Chapter 4: What Have You Done?

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Night Owl Hotel

Reads: 53
Comments: 1

June 24, 2016

Friday

London, England

Morgan stared out at the light pink and purple clouds hanging over London early that morning, with the sun peeking out over the city skyline. It would be late at night over in Ottawa, with London being seven hours ahead.. He could only surmise that Alyssa didn’t get time to call - or perhaps didn’t want to. Maybe she was the one who wanted to leave everything in the past, and he was grasping at something unattainable in wanting to rekindle their friendship.

He looked up when a knock came at the door. Cameron Galbraith, the ICB director, stood there with a thick envelope in his hand.

“Good morning, sir,” Morgan said, turning his chair to face his desk.

Cameron stepped in. “You’re here early.”

Morgan shrugged. “Reckoned I’d get a head start on this case regarding Agent Abbett. What can I do for you?”

“This file arrived in my office through the mail,” Cameron said. “I took a quick look. I’d like you to review it and tell me what you think. There are some… heavy accusations, to put it mildly.”

Cameron set the envelope on the desk. Morgan picked it up and slid a plain brown folder, thick with papers, into his hand. On the front of the folder was the ICB logo. Morgan flipped over the envelope, addressed straight to Cameron, with no name to accompany the Ottawa return address.

“This isn’t the field office address, so I am curious from whom it came. There is lots of classified information, but it could have come from any names in that file,” Cameron said, sitting across from him.

The director’s gaze remained on Morgan when he opened the file and skimmed through complaint reports, handwritten notes of conversations had or overheard, of incidents and more records. Bank statements for assistant director Dean Johnson. Indeed, several agents’ names came up. Oliver Upton. Dwayne MacMorris. Emily Abbett - which made Morgan raise an eyebrow, given that she was practically abandoned while undercover. Jonathan Grace. When Morgan’s eyes landed on one written account, he recognized the handwriting instantly. Frowning, he flipped to a complaint report with the same writing, signed Alyssa Rawkesby.

“Agents Rawkesby and Upton in particular gathered plenty against their assistant director,” Morgan said.

“They did. There’s even a complaint sent in to Ottawa’s human resources regarding an unlawful termination of Oliver Upton,” Cameron replied.

Morgan shook his head. “Along with everything else he had. He and Agent Rawkesby were working together on this for quite some time. I’d wager that this file came from either of them.”

“Even financial records on Dean Johnson.”

“Upton’s notes show he was investigating Johnson for links to the Russian mob.”

Cameron raised an eyebrow. “Something is happening at that field office and I don’t like it.”

“Me neither,” Morgan said, turning to his computer and logging in. He brought up a search in the digital evidence management system, typing in Johnson’s name. He tilted his head, brow furrowed in curiosity.

“None of those records exist in the system anymore.”

Cameron’s mouth dropped open.. He sat forward. “Are you sure? Those appeared as part of a legitimate investigation.”

Morgan shook his head. “They’re gone, sir. Everything has been wiped from the DEM regarding Johnson.”

He looked from the screen to the papers, musing on who might have been helping Johnson. Only an experienced tech analyst could have wiped the system like this, for the records to not even show up in trash folders or archived elsewhere. It made Morgan wonder how deep the corruption went, how much Alyssa and Oliver knew, and even what Emily might have known. Neither she nor Alyssa seemed surprised that Emily got left to fend for herself. Emily had been panicking over whether she was going to prison. Morgan would have to see if she was willing to discuss it.

Cameron folded his hands on the desk. “I want you on this, as discreetly as you can. We don’t know what we’re looking at exactly, but something isn’t right.”

“I agree,” Morgan said with a nod. “Sandra and I will look into it promptly.”

“Thank you. Keep me updated. This concerns me.”

“Yes, sir.”

After Cameron left, Morgan skimmed through the remaining pages before returning to the start. He went to the pages of Alyssa’s handwriting. If she sent the file, it was a rare reach for help from her. It would have been a desperate one, at that.

He pulled the envelope towards him and entered the address into a search. He gasped at the confirmation of what he suspected. Alyssa had used her own address for the return, leaving out her name, ensuring the file wouldn’t return to the field office if something happened. She sat on a pile of classified information for three months, which no longer existed in the system. Then she was doing so with an agent Johnson allegedly fired without reason.

