Note: So, I have been thinking about a follow up story to False Flag. I'm still going to write one, but this story bunny hijacked my plans. I usually try to make my stories like an episode of the show, but this one is going to take a little different track.
T minus is a time countdown, usually used in military settings or NASA. My father was career Air Force, so it's been part of my lexicon since I was a child.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Coverts Affairs; I'm simply borrowing them for this story.
On a fateful day in the spring of 2010, five lives came together. Here's what happened before their lives collided.
Collide T minus 844 days – January 2008
"Tash, what were you thinking?" The anger had been building inside Auggie ever since he learned of Natasha's latest hack. " Seriously, the Department of Agriculture?"
"It's farms, Auggie." Natasha wasn't having any of his self-righteous bull. She closed her laptop and grabbed it off the desk, trying get by him to get out of the room, but he caught her arm.
"It's all the government, they don't like it when you hack into their systems. And they will figure it out." He said with fire blazing in his eyes. Here was a woman that he loved, more than he knew he could love another person and she did something so blatantly stupid that it could screw up their lives for years to come.
"How?" She asked, the fire equal in her eyes. "Are you going to tell them? You have hacked into worse places."
"That's not the point." Auggie knew she was right, his NOC cover had him doing some things that were, shall we say, not so legal.
"I was trying to show them a firewall leak." She tried to wiggle from his grasp; he was the strongest computer hacker she had ever met.
"Just stop for a minute. Would you? Let's see if we can fix it."
"Mercer is a loose cannon." Henry's eyes narrowed at the sound of his name.
"You don't think I know that?" Jai said throwing up his arms and sitting in a chair across from his father. "Besides, isn't that what you want in a deep cover agent?"
Henry thought about his son's words for a moment. "It doesn't mean I like it when he doesn't listen to me. Nelson has been handling him for six months and he's had no luck getting Mercer to follow orders."
"And you think I can do any better?"
"Well…" Henry looked down his nose at his son, exuding authority, a look that he'd perfected in his 8 years as the Director of Clandestine Services. "I expect you to do better."
Joan was pacing in her office. An action she found herself doing with way too much frequency. With each step she questioned her decision to come in from the field and take this job. What was she thinking; she was a great field agent and a great station chief in Brussels. Now she was the token woman in a man's world at Langley.
"You've got to stop doing that." A voice from the doorway stopped her in her tracks.
Joan looked up and saw her husband. How she loved calling him her husband. "Hi Arthur."
"What are you worrying about now?" He asked closing the door behind him.
"I'm not sure if I can read you in on this one." Joan sat at her desk pulling some papers from a very full file folder.
"I would think you can, my clearance is at least two levels higher than yours." Arthur said sitting in one of the very uncomfortable chairs across from the desk. He took the piece of paper she was holding out to him. "Is Jai sure about this?"
"He's pretty sure." Joan sighed. "It's going to destroy him."
Traveling was Annie's escape. It had always been her escape; it stopped her from putting down roots, from making any friends that were too close. The vagabond lifestyle suited her; the wanderlust of a career Army man was passed down from father to daughter. Salerno Italy was as good a place as any to stay for a few days. She relaxed on a bench near the waterfront to plan her next stop. She looked up and a man greeted her in Italian. She patted the bench, inviting him to have a seat. He joined her and they struck up a conversation. Wanderlust was a beautiful thing.
Auggie skillfully punched at the keys on his keyboard, only looking up occasionally to see if there were any results on the screen before him. "Tash, this is a brilliant hack."
"It is, isn't it?" Natasha said with a smile on her face, pulling a chair next to Auggie.
"Brilliant, but really, really stupid."
"Pirate Bureau wants me to do another. For the Pentagon."
"Tash…" Auggie turned away from the keyboard. "I really wish you wouldn't do that."
"Don't worry Auggie, I won't." Natasha replied, he would never know that she had already started writing the code.
"He put in for a close and continuing with her." Joan explained to her husband.
"You have to deny it." Arthur tossed the paper back on Joan's desk.
"I already have."
"Good. Is the FBI closing in?"
Joan sighed, "Yes, it should be a few days, a week tops."
"You need to get him away from her."
"He called in that he's going to be late, I'll talk to him as soon as he gets in." Joan answered; she was not looking forward to the conversation that she was going to have to have with one of her best field agents.
Jai always knew his father expected a lot from him. This time he may be asking for a miracle. Controlling Mercer had been the task of three agents the last 18 months. All have tried to rein in his less than protocol ways, all had failed. Jai wasn't sure if his father was setting him up to fail or really had faith in his ability. "When is Nelson going to read me in?"
"He's expecting you next week." Henry stood up, a sign that he was dismissing his son.
"I'll wrap up my files and call travel." Jai got up and headed for the door. "Nice to see you Dad." He looked toward his father, but Henry had already gone on to something else and was no longer paying attention to him. Jai walked through the doorway and closed it softly behind him.
Note: Let me know what you think so far. Reviews are always appreciated.