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Chapter 1… Where it is, where it was.

Here is Chapter 1 after the second pass of editing.


 

I work at the Brooklyn branch of the Government agency designated DSI – Department of Special Investigations. The branch is for those of us who love puzzles.  There’s no specific focus like the ATF or DEA, or even other SI units, though we do work with them.  Our job is simply to make connections. Most of us work with the FBI to keep cases from going cold. There are some who look for connections between cases which are separated by jurisdiction or politics.  I’m mostly in charge of connecting financial records and criminal conspiracies, like the way we busted Al Capone.

I applied to work with the DSI for two reasons. First of all, you’re judged here on your own merits. Whether or not you have a college degree, military experience, or computer savvy is irrelevant. What is relevant is how well you can accurately make the type of connections that will save lives, jobs, or resources.  Some of the highest closing rates in the Department come from analysts who have little more than a high school diploma on their resumes.  The second reason I wanted to work here is because I love the work we do. We find truths that most people don’t even know are hidden.  There really isn’t a job that could be more fun for a guy like me, Special Agent James Del.

 

My computer beeped at me and an alert window came up in the lower right corner of my screen. The subject of the email from the Department Head read “ALLTECH CEO AND CO-FOUNDER ATTENDING YEAR-END BANQUET.” I didn’t bother to read the email itself. The banquet emails are pretty standard: black-tie, get there early, don’t embarrass the Department.  I can say though, I was more than excited for the opportunity to meet Jean Bernier, the man behind the company.

            Alltech is a research firm specializing in chemical engineering and metal compounds.  Indeed, the All in Alltech is short for “Alloy,” not “All-encompassing.”  Thanks to Alltech, the government has more non-lethal weaponry than ever before, not to mention all kinds of lightweight technological goodness.  Of course, most of their work is classified (one of the perks of having a government contract) but believe you me, Alltech is one of the few companies changing lives for the better.

            After I reviewed a few more department emails, I got back to work on tracking a possible leak within Alltech.  Now, the government doesn’t work for private organizations but, we do protect our interests. This holds especially true when the information leaked was a project intended to revitalize US space exploration – something about fuel efficiency and a new metal compound called Hyperlite.  The information leaked was procedural, meaning anyone who had the money could create their own Hyperlite and that could be a very dangerous thing.

            Reading through piles of redacted documents and scientific data may sound boring. I suppose if you were to simply read through them without purpose, it would feel like you were in one of those weird hells from Chinese Mythology. But I wasn’t just reading documents; I was searching through an intricately woven tapestry. My job was to find the thread that seemed loose, out of place, or possibly even unifying. The person who leaked the information I was currently reading had the complete, unredacted documents, nothing was hidden, which meant they had security clearance within the government as well as the company. In both places, they would have held higher clearance than anyone in my office.

            As I read through the confusing, edited numbers and half-clear documents, I came across a photocopied page full of sticky notes. One of the notes read “Anagram.” The rest of the notes had some data points, to-dos, and a few chemical names: Nitric Oxide, Iron, Sulfur, Uranium, Radium, and Titanium.  I’m no scientist but, I know a thing or two and titanium is one of the lightest metals out there. I had been assuming that it was the base for the Hyperlite compound.  The documents, of course, had been redacted to exclude all chemicals, elements, and otherwise compositional data of the material but, this seemed right.

            Just as I started getting some ideas written down, Special Agent Ryan Hendricks called me into his office.  Hendricks is a rather astounding example of form over function. He stands an impressive six-foot-nine, well over three hundred pounds, and he is stacked with muscle. Not the kind of muscle laborers have, the kind of muscle body-building machine addicts have. His body was an instance of form over function.

Hendricks spent a lot of time grooming himself. His slicked back hair dyed carefully to make his grey look more like a peppering, though those of us who have been here a while knew he was just a silver-hair in denial. His skin was a nearly stark white, as were his teeth. The first time we’d met, I had to ponder whether or not they were the same shade.  His eyes, a crystalline shade not unlike an iceberg, were narrower than you would expect for a man his size but, most people didn’t notice. He wore a jet-black Versace suit with a crisp red shirt and a black silk tie. If this were a movie, he’d probably be the bad guy. Luckily, he had one of the purest hearts I’ve known. We met in college and applied to the DSI at the same time and he’s saved my ass on more than one occasion. I couldn’t ask for a better friend than Special Agent Ryan Hendricks.