Alyssa didn’t ask for help. It wasn’t her nature. But something compelled her, whether she had a personal vendetta against Johnson, or she was helping her colleagues. Her motive would depend on how much she’d changed in seven years. Morgan sighed. He’d once known her inside out, though after so much time, he knew she wouldn’t be the same person. At least he could hope she’d found a way out of those dark years. If she managed her disorder, then perhaps she was helping. But if she didn’t, and she acted out of selfish reasons… well, Morgan couldn’t be sure what he was taking on. Then he had to question the nature of her relationship with Oliver. Was she going after Johnson in vengeance over firing her friend or potential lover? She could certainly be protective when she wanted.

One report listed her number. Morgan entered it into his phone’s contact list, knowing this ominous report would warrant an inevitable conversation with her, if only a professional one. He shook his head, mumbling to himself in the quiet of his office.

“Dear Alyssa, what have you done?”

#

The scent of Earl Grey tea wafted up to Morgan while he mixed sugar and milk into his mug, awaiting Emily’s arrival. He returned to his office, where Sandra sat reviewing the file, a hand in her curly blond hair.

“This one’s a doozy, aye,” she remarked in a Scottish accent.

“It is,” Morgan replied. He sat across from her.

“It’s pretty clear why Agent Abbett got left to fend for herself undercover,” Sandra said, flipping pages. “Based on notes from the others, she’s gathered much of the intel on this Johnson character.”

“He’s been up to no good for a while. It’s a miracle no one has noticed until recently,” he said.

Sandra peered over the file at him. “How are you feeling about talking to Agent Rawkesby again?”

Morgan paused. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Oh, please, mate,” Sandra said with a scoff. “I saw the look on your face when you heard her voice. Ye don’t talk ‘bout her much, but I’m still a profiler. Lover? Friend?”

He took a sip of tea, silently cursing his partner’s sharpness.

“A friend. We were never romantically involved.”

“But she meant a lot to you.”

“Well, yes. We were friends for eight years. You and I are close after seven years,” Morgan said, setting the mug down and gazing at the file, trying to dismiss her questions politely. Still, an old ache surfaced, with Alyssa’s name circling his office after so much time. He worried for her. If Johnson was as corrupt as he seemed, then it was possible Alyssa could be in danger if Johnson found out about her investigation.

Sandra shook her head. “Nah, mate. This isn’t the same. And ye know it.”

“No two friendships are.”

“You loved her.”

The moment Sandra’s words escaped her mouth, Morgan folded his hands on the desk and sighed. Sandra tilted her head.

“And you never told her,” she added.

“Are you done?” Morgan asked, raising an eyebrow.

“For now,” Sandra quipped, a small smirk at her lips.

“Very well. Agent Abbett should be here anytime -”

“Reporting for duty, sir,” Emily said, leaning in the doorway, pushing her sunglasses to the top of her strawberry blond hair. She’d shed her undercover persona for a black suit over an emerald green blouse.

“Ah, wonderful. Good morning,” Morgan said.

He picked up the folder and looked at Emily. “Please, have a seat. We need to have a chat before we start on the case at hand.”

Emily’s smile faded. “Oh… okay.”

“You’re not in trouble,” Morgan said. She pulled up a chair beside Sandra and sat.

She folded her hands in her lap, head tilted slightly. “What is it?”

Morgan and Sandra exchanged a knowing glance.

“Well, as fate would have it, I had a file land on my desk this morning from the Ottawa field office,” he explained. “Your name came up in the course of my reading through it.”

Emily frowned, shaking her head. Her hands clenched together tighter until her knuckles went white.

“Sir, I… I don’t know how my name came up but I’ve been undercover for two years.”

“Your undercover work brought your name into it. What’s going on with your assistant director?” Morgan said, watching her with a keen gaze, not missing anything in her body language. Her slight shift in her chair, the way her mouth fell open slightly, yet she was speechless.

“Oh. It’s about him,” she finally said. “Who did the file come from?”

“The person wishes to remain anonymous,” Morgan replied. He pulled out a small envelope, spilling the photos to the table. Dean Johnson outside of a motel with a slender blond woman, then them going inside. “But these were included. Any idea where they came from? And who the woman might be?”

Emily gasped. “I only gave those photos to one person.”

“You took them? Who did you give them to?” Morgan asked.

She hesitated again.

