I was lead outside my office in New York by four body builders in suits, each carrying at least one gun. Fifteen years is a long time to be in my line of work, but now it was obviously over for me. I’d just gotten in from an operation in Prague and was coming back for a debriefing when they’d started trailing me. They cornered me, beat the living shit out of me, and told me I was done. They took me to Langley so I could sign away my severance package.
In the fifteen years I’d worked as a spoof in dozens of countries, and worked with hundreds of rebel, underground, and even terrorist units; I had too much dirt for them to just throw me away, unless somebody with some serious pull was after me.
Maybe I should clarify who I am. My name is Alex Gallow; I spent five years in the Marine corps working with MSOR as a scout sniper and tactical leader before I’d been recruited by the CIA’s Special Activities Division in the Special Operations Group as a NOC. Simply put, my skills are very select and sometimes of questionable legality. I was used to high pressure situations involving armed men and angry faces. I’d gotten good at talking my way out of situations, or barring that, shooting my way out of them, though I preferred for the body count to remain at 0 if at all possible. Most people tell me my fur is muddy brown to match the ambiguity of my line of work.
They shoved me into a car, and dropped me off outside my townhouse in Manhattan I knew the procedure here, unfortunately I’d burned a spy or two in my day, so I knew I had to get some money... fast. Instead of going into my house I drove to the nearest ATM I could find, hoping that I could make a withdraw before they froze my accounts.
I got $1000 out of the machine before my accounts were frozen; this wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough to help at all. I got back in my car and gunned it back home in hopes that I could liquidate some of the assets inside... I got there just in time to see the FBI investigators roll up and start searching my place. Warrant? Try suspected terrorist, or money launderer, or gun runner, or drug trafficker, or traitor... most of them don’t need a warrant when you have probable cause, and did I mention that I’d just been mysteriously fired from my job at the CIA? I didn’t bother asking for their warrants, instead I made tracks to an old friend of mine.
Work as a spy long enough and you make friends all over the globe. Not all of them are government agents or even law-abiding citizens. The bottom line is sometimes you meet people of a... seedier nature. People who might welcome a burned spy, or who might help you if you’ve got the FBI crawling all over your house; some of them might even trust you.
Unfortunately for me my last interaction with this particular contact was almost ten years ago now. Truth was I didn’t know if he’d even agree to see me. We’d worked together in Grozny during the second Chechen war; I was undercover trying to figure out who’d started the whole thing, he and I partnered in a mercenary/gun running operation. Honestly he was an impressive arms dealer, but even more impressive was his background and combat skills.
He was a rarity, born in Armagh in the late 80’s, an IRA trained guerrilla fighter, he left Ireland after the ceasefire was reinstated in 1997 and the Belfast Agreement was signed. He and I took part on the side of the Chechen rebels. He killed twenty four men in the 1999 Battle of Grozny, I watched him fire the sniper shot that killed Russian General Mikhail Malofeyev... I was his spotter. When the Siege finally ended, he and I fled the area, we lost contact outside of Berlin, we split up, he fell of the grid and went to ground.
His name was Zane Donovan, I’d kept close tabs on him over the years because, despite the fact that he was a gun runner and I was a spy, I considered him a friend. A few years back a warrant had run across my desk for his capture; he was being hunted by Interpol. He was another wolf, with midnight black fur. I have to admit that I am rarely as impressed with an insurgent fighter as I was with Zane.
He’d come to the U.S. a few years back and was now hiding out in the New York area I knew because I’d seen a few of his old pieces floating around, including the sniper rifle he’d used to delay the Russian forces in Grozny. Since I knew he was in the area and I at least needed a gun of my own I decided I’d try to look him up.
One thing about Zane Donovan was, if he didn’t want to be found he could go to ground better than anybody else I’d ever met. I burned through all of my cash just trying to find him and all I got with that was a corner in Hell’s Kitchen that had a middle man he liked to use. The only good thing about middle men is, if you hand them out a window or over a balcony they tend to tell you what you want to know, even if it means their boss will put a bullet in their head later... they’re very short term creatures in terms of their thought process.
