Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
The site for the meeting was in a parking lot just off the campus of Temple University. It was a small park-like area sandwiched in between three walls of the Temple Fine Arts Center. The best part was that there were no windows in any of these walls, and the roofs were sculptured, rather than flat. There was no chance of a sniper strafing them from above.
There were also only two ways into the area. One was a bicycle path that led through an opening in one of the surrounding walls. This path was just barely wide enough for a car to fit through. It was decided that a police car would be placed just on the other side of the openings, out of sight, but not out of reach in the case of an emergency. In the car, would be two members of the Philadelphia PD.
The other access to the small park was the road that led into the parking lot beside the lawn. This would be covered by two other FBI agents from the Philadelphia office. As soon as Brogan had entered the parking lot, these two agents would roll their car across the entrance, blocking access by all other cars. There would be two cars already in the parking lot when Brogan arrived. David and Alex would be in one, and Rick and Ken would be in the other. Ken and Rick's car, parked farthest from the entrance, would have a two-way radio, so they could stay in contact with Lieutenant Wister.
Philadelphia Director Harnisch assigned the two agents who would guard the entrance. Rick Price called Lieutenant Wister, with whom he still had a good working relationship. Wister said he would clear it with Davies, and be in the car on the bike path. That made a total of eight people to protect, and possibly arrest, one man. It really was a simple plan.
Only, simple plans have a way of becoming complicated, Alex thought.
The only thing she absolutely didn't like was the timing. Brogan wanted it to be that night, because he thought he might be spotted. He said he'd be in the parking lot at ten. The area was well lit, and by that time there would be few, if any pedestrians, since the Fine Arts building closed at nine o'clock. By eight-thirty, the plans were completly set, and Alex was calling Cliff with the final plan.After that, all anybody could do was wait.
Teren finally got off the plane at quarter after nine. She turned her cell phone on to find it ringing in her hand.
"Teren, it's Cliff. Listen to me, something's wrong."
"What are you talking about?"
"I made two phone calls, one to get you a police escort, and one to Jeff Harnisch, who's the director down there. I just found out that someone from here called the police and told them not to send anyone to pick you up. Whoever it was used my name. Also, my superior called Harnisch and told him he was not to cooperate with the CIA in any way. That means you."
"So, there's no escort? And I'm persona non grata?"
Teren nodded, even though she knew Cliff couldn't see her. "What time is this meeting, Cliff, and where?"
"Ten. Outside the Fine Arts building at Temple University."
"Got it. Tell me, Cliff, are you following the orders of your superior?"
There was a pause at the other end. "Officially, yes. Unofficially, absolutely not."
"Well, I was never official anyway. You find out what's up from your end, and I'll find out what's going on down here, alright?"
"Great. Be careful."
"Yeah, yeah." Teren flipped her phone closed and walked out the doors onto the sidewalk.
She took a moment to open the lockbox holding her weapon, which she slid into her shoulder holster. Then she located the person she needed. It was a police officer, standing and talking to a group of cabbies. Looked like he was giving one of them a ticket. By the time he was finished and headed back to his car, Teren was by the door. She held up her ID badge.
"Excuse me, officer, but as a federal agent on a case in need of a fast ride somewhere, I'm commandeering your vehicle." She snapped the slim wallet closed, and opened the driver's door. "I'm driving. If you wish to come with, I suggest you get in on the passenger side, because I'm leaving. Now."
She climbed into the car, with him protesting. Without another word she slammed the door and turned the key, smiling at the reaction of the officer as he ran around to the other side of the car.
Rick Price and Ken Thomas were in Price's car, while Alex and David waited in a loaner from Jeff Harnisch. Alex kept drumming her fingers against the steering wheel, until David finally lost it.
"Alex, stop it."
"Sorry. I'm just tense."
"No kidding. Relax, Reis. This isn't the first time we've had to take someone in like this."
"I know. But something about this doesn't smell right. I don't know what it is, but I don't like it." She stopped for a moment, staring out the windshield. "I almost wish Teren was here."
"You're kidding. I know you like her, but . . ."
"David, she's handled stuff like this. She's always very cool, and nothing gets her upset."
"Except me." He grinned at his partner, relieved to see her crack a smile. "You're wound tight, and so is everyone else. We don't need the spook making everyone extra nervous."
"You're just upset with her cause she got the drop on you that night."
"Yeah, right." He was quiet, then he nodded. "I wish she was here, too."
They were sharing a grin when Alex suddenly sat up straighter. "There he is."
A small black car was turning into the parking lot. As the agents watched, it pulled into the space between the two FBI vehicles. Alex waited until the car's engine had been shut off, then she opened her door.
Kyle Brogan climbed out of the small hatchback, looking around nervously. He saw Price, and nodded to him.
