Author Topic: Chapter 12  (Read 1426 times)

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Offline Daen

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Chapter 12
« on: June 10, 2022, 02:59:03 AM »
Chapter 12

The next morning, Margo got up early. She checked for any kind of standard patrol in the Upper Bay between Jersey and Manhattan briefly. Wherever that outgoing power line went, it might even cross the bay over into Manhattan. If so, they'd have a hard time tracking it. She also looked for construction records, but that was a bust. Jansen Paper, or whoever they really were, had dug all the new power lines themselves. They certainly wouldn't have left a paper trail.

Margo sighed. Usually she was good at putting the pieces together, but this time she didn't know which piece was which. She didn't even know what puzzle she was trying to solve!

Well, there was only one way to move forward. She knocked on Tin's door, and he answered promptly. Like yesterday he was wearing comfortable clothes, this time with a loose-fitting sweatshirt tied around his waist.

"Don't you ever wear a suit and tie?" She asked, eyeing him critically. "You weren't even that formal the first day we met."

"I don't like suits, and when I use them I only wear clip-on ties," he said with obvious derision. "Do you have any idea how easy it is to incapacitate a man with his own tie?"

Ah, that made much more sense. "A lot of AFI people wear ties. Maybe you'll get the chance to show me," she said wryly, and moved over to the other side to knock on Beb's door.

There was no response at first, followed by a muffled 'just a minute.' Several thumping noises emanated through the door, and the inside lock clicked open. Beb's door opened just a smidge, and her mussed hair and bleary eyes spoke to her status.

"Need a minute?" Margo asked sarcastically, and Beb scowled.

"I'm fine," she answered shortly. "I was just up most of the night working on the exciter," she gestured back into the room.

Margo could see remnants of the device strewn around the floor of the hotel room. "Ah. So Eddie was able to help you after all?"

"What? What do you mean?" Beb's eyes opened fully and quizzically.

"The self-destruct," Margo clarified. "He showed you how to get past it?"

"Oh, yeah. That's ancient history. His signal dampener works perfectly."

Through the crack in the door, Margo could make out the foot of the bed. There was a slight movement in it. Trying to suppress a smile, Margo took a step back. "Are we interrupting something in there?"

Tin followed her glance, and then made a small noise of amusement.

"Everything ok, Beb?" A voice filtered out from the room. It was Eddie's voice, and Beb let out a sigh.

She stepped outside and closed the door. "I, uh, didn't think you'd approve," she said softly.

Margo spread her hands. "Hey, no judgement here. I'm not really a fan of his profession, but as long as he just makes the recordings and doesn't do any of the deeds, he's fine by me."

"Definitely. He's totally hands off at work," Beb assured her quickly, and Margo hoped she was right about that. "Besides, he's charming and funny. And brilliant, come to think of it."

Margo nodded slightly, and Beb let out a faint sigh of relief. "All right. As long as you're happy, I'm happy. I've still got some research to do on where these power lines go, so how about you get ready and then knock on my door instead?"

After Beb nodded, Margo leaned past her and opened the door. "Eddie, can you hear me?"

"Uh, yeah," a confused voice responded.

"It's at this point I'm supposed to threaten you," Margo said, trying to inject some harshness in her tone. "I'm supposed to tell you that if you hurt my friend I'll kill you. But I won't. I'll just tell people that you're bad at sex. I figure that'll hurt you a lot more in the long run."

There was a long pause, after which the confusion had been replaced with a more respectful tone. "Duly noted."

"Good." Margo stepped back again, letting a scandalized-looking Beb back into her room. Tin held out a hand though, stopping her.

"The thing about the Walk of Shame," he said softly to Beb, "is that the shame nearly always comes from everyone else instead of you. Walk with pride if you want, Beb."

She looked a little confused, but nodded anyway, and stepped back in.

Chuckling slightly, Margo went back to her own room. "Come on, Tin. Lemme show you what I've found so far about these power lines."


Dyan was about to head out for the morning commute when his phone rang. He checked the caller and then answered. "What is it, Larry?"

"Sir, we've got ID's on two of the people in the Jansen facility. Margaret Patsulas and Deborah Rossi. Patsulas is a private investigator working out of Philadelphia, and Rossi does database recovery there as well."

"What are they doing up here?" Dylan wondered aloud. "Unless she was hired to investigate us. What about the third one?"

"No ID yet, but he is a wanted man. His picture has been put on TVs all over Pennsylvania. Apparently he assaulted two US Marshals a few days ago, and kidnapped a man. Patsulas was there, and she gave a statement to the police. She said he calls himself Tin, and that he hired her a few days before."

Dylan gave an appreciative smile. That was how he knew that face—he'd seen it on one of the TVs here. "Brassy of him to be showing his face in public, then. Who did he kidnap?"

"Uh, according to the file, a man named Cole Harding."

The air inside his house seemed to go dead still. Dylan froze, looking at his phone. "Could you confirm that name, please?" He requested dully.

"Yes, sir. Let's see. Cole Harding, package delivery and janitorial job, with both a work and home address in Baltimore."

