Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
Teren and Alex faced each other across the table. Alex had opened her laptop and accessed all her files, while Teren had pulled the Washington printouts from her briefcase.
"Okay. Let's start with a question: did Brogan say anything before the shooting began?"
Alex nodded. "He told us Mallory Gerlach was not involved. He said the whole operation was organized by a small group of men, Derek White among them."
"Any other names?"
"He confirmed Martin Richmond and John Treville. He also said there was somebody named Jacob."
"As in Jacob Dawkins." Teren drummed her fingers on the table. "Anyone else?"
"Someone named C.J., from Washington. That's all."
"Have we run across anyone with that name?"
"I haven't. You?"
Teren shook her head. "No, doesn't sound familiar. But it's something to keep in mind." She took a sip from her coffee cup. "At least we know we were on the right track. And we have the names, at least the first names, of all the top conspirators. From the US at least."
"Yeah, now we just have to prove it." Alex nibbled absently on her pen cap. "You think there are more people from outside the country?"
"Yeah, I do. I mean, where did the money come from to pay for these hits? Mather wasn't working for free."
"And I'm guessing you know the answer to this particular question." Alex grinned.
"Yes and no. I can tell you what bank the money was kept in, what account it was, and all the other transactions that took place. I can even tell you when the account was opened, and where that money came from."
"So, what part can't you tell me?"
"Who the cash originally belonged to, and why they gave five and a half million dollars to John Treville."
Alex dropped her pen. "Okay, I give. Where did you get this?"
"Well, I took the number of the Swiss account you gave me, and I checked with a friend of mine. He was able to access more of the bank records than you or I ever could." Teren slid a couple of printouts over to Alex. "Look. This is the opening transaction for the account you found. You see the date, and the record number?" Alex nodded. "Well, this is where the money originally came from. It's an account that's so old there is no computer information, other than the account number itself, and the amount in the account."
"Jeez, am I reading this right? This account that we don't have anything else on has over a hundred and fifty million dollars in it?"
"So this five million to Treville and Richmond really wasn't that much, was it? And we don't have any idea why this person gave them the money."
"No. I've got a feeling that if we find out who this parent account belongs to, we'll know the reason for the gift."
Alex nodded, but frowned. "Okay, I agree with you there. But we've still got the same problem we've had from the beginning. There's no direct physical proof." She reached for her coke. "I mean we've got White's fingerprints on the dagger in Mather's box, but that doesn't really connect him to the killings. We've got Brogan's wife, but all she can really testify to is that she saw this group of men together. She was never present for any of the meetings."
"How solid is her testimony?"
Alex squinted, thinking about it. "Pretty good, I'd say. She comes across, to me at least, as believable. She can also confirm the connections between her husband, John Treville, and Mather and Wilford. She gave us the same names her husband did. Plus, Kyle told her that the group had hired Mather and Wilford to do some work for them."
"So, the stories back each other up." Teren nodded. "Good. I don't know that this will ever come into a court room, but if so, the eyewitness connecting them will help."
"You think it won't go to court?"
"I don't know. So far, everything points to someone wanting to keep this from being solved." Teren smiled at Alex. " But I'm hoping to change that."
"Alex, do you realize that in today's age, there isn't anything you do that isn't somehow recorded in a computer?"
"Yeah, I know."
"Well, you know when you send a package somewhere, especially if you send it through UPS or Fed Ex, your name is recorded, as well as the person the package is going to. Plus, the option is offered for you to insure a package that you send. That way if you send a valuable piece such as a statue, or a painting, or a --"
"Or a chalice."
"I was going to say goblet." Alex chuckled, and Teren grinned at her. "Anyway, records are kept, and all records kept on computers are vulnerable to the wrong people finding out."
"Really. And who are these wrong people?"
"You and me." Teren pulled out another sheet. "I thought about how our friend Halloran, out in Colorado, might have come into possesion of an item such as the silver cup we found. He probably didn't take it out there with him, because he just opened the safe deposit box a few days earlier. So, I checked, and sure enough, his name was on a package delivered by Fed Ex." Her eyes met Alex's. "You'll never guess who sent it."
