E-mail this Page - First Chapter - Table of Contents - Home - Next Chapter

This chapter is provided as a preview. Anybody who wants to can access it for free at http://www.EastCoastGames.com .  We ask that no copies, physical or electronic; be lent or given.  Offering this portion of the novel is expressly prohibited.

Greed

Counter Terrorist Force Headquarters
Concord, New Hampshire
Friday, September 11th, 2015, 3:30 am

 

      The Counter Terrorist Force of New Hampshire was based in Concord and headed by George Peterson.  George was in his early fifties.  He was about five feet tall and heavyset.  George was far too out of shape to actually work in the field.  Fortunately, for George, fitness was not why he was chosen as a leader.  It was his obedience and ability to control others.  George was mostly bald with the exception of some gray on the sides of his head.  It was hard to tell his eye color because he usually wore sunglasses.  The sunglasses were prescribed to correct his vision.

      George was in his office. The office was fairly small.  The building they were in had been the state’s department of education office on Pleasant Street.  

      George picked up the phone and dialed the receptionist, Katie, and said in a stern voice, “Katie, the Sandwich Team will be in soon.  Tell them to go directly to my office!”

      “Yes, Sir,” Katie replied.

      George hung up the phone.  He had been monitoring the team since they left Sandwich.  Members were equipped with gear that showed their location and vital signs.  They also wore headsets that connected to the rest of the team and to a person monitoring them in the headquarters.  The team had six people, but two of the signals went dead during a residential inspection.  Three of the members left the residence with raised heart rates, while the remaining member stayed.  Soon after the three members left, the remaining member’s signal was also lost. 

      When a signal was lost it almost always meant the equipment was damaged, usually by water.  It was highly unlikely that a person would die and lose his or her equipment simultaneously.

      When the three members left the residence they turned off their microphones.  The last transmission was panicky and it was hard to tell what had happened.  Most of the transmission was unintelligible. 

      George was guessing that there had been some type of disagreement between the team.  It was possible they killed each other.  Maybe three of them were going to defect to Canada. It would be very tough to catch them before they crossed the border.  Not that it mattered; they did not know any secrets.  At best it would be an embarrassment, but the US had ceased caring about its outward image years ago.

      Whatever it was, the three returning were obviously still loyal but at the same time scared, ashamed, or embarrassed about whatever happened.  The communication cut-off meant they were hiding something.  Maybe they were hiding a disloyalty.  What disloyalty could cause a separation?  George wondered if all six had planned on leaving but these three got cold feet.  Of course, there was still a possibility that the first two whose signals died were also returning to CTF.  Maybe even the one who was left behind had caught up.  Maybe that member was returning in a vehicle taken from the residence.  That still did not explain the confusion and the raised heart rates.  The teams were trained to handle pressure.  This could not be their first mission.  Something went beyond the plans.  Most of the work became instinctual.  If the suspects show any signs of resistance, make an example out of one of them.  If they appear to be hiding something, separate them and make them talk.  Search the areas that seem most likely to have valuables. 

      Through these surprise inspections they could find traitors.  At the same time, they earned money to help the budget.  Raping women had been introduced to humiliate any residents that resisted.  Some teams refused to do it, but most enjoyed it.  It was . . . a perk.  Rape also had the added side effect of giving extra reasons for the people to fear the teams.  George also found it a useful way to control the men.  Sometimes he used it to reward them while other times he threatened to use those actions against them.  That was why George never trusted the teams that refused.  They were the ones that tried to hold onto their honor. There was no room for heroes or honor in George’s teams. 

      George watched his computer as it showed the three members of the team come into the office.  There was a pause at the receptionist’s desk.  Then they headed to his office.  He picked up the phone and called Katie again.  “How many of them are there, Katie?”

      “Just the three, Sir”

      “Thank you, Katie,” he said as he hung up the phone.  When they finally knocked on his door he said, “Come in.”

      The three of them came in, Reichmann, Ortiz and Hartwell, the three team members that had made it back from Sandwich.  George prompted them.  “Well?”

