“You guys really know how to mess up a crime scene,” said Jones, an FBI agent who arrived with the backup Natalie had earlier called in. Jones was a massive muscular African American with a shaved head. “I hope you found something worthwhile.”
“We did,” Snow confirmed. We found the murder weapon, and we now know what happened to our missing agent.”
Jones gave him a chilling glare. The FBI was forced to cooperate with the PSI, though very few of them considered the psionically focused agency their equal, and many resented that they had to share resources. Add to that the fact that the PSI almost never had to answer for their actions while the FBI did, and relations were sometimes strained. “And?” he asked.
Snow shook his head slowly. “He’s become a traitor, and he was responsible for the death of our other agent.”
“So you now know who was responsible for both deaths,” said Jones. “I assume by the body count that you got your man and your investigation is over then.”
“Not quite,” said Snow. “He managed to acquire some sensitive technology funded by the Department of Defense. I intend to get it back and bring him in.”
Jones fixed Snow with a stern gaze. “Your purpose here was to discover who was responsible for the death of your agent. You’ve accomplished that. This now becomes a general law enforcement matter, and it is up to the proper authorities to apprehend him.”
Snow sighed. Turf wars between the two agencies was common, particularly in cases like this where the arresting agent might stand to gain recognition. “I understand procedure, and I agree that we could use some backup, but my partner and I need to be there when you take him down.”
“Do you think we’re incapable of doing it ourselves?” asked Jones.
“Frankly, yes,” said Snow. “Agent, you don’t have psionic abilities, you haven’t been trained in how to deal with people who have them, and those in my agency have every bit as much training in law enforcement and investigation as you have. Your agency isn’t equipped to bring him in, and things would most likely go very badly for you if you try to do it without our help.”
“So what’s next?” Jones asked.
“We need to interrogate the only one of them still breathing. We need to find out what agent Scott is planning. I suspect he’s going to flee the country.”
Jones walked over to the man bleeding on the floor. Natalie held a compress to his shoulder, though it was quickly becoming saturated with blood. His eyes were closed and they could tell that his breathing was becoming shallow. A puddle of blood was next to him on the flor, along with several used cloth compresses Natalie had already discarded. Snow noted that his partner’s face had become flushed of color, and she looked ill. “How do you intend to interrogate this man?”
“We’ll need him conscious and aware, then we can get whatever information we need out of him,” Snow said simply.
“I expect that the EMT’s will be here shortly. At that time I’ll have him brought by ambulance to the hospital. After that, you can interrogate him when the doctor allows it.”
“And I suspect our double agent will be out of the country by then,” Snow said. “Is it really in your best interest to interfere with a matter where national security of involved? If this technology makes it into the hands of our enemies, we will be giving up what would otherwise be a major new piece in our armed forces arsenal, and we would be helping to even the playing field for anyone with psionics on their side.”
“You know that there are rules that we must follow. You can’t interrogate a dying man, no matter how important the matter is.”
“Agent, playing it by the book will not resolve this matter to anybody’s satisfaction.”
“Then you have until the EMT’s show up to get the information out of him,” said Jones. The man then turned around and joined two other agents who were surveying the bullet holes in the living room.
Snow crouched by Natalie. “You don’t look too good,” he said, touching her lightly on the shoulder.
“I’m fine,” she breathed.
“It isn’t the blood, is it?” he asked.
Natalie snickered, “No, not at all.”
“Then I don’t get it.”
“Alright,” said Natalie, “I just took the life of another human being for the first time. I know that we’ve been trained for this, but somehow….”
“You weren’t really prepared for it,” said Snow. “Nobody ever really is. They can train you all they want, but it bothers people when it happens, especially for the first time. They say its worse for us than regular people because we can sense their life energies depart.”
“How did you deal with it?” she asked.
Snow shrugged. “I didn’t. I killed my first suspect chasing him through a busy street in New York. The first time he shot at me, I was scared. The second time he shot, I was angry. I gunned him down, stuck around to tag him and bag him, and then went to the bar and got myself stupid-drunk. The next morning I was in more pain from the hangover than I was the memory of what happened. I did the same the two or three times I killed someone in the line of duty after that. Then after a while the feeling of guilt and terrible responsibility just went away.”
Natalie smiled, “You wouldn’t happen to have a shot of Vodka on you, would you?”
“We’re not out of this yet,” said Snow. “We need to get this guy conscious, but after that I think we can arrange something.”
Natalie laughed, “You’re joking, right? He’s bleeding to death.”
“We have until the EMT’s get here, and then we lose him. We need to know what he knows now or we’re done here.”
“We could try smelling salt. It might bring him around for a while,” Natalie suggested.
Snow reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and produced a packet of the foul smelling substance. He normally kept a couple in his jacket since they frequently came in handy in the field. He broke it open under the suspect’s nose, and he could immediately detect a strong ammonia odor. He held it there for a moment, and he saw the suspect’s eyes flutter, then open.
“We need information,” Snow said.
“I have nothing to say to you,” the man said weakly.
“I thought you might not be willing to cooperate,” Snow said. “That won’t stop me.”
He stared into the man’s eyes, reaching out with the energy in his mind. The man’s eyes stopped shifting and stared unblinkingly at Snow’s. The agent could tell that the inner reserve of the man’s energy was weak to begin with, and he seemed unprepared for a psionic probe. It took very little time to break through his defenses.”
“Why are you at this house?” Snow asked.
“We came to retrieve the missing piece.”
“The missing piece of what?” Snow asked.
“Is Anthony Scott your boss?”
“No, I serve another.”
“Who?” Snow asked.
“Not who, but what,” the man replied.
Snow sensed a bit of hesitation, inner conflict. This man had more resolve than he had previously suspected, which meant that his dedication ran deep. “The Six Fingered Hand,” the man replied.
“And how does Anthony Scott figure into this?” Snow asked.
“Scott was a sleeper agent planted in the PSI. He was programmed to turn on you as soon as he uncovered technology that he deemed useful.”
“Where is he going next?” Snow asked.
“Mexico, and from there I don’t know, but I heard that the plan is for him to meet up with our superiors somewhere in Europe.”
“How is he getting to Mexico?” Snow asked.
“Helicopter. There’s one waiting for him.”
Snow sensed another surge of resistance, this one far more powerful than the previous one.
“No,” he said.
Snow maintained concentration on the man, visualizing the mental barrier. Perhapse this was something Scott planted in the minds of his thugs to keep them from revealing his location, or it could be that this man truly didn’t want his mission compromised. The Six Fingered Hand was a group that worked towards bringing about the end of the world. Snow suspected that this man was recruited because of a deeply nihilistic philosophy.
Snow tried to pierce the mental barrier. He could see beads of sweat appear on the man’s forehead, and he sensed the man mentally repeating a sentence of carefully prepared gibberish over and over. The brick lay in the hot sun beneath the azure waves of starlight as the nuclear ice landed gently on the fox’s tail swirling into dog bowls over the wide sun.
Snow knew that the EMT’s would be here shortly, and it could take hours to break through, waiting for the man’s consciousness to make a mistake and leave a vulnerable spot through which thought could be extracted. He was amazingly well trained for someone without psionic talent. Snow registered the man was in pain from the gunshot at the periphery of his consciousness. Snow concentrated on this, amplifying it slowly, forcing it to the forefront of the man’s awareness. This was a delicate process; if he amplified the pain too much, the man would lose consciousness again, but if he took too much time, he would lapse into unconsciousness from blood loss. He quickly augmented the pain, doubling it, and then projecting it onto different parts of the man’s body. Snow sensed that the man had a fear of losing his legs, so he moved the pain entirely to the kneecaps.
Suddenly the man’s eyes grew wide, and Snow sensed a pause in the nonsensical repetitious mental dialogue. “Where?” He asked again.
“Beaumond’s Plaza Tower, downtown,” the man said with a clenched jaw. “They’re on their way there now.”
Snow released his hold on the man’s psyche. He watched as his eyes rolled back into his head, and he lost consciousness again.
“Agent Jones,” Snow said.
The enormous man he had verbally sparred with earlier walked back to the kitchen. “Yes agent?”
“We need to move now. They have a ten minute head start on us, and they’re headed downtown to catch a chopper.”
“I’ll drive,” said Jones. “Let’s go. I’ll call for backup on the way.”
To be continued...