            I walked up to his office and stood next to him. The sharp contrast between us was exemplified by more than just our difference in stature. My suit, a low-end department store brand, was nothing short of standard. One look at me and you would know I’m a federal agent sporting a glock 9mm in a shoulder holster and a badge on my belt.

            “My office,” he said, ushering me in. he closed the door behind us. “Have a seat, Jimmy. There’s something I want you to look at.”

            He paced around his desk, taking very deliberate steps, pondering what to say. It seemed like a nervous walk but, it’s hard to read what’s going on in Hendricks’ mind.  He was more transparent when we were in the field together. I asked him about it once. He told me that as the head of the office, he had to keep a consistent demeanor – that neutral was best. I would have chosen a different expression to lock my face in if I had to keep it eight hours a day, seven days a week. To each his own I suppose.

            Hendricks walked to his filing cabinet, opened up one of the drawers (column 3, row 2). The label on the drawer read Alltech Incorporated. He proceeded to take every single file out and set them on the desk in front of me.  I eyed the impressive stack of documents stuffed inside vanilla colored folders. The papers inside were ruffled about, their edges uneven, clearly worn down by time.  I suspected this might be all of the documentation we had on Alltech.

`           As if on cue, Hendricks gave a crookedly joyful smile and said, “Once you finish reviewing this drawer, the next two will be waiting for you.”

My heart sank. I thought I had found the thread to pull on but, it was about to be buried under chaos. “I don’t think this is necessary. I’ve found an angle to investigate. If you could just-”

            “I can’t. I’m sorry.”

            “What? I just need to get a look at the Alltech division handling Hyperlite. It would only be a one-hour tour, fully supervised.”

            “No. Monsieur Bernier has requested the utmost secrecy in this matter. If you can’t find the answer in these three cabinets, I can get a warrant for Alltech’s employee database. But that’s all he will allow.”

            “All he will allow? Jesus, what’s going on? Since when do federal investigations bow to the will of CEOs?”

            “You know better. It’s not like that. But this matter won’t be resolved by sticking our noses in his company. Try to see it from his perspective: someone with high-level clearance infiltrated his company enough to steal information on their newest and most important active project. He doesn’t want to risk someone with lower clearance getting in and doing anything. No one knows whether the leak is on our side or their side, or even a competing company.  He’s keeping everything sealed from anyone not currently involved.”

“I’m currently involved! Damn it, Ryan! How do you expect me to solve this without access to the ground floor?”

“You realize you have the whole team at your disposal”

I slammed my hands on his desk, jumping out of my chair, pulled up by the force of my fists driving down into the desk. Sometimes I can’t stand the new Hendricks.

“That’s not the point, God Damnit! Come on, man. How can we do it without access to employee interviews, face-to-face interactions, or at least some fucking documents with a little less black on them?”

“Don’t take this out on me. I only run the damned office. I’m not the one issuing orders.”

I didn’t mean to snap at him but, that lack of emotion gets to me sometimes. You would think after five years I would have adjusted. Unfortunately, these kinds of changes stand out forever in the people you know best. Hendricks stood across from me. He lifted his coffee cup to his lips, sipped it lightly, and set it back down. “I don’t question my orders. You would be wise not to either.”

“These orders come from your superiors, not Bernier?”

“They do.”

I dropped back into my chair, rubbing the strain out of my eyes. “Shit. This is more serious than I thought.”

“So it would seem.”

I stared at Hendricks intensely, then back at the stack of documents then the empty cabinet they came from. I clutched the photocopied document in my hand. I knew this was the lead to follow, the one that could actually offer some insight into Hyperlite. I calmed down a bit and shot Hendricks a smile. “First round’s on you.”