      Hartwell had commanded the mission, so naturally he started, “Sir . . . we don’t know what happened.”

      In an impatient tone, George said, “You were there.  You must know what happened.”

      Hartwell replied, “This is going to sound crazy, Sir.”

      “Crazy is better than what you’re giving me, so START TALKING,” George barked at them.

      Hartwell said, “It started just like any other inspection.  Leland, Maxwell and Summers took the back.  Ortiz, Reichmann and I went to the front door.  After we asked them to come out, Leland and Maxwell spotted the suspects in the rear of the house.  Leland broke down the door but by the time they got through, the couple-”

      “Suspects,” George corrected.

      Hartwell continued, “The suspects had gotten into an elevator and it already was moving to the basement.  They tried briefly to follow then left Leland to guard the elevator.  We then all met at the bulkhead on the side of the house.”

      “That thing was like solid steel,” exclaimed Ortiz. 

      Hartwell went on, “After some time we eventually got the bulkhead open.  It was surprisingly difficult considering it was just a simple residence.  When we got it open I had Maxwell and Summers lead and break down the inner door.”  Hartwell paused.  “This is the part we’re a little unsure of.  There was a sudden light and where Maxwell and Summers had been there was suddenly a ball of gold.  In fact, even the pieces of the door they broke down were gone.  We . . . uh . . . retreated and forgot to take Leland.  By the time we realized he wasn’t with us his vitals disappeared.  We didn’t know what to do so we shut off our microphones to try to sort it all out.”

      “Well, you’re wrong about it being a simple residence.  Jared Miller is an inventor.  He has several major patents in various technologies.  In fact some of our surveillance equipment has technology he invented.”  George thought for a moment.  “If what you’re saying is true . . . maybe he invented some type of . . . no.  What if he had a machine that could turn things into gold!  What if he invented some type of Midas machine!  Did it look like real gold to you?”

      The three of them nodded in acknowledgment.

      “Boys, this could be just the thing to save the economy.  If we had a way to make gold . . . we would be rich.  Don’t tell anybody about this.  If we get that technology we’ll all be heroes.  We can’t let anybody know though.  It would be like when the Russians invented a cheap way to create diamonds.  The market will either crash or equipment will be invented to tell it apart.  What we have to do is make it appear to be real gold.  It will take decades for the gold prices to drop because of the increase.”

      This was bringing everything into place for George.  This was going to be his big chance.  Finally it was time to take his place as somebody who made a difference. 

      “You boys get some rest. We’ll be going in 30 minutes.”

      “Yes, Sir,” they said.

      “Dismissed.”

      George brought up a map of all the patrols.  He ordered everybody who was not already out to get outfitted and to be ready in 30 minutes.  George recalled all the patrols that would be too far out to meet in Sandwich.  All the rest he ordered to meet a mile from the Miller’s residence.  He told them to make sure the Millers did not leave . . . if they were still there.

      Of course, they probably were not there, he thought to himself.  They had probably fled.  But did they take the invention?  That was all he cared about.  He ordered his techs to join them.  Hopefully they could figure out how to use the invention. 

      George turned to his computer and brought up the phone database.  Back in the old days you had to go through a judge to get access to phone records.  Now it was all at their fingertips. What was even better was how the phones all had GPS.  The satellites used the GPS to predict which satellite should take the caller if he went out of range. It also allowed the customer to look up information about where he was, like maps, local business information, even ratings for local restaurants.  Unfortunately, though, the GPS data was only uploaded when there was an active link from the phone.  Unless they made a call or used the satellites to give them location information, there was no way to know where they were.

      He got the information on his screen.  The plan and phones the family used were very high-end.  No GPS information had been uploaded since Saturday morning when Michelle had made a call from the road.

      Another thought came to George’s head.  He pulled up the police databases and entered an APB for the Millers. George then checked their records and noticed there was activity . . . minutes ago.  Michelle Miller had been pulled over for a broken light by Officer Daryl Hanover on 93 South at 3:30am.

