Delia DeGrassi was one of the first women to be universally regarded as a powerful and genuinely humane individual. Being the new CEO of a Fortune 500 company gave her a lot of free reign to make things better. At 56, she was one of the most publicly active business officials in the world. Her charity work and contribution, along with extensive donations to public schools in New York and lobbying against the corruption-ridden testing-based education system that still dominated America, gave her an image as a pro-education and pro-public figure. This was not by accident. Her PR people were very clear about this.
DeGrassi herself hadn’t come from money. This fact alone was alarming. She had a brilliant mind and was not above slitting the figurative throats of her comrades to get ahead. After graduating from MIT, she had entered this company and fought hard to get where she was. For the first time, she felt safe in her employment. Her company was making money and she was living the kind of life she had always dreamed.
As she was waiting for her car to arrive, something felt off. People were starting to look at her. Lots of people. Cell phones were buzzing and ringing, like everyone was getting a message at the same time. That got her attention. In an instant, her heart stopped. Her phone started to buzz as well. She grabbed it fast, with a message on display. She opened it and felt her heart stop. Her past was catching up with her.
There was video footage of her when she was younger. Back then, she and her 14 year old daughter had been involved in a mother-and-daughter escort business. It was something that she had worked so hard to get away from. Something that she had prayed to God for years for forgiveness for doing. For a time, it looked like that her prayers might have been answered. Now, The Watcher had taken her past and was airing it out to everyone nearby. There was anger. Screens around them started to light up. It showed the video footage, with the ad she had beside it. The two of them, naked. Delia started to cry. If she was a target of The Watcher, she knew what was going to happen. The same thing that happened to everyone who the person went after.
As the tears rolled down her face, she looked at her phone.
Answer for your Sins.
The detail assembled after the call went out. Another murder. This one done with a handgun. This time, it was a cop. There was a growing part of the police force that viewed The Watcher as a hero, someone who was on their side and should be recognized for that.
Bradley was waiting for them all.
“Ah, everyone. I’d like to make it known that you are to leave your cell phones here on the table when you arrive. I hate the buzzing of a phone interrupting. If you have anyone you need to talk to, do so now. Alright?”
Few thought that it was strange, except for Wolfe. So, he’s already suspecting a cop. I’m not surprised. Not with as good as he is. No doubt he’ll have someone checking the phones while we are working. No worries. They won’t find anything.
Everyone did as bidden, walking into the other room and sitting at the various chairs.
The blonde agent pulled out a folder. “Hey boss, I had me a thought about the killing of the priest and the Senator.”
That got people’s attention.
“I don’t think that the Senator was the express target.”
Bradley cocked an eyebrow. “How can you be sure?”
Wolfe chimed in, “I think she’s right! I was about to say the same. Something about the lack of visuals with the Senator in them got us to thinking – the priest was the intended target.”
The blonde smiled at her. It was a warm and pleased smile.
Bradley looked intrigued. “Alright, then what was with the fact that he was in there at all?”
The agent took over. “I think it was to see what would happen. The Watcher is still new to this. Whoever it is, they are testing the limits of their influence over the people.”
Deacon looked up. “If that’s the case, then they must have gotten one hell of a demonstration of how much power they have. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public so quick to kill. It was mind-boggling.”
“Indeed,” Bradley agreed. “their influence is growing. Even some of the police are throwing in with The Watcher.”
“Something I do not fucking get, with all due,” the foul-mouthed detective, Jenkins, groaned. “We are supposed to represent law and order in the world. How can we even begin to claim that if we are throwing in with psychos like this?”
The older detective, Green, looked out the window. “Because we suck. We spend so much time going after bullshit crimes and on the payroll of whoever can supplement our shitty-ass wages that it’s hard not to think that the system is broken. And it is. The Watcher is just the inevitable answer to years and years of a broken and corrupt system. I’m not saying that that’s good, but maybe we should have seen this coming.”
Bradley shook his head. “No point questioning the what-ifs now. We have a job to do. We have to catch The Watcher, and that’s all there is too it. Once we catch the big fish, the little ones will swim away. Trust me.”
There was agreement around the room at that.
“Alright, we’ve got a new murder today. This time it was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Again. Amazing that we are able to say that we have one killer who has taken out two of the most powerful people on Earth. But anyway, what do we know about the case?”
Deacon and Wolfe had gone over the scene that morning, so they were the ones leading the debriefing.
“Well, first-off, the actual killing was done by a young cop. Single shot to the head from a standard-issue Glock. She was dead before she hit the ground. As always, there wasn’t a sign that anyone had tampered with any of the shops or anything else. Since the signal stopped long before we got there, we got nothing on that. Like the last killing, it started with the phones and then went to the screens.”