As the team pored over the worthless and outdated documents of Alltech’s history, I continued my search through those which had relevance.  The first step was rereading the documents I had already covered, plugging in any information I could from the photocopy I’d found.  Mostly, it proved to be a futile search, except that I was able to confirm—thanks to the strict regulations of typeface, size, and general formatting of reports within the government’s infrastructure—that titanium was the base metal for Hyperlite and, indeed, other elements seemed to plug in to certain single-word redactions. It wasn’t much, but it was more than we had.

Heather Hough, an FBI transfer, was walking right towards me.  She had silky soft skin, a mouse-like button nose. A blonde with blue eyes, a straight white smile, and curves that would make any man—or woman—drool.  To top it off, she had the top score on several FBI fitness tests and a physique to back it up. Without being too big, she’d managed to pack a hundred eighty-five pounds onto a frame just over five feet tall. There wasn’t a gram of fat to be found on her body. She carried herself with a presence that would (and probably did) terrify prison lifers.  She approached me with her hand out, offering me a stapled document. “Look at this. I think it could give us some direction.”

December 2012 Security Desk Memo. Clearance Update and Policy Changes.

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Clearance Level Red: A000145829. . . . .  ********** A000678242. . . . .  **********

M04099754. . . . .  **********R061854216. . . . .  **********

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Clearance Level Green:

A022143341. . . . .  **********C041603521. . . . .  **********

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Unrestricted Access:

G003084759. . . . .  **********

                “Well, that just seems silly,” I retorted. “Without names, how do the security guards know they aren’t letting in thieves?” I separated the pages and handed them out for the team to review. I already had what I was looking for.

            “They don’t. And they did let in a thief.” Heather’s reply made me happy. I looked up to flash Hendricks that I-Told-You-So look through the glass wall of his office, only to find that he was on his way down to us.

            “Find something in my useless stack of outdated records?” Somehow, his neutral façade still managed to demonstrate a smugness that superseded my own.

“It’s a memo for the front desk.  Security updates.” Heather said, snatching the page from me and handing it to Hendricks. “If anyone knows Alltech’s security structure, we can determine which employees had access to the research.”

I thought for a moment then asked, “Are these names blacked out for us, or did the security desk receive them this way as well?”

“I’m not sure.  You can ask Monsieur Bernier yourself at the banquet.”

“Aren’t we supposed to refrain from business talk at the banquet?”

Hendricks shot her a look. It’s hard to tell what his looks mean but, this one seemed to tell Heather that she needed to relax.  Despite her skill, Heather was oddly adherent to rules and policy. Most agents end up dead quicker than you might expect if they stick to the books. She was the exception, having started in the field. Heather quickly proved she was better suited for analysis.  It isn’t that she couldn’t hack it – quite the opposite in fact.  She was put to work analyzing recovered technologies after she figured out how to disable the automated security system of a high-end weapons manufacturer. It was a state-of-the-art system beyond anything sanctioned by the United States Government.  The ATF led a coordinated operation to commandeer the system.

When it became apparently that the strike teams were unable to get through, Heather took it upon herself, in a most heroic fashion, to pop open one of the security cameras and somehow figured out how the camera system was guiding the defense mechanisms. She disabled the cameras and the entire system shut down. The purpose of the DSI is to connect the dots, after all. You can’t solve a puzzle without taking the pieces out of the box. Heather Hough did exactly that at a critical moment. Who knows how many lives she saved that day?

 Heather must have gotten that look from Hendricks already. She averted her gaze then proceeded to walk back to the team and dig through more documents. I watched her for a minute. Good diligence in the woman, but I’ll be damned if her conscience didn’t get on my nerves at times.

“So,” I looked up at Hendricks and saw the wheels turning in his brain. “How do you want me to handle it?”

“Talk to Monsieur Bernier at the banquet. Don’t make me regret this decision.”

“Have I ever?”

“No comment. In the meantime, I’ll have your team looking for similar documents. Any luck with that sheet of paper?” He nodded to my desk, to the photocopy.