It took me three days to get this far. A small cabin in Clay Pit Ponds State Park, off the beaten trail and judging by the exterior it wasn’t intended to be a permanent residence. It looked like something Zane would like, it allowed him to be off the grid but still keep an ear to the ground as far as Feds or Interpol was concerned. It was inside the city, not too close to the government buildings, but it wasn’t too far away either.
I approached the cabin cautiously, I knew Zane didn’t like unannounced visitors, but I also knew I couldn’t get a line out to him. I was more worried about the gun he would probably train on me the moment I entered his house. I kept my eyes peeled as I snuck up to the cabin. I didn’t like sneaking up on him, but Zane was likely already aware that somebody was looking for him. If he was aware his place would be locked up tight.
I moved slowly and carefully to be sure that I didn’t trip any wires. I was on his porch when it hit me that it was entirely too easy. I reached my hand out for the knob thinking that maybe he didn’t know I was looking for him, when I stopped. When I didn’t want to be bothered, I didn’t put up flood lights or walls... I let them get close and took them out with a more specialized trap. I stopped for a second to take things in. Zane had taken the liberty of replacing the traditional hardwood door with this nice painted steel number, and the door knob appeared to be aluminum.
I went back out to the forest and grabbed a long blade of grass. It was long enough for my purposes. I approached the door slowly and swayed the grass toward it slowly, about a half an inch from the door it snapped in half... the door was electrified.
I decided to try the back door. Wooden with a nickel doorknob... not enough conductivity to hurt unless the current was massive. I knew better than to assume that it would be that easy. I cracked the door a little. A cord tied to the other side of the doorknob, strung through a couple pulleys, and wrapped around the trigger of a shotgun... push the door open too far and your head gets blown off... this was more like Zane; of course one could easily disarm it from the outside if you knew it was there. I was just about to bust open the window and pull it off when I saw how thick they were... bullet resistant. I could hit one with all my strength and the only thing that would brake would be my hand.
I had to scratch my head for a second... Zane was too good at this booby trapping thing... the cord was actually a slender steel cable, so cutting it was out. I realized that he had to have a way to disable it for when he left the house himself. That’s when I noticed that the string was attached to a key ring that had been threaded inside the trigger guard and wrapped around the trigger. I found a stick and unhooked the shotgun delicately... it was a dangerous process still because I assumed it was a single set trigger.
After a few tense minutes I managed to work the keyring free of the trigger. I pushed the door open slowly so I didn’t stumble onto any other traps the hard way. I stepped in cautious for wet tile... I’d seen him electrify a wet linoleum tile back in Chechnya; it was an impressive trap to shock the hell out of anybody you didn’t want around.
As soon as I was through the door I knew I’d made a mistake. A wire wound around my throat, but just before it closed off I managed to put my hand between it and my throat. I pushed it away with all my strength, a moment later a huge amount of force slammed into the back of my neck, forcing me to one knee. “Ye jes’ broke inta the wrong hause,” a coarse voice with a thick Irish accent told me as he tightened his grip on the garrote. I only had a few seconds to respond; I slammed my right elbow into his stomach which caused him to drop the garrote.
He slammed his fist into my face forcing me to the ground. I was on my stomach so he worked quick, he locked in a rear naked choke hold and wrapped his legs around my stomach, then rolled me onto my back so he could act as dead weight if I tried to stand. “Zane... Zane it’s me... it’s Alex,” I gasped out as he choked the life out of me. It took him a second to realize what I’d said, but when he did he released the hold and stood up. I rolled onto my stomach and vomited as air flooded my lungs and burned on the way down. My throat felt raw after sucking in nothing for a few seconds.
“Sorry about that Alex... a lot of people are looking for me these days. I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed when you didn’t fall for the front door... last time somebody was stupid enough to come in that way it cooked him like a Thanksgiving turkey,” Zane told me as he untangled himself from me and offered me a hand; now that he’d calmed down he was speaking without an accent. I was still gagging so it took me a second to get to my knees.
