Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
Teren let Alex take the wheel, hoping the driving would help to calm her friend.
"Alex? Talk to me. What's going on?"
Well, that worked. She sighed. "Alex. You can't just barge in and threaten to kill him. You know that."
"Yes." Teren kept her voice quiet and soft. "And I don't think that's what you want."
"What I WANT," Alex yelled, "is for this to be over! To not have to worry about my friends, my career -- my partner! I've had it, Teren."
"I know. I feel the same way."
"No you don't! You didn't have to see someone you love bleeding on the ground from a bullet to the head! You didn't have to watch your partner get shot, or --"
"No, I just had to shoot mine."
Teren's quiet voice stopped Alex cold, and she felt some of the anger drain away. She was breathing hard, gripping the steering wheel tightly, but suddenly the fog had been penetrated, and she could feel something other than the fury that had enveloped her.
She stayed quiet for a moment, concentrating on driving. When she had to stop for a red light, she finally leaned back against the seat and glanced at Teren. "I'm sorry, Ter."
"No problem, Alex."
"Thanks for letting me rant a little."
They were quiet as Alex pressed the accelerator.
"By the way, do you really want to get on a plane for New York?"
Alex glanced towards her. "How else are we going to talk to Richmond?"
"Well, it might be easier if we stay here. After all, Ken just told me that he flew in for Radcliffe's funeral."
Slowing for another red light, Alex took a deep breath and forced her hands from the steering wheel. "He's here?"
"Not sure. Probably wouldn't be too hard to find out, though, don't you think?"
Alex nodded. "Hand me your cell phone."
Teren did, and watched at Alex dialed a number.
"Ben? Hey, good to hear your voice."
"Jesus Chr--- Alex? Where the hell are you?"
"I'm back. Didn't you hear that?"
"We heard you were back, and Cliff said the bastards had taken your badge. Everybody's pissed about that."
"That's nice to hear, Ben." The light changed, and she guided the car forward.
"Hey, 'd'ya hear about Rudy and Tom?"
"No," she said. "What about Rudy and Tom?" She glanced over at Teren who had raised an eyebrow.
"They found both of them dead. Not sure what happened, just that they were both killed. Cliff said it was being looked into, and he wasn't sure if it was cause of the case or not."
Ben paused. "You don't sound too surprised, Alex."
"I don't think anything can surprise me anymore, Ben."
"Bet you're wrong."
She could tell he was smiling. "Well, you can try to surprise me later, Ben, but right now I need a favor. I'm betting you know where Martin Richmond is. Can you tell me?"
"Shoot, course I can, " he chuckled. "That's part of the surprise."
"Mark and I did what you told us to. We figured there was somebody in the Bureau who was railroadin' you for their own purpose. So, we just kind of did what we did without talking to anybody."
"Follow the money. And you'll never guess where it lead us."
Her mind made the connection, but it took Alex a moment to say it. "To Richmond?"
"Yup." The older man sounded smug, and she could practically see the wide, satisfied grin on his face. "Didn't trust nobody with the stuff when we found it -- not even Cliff. This morning we high-tailed it over to the Justice Department, to Melissa Kimball, you remember her?"
"Yeah, I remember. I thought she'd been on vacation."
"She was. Got back just yesterday. Mark and I met with her first thing, and laid out everything we had."
"What did she say?"
"She issued an arrest warrant. We were just about to leave to go get the son-of-a-bitch. Wanna come?"
Alex put the phone down and yelled in the car. Teren reached for the cellular, but Alex grabbed it first, hearing Ben's laughter.
"Okay, I'm surprised, and you bet your ass I wanna be there. Where the fuck is he?"
"Now, you watch your language, young lady."
"Right, excuse me. Where in the hell is he?"
Ben laughed again. "Marriott, near National airport. If you get there 'fore us, you wait, you hear?"
"You do the same, alright?"
"Sure thing. See you soon, kid."
She hung up and tossed the phone at Teren, a grin on her face.
"Want to tell me what's up?"
Alex nodded. "Richmond is at the Marriott, by National."
"Okay. Is that what made you scream?"
"No. You remember how we talked, on the plane, about who we had evidence against, and who we didn't?"
"And we agreed that Richmond would be the last one we'd go after, because we didn't have much on him. The papers from Eisenbein only mentioned him once or twice."
"So, Ben and Mark followed the money trail, and got the evidence. They also got a warrant for his ass. They're on their way to arrest him."
They did get to the Marriott first, and Teren thought she might have to restrain her partner to stop her from going right after Richmond. When she saw Ben and Mark pull into the parking lot, with several cop cars behind them, she sighed with relief.
Mark slammed his door and jogged over to Alex lifting her in his arms. "Reis! Goddamn, you had everybody worried."
"I'm sorry, Mark." She patted his shoulder and gave him a hug. "I was a little worried myself, for awhile."
She moved over to Ben and kissed him on the cheek. "Good to see you, Ben."
"You, too, kid, you too." He pinched her chin between his thumb and fingers and looked in her eyes. He frowned at what he saw. "You need a vacation, Alex."
"Yeah, well, I think I might just take one, after we finish this thing."
"You better -- or I'll hog tie you and take you down south." He grinned, and hugged her. "Glad you're still in one piece."
Her eyes stung, and she blinked them several times. With another smile for Ben, she turned to Teren, to see her in deep discussion with Mark Garnett.
"Oh, boy," she whispered.
Teren had watched her friend be greeted by her fellow agents, smiling at the obvious concern they showed. When Garnett turned and walked toward her, she steeled herself for his anger and disdain.
She was pleasantly surprised when he held out his hand. "It's good to see you, Teren. How are you?"
Teren shook his hand with a smile. "I'm okay, Mark. You?"
"Not bad." He pointed at his face. "The eye healed."
She chuckled. "I'm glad."
Mark leaned a little closer, and whispered, "How is Alex, really?"
Her smile faded a little. "Struggling. It's been rough on her. On both of us. I'll be very glad when this is over."
He nodded, and put a friendly hand on her arm. "You look like hell, Teren. Let's go get this bastard, so you and she can rest, eh?"
Teren raised an eyebrow and regarded him thoughtfully. He winked at her, and she smiled.
"You know, you look like someone mistook you for a weed, Agent Mylos," Ben called.
"Yeah, I know. I ducked when I should have dived."
They shared a chuckle, then Ben's expression turned serious. "Alright. You and Alex can come on in with us, but you can't be part of the arrest, okay? You need to just kind of stay in the background."
"Fine," Alex said. "We just want an answer to one question. Give us a minute to get that, and you can have him."
"What's the question?"
Mark frowned. "CJ? Who is that?"
"He's the ring leader of this whole organization, Mark," Teren answered. "The problem is we don't know his real name -- just CJ. We don't know if it's his initials, or a nickname."
"Hm." Ben nodded. "We'll be sure to ask."
They entered the lobby of the hotel, and Ben got the room number from the front desk. Together, they took the elevator to the sixth floor.
The man who answered their knock tried to tell them that Richmond couldn't be disturbed. Mark and Ben pushed past him, announcing they had a warrant. Alex was nervous and worried, and kept her hand on her gun until she saw Richmond stand, and Agent Cleves placed the cuffs around his wrist. Then she relaxed.
Richmond, in a soft voice, told his secretary to call his lawyer. Then they led him away.
As they stood waiting for the elevator, Alex leaned over and asked Teren, "Why is it that we always get the ones that shoot back?"
Teren smiled and whispered her answer, "I don't know, Alex. Maybe I'm a jinx?"
"Nah. You didn't even show up 'til after the shooting started." Alex sighed. "I think it's cause we're women, and no one takes us seriously."
The smile on Teren's face turned to a grin. "You may be right, Alex."
The four agents got on the elevator with Richmond. They hadn't gone down very far, when Ben reached over and pulled the emergency stop button.
"Mr. Richmond, this here is Alex Reis. She's gonna ask you some questions. Now, she's no longer with the Bureau, so you don't have to answer her -- course, if you don't, Agent Mylos here, who's with the CIA -- well, she's gonna be a little pissed, and we might not be able to stop her from ripping you a new asshole." He grinned at his prisoner. "Go ahead, Reis."