“At the very least, I can say that it fills in a few of the smaller blanks.  We can reasonably assume that the elements named are the constituents of Hyperlite. The numbers probably correlate to data points. They may represent the volume of certain components. But there are more data notes than elements. I’m not sure what they correlate to but, I’m sure they are in the report on my desk. This would be so much easier if I were a scientist.”

Hendricks let out a soft chuckle then walked back toward his office. He climbed the set of five stairs that separated him from those of us who can’t afford nice suits, and then turned to face  the area of the room those of us without offices occupy, ‘the pit’.  He stuck two fingers under his tongue and let out a shrill whistle, silencing the room. Everyone turned to face him. Jesus that man is tall; he really doesn’t need an elevated office.

“Alright team, here’s the plan.” He looked out over the pit, making sure he had full attention. “Alltech is playing things very close to the vest. We’re going to try to get some clearer information on what exactly was going on with Hyperlite.  In the meantime, I want you all to go through everything they’ve given us, flag any documents that give employee names or ID numbers.” Hendricks somehow communicated the pain we were about to endure in this task, despite having absolutely no inflection.

“If you find security documents, pull them out,” He continued.  “Start a separate file for anything that mentions security clearance. These documents went missing in July of this year. Anything between July 2012 and December 2012 is most likely to have our thief somewhere within it. I want all of the paperwork sorted and filed before anyone leaves. If you had any plans for the evening, cancel them. The longer we take to do this, the more likely Hyperlite ends up in the hands of weapons manufacturers, criminal organizations, or general baddies.  Get it done right and get it done now. I’ll be in my office if anyone needs me.”

We all vocalized our understanding and got back to research.  That’s what most of this work is. A lot of people think Federal Agents sit in offices waiting for crimes that need solving. The truth is, there is always crime happening and we are always researching it, analyzing every shred of video, audio, computer, and paper information that we have, looking for the connections that will save lives.  Especially here in DSI, we are working on the cases that other Federal Organizations wouldn’t have a prayer at solving. This is where the big (read: smart) boys come to play.  We are the link between private and public, the reason people think the government is bought out by big tobacco and oil. The truth is much simpler. Our countries best chances at survival lie in our biggest bread makers. The truth is the government stands behind them out of necessity, not greed—politicians aside.  And the truth is, without the DSI, a lot more people would be living lives much shittier.


Here is the original draft


The email from the department head read “Alltech CEO and co-founder attending year-end banquet.” I didn’t bother to read the email itself. The banquet emails are pretty standard: black-tie, get there early, the usual information. I can say though, I was more than excited for the opportunity to meet the man, Jean Bernier, the man behind the company.

                Alltech is a research firm, specializing in chemical engineering and metal compounds. Indeed, the All- in Alltech is short for “Alloy,” not “All-encompassing.” Thanks to Alltech, the government has more non-lethal weaponry than ever, not to mention all kinds of lightweight technological goodness. Of course, most of their work is classified (one of the perks of having a government contract) but believe you me, Alltech is one of the few companies changing lives for the better.

                I work for a branch of the Government designated DSI – Department of Special Investigations. The branch is for those of us who love puzzles. There’s no specific focus like the ATF or DEA, or even other SI units, though we do work with them. Our job is simply to make connections. Most of us work with the FBI to keep cases from going cold. There are some who look for connections between cases which are separated by jurisdiction or politics. I most get put in charge of connecting financial records and criminal conspiracies, like the way they busted Al Capone.

                I applied to work with the DSI for two reasons. First of all, you’re judged here on your own merits. Whether or not you have a college degree, military experience, or computer savvy is irrelevant. What is relevant is how well you can accurately make the type of connections that will save lives, jobs, or resources. Some of the highest closing rates in the Department come from analysts who have little more than a high school diploma to their credit. The second reason I wanted to work here is because I love the work we do. We find truths that most people don’t even know are hidden. There really isn’t a job that could be more fun for a guy like me, Special Agent James Del.

                After I reviewed a few more department emails, I got back to work on tracking a possible leak within Alltech. Now, the government doesn’t work for private organizations but, we do protect our interests. This holds especially true when the information leaked was a project intended to revitalize US space exploration – something about fuel efficiency and a new metal compound called “Hyperlite.” The information leaked was procedural, meaning anyone who had the money could create their own Hyperlite and that could be a very dangerous thing.