"Bzzzz. Wrong answer. Wanna try again?"
"No. Tell me."
Alex nodded. "Good. There's another link." She thought for a moment. "I suppose Treville picked these items up while traveling in Europe, right?"
"Somehow, I doubt that. Customs might have had a problem with him bringing them into the country, and they're too big for him to have smuggled them in easily. I'd say he had them sent, by Fed Ex, from Europe."
"And I suppose you have the papers to prove that?"
Teren grinned again. "Sure do. Electronic copies of shipping invoices and Customs paperwork. He regularly receives packages from both Switzerland and Germany."
"Where are these coming from, a business, or an individual?"
"Depends. The packages from Germany are from an individual, who happens to be a dealer in rare coins. Llast package from this guy was a couple of months ago, though. The ones from Switzerland come from a company called Altbusser Galerie, based in Zurich. They export fine art goods. Funny, though, I haven't found any record of a payment from Treville to the company."
"Have you checked out the company itself?"
"Yes. It's fairly respectable, having done business with such places at the Louvre in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. They specialize in reproductions of famous artworks."
"So, these items sent to Treville are listed in the shipping papers as reproductions, when they're actually the real thing."
Alex sighed. "But we can't prove it, can we."
"Not yet. That's why we're going to Switzerland."
Alex shook her head. "Teren, are you sure about this? I mean, how are we going to use those tickets? My passport is in Washington, and Davies has probably put out some kind of check on the airlines, to watch for you. The haircut is good, but not that good."
"Have you checked the names on those tickets?"
"The names?" Alex picked up the ticket envelopes from the corner of the bed. One ticket was for Theresa Wilcox, and the other was for Andrea Reed. Alex looked back up at her friend. "And just how are we going to pull this off, oh greatest of spies?"
"You and I are going to visit a friend of mine. He does the best forgeries I've ever seen."
"I take it he's CIA?"
"Nope. He's better."
"His work is better than that of the CIA?"
"About the same quality, actually. But he's better because he's strictly an underground guy." Teren finished her coffee, and stood to pour another cup.
"What does that mean? He only works for spies and the like?"
"No. He only works for groups or individuals that he thinks are trying to overthrow the United States government."
Alex let her chin drop. "And the CIA doesn't close him down?"
"Close him down? Never. He has this thing about the revolutionaries he supports. They must be non-violent. If someone comes to him and says, 'I need a fake ID because we're renting a truck to blow up a building,' he'll make the ID, but he'll make it a bad one. And as soon as the money has changed hands, he'll call a contact at the CIA and the appropriate agency will be notified to pick the bombers up." Teren sat back down, crossing one leg under her. "So, in exchange for his tips, which have been very accurate, he's allowed to make his money, and continue his support of peaceful subversive revolutionaries."
"But don't the groups that get busted catch on that the guy turned them in?"
"I've found that most revolutionaries are extremely intelligent people. Terrorists, however, are not. If someone's about to blow up a building and kill a lot of innocent people, they're a terrorist. And from my experience, probably pretty dumb."
Alex nodded. "And we're going to go see him."
"Does that mean we're subversive, now?"
"Well, think about it. By going AWOL from the Bureau, they'll probably mark you as a rogue agent, and if you're found you could be arrested. You realize that, right, Alex?"
The blond agent nodded "Yes, Teren, I know. And before you ask, no, I'm not changing my mind."
"Good. Now, since I'm trying to avoid questioning in the murder of two police officers, that makes me a fugitive. So, we're both running from two government agencies that want to blame us for things we didn't do. At the same time, we're trying to find evidence to put the leaders of two of the biggest religious right groups in the country behind bars for a very long time." She raised her cup in a mock salute. "Sounds pretty damn subversive to me."
Alex thought about that, and raised her Coke can. "Then here's to being a subversive."
