Maria was already getting uncomfortable in the cafeteria where she sat alone at the table. It wasn’t the usual time for lunch, so she didn’t plan to get one yet. And the man who had asked her to come was nowhere to be found.
After fifteen minutes of waiting, she decided she would leave in the next ten minutes if the man did not show up. However, Michael showed up immediately after she decided in her mind.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting for so long, Maria,” he apologized as he sat down.
She readjusted herself to begin the conversation, her eyes fixed on the man’s face. She also noticed the bruises on his face.
“First, I must let you know that I lost my device,” he finally began. “I passworded almost every app on the device but there are still chances that someone could have gotten access into my messaging apps and our conversations. Did you send me any message that was never read before my abduction?”
“Yeah, I did,” Maria replied. “I sent a message with the results from the profiling task Agent Steve asked me to do.”
Michael squinted at her. “Can you check if it has been read?”
Maria dipped her hand into her suit inner pocket and picked out her phone. It took her a few seconds to go through it. “No, it’s still marked unread, though delivered.”
Michael heaved a sigh of relief. “The guys who took my phone must not know you profiled those two men…”
“Can you tell me exactly what is going on, sir?” Maria interrupted rudely. She was tired of him keeping her in the dark.
He shook his head. “Okay, here is it. I’ve been working with an organization that’s trying to cause a shift in the FOX organization hierarchy which has been inevitable for a long time. If we help them make this shift works, the two of us are going to be big beneficiaries.”
Maria squinted at his face, confused.
“The Chairman position held by Paul Edwards is not rightly his and we’re about to deliver it to whom it belongs to,” Michael explained further.
Maria’s lips parted slightly and her eyes widened in shock. She reached for her phone on the table to leave but Michael grabbed her hand.
“Sit, Maria!” He ordered.
Maria hesitated for a while but finally sat to avoid causing a scene. She looked at his face and scoffed.
“Where do you think you’re going, Maria? You’re already in this,” Michael said with a clenched fist.
“In what?” Maria furrowed her brows. “I’m not going to be part of anything that is targeted against the FOX.”
“You’re bleeping part of it already, Maria. What do you think I’ve been using the information you provide me for?” Michael scoffed but still tried to keep his voice as low as possible.
Maria stared at his face in anger, her fingers trembling on the table.
“Listen, Maria,” Michael replied. “You may feel this isn’t right. But if you ever followed the history of the FOX, you will know that Paul Edwards is not in the rightful position.”
“I don’t know that, sir,” Maria scoffed. “And I’m not going to be helping you any longer.”
“Your voice is getting too loud, Maria,” Michael warned. “Whether you agree or not, you’re already a part by working with me and you’re either going to receive punishment for it or be promoted if you continue with me.”
Maria closed her eyes briefly and took in a deep breath. “Sir, can you just please leave me out of this and forget that I ever worked with you?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. You’re in already,” Michael stared blankly at her.
After a moment of silence from Maria, she shook her head and muttered, “I can’t do this, I just can’t.”
“What if it involves being paid ten million dollars? I mean in US dollars,” Michael offered.
Maria raised her eyes to look at his face, wondering if he meant his offer. “Ten million US dollars?”
“Yeah,” Michael affirmed. “If you want, you can be paid half up front.”
“But it’s too risky,” she shook her head as her shoulders dropped. She shut her eyes and breathed in slowly to think.
“Hey!” Michael leaned forward on the table. He took a second to look left and right before he continued speaking. “You’re not going to be involved in any risky part of the task. All you need to do is from your office. No one would know you’re involved except you tell them.”
“What do I need to do?” Maria asked.
“You have to continue what you’ve been doing; that’s sending everything that has to do with Steve. But I also need you to give me all information about the Red Wolves case that comes through your section.”
“But I’m not the officer on the case,” Maria countered.
“I know,” Michael scoffed. “But you’re a senior in the section. So, it’s your job to pull out information from the agent.”
“Is that all?” Maria asked after being silent for a few minutes.
“No, we’ve also got some people for you to monitor but I’ll give you more information about that tomorrow,” Michael answered.
“When am I getting the money?” Maria asked.
“You want cash?”
“No, how am I going to keep that?” she frowned. “I want it in bitcoins.”
“Oh! Wise,” the man chuckled. “Can you write out your wallet address?”
Maria took out a pen and a piece of paper from her suit jacket. Then, she also brought out her phone to copy the e-wallet address on the piece of paper. “Here you go. How soon would I receive it?”
“Before working hours run out,” Michael picked up his piece of paper and tucked it into his chest pocket. “I’ll talk to you later,” he said before getting up and walking out of the seat.
Maria took in a breath, watching him go. She closed her eyes and remembered her encounter with Dave the previous night. And here she was, having just finished a negotiation with Michael to help him again. However, ten million US dollars was definitely worth the risk.
