As soon as we got off the plane in Sud at the Les Cayes Airport, security surrounded us, armed and ready to protect us. Apparently, we were the agents that we supposed to be finding out why the Black Crusade was taking back control and why the children kidnapping rate was rising so rapidly, more so than ever before. However, deep in this city called Les Cayes, where there were always annoying tourists and beautiful beaches galore, there was a chance in hell that we'd find a bunch of men and women kidnapping, sexually abusing and killing little children, it was that crowded.
In charge of the security detail for us agents was Stephane Roy, who was also assistant director general of Haiti's National Police and the one who was also going to be working with us on the case. A man clearly in his early fifties with grey hair and a thin, devious smile that hid more secrets than most, Roy met up with us as security surrounded us, giving off an aura of command. Pushing his way in, he managed to squeeze in next to Ziva and McGee, who flanked Gibbs. However, I knew that his goal was to talk to Gibbs and give him the load down of what he knew. After all, it was assumed the Haitian government was barely aware that the Black Crusade was still up and running this much until recently…or even killing the Marines investigating them.
As we walked towards our vehicle, I thought about the Haitian law enforcement. I knew that the National Police here were the only law enforcement organization keeping some security in Haiti after the disbandment of the Haitian military forces. However, for NCIS to be courting with them on this investigation was, according to Director Shepard, a great honor, considering the that the organization encompassed nationwide in Haiti. It would also be the first time we would be playing with Haiti, so we had to play by their rules.
"Special Agent Gibbs," Assistant Director General Roy greeted, finally getting his way through his men and the agents as soon as the five of us walked towards our waiting limo and squeezed into one (me, Roy and Ziva on one side and Gibbs, McGee and Tony on the other). "I see that you've brought a pretty small force in helping us take down the Black Crusade."
Despite it being about one hundred degrees outside and not much better in the limo (and in the mid-summer of Haiti, to boot), Gibbs was wearing his usual full office suit on, wiping the sweat off of his forehead. "It's a pleasure, Assistant Director General Roy. And our force is just enough to help bring down whoever is left at the Black Crusade headquarters."
Roy looked at the five of us skeptically in the limo as it drove out of the airport. "Special Agent Gibbs, you know that the Black Crusade has been a group of terror and pain, for perhaps may years. Are you sure only five of you would be able to dismantle them when ten of your agents already could not? Reports tell us that all ten have been tortured and killed."
"With due respect, Assistant Director General, my team is sufficient enough." Gibbs was sure of himself, although I pretty sure wasn't. Trained as I was before leaving, I didn't have the same confidence that Gibbs always had.
Roy just shrugged his shoulders, quickly taking a map out from his position behind the front passenger seat. Showing it to Gibbs, he pointed to locations we agents could not see, adding, "See? Here and here, we have been seeing suspected agents of the Black Crusade with small children, many in areas where kidnapping was highly concentrated. All of them are between the age of two and four. We don't know how many have gone missing, but many of them have been reported so by their parents."
"So, the areas in which they are missing children are poor neighborhoods?" Tony asked, looking out the windows and realizing how destitute Les Cayes can be.
Roy nodded. "They aren't the kind of families that save money for their children to go abroad, like the rest of the families claim happen. These are poor families, struggling to feed the mouths in their home. They live in small huts, sometimes in alleyways, mostly in and on the edges of cities. They forge their shelters out of what they can find, mostly garbage left behind. Children can easily go missing on the streets, searching for food and a better place to camp out, as if were. With so many of them gone though, we have to suspect the worst has happened, even for those poor families."
"Is there evidence of any buildings that the Black Crusade may be hiding in?" McGee asked, taking out his laptop computer and typing in some things, for tracking the money trail of Henry and Seth Austin here (because we knew that it ended in Haiti). "Here in Les Cayes, there's surely someone who knows something, can tell us where a paper trail is or where people might be."
Again, Roy shrugged his shoulders. "We have nobody. Until you've found Ewenso Simon, there has been nobody here who would tell us anything after its original mission, not even your Pentagon, who had firstly informed us of its continuing existence in 1996. We know what you know unless you want to talk about when the Black Crusade was actually legal."
I noticed that Gibbs was frustrated by the situation, but was saying nothing about it as his forehead continued to draw lines of anger. I also could see that he knew that Roy was hiding something, the way his eyes kept shifting from one agent to another nervously. What it was, we all could not tell, but my gut was telling me that somebody was lying, most likely Roy.
Suddenly, a cell phone chirped. It was Roy's, a call that he picked up immediately when he saw the name and number on it. "Yes?"
After listening for what seemed like an eternity, we saw Roy blanch white, turning from a very commanding, albeit lying, presence to one of goo. He nodded a lot, trying to speak in French maybe, but was always interrupted by a voice that dominated the conversation. Gulping at what seemed at the end of the exchange, a muttered sense of gratitude was heard before he hung up.
"That was the director general, my boss," Roy informed us as he put his cell phone away. "Seth and Henry Austin, along with their guest with the unknown name, both have been given political asylum herein Haiti due to troubles in the United States. Black Crusade or not, they have been given a ticket to freedom and cannot be touched, with or without political crimes pinned against them. They have been granted sanctuary here."