"Are you connected?"
"Yeah. Hotmail, coming up. Do you know what name you want to use?"
Teren came over to stand behind Alex, staring at the screen. "How about I choose the alias for the official stuff, and you choose the on-line name, hm?"
"Sounds good. Are you going to use Theresa, like on your ticket?"
"No, I don't think so. If anyone catches on that it's us emailing him, I don't want them to be able to trace the tickets with that name. So," she crossed her arms and looked up at the ceiling, "use the name Cassandra Leitner."
"Got it." Alex typed in the name. "State?"
"Use Colorado. That's where the ID is from. Make the zip 80014."
"Um, January 12, 1969. What else do you need?"
"No, customer service."
"Yeah. Cassandra was listed as an employee at a bookstore."
"Oh. Okay. And the sign in name will be?"
Alex thought about that for a moment, then typed a word in. She looked over her head at Teren. "Is that okay?"
"Electricblu? I don't get it."
"It's the color of your eyes. I think I told him that one time when he asked about you."
"You think my eyes are electric blue?"
"Okay. Can I choose the password?"
"Sure. What do you want it to be?"
Teren leaned over and typed slowly with one hand: ontherun.
Alex grinned. "You have a wicked sense of humor."
"Most people don't think I have a sense of humor."
"That's because they can't see past the wickedness."
"Are you saying I'm evil?"
"Absolutely not, Teren. I said wicked. There's a difference."
They grinned at each other. Alex looked back at the screen. "They want us to give them a question that only we'd know the answer to, so if we forget our password they can ask us the question, and they'll know it's us if we answer it correctly."
Teren snorted. "Yeah, like that's gonna happen."
"I know, but we should still give them a question."
"Fine, choose one."
"How about this: Who is C.J.?"
"Good. Only we don't know the answer to that question."
"But they don't know that. And it will remind us to think about it."
"What would we use for an answer?"
Alex stared at the screen, then looked up again. "How about 'unknown suspect?'"
Teren nodded. "Good one. So, we are Electricblu at hotmail-dot-com."
"Okay, send Ken a quick note just saying hello, and then let's go."
"Where are we going?" Alex was typing as she spoke.
"We're off to see my friend Leo."
"Oh. That's the undergound guy, right?"
"Yes.And when we get there, remember your name."
"Yeah, you're Andrea, not Alex."
"Right. And you're Theresa?" Alex sent off the message to Ken, and ended the connection.
"No. He knows me by another name."
Alex shut down the computer. "Short for Teren?"
"He doesn't know Teren, so don't call me that in front of him, okay?"
"Got it." She closed the laptop, and stood. "Can I be like your underground friend, and call you Terry?"
"You do, and I'll put you underground."
Underground was a good way to describe where Teren's contact lived. His small apartment was in the basement of a four story building. His windows were small and very high up on the wall. To complete the illusion, he had covered those small windows in tinfoil, effectively blocking sunlight from getting into the apartment.
Teren had parked in the alley behind the building, and she led Alex through the back door and down the stairs. She stopped at a door that was covered in peace signs, knocking three times, then twice more. A moment later they could hear bolts being pulled back, and the door opened just a fraction. Alex could see there were at least three chains on the door, and one of them was very thick.
"Who is it, and what do you want?" The voice asking was very gruff and low, between a whisper and a growl.
"Terry. Got a job for Leo."
"Don't know any Leo."
"His last name's Peacemonger."
The door shut, and they could hear chains rattling. Then they were being ushered into a dark foyer, and into the apartment.
It was a one room place, with a small open kitchen at one end, and the door to the bathroom next to the front door. The walls were a dull off-white, and covered with newspaper clippings and covers of magazines. There were no book shelves, but there had to be at least a couple hundred books lining the walls under one of the covered windows.There was no couch, only a roll away bed that sat in one corner. There was no tv, nor any stereo, and only a few wooden chairs that looked like they had seen their best days several decades ago. There was one floor lamp, and the light it gave created shadows throughout the room.