Wolfe added, “Which I think means that, however this person is doing this, it isn’t like flipping on a kitchen light. They can only do one thing at a time. I don’t know what that means for the investigation, but…”
Bradley smiled. “It means a lot. Every little detail gets us one step closer to The Watcher and ending their cycle of terror. Now, on to the woman who was killed. What we here ‘Sins’?”
The blonde pointed to one of the screens in the office. “Well, from what we’ve gained from the information sent to Wikileaks, she once was a prostitute who advertised herself with her teenage daughter, as a kind of duo. There were video tapes that some of her johns must have made, since I can’t see her making them herself. We did a little digging into her email and computer, both at home and work, and found that the videos were there. She had gone to great trouble to make sure that they didn’t see the light of day. Which means…”
Which means I’m in trouble! If they start figuring out the lengths I am going to, then it makes it that much easier to trace this back to me! Wolfe hid her mixed feelings. If she lost it now, she was fucked.
“Which means that they must have some form of contact with these people!” Deacon piped up. “They are able to go and see people independently and go unnoticed. It is someone in a position of power.”
With that remark, Wolfe felt her enemies starting to close in. However, there was another side to this – with the police figuring out that it is someone powerful, they will eventually start to question law enforcement. Doubt was a weapon she could use, but not now. Not until her enemies were really closing in. For the moment, she was able to keep the battle going. For the moment, there were cards still in her deck.
The detail left at the end of the day. They had a larger task ahead of them than they thought – making a list of who could go into the lives of people in positions of power like this and be unnoticed or unreported. Correlating that was a much bigger process than one would think. Bradley was looking for the human angle to this, since he was not especially a tech kind of person. As he said, this was a human, with human limitations and human motivations. Catching The Watcher would be something done on the street, not in the world of the machines. The ironic part of that was that if they wanted to get proof of the person’s guilt, they needed that world. It was a profound double-edged sword.
Wolfe walked up to the blonde agent at the end of the day. “You’re quite something, Agent…I just realized, I never got your name. Kind of rude, I guess. My name’s Wolfe, Jennifer Wolfe. Most people call me Jen.”
The agent smiled. “My name’s Heather, Heather Lancaster. But you can just call me Heather. And you’re not too shabby yourself. You might have a career in the FBI, once all this is done.”
“I’d like that. Say, you up for getting a little dinner? I’m famished, and it would be nice to get to know someone I think it’s a total dumbshit a little better. You know, outside work.”
The girl looked so pleased. “I would like that! Know any good places near here?”
“I might have an idea.”
“So, Deacon walks right in, not bothering to ask why the guys were wearing hazmat suits. He opens the door and there is a stink like nothing you can imagine. I won’t go into details, but trust me, it was awful. Got the whole neighborhood smelling like it. I had to grab him and pull him back to keep him from contaminating the evidence by vomiting all over it.”
The two laughed, with people around them seeming to lose their appetites.
“Man, I forgot what it’s like to be a regular cop. Been an FBI agent too long. We have forensics people who do that kind of work for us. I haven’t been to the scene of a crime in years.”
Wolfe took another bite of her burger. The place they were at a pretty cheap diner that was known for serving a damn good burger at any hour of the day. It was a cozy joint, but it had its charm.
“You might just get your chance, with this case. I mean, we’re gonna have to do some field work at some point, right?”
She shook her head. “Doubtful. We have people all over the city for that. The more we’re learning about how The Watcher gets into the various systems, the more we can find a way to pinpoint their location. Once we have the city wired to watch for strange signals, we’ll be able to pinpoint when he’s doing what he does, and that’s when we’ll grab him!”
Her surprise was partly an act, but also partly for real. Her stomach was doing all sorts of ugly things.
“Is that even legal?”
Heather winked at her. “We got the NSA behind us. Which means that the government has sanctioned us to do whatever the fuck we want. It pays to be FBI, you know?”
Putting a grin and slapping the girl’s hand was all an act. On the inside, she could feel the wagons starting to circle.
“I guess so.” She took another bite of her burger, hoping to calm her stomach down a bit. It seemed like every time she had a leg up, her enemy was getting ahead.
They got back to the hotel where Heather was staying.
“Thanks for taking me to dinner, Jen. Didn’t realize how hungry I was until I started eating.”
“My pleasure. Not every day I get to take an FBI agent out on a date.”
Her companion blushed a little. “This was a date?”
Wolfe just winked at her. “See you tomorrow, Heather.” She needed some time to think.
Back at the gym, she was listening to the Rolling Stones as she ran. It was very late, so she was alone here. Her mind was racing. So many questions, problems and new issues that she had to account for. Heather’s affection was something she could exploit. Something she had to, if she was to find a way around these little gizmos they were placing around the city. Part of her felt bad for using someone like that, but this was getting into dangerous territory. One couldn’t be too careful. For now, the game continued. She liked it that way.
Until next time, a quote,
“The more they claim to be comrades of like mind, the easier it is to divide them with the thorns of suspicion.” -Lelouch vi Britannia, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion