Out of Town Visitors:
Written by: Wes Imlay
(Author's Note: This story takes place four months after the events of 'Apotheosis' and includes characters from the 'Global Defense' series of stories written by The Wilky Bar Kid.)
Chapter One: Drinking With a Stranger:
Six months after the events of 'Apotheosis':
Campania Hotel, Caprica City:
Ian Grant, Andrea Randle, and Bruno Milone were situated in a surveillance van outside of the Campania Hotel in downtown Caprica City packing up their equipment. They knew their boss was on the way and he might not be too pleased with the results tonight. A steady rain had begun to pelt the metal skin of the van, and by the sound of it they were in for quite the storm tonight.
Aaron Brannigan had stationed them and the van here on McGregor Street across from the hotel where it was rumored a deal was going to take place between the STO and the Canceron-based crime syndicate known as the Basileus.
"How much longer until he's here?" Randle asked her two fellow agents.
"Not too sure, he'll probably give us till 10:00 or 10:30 and let us know," Milone said as he looked at his watch and saw that it was now 9:54 pm.
"Intel didn't give us too much to go on; we don't even know who the representative of the Basileus is. Why are we even doing surveillance on an off-world organization?" Randle asked.
"It may be an organization based 'off-world' but if there is even the hint of an alliance with the STO then we need to find out and stop it. The problem is that people at the GDD have not paid much attention to Canceron and now it's coming back to bite us in the ass," Grant said as he looked to across the street to see if any identified STO members showed up or if anyone who was considered a 'confirmed' member of the Basileus showed up.
"You just knew they would pick Brannigan for a job like this," Milone added.
"That's true, with the case that made his career sixteen years ago," Randle said.
Aaron Brannigan had been the agent responsible for ending a human trafficking ring known as the Aret. It had taken almost eight years of searching down every lead that came across his desk, but Brannigan had managed to track down the group's headquarters. They were based out of an old shipping warehouse on the Caprica City waterfront in the Macedon district. The result was the arrest of Rosella Ballard and David Knapp, bringing an end to the trafficking ring until the next criminal entrepreneur found the inspiration to try to make the business work without getting caught.
There was a knock on the side door of the van facing away from the hotel, Randle looked out the window and saw who it was. Without saying a word she opened the door and took a step back. Brannigan stepped into the van looking as though he had just been in a storm.
"It's started raining as I was making my way here," he said as he took his rain jacket off and put it on a nearby chair.
"I hate to tell you this boss, but there's been no activity here. If the Basileus is in the area they may have found a way to fly under our DRADIS," Grant said.
"They're here, I can feel it in these old bones," Brannigan said. He was in his late fifties and at times found that he was looking forward to retirement, he was fifty-six and sixty-two seemed so close yet so far away.
"I trust your instincts," said Milone hinting he had more to say.
"But?" said Brannigan brushing the rainwater from his sleeve.
"But, given that so far they've slipped by us so many frakking times; do you think they could have a source inside the GDD to tip them off?" Milone asked.
"Doubtful, but I've seen stranger things," Brannigan said as he checked his watch, "I'm going down the street to Adnah for a drink and get some rest at our room. Call my mobile number and let me know if anything develops."
Adnah was a bar on the bottom floor of the King Erik Motel, located a couple of blocks from the Campania and not quite as nice. The GDD had appropriated a room for the four agents in charge of the stake out, and it was not uncommon for one of them to go off-duty and get some rest.
The three agents each told him they understood, and it was then that Brannigan put his raincoat back on and left the van out of the same door he had entered. He only had a couple of blocks to walk until he was at Adnah, the only thing that really slowed him was the rain that he had to fight against. It was a storm by any stretch of the imagination; he only hoped it would not keep his people from sighting the representative of the Basileus when either he or she arrived at the Campania Hotel.
After fighting through the sheets of rain that had slowed him down he saw the familiar redbrick façade with the neon letters that spelled 'Adnah'. He pushed through the door and immediately his senses picked up on the smell of alcohol and various pub foods as well as the haze of cigarette smoke that seemed to create a light fog in the air.