                Reading through piles of redacted documents and scientific data may sound boring. I suppose if you were to simply read through them without purpose, it would feel like you were in one of the weird Chinese hells. But I wasn’t just reading documents; I was searching through an intricately woven tapestry. I was looking for the thread that seemed loose, out of place, or possibly even unifying. The person who leaked the information I was currently reading had the complete documents, nothing was hidden. That means they had security clearance within the government as well as the company and in both places, higher clearance than anyone in my office had.

                As I read through the confusing, edited numbers and half-clear documents, I came across a photocopied page full of sticky notes. One of the notes read “Anagram.” The rest of the notes had some data points, to-dos, and a few chemical names: Nitric Oxide, Iron, Sulfur, Uranium, Radium, and Titanium. I’m no scientist but, I know a thing or two and titanium is one of the lightest metals out there so, I had been assuming that it was the base for the Hyperlite compound. The documents, of course, had been redacted to exclude all chemicals, elements, and otherwise compositional data of the material but, this seemed right.

                Just as I started getting some ideas written down, Special Agent Ryan Hendricks called me into his office. Hendricks is rather astounding example of form over function. He stands an impressive six-foot-nine, well over three hundred pounds, and he is stacked with muscle. Not the kind of muscle laborers have, the kind of muscle body-building machine addicts have. The kind of muscle that looks great until you actually need to use it. He spent a lot of time grooming himself, his greased back hair dyed carefully to make his graying look more like a peppering, though those of us who have been here a while knew he was just a silver-hair in denial. His skin was a nearly stark white, as were his teeth. The first time we’d met, I had to ponder whether or not they were the same shade. His eyes, a crystalline shade of blue-grey, were narrower than you would expect for a man his size but, most people couldn’t notice. He wore a jet-black Versace suit with a crisp red shirt and a silken black tie. If this were a movie, he’d probably be the bad guy. Luckily, he had one of the purest hearts I’ve known. We met in college and applied to the DSI at the same time. He’s saved my ass on more than one occasion. I couldn’t ask for a better friend than Special Agent Ryan Hendricks.

                I walked up to his office and stood in sharp contrast to him. I’m average height at five-foot-ten, a medium build with the kind of muscle that comes from field work. My skin is pretty average, perhaps a little more tan than some but, not the orange-colored tan people seem to trend towards. I keep a neatly trimmed beard and haircut, with just enough length to run my fingers through when I’m stressed. My hair is a shade of light brown or dark blonde, I’m not really sure which. Anyway, the point is, I am a pretty plain looking federal agent, where Ryan Hendricks is a comic book version of perfection.

                “My office,” he said, and he ushered me in, closing the door behind us. “Have a seat Jimmy. There’s something I want you to look at.”

                “Sure.” I sat and waited, he paced around his desk, around me. It seemed like a nervous walk but, Ryan never lets his emotions show. He used to when we were in the field together but, when I asked him about it once, he told me that as the head of the office, he had to keep a consistent demeanor, that neutral was best. I would have chosen a different expression to lock my face in if I had to keep it eight hours a day, seven days a week. I suppose to each, his own.

                Hendricks walked to his filing cabinet, opened up one of the drawers (column 3, row 2). The label on the drawer read Alltech Incorporated. He proceeded to take every single file out and set them on the desk in front of me. I eyed the impressive stack of documents stuffed inside cream colored folders, papers ruffled around and edges uneven, clearly worn down. I suspected this might be all of the documentation we had on Alltech.

`               As if on cue, Hendricks smiled a crookedly joyful smile and said “Once you finish reviewing this drawer, the next two will be wait for you.” My heart sank. I thought I had found the thread to pull on but, it was about to be buried under chaos.

                “Ryan, I don’t think this is necessary. I’ve found an angle to investigate. If you could just –“

                “I can’t; I’m sorry.”

                “What? I just need to get a look at the Alltech division handling Hyperlite. It would only be a one-hour tour, fully supervised.”