The only place in the apartment that was well lit was a corner filled with computer equipment. Three large desks had been pulled together to create a small office, with the computer screens facing away from the door. There were three monitors, from what Alex could see, and several printers. A large flat bed scanner occupied the center of one desk, in between two large tower CPUs. A third tower sat on the floor underneath one of the desks. Alex could see a tripod with a mounted digital camera sitting behind the desks near the wall.
The sound of the man's rough voice brought Alex's attention back to Teren and her contact.
"Terry, it's good to see you. Who's your lovely friend?"
"This is Andrea. Andrea, this is Leo."
Alex reached over to shake the man's hand. "Hi, Leo. Nice to meet you."
Leo took her hand and gently raised it to his lips. "Andrea, what a lovely name."
Alex's eyes went wide and she stuttered for a moment. Teren came to her aid, grinning.
"Cool it, Leo. She's queer."
"Aw, Terry --"
"She's also taken."
Alex raised her eyebrows at Teren who winked. Leo shrugged, and dropped her hand. "Well, nice to meet you anyway, Andrea. Either of you want a brew?"
"Okay. What kind of job do you have for me, Terry?" Leo edged his way around to the back of the desk, and sat down in the office chair behind it.
"I need a full set of papers, for Andrea."
"You got the cash?"
Teren smirked at him. "Don't I always?"
He grinned back at her. "Simple enough. Can I ask why you need them?"
Teren shrugged. "I need to get her out of town."
"She's being blamed for something she didn't do it."
"How do you know she didn't do it?"
"Cause when it happened, I was with her."
Leo shrugged. "Fine with me. Okay, Andrea, step up to the camera." He pulled the camera and tripod out and set it up facing the wall. When he had it positioned the way he wanted, he sat back down, making sure the connection was set. He nodded.
"Okay, just reach up there and pull that screen down."
Alex reached up to the handle of what appeared to be a movie projector screen. When she pulled it down she found that it was a blue background.
"Fine. Now, put your back against that wall, and give me a smile."
Alex did, and was blinded when the flash went off. She blinked.
"How real do you want this, Terry? I mean, you want her fingerprint, or someone else's on the driver's license?"
"Someone else's, I think."
"Fine. What year was she born?"
"1971. June seventeenth."
"Um, surprise us. Just don't make it anyplace too outlandish."
"Where's she living now?"
Alex jumped in with the answer. "Chicago."
Leo looked up at Teren. "Okay?"
"Chicago's fine. Her last name is Reed."
Leo began typing, and switching from computer to computer. Alex began examining the walls, and the different articles Leo had pasted on them. She noticed that he had, in a protective sleeve, a copy of the Life Magazine with Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover. He also had a cover of Time Magazine featuring the riots in Chicago in 1968. That magazine was autographed by Abbie Hoffman.
It took Alex a moment to realize that was her, then she turned to Teren. "Hmm?"
"How tall are you?"
"Five foot six."
She grinned. "One-thirty-eight."
"You're kidding. No way."
"Yep. Gotta remember, muscle weighs more than fat." She thumped a fist against her stomach. "And I've got lots of muscles."
For some reason, Teren turned red. "Make it one-thirty."
Leo was grinning. "You're cute when you blush, Terry."
"Shut up, Leo, or you'll be pulling your keyboard out of your ass."
Leo chuckled but didn't say anything more.
It didn't really take long for the paperwork, and when it was finished, Alex had a new birth certificate, complete with the official seal of New York City, and a driver's license from the State of Illinois. She also had a passport, a credit card, a gun permit, and a social security card with a totally new number.
"If I didn't know better I'd say these were real. Nice job, Leo."
"Thank you, Andrea. An artist always likes to get compliments on his work." He grinned up at her. "Anything else I can do for you?"
"I think that's it. Terry?"
Teren winked at Alex. "Yeah, that's all. You did a great job as always."
"Great. Now pay me."
"I thought artists regarded compliments as their payment."
"From her," he nodded at Alex, "it's payment. From you, it's bullshit."
Teren laughed, and pulled an envelope from her pocket. Alex watched as she counted out fifteen one hundred dollar bills, handing them to Leo.
"Nice doing business with you, Terry."
"Same here, Leo. You take care, alright?"
"You, too." He reached up to take Alex's hand. "And you be careful and get out of town safe." He winked at her and leered. "And good luck with her."
Alex blushed, and smiled at him, then looked up to find Teren had turned red again.
"I'm sure we'll be fine, thanks. I appreciate your help, Leo."
"No thanks necessary. Just keep an eye on the tall dark and gorgeous one."
Alex laughed. "Oh, don't worry, I will."
Teren rolled her eyes. "Come on, Andrea," she said, placing an emphasis on the false name. "We've got a plane to catch."
Using Chris Fleming's credit card, Alex and Teren spent an hour at the mall, making sure they had enough supplies for their trip. Alex had only those clothes she'd taken to Colorado, and one set had so many bloodstains she decided to toss them. Alex began to add up the bills in her head, and wondered who would ultimately pay for the purchases.
"Teren, did you inherit a few million dollars or something?"
Teren looked puzzled, and she glanced across the car. "No. Why?"
Alex shifted her position, trying to find a comfortable spot for her arm. "I mean, who's going to pay for the clothes? Theresa Wilcox doesn't exist."
"Oh. Well, each operative has a certain amount for expenses every month. Anything over that amount is pulled from the salary. I'm not listed as a current field operative, but I still get a certain amount for expenses."
"Okay, but wouldn't that have been taken up by the tickets to Colorado, and then here to Philadelphia?"
"No. I paid for those myself."
"And the identification?"
Alex bit her lip. "Um, that's quite a bit of money. Especially when you add in the tickets to Switzerland."
Teren was silent. Alex waited a moment, then looked at the dark agent.
Teren sighed. "Alex, are you sure you want to know?"
"Well, yeah, I think so."
"You remember when you asked me about Mather and how he got the rifle? I told you that looting was not discouraged?"
"Let's just say there aren't many agents who can consistently resist temptation."
Alex turned back towards her own window. "So, it was, what, loot from --"
"Alex, just drop it. You really don't want to know the whole truth."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't. Believe me, you really don't."
There was silence again, and this time, Alex didn't break it.
Instead, she just stared out the window, wondering again about the woman she'd entrusted herself to.
Teren's clenched jaw began to ache from tension. She wished that Alex hadn't asked her about the money. It wasn't a pleasant part of her memories, nor was she proud of where the funds had come from. But she also was glad she had it, since that was what the two of them would be relying on while working on this case.
"Is this part of that trust you were talking about, Teren?"
The question felt like a blow, and Teren winced.
"All right. You really want to know?"
"Fine. Two and a half years ago, Perry and I were in South America. We were supposed to observe one of the leaders of an opposition force, and report whether or not we felt he could be dealt with through diplomatic means. What that actually meant was, we had to decide whether or not we could control him if he got in office. Both of us agreed that the guy was going to cause major trouble for the government he was opposing, and that if he won the next election, he would be willing to negotiate with the US, but probably would not be open to manipulation."
She was silent again, and Alex waited. Finally, without turning from her window, Alex asked her to continue.
"Right after we sent our report, we were contacted by a representative of the government in power. He offered us a contract to kill the guy we were observing. We contacted the agency, who said we should take the contract. Two days later the man collapsed from food poisoning and was taken to a hospital. He never recovered. Perry and I each received a large bonus for our work."
Alex swallowed. "So, you killed him."
Teren stared straight ahead, and quietly said, "Yes."
Neither of them spoke until they reached the hotel parking lot. Teren reached to the shut off the car, and Alex placed her hand over Teren's.
"You were right, I really didn't want to know." She waited until Teren met her eyes. "But I needed to."
