Jim Ellison no longer had any doubt that Hell existed because he was absolutely certain that he was imprisoned there. He and Sandburg had been stuck in deposition all of the previous day, allowed no contact with the outside for fear of accidentally influencing his recollections, and only allowed to leave the federal building long after the sun had set. Now, they were back again to suffer through a seemingly endless deposition, the never-ending Harper case. The British national involved in the case had called his embassy rather than a lawyer, and had immediately shut his mouth for any questioning.
So the questioning largely centered on what exactly the prisoner had done, what evidence they had as well as the steps in finding that evidence, and the grand scheme of his criminal master plan. Basically, it was all about the importance of sending him to an American prison. Blake Harper had been the leader of a huge smuggling ring, specializing in antiquities and other art pieces. When captured, he had been in possession of several delicately painted Chinese clay figurines, green glazed vases, jade figurines of dragons and horses, and an incredibly ugly oaken sideboard. In addition, he had been carrying a briefcase filled with tiny jade and ivory figurines, mostly of people; what they were called, he couldn't remember, but Sandburg had said something about them being used to hold kimonos closed.
All of it worth several thousands of dollars, if not more, and all of it stolen. One of the more exquisite jade figurines had been on the missing list for months and had been stolen from a Chinese art exhibition in Washington, D.C., nearly causing an international incident. Ellison was certain that the government would take all the credit for finding the piece. Not that he wanted the spotlight, especially in something so likely to be press-worthy.
Still, he didn't want to be here any longer. The feds planned this solely to irritate me. Didn't they realize that we have work to do? Jim smoldered in silence. In the next room, he could hear Sandburg chattering away about the value of the pieces and their importance to their respective cultures. In spite of that, he would be finished soon. Probably quicker than I will.
Then, Sandburg would be heading to the police academy for his lectures -- neither of which Jim would get to hear -- while his poor suffering partner continued to be bound in Hell for yet another day. Once the depositions were finished, he had still more statements and affidavits and yet more paperwork that would be followed by more questioning. It would never end.
The academy gig actually looked enticing compared to this.
Simon Banks looked up from the phone for a moment to gaze at the madhouse that was Major Crime. Since he had contacted Robbery/Homicide's captain the previous evening, news had flooded through to many persons in the department. His detectives -- as well as a couple from Robbery/Homicide, since they handled kidnappings as well, and a pair from Internal Affairs -- fluttered about madly, trying to cover their own assigned cases as well as handle this new and terrifying one involving their own captain. His people were like that, fiercely protective of their territory, and they wanted to take care of the situation themselves.
As soon as he had arrived in this morning, Simon had continued his obsessive phone behavior. He had called Joan's apartment and Daryl's dorm room, without success, before calling Captain Larsen to explain the situation. This morning, he had tried to contact various relatives with whom Joan was friendly, people that she might have told about plans to go away for a few days. Simon was hoping that's all this was, that she and Daryl were just going on a mini-vacation, that this incident was not the latest one of Joe's revenge plans.
No one knew where they were, no one had known for two days. Uncles, cousins, co-workers, siblings: no one knew where Joan or Daryl were. Neither his brother Vince nor his father had heard anything either. Not even Devon, know-it-all that he was, knew where his favorite cousin was. Everyone expected that they should be where they were not, at school, at work, at home. Why didn't anyone call me? Why didn't anyone think to say something? Simon rested his forehead on the cool surface of the desk for a moment.
Simon was surprised he was still able to think so rationally. He'd done a fair bit of panicking last night, until it occurred to him that Joe -- if it was in fact Joe who had taken them -- wasn't likely to hurt them. After all, Joe wanted him. Unfortunately, his ex-wife and child were the bait for a trap. He knew that, and didn't care; he would go, trap or no.
Connor and Taggart had the bank robbery case well under control, and they would continue to work it until such time as the feds crawled out from under their rock to take over. The pair of them looked bedraggled, sitting together to peer over the same papers and records, but they'd been up since last night. He wasn't even sure that either of them had gone home, instead rushing between the bank, forensics, and the bullpen. So far, not much information had turned up. Fingerprints of the two dead men rang up two sparse criminal records, for mostly minor stuff as adults -- vandalism, public intoxication, arson -- and sealed juvenile records. One weird thing, one of the dead robbers was originally out of some little town in Maine called Icicle -- they responded to the fingerprint I.D. by way of a neighboring town with the proper equipment. Simon shook his head in frustration. We don't have enough criminals in Cascade? We have to start importing them from New England?
The third robber didn't have a record at all, so that was making identification that much more difficult. They had nothing on him yet. With another sigh, Simon decided to try Daryl at his dorm room again and quickly dialed the number. There had been no answer so far.