He walked up to the bar where there was a middle-aged man sitting with two other men who seemed to be hovering nearby with looks on their faces that seemed decidedly less-than-friendly.
"What will it be?" the bartender asked as soon as Brannigan had taken a seat.
"I'll have a bottle of Blackburn," Brannigan said, drawing a nod from the bartender who went to get the bottle of beer that had been requested.
"I take it you're a dark stout kind of man," the gentleman sitting a couple of seats down said.
"A night like this it just feels right, what are you having?" Brannigan asked.
The gentleman held up his glass and examined the contents, "This is a single malt whisky from Canceron, and it's from a brand called Anem. It's a personal favorite of mine."
"How is it you have an affinity for Canceron whisky?" Brannigan asked, the law enforcement side taking over.
"I'm from there actually. I live the city of Iopolis. I was born near there."
"I see," Brannigan said before adding, "exactly where you born?"
"A small city called Litchfield, when I was eighteen I was sent to Iopolis to learn a trade."
"What is it that brings you to Caprica?" Brannigan asked as he tried to find out what this man was doing here.
"Business," the gentleman said.
"Business…what kind of business?"
"Merchandising, I run a successful business on Canceron and I'm here to see about expanding into Caprica."
The bartender arrived with Brannigan's bottle and he took a drink from it before asking, "How do you avoid running into the Basileus?"
The man looked stunned, "You know about them?"
Brannigan nodded, "I've been investigating reports of them here in Caprica City."
"Does that mean you're police?"
Brannigan reached into his pocket and the two men not far from them began to come closer.
"Are these two friends of yours?" Brannigan asked.
"These two are part of my security team; with me are Weston Daniels and DeAndre Trevino."
Brannigan did not look fazed as he fished his Global Defense Department credentials out of the pocket of his jacket, "Aaron Brannigan of the GDD."
"My name is Adam Wright," the man said as he extended a handshake to the GDD officer.
"You know it might not be such a great idea to walk around here with a couple of security guards like these," Brannigan said with a nod of his head towards Daniels and Trevino.
"The crazy thing is Brannigan it's a necessity on Canceron," Wright said.
"You may not have realized this yet, but this isn't Canceron!"
Wright took another sip of his whisky, "You're right, you can't get a decent burger anywhere in this town."
"That's because you have no idea where to look," Brannigan said.
"You may have a point there, but then again there's as much debate over the best hamburgers is over which type of hair color is best to have in regards to women."
"In that case Wright, what type of woman do you prefer?" Brannigan was interested in hearing what he had to say.
"Red heads are a personal favorite, two of my ex-wives had that hair color," Wright said before taking another sip of his whisky.
"Not bad, but for me I have to with blondes. My first wife was a brunette and then I married a blonde and have been happy ever since," Brannigan said.
Wright raised his glass in salute, "I tip my hat to you sir!"
"How many times have you been married?" Brannigan asked after he raised his beer bottle in the same gesture of salute.
"Enough times, I'm on my fourth marriage and let's just say it's hard to find a woman who can put up with my lifestyle," Wright said as he began to fish for something in the inside pocket of his jacket.
"You're telling me that it's hard to be married to a businessman?" Brannigan asked disbelievingly.
"I put in long hours at the office, and it seems my work is always finding a way to follow me home. My line of work is not all fun and games."
"Is that a fact?"
Wright shrugged his shoulders, "It's like me trying to tell you that there's life after death. Do you believe that?"
"Let's just say that I'm a man who needs evidence before I believe something. Perhaps it's that investigator side of me. What about you?" Brannigan asked.
Wright seemed to have found what he was looking for inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, "Damned if I know."
"My younger son is a member of the Caprican Army. He's stationed out of Delphi at Fort Callaway, says when he's out of the Army he'll take a job with the Caprica City Police Department. I say to him, 'James you're wasting your time when you can do something with GDD that actually makes a difference.'"
"Kids just don't want to listen. Henry, my oldest son, doesn't know it yet but I plan to have him take over for me. I'll do what I can to groom him as my successor. It's the Canceron way, the eldest child of the family takes over the family business. If he or she has children then the oldest of the children takes over."
