Global Defense: Ghosts of Things Past
(Author's Note: This story is the sequel to my Global Defense story 'Out of Town Visitors)
Chapter One: Unfinished Business
Eight Months after 'Apotheosis':
Caprica City, Global Defense Department Headquarters:
'Coffee…must get more coffee,' Jack Bowman thought as he made his way across the street that divided the off-site GDD cafeteria from the Global Defense Department Headquarters in Caprica City. The familiar smells of the city triggered the part of his brain that processed smell. In some ways, it was welcomed. He had been back on the job for three months now and there were times he swore he could not get the smell of the Macona Forest and Hubbard Salvage Yard out of his nostrils. After what they had been through when the Basileus had tried to kill them…that paled in comparison to the look on his wife Emma's face when she had met him at the Coliseum Medical Center in Oxford.
He entered the cafeteria and immediately made his way to the barista on duty at the café that made up a small area of the building's cafeteria. Several of his fellow agents murmured 'Good morning' and 'Hello' to him as he walked by. He got his coffee and took a sip of the brew, if he thought about it long enough he could feel the caffeine coursing through his veins.
He found a corner booth and sat down to drink his coffee and escape from the confines of his office. He was staring at the double glass doors of the entrance when he saw a familiar figure enter. It was Ian Grant, a fellow agent he had befriended some years ago and one of the people who had survived the adventure with the Basileus assassins in the Macona Forest. Bowman waved to him but Grant seemed distracted, something that was uncommon with the man.
"Hey, Ian!" Bowman called out and Grant nodded and turned to make his way towards him. He saw him mouth the words 'Behind me' and when he looked, he saw a twenty-something who had the look on his face of a young man who was angry at the world.
"Everyone stay right where you are, I have a bomb and a gun…I'm not afraid to use either!" he called out and stayed at the door with a suddenly visible gun and his Caprica City Buccaneers jacket opened to reveal what was apparently a homemade explosive device.
"What are you doing?" the manager of the cafeteria asked.
"Shut up!" the young man shouted and the gun quivered slightly causing a round to fire and hit the manager in the shoulder.
"Oh Gods, what have you done?" the barista shouted.
"You," he said as he pointed the gun towards her, "lock these doors."
She immediately did as she was told; he grabbed her by the arm and pushed her towards the booth where Bowman and Grant sat. "Sit there and shut your mouth!"
"Ian, what the frak is going on here?" Bowman asked.
"Just a part of our past coming back to haunt us," Grant whispered.
"What's this 'our' stuff you're talking about?" Bowman quietly shot back.
"That is Martin Carani, Aldo Carani's nephew," Grant said.
Bowman made the connection. "The one who sent that letter to you?"
Grant nodded. "It seems he was doing more than just blowing off steam."
Carani pointed the gun at the two agents. "You two are going to fix what you did to my family!"
Bowman held up his hands. "What do you mean?"
"You're going to prove that those Tauron bastards set him up. If you don't, you can either be shot or blown up!"
"Martin, we'd love to help you but we can't do that from here." Grant pointed out.
Carani produced a phone and tossed it to the two men. "You have friends who can do the work for you."
"Ratliff and England sound like our best bets," Bowman said.
"You call them. I'll get Randle and Milone to assist. Between the four of them we may have a shot," Grant said.
Bowman nodded. "Let's do this before this kid does something stupid."
"He's already shot a man and started a hostage situation; I'd hate to see what he'd have to do before you qualify it as 'stupid'."
Caprica City Turnpike:
"In other news, Cylon road crews are going to be doing maintenance tonight on the Caprica Turnpike. Expect long delays and alternate routes throughout the evening," the radio announcer said.
"Looks like I'm going to have to take the scenic route tonight," Claire Ratliff said as she drove her Riga Sedan on the Caprica City Turnpike to get to the exit she would need to get to Embassy Road. She had an invitation tonight for a reception at the Canceron Embassy with Captain Christopher England, a higher-up in the Security Guard at the Embassy.
She was not heading to the Embassy now; it was simply a way for her to get to her apartment. She heard the music coming out of the radio get cut out by the mechanical voice saying, "Incoming Call from Jack Bowman."
She pressed the button to activate the call. "Hey Jack! What can I do for you at this early hour?"
"I need you to cancel whatever plans you have. Can you get in touch with England?"
"Yes I can, are you keeping tabs on my social life?"
"I'm at the employee cafeteria and we're having a bit of a situation. I need you and England to help Ian and me out."
He sounded serious. "Jack, what can I do for you?"
