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The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.
Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.
This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.
Part 4 – Homefront
“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!’ blared the beautiful MILF redhead at 7:00am, Tuesday, December 13th. “Channel Two News has learned that the FBI has taken over the case of the murdered bodyguard of legendary rapper T-Square!”
Bettina went on: “The Office of the Sheriff has confirmed that that FBI is investigating elements of the case, citing the possibility of a larger ring of criminals. The FBI has refused to comment on the case. Neither Commander Donald Troy nor Captain Cindy Ross could be reached for comment, as well.”
“Oh, now they’re adding Captain Ross’s name to their broadcasts!” said a mischievously grinning Sergeant Rudistan as we drank coffee in MCD. “Guess you’re about to get fired, Commander… or maybe joining the FBI?” Everyone else chuckled, though a bit nervously. And I might add that a green crowbar was waved in Rudistan’s general direction, courtesy of the aforementioned Captain Ross.
“I’m not going anywhere.” I said tiredly. “And my only job for the rest of this month is to keep Captain Croyle out of trouble.” I said that because Teresa had just come into MCD. She was not amused.
“At least this year, sir,” Teresa said, “desk duty isn’t all that bad. I had no idea how time-consuming it would be to make a Precinct disappear, as well as make arrangements for Dr. Eckhart’s seminar.”
Bettina had been reporting on other things, and then the screen showed Ronald Reagan Park as Bettina said “And the new virtual reality gaming systems from Peach Computers are all the rage! Ronald Reagan Park was filled with drones yesterday afternoon! There were some problems, though, as several drones collided with disc golf discs being thrown on the Disc Golf Course, causing damage to the drones. Police were called in when drone owners attacked disc golf players after their drones were hit.”
“What is that about?” I asked.
“Oh, that.” said Sergeant Rudistan. “Those drones are not cheap, and one guy tried to force a disc golfer to pay for his damaged drone. Other disc golfers came to their friend’s rescue, and a fistfight ensued. The drone owner is now in jail, as the camera footage from his own damaged drone shows that he threw the first punch.”
“Ho ho ho!” said Teresa, her voice loaded with sarcasm. “Ah, the joy and peace of the Holiday season! Drones and frisbees flying together in perfect harmony…”
This was getting bad. I went to my office and engaged my favorite perk of my position: the door. I closed it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
At 9:45am, Chief Moynahan knocked on my door. “Mr. Crowbar, the FBI has requested our presence in their offices at the Federal Building. Why don’t we go collect Ms. Ross and mosey on over therrrrre.”
The Chief wanted to walk, so we did. As we walked, he said “This meeting is going to be about those SPS Truck murders, but I was told it’s about something else, as well.”
“Yes,” I said, “it’s going to be about the Holden investigation, T-Square, and our County Sheriff.” Cindy looked sharply at me.
“So before we get there, Mr. Crowbar,” said the Chief, “what do I need to know?”
“Only that I can’t speak of it out here in public.” I said. “And that things are going to get contentious.”
We got to the Federal Building and went to the third floor. Jack Muscone, and Eduardo Escobar were there. Eduardo invited the Chief to go into a room for a briefing on the case. Jack took Cindy and me to the room with the plexiglass cube. Inside there was the DepDirector and my wife, Dr. Laura Fredricson. The small room was a fairly cozy fit. Laura was to my right and Cindy to my left. Jack Muscone and the DepDirector were on the other side.
“Sorry about the arrangements,” said the DepDirector, “but the classified nature of this discussion requires it. You all have to sign the non-disclosure paperwork, as well.”
“The arrangements are great, sir!” I said enthusiastically as I pressed my shoulder to Laura’s and took her hand in mine. “I get to cozy up with the loveliest woman in the County.” Laura smiled and let her head rest on my shoulder for a moment.
“Nothing like young love at Christmas to warm our spirits.” said Jack Muscone, ever the romanticist. Cindy smiled a wistful smile.
“Okay, let’s start.” said the DepDirector after we completed the paperwork. “Okay, Jack, brief them on what was done overnight.
“Even before you guys left the City,” said Jack Muscone, “we were raiding the offices bahis firmaları of ‘Opelika Software’, which is where that package Don discovered was being sent. It was empty, and they’d left in a hurry. All the computers and servers were gone, but there were a lot of physical papers that were left behind, which our people are processing now. We’ve got fingerprints, but guess what?”