“What can I do for the CIA. Oh... that’s right, you’re burned. What do you need?” Zane asked me. It didn’t surprise me that he’d heard I’d been burned, he knew a skilled tech guy that could get into just about anything it seemed.
“How’d you know I was here? How’d you know I went to the front door? I didn’t trip any wires, and I didn’t see any cameras,” I told him.
“A little trick I learned in Belfast, I rigged up the motion sensor of a security light to a cell phone, it gave me a call the moment you tripped each layer... then of course I have cameras on the building, they all point AT the building from the perimeter instead of looking out,” he explained with a laugh and a grin.
He knew more than I thought; the IRA must miss him. “I need a gun,” I told him.
“Your new bosses are looking to buy? Alright, what do you want? A Pistol, an SMG, hell you buy enough of them and I’ll throw in a few RPGs just because we’re friends,” Zane responded eagerly.
“I’m not working for anybody right now,” I told him.
“That’s not what word is on the street, but if you say you’re a solo act I’ll believe you. I know pretty well Alex, you could gotten a gun from any punk on the streets... why else are you here?” Zane asked me.
“You still know that guy that does documents?” I responded.
“Wolfie? Sure, why?” Zane shrugged.
“I need some new papers... something that won’t ever surface,” I specified.
“He can do that, but... the thing is; he’s not cheap, and I know when you spies get burned they don’t leave you much,” he explained.
“I... kinda need these as a favor. I burned through all my cash just finding you,” I told him.
“What else?” Zane asked.
“I need him to register me with as many flights to as many different places as he can, but not Washington,” I continued.
“You’re asking for a BIG favor; what will I get in return?” Zane responded.
“I’ll owe you one, a BIG one,” I told him.
“I’m coming with you to DC, the heat around here is a little too strong, you take me with you and don’t complain and we’ll call it even,” Zane proposed.
“Done... when do we leave?” I asked.
“I’ll call my guy and find out,” Zane answered as he pulled out a cell phone. ~
The next day Zane and I were in a car headed for the capitol.
“So what’re you planning on doing in Washington? Are you going looking for the guy who burned you?” Zane asked.
“I don’t really care who it is, but I have to find out why. You understand right? If something big is going down I want to know what it’s all about,” I explained.
“Sounds like you’ve got a plan,” Zane replied.
“I’ve got a few contacts I can talk to in New York,” I responded.
“What Agencies?” Zane asked me... now he was pumping me for information; he probably suspected something.
“I’ve got a contact with every government agency with top secret clearance,” I explained.
“So you’re gunna knock down a few doors, hang some guys out of windows, and corner some people in some dark alleys?” Zane asked, he got a smile as he spoke.
“That’s your style, not mine. I’m gunna do this with finesse, that’s how a spy does things,” I explained.
For the first time since I’d met him Zane’s Irish accent returned. “Spies... nawthin’ but a bonch of bitchy little pussays with gawns,” he laughed, his thick Irish accent broke through his usually calm demeanor.
“I thought you lost the accent?” I responded.
“Comes back every now and then when my emotions get the best of me... that one was surprise,” Zane answered with his American accent restored.
“This isn’t one of those things where we can just strong arm everybody,” I reminded him.
“Shoot enough people and any enemy will give you whatever you want,” he shrugged.
“See that’s where you and I were always different... I don’t like to shoot people if I don’t have to,” I explained.
“That’s why you’ve got me here,” Zane said as he turned to look at me with a smile. He was the driver so I encouraged him to keep his eyes on the road.
“How did we get this car?” I asked him suddenly.
“Well, it was just sittin’ there,” he answered simply.
“You stole a car? We’re going into the heart of Federal Law Enforcement... us... a burned spy and international gun dealer, in stolen car? ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US ARRESTED! If we get pulled over... you’re probably going back to Belfast!” I reminded him.
“For your information MOST of my warrants are for America, and I doubt whoever owned this particular car will notice given the circumstances,” Zane commented.