"Are you kidding, Sir?" I blurted out. "Does your boss know what these people have been up to, especially concerning the murders of these U.S. Marines?"
Gibbs shot me a look of pure venom, being so rude and all to a government official (after Director Shepard even explained to me what diplomacy and politics meant before leaving), but I ignored it as I continued. "Can't you fight it? Can't you tell him about the crimes that we've pinned on them and hold them for us?"
"That's another thing," Roy replied, nervous again (and not outraged, as I would have expected him to be) to hear me speak so audaciously. "The investigation into the Black Crusade has been closed. Unless they attack us directly, there is no just cause in chasing down an organization that has been suspected of kidnapping and murder and nothing more."
I slapped my forehead, willing my tongue to be silenced, but it was impossible until Ziva spoke for me, almost at will. "And if we have the evidence, will the investigation be opened once more?"
"I seriously doubt it," Roy said, defeated. "You should call this case cold and move on, dead Marines or not."
Tony, silently sitting there as McGee was trying to track a trail (and then told that the case was closed, so the computer was shut down), showed his outrage through his eyes, but not a lot of it. "Assistant Director General," he said soothingly (without showing his inner feelings), "are you sure that we cannot continue this investigation as planned? Director Shepard, with whom you have spoken to, is very anxious to see that these three prestigious Marines and their families have been given justice. In addition –"
"I do not have the authority to give you permission to be in this country at this moment." Roy adamantly put his arms across his chest, as if he had the audacity to now send us back to the States. "Your trip has been for nothing, my friends. I should tell the driver to turn around and head back to the airport."
"On a busy road like this with too many pedestrians and vehicles? I think not." Tony smiled. "Now, I did not finish. In addition, Sir, we have another Marine, who has been on the case in 1995. He's alive, but will be targeted unless we shut down the Black Crusade. One of his daughters has already been murdered in cold blood, and at our director's home, mind you. Should the rest of his family be killed, just the same way as the daughter was?"
I shuddered visibly. I could be next. Mara seemed to be the appetizer. Jay is in Iraq, but there's always me, the one helping to bring them down.
"Considering how one of your victim's relations is also a prisoner of the same people who won their asylum?" Roy snapped, not specifying who it was, although Felix Henderson was on everyone's minds and he fit the bill perfectly. "No, I don't think that we will be handing over jurisdiction of this case to NCIS this time. My boss has kindly asked that all files be forwarded to him and to close it on your end."
McGee closed his computer silently as if to shut it down completely, pleading to Gibbs on his left with his eyes that he not hand over the machine. He knew that all of our case files (well, copies of them anyway) are on the laptop that he brought with him. Roy knew that and was holding his hand out for the electronic device, like a child at Christmas wanting his presents and being impatient about it. However, that want was quenched pretty quickly.
"We're going to have to send them from DC upon our return," Gibbs quickly lied to Roy, motioning that McGee's computer be kept with him. "The computer is used for tracking."
Roy was not convinced. "I'm sorry, Special Agent Gibbs. My orders were to confiscate any equipment that you've brought with you, personal cell phones and such excluded. Now, hand over the –"
Suddenly, what sounded like an exploding noise was heard under our feet. With the driver barely in control of the limo, the vehicle was swaying to and fro, threatening an accident into a stand on the right. People around us ran to get out of the way with no one luckily hurt (as far as I knew). However, store stalls were knocked over without our help and numerous fruits and vegetables scattered across the limo windows and windshield.
"What the hell is going on here?" Roy had turned around and was banging hard on the glass that separated us from the driver. He then barked something in French, but the driver only replied something to the effect that he was doing the best he could and that he could try to brake someplace safe.
"Assistant Director General, who knew that NCIS was coming to Haiti?" Gibbs asked cautiously as the driver managed to control the limo and slip it into a deserted alleyway. "The trip here was supposed to be known to very few people."
"The National Police knows," Roy revealed, annoyed as his nervousness turned to suspicion. "Our president knows. Other than that, I don't know who –"
A crash and another gunshot aimed towards the car interrupted Roy. When I looked out of the tinted window, I saw that we had run into some garbage in the alleyway, making the limo stink like a car hitting a skunk on the road. However, concerning where that gunshot came from, I couldn't tell, nor could I see where the target was. It did get Gibbs fired up, although he was pretty calm about it.
"The Black Crusade seems to know that we're here," he said nonchalantly to Roy.
"We don't know that!" Roy retorted, getting more annoyed with our obsession with closing the case later rather than sooner. "It could have been anyone who knows that this is my personal vehicle."
"Who else would be shooting at us if we weren't in this car?" Gibbs then asked as he motioned his three agents out, all of them squeezing out into the alleyway just as Gibbs opened the door. Then, to me, he added, "Lydia, stay here and cover the assistant director general."
"But –" I was about to argue.
"Stay here and guard Assistant Director General Roy," Gibbs barked before leaving. "And that's an order!"