Teren nodded. "Come on. We've got suitcases to pack, and we need to check that email. Maybe Ken's already cleared our names."
Teren ordered an early dinner for the two of them, while Alex checked their new email account. Ken had been busy, and there were several messages, including a list of the men that had been their attackers.
"Hey, Teren, they identified the guy who shot David, and who I killed." She stopped for a moment, the shock of that statement making her clench her teeth. Then she shook her head, and started again. "Supposedly he's a salesman for the Kittredge Clothes Company."
"Really. What a surprise."
"Yeah. One of the other guys was a local, and a known skinhead."
Teren leaned over to read the screen from behind Alex. "I can believe that. One of them definitely had the look"
"The other two were identified as a couple of guys from Montana, who were both wanted for questioning in a couple of murders in that state. They disappeared from their hometown six months ago."
"So, three known racists, and someone connected to our favorite clothes maker. Anything else?"
"Yep. Derek White has gone missing."
Teren dropped her forehead to Alex's shoulder. "Great. How much do you want to bet he's on the run just like Brogan was?"
"Question is, will he end up as dead as Brogan, or will we get to him first?"
There was a knock at the door. "I'll get it. Find out if Ken knows what's up with Davies, would you?"
Alex read the rest of Ken's email, becoming more and more frustrated as she did so. It appeared that, other than the identities of the men who attacked the agents, nothing more had been done to determine exactly what happened. The materials that Alex had ordered collected from the scene and taken to Bureau headquarters had been turned over to the Philadelphia police without even being inventoried. The only good news was that Jeff Harnisch had insisted all ballistics be handled by the FBI. Because of this, Ken was certain that, in this area at least, there had been no tampering with the evidence. It was, however, the only thing he was certain of.
Teren came back with dinner. Rather than order from room service, the two of them had ordered a pizza from a nearby restaurant. Alex moved her computer to one side, giving Teren the room to put the pizza box on the table.
"Anything else interesting?"
"Well, Davies put out an APB for you as of this afternoon. He's demanding that Harnisch do the same for me."
"Tomorrow morning he's releasing your description to the press."
"Even better. Good thing we'll be gone by then."
"What time is our flight tonight?"
"Eight-thirty. We'll fly first to Heathrow, and then switch planes and continue on to Zurich."
"Great. Do we have a long layover?"
"No, just under two hours."
"So, what time will we reach Switzerland?"
"We land a little before one in the afternoon."
They were both quiet for a while, concentrating on the pizza in front of them.
"Teren, what are you doing?"
"You're pulling off the green peppers."
"Yeah, so?" Teren pulled another off and added it to the growing pile on her napkin.
"You don't like them?"
"Then why did we order them?"
"You wanted them. I don't mind pulling them off."
"We could have gotten peppers only on half."
Teren nodded while still chewing. She swallowed, then looked at Alex. "I didn't think of it. So shoot me."
Alex laughed. "To quote David, don't say shoot right now, Teren."
Teren grinned, and waited a moment. "Hey, Alex, how are you doing with that? I mean, with David being hurt and all."
Alex leaned back in her chair and sipped her soda. After a moment, she put the can down. "I don't know. I'm trying not to think about it too much. If I do, I get this ache inside." She looked up at Teren. "I miss him. He's my partner. But he's more than that, he's my friend. You know?"
Teren nodded. "I know." She pulled another pepper off her pizza. "Listen, um. I know I'm not the most open person, but -- well, if you need to vent, or just talk about it," Teren ran her hand across her nose, "I'll listen."
The dark woman made the offer in a soft voice, and her face was so sad that it reminded Alex of a spanked puppy. She couldn't help but smile.
"Thanks, Teren. It's nice to know that."
"I wish I could have gotten there sooner."
"Wouldn't have mattered if you had. You came up from the behind those guys. The guy who shot David came from behind us. I'm betting he killed Wister as well."
"Lieutenant Wister. He was in the police car."
"Oh." She thought about it. "No, I don't think so."