"We're being held captive by Martin Carani. I want you and England to get with Andrea Randle and Bruno Milone to see if there was any evidence the Taurons were involved in the Aldo Carani case."
"You're going through with it?"
"If he gets proof that he's right then we can end this peacefully. Right now, he has the only exit out of here blocked; he also has a homemade bomb and a gun. I think he holds all of the cards to this."
"All right, I'll call Chris and we'll meet up with the other two."
"Thanks Claire, I owe you for this."
"Damn straight you do," she said as she disconnected the call.
"So much for getting dressed up tonight," she said to the car. Pressing the button to activate the auto-call system she said, "Call Jordan Duram."
The phone rang twice and on the third ring the tired voice of Director Jordan Duram came on the line, "Ratliff, what can I do for you during this emergency?"
"I need a favor," she said and not wanting to irritate the man she said, "I need Captain Christopher England from the Canceron Embassy released from duty to work with me on this situation we're dealing with."
"Oh, that's all? Here I was thinking you were going to have something major for me to work with," Duram said with a hint of irritation tingeing his voice.
"Bowman just called me from the cafeteria and said that he's wants to have England and me work with Milone and Randle on this. If we can convince whoever is holding them hostage that they're working on the Carani case it should buy the time needed."
There was a silence on the other side before Duram said, "I'll make the call. Let England know he's going to be working with you."
"Thank you, Director," Ratliff said before ending the call.
Captain Christopher England gave the breakfast cart a once-over to make sure there was nothing suspicious. "It's clean, proceed on in."
The server nodded and entered the door once the Cylon guard had opened it.
"Good job, Red Eye," England said. It was his unofficial name for the Cylon who stood guard at the private quarters for the Canceron ambassador.
The Cylon said nothing and stood there at guard.
His mobile phone began to buzz. He fished out of his jacket pocket and saw who the caller was. He clicked the 'Accept' button and answered it, "I hope this isn't you calling me to cancel our plans tonight."
"Yes, but it's not because I'm having cold feet," Claire Ratliff said.
"Good to know, Claire. I take it that it's the job getting in the way."
"Yes, and I'm afraid you're being drawn into this."
"You have my attention, considering this is a Caprican matter and I'm attached to the Canceron Embassy…well I don't see how I could not be intrigued as to how I am going to be drawn into this."
"You're probably going to hear from the Ambassador soon to let you know you're being assigned to a special task force that deals with a situation that has arisen."
"What's going on?"
"It's Jack. From what I heard it, appears that he and Ian Grant have been taken hostage. I'm on Embassy Road now; I'll be there in about fifteen minutes to pick you up."
"I'll wait to hear from the Ambassador and then I'll be ready. I'll meet you out by the staff entrance," England said as he ended the call and pocketed his phone.
"Captain England," Major Pamela Morris, the head of the Embassy officers, said as she walked up where England and Red Eye were standing.
"Ambassador Caylen would like to have a word with you," she said and motioned for him to follow her.
"Open the door," she said to the Cylon.
"By your command," Red Eye said and opened the door for them to enter.
Caprica City, Mauerman's Restaurant:
"Did you hear from Brannigan?" Bruno Milone asked.
"Yeah, he sent me a postcard from Tybee Island. We have an open invitation to come visit anytime," Andrea Randle said.
"So are you and Tommy Terrific going take him up on it?" he asked.
"We just might, though I had to warn him about Brannigan having a bark that's worse than his bite," Randle said. For the past three months, she had started dating a stock trader named Thomas Bateman; Milone had started referring to him as 'Tommy Terrific' since he had found out about him.
"You know what; I think the pleasure of meeting Aaron Brannigan is something you cannot put into words. It simply has to be experienced first-hand," Randle said with a laugh.
"I knew you weren't going to change who you were just because you found 'true love'," Milone said, air quotes for the words 'true love'.
"You know me, Bruno, I am who I am and that is a fact of life. Besides if he breaks my heart Brannigan may come back from Tybee Island and set him straight," Randle said as she walked up to the counter and ordered her breakfast.
"I know you well, especially after all we went through during that stakeout on the STO case…wait a moment," Milone said as he answered the call on his mobile phone.
Randle was placing her order for a pair of waffles and a side of eggs and did not pay attention to the conversation Milone was having on his phone.
"All right, Bruno it's your turn," she said as she turned around and saw the serious look on his face. "What's up?"