Dylan's mind was spinning. What the hell was Goswin doing with a pair of US Marshals? And why had this Tin kidnapped him? If the Marshals' Service had picked up on Goswin's illegal activities, they would have gone through channels. They must not have known who they really had. He'd gotten a message out somehow, and Tin had come to 'kidnap' him, in reality rescuing him from the Marshals. But if Tin and Patsulas were here in New York, poking around the Jansen plant... it meant Goswin was onto them! Good God!

"Larry, where are you?"

"I'm at Jansen now, sir."

Not good. "I need you to get to the Spyglass right now, and activate it. I'm at least half an hour away, but you can get there in just a few minutes."

"Sir? We only have twelve days of charge stored up. We won't get any information this way."

"This is more important, trust me. We need a location on Patsulas and her friends right away, and this can at least tell us if they're near the Spyglass. I'll cover for you with the Council, but you have to go, now!"

"Yessir," Larry said quickly, and Dylan could hear hurried footsteps as he hung up.

He checked his own watch. It was just after seven thirty. Larry was loyal and diligent, but he was no fighter. Dylan pulled up another number and dialed it. As usual, it only rang once before a voice answered. "Talk to me."

"Sine, it's Murad. AFI might know about the Spyglass. They might already be there. I sent my assistant there, but he'll need backup."

"On it." The line went dead.

Dylan breathed a little easier. Sine was one of the best in the business, if the word 'best' could be applied to someone who killed for money. Well, he was one of the most effective anyway, and he knew what to do in situations like this. If he got to the Spyglass first, he would protect it and Larry. If he didn't, he would destroy it.

That would mean years of work gone—along with the hopes and dreams of over a thousand of Dylan's friends and supporters. Still, it would be better than the alternatives. Jail time for all of them if they were lucky. Then again, if Goswin wasn't feeling generous, it would be death.


The power lines ran right into the water, as Margo had predicted. Whatever the so-called paper factory was powering was either underwater in the Upper Bay, or across it in Manhattan. Fortunately, Beb had tapped into the power grid maintenance system, and there was an anomaly at a specific location on the far shore.

Eddie wasn't with her now, to Margo's relief. She'd never liked awkward silences, and awkward conversation was even worse. Also, he'd probably have questions about what they were doing. Questions that didn't have easy answers. To her credit, Beb seemed much more at ease now. Tin's words must have stuck with her. Margo was more concerned about her friend's safety, but she had to admit that Tin knew a thing or two about self-respect and self-pride.

It was about eight o'clock now, so traffic was pretty bad on the nearest bridge. They stopped and started several times. Surprisingly, Tin was in the back of Margo's car this time. Maybe he was finally starting to trust them. Or he just didn't want to convoy into one of the busiest cities in the world at one of the busiest times of day. Either way, Margo felt a little more at ease. She could take care of herself, but Beb didn't have the same skills, and would need someone to look after her.

Once at the docks on the far side, they found a parking spot and made the rest of the way on foot. Margo spun theories with Beb and Tin, about what that plant could be powering. A weapon, perhaps? The last time Manhattan had been attacked, it had been from the air. If the plant was powering a bomb, it probably didn't have the explosive radius to hit the World Trade Center.

Maybe it was an EMP. One pulse this close to the rebuilt tower could wipe out billions of dollars' worth of information. Cars would die on the roads, stranding drivers and bringing the whole island to a standstill. Hundreds could die in the chaos. Tin said he thought it was an EMP as well, but they were all just guessing for the moment.

There—power lines coming out of the water. It must have cost millions to bury them at the bottom of the Upper Bay like that. This was looking less and less like some kind of terrorist plot. The trouble was, Margo had no idea what it was looking more like.

The lines ran into what looked like a pumping substation. During storms, New York City did occasionally flood, and stations like this helped keep the parts of the city closest to the bay clear of water. They would probably be building more of these in years to come, of course. The substation entrance was underground, and grated off from the public by a locked metal door.

Margo pulled out her lockpicks, and got to work. From behind, she heard Beb give a soft chuckle. "Of course you brought those. Let me guess, Tin. You can pick locks too?"

"Nah. I usually just blast the lock open and kick the door in." He paused for a moment. "Lemme check something down at the water's edge. You two keep going here." He brushed past Beb, and then moved out of sight around the substation.

Beb looked like she wanted to go with him for a moment, but then shrugged and stayed put. "I don't like being out in the open like this. How long will that door take, you think?"

"This is an industrial steel door," Margo said with a little irritation. "It's not like I'm breaking into a grocery store here. It'll take as long as it takes." Margo focused on her work, and then heard that satisfying click. "Got it!" She heard a startled gasp from behind her, and froze. That click hadn't been from the door.

Slowly, Margo stood and turned around. There were four men encircling them against the door, all armed and aiming at them. Beb was slowly raising her hands, and Margo reluctantly did the same. She had her gun and holster, loaded this time, but they were on her hip, about a mile away from anyplace useful right now.

"Get them inside," one of the men ordered the others. "I'll find the third."

"Margo?" Beb asked with a trembling voice.

Margo didn't hesitate. "Do as they say, Beb. We'll be fine."

One of them disarmed her and opened the door with his own key. The other two marched them down the stairs inside, while the last one went off. These people, whoever they were, spoke and moved like professional soldiers. Margo hoped fervently that Tin could elude them.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 03:10:40 AM by Daen »