"This is Simon Banks, Daryl's father. Is this Jeff?" The boy was Daryl's current roommate, and was the most likely to know what was happening. He would also have a clearer idea of where Daryl might be at any given time than his parents might.
"Yeah. What's up?"
"Do you know where Daryl is?"
"Uh-uh, can't say as I do. He took off the day before yesterday. Figured that he just wanted to get away from school for a few days, y'know?"
Simon stifled the impulse to reach through the phone and strangle the young man. Daryl would never, never do something like that. He knew the importance of school. Instead, he gripped the phone tighter. "Did he say anything about where he was going?"
"Not to me. You could call Randee and ask her."
"A girl he's seeing."
Simon wanted to know when this happened, but instead he asked something else. "Do you have her number and last name?"
Simon scribbled the name and phone number on a piece of paper and tried to convince himself that the girl might know something. He supposed that Daryl might have told her if he was going away, no matter how unlikely it was. Unfortunately, it could be that Daryl wanted to spend some alone time with his girlfriend, but this scenario was not one he wanted to consider. In fact, he wasn't going to consider such a thought until Daryl was at least thirty years old.
Together, the IA and Robbery/Homicide people were formulating a plan to get Joan and Daryl back at the same time they captured the person responsible. He hadn't been paying too much attention since he'd been focusing on the phone and trying to wring useful information out of the people on the other end. From what he'd gathered, though, their plan was to wire him for sound, then have him follow the directions with a surveillance unit or two behind him.
Simon didn't know what to think of the plan. All he could think about at this point was Joan and Daryl.
Less than a half-hour later, after a quick fitting with a wire that had a tiny homing device attached, Simon Banks found himself driving his car down University Boulevard, near Rainier, as the instructions dictated. He wasn't happy about the plan, but their options were limited because of the time limit on the ransom. I wish Jim and Blair were here. They hadn't been able to reach either detective, probably because both were still stuck at the federal building, but Rhonda had promised to keep calling their cells until one or both of them answered.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, Simon noticed a dark blue sedan that had been trailing him for the past two blocks. It wasn't the police tail; that vehicle was a black van with a red racing stripe. "Guys," he spoke into the air, knowing that the wire would pick up his words. "Dark blue sedan behind Tail Car One. He's been with us for a while."
"Got it. Continue on."
Turning left onto White, he noted that the tail van kept heading straight, but the sedan and a green van followed. The green van was Tail Car Two; they were doing a two-car surveillance in case the kidnapper had a surveillance of its own in progress. "Sedan's staying with us."
"So we see. Backing off to rely on the wire a bit. We don't want to spook him."
Simon shook his head. No, he thought, we certainly don't. Again, he couldn't help but think of what might be happening to Joan and Daryl. While Joe wasn't likely to hurt either of them, it didn't mean things couldn't go wrong. Given what Joe had done the last time they'd met, the man was capable of anything. He wouldn't hesitate once deciding his course of action. He'd been just like that when they were partners, too.
At least some things didn't change.
Some ten minutes later he followed the rest of the instructions to a gas station with an attached convenience store. Walking in, Simon glanced around wondering how to fulfill the proviso at the bottom. An attendant stuck his head around the corner and raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "I'm looking for Joseph Smith." This is stupid. It's an accommodation address. Such addresses were frequently used as drop places for drugs and other illegal dealings. He mentally rolled his eyes, but went along with the plan. "There's supposed to be something here for me from him."
The coverall-wearing attendant strolled over to the counter and pulled out an envelope from a small drawer under the cash register. "Yah, this." He waved it in Simon's direction before sticking one hand out in a silent demand for something. Seeing the tall captain's expression, he hurriedly explained. "The dude said that the guy who called for it would pay the fee." He shrugged. "No fee, no envelope."
Frowning, Simon handed over the amount quoted by the weasel-faced attendant, making a mental note to add the amount to the list of things he would pound out of Joe LaCasse's hide. Joe arranged this little surprise, I just know it. He would do it just to make me angry.
He did it so I would become angry and stop thinking clearly. Simon considered that for a moment. So I won't get angry. At least, I'll try not to. He hurried back out to the car. Before tearing open the envelope, he put on a pair of gloves that Larsen had put there just in case. He pulled out a piece of lined paper, and looked over the new instructions before stashing them in a clear plastic covering for evidence purposes. Starting the car and pulling out into traffic, Simon knew that it would be a twisting route through the city, but it wouldn't take him very long to complete.