“What circumstances?” I asked eagerly... I was starting to regret bringing Zane.
“It was already stolen,” Zane laughed.
“How do you know it was stolen?” I pried.
“I picked it up at the impound lot,” he shrugged.
“YOU STOLE A CAR FROM A POLICE IMPOUND?!” I shouted at him.
“WE NEEDED A CAR AND I FOUND ONE! The last place to report a stolen car is the police impound. It’s not like I stole a Ferrari or something... it’s a Nissan Skyline street racer, odds are they don’t even know to look for it!” Zane rationalized to me. I hated to admit it but he had a point.
“Once we get to DC we dump the car,” I told him.
“Better! I know a guy who runs a shop down there, they’ll pay top dollar for a gem like this; I almost feel bad for the buffoon who lost it,” Zane told me.
An hour later we were in Washington. First stop was Zane’s friends... it started out pretty nice, until they put guns in our faces. Zane didn’t take too kindly to that, he offered to let them keep the car as a gift... I guess he’d messed with them in the past and they weren’t too thrilled. We were in an alley about half a block away when he pulled out a cellphone. “Keep walking, don’t turn around, and don’t take off runnin’,” Zane told me. A moment later a huge explosion burst out of the door of the chop shop.
“Now you know why you don’t mess with an Irishman,” Zane smirked as we turned onto one street. We had to take a long and winding route, and then of course we had to evade the police the inevitably came after us.
I don’t like foot chases, especially when I have an unregistered gun on me, because a foot chase is a 50/50 risk that you get away. You only have a few minutes before backup is on the ground in the area. The trick is to break line of sight without getting penned in by guys you can’t see. For two people together it’s impossible, the trick is to split up at a crucial moment. We managed to get a two block lead on them when we spilt off as the street we chose came to a three way stop. “Keep yourself by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture at two,” I told him as we parted.
“Are you sayin’ this is only a temporary alliance for an extraordinary emergency? I’m hurt by your callousness Alex,” Zane told me with a laugh... he got the message.
After we split I headed up to the end of the street, but unfortunately they had bike cops after me now. I ducked into the nearest parking garage a step or two ahead of them, slapped the elevator button open and sent it to the top floor. I headed down into the basement. The elevator didn’t throw them off my path I guess because they fanned out in the basement a few steps behind me. Unfortunately, sometimes evading pursuit means doing something your pursuers won’t... like going down to the lowest basement and slipping down into the sewers to escape.
The bad thing about the sewers is, anybody can identify their smell, and there are only so many exits. Luckily for me this wasn’t my first time using the DC sewer system as a getaway. I found my way to the turn of the century part of the city... near Georgetown there were a lot more prohibition tunnels than the rest of the city. Now that I smelled and looked like holy hell I had to find a place to get some new clothes and a shower.
Believe it or not the shower was easier than the clothes, you can go to any members only gym and request a three day pass to tour the facilities; but most clothing stores have a security system and when you’re on the run security isn’t your friend. Luckily, high end clothing lines tend to keep their security more about prevention than monitoring; their clients are usually very private. The only difficulty is explaining why your clothes look like you’ve been through a sewer when you have enough money to afford a $5000 suit.
I chose the busiest store I could find; they were doing a sale of some sort and people were swarming all over the place; it was Armani. Having brown fur makes it hard for me to look good in black, so instead I have to wear brighter colors to contrast my fur. Sadly spending years as a spy made me very attuned to fashion, and the most important part of the whole job is convincing people that you look like something other than a spy.
“Can I help you?” The store clerk asked me as I approached, eager young sales clerks can actually read people really well. I had to turn on my charm, but I had to figure out how to approach this one.
“This is just great. My best bro and I were out trolling for honeys a few minutes ago, we got into little scuffle and that asshat pushed me into a sewage runoff; can you believe that? Anyway I come here looking for a new suit and of course a banging piece of ass has to see me covered in sewage,” I told her in my imitation of a frat boy. That wouldn’t do it alone, I had to give her what I call the douchebag smile. It’s a combination of a smile and a head tilt that’s a lame way to pick up a girl used by college guys. You want to get rid of a beautiful young sales associate... try hitting on her.