"Just one question, Mr. Richmond. Who is CJ? What's his real name?"
Richmond shook his head. "Can't tell you."
"Can't? Or won't?"
He gave her a half smile. "I wouldn't -- even if I could."
Teren slipped behind him and put an arm around his throat, pulling him back against her. He gasped for air as she slowly put more pressure on his windpipe.
"I don't think he heard the question the first time, Alex. Try asking him again."
Richmond gasped, and squirmed in Teren's grip. Finally, he sucked in all the air he could, and answered.
"I don't know."
"Dawkins said you did."
"He's wrong," Richmond wheezed. His voice was an octave higher than normal, and very raspy. "The only one who knows CJ's real name is Treville. He never told anyone else."
"What can you tell me about him?"
"Nothing. I won't tell you anything."
Teren increased the pressure, and Alex frowned. "You could help yourself by telling us who he is."
He managed to shake his head, struggling to breath.
Alex reached for her gun, but Ben stopped her. He looked back at Teren.
"Let him go."
She hesitated a moment, but did so. He straightened, shaking his head, and taking huge lungfulls of air.
Then he grinned at them all, smugly. "Doesn't matter what you say. See, all I have to do is call him, and I'm out of here." He chuckled. "And there's not a damn thing you can do about it."
Mark moved forward to strike him, but Alex grabbed his arm. "Don't."
She glanced at Ben, who punched the button. They resumed their journey to the ground floor.
Alex kept her gaze on Richmond all the way down. Her mind kept going over his last statement, time and time again.
When the elevator doors opened, she stood aside as he was taken through the lobby. She and Teren trailed behind everyone.
She couldn't get his words out of her mind.
Ben turned back to her and Teren as Richmond was being pushed into the car.
"I'm sorry, Alex. I couldn't let you pull your gun on him."
"I know. It's alright, Ben." She let her gaze drift to the ground, and ignored everyone around her.
Teren eyed her partner in concern. She looked up at Ben with worry in her eyes.
Ben saw it and grinned. "I've seen her like this. Means she's got an idea, and it's eatin' at her. When she figures it out, she'll let you know."
She nodded and smiled at him, extending her hand. "Thanks, Ben. I appreciate you letting us tag along."
"Ah, no problem." He turned serious for a moment, and tightened his grip. "You take care of her, Mylos. You ain't the only one who knows how to make body disappear."
He shook her hand again, and let it go. Teren watched him climb into a car, and leave.
Alex was still staring at the ground.
"Yeah, yeah, fine. Just thinking."
Teren waited, then finally sighed and took her partner's arm. "Come on. You can go think in my car."
Alex was still glassy eyed as they reached the small car, and she didn't even notice when Teren pushed her into the passenger seat. She just sat there, hearing Richmond's words over and over again.
See, all I have to do is call him, and I'm out of here.
all I have to do
call him, and I'm out of here
"Holy shit, that's it!"
Teren, who had just crawled into the driver's side, jumped. "What?"
"Give me your cell phone."
"Just give it to me!"
Teren handed it over and Alex turned it on and dialed.
"Ron? Alex Reis. You know what happened earlier, right? You know Treville is dead? Okay, listen to me. I want you to find out where all of Treville's personal effects would be, okay? I mean, everything. From the limo, off his body, all of it, got it?"
She listened for a moment. "Fine. We'll meet you there. Ten or fifteen minutes. Bye."
Alex turned off the phone and looked at her partner.
"CIA building. Graves is going to meet us there. Let's go."
Teren started the car. "You going to tell me what's going on?"
"Not yet. But if I'm right, Richmond just told me how to find CJ."
Teren nodded. "Secret code that I'm not privy to?"
"No. Just a stupid boast that made me think." She grinned at Teren. "See, it's easier to think when you haven't tried to use your head to play ping pong with a bullet."
Teren frowned. "Shut up, Alex."
