As expected the corrupt judge released the assassins back onto the streets. Their attorney filed a complaint against the officers who made the arrests, but no one at the station knew who those officers were. Not even the medics in the ambulance who received the assassins with all the paperwork neatly printed out could identify them.
Since the surgeon who removed the bullets from their arms didn’t notice the tracking devices that the shots were intended to deliver, once the assassins were released Helen began logging their journey.
Pointing to her monitor, Helen said, “The way these guys wander about the city I wonder if they took the blue pill or the red pill.”
When Headquarters collapsed the surviving complicit agencies frantically made attempts to cover their tracks by assigning two hitmen to take out Bill and Timothy inside a bar. Upon entering the bar the hitmen noted the location of the barmaid and a quarrelling couple along with their primary targets.
In more civilized times opponents, in theory, would face each other on dusty streets with cemeteries in full view where one or both would be forced to rest in peace while the decent folk got out of the way.
Today when the two assassins with bitcoins dancing in their heads drew their weapons the quarrelling couple stopped quarrelling and, in spite of shots being fired, arrested these valuable sources of information on this side of eternity.
After the couple escorted the hitmen out of the bar Timothy permitted the owner with his clientele back in. Although Bill tried to convince them, scoffers all, that they were filming an action movie, it was only when the barmaid handed the owner and each of his customers envelopes generously stuffed with cold, hard, fiat cash that everyone was happy.
This wasn’t Timothy’s first rodeo, but the corruption went deeper than he suspected. The interrogations after the fall of Headquarters led to the whereabouts of additional missing people, mostly children, more than he had anticipated.
“Do you think we’ve found all of them?” Helen asked.
Helen first met Timothy when she was investigating the kidnapping of his own daughter a decade earlier. She remembered him telling her during their month-long search that his prayers left him convinced that his daughter had always been in stronger arms than his own even before they found the body.
As to whether they located all of the victims, Timothy said, “I hope there will never be any more.”
Helen laughed when she heard Headquarters claimed Bill was killed in the raid. “They don’t even know who Bill is,” she said. “The agents we arrested in that kaleidoscope of tunnels made plea bargains before Headquarters heard anything of it.”
“I wonder when the rats will start running.” Timothy added, “I hope they think it’s safe to implement the spider protocol.”
Back in freezing Chicago as snow plows uncovered a buried street, Timothy learned at Headquarters that the raid in Miami killed his partner Bill. He delivered the zip file and reported the compromised safe house.
Timothy hoped Bill’s raid was successful, but he knew that any intel he’d receive should be viewed as psyops. Still, scraps of it might be true. From his back door to their communication system he identified and then disabled the assassin they hoped would take him out once he left the building.
Walking down the street with fresh snow falling Timothy smiled to think that those whiz kids at Headquarters wouldn’t believe how few bits he had to flip in that zip file to plow away their covers and expose them.
Through his earpiece Timothy was instructed to meet at the “six gates” safehouse in two hours.
He could walk there in fifteen minutes giving him enough time to see if the location was compromised. The approaching storm over the Atlantic Ocean would offer some cover if it was. He hid his earpiece, phone and a small surprise under the mulch behind the building where no one should go and he went to the boardwalk to watch.
Through his binoculars Timothy smiled when he recognized the two men who shouldn’t have found his phone, find it. His only regret was he kind of liked that earpiece.
Timothy saw a spider rest at the center of its web. What a marvel of patience!
Looking through his binoculars he noticed smiles on the faces of the agents as they left his abandoned apartment. He heard in his earpiece, “The white hats have the laptop”, but he suspected it could be mere psyops.
Regardless all he needed to do was wait. Either they wandered into the web or they didn’t.
Bill said that he’d be “back with the zip file”, but that was last Saturday. Timothy searched online, but Bill disappeared from there as well. All Bill’s posts vanished. Even records of the events they attended together vanished.
By the time Timothy figured out what was going on it must have been too late.
The only thing that remained was the word “sorry” gouged with large, rough letters into the plaster of his apartment wall that the maintenance staff seemed anxious to cover up as we entered the room pretending to look for a place to rent.