      The counter terrorism force did not get along well with most police departments.  It was beyond the jurisdiction squabbles the FBI would have with police.  Most police felt that CTF was nothing more than a group of thugs . . . , which in some ways was true.

      George called the state police and had roadblocks set up farther south on 93.  He hoped he would catch them.  He then called Officer Hanover.

      “Hello, Officer Hanover, this is George Peterson of the local CTF team.”

      Hanover’s voice replied, “What can I do for you?”

      “I understand you pulled over Michelle Miller in the past hour.  We need both Michelle and her husband.  Was Michelle traveling alone?”

      George could not tell Daryl was lying when he said, “No, Sir, she was alone in her SUV.”

      “Did she mention where she has heading?”

      She had actually said she was going to Boston.  “Canterbury Sir.  She said she was a heading to Canterbury.”

      George probed, “Is there anything else you can tell me?  Did it look like she was in a hurry?  Was her car packed for a trip?”

      “Naw, she didn’t seem too rushed.  She was a bit nervous when I pulled her over, but not extra nervous considering the times.  I tell ya, her SUV was clean as a whistle.  The back had dark windows so I didn’t get a good look inside.  If she was packed, she was packing light.”

      “Do you think she may have lied about her destination?”

      “No, Sir, I saw she had a map showing how to get to Canterbury on her computer.  Plus if she lied at all it weren’t about where she was a go’n.  I can tell pretty darn well when people ain’t telling the truth and, Sir, I’m sure as my name is Daryl that she is going to Canterbury.”

      Hanover’s accent was thicker than usual.  People often assume that a country accent means innocence and naiveté.

      George said, “We have a road block up on 93 south.  If she lied we’ll know soon enough.  Thanks for the information.”

      “You’re welcome, Sir.”

      After George got off the phone with Hanover, he called the Canterbury Police Department.  He asked them to start searching the area. 

      By this time the half hour had ended, so he met the teams and led them to Sandwich. 

 

****

 

      Daryl knew the Millers would be in major trouble if they hit the roadblock.  He was still on 93 but had stopped to set up a speed trap.  He put on his lights and got back on the road to try to catch the Millers before they hit the roadblock.  It would be close. If there was too much traffic from the roadblock, he would be easily spotted with them.

      Fortunately, they seemed to have driven slowly and took their time to get back on the road because he quickly found the SUV following the van.  He turned off his lights to try to let them know he was there to help.  If they saw him with his lights on trying to pull them over again they would think he was going to arrest them.  He got in the lane to the left of them and drove past Michelle.  Daryl drove up to Jared’s van and got in a position where he could see Jared.  When Jared looked, Daryl motioned for him to pullover. 

      Jared pulled over.  Daryl could see Jared was saying something.  It was not to him, though, so Daryl thought there was another passenger out of view, maybe in the back, or that he was talking to his wife through a phone. 

      Jared and Michelle pulled over and Daryl pulled in front of them.  Daryl stepped out of the car.  He took his gun out of its holster and made a show of putting it into the car.  Daryl walked to Jared’s van.  As he walked he wondered if the gun gesture had been a bad idea.  Jared rolled down his window and said, “I’m betting you’re not here to tell me I have a light out.”

      “No, Sir, I don’t mean to alarm ya’ll but I think you’re in grave danger.  CTF is after you and they have a roadblock setup a few miles yonder.”

      “Why are you telling me this?”

      “Sir, I hate the CTF.  They make us look bad.  I’ve been doing this job for twenty years and I ain’t happy with the way the law and my job changed.  From speaking with your wife you seem like nice folk and I can’t see CTF as having a legitimate reason to detain ya’ll.  It’s my fault they know where you are ‘cause when I checked your wife’s license and registration it got recorded in the database.  Listen, I noticed you were talking.  Were you using your phone?”

      “Yes, my sat-phone.”

      “Sir, are you using it as a CB or making a call?”

      “CB.”

      “Good.  You may not be aware but we police, FBI, and of course CTF have access to the databases of all the satellite companies that operate in the US.  We can use the system to locate a person using GPS.  So don’t make a call on your phone.  Don’t even connect to the satellite to check the weather, your mail, or to play one of those fancy games.  Now where are you REALLY headed?  I’ll help you get as far as you need inside the New Hampshire borders.”