It didn't take them long to get to the offices, and Teren led Alex up through a back door to a security check point where Graves was waiting for them.
"I wasn't sure what exactly you were looking for, Alex. I've been having my men go over the stuff, but they haven't found anything. No phone numbers, no address book, no notes, nothing. What are we looking for?"
"A cell phone."
"A cell --" he stopped and stared at her. "Yes, he had one. We found it in the back seat of the limo. Why?"
"Can I see it?"
Graves led them through the checkpoint, and down into a holding area. Several agents were going over Treville's belongings, logging them in. Graves spoke to one of them, and was handed a small black folding cellular phone.
"Here you are. Care to tell me what's so important?"
"In a minute." She flipped it open, and turned it on. "You see, most people have numbers that they dial over and over again." She pressed memory and then 1. After listening for a moment, she hit disconnect. "Like your office." She hit memory and 2, then listened again. "Oops, sorry, wrong number." She disconnected again.
Teren folded her arms, beginning to see where Alex was going. Graves didn't appear to be following though, and he was tapping his hand against his jaw in puzzlement.
Alex looked at him. "I think that was his home." She hit memory and dialed a three. After another moment she disconnected, a disgusted look on her face. "Trixie's Massage Parlour. A family establishment, I'm sure." She dialed the fourth memory number and waited.
Teren was watching her face, and saw her eyes go wide. By the time she'd grabbed the phone from Alex, there was a beep, and she quickly disconnected. "Alex?"
"Dial it again, Ter. Memory 4."
She did so, holding it up so both she and Graves could hear it.
They listened to the message, and then turned off the phone.
Graves nodded. "Well done, Alex."
"Thanks." She looked at Teren who was still gripping the phone. "We'll need to show his picture to Dawkins and White."
"We know who he is."
"Nothing to say, Teren?"
She lifted her head. "Let's go get the son-of-a-bitch."
They smiled at each other.
It was barely six o'clock in the morning when the doorbell rang at Cliff Jackson's house. He glared at his watch, then hesitated. When the bell rang again, he put his razor down with a sigh. Grabbing a towel he wiped the rest of the shaving foam from his face as he left the bathroom.
He opened the door to find Alex Reis on his door step.
"Alex. Kind of early for a social call, isn't it?"
"Yes. This isn't a social call."
"What's going on?"
"I know who the traitor is."
His eyes widened. Then he held the screen open. "Come on in."
She followed him into the kitchen where he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Got a coke if you want one."
"That's sounds great."
He passed her the ice cold can and then sat opposite her at the table.
"She's in the car, on the phone. She'll be in when she's through."
"Ah." He sipped his coffee. "Wanna tell me who it is?"
Alex nodded. "Yeah, I will. But first, I want to apologize."
She sighed. "For not believing in you a little more. I let my fears and my exhaustion get the better of me. I shouldn't have. I'm sorry."
Cliff frowned. "What the hell are you talking about, Alex?"
The younger agent let her head drop, and she solemnly regarded the sweating can in front of her.
"I thought it might be you, Cliff. I thought you might be the traitor."
He opened his mouth and then shut it without saying anything. He too stared at the table.
"Lots of reasons. The phone call from your office. You were the only one in Washington that knew where we were meeting Brogan. You told us to get out of Philly, then declared me rogue." She sipped her coke. "Plus, we discovered that the traitor was known as CJ."
"And you thought it might mean Cliff Jackson."
They were silent for a minute, then Cliff nodded.
"I can't say I like that, Alex. That you thought I could do that. But, then again," he shrugged, "you were in the middle of a bad situation. From what little I've heard, you and Mylos were running for your lives." Cliff shook his head. "I can't blame you for being suspicious of everyone."
"Still. I should have had a little more faith."
"With those clues? And being on the run? And Teren getting shot?" He snorted. "Not bloody likely."
They both chuckled quietly.
"Now, you wanna tell me who the bastard is?"
"Yeah, but first, can you do me a favor?"
"Get me another meeting with Collins, this morning. When I get this fucker I wanna do it as an FBI agent, not CIA."
"CIA?" He frowned. "What are you talking about?"