"Why not? Oh, that's right, you think it was someone Wister may have known."
"Right. Besides, the gun was wrong. You're talking about the guy you shot, right?"
"Well, he was holding a .32 caliber, with no silencer. I don't think that's the gun that killed the two cops, and unless the gun was thrown away in the vicinity, there's no place for him to have hidden it."
Alex frowned, and moved her pizza aside. She pulled her computer back, and opened one of the emails from Ken.
"Yeah, okay, you're right. Ken says it was a .22 that killed the two cops. It didn't match any of the guns found at the scene."
"Cause if Wister knew the person, there's always the possibility someone else on the scene would know them as well. If anything went wrong, and he was recognized, it could be trouble." Teren shrugged. "Makes sense to me that someone Wister knew killed him and his fellow officer, and then left the scene."
Alex raised an eyebrow. "Is that the way you would have done it, Teren?"
Teren froze, her pizza halfway to her mouth. After a second it reversed direction, and ended up back on the table.
"Yes. That's what I would have done, Alex."
Neither spoke for a moment. Then Alex pushed her computer away. "After we finish dinner, would you help me change the bandage on my arm?"
Teren nodded. "Sure."
Alex and Teren left the hotel at six-thirty. They turned in the rental car, and then checked their luggage.The only thing left to do was wait.
Taking Teren up on her offer of her cell phone, Alex found a semi-private corner from which to call Sarah. She got the machine, and waited, hoping someone was actually home.
"Sarah, Maggie, it's Alex. If you're there, please --"
The sound of the phone being picked up interrupted her.
"Yeah, it's me."
"Christ, Alex, where are you? Miri said that you could be in trouble."
"Well, yeah, that's a good possibilitiy. When did you talk to Miri?"
"A few hours ago. She called Maggie and I very early this morning and asked us to watch Arlea. She said David had been shot."
Alex sighed. "He was. But from what I understand, he's going to be all right."
"Have you been to see him yet?"
"No, and it doesn't look like I will. Things are pretty messed up right now."
"I guess so. This morning, Miri was cursing your name, and this afternoon, she said if I spoke to you I should tell you she loves you, and to be safe. Alex, what is going on?"
"Well, I can't tell you everything, but I'll try and explain the basics. First, though, it doesn't look like I'm gonna make it home anytime soon. Can you keep an eye on Appleby for me?"
"Of course. Miri said it might be a few days, and Maggie and I decided to bring Appleby over here. Is that okay?"
"Fine. Might even be better because your book cases aren't as tall."
"Ha ha. Now, tell me what's happening."
Alex took a deep breath. "Okay, short version. David and I, along with several other agents, were ambushed while meeting with a suspect. Two of our agents were killed, as was the suspect. David was shot in the chest, and two other agents had fairly minor wounds."
"Ken Thomas was one of them, right?"
"Yes. You remember him?"
"Sure, he and David played basketball at that picnic last summer."
"Right. Well, after the ambush, the police captain, along with someone in the Bureau, decided I was at fault. They're trying to take my badge, and unless I can clear my name, they'll be able to do it."
"Jeez. What are you going to do?"
"Well, Teren and I are --"
"Yeah. Teren Mylos."
"What's Teren got to do with this?"
Alex sighed again, and closed her eyes. She hadn't wanted to have this conversation over the phone. "Sarah, Teren's from the CIA. She was injured during an assignment six months ago. It turns out that assignment is somehow connected to our case, so Teren has been helping. She got here just in time to save our asses. If she hadn't shown up, none of us would have made it out alive."
There was silence from the other end of the phone, then the sound of someone swallowing.
"Did you two know each other before that dinner at our house?"
"Kind of. We'd met, but only once. Teren accepted the invitation because she needed to talk to me, outside the office."
Alex could sense Sarah's confusion. She wished there was an easier way to have done this.
"So what you told Maggie, about maybe asking her out, that was a lie, right?"
"No. I would never lie to you two. If we didn't have this case, and all these problems, I would ask her out. But right now, it's just impossible."
She could hear Sarah taking a deep breath. "Okay. I understand. So, you're what, going underground?"
Alex smiled, thinking of Leo. "I guess you could say that."
"Alone? How are you going to clear your name without help?"
"I'm not alone. Teren's going with me."
Another silence. This time it stretched out.
"Sarah? You still there?"
"Yeah. Teren's going with you?"
"Yes. And I'm sorry, but I need to go."
"Okay. So what should I tell the agent who's been asking if I've seen or heard from you?"
Alex froze. "What agent has been asking about me?"
"I didn't catch his full name. He was pretty rude. Maggie said he called her at work, and he's called the house twice. His first name is Tim, or Tom, or something like that."
"Okay. If he calls again, tell him you heard from me, but only to ask you to watch my cat for a while longer. You don't know where I am, or where I'm going."
"That'll be easy to say, since it's true."
"Exactly. Now, I have to go."
"Be careful, Alex. We love you."
"I know. I love you, too. Give Maggie my love, and if you talk to Miri --" she stopped. "If you talk to Miri, tell her I'm sorry."
"Take care, Sarah."
Alex turned the phone off, and wiped her eyes before walking back to the seat where Teren waited.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah, fine, great. Someone from the Bureau's already been harrassing Sarah in order to find me."
"Do you think she's in any danger?"
"I don't believe so. I didn't tell her where we were, or where we're going, so she can't tell them anything."
"Good. Anything else going on up there?"
"Not really. But," she bit her lip, "I had to tell her you were with me. And I told her you were CIA."
"Shit." Teren rubbed a hand across her forehead. "Was she angry?"
"I don't think so. If she is, it's at me for not telling her sooner. Her and Maggie were really hoping their matchmaking had paid off this time, but I don't think this is how they imagined our relationship."
"We have a relationship?"
"We've got something, don't we?"
"Yeah, something. I don't really think there's a name for it, though."
Teren pulled a folder out of her briefcase, and handed it to Alex.
"Here. Reading material for you."
"I got these in Washington. There's this guy who keeps an eye on the right wing, and all he does is research. It was suggested that I talk with him, and he gave me a lot to think about. None of it is proof of anything, but it's definitely interesting."
Alex flipped through it. "Can you give me a short version?"
"Sure. In a nutshell, it lists the leadership of the religious right, outlines how the leaders of each group are intertwined with each other, and how the religious right is connected to the far right, including the klan, the neo-nazi's, skinheads, and white supremacy groups."
Alex stared at her. "Like we didn't already know that?"
"Well, yeah, we knew they were involved with each other, but this gives a detailed outline. Plus, it goes a little further."
Teren snapped her fingers. "What was the name of that guy, the one you told us about when we were opening Mather's security box? The Nazi."
"Umm. You mean Ernst Remer?"
"Yeah, that's him. He's listed in there, along with people here in the states who were involved with him."
"You mean, Mallory Gerlach."
"Well, yeah, but not just Gerlach. There were others. One guy was supposed to be the point man in the states for the Odessa operation."
Alex nodded. "I read about that. They thought Remer was one of the conduits for money to help escaped Nazi's."
"Yes. And speaking of money, do you remember the theory you gave us in the van in Colorado?"
"Yeah. What about it?"
"What if part of that money, or treasure, as you put it, came from the Odessa operation? After all, as more Nazi's die, there's less need for Odessa. That brings up the question of what happens to the money set aside for Odessa? Where does it go?"
Alex raised an eyebrow. "Good question. That's a really good question."
"Yeah. Now we just have to prove that Odessa, which most people don't believe in, really did exist."
"Hah. That's not any harder than trying to convince people that the leaders of two of the most popular religious right groups are involved in murder conspiracy."
Teren smiled. "Well, when you put it that way, it sounds easy."
They shared a grin, and then sat down to wait for their flight to be called.
Continues in Chapter Twenty-three
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