“What exactly are you looking for?” she asked as she tried to define her boundaries.
“Depends... what’re you looking for? You find something that’d make you come to me in here and we’ll try it on,” I told her.
“I’ll be right back,” she mumbled as she headed off into the store. A few minutes later she had this nice white suit with white shoes.
“I was looking for something a little bit more... couture,” I told her.
“We have an Armani tailor in back,” she told me.
“Bathroom first?” I asked her.
“By the counter on the right,” she told me.
I didn’t have to pee... what I had to do was get some money... fast. The good thing about these stores is that there are plenty of people with way too much money walking around. Maybe you bump into one or two of them and they happen to drop their wallets, maybe when they get it back a few thousand dollars are missing, maybe a gold card fell out, so long as YOU give it back to them immediately they usually won’t look to see until it’s too late.
The tailor was good, didn’t stick me with a single pin the entire time. He didn’t like that I wanted this whole thing done at once, but three hours after I walked in I had a brand new custom suit, complete with matching fedora and designer sunglasses, but sans the tie. I don’t like ties, unless I’m undercover I’ll never wear a tie.
At two o’clock Zane and I met up at the Washington Monument’s reflecting pool. “You Americans and your heroes; you erect a giant phallus for your first war hero... I wonder if it does him justice,” Zane laughed as he looked out at the memorial. The contrast was stark; Me in my high priced suit and Zane wearing a new pair of jeans and a black t-shirt.
“Where do you keep your gun in those?” I asked as I looked him up and down... there was no hiding place for it.
“My gun is registered and I have a carry and conceal permit,” Zane shrugged.
We didn’t have time to say much more as four suits converged on us. “Gentleman,” I said as I nodded to one of them kindly. Off the rack suits, cheap loafers, and shoulder holsters... they were definitely feds.
“Mr. Gallow, Mr. Donovan; you’re gunna need to come with us,” the lead agent told us as he held up a badge... FBI.
“What if we don’t really feel like it?” Zane asked, he was getting defensive.
“Right now we’re asking you to come to our office, but if we have to we can arrest you,” he told us in a strong arm move.
“I’d loave ta see the indictment,” Zane responded his accent flaring up.
“Well, for starters we’ve got both of you on a few weapons charges, grand larceny by the look of Mr. Gallow’s suit, and grand theft auto for the car you stole from that Police Impound Mr. Donovan, and then there’s the matter of a bombing at a local garage, seems two people looking suspiciously like you were seen leaving the scene of the crime. I’ve also got an INTERPOL red notice from Belfast sitting on my desk for you Mr. Donovan, things get rough and you’re headed back to Ireland,” he responded.
“Zane... let’s do this the easy way; they don’t want to arrest us,” I interrupted.
“Alright; we’ll do this your way, but I want to take a look at that red notice, last I heard my name was cleared in all investigations in Belfast,” Zane answered after a tense moment.
“If I have to I’m sure I can dig up a few more warrants from around the globe,” the agent responded as we followed him to his car. He and his four agents drove us to the Hoover Building.
This wasn’t looking good for us at all so far. We were lead to the Major Case Response unit’s offices. I had a feeling which agent had sent for us. We arrived at the office of Special Agent Rachel Stanley; a senior FBI agent who worked the lead on all Major FBI investigations in New York City. Mostly she worked violent crimes but every now and then she was assigned to the white collar division or sent out on loan to the DEA or other agencies.
I met her way back in my SOCCOM days, she was a SEAL when I was with Force Recon and MSOR. She was the real deal in tactical situations, eventually she was promoted up to DEVGRU, also known seal team six. A few years after joining the team she was scouted by the FBI for her exceptional skills in putting together profiles on her targets. She was trained by Special Agent Tobias Long, a legend at the Bureau, she was one of four in his team, but she was the only one that passed Long’s own personal test, and is considered by many to be his only true protege, a fact he supports by referring to Rachel as Probie, even though her probational days are long past and she is now a senior agent. When Long left the Bureau it was only logical that Rachel would step up and take his place. Since she took the lead of the main team her conviction rate was an astounding 97%.