Brannigan shook his head, "I haven't heard anything like that here on Caprica."
"Not every colony is the same. How long have you been with the GDD?" Wright asked.
"Twenty-three years, two more and then I can retire," Brannigan said.
"Any plans after that?"
Brannigan shrugged his shoulders, "I thought about moving down to Tybee Island and spend my time deep sea fishing or spending time on the beach with my wife."
Wright was going to say something when his mobile phone began to ring. He checked the caller id and answered it, "Hello."
Brannigan watched as Wright told whoever it was to proceed with the negotiations and to not close the deal on unfavorable terms.
"Forgive me Brannigan, one of my representatives has begun a negotiation with a client over in Zebulon Springs and wanted to let me know that she was ready to proceed on my orders."
"Awfully strict with your people aren't you?" Brannigan asked.
Wright shrugged his shoulders, "Perhaps I am, but I get results by driving them the way that I do."
"I suppose, by the looks of things your way is serving you well."
"Mr. Wright, you're supposed to be at the spaceport for your flight in half an hour," Trevino said as he walked up to where the two men were seated.
"Indeed I do, thank you Mr. Trevino," Wright said.
"I'm heading to get some sleep, I have to stay here tonight," Brannigan said as he downed the rest of his beer.
"Problems with the wife?" Wright asked.
Brannigan nodded, "Yeah, her sister came over to visit and complained about me watching the Bucs/Twins game. I told her it was my house so she needed to mind her own frakking business. Liv didn't like that too much so she locked me out of my own house. Women, eh?"
Wright nodded, "Yeah they are strange sometimes, we men may never understand them."
Brannigan reached for his wallet but Wright plopped several cubit notes onto the bar, "On me, for the conversation and so you can save your money for another night here if your wife hasn't forgiven you."
"Thank you Mr. Wright, good luck your business dealings," Brannigan said as he extended a handshake.
Wright accepted and the two men shook hands, "You as well Agent Brannigan."
The mobile phone on the night stand began to vibrate loudly, rousing Brannigan from his slumber.
"Hello," he said groggily as he put the phone to his ear.
"Boss, this is Randle…we have something suspicious going on."
Brannigan was up out of the bed and putting his jacket on, "What's going on?"
"A woman walked in carrying a messenger bag and sat down in the first floor restaurant with man who had been sitting there for at least three hours. Right now they are talking but there is the occasional look around to make sure they're not noticed," Randle said as though she was giving a play-by-play.
"Keep an eye on them and I'll be there in a few minutes. Don't make a move without me!" Brannigan had left the room and going down the stairs in a hurry.
As he got closer to the van he managed to slow down so that he would not draw suspicion from passersby. He knocked on the surveillance van and was once again inside with the three agents under his command.
"What do we have?" Brannigan asked.
Milone was the first, "We have identified the man she's meeting with. His name is Maurice Gordon, and while he has not been identified as STO there have been reports from various acquaintances that he is sympathetic to their cause."
"Good, now who's the woman, is the STO or Basileus?" Brannigan knew in his gut that something was going on here but he wanted to know who these two people were before he acted.
"Boss, the woman is Saranna Preece and according to the Canceron Global Police she is a known member of the Basileus," Grant said.
"Great, but what does she do with the Basileus?" Brannigan asked, it was important that he know exactly what her role in the crime syndicate was.
"She is a high-level negotiator, mainly is involved with making deals for weapons, explosives, and technologies," Grant said as he mimicked sending a pyramid ball into the goal.
"Let's go bring them in, Milone I want you to put in a call to headquarters and see if we can get two interrogation rooms ready for them," Brannigan said as he exited the van and followed by Randle and Grant.
The three walked into the main lobby of the Campania Hotel with the rain dripping off of their coats, an officious looking night manager came up to them.
"Can I help you?" he asked in a formal sounding voice.
"We need to get into the Hesperian Restaurant," Brannigan said as he pushed his way past the manager followed by Randle and Grant.
"I'm afraid not, you must have reservations," he said as he looked the three up and down, "not to mention that you are clearly not dressed for eating at such a fine establishment."
