- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Established Relationship
- Future Fic
It wasn’t until after breakfast the next morning that Jensen filled his team in on the unofficial explanation for the exploding base.
“I felt very Angelina Jolie and whatshisface from Hackers,” Jensen announced with a grin and a small bounce in his seat.
“Who?” Aisia asked before shaking her head. “Never mind, who cares? What happened?”
Jensen pouted,” I care. I bet Angelina does as well. Alas,” he sighed and batted his eyes at the woman. “I’m taken and Angie has missed chance.”
The noise from Aisha could only be described as a growl.”
“Later,” Clay cut in sharply. “What did you find?”
Bobbing his head, Jensen turned to his laptop. “It was pretty well hidden, but they were not expecting me. Unofficially, Max’s superiors are well aware that he was up to no good. I found several e-mails discussing ways to distance themselves.”
“The official story isn’t enough?” Pooch frowned as he fiddled with a loose screw on the table.
“Nope. Their butts are on the line and they know it,” Now Jensen grin was sharp as a sharks. “Keep in mind that I can only go by what’s been made electronic. We may be missing things that were discussed in person or over the phone.”
“Which they don’t do,” Clay added. “They’ll keep their distance from each other until this blows over. Phones are flat out now since they can’t depend on their security.”
Nodding, Aisha wrapped her hands around her mostly empty coffee mug. “I’d tap my own line to ensure I had leverage against the others.”
“Exactly, none of them trust the others. So,” Jensen clapped his hands together twice. “From the top. Max, a code name, still on the hunt for his real identity, is a CIA operative. Moved up the ranks until he was leading teams and allowed to not only pick his missions, but to suggest missions. About a decade ago, his missions began to focus on collecting data and materials for weapons of mass destruction. That has led to some rather odd missions, like taking out drug cartels.”
“He wanted weapons but went after drugs?” The screw skittered across the table and Pooch fumbled to grab it.
“Taking out the competition,” Couger offered quietly.
“Exactamundo, my sharp-eyed friend. I’m still tracking information, but it looks like Max would get as much as he could from various drug lords. Money, information, what have you, then he’d have a black ops team go in and clean it all up.”
“Using the military to take care of his mess,” Clay glared at the table and his jaw tightened in fury. “The son of a bitch.”
“He go lazy,” Jensen continued after shifted slightly away from the colonel. “Decided he liked one or two teams more than the others and kept requesting us.”
“Then we saw the kids and changed the plan,” Clay slumped in his chair. “If it hadn’t been for them, we’d still be blindly following orders.”
Jensen bit his lip and shared a look with Cougar, who shrugged. “Probably,” Jensen finally replied. “But we didn’t set out to hurt those kids.”
“That little bit of morality made Max panic,” Pooch picked up, idly balancing the screw head on his fingertip. “Only he took it too far and thought we had stumbled on his evil scheme before we actually had.”
“Exactly. Now his evil scheme was for the ultimate bigger and better bomb. He was thinking long and short term though.”
“He was after bombs.”
“He was indeed,” Jensen cheerfully agreed with Aisha’s statement. “Those snukes? They’re environmentally friendly.”
“Kill the people, get the land,” Cougar’s announcement dropped over them all like a lead balloon.
“Yes. From the schematics, the destruction is on par with a nuke. There’s no fall out, no half-life, no radiation to worry about. As long as the water supplies aren’t contaminated by bodies, anyone can move in and take over immediately.”
“His facility had more than snukes though,” Pooch pointed out.
“Max was not a man to put all his eggs in one basket. His collection was pretty impressive.”
“What was he doing with it all?”
“He bought the plans for the snukes then killed the creator and anyone originally attached to that project. It looks like he wanted to apply the same concepts to other weapons.”
They fell silent as they all considered that implication. At present, many weapons were never used because of the number of lives they could take and the impact they would have had on the planet. Remove the impact on the land and there is only one reason to not use them. But bombs are created to kill people. Someone wants that power.
“The snukes exploded along with the more standard weapons and who knows what else his scientists had created. What is going to happen to us?”
Jensen froze at Clay’s question and pointedly did not look at Cougar. “That’s a great question, colonel. It’ll take a bit of research to narrow down and side effects-”
“what about the other survivors?” Aisha cut him off. “Start with them and see what you can find out. They’re all at the same facility, right?”
Slowly, Jensen nodded his head. Focusing back on his laptop, he began typing notes. Aisha’s sudden interest was mildly terrifying, but he couldn’t afford to focus on that. The others let him be for several minutes, when he finally appeared to be slowing down, Clay reached over and tapped his wrist.
“What’s the unofficial word of our status? How long would it take you to create new identities if we need them?”
With another nod to shoe he had heard, Jensen’s typing picked up again.
In an undisclosed location, three people sat around a warped table. They all looked out of place, having co-opted a break room the cleaning staff avoided rather than use their better appointed office.
“Max’s ambition has ruined everything,” Ben groaned, though he was careful to keep his hands neatly folded in front of him. He pointedly did not look up at the dripping stain on the ceiling.
“Really?” Mona raised an elegantly shaped eyebrow. “We have all his research and now e have very few witnesses.”
“The research is useless without practical experiments,” Ben argued. “None of his projects got that far!”
“Who cares?” She returned with a calculated shrug and idly checked her nails for chips in the pain. “The research is more than enough to get the project off the ground again. Our new researchers and scientists, ones we pick instead of the ones Max insisted on, will come in with fresh eyes.”