“Came up ‘classified’?” I asked.
“Yep.” said Muscone. “It looks like there were four people. This company had no outside clients. Now, if Dr. Fredricson is okay with it, I’ll discuss the equipment that was recovered.”
“You’ve all signed the paperwork, so go ahead.” Laura said. I noted that she was not giving this lecture herself.
Muscone went on: “The drone was not the only part of this system that was not normal Peach Computers gaming. The virtual reality headset was in reality extremely sophisticated night-vision goggles that could also be used in the daytime to receive video transmissions. Other data would also appear, such as coordinates that could be used to call in artillery or aircraft fire, GPS position of the device and therefore of its wearer, and such stuff.”
Muscone went on: “The so-called gaming joystick looks like your standard PS4, but in reality it can control an incoming missile or smart bomb, can take over and control a car or other vehicle. And the main box is a full mini-command-station and communications device, with satellite linkups and everything.”
I said “Wow, sounds like stuff they could use in Afghanistan or Iraq… or anywhere there’s a combat zone.”
“That’s what these are for.” Laura said. “Our people that were embedded with Special Forces in Afghanistan and other places had a version of this. It was used only for the most important missions, and the people who had these devices knew that protecting the technology was more important than their own lives.” That last comment brought contemplative silence to the room.
Laura continued: “This device is one of our newest models, so to speak. In fact, the drone’s sophistication is at the prototype level. It can drop bombs. I’ve talked with the CIA Director and others about this. We’re trying to determine whose cell is behind this, but that’s hard and will have to be handled like an Internal Affairs investigation.”
“And with the owners of this device knowing that we know about them.” said the DepDirector of the FBI.
“I have a question.” I said. I could feel the room holding its collective breath.
“Uh oh.” said Cindy.
“Yeah, ‘uh oh’ is right.” said Muscone. “What’s your question, Don of Salem, U.S.A.?”
I chuckled then got serious: “This drone can drop bombs. Can it also be fitted with a directed energy weapon?”
“God damn it.” muttered the DepDirector. Laura also winced.
“You are just too damn good, Darling.” my wife said, and it was not a compliment.
“Well,” I said ” I am in the unique position to remember the Roy Chen/Tomoko Shimono case.” (Author’s note: ‘Eyes Only’.) “I am wondering if the Energy Dynamics people have been trying to miniaturize a directed energy weapon that could be fired from a drone. Bombs? those can be dropped from a standard Peach Computers drone… but a sophisticated one like this… that’s for more specialized equipment… and weaponry.”
“We will say no more on that.” Laura declared. “But notice that I have not said you are wrong, Don.”
“And ‘one more thing’, as Steve Jobs liked to say.” I said. “Can y’all bring up a map of the City on this monitor on the wall?”
“Sure.” said Muscone, who quickly made it happen.
“So where is this ‘Opelika Software’ office?” I asked. Jack put a little dot, like the Google Maps dots, at the location, which was west-south-west of the City proper.
“And where was I found on the floor?” I asked. No further words were needed to understand what I was asking.
“That was closer to the airport.” said Cindy. Laura then worked the computer to put a dot on that location. The City International Airport was north of the City, slightly to the west of dead north. The area to the southwest of the airport, and northwest of the City, was called ‘The Badlands’. The second dot was there.
“Pretty far north of ‘Opelika Software’.” Jack Muscone observed.
“That little facility near the Airport was shut down after Casey B. Walker unfortunately ran into a bus.” Laura said drily. “I have no idea when this ‘Opelika Software’ started up, nor what it’s being used for.”
“And that is my question.” I said. “Or part of it. I’m wondering why that location? Why put a facility there, almost in a residential subdivision? You guys know the City better than I do; what’s in that area that might be of interest to anyone?”
“I don’t know of anything that’s in that area that someone would want to keep surveillance over.” said Muscone.
Cindy then spoke up: “That location is out of the way. Not a lot of radio signal interferences, no tall buildings to interfere with anything. That place looks like it was a data-gathering kaçak iddaa center, and that would be a good place to have something like that.”
“True.” I said. “Good points, Green Crowbar.” Cindy was happy with the compliment.
“I’ll see if I can find out what it was being used for,” Laura said, “as part of our overall investigation of that facility.”