Brannigan pushed the man up against a wall and pulled out his GDD credentials, "This should do."
The manager's eyes grew wide and all he could do was nod his head.
As they walked to the entrance to the Hesperian Brannigan flashed his credentials to the woman standing at the door. She simply nodded and opened the door for the three to enter, he made a point to put his credentials away for the time being.
There were not many people there in the restaurant, probably owing to the late hour. Brannigan looked and spotted Preece and Gordon sitting at the table. They looked when they entered, and Brannigan felt a sense of relief that he did not have his credentials out. The three agents made eye contact and as though they were rehearsing an understood act they merely walked around like they were trying to find a seat. They made it to a place near where the two suspects were seated and looked ready to sit down as they noticed Gordon was eyeing them suspiciously.
Brannigan made a motion for Randle to have a seat and for a moment it looked like her and Grant were arguing over who sat by the window. It seemed to be enough for Gordon to turn his attention back to Preece. When they were no longer focusing on them, Brannigan moved his hand in front of his body and counted down from three to one using his fingers.
The three agents moved to the table the suspects were sitting at and pointed their weapons.
"GDD, stay right there!" Brannigan yelled as he fished his credentials back out and flashed it at the suspects.
One Hour Later, GDD Headquarters:
The four agents brought Preece and Gordon into the headquarters where they were met by Assistant Director Paul Bertram was waiting for them.
"Hell of a job there Brannigan," Bertram said as he shook Brannigan's hand.
"Thank you sir, my people and I will handle the interrogations," Brannigan said.
Bertram shook his head, "I pulled Bowman and Ratliff out of bed for this one. No disrespect to you, but I think they'll be better suited for a job like this."
Brannigan wanted to argue but he realized that it would probably not be wise.
Bertram seemed to sense this, "Listen, you and your team put a lot of work into this so I want the four of you to go to your homes and get some rest. Gods knows you all look like this stakeout ran you ragged. Come back here in the morning and I'll let you know what intel Bowman and Ratliff were able to get from these two."
The phone rang out in the darkness of the unlit bedroom causing the two occupants asleep in the bed to stir. Jack Bowman groaned in annoyance while his wife, Emma, buried her face into the pillow. The ringing refused to subside and so he threw the blanket off his body and sat on the side of the bed before reaching over for the light switch.
"I bet that's Duram," moaned Emma with a muffled voice from where her face was now firmly pressing in against her pillow.
It was nothing unusual for Special Agent Jordan Duram to call at all hours of the day or night. Jack Bowman was a G.D.D. Agent assigned to Duram's team to combat the S.T.O. and he was a harsh task master.
Bowman picked up the phone and silenced its incessant ringing by hitting the answer button and holding it to the side of his head.
"Hello," said Jack groggily.
"It's Bertram. I'm sorry for waking you Agent Bowman but I need you for an assignment that requires you're immediate attention. I shall be calling on Agent Ratliff shortly. Can you make it into headquarters in about an hour?"
"Yes sir," replied Jack without properly thinking about his answer.
"Good, I'll explain everything when you get here. Once again I'm sorry for waking you."
With no other words spoken Bertram hung up the phone. Jack placed the handset back down on the cradle and it beeped in acknowledgement. He turned to speak to his wife half asleep, wondering how he was going to tell her.
"You're going in aren't you?" she asked from under her blanket that was now folded over her head in a vain effort to block out the light.
"Sorry babes," said Jack.
She threw the blanket back down to reveal her cringing face. "Will you be back by morning?"
"I don't know. That was Assistant Director Bertram so it could be anything. I'll call you when I know more."
He leaned down and kissed her apologetically as she began to utter, "Remember when you wanted to be a truck driver? Why don't you do that?"
Jack laughed and kissed her again before getting up and reaching for his clothes he said, "I love you."
She didn't reply. She had already gone back to sleep.
Kearsarge Towers, Claire Ratliff's Apartment,
The phone on her nightstand began to ring, bringing Claire Ratliff out of a fitful sleep. She fumbled with the bedside lamp and gave her eyes a moment to adjust to being in a lighted room.