“Alex, what a surprise,” she said to me as her goons opened the door.
“You should have been in our shoes when they picked us up,” I answered her sarcastically.
“Agent Stanley, I got word that you were being discharged from the Bureau along with Gallow here and I just had to come along... so I could tell ya what A WARLD CLASS WHAR YOU ARE! YOU COST ME ALOT OF MONEY!” Zane yelled at her, he stepped toward her menacingly.
“What you’re talking about never officially happened,” I Rachel responded calmly.
“THAT DEIL WAS LEGITIMATE!” Zane shouted, his accent pulsing.
“WITH A SOMALIAN WARLORD? HE WAS A REBEL AND A GUN SMUGGLER AND YOU WERE SUPPLYING HIM!” Rachel yelled back as she finally stood up.
“I had all the right paper work and authorizations stating that I was working as a private contractor WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE U.S. NAVY!” Zane responded angrily... he started massaging his knuckles, in a few minutes he would forget that Rachel was a woman, which was perhaps the only reason he hadn’t attacked her yet.
“And yet you didn’t have proper authorization from NATO,” Rachel responded.
“YOU ALMOST GOT ME KILLED!” Zane told her.
“Both of you calm down. It’s done, it’s in the past, we have bigger things to talk about,” I interrupted their little reunion.
“You’re right, I only have a few hours left before my tenure as an FBI agent is up and I want to know why. I think it’s a little more than suspect that you just happen to get burned less than a week before I did. I don’t know why you’re here, but you better tell me what you know,” Rachel said as she turned to me.
“I don’t know much of anything, hell I’ve hardly had time to wrap my head around the fact that I’m out,” I answered her.
“So you expect me to believe that we’re both out and that it’s not because you said something about me in an attempt to save your own ass?” Rachel asked me.
“Rachel you know I wouldn’t do that to you,” I told her.
“Why not?” she pressed me.
“OH THIS IS RICH... you plugged the great pink fissure? I always thought she could use a proper fuckin’ to loosen up. A poorer, sadder man has never existed than the one who had to climb atop the great beast in her time of heat and insert himself into that smoking crater between her legs. I always figured she would devour any man brave enough to plunge himself down into the great abyss,” Zane joked heartily.
“You know why,” I leveled with her.
“I once thought you wouldn’t leave me in the middle of the night without so much as a note, but you proved me wrong there,” Rachel answered somberly.
“Rach... that was for your own good,” I told her softly.
“My good? Or your good?” she accused me.
“Both. I don’t know what you want me to say here Rachel. I didn’t burn you,” I told her.
“I want to know why you left,” Rachel responded.
“Is this really the best time to delve into personal matters? Something tells me the Feds will be here any minute to bring us in,” Zane interrupted us.
“Talk about it later?” I asked Rachel.
“You can bet your ass on it,” she nodded.
Just then a few suits came around the corner and into the office. “You’re all to come with me; if you resist we are authorized to kill you,” one of the agents told us.
“Feds authorized to shoot people in their own building? I don’ think so,” Zane told them.
“Try me,” the agent responded sarcastically.
“Careful what you ask for G man I might just oblige you,” Zane threatened as he stepped forward.
“What do you want with us now?” I asked him.
“Somebody wants to talk to you,” he answered.
He lead us through a few hallways and to the upper floors. “Where are we headed?” I whispered to Rachel.
“The upper floors are for department heads... whoever wants to see us has some serious pull,” she answered.
“Perhaps neither of you considered that they’re merely taking us to the upper floors to throw us out a window... it’s what I’d do,” Zane interjected.
“Zane... when you want somebody dead you shoot them, or stab them, or you strangle them... pushing people off of rooftops is too subtle for you,” I countered.