"Thanks for meeting me, Rick." His voice was shaky, and Alex could see the circles under his eyes. He was wearing a polo shirt that looked like it had been slept in.
"Everything's okay, Kyle. Your wife and kids are fine."
"Yeah? Did you get them out of the city?"
"Not yet, but they're under heavy guard at a safe location. Janet's fine. But she's worried about you."
"Right. So am I."
Alex came around to Brogan's side of the car.
"Kyle, this is Agent Alex Reis, from the Washington office. Alex, this is Kyle Brogan."
Alex nodded at him and offered her hand. Brogan ignored it.
"Got a deal for me, Reis?"
"We're working on it. Mr. Brogan, do you know who would want to hurt you or your family?"
He turned and looked at her. "I thought you were the researcher, you knew all about Klan and other groups like that."
"Are you saying the Klan wants to kill you? That's hard to believe, seeing as how their leader is your cousin."
"You think family matters now? No way. To shut me up, they'll do anything." He looked back at Price. "You gotta promise me you'll protect my wife."
"We will. Don't worry." Rick glanced over at Alex, and saw the slight nod of her head. "Kyle, you said you could tell us about what's been going on."
"That's right, right after you tell me we've got a deal."
"Mr. Brogan, we can't make any deals until we hear back from the Justice Department in the morning."
"What the fuck are you talking about? The deal is this, Reis: I don't get prosecuted, I don't go to jail, and you shits protect me and my family from those sick fucks."
"Who, John Treville and Derek White?" Alex asked.
"Treville, yes. Derek? Fuck no. That shit head couldn't dig his head out of his own ass with both hands and a shovel."
"Then who else are you talking about?"
"Richmond. That smartass, smug, rich son-of-a-bitch. He tells us that he and his friends have this plan, see. Kill a few commie bleeding hearts. Blame it on some far out really bad guys. Maybe find a stupid skinhead to take the blame."
"Why?" It was the question that they all wanted answered.
"Why not? It helps two ways, John said. It gets rid of these faggots, and if we play it right we can put the blame on someone so far out there that it'll make someone like Mallory seem middle of the road."
"Yeah. Treville, Richmond, Derek, Jacob, and C.J. from Washington. Those guys were behind the killings."
"And how was Gerlach involved?"
"Mallory? He wasn't. I mean, he's a big shot, yeah, but this was too secret. They didn't want anybody to know. Only the people involved." He shook his head. "I told them not to trust that fucking spook Mather. He wasn't a soldier, he was a mercenary. But no, they knew best, and they wanted someone who could get the job done. Then when they caught him trying to sell the shit they'd given him, Derek fucking blew him and Wilford up, in my goddamn car! I should have known then that I was next. But I thought --"
"Okay." Alex had to break in. "I understand there's a lot we need to talk about, Mr. Brogan. I'd like to suggest that we don't do it here. I think it's best you accompany us --"
"Accompany you? Fuck you. I don't go nowhere 'til you tell me I got protection and immunity."
"The Justice Department will have to make the final determination, but I'm very sure they'd be willing to give you immunity in exchange for your testimony."
"You're sure. That ain't good enough."
"Mr. Brogan, there is a felony warrant for your arrest in the works. I'd like to take you in voluntarily, but I will place you under arrest now if you don't cooper--"
The sound of squealing tires broke into the conversation, and Alex looked up to see Ken drawing his weapon.
"Ambush! Get down!"
There was a car pulling up to the curb of the street just outside the parking lot. Gunfire and shattering glass were the only sounds Alex heard as she pushed Brogan down before kneeling in between the cars, her gun in her hand. Rick was on the other side of Brogan, and he also had his weapon drawn. David, she knew, was one car behind them, and Ken was one in front.
Alex peeked over the hood of the car to see one of the other two Philadelphia agents lying on the ground by the car blocking the entrance. The other agent was hiding behind the driver's door, trying to take shots at their attackers. Alex looked backwards, toward the area where Wister and his officer were hiding.
There was no movement on the bike path.
Cursing, Alex raised up and aimed, waiting until she saw a member of the ambush squad do the same. Then she fired, and ducked back quickly. Not quick enough, she thought, as the bullet grazed her left shoulder. She glanced at Price as he ducked as well.
Radio, he mouthed, and motioned toward his car with his head. She nodded, and rose again to cover his movement.
Price rolled under the car, back towards the radio, while Alex continued to fire. She had to stop and reload her weapon, and that was when Brogan decided he'd have a better chance if he ran. Before she could stop him, he was on his feet, and heading down the short embankment that led to a tiny creek. Ken, seeing Brogan run, reached out to grab him. One bullet took Ken's leg out from under him. Another one made half of Kyle Brogan's head disappear in a red mist.