“Let me ask you, Laura,” I said, “what with your 32 years or so of CIA experience… if you were setting up something like this, what would be you be setting up, and why at this location?”
Laura paused, then said “Okay, it’s fair to tell you since two people were murdered senselessly in connection with it. As you all know, the CIA is not supposed to be acting domestically; we’re supposed to let the FBI handle things within the United States. Of course we do have facilities around the country that are supposed to be support points for our Agents abroad, and maybe keeping up with known foreign agents here, and for things so sensitive that we don’t want even the FBI to know about them.”
“Not many of those things, I’m sure.” I said sarcastically. The FBI Agents laughed tepidly. Laura was not amused, and she gave me a cutting look that our daughter Carole had inherited and frequently used, but I digress.
“Anyway,” Laura said, “this looks to me like a simple small hub location. Mail can be delivered there and picked up by Agents, maybe they’re monitoring some things electronically, but it’s mostly a conduit station. Relay servers, maybe a backup system in case our main one in the City goes down, stuff like that.”
“So if this box were sent there,” I said, “and someone went in to pick it up, there’d be no questions asked, and that box just given to the intended recipient?”
“There would have to be some sort of identification process, to make sure the correct person is getting the right box or mail delivered,” Laura replied, “but that would be handled easily, and I won’t discuss the specifics, of course.”
The DepDirector said “We’re already looking into all packages that went to that address over time. My superiors assure me that the CIA and FBI are working together on that. No disrespect intended, Dr. Fredricson, but I never feel very assured when they try to assure me of something.” Laura smiled sardonically and nodded in agreement.
It is well known that every package or letter that goes through the United States Post Office is photographed and kept on record. It is all too easy for the NSA to compile a record of what mail went to a certain address, and in most cases who it was from. So the DepDirector’s comment about compiling a list of mail to that address… was in the process of happening.
“Okay, Jack,” said the DepDirector, “we got off track, but that’s okay. Tell them the rest of it.”
“Yes sir.” said Muscone. “First, Granger’s assistant Marilyn has disappeared. We went to her home last night and her entire family was not there. Looks like they left in a hurry. Didn’t take much, but no computers or cellphones were found in the house.”
“Second,” continued Muscone, “Peach Computers worked with us, and we were able to activate one of the stolen systems and triangulate its location to an abandoned factory near the City Railyards. We recovered hundreds of systems, but all the boxes were opened and the contents removed. Looks like they were searching for the hi-tech stuff, and we don’t know if there was another such system, nor if they found what they were looking for.”
“Was every single box opened?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but we think so.” said Muscone, referring to some notes. “We think they wore latex gloves, though… we found traces of the starch that’s in the powder in the gloves. So we expect ‘no joy’ on the fingerprints.”
“If they opened every single box,” I said, “it’s not a definite, but I’d suspect there was only one system, and they didn’t find it because we have it. But again, that’s not a certainty.”
“Anything else, Jack?” asked the DepDirector. Muscone shook his head, so the DepDirector said “Okay, then, if no one has anything else, I need to speak with the two Crowbar people for a moment.” Everyone else took the hint, including Laura, and left the plexiglass-enclosed space.
“Okay, Don, Cindy,” said the DepDirector once we were alone, “I know they joke about ‘400 years ago’ and nothing getting past the Iron Crowbar. At the same time, I didn’t get to be where I am without noticing a few things myself. For you to so quickly bring up the directed energy weapon, Don, showed me that you had it on your mind… and you had a reason to have it on your mind.
“He’s good.” I said to Cindy. “We should get him a crowbar for Christmas.”
“What color would you like that crowbar to be, sir?” Cindy asked.
“I’ll leave that to your discretion.” said the DepDirector, smiling his pursed smile at the rapport of the Crowbar People. “Seriously, though… what do you know that you’re not telling us?”
“At this point,” I said, “I must ask you to bring Chief Moynahan in to hear this.”
* kaçak bahis * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Wow, neat stuff.” said the Chief, looking around the plexiglass cube, which was on vibrating springs to interfere with voice patterns in the air.
“Have a seat, Chief.” said the DepDirector. The Chief sat down next to the DepDirector, across from Cindy and myself. “I know you’ve been briefed on the two murders in the City, and given a general overview of what your Commander found over there. And you’ve signed the non-disclosure paperwork.”