Daysman was taking a nap in his cell when a warder tapped his door. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling at first, not sure if the knock was at his cell or the neighbouring one. The knock came the second time and he turned sharply towards the entrance.
“Hey, come over here,” the female warder whispered to him. She looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching. Daysman moved close quickly.
She took out a mobile phone from her pocket secretly and handed it to him before walking away as nothing happened. Daysman hid the phone under his uniform at first, wondering who it was from. The only person that came to his mind was Hutton Ryker.
He wondered why Hutton Ryker was trying to reach him again, even after it was obvious that he was already selling the Red Wolves out to the FOX.
He returned to the bed and was about to hide it under when it began to vibrate. He quickly walked back to the door, to see lookout through the steel bar spaces and see if any warder was close. There was none. He sat beside the door and answered the call.
“Hey! Daysman” came Hutton’s voice as he expected. “I need you to do something for me.”
Daysman let out a sigh of frustration.
“Before you refuse or try to act smart, I’ll like to let you know that I’ve discovered the safe house where your family is been protected,” Hutton added. “Trying to be smart with me would lead to an attack on them and their death.”
Daysman knew not to take Hutton’s threats lightly. “What do you want me to do?”
Paul Edwards was in his office, working on some documents when his phone began to ring. He reached for it and checked the screen. It was Martin, his son. He frowned as he noticed that the call was a Bethannan number. That means Martin was in the country.
“Hey, Mart,” he said into the phone. “You didn’t tell me you were coming to Bethanna.”
“There’s some trouble, Dad,” Martin sounded frustrated.
“Austin,” Martin answered in a weak tone.
“What happened to Austin?” Paul replied, almost shouting.
“We can’t find him.”
“You can’t find him?” Paul couldn’t believe his ears.
“Yeah, he had his diagnosis and he was waiting in the ward when I went to get us something for lunch,” Martin replied.
“Did that happen here in Bexford?”
“Yes, he’s been showing some serious symptoms and we came to see his doctor,” Martin replied.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were coming to Bexford? Paul fumed. “I thought I asked you to let me know of your movements always.”
“His symptoms were serious Dad. We knew you won’t approve of him coming to see his Doctor in Bexford and that’s why we didn’t tell you.”
“What the heck! Now, you’ve gotten into serious trouble again…” Paul paused to control his anger. “Have you informed the police?”
“Yes, we have.”
“Give me some time, I’ll call you back,” Paul ended the call and slammed his phone on the table angrily.
He buried his face in his palms and breathed into it angrily. He slammed his fists on the table again. How in the world could Martin have allowed another kidnap to happen? He fumed angrily.
Many thoughts began to run through his mind and he remembered the last time his grandson, Austin was kidnapped. The teenager had been released miraculously and allowed to go into the hospital. When it happened then, he never knew who the abductors were. But now, he knew it could have only been Carl and his gang. The killings that followed Austin’s kidnap then proved so.
A thought came into his mind and he concluded that Carl and his gang must be at work again. They abducted the boy from the same hospital where they took him to after releasing him the first time. That meant they had always kept tabs on the teenager.
He picked his phone and searched for the number through which Carl contacted him hours ago. He dialled the number. It took a few seconds for the call to be answered.
“Hello, Chairman. I never thought you were going to call back so soon,” Carl’s voice sounded calm from the other end.
“Why the f*** wouldn’t I call you when you’ve got my grandson?” Paul cursed.
“What the heck are you talking about?”
“Just tell me what you want from me, Carl. You don’t have to take the young man,” Paul scoffed. “Come on, you know he’s ill and needs medical attention.”
“I’ve never seen your grandson since I dropped him at that hospital several months ago,” Henry answered in a stiff voice.
“Cut the crap, Carl and let’s go to business,” Paul sneered. “I know you want me to work with you, but you don’t have to do it this way.”
It took a few seconds before Carl replied. “Think, Paul, think. I told you the Red Wolves were coming for your life. This could be an attempt.”
“What?” Paul raised his brows and growled. “Never imagined you could stoop this low, Carl. So, you’re trying to make me believe they’re after me by taking my son?”
“Damn you, Paul! You know me better than that,” Henry flared up. “I’m done with this conversation. You can call me back when you come back to your senses.”
Paul heaved a sigh of frustration and dropped the phone after the line went off. He placed his elbows on the table and clamped his fingers together and rested his forehead on it.
He began to consider all that Carl said to him. Maybe it was true that Hutton Ryker was really out against him this time. But he couldn’t still see how Hutton would be able to take over the FOX. Perhaps, all he needed to do was listen more to Carl.
He began to feel so uncomfortable in his seat. He pulled down his tie halfway and unbuttoned his long sleeve.
After a few more minutes of pondering, he reached for his phone and dialled back Carl’s number. But before the call could be answered, a knock sounded at the door. He ended the call immediately and dropped the phone.
“Come in,” he responded, staring at the door. Agents Tom and Mensah walked in.
“Chairman, I heard you came looking for me at my office,” Mensah said to him.
“Yeah, I was there,” Paul replied as the agents took the visitors’ seats behind the table. “I couldn’t meet up with you guys when at the debrief. I wanted to hear the conclusion from you.”
“We didn’t say much after you left,” Mensah replied. “We came to the same conclusion that has always been made at our meetings, the possibility of having a mole amongst us,” Mensah exchanged glances with Tom after speaking.
Paul sighed. “Well, maybe there’s a mole truly,” he blurted out and shrugged.
Mensah and Tom kept staring at him, expecting him to make more comments than he did. They noticed he wasn’t going to continue.
“Is everything okay, Chairman?” Tom asked, after taking note of his unbuttoned sleeves and tie.
“I’m fine,” Paul forced on a smile. “Just some family matters bothering me.”
Mensah and Tom exchanged glances again. They remembered that Michael had alleged that Paul had stepped out to receive a call from someone else and not his family member.
“I hope it isn’t something serious,” Tom questioned.
“Uhm… Nothing really,” Paul faked another smile. He wished he could just open up that his grandson was kidnapped but he couldn’t since reports had it that the boy was dead. While he didn’t plan to hide it from them forever, he could only reveal it after the Red Wolves problem was finally eradicated.
“Well, it’s a coincidence that we’ve come to discuss family too,” Mensah stated. Paul squinted at him, hoping that none of their family members was in trouble just like his. “Michael’s abductors tried to threaten him with his family and that could have happened to any of us. It means they may also have eyes on our wives and kids. So, we thought that we need to take measures to keep our families safe and out of their reach for the moment.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Paul remarked. “We need to keep our families safe.”
Mensah and Tom glanced at each other again. He had once again given them another strange response. They were quite certain that something was wrong somewhere.
Paul noticed their eye movements and he realized that he was indeed acting strange. He couldn’t stop thinking about Carl’s warning about how the Red Wolves were coming for all of them.
“Gentlemen,” he leaned forward to speak. “What if the Red Wolves were targeting the FOX?”
They both stared at him in surprise.
“Isn’t that what we’ve been discussing?” Mensah retorted. “That’s why we want to get our families to safety.”
“I mean if they were targeting the FOX as an organization,” Paul stated. He could see from the looks on their faces that they did not understand him. “If they are targeting the FOX as an organization, they won’t need to get to only us. They could also target the families of any of our agents.”
“What makes you think so, Chairman? It’ll be foolish for them to target just any agent because only the executives could be used for his Hutton Ryker’s purpose.” Tom countered. He stared at Paul’s face for a few seconds. “Is there something we need to know?”
Paul did not know how he could explain further to them without making them ask more questions. He couldn’t tell them plainly that he got information that the Red Wolves were planning to take control of the FOX.
“You guys are right,” Paul finally gave up. “We should arrange for protection for our families.”
The interrogation room
Daysman and his lawyer were in the interrogation room. Steve and Evelyn had come to interrogate him an hour ago. But after they left, he had sent his lawyer to get Steve alone. And they were in the interrogation room, waiting for his arrival. He finally got into the place after keeping them waiting for ten minutes.
“I’m here,” he said as he sat opposite them at the table. “Why didn’t you want my partner with me?”
“I finding it difficult to trust your partner these days,” Daysman replied.
“I’ve been providing you information for a few weeks and it has never yielded positive results,” Daysman answered.
“And you think she’s the problem?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, I think she is. She asks me more direct questions and it looks like she knows quite more about the Wolves than you do.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem, should it?” Steve squinted at him.
“It shouldn’t. But I just remembered that Hutton Ryker used to have a female mole in the FOX. This female mole has a lot of connections both in the FOX and outside that helps her in her work for the Wolves. I never met this mole but I’m beginning to suspect that it is your partner.”
Steve kept his eyes squinted at the man. All the man had said made sense. Evelyn had people working with her outside the FOX which he knew about. He couldn’t tell who those working with her on the inside were but he was quite sure that she truly had people inside, especially with the recent events. For example, how could she have known Maria was profiling Dave if she didn’t have anyone spying on Maria?
“We still have no proofs to confirm that she’s the mole,” Steve finally replied the man.
“You’re right but I think you should be careful of her.”
“Advice taken,” Steve smirked. “So, what information do you have for me?”
Daysman stared at his face for a while before he continued. “When I was with the Red Wolves, Hutton Ryker used to meet with some of his external agents on Wednesdays. These external agents include FOX moles, police officers, and others.”