Alex looked up to see Ken roll under the car. She could see the blood trailing from his injured leg. She hoped Rick could bring in the backup cars soon, or they wouldn't last. She continued returning fire, praying that she'd hear sirens in the distance.
Instead she heard the glass of windows breaking behind her.
Alex whirled, looking for Rick and David. Instead she saw a man standing at the hood of the car behind her. He had a gun in his hand and a smile on his face. In a split second, he turned and saw her. Both of them raised their guns and fired. Alex felt the bullet slide down her right arm, before thumping itself into the car beside her. At the same moment, the man's right eye seemed to explode. Alex pulled her trigger once more, watching the man fall. Then she turned back to main group of attackers, returning fire as often as she dared.
Alex noticed that there was a deeper shot, like a larger caliber weapon, that began cracking across the parking lot. There were sudden shouts from their attackers, and it sounded like they were having trouble. Alex wondered if the agent from the blockade car had managed to flank them. She raised up to take a look, and saw him, half-in and half-out of his car. Whatever was happening to their opponents, he wasn't the cause.
Ken took that opportunity to roll under the car, ending up next to Alex.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, other than being shot in the leg."
Using Ken's jacket, and a pocket knife, Alex rigged a quick bandage, wrapping it around the bleeding bullet hole in his thigh. In the middle of tying the strip, Ken placed a hand on her arm and told her to listen. She did, and heard silence, then footsteps.
Alex raised her head to look cautiously across at their adversaries. She saw two bodies sprawled on the hood of the car, and a tall figure in a black coat walking toward her.
Aiming carefully, Alex squeezed a round off, making sure it landed well in front of the approaching figure. The person stopped, and Alex stood, holding her gun on the roof of the car in front of her.
"Freeze! Federal Agent!"
The figure moved their hands far from their sides. The face was shadowed, but Alex could see the barrel of a gun in the figure's hand.
"Drop your weapon!"
The gun didn't fall, and Alex tightened her finger on the trigger.
"Alex, it's Teren."
For a second the name didn't register, and then Alex's eyes grew wide.
"Teren? What the fuck --"
"Later. Right now, I think you need an ambulance."
Alex felt herself trembling, and realized the rush of adrenaline that had kept her in control through the attack, was about to run out. She was aware of pain, in her arm, and in her shoulder. Concentrating on that, she cleared her head, and nodded.
"You okay?" she called towards Teren.
"Yes. You've got one agent dead, and one injured over here. You want me to call for help?"
"Call 911. Tell them we need an ambulance and police backup. They should also contact FBI headquarters, let them know an agent is down."
Teren pulled her cell phone out as she crossed the parking lot. "Got it. Everyone over here okay?"
"Ken's hurt, I'm fine." Alex looked around for her partner. "David?"
Not seeing him, she called for him again, and walked around the car towards the last spot she'd seen him in.
David was lying on his back, his hands out at his sides. One hand was still wrapped around his weapon, and there was a pool of blood forming under him. There was a bleeding hole in his chest, and he was very pale.
Alex dropped to her knees, and for a moment thought she might pass out. Then it passed, and she placed both her hands over the bullet hole and pressed down as hard as she could. "Ken! I need your help!"
Teren appeared, her armed wrapped around Ken's waist. She eased the man off her shoulders, and turned away to dial. Ken pulled himself over.
"I don't know. The last I saw him, he was heading for the radio. By the lack of backup I'd say he didn't reach it."
Ken noticed that Alex's voice had gone absolutely cold. There was no longer any emotion in the younger agent.
"What do you need?"
"Can you help me put pressure here? I can feel his pulse, and I know he's breathing. I just need to get the bleeding under control."
"Right. Here," he ripped the buttons on his shirt front, and slipped the shirt off. "I'm gonna press this over your hands. Once I get it in place, you can slide your hands out, and help me press this down."
They worked on getting the bleeding slowed, while Teren began to survey the scene. She saw Brogan's body laying several feet away from the scene, and the body of another man by the front of the car. Alex had stepped over him to get to David.
"Is this an agent of yours, Alex?"
"No. I think he's the one that shot David. I killed him."
Teren, too, noticed there was no emotion in the woman's voice.
She looked into the front seat of the car next to where Alex and Ken were working on their friend. She saw the body of a young man, with brown hair. His hand was wrapped around a two-way radio, and he'd obviously been holding it up when he was shot. There was a hole in the radio, as well as two in the man's head.
"Teren, is there someone in the car?"
Teren hesitated for a second."There's a dead body in the car, Alex."
Alex and Ken looked at each other, both knowing it had to be Rick Price. Ken felt the loss of the younger man keenly, and his eyes showed it. Alex's eyes showed nothing. She didn't think she'd ever feel anything again.
Continues in Chapter Twenty
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