                “No, Jimmy. Monsieur Bernier has requested the utmost privacy in this matter. If you can’t find the answer in these three cabinets, I can get a warrant for Alltech’s employee database. But that’s all he will allow.”

                “All he will allow? Jesus Ryan, what’s going on? Since when do federal investigations bow to the will of CEOs?”

                “It’s not like that, Jimmy. But, this matter won’t be resolved by sticking our noses in his company. Try to see it from his perspective. Someone with high-level clearance infiltrated his company enough to steal information on their newest and most important active project. He doesn’t want to risk someone with lower clearance getting in and doing anything. No one knows whether the leak is on our side or their side, or even a competing company. He’s keeping everything sealed from anyone not currently involved.”

“I’m currently involved! How do you expect me to solve this without access to the ground floor?”

“You do have a team, Jimmy. You’re not a lone wolf, you know.”

I slammed my hands on his desk, jumping out of my chair, practically pulled up by the force of my fists driving down into the desk. “That’s not the point. Come on, man. How can we do it without access to employee interviews, face-to-face interactions, or at least some fucking documents with a little less black on them?”

“Don’t take this out on me. I only run the bloody office. I’m not the one issuing orders.” I didn’t mean to snap at him but, that lack of emotion gets to me sometimes. I’m still not used to this new personality, even after five years. Hendricks stood across from me. He lifted his coffee cup to his lips, sipped it lightly, and set it back down. “I don’t question my orders and you would be wise not to either.”

“These orders come from your superiors, not Bernier?”

“They do.”

I dropped back into my chair, rubbing the strain out of my eyes. “Shit. This is more serious than I thought, huh?”

“So it would seem.”

I started at Hendricks intensely, then back at the stack of documents, the empty cabinet. I clutched the photocopied document in my hand. I knew this was the lead to follow, the one that actually gave some insight into Hyperlite. I shot Hendricks a smile. “First round’s on you.”

 

As the team pored over the outdated and truly worthless documents of Alltech’s history, I continued my search through the relevant documents. The first step was rereading the documents I had already covered, plugging in any information I could from the photocopy I’d found. Mostly, it proved to be a futile search, except that I was able to confirm, thanks to the strict regulations of typeface, size, and general formatting of reports within the government’s infrastructure, that titanium was the base metal for Hyperlite and indeed other elements seemed to plug in to certain single-word redactions. It wasn’t much, but it was more than we had.

“Jim, I might have a lead here,” I heard from a woman on the other side of the office. It was the voice of Heather Hough, a transfer from the FBI. She had started in the field but, quickly proved she was better suited for analysis. It isn’t that she couldn’t hack it – quite the opposite in fact. She was put to work analyzing recovered technologies after she figured out how to disable the automated security system of a high-end weapons manufacturer. It was a state-of-the-art system beyond anything sanctioned by the United States Government. The ATF led a coordinated operation to commandeer the system. When it became apparently that the strike teams were unable to get through, Heather took it upon herself to pop open one of the security cameras and somehow figured out how the camera system was guiding the defense mechanisms. She disabled the cameras and the entire system shut down.

On top of that, Heather Hough was a classic babe. She had silky soft skin, a cute little button nose. A blonde with blue eyes, a straight white smile, and curves that would make any man drool. To top it off, she had the top score on several FBI fitness tests and the muscles to back it up. Without being too big, she’d managed to pack a hundred eighty-five pounds onto a frame just over five feet tall. There wasn’t a gram of fat to be found on her body. She carried herself with a presence that would (and probably did) terrify prison lifers. She approached me with her hand out, a stapled document in her hand. “Look at this. I think it could give us some direction.”

 

 

 

 

 

December 2012 Security Desk Memo. Clearance Update and Policy Changes.

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Clearance Level Red: A000145829. . . . . Jana Smart A000678242. . . . . Thomas Ripley

M04099754. . . . .  ********** R061854216. . . . .  **********

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Clearance Level Green:

A022143341. . . . .  ********** C041603521. . . . .  **********

The following Alltech Inc. employees now have Unrestricted Access:

G003084759. . . . . **********

                “Well, that just seems silly,” I retorted. “Without names, how do the security guards know they aren’t letting in thieves?” I separated the pages and handed them out for the team to review. I already had what I was looking for.