Some twenty minutes later, the captain found himself driving towards the docks in the warehouse district. The area was unsettling, reminding him rather distinctly of the Lash situation, some six years ago. He looked at the gaudily decorated building in front of him and back down at the new instructions. I should have expected something like this. He's never going to forget that incident with the stripper.
The sign over the door read Aphrodite's Nighties, and was advertised as a gentleman's club. An upscale name for a strip club located in a dilapidated building in the middle of the warehouse district. Shaking his head yet again, Simon got out of the car and entered the lion's den.
Before his eyes could adjust to the dim interior, he could feel a pair of hands wrapping around his waist. "Hey, sweetheart. You lookin' for some company?" The soft low voice belonged, he saw as his vision cleared, to a tall willowy blonde woman. Judging from the short leather skirt and bright pink brassiere she was wearing, the woman was one of the 'attractions'.
Simon mentally cringed. "No, I'm not." He tried to unwind her hands from his body, but without much success. Is the woman a damned octopus?
"Why not, baby? Don't you like me?" She pulled him a little tighter, firmly keeping his hands away from his body. "Don't you think I'm pretty?"
Actually, Simon thought she was fairly pretty, but there was no way he was going to say such a thing to her. It would lead to more problems than he wanted. "I'm supposed to meet someone here."
"Who?" Before he could answer, he felt a sharp twinge in the back of his wrist, near his watchband. Looking down, Simon could see the tip of a hypodermic needle hidden in the palm of her hand. "Don't worry, sweetness. I know jus' who you need."
The words wouldn't come to his mind to say them, the words were there but they wouldn't come out. Mentally, he knew it was a fast-acting sedative-like drug of some kind, but he knew that he just had to shout and backup would come. He felt the tugging on his shirt and could feel his legs moving him weakly in that direction even though he didn't want to go.
"Come on, Chief, answer the damn phone." Jim couldn't stop himself from growling as he drove back to the precinct as quickly as possible. The federal building is less than a mile away. You'd think that it would only take about ten minutes to drive there. Not so. Not in Cascade traffic. It was bad enough that the feds had kept him stuck there doing paperwork and statements and answering questions, but they'd kept him away from his cell phone so that there would be no possible way for him to be influenced. Worse, they'd cut him off from contact with anyone in his division until the situation with the Banks family had gone to hell.
Punching the redial button on the cell again, the sentinel waited and hoped. Suddenly, his prayer was answered.
"Chief, get back to the precinct a.s.a.p."
"What's the matter?"
"Joan and Daryl have been kidnapped. Now Simon's missing, Chief. Get back here pronto."
There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment before the guide answered. When he did, his voice was colder than Jim had ever heard. "I'm gone. Do we know who?"
"A suspect, only. No proof -- but Simon had called it as Joseph LaCasse." He could hear Sandburg shuffling papers, getting his stuff together to run out the door to his car. He had always known that his guide loved Simon like the good friend he was and even looked up to him as a father figure. Hadn't he willingly jumped out of an airplane to go search for Simon when he and Daryl had been kidnapped before? Still, it was nice to see the feeling so clear.
"The new leader of the Sunrise Patriots, according to federal investigation."
Jim sighed. "Yeah."
"Is Kincaid involved?"
"Not that we know of." That was an idea that Ellison didn't want to consider even though the same idea had occurred to him as well. He had no doubt that Garrett Kincaid could, if he wanted, control the situation from inside a federal prison. The feds hadn't even brought that up, so either they didn't think it was the case or they hadn't even thought of the possibility. "It doesn't seem like his style." And that was perfectly true. Kincaid was more straightforward with his plans; he would make certain that everyone knew who was behind it and why, and that the Sunrise Patriots took credit for it.
"Jim, even with blue lights it'll be an hour before I can get there."
"I know, Chief. Drive as fast as you can."
"Be careful. No overextending your senses without me present. You're more vulnerable." Jim smiled in spite of the situation at the guide's warning. "And driving fast shouldn't be too hard. I learned it from you."
With that last parting comment, his guide hung up on him. Stepping down on the gas pedal, Jim grinned again to feel the truck surge forward.
The ringing of the phone came as an unexpected surprise.
Fitzgerald MacPhee had learned that surprises were rarely, if ever, a good thing. It was for this reason that he found himself loath to answer the phone. True, the caller was probably a client, but that likely fact did not do anything to convince him. When the phone rang a second time, the lawyer sighed once in resignation, abandoned the paperwork in front of him, and answered the call. "Hello?"
"I'm sorry, Mister MacPhee. I know you didn't want to be disturbed." His secretary must have a real problem to go against his requests. After all, she knew all too well how interruptions interfered with his mood when he was preparing for court. "Mister LaCasse is on Line 2, and he's demanding to speak to you. I tried to explain, but..."