      Jared paused for a moment then said, “Nashua.”

      “OK, here is what we’ll do. There is a turn-around ahead.  We’ll use it and head the other direction.  Then we’ll take the back roads past the roadblock.”

      “Sounds good,” said Jared.

      “Let’s go.  Oh . . . what’s your CB channel and password?”

      “Channel 72 and the password is Mothra.”

      Daryl walked back to his car.  Jared asked, “You catch all that, Honey?”

      Michelle replied over the phone, “Yep.  You think this is a good idea?”

      “I can’t think of a better one.”

      Daryl got in his car and entered the channel.  “Can ya’ll hear me all right?”

      Jared replied, “Yes.”

      Michelle said, “Loud and clear.  Long time no see.  What’s your name by the way?”

      “Daryl.”

      “Thanks for doing this Daryl,” Michelle said.

      “My pleasure ma’am.  I’m here to serve and protect.  Now let’s get going.”

      They pulled back onto 93 and got in the inside lane.  Daryl slowed almost to a stop at the turn.  The northbound side was clear, so he led them through.  They got off at the first exit and followed Daryl through the back roads to Nashua.

      Michelle asked, “Do you have a family, Daryl?”

      “Yes, Ma’am, a wife and two daughters.  They’re my life, I can’t imagine being without ‘em.  How ‘bout you folks, you got kids?” 

      “Not yet,” Michelle replied.

      Jared asked, “Umm . . . there isn’t anything you haven’t told me is there?”

      “Oh you mean . . . like I’m pregnant?  Hmm . . . let me remember.  Well, you’re the doctor, Jared.  Can’t you tell?”

      “I’m not that kind of doctor!”

      “Don’t worry Honey; if I get pregnant you’ll be the second to know.”

      Jared asked, “The SECOND?”

      “Well a REAL doctor will probably know first.  I’m certainly not going to trust one of those flimsy home tests.”

      They passed into Nashua and Daryl said, “Well, folks, I should leave you.  It’d be best if I don’t know where you go.”

      “Is this going to get you in trouble, Daryl?”

      “No, Ma’am, as far as my office knows I’m just out patrolling.  I’ll keep heading south on back roads so if anybody checks my route it’ll seem like I weren’t going nowhere special.”

      “Take care, Daryl, and thanks again” said Michelle.

      Jared added, “Yes, thank you and have a good night . . . or morning.”

 

****

 

      When George arrived at the meeting place with the rest of the CTF patrols, he gathered them.  “Listen up,” he said, “There may be at least one male inside.  Consider him armed and extremely dangerous.  With his wife’s help he killed half a patrol earlier today.”

      They approached the house from the road.  Before leaving cover, George had them do a scan for body heat. It turned up empty. 

      “Ortiz, Reichmann and Hartwell come with me.  Everybody else split up.  I want one patrol guarding the road and one patrol on each of the three entrances to the house.  Nobody is to enter the house without my permission.”

      George had Hartwell walk in the point position.  When Hartwell signaled the basement was safe Ortiz, Reichmann and George went in.  The lights were still on in the basement. 

      The basement was pretty empty.  There was one computer and some odd tools.  In addition, there were personal effects that were normal in a person’s work area . . . like family pictures.

      George poked around the computer but it looked like it was just used for internet research.  He could not find any notes or data.  The cache folder was empty and so was the browser history.  “You guys see anything?”

      Reichmann motioned them to the spot where the big covered ball had been.  “This is odd.  It looks like a rounded dent in the floor.  Maybe they had a gold ball here?”

      The rest of the house was searched and no clues were found.  George posted a team there for a 24-hour guard and had Ortiz stay with them.  The rest he took to Canterbury with him. On the way he called the state police to check on the road block.  The roadblock had not caught them and they would have been through by then so he called off the roadblock.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

E-mail this Page - First Chapter - Table of Contents - Home - Next Chapter

Amazon Honor System