Callen and Sam took the stairs up to the control room two at a time.
Nell looked up at them with hope in her eyes. "Did she tell you where Eric is?"
Callen bit back a wince. "Sorry Nell, Ms Snider's not in the loop enough to know. But she's still been a lot of help."
"She's pretty damned good," Sam added with a touch of admiration.
"We're looking for someone called Burrows. That's his alias. He's dark haired, with a touch of grey, a little shorter than me. He's in his late thirties or early forties with a noticeable scar above his lip. Eyes are brown and he smokes expensive cigars," said Callen. "Ms Snider says he lives within a ten mile radius of her house in Heather Road."
Nell nodded calling up the mapping information and typing in information on her keyboard.
Sam continued. "Burrows has expensive tastes. He always dresses in expensive suits. He gets a new car every year and is currently driving a black Mercedes, although the licence plate is no use as it's changed regularly. He's gadget savvy and always has the latest and best gear. He was a little late meeting up with her once and mentioned something about having to take the stairs back on April 9th this year. So she suggested we look for maintenance work orders done on building lifts for that date.
"Is she certain of the date?"
"She wrote it down."
"Also she's overheard him talking on his cell about working out at the gym while he's waiting for his dry cleaning so she thinks maybe he lives close to …"
"I think I've got him," said Nell. "Penthouse guy. Lives alone and drives a late model black Merc Bens. His building has a gym and a dry cleaning facility. The elevator had to be serviced on April 9th due to a … oh … actually there was a dead body inside it. It was an unsolved crime. The guy was shot through the head and the police never found out what happened. The weapon was never found. The Police report says it looked like a professional job. They interviewed the building occupants but Penthouse guy wasn't supposed to have been home at the time and he had an alibi."
"Do you have a name on this penthouse guy?"
"He's listed as Neil Smith," said Nell. "I think I can get a security camera photo."
Callen stepped closer to look over her shoulder as the image cleared and she zoomed in on the slightly turned away face of Smith. "Deeks is with Ms Snider. Have the picture sent to his phone and get her to ID him."
Hetty stepped into the room, straightening her suit and looking worried. "Do you have something?"
Callen nodded. "A lead … maybe."
Hetty nodded. "I've been asking questions in certain places about that $70 million dollar contract that Ms Snider mentioned. There's only one possible connection. A certain country has put up a reward for access to certain CIA and military information. My guess is Mr Beale is being asked to hack into these files that are classified so high that not even our Director can access them. Nevertheless, extra precautions are being put in place as we speak to protect the information."
"They're going to make Eric hack into CIA and Defence files?"
"No Mr Callen. Mr Beale is going to be asked to hack into the files listed as for the President's eyes only."
"Oh … crumbs," murmured Nell softly.
"Eric couldn't …, could he?" asked Sam. "I mean Eric's good but he's not that good … is he?"
Nell nodded her head slowly. "He's definitely that good and yeah … he could, even if they do add extra precautions to protect those files."
Hetty took a deep breath. "This information is as hot as it gets people. It's been made clear to me that anyone … anyone accessing that information without the proper clearance will not likely see the light of day – friend or foe."
Nell looked at Hetty in disbelief, but Hetty's expression was deadly serious.
"There's a time limit people," continued Hetty into the tense silence in the room. "We have about thirty hours before the contract offer expires, which also means that these people will be using every method of persuasion that they can come up with to make our Mr Beale cooperate."
Callen's head snapped around to face Hetty. "Thirty hours?"
"What happens after thirty hours?" asked Nell tentatively.
"Then the contract expires and the kidnappers will have no further use for Mr Beale," said Hetty quietly. "From the way this is looking they will kill him."
"They could just let him go," said Kensi, glancing quickly at Nell.
"No," said Callen. "Burrows is ruthless and a killer. If they lose that sort of a contract because of Eric, they will kill him."
Nell gripped her pen so hard that it snapped. "We've got to find him. They … They're … Eric's gonna be … . They'll … ," she spun abruptly and started taping away frantically at her keyboard.
Callen was headed for the door with Sam in toe. "Kensi, you and Deeks keep pumping Ms Snider for any information she can recall on Burrows or any other people or places that might be relevant and keep us in the loop. We're going to check this penthouse out."
Hetty pulled them up. "If this organisation is the one that I think it is, Callen then you need to approach it very carefully."
Callen and Sam froze by the door and glanced back at her.
"I may have come across this organisation once or twice before," said Hetty. "If they operate the same way as they used to then they may have booby traps or at the least, remote warning devices that will alert them to your presence. We have to move very carefully here, we can't afford to tip them off."
Callen shared a glance with Sam and nodded. "We'll be careful, Hetty. We are not losing another one of our team."
Nell glanced back at him. There was a definate shimmer of tears in her eyes but the look she gave him was filled with hope and determination. "Not a chance," she said.
Hetty nodded. "Absolutely not. We need to move as quickly as possible on this if we're going to get our Eric back in one piece people, and we can't afford to make any mistakes."
Hope you liked this chapter guys. R&R thanks.