She explained the cautions the FBI Director had taken to keep her investigation a secret from whoever was the traitor.
"So, you're not really on long term suspension. Or under any kind of a disciplinary action."
"Nope. But, I'm not officially FBI, either. Only Collins can change that, and I'd like him to do so before I arrest this guy."
"You? Why do you get to arrest him?"
"Cause it was my partner that got shot -- twice. David's still on medical leave, and Teren's not FBI. So, I get to do it. Got it?"
He nodded, grinning. "Got it. Wanna give me his name, please?"
She smiled at him.
Teren was waiting by the car when Alex came out of the house, followed by Cliff. She noticed Alex grinning, and let a smile cross her own face.
"Yep. We're to follow Cliff in, and then go directly to the Director's office."
"Good." Teren glanced up at the older man as he approached. "Morning, Cliff."
"Morning, Teren. How are you?"
"Ready to eat crow," she said with a sheepish grin.
"Well, I was the one who really suspected you might be our culprit. Alex tried to tell me otherwise, but I ...." she let her voice trail off. "Anyway, I'm sorry. I guess I should have trusted Alex's instincts."
"No problem. I hear they remove your ability to trust as part of the entrance requirement for CIA jobs." He grinned and winked at her.
Alex seated herself behind the desk to wait. It was a nice office, she reflected, lined with wood panelling and furnished with a wide oak desk. The dark rust carpet was padded enough so that footsteps were hardly noticeable, and the large black executive's chair was very comfortable. The desk was obviously a work desk, with stacks of files on both front corners. Well used writing utensils were held in a cup within easy reach, and a half empty coffee mug was sitting on a stained coaster that advertised a micro beer from a local brewhouse.
As she sat in the comfortable rolling chair, she wondered who would be using this desk next.
Moments later, the door opened, and the normal occupant of the office walked in, his briefcase in his hand.
Alex frowned. He was early.
He saw her and stopped.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Waiting for you," Alex said easily.
"Well, who the hell let you in? You're not even supposed to be in the building."
"Really? Why's that?"
The man approached the desk with a scowl. "Cause you've been suspended, and you know it."
"Oh, but that suspension was lifted, just this morning. I thought you would have heard."
His scowl deepened, his eyes throwing off angry sparks. "That's not possible. The Director said he would not reinstate you until a full investigation was made, and that wouldn't take place until after the case was finished."
"Well, I met with him this morning, and presented my evidence. He found the charges against me to have no foundation. He threw them out, and even told me I'd receive pay for this whole period." She smiled. "Pretty nice of him, wasn't it?"
The man in front of her growled.
"Fine. So you've been reinstated. Now get the fuck out of my chair, and out of my office."
He stared at her. "What?"
"I said no."
"I'll have you up on charges of insubordination, Reis."
"No, you won't." Alex kept her voice calm, and spoke with a smile on her face.
"And why not?"
"Because you'll be dealing with too many other charges. Far too many to think about my insubordination."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Of course," Alex continued, "after all that settles, and you're in prison, then you might think about it. A lot. For a very long time." Her voice was very mild as she leaned forward, folding her arms on the desktop.
He put his briefcase on the desk and leaned down towards her. "Look, you little dyke, you may be back in the Bureau, but if you don't get out, I'm going to make your life hell."
Slowly, her eyes locked on his, Alex stood. "You can try. But whatever you do? I'll still be here, and you won't."
He laughed. "Why wouldn't I be here?"
"Because I know who you are."
"Really? And who am I?"
Alex smiled, with a feral tilt to her lips. "You are FBI Assistant Director Calivin James Bishop." She cocked her head and raised an eyebrow. "Or should I just call you CJ?"
His eyes widened and he reached for his gun.
"Ah-ah." The muzzle of a .45 was pressed against the back of his neck. "I wouldn't want you to do anything stupid, CJ." Teren said. She reached inside his jacket and took his weapon, handing it to Alex, who immediately removed the clip. "Now, why don't you just have a seat? I'm sure Dawkins and White would love your company in their holding cell -- and we'll have somebody come right in to take you down there."
He sat down gingerly, his eyes never leaving Alex's.
"Aren't you going to ask how we figured it out?"
He didn't say anything.
Alex continued. "It wasn't that hard, really. Dawkins and White don't like you very much." She shrugged. "Of course, they couldn't tell us your name, but once we showed them your picture, they had lots to tell us. White's so angry about you having his wife killed, that it wasn't too hard for the Justice Department to get him to agree to testify. Dawkin's blames you for everything. Especially for sending Treville to try and kill him."
Bishop spat on the floor. "May their souls all burn in hell."
Teren shrugged, backing off but keeping the gun pointed at his head. "They probably will. Of course, you'll be right beside them."
He turned and glared at her.
"No. I will go to Heaven, and sit at the right hand of God, for all I have done has been for His glory, and in His name."
"You killed people in the name of God." Alex shook her head. "That's just sick."
"You're the sick one, you dyke. You reject God's word, and blaspheme His name. You defile everything you touch, you perverted --"
"That's enough," Teren cut him off. "You'll make no converts here, CJ. Save your preaching. Maybe they'll let you give a sermon before they strap you into the chair. But you're finished here. It's over."
He glared at her, then looked back at Alex. "You think this is over?" Bishop sneered at her. "It hasn't even started. You may have won this battle, but the war goes on, and we will wipe your evil from the face of the earth."
"How?" Alex asked. "We took your bank account, and the treasure Eisenbein had been using. There's nothing left."
He laughed, and leaned towards her. "You think that was all the money? Just that one account?" His smile turned evil, and he softened his voice. "There are hundreds of accounts. Filled with billions of dollars. That wasn't even the largest."
"There are more Nazi accounts? From the forties?" Alex moved forward in her chair. "Where?"
His laugh grated in her ear. "Like I'd really tell you. You're not just a dyke, you're a Jewish dyke, doubly damned. But one day," his eyes took on a mad glint, "one day your kind will burn in the same fires your ancestors did -- and we'll use their money to make it happen."
Alex stood, leaning over the desk, her weight on her hands. "Yeah? Maybe. But you won't be here to see it. If they let me I'll throw the goddamned switch to fry you."
"You wouldn't have the guts, you disgusting bitch."
Teren reached out and pushed him back into the chair. He turned and leveled a glare at her.
"You should have died in Lithuania."
"Yeah, and you should never have been born. Just shut up. I've killed enough people in the last couple weeks, one more won't really matter."
"Then do it."
Teren shook her head. "Oh, no. You're standing trial, and going to prison. I won't let you just take the easy way out." She glanced at Alex. "Wanna go see what's holding things up?"
Alex moved out from behind the desk, and started towards the door. Just as she opened it there were gunshots in the outer office. Alex drew her weapon.
Teren turned slightly at the sound, and before she could turn back, Bishop was on her. She squeezed the trigger, but the shot went well wide, and he tackled her to the floor. Grabbing a loose hold on her hair, he managed to smack the injured side of her head into the carpet. As thick as the carpet was, the blow was enough to stun Teren, and she closed her eyes for a moment, against the pain. It gave Bishop just enough leeway to yank her head up and slam it back down again, and again. Then he rolled off of her and reached for her gun.
Alex had drawn her weapon at the first sound of gunfire outside the office, and but relaxed at Cliff's call that it was okay, the shooter was under control. She turned back toward the office in time to see Bishop roll off of Teren and pick up her .45. Teren groaned and tried to roll over, her head wound bleeding once again. At the sight of the blood, Alex raised her gun, and went to one knee. She shouted a warning, but Bishop didn't hesitate -- he brought Teren's gun up, his finger curled around the trigger, aiming towards the stunned operative.
The sound of two shots echoed loudly in the office. For a moment, everything froze.
Then, with almost exaggerated slowness, Bishop collapsed, blood pouring from his temples, where Alex's bullet had entered and then exited his head. There was a groan as he rolled slightly on his side, then a wheeze from his lungs.
Both he and Teren were still.
Continues in Chapter Forty-two