"This had better not be a wrong number," she grumbled as she reached for the phone.
"Who is it?" the man beside her asked.
"Well If I was psychic enough to know that then I wouldn't need the frakking phone would I?" she snapped out of frustration as she picked up the incessantly ringing phone.
"Agent Ratliff, this is McClain," the man said when he realized he had her on the phone.
"What is it McClain?" she asked. Darien McClain was the Agent who handled most of the affairs for Assistant Director Bertram.
"Director Bertram wants you here as soon as you can get here, Brannigan made a bust and Agent Bowman and yourself have been requested to question the two suspects we have in custody."
"Got it, I'll get dressed and be there ASAP," Ratliff said as she put the receiver back in its cradle.
"I take it duty calls for you," the man beside her in bed asked.
"That it does, at least we got to have an actual date and end it on a high note," she said as she leaned over and kissed him on the lips.
"Sure you don't have time for a quickie?" he asked with a sly grin.
"Sorry Tiger, but it's Bertram wanting me there and he wanted me there five minutes ago," Ratliff said as she got out of bed and began to put her clothes on.
"I'd offer to come with you if I thought it would help," he said as he sat up on the side of the bed.
Ratliff walked over and put her hands on his shoulders, "Listen Perry, we have a delicate situation here. The last thing I need is for our friends at the GDD to know that we have this little fling going on."
"You make it sound like it's a danger," Perry Ridgeway, a fellow GDD agent said.
"Only to make it more exciting," Ratliff said as she leaned over and kissed him again, "for now we have a good thing going here and I'm alright with the status quo."
"Does Bowman know who you spent the evening with?" he asked her.
She grinned at him devilishly before answering simply, "He's my partner."
Ridgeway held up his hands in defeat, "In that case I won't argue, I'll lock up for you and you can give me a call when this is over so we can pick up where we left off."
"Sounds like a plan," Ratliff said with a smile as she finished getting ready to go and left the apartment with her keys in hand.
Two Hours Later, GDD Building Main Lobby:
"Bowman, there you are!" Ian Grant said from where he was standing over at the main reception desk.
"Morning Grant, care to fill me in on what's going on here?" Bowman said as he walked up and shook Grant's hand. "Or is the GDD still determined to have me end up a divorcee?"
"Well y'know I'm supposed to have gone home too but I just happened to remember I had promised Heather that I'd come by and have a chat with her when my shift ended," Grant said as he looked at the receptionist and smiled.
"Is that right, so tell me Miss Owens is Agent Grant telling the truth?" Bowman said to Heather Owens.
"It's true, but I never thought he'd actually come by here and do it. That's how rumors get started in a place like this," Owens said with a laugh.
"In that case, I'd best get away from you before people start talking about us using words like group and marriage," Grant said as he motioned for Bowman to follow him.
When they were out of earshot of Owens Bowman whispered, "So Ian, exactly what is so special about tonight? I was at home asleep when I got the call that Bertram wanted us here."
"We go back a while, right?" Grant asked.
Bowman nodded, "It's about what…three or four years since we were on the Carani case over in Oxford. Yeah you can say we go back a ways."
"Good," Grant said before he hesitated briefly, "We picked up a suspected member of the STO and a woman rumored to be part of some crime syndicate back on Canceron."
One of Bowman's eyebrows arched, "Canceron, what the frak are a group of Canceron crims doing on Caprica?"
"Damned if I know but I'm assuming that's why you and Ratliff were pulled out of bed and called here."
"You knew about Ratliff?" Bowman asked.
Grant flashed a sly smile, "There are things you overhear when you're busy flirting with the cute receptionist at Main Reception."
"Impressive, anything else I should know about?" Bowman asked.
"Yeah, it seems word of our arrest has already reached the Canceron Embassy. They're sending one of their people over to make sure our prisoner is treated correctly."
"That's just great, who is it?" Bowman asked.
"Captain Christopher England of the Canceron Global Police, it seems they have an investigative team at their embassy to assist when one of their citizens runs into trouble with us."