                “They don’t. And they did let in a thief.” Heather’s reply made me happy. I looked up to flash Hendricks that I-Told-You-So look through the glass wall of his office, only to find that he was on his way down to us.

                “Find something in my useless stack of outdated records?” somehow, his neutral façade still managed to demonstrate a smugness that superseded my own.

“It’s a memo for the front desk. Security updates.” Heather said, snatching the page from me and handing it to Hendricks. “If anyone knows Alltech’s security structure, we can determine which employees had access to the research.”

I thought for a moment then asked, “Are these names blacked out for us, or did the security desk receive them this way as well?”

“I’m not sure. You can ask Monsieur Bernier yourself at the banquet.”

“Aren’t we supposed to refrain from business talk at the banquet?” Despite her skill, Heather was oddly adherent to rules and policy. It surprises me that she manages to pull off such heroic feats. Most agents end up dead quicker than you might expect if they stick to the books.

Hendricks shot her a look. It’s hard to tell what his looks mean but, this one seemed to tell Heather that she needed to relax on the rules. The purpose of the DSI is to connect the dots, after all. You can’t do that from within the box. Heather must have gotten that look already, she looked down and away then proceeded to walk back to the team and dig through more documents.

“So,” I looked up at Hendricks and saw the wheels turning in his brain. “How do you want me to handle it?”

“Talk to Monsieur Bernier at the banquet. Don’t make me regret this decision.”

“Have I ever?”

“In the meantime, I’ll have your team looking for similar documents. Any luck with that sheet of paper?” He nodded to my desk, to the photocopy.

“At the very least, I can say that it fills in a few of the smaller blanks. We can reasonably assume that the elements named are the constituents of Hyperlite. The numbers probably correlate to data points. They may represent the volume of certain components. But there are more data notes than elements. I’m not sure what they correlate to but, I’m sure they are in the report on my desk. This would be so much easier if I were a scientist.”

Ryan let out a quiet chuckle then walked back toward his office. He climbed the set of five stairs that separated him from those of us who go can’t afford nice suits and then turn to face the area of the room those of us without offices occupy, ‘the pit’. He clapped his hands twice, silencing the room. Everyone turned to face him. Jesus that man is tall; he really doesn’t need an elevated office.

“Alright team, here’s the plan.” He looked out over the pit, making sure he had full attention. “Alltech is playing things very close to the vest. We’re going to try to get some clearer information on what exactly was going on with Hyperlite. In the meantime, I want you all to go through everything they’ve given us, flag any documents that give employee names or ID numbers. If you find security documents, pull them out. Start a separate file for anything that mentions security clearance. These documents went missing in July of this year. Anything between July 2012 and December 2012 is most likely to have our thief somewhere within it. I want all of the paperwork sorted and filed before anyone leaves. If you had any plans for the evening, cancel them. The longer we take to do this, the more likely Hyperlite ends up in the hands of weapons manufacturers, criminal organizations, or general baddies. Get it done right and get it done now. I’ll be in my office if anyone needs me.”

We all vocalized our understanding and got back to research. That’s what most of this work is. A lot of people think Federal Agents sit in offices waiting for crimes that need solving. The truth is, there is always crime happening and we are always researching it, analyzing every shred of video, audio, computer, and paper data that we have, looking for the connections that will save lives. Especially here in DSI, we are working on the cases that other Federal Organizations wouldn’t have a prayer at solving. This is where the big boys come to play. We are the link between private and public, the reason people think the government is bought out by big tobacco and oil. The truth is much simpler. Our countries best chances at survival lie in our biggest bread makers. The truth is the government stands behind them out of necessity, not greed (politicians aside). And the truth is, without the DSI, a lot more people would be living lives much shittier.

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One thought on “Chapter 1… Where it is, where it was.

  1. Pingback: Restructured Novel Plot – The Hero’s Journey! | The World of J Patrick Avery

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