lumpy."
Alex was glad her partner hadn't lost his sense of humor.
"Do you want a ride home, Alex?"
"No, I'll take the Metro. It'll take you longer if you have to drop me off, then go home, and pick me up again."
The heard a polite cough behind them, and turned to see Teren.
"Hey, did Cliff get you a seat on the plane?"
"Yes. I was just going to ask if you wanted a ride, Alex."
"Like I told David, it doesn't make sense for someone to drive me home, then have to go home, and come back and pick me up."
The elevator arrived, and the three of them stepped inside.
"Well, since I already have a bag packed, I wouldn't have to go home. I could just take you home, and then we'd go straight to the airport."
David looked suspiciously at Teren. "Why are you already packed, Teren? Did you know about this earlier?"
"Hardly." Teren shrugged. "I got used to leaving town on a moments notice, so I learned to have a bag packed and in the trunk of my car. There were several times I was awakened from a sound sleep at midnight, on a plane by one, and in Europe by eight in the morning our time." She shook her head. "When you live like that, you learn to be prepared."
David nodded, and the suspicion faded away. "Sounds like a reasonable explanation to me."
Alex looked at her partner and then at Teren. "Am I going to have to spend this trip keeping you from shooting each other?"
"No. David asked me to punch him, remember?" Teren smiled.
"Right. Okay, am I going to have to keep you from punching each other's lights out?"
David wanted to joke with Alex about it, but he could see she was serious. He decided it would be better to try and deal with things here and now, rather than in Denver, or at 30,000 feet.
"Look, Teren, when I'm nervous I say stupid things. I guess your reputation preceeds you, and I have to admit, you make me nervous. He shrugged. "But, you haven't really given me a reason to think bad of you, so I'm willing to give this a chance." He stuck out his hand. "How about you?"
Teren looked at him. "Haven't given you a reason? I put a gun in your face."
"Yeah, but I really did say things I shouldn't have. It took a friend reminding me of things in my own past that made me realize what a jerk I'd been." He glanced at Alex, who had her hands in her pockets and was looking at the floor.
Teren caught the glance, and felt a flush of gratitude for the blond woman. She looked at David's hand, and took it. They gave each other a smile, and stepped out of the elevator as the doors opened.
"So, Alex, how about that ride? I could take you home, and then to the airport. I'll leave my car in long term parking, and Dave's wife can take theirs home." She looked at David. " Does that sound alright with you?"
"Great. Usually I leave my car there, but it always worries Miri."
"Okay, then. Alex, my car's parked in a lot down the street. Give me a few minutes, then meet me out in front of the building, just like last night."
Alex nodded. "I'll be there in a few."
They watched as Teren walked away, then Alex leaned over. "That was pretty brave of you, David."
Her partner shrugged. "I thought if she was gonna kill me, I'd rather die here than on an airplane."
"You gotta admit, she's got class."
"Yeah." And you, my friend, have a crush. But there was no way he was going to say that out loud.
Continues in Chapter Fourteen
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