Location: CIA Headquarters – Langley, Virginia
The slightly chubby Chinese man sat calmly in his chair, looking at the bald-headed man who stared at him with threatening blue eyes and repeatedly drummed his fingers on the metallic table. The man was not really bald in the sense that the glowing scalp was purposely on full display and not by any means the outcome of a hair loss battle. The bald headed man grunted and pushed up to his feet with both hands, slightly shoving the metallic table on the floor as he did. The table made a sudden and loud grating sound, before quickly coming to a stop. The man walked around his seated Chinese companion, letting his muscular and visibly powerful arms swing freely and somewhat menacingly. His powerful chest heaved in and out as he took deep breaths. It was supposed to be intimidating. It failed miserably.
The Chinese man remained still. He certainly was calm. A bit too calm for a man in his situation.
“You can stop pacing now, Mr. Ryan Douglas.” The Chinese man finally spoke.
“Does it irk you?” Ryan asked, a small grin playing on his face.
“I was only telling you for your sake. We’ve only been here the last eight hours. You might pace till your legs fall off.”
“You know, for a Chinese immigrant, you speak pretty good English.”
The Chinese man slowly pressed his lips together and did not utter another word. He glared up at Ryan through puffy eyes that were permanently shaped as slits.
“I learn English before coming to the U.S”
“Learnt. Don’t try to pull one over me now. Why did the Chinese want John Buchanan dead? What would a reporter know that could put his life in danger?”
“I don’t know who this John, is.” The Chinese man said, defensively.
“Oh you don’t?” Ryan asked sarcastically and pulled out a stack of pictures that had been in a white folder, resting on the table.
“I didn’t want to do this, but you see I can’t afford to let you guys kill more innocent Americans.” Ryan said, and handed the pictures to the Chinese man.
The man placed his handcuffed wrists on the table and used his fingers to leaf through the pictures. There were pictures of him taking selfies with John Buchanan after the dead reporter had covered a story on the effects the nuclear radiation fall out had on Kissimmee, Florida. It wasn’t unusual. John Buchanan had been a celebrity reporter and he had fans wherever he went. Other pictures, showed him walking on streets close to that which John’s house was on.
“My take is that you were ordered to keep an eye on him… for months. We would never have known, if we hadn’t caught you. Our guys did good in dredging up these useful pieces of information from the shit storm that is the cyber-net. So again I ask. Why kill him now?”
The Chinese man didn’t say anything. He kept on leafing through the pictures until he froze on the last one. It was a picture of a little Chinese girl. Crouched behind her, with hands placed on her shoulders, was an older woman who was most likely her mother. However, that wasn’t what alarmed the Chinese man. It was the American soldier who stood next to them that sent his heart accelerating.
“Right now, they believe their father and husband is working hard with the U.S to finally end the war. They believe you sent for them and we obliged. What they don’t know is that Soldier’s orders, if you don’t give me something useful. He’s only a call away.”
“You wouldn’t!” The Chinese man spat as he lurched forward in his seat.
“Oh I will, if you don’t start talking, Bao.” Ryan warned as his eyes shot daggers at Bao.
Bao leaned back and took a moment to analyze his current predicament. From the look in his eyes, Ryan knew he finally had him in a corner.
“Reporters make enemies all the time.” Bao finally began. “They are always on this silly search for the truth. You and I are from a dark world Mr. Ryan Douglas. You know as well as I do that the truth is a powerful weapon the people cannot control.”
Ryan sat down and leaned in across the table.
“What truth doomed John Buchanan?”
“I am merely an assassin. However… I know it has something to do with the traitor killed in Berlin.”
“Traitor… you mean the Monk. Jiang Li.”
“What does it have to do with him?”
The assassination had happened over two weeks ago. Word from the underworld gave credit to the most lethal assassination team any intelligence agency had known of. Horus and Set. The bullet casings found at the scenes of both the chancellor’s and the monk’s assassinations, matched those retrieved from other kills attributed to the two. Still, no one knew why a leader of a European ally would meet with a member of a country spearheading the Middle Eastern Movement.
As these thoughts raced through Ryan’s mind, he realized Bao had still not responded to him.
“I need answers, Bao.”
“I have told you all I know!” Bao said, visibly worried.
He stared at Ryan, his eyes pleading.
“When is my family getting here? Will they be protected?”
The door to the interrogation room opened up and a man dressed in the standard agency corporate suit, complete with the black shades, walked in. He wore his hair in a low buzz cut, and the shades only accentuated his very pronounced angular jawline.
“Sir.” He said and stopped.
Ryan nodded and turned back to Bao, collecting the pictures and placing them back in the envelope.
“Your family will be protected as long as you corporate. I will give you an update soon.”
He walked towards the agent, stopping to leave instructions for him to take Bao to his holding cell. When Ryan walked outside, his eyes fell on Agent Rosalia DeGrandes. She had been a stellar student at the farm and it had translated into a legendary career of sorts. She had infiltrated the deadliest extremist organizations and hostile intelligence agencies, surviving even when her handlers had pronounced her dead. She was responsible for the weakening of ISIS in the Middle East and one of the very few reasons America hadn’t had its head lopped off, figuratively.
“Any luck with him?” Rosalia asked.
Just like you to get straight to the point.
“He hasn’t given me much. But after seeing a few incriminating pictures, he did allude to a connection between Jiang Li’s death and John Buchanan’s.”
“The Photoshop family with the soldier trick again?”
“Works every time.” Ryan smiled mischievously.
“So John Buchanan must have known a bit about what Jiang Li was up to.” Rosalia concluded.
“Either that or he was beginning to piece it together.” Ryan offered.
“What if he told somebody else… before he died?”
Ryan’s brows furrowed into a frown.
“Where’s this going, Agent DeGrandes?”
“Meghan Castella was attacked at her home.”
“What?! What’s the status?”
“We don’t know. She’s missing. The protective detail assigned to her was annihilated, Ryan. All but one.”
“Impossible? You know who did it.”
“Yes, but if it’s him… if it’s him there’ll be no survivors.” Ryan began pacing again before speaking.
“The surviving agent. What’s his name?”
“Frank Matthews. He’s in bad shape, but he’s built like an Ox. He should be able to talk in a few hours.”
“Then let’s pay him a visit.”