"We have a situation at Headquarters. Get your order to go and we'll eat on the way to where we're supposed to head to," Milone said as he grabbed a couple of doughnuts from a nearby self-serve case and paying for them and a small bottle of milk.
She changed her order, a simple breakfast sandwich, and followed Milone out of the door to their vehicle.
"Care to tell me what's going on?" she asked.
"That was Grant; there's a hostage situation going on at the cafeteria back at HQ. He wants us to meet with Agent Claire Ratliff and Christopher England."
"Ok, so where are we going to meet?"
"The office of Colette Calderon in Oxford, she was the attorney who represented Aldan Carani during his trial."
Her eyes went wide. "You mean this deal with the Carani case?"
Milone nodded. "His nephew believes that there was a miscarriage of justice and it was the fault of the Taurons. If we can convince him we're working on the case it might by Jack and Ian the time needed to stay alive."
"He's got Ian and Jack hostage," she said and began shaking her head.
"That was Ian calling me back there at the restaurant. We're going to meet with Ratliff and England and just maybe we can keep them and the other hostages alive long enough to resolve this situation."
Randle took out her phone and pressed the button to call Ratliff, "Claire, I heard that Bruno and I are going to be working you and Chris. Where do you want to meet? We're at Forsberg's over where 39th Street and Cassin Young Avenue intersect. We can be there in about twenty minutes if traffic is light enough. We'll see you there!"
"Where are we heading?" Milone asked.
"They just left the Canceron Embassy so we're going to meet them at the Callaghan Building before we head to Oxford to speak with the attorney."
Milone shook his head. "I'm glad I went with doughnuts and milk instead of sitting down for a meal."
Randle patted him on the shoulder. "That's the life of a GDD agent though; never a dull moment."
Emma Bowman was pouring herself another cup of coffee when the phone started to ring. She was so lost in her thoughts that she almost jumped with surprise and sent the coffee splattering onto the floor.
"Hello," she said when she finally got a hold of the receiver.
"Emma, it's Jordan," Jordan Duram said.
"Jordan, hi…what can I do for you?"
"I need you to sit down. If you haven't heard the news yet there's a hostage situation developing here at GDD Headquarters and well, Jack is one of the hostages."
There was a pause before she asked, "When did this happen?"
"This morning. It has something to do with a case he worked on sometime in the past. When I know more I'll let you know."
"Thank you, Jordan, I appreciate that," Emma said before hanging up the phone. Suddenly her mind was clouded with worry for Jack. He had a job where his life was always in danger, a fact that she had come to accept over the course of their marriage; but that did not make knowing that he was in the middle of a hostage situation any easier.
Her mind went to the not so distant past when a pair of Basileus assassins had chased Jack through the Macona Forest. She remembered the uproar it had caused between the governments of Caprica and Canceron. The editorials had given Canceron President Mitchell Bates a thorough lashing for his apparent failure to control the Basileus crime syndicate.
She knew that she needed to stay calm and that Jordan would keep her informed of any developments in the situation. She also realized that their son Archie may not know what had happened and mentally she tried to prepare how she would break the news to him.
Offices of Kendrick, Calderon, Slayton, and Gherardi Attorneys at Law:
"We're here to speak with Collette Calderon," Ratliff said as she walked through the main doors to the lobby. England, Milone, and Randle followed her.
"Can I help you?" a bored-looking receptionist asked.
"I'm Agent Claire Ratliff with the Global Defense Department, my associates and I need to speak with Collette Calderon," Ratliff said as she tried to hide her irritation.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No this is an unscheduled visit, but it is urgent that we speak to her."
"I'm afraid that without an appointment I can't let you speak with her."
"I tried to be a good agent, but you are going to force me to get the 'bad agent' act going."
"I know you think being with the GDD gives you power but you are not going to intimidate me. Ms. Calderon has explicit orders that unless someone has an appointment she is to not be disturbed."
"Milone, you and England arrest her for obstruction of justice and whatever other charges we feel like adding," Ratliff said as she stood away from the desk.
"You can't do this!"
"Watch me. Now, if you let Ms. Calderon know we wish to speak with her, I can call off my two agents."
"Fine, I'll let you go in and meet with her," the receptionist said as she began to realize that Ratliff might be serious.
"I knew you were a reasonable woman," Ratliff said as she motioned for the three agents to follow her.
When they entered the office, they found Calderon on the phone talking with a client. When the hung up the phone she fixed the four intruders with a piercing gaze, "Forgive me if I don't stand, I do not appreciate you threatening the staff here with baseless charges of obstruction. Just who the frak do you think you are?"