“The person won’t be in trouble,” he said. “I am trying to get an understanding of how many people are involved with this file.”

After a sigh, Emily replied. “I took the photos, then gave them to… to Alyssa. She took over the file after Oliver was fired. He started it. To my knowledge, it was only us three and Dwayne. But I have no way of knowing if Alyssa had anyone else involved. She’s really quiet about things.”

“And the woman?” Sandra wondered.

“That is Nastasia Brusilov. The wife of the Russian mob boss in Ottawa. Alyssa didn’t want to run facial recognition on the photos in case Johnson found out. She asked Oliver about it. I did some snooping through one of my contacts and his friend. My contact’s friend is her son,” Emily said. “I had no idea she sent it, though. Oh God, is she in trouble now?”

“Agent Abbett, I assure you, I have no ties to Dean Johnson,” Morgan told her gently. “Sandra and I simply assist the chief of staff's office with corruption investigations. What I have read sounds severe and we want to help. But I imagine there is much more happening than what made it into the file. We want your side. We’re here to listen. Alyssa is in no trouble. Not from us, anyway. But she may be if Johnson finds out what is happening. We need to stop him before that.”

Her hands dropped to her lap, her fingers clasped loosely, locks of her hair falling over her shoulder when she looked down.

“I don’t know all the details. Johnson has always been a jerk. I thought that’s all he was. Just some egotistical male on a power trip. But it goes much deeper. In my two years being undercover, I’ve seen nothing but negligence from him. My partner, Agent Dwayne MacMorris, has been under for almost three years. Johnson has no interest in pulling him out and he’s told our case handler as much.”

Morgan made notes while she spoke. “Any idea why he wants to keep you two under? Typically, a corrupt copper will want the undercovers out promptly.”

He looked up, pausing at Emily’s reluctance to speak again. Her eyes dimmed, perhaps at a loss for how to say what she wanted. Morgan glimpsed tears. Sandra leaned over, placing a hand softly on Emily’s shoulder.

“It’s all right, lass. The more we know, the more we can help,” Sandra said with an encouraging nod.

The touch, perhaps something Emily wasn’t accustomed to anymore, made tears trickle down her face. Sandra grabbed the tissue box and handed it to her.

“A few months ago, our case handler, Jonathan Grace, stopped answering his phone. Before that, Johnson gave us no support. Basically told us to figure it out on our own. He closed the organized crime unit when he realized they were investigating him. Fired one agent who was helping us. Oliver Upton. He was there for us. Supported us. Made sure we had what we needed to do our jobs. After Oliver got fired was when I realized… Johnson was leaving us for dead. He had no intentions of pulling us out, still doesn’t.”

Emily’s words were hefty over the room. She suppressed a sob. “He’s eliminating all our ways of reaching out and getting help. One by one. He took Oliver and the OCU. He’s done something to Jonathan to keep him from us. What’s next? How will he get to Alyssa?”

She put her head in her hands, crying. Months and months of built-up stress and anxiety finally released in a space where Johnson couldn’t see her. It broke Morgan’s heart.

“You aren’t alone. You and your partner. I can guarantee you, you’re not,” he told her. “I know it feels that way, Agent Abbett. But we care, and we’re going to look into this. I promise. Are you willing to help us? There’s only so much we can do from here,” he said.

Emily plucked a tissue from the box, wiped her eyes, and nodded. “What do you need?”

“Your undercover work, from what I’ve seen of the file, is excellent. And given that even agents here didn’t think you were one of us, speaks of an exemplary stealth. There is much hearsay in the file. Other than financial records, there isn’t a lot of physical proof of Johnson’s corruption. That’s what we need,” Morgan said, his deep voice filled with patience and compassion.

“An informant,” Emily said tearfully.

Morgan nodded. “Yes. Would you be willing to do that? You aren’t obligated. If you do not feel safe doing so, that is perfectly acceptable.”

He watched the conflict in her eyes. Back and forth. Tilting her head one way, then the other, arguing with herself, debating. Young, but brimming with potential he didn’t know if she was aware of.

“I’ll do it,” she stated with forced conviction. “If it helps take this bastard down, I’ll do it.”

Morgan nodded. “You will have our full support, I assure you. You can call either of us, no matter the time. After we capture Florence, you’ll be officially pulled from your undercover role and back in the office.”

Emily’s shoulders slouched in relief. “You can do that?”