“That’s tomorrow,” Steve remarked. “Do you know where the meeting takes place?”
“I’m not sure of the exact place, but I know the area.”
“Ruthernard? We raided a place there some time ago. We found nothing.”
“You raided the wrong place,” Daysman replied confidently. “Their meeting spot is in the same area, most likely a building with many storeys.”
Steve pondered on it for a while. “What time does the meeting hold?”
“The time varies. But it could be anytime from 8 PM or at midnight.”
Steve nodded slowly. “Is that all you have for me?”
“Yeah,” Daysman replied and leaned back against the backrest of the chair.
“Thank you,” Steve forced on a smile and got up to leave.
“Agent Steve,” Daysman called and Steve paused. “Remember when I gave you the locations to the Wolves camps?”
Steve turned and squinted at him. Of course, he remembered. He wondered why Daysman was asking him.
“Those locations were correct but the FOX ruined it. Don’t let the same people who ruined your attack on the camps ruin this too,” Daysman added.
Steve looked away and stared blankly at the wall for a moment. “Thank you,” he took a final glance at Daysman before walking out.
As he walked back to the office, he pondered on Daysman’s last advice. The only person he suspected to have ruined the camp attacks was Evelyn. But then the FOX executives after the failure of those missions also banned them from reporting directly about the case to the Chairman.
Steve also remembered the Chairman’s frequent close door meetings with Evelyn. Was it possible that the Chairman knew all along about Evelyn and her activities and that he was part of it? He couldn’t tell for sure. But he chose to follow Daysman’s advice and to do that; he would also have to keep the new information from Paul Edwards and Evelyn. He changed his direction to Agent Mensah’s office.
“Have you seen the transfer?” Michael asked as he joined Maria in the small hall. She had been waiting for him there for five minutes.
“Yes, I have,” she turned towards him and took both hands out of her pocket.
“Good,” Michael remarked. “You will get the balance at the end of the whole process. But it’s already time for our next task…”
“I need to tell you something first,” Maria interrupted him in a serious tone.
He raised his brows, wondering what she had to say. “You can tell me.”
“One of the men visited me last night.”
“Dave, the living one of the two I’ve been profiling for Steve. He visited me in my apartment last night”
“What?” Michael widened his eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“I didn’t know how serious this was,” she replied. “I never thought you were going to send the money for real.”
Michael looked visibly worried. “And what happened between you two?”
“He was threatening me and wanted to know who else I’ve sent the message apart from you and Steve,” Maria replied. “I wasn’t going to answer him. But Steve came in and he had to flee.”
“Damn!” Michael hit his fists together. “That means they have accessed the messages on my device. I thought you said the message was unread.”
“Yes, it was,” she shrugged. “Maybe they didn’t read it on your phone. They could have hacked and accessed your files in some other way.”
Michael grunted. “I’m f^^^^d!”
“Is that a problem?”
“Yes, it is a f^^^^^g problem. What if he comes after you again?”
“He won’t, Steve is going to be with me.”
A thought came into Michael’s mind and he squinted at her. “Did you tell Steve about his visit and what he wanted?”
“I told him who broke into my apartment,” she replied. “But I didn’t tell him what he asked.”
Michael stared at her with disbelief in his eyes.
“Trust me, I didn’t tell him. I only said he tried to hurt me.”
“If I find out you did, I’m gon ki*ll you myself.”
Maria remained silent.
“Steve is going to come to you to examine the Ruthernard area, I’ll send you the address of the exact building you should flag for him.”
In Agent Tom’s Office
“So, you think your partner and the Chairman could have something going on?” Tom asked again for confirmation.
“Yeah, although there’s nothing that confirms that yet,” Steve replied.
Tom let out a breath of frustration. It was the second time someone was accusing Paul Edwards on that day.
“We need to find proofs,” Tom replied. “Maybe we can do so tomorrow. But first, you must get the exact location of the meeting. You will get that done with your team, right?”
“No, I can’t go through my team, Evelyn will get to know. I have a friend in the department, she’s going to help me.”
“Okay, get it done, and let me have a report as soon as it is done.”
Hutton Ryker was sitting on the handrails at the balcony of the house, smoking a pipe. Kahn stepped out through the exit and walked towards him.
“We’ve got eyes on Paul Edwards, he’s on his way to meet Martin,” Kahn stated. “When do we contact him?”
“It’s not yet time,” Hutton replied. “We have to keep the family in despair for a while. “The boy would suffer from an attack in 48 hours without his drugs, so he’ll be so worried and will be willing to do anything when we call him.”
“You’re right,” Kahn had a light smile on. “G63 seems to be going on perfectly at the moment.”
“It will be completed perfectly,” Hutton replied before dragging in some more from the pipe.
“I agree with that, Rex just has to do the job of taking Carl out of the picture.”
To be continued