"Global Defense Department personnel, that's who the frak we think we are," Ratliff shot back.
"Only three of you are GDD, I had security run our facial recognition software," Calderon said before turning her gaze to England, "What does a Canceron embassy worker have to do with this?"
"I was with the Canceron Global Police before I was transferred to the Embassy," England said.
"I see…well, since you're here and keeping me from my cases what can I do for you?"
"We need to talk to you about the Aldan Carani case," Ratliff said.
Calderon's face did not hide the surprise that must have hit her. "What do you want to know?"
"Right now his nephew is holding several GDD agents hostage and he's claiming that the Taurons planted evidence to frame Carani. We've been sent here to look at your files so we can report back to our boss and hopefully keep all of the hostages alive," Randle said before Ratliff could say something.
Calderon seemed to want to protest but obviously thought better of it. With a resigned look on her face she said, "Take whatever you need, but if you find something that could exonerate Mr. Carani please let me know."
"We'll be sure to," Ratliff said.
Calderon seemed to regain her lawyerly composure, "I'll have my aide gather all the information I have on the case."
"Thank you for your help; I promise your cooperation will be noted," Milone said.
"I hope so, at least my colleagues won't say I didn't do this for the wrong reason," Calderon uttered as she summoned her top aide into the office.
The door immediately opened and a young woman came into the room, "Is there anything I can help you with, Ms. Calderon?"
"This is my senior aide, Emilia Jensen; she'll gather all materials relating to the Carani case," Calderon said before wordlessly motioning the woman to begin
Ratliff turned to the rest of the group. "I'll keep an eye on her, and the rest of you head out to the lobby and wait for me."
Calderon held up a protesting hand. "A group of GDD agents milling about in the lobby of our firm would not give the best image to our clients."
"Actually, I think Milone and I might be of more use if we head to Viaro and interview Carani," Randle said. Viaro Federal Prison was the prison Aldan Carani had called home since his conviction.
"Make it happen and if the warden tries to argue with you about it then drop whatever director names you have to," Ratliff said.
"We'll let you know if we find anything useful," Milone said as he and Randle left the room.
"I'll be waiting for you in the lobby," England said as he turned to leave.
"Let's make this quick, we're on somewhat of a deadline," Ratliff said to both Calderon and Jensen.
England found a corner of the lobby where there were few people milling about. He fished his mobile phone out of his jacket pocket and entered the numbers for the person he was hoping could be of use.
There were two rings and then a woman's voice came on the line, "Hello…"
"Hey, Nessa, it's Chris," England said as his voice adopted the casual tone he used with her when there was not a need for formality.
"Captain England, I can't hear you very well. Let me see if I can get better reception in another room," Vanessa Caylen, Ambassador Gregory Caylen's wife, said.
As part of his duty as an guard at the Canceron Embassy he had been part of the guard detail for Mrs. Caylen and she had insisted that he accompany her whenever she had to leave the embassy grounds. The two had struck up a friendship in that time, to the point where they could step away from the formality and speak to one another in a casual manner. He could tell that she was some place she had to get away from in order to talk to him.
Moments later she said, "I heard you got released from the embassy to help the Global Defense Department. Can you tell me anything about what's going on?"
"There's a hostage situation at GDD headquarters and one of the agents involved requested my help. That is also why I'm calling; can you release one of the guards to help me?"
"Of course, who do you need?" she immediately asked.
"I need Link, he has law enforcement experience and I think that could be useful," England said. Lincoln 'Link' Blair was a former detective with the Hades Police Department and England had a feeling the man would be more than suited to help with the task that faced him and the GDD agents.
"I'll convince Greg to make it happen, you stay safe out there, Chris. The last thing I want is to have more Basileus thugs taking shots at you."
England had to fight back a small laugh. "If those had been Basileus thugs then I'd have handled them a lot easier. These were Basileus assassins and that made it more of a fight."
"Regardless of how you put it, I'd prefer that there not be a repeat of that. You're my favorite guard here; just don't let that get out."
"I promise I won't be in any shootouts with Basileus assassins. Thank you again, Nessa, I'll see you when this is over," England said, and with that done he ended the call and took a seat.
He looked over at a stack of magazines on the nearby coffee table and he picked a copy of Essen's Weekly that had caught his eye. The cover story was something about the Soldiers of the One but in truth, it was something he was not in the mood for reading about. He thumbed through to the Entertainment section and read reviews for the movies Troy's Gamble, Force of Nature, Family Feuds, and Avenged.
He finished reading