“I didn’t mean it’s what I’d do quite like that... it’s what I’d do if I wasn’t me and I was a pussy with a badge,” he explained with a roll of his eyes.
“Watch your mouth Donovan,” Rachel told him.
“Shut up ya stupid cunt, I’ll talk however I damn well please now that I’m going to be killed by some punkass with a gun. Oh sweet irony how I’ve prayed for somebody to put a bullet in you and now they’re going to kill me while they’re at it,” Zane told her. “Asshole, do me a favor and shoot her first; I’ll go quieter once I see her die,” he said as he turned to the guy leading us.
“Shut up Donovan,” the suit told him. Zane was openly frustrated with his reply, I put a hand on his chest to be sure he didn’t do anything... Zane would disarm the guy, but there were three more... and only two of us, that left one gun free to shoot. Our eyes met and I gave him a barely perceptible shake of the head. He took one angry breath as he slowed down for a moment and ran his hands through his hair, slicking it back.
The end of our little tour of the building landed us in a conference room near the top, where we were promptly locked in.
“You’re little harlot just got me locked up. I’ve never been detained by a federal agency in my entire life and now that sterling record is in pieces... thanks for that,” Zane informed us irritably.
“You can’t tell me you’ve never seen the inside of a locked conference room,” she countered.
“Not inside a federal office,” Zane replied.
“This isn’t the time for you two to be holding your petty squabbles... if you haven’t noticed we’re in a bit of a bind here,” I interrupted their little exchange.
“Don’t tell me you’re like him now. I get locked in one of these offices at least twice a week,” she scoffed.
“And I’m sure you’re usually the one with the key when you need to leave... how many times have you been on this side of the table?” I pointed out to her.
“You’re right... this is a bit of a switch,” she fessed up.
After twenty minutes of sitting in the room quietly while we tried to figure out what was happening the door opened. I never expected to see Tobias Long standing there with some bureaucrat, the old pencil pusher looked like he was about to have a coronary.
“Alex, Rachel... Mr. Donovan,” Tobias said to Rachel and me cheerily, his tone soured when he turned to Zane.
“What’s going on?” I asked him.
“I convinced the director here that the three of you were not a threat to national security and he agreed to let you go... with a few conditions,” Long told us.
“I didn’t do anything!” Rachel protested.
“That story isn’t going to work Rachel... I’ve seen the evidence piled against you and it doesn’t look good, even if some of it was planted it can’t all be false,” He told her.
“What are these conditions?” Zane asked skeptically.
“We’ll allow you to leave the building as civilians, after which you will immediately board a plane to San Diego where the three of you will remain until such a time as we can determine what to do with. It won’t be glamorous, but at least you won’t be in prison,” the director told us.
“What exactly do you expect us to do when we hit San Diego? We don’t have any MONEY,” Rachel told them.
“I’ve arranged for the three of you to begin freelance work... you’ll help people with their problems on a case by case basis. It won’t make you rich, but it’s honest work,” Tobias told them.
“So that’s it? We’re out in the cold just like that, we don’t even get to see the evidence against us?” Rachel asked them indignantly.
“Rachel; I did the best I could for you... let it go!” Tobias urged her solemnly.
“I’m not just gunna let it go... I’m gunna figure out who did this to me. Somebody ruined my life and I’m going to repay them in kind,” Rachel protested.
“What about me? I’m an illegal alien and if you even mention the word ‘deported’ I’ll throw you from this room right now,” Zane told him.
“We’ve arranged for you to be nationalized under the condition that you don’t leave the country,” the director told him.
“Been trying to get my papers for years now... I come in with a few burned agents and I get a green card? Why?” Zane probed him.
“Less paperwork for me,” the director shrugged.
“How have you avoided immigration for so long?” Rachel asked him suddenly.
“If they send a male agent, money, a female agent, well... wouldn’t you like to know,” Zane answered her indifferently.
“You’re what’s wrong with my country,” Rachel commented.
“HEY! That’s MY country you’re talking about now too!” Zane laughed.