"It's all right, Patricia." The lawyer soothed his secretary's concerns. "It must be an urgent matter. I'll take care of it."
"Yes, sir. Transferring now."
MacPhee heard the click-whir of the machinery transferring the call over from the second public line to his private line. He wondered what could be so urgent that LaCasse would call; he had heard nothing from the man since the Kincaid trial last year. Even then, he had seen the former police officer only twice, and those visits had only been on his then-client's behalf.
The man's calm voice sounded unusually loud in the quiet of his office. "MacPhee?"
"Why are you contacting me, Mister LaCasse?"
Soft laughter came over the line. "Straight to the point, I see. Well. I want you to be present when the next part of the Plan is implemented."
"The Plan?" Even though he could hear the capitalization in the other man's voice, the lawyer had absolutely no interest in whatever he was referring to. Politics were of no real interest, save for use as a topic at cocktail parties. He, personally, had little use for them otherwise. "Thank you, but, no, thank you. I have already made plans for the foreseeable future."
"You don't even know when I am planning it."
"I know all that I need to, and my intention is to have nothing further to do with the matter."
"Garrett Kincaid was your client. You have a responsibility to him."
"The key word, there, being the use of the past tense. He was my client." After sentencing, Kincaid's first act was to fire him as attorney, which had suited him just fine. Presumably, the militia leader's new counsel planned to mount an appeal, though he had no idea what the fool would use as appropriate grounds. "Any responsibility I had to him revolved around his legal affairs and not to the man himself. Now that our legal relationship has ended, I no longer have any responsibility. Furthermore," MacPhee continued, "I am bound by the rules of my profession in regard to criminal activity."
"Rules? I wasn't aware that lawyers had rules, let alone followed them."
MacPhee chuckled darkly at that comment. "We do, indeed, and they are very clear on this matter. My decision stands: I cannot and will not have any part of any sort of criminal activity. Nor do I desire any knowledge of anything you are doing currently or plan to do in the future. The breaking," he paused briefly for effect, "of those rules could have bad consequences."
"For all of us."
"Very well, MacPhee. Have it your way, but understand this: I am not particularly a violent man, but not all of my colleagues are so civilized. Our cause is righteous, and I always get what I want. Your education should allow comprehension of what I am saying." The lawyer opened his mouth to reply to the veiled threat but didn't get the chance to speak. "By the way, Counselor, good luck in court tomorrow morning."
With the dial tone buzzing in his ear, MacPhee considered the detail that the de facto leader of the Sunrise Patriots had clear and concise knowledge of his schedule. Not many were aware that the trial of Hector Ambrose had hit a snag, requiring hearings in chambers scheduled for tomorrow morning, hence his need for quiet.
Shaking his head, the lawyer turned back to his preparations with a heavy heart. Fitzgerald MacPhee wondered whether or not it might be time to terminate his association with Joseph LaCasse in a more permanent fashion. As one of the premiere defense lawyers of Cascade, he had made many important contacts in course of business, people with influence and contacts of their own in a variety of fields. He was certain that a phone call to an appropriate person could arrange severance in a timely fashion.
Between his client list and the tap he had installed over his private phone line for security purposes, he had no reason for concern. After all, trust a lawyer to know where the bodies are buried.
What the hell happened? Simon blearily wondered, and tried to remember what the situation had been when the lights dimmed. Blinking his eyes did not make the fog over his vision go away, nor did the far-away muttering subside. Only when he tried to move his hands up to his face, intending to wipe the fog out of his eyes, did the captain realize what was happening.
He was bound, hand and foot, and lying prone on the cold ground. Gradually, Simon managed to make out the words. Women's voices, two of them, and closer than he had first thought.
"--This is a good idea, girlfriend?" There, that was the dancer that had accosted him earlier. Simon sighed. He should have known it was a trap. "Tell me the truth, Leese."
"Everything will be fine, I promise. The bastard will never even know what hit him." He wondered who this woman was. It sounded like she was behind this, but that didn't fit with the other facts he had. He frowned, wondering if this was some elaborate smokescreen of Joe's. The voice sounded vaguely familiar.
"I dunno... Jay'll kick my ass if he finds out, and Nee -- Cee'll tear me up if I don't bring back something."
"Lynnie, I'll take care of it." Footsteps brought them closer, so close he could smell their perfume. "Just remember what I told you to do. Now, help me get him in the car."
Simon Banks didn't like the sound of that, and tried to force his unwilling body to get to its feet. He had to get away from here, he had to find his family, his wife and little boy needed him. The police captain didn't even see the blow coming that knocked him to the ground.