Ben straightened with the hind of a smile on his lips. “You’re right!” He agreed after a moment of thought. “If we give them the bare bones…” he trailed off, plans quickly forming in his head.
“Exactly,” Mona condescendingly smiled at him. “The research may go in a completely different direction.”
“The goal is still weapons, right?”
She barely resisted rolling her eyes. It was a good thing Ben was pretty, wealthy, and full of valuable connections. He was as thick as a brick.
“Now, Ben,” Cecilia cut in with a patient smile. “Weapons have always been the goal, we may just need to redefine the word.”
The other two frowned at her.
Satisfied that she had their complete attention, he smile grew and she withdrew a file out of the tote bag propped against her leg. “These are summaries of the survivor’s medical reports. Take a look, they’re very interesting.” Dividing the papers, she offered half to Ben and the other half to Mona. While they read, she turned her attention to another report.
“Oh,” Mona breathed out after several minutes of reading. “This changes everything.”
“Doesn’t it?” Cecilia smiled broadly.
Ben was more hesitant. “How can we use this to our advantage?”
“The military won’t keep any of them with the injuries listed. We simply sweep in and offer them jobs at the right time. They’ll eat out of our hands,” Her smile turned sickly sweet.” We’ll pay their wages, have them sign nondisclosure forms. We’ll own them.”
Tapping the papers in her hand, Mona added thoughtfully. “We can keep the scientists on the weapons project while we learn how to best use this new resource. No one will know what’s coming.”
“Not true,” Ben disagreed quietly. Quailing a bit at the twin glares he received, he swallowed sharply. “That team Max tried to burn? The losers or whatever? They’re still out there.”
Mona hummed to cover her annoyance at forgetting about them.
“Dammit,” Cecilia’s reaction was less poised. “They were such a great team until they had to go and learn about being good people.” Glaring at the wall, she considered their choices. The team had been hounding Max for months and there had been no evidence of their bodies at the site or the hospital. At least one must have survived.
“Oh, I have an idea!” Mona’s eyes flashed. “Max took everything from them, had them listed as dead and all that. What if we give it all back?”
The other two shared a look, but nodded for her to continue.
“Here’s what we do,” Mona laid out her idea, with a few tweaks from the others, they had a viable plan they could implement immediately.
Rising, they collected their things in order to leave the dank room they had reluctantly met in.
“We won’t be able to meet again,” Cecilia reminded them. “Meeting like this was a risk, one we had to take. Continue to use the e-mail encryption for another week. I’ll let you know what to change it to.”
With nods of agreement, the trio left the room and immediately split up. Each shed their contrived personas and were once again law abiding citizens when they exited the building.
To speed up his research, Jensen took some precious time to create a program to help him. Once it was finished, he released it onto the hospital servers and turned his attention to other things.
First was to set up various news alerts. News of the explosion was dwindling as the public was assured that it was a one off thing and steps were being taken to prevent it in the future.
He then turned his attention to more entertaining things. New identifications for each of the team. And Aisha. He had to start from scratch with her, but he already had perfectly legal documents for everyone else. Those were safe in various safety deposit boxes. He’d have to get hold of printing equipment to complete Aisha’s. Absently humming, he added another bullet point to his to do list.
The last act of the day was to contact Jess and Jolene. The two were less than happy about the Loser’s following Clay and Aisha’s crusade. Understanding their reasons didn’t make the fear and worry any less. Preparing the e-mail to be encrypted and routed through a dummy address that would send an inconspicuous alert to his sister, a thought struck him.
Max and his backers were not stupid people. Which means they had something similar set up. Jensen just had to find one of their steps. After hitting send on his message, he leaned back in his chair. Eyes glued to the ceiling, he went through the steps to find the weak points.
Activity in the cramped kitchen picked up as Pooch and Cougar joined him to throw together dinner. A less than gentle nudge had him moving his laptop off the table. He was halfway through his food, none of which he had tasted,w hen it came to him. Only a glare from Clay kept him away from his laptop.
It was so simple. Why hadn’t he seen it before?
The weakest points of sending an encrypted and secret e-mail was the end points. Sending and receiving.
He sent messages through a dozen or more IP address before arriving at a free e-mail server he had set up for Jess. To access that e-mail, Jess picked one of the local libraries in her area. To keep it random, she actually drew a number out of a hat.
Jess never accessed the e-mail in her house or on a device she had frequent use of. She also never replied to it. The alert he set up just sent a specific spam message to her main e-mail.
All it would take is a moment’s inattention. It was mostly secure on his end, though if he were able he would pop into an internet cafe or library. On his sister’s end though, just one day of reading his message at home and a halfway decent hacker could trace it back to him.
He just had to find the slip up made by Max and his cronies. Max had been a paranoid fucker, finding the slip up would not be easy. The good news was that their foray into Goliath meant he had their encryptions. If he found their communication routes, he’d be one step closer to finding them.
His fingers tapped impatiently on the table top, eager to get back to his laptop and get another program written.
The soft, almost ticklish brush of fingers on the back of his arm had him blinking out of his tech induced haze.
The inviting head tilt and Cougar’s soft smile and blatant gaze put a stop to all thought of further work.
Cougar’s hand slid down to his and pulled him out of his seat. Following was second nature and it wasn’t until they stepped out of the kitchen that Jensen realized what was different.
“Cougs! You’re healed!” The realization was quickly followed by anticipation. “Hot damn, let’s go!”
The loud groans behind him made him laugh, he and his lover had a lot to catch up on.