He smiled. “I can. And I will.”

She ran a hand through her hair. “What about… I’m sorry if this is asking too much… but what about Dwayne? I can’t just leave him undercover like this. He’s… unstable.”

She blurted it, as though she’d waited to say it for too long. Morgan frowned.

“Unstable how?”

“He… he lost his wife and kids in a mafia assassination six years ago. Before I started. But I don’t think he got time to grieve or anything. He’s angry. Not towards me. He’s great to me. A father figure, sort of. But he’s still in a world of pain and I don’t know how to help him and if he stays under for much longer… I worry what he’ll do to someone else or even himself,” Emily said, the tears returning. She wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s just - he’s a good man, and he deserved none of this, and now he’s being screwed over after all these years in a career that took his family from him. He deserves some peace. Not to be left for dead to the mobsters.”

Morgan glanced at Sandra, who shared his worried expression. A man who lacked proper grieving time and showed signs of mental instability could be a serious liability. He was also human and deserved the same care and compassion anyone else received. It didn’t sit right with Morgan, leaving these undercover agents to the dangerous abyss of the underworld. He had to help them. Somehow.

“I will do everything I can,” he said. “I promise you that. Let me look at what I can do. But knowing all this makes the file one of my first priorities. With your help, I think we can sort this out.”

Emily nodded. “Thank you. I’ll do whatever I can. I just… it’s a relief to hear that someone wants to help. Finally.”

#

“I know this sounds grim, but we’re searching for a woman whose real identity I don’t know, and I basically know nothing else about her other than she is of Japanese descent. But she speaks smooth English and has no accent. It’s likely she was raised in Canada or the US. I don’t know what her ties are to Ottawa, either,” Emily stated.

Morgan listened to her speak, not at all encouraged by the lack of details about this woman.

“How in the world do we put out a wanted memo on a woman whose name we don’t know?” Sandra asked.

“And one who is likely a master of disguise, if she’s as experienced in heists as she claims,” Emily said. “I could go back undercover, but I’ve no way of knowing if she’s even still in the country.”

“How badly does she want the Serpent Spiral?” Morgan asked. He stood in the conference room, staring at their board of notes.

“She’s obsessed,” Emily replied with a frown. “It’s all she’d ever talk about. How rich we were going to be. How historic this was, how huge. She wants this to be her legacy.”

“A criminal obsessed will fixate on the object or person of their fascination,” Morgan said. “If she’s yet to get what she wants, then her business in London is woefully unfinished. If she left the area, she’ll be back. And she’ll contact you.”

“She can’t pull it off without me. I’m the one who got us the connection to know when the jewels were being moved. Without me, she doesn’t have that,” Emily said.

“Precisely. You were clever to keep yourself needed by her. It’ll pay off now,” Morgan replied.

“Control balance, so Alyssa told me. I give Florence a little more power while keeping just enough to make myself necessary,” Emily said.

Morgan smiled. “And she knows these women better than any of us.”

“So we wait, I reckon,” Sandra said.

Morgan sighed. “And so we wait. In the meantime, let’s dig into the alias. Run it against anyone in the database who uses it. If it shows up on any criminal records. I imagine you haven’t had a chance to do so.”

Emily shook her head. “This is my first time being in an office in months. Honestly, I was dying to do some digging on her.”

He pointed a pen towards the open laptop. “All yours, then. We can also make a plan for when we hear from her. How we’re going to keep you safe while luring her in.”

Emily sat before the computer and immediately began hunting for information, a determined glint in her eyes. “She is incredibly suspicious and paranoid. She’ll accuse Kira of talking to cops, no doubt, and I’ll have some loopholes to jump through once more in order to gain her trust.”

“Patience will be our game, then,” Sandra stated.

“It’ll need to be. Agent Abbett, will you be comfortable going under one more time?”

Emily looked up while a search ran on the screen. “A hundred percent. I am sick and tired of people who leave me hanging. Truly no honour amongst thieves. I’m ready to take her down.”

Morgan fiddled with the pen in his hands. “Excellent. I may have an idea, but it’ll take much planning, and your brilliance, once more.”

 


Submitted: June 11, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Lavinia Thompson. All rights reserved.

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HJ FURL

That was a big chapter, very well-written, you held my attention, enjoyed!

Fri, June 11th, 2021 11:17am

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