“Yes,” said the Chief, “and I understand that I can’t be told everything.”
“We appreciate your patience on that.” said the DepDirector. “And speaking of patience… Don, it’s time to clue me in.”
“Yes sir.” I said. “You’ll understand why I did not speak of this before. Last night we identified the fingerprints on the re-taped box. They are those of an active CIA Agent… Melina Allgood.”
Chief Moynahan’s eyes widened in shock and his mouth gaped at the knowledge. The DepDirector was much better at hiding emotion, but I saw the understanding in his eyes.
“I don’t know if we have stumbled onto a legit CIA operation and we’re about to step on some toes,” I said, “or if this is something extracurricular. And the fact that my wife does not know about this operation, and it’s obvious she doesn’t, makes me wonder. And in that latter case, we don’t know if Melina’s purpose and intent is honorable or not.”
Chief Moynahan looked at Cindy and said, trying to be humorous, “Are you a CIA Agent, too?”
“No, Chief.” Cindy said, deadpan flat but with her ‘pawky’ sense of humor, then jerked her thumb at me as she said: “He only marries CIA agents. I’m his blood kin.” The DepDirector actually chuckled out loud at that one.
“He married one of the very best CIA agents in history when he married Dr. Fredricson.” the DepDirector said. “But I understand why this is an issue. Melina and Laura are sisters, so there’s a family issue. And Laura must not know about Melina’s involvement, as you, Don, are taking pains to keep it from her.”
“She’ll find out soon enough, through her own Directorate.” I said. “And by the way, I don’t think Melina is involved in the killings of Gonzalez and Mansell… she sent the package, why waylay two trucks looking for it?”
“Unless that’s part of the deception.” Cindy said. “Orrrrr, a mistake was made, and she or her group was trying to get the package back.”
“Yes, that’s possible.” I said. ‘And as I think about it, why not just send the equipment in a plain brown box, as if it were porno stuff or something? Oh, never mind… if someone else is looking for it, hiding it with hundreds of other identical packages is harder to find.”
“Anyway,” I continued, “what you guys need to know is that Melina has a hatred of blacks, born of childhood experiences. And that is part of the question of what her intent and purpose is with all this stuff. Adding to it, Chief, is her husband… our Sheriff.”
I continued: “Now I think Daniel is an honorable man, but he never did much to oppose Captain Malone back in the days when Malone was trying to corner the drug markets in this County as well as using Police power to suppress blacks. And Melina has considerable influence upon him, of course. So I wonder why Daniel is so stridently wanting us to pursue T-Square, and threatening to cut Cindy and me off from helping the FBI if we don’t go after T-Square first.”
“I see what you meeeeeeean.” drawled Moynahan. “It’s too early to say if he and his wife are not on the up-and-up, though.”
“Exactly,” I said, “and I do not want to do them the disservice of questioning their motives, especially Daniel’s, without something to back it up. Having said that, I’m going to do what I normally do… ratchet it up and confront Daniel on this T-Square thing. He’ll either come correct with an explanation, or he will have to back off and let us do our thing with the FBI while keeping the perps very scared in our own County. This is just a ‘heads-up’ on that.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Laura and the DepDirector went to lunch at the Cattleman’s Club, and they invited Chief Moynahan to go with them. Jack Muscone asked Cindy and myself to lunch at the Cop Bar. To my vast lack of surprise, Jack ordered the “Jack’s Double Cheeseburger” plate. Cindy had the Fish and Chips basket, and I had the Steak Caesar Salad.
“Well, Don,” said Jack, “you’ve waded hip-deep into yet another big-time case at the highest levels.
“Yep.” I said. “It scares me, too.”
“You?” Jack asked. “Nothing scares you. I’ve never met a man so devoid of fear.” I noticed that Cindy turned her head and became contemplative.
“Yes, but this is not fear for myself.” I said. “It’s… well, there’s so many moving parts…”
“I know you want to be in control of whatever situation you are facing,” said Muscone, “but sometimes, you just can’t be.”
“Yeah.” I said. “But when it’s close to me, when it’s right in front of me, I either know what to do… or I figure it out damn quick. Westboro was in front of me for years, and except for Pete Feeley’s murder, I always knew what to do, what the right thing to do was, or I could figure it out. This…”
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