"More info gleaned from flirting with the receptionist?" Bowman asked.
Grant simply shook his head, "Brannigan told me as he was leaving the building, let's just say he referred to the Captain in ways I couldn't repeat in polite society."
"Understood, well let me go find Claire so we can get to work on this. Get some rest and maybe one day you can come over and visit, Emma still asks if you've settled down yet," Bowman said.
Grant chuckled, "One day I will, unless she already has someone in mind to set me up with."
"Not that I'm aware of," Bowman said as he shook hands with Grant and headed to the stairs that led to the second floor of the lobby.
He headed down a nearby corridor marked 'Authorized Personnel Only' and navigated the mazes of hallways before he came to a door marked 'Interrogation Ward Four'. He opened the door and walked in to find Ratliff indulging in a decidedly large cup of coffee.
"I take it you're still waking up," Bowman teased.
"You can say that, this is too early in the morning for me. I need to get at least a good power nap before I head into a situation like this," she said after taking a long sip from her cup.
"Our day is going to get better," Bowman began before adding, "One of the suspects brought in is a Canceron citizen and the embassy is sending one of their people to 'assist' us in the investigation."
"Frak me," Ratliff said. "Politics and coffee; an explosive combination."
"We have to play nice on this one I'm sure, the higher-ups seem to approve of this or else they'd have told the Cancerons what they could do with their concerns," Bowman said as he took the seat by Ratliff.
"I wonder what they'd have said if we had told them that," Ratliff said with a wicked smile on her face.
The door opened and in walked a man in a black business suit with a red tie. He looked at them with a set of brown eyes that could not conceal the amusement he seemed to take in from the look on the GDD agents' faces.
"Captain Christopher England," he declared as he waited for the agents to say something.
Bowman and Ratliff stood up and walked over to him.
"Jack Bowman and this is my partner, Claire Ratliff," Bowman said as the agents exchanged handshakes.
"I suppose now that the formalities are over we can get to work, I believe we have a Canceron citizen I need to meet with," England said.
Bowman checked the folder on the desk, "Miss Saranna Preece, born in Iopolis on Canceron and is rumored to be a member of the crime syndicate known as the Bass-, Basileos," stuttered the Caprican trying to pronounce the word in the folder.
"The Basileus," corrected England. "And if that's true then you may have snagged us a bigger fish than you realize"
"Snagged 'you' a bigger fish," Ratliff said, her demeanor had become a bit more confrontational.
"Sorry, slip of the tongue there. It's just that depending on where she ranks in Carl Tolan's organization could be a great help to us in the CGP who are trying to take down the Basileus," England said.
"Fair enough," Ratliff said as she went back to her cup of coffee.
"What can you tell me about this Carl Tolan and the Basileus?" Bowman asked. If Preece was going to be interrogated then they would need whatever bit of information they could use, especially if she was a member of this criminal organization.
England took a moment to get his thoughts together before he said, "Carl Tolan is in his mid-forties but looks like he could still pass for his early to late thirties. To be exact, he's forty-four years old and has spent most of his life building a criminal empire. He was born in Mangala but was sent to Hades to apprentice as a joiner. The shop he was apprenticing at was paying protection money to a man known as Roman Gentry, a man who ran a large crime group known as the Tache. To make a long story short, Carl Tolan ended up waging a mini-war against Gentry and ultimately won. However, instead of eradicating the group he brought other smaller organizations under his umbrella and ultimately renamed the group the Basileus. Now he is the man who runs all the crime on the colony. As you can imagine taking him down will help my people."
"What kind of man is Tolan?" Ratliff asked.
"He's charming, intelligent, cunning, and dangerous all wrapped into one neat and bloody little package. He surrounds himself with people who have an unwavering loyalty to him, so if we can get one to turn on him that would give us an intelligence coup."
Bowman and Ratliff gave each other a quick look to try to gauge what the other was thinking, finally Ratliff nodded.
'If what he's saying true then we may have stumbled onto something major,' Bowman thought to himself. It was something that needed to be done that was in the best interests of both Caprica and Canceron.
"In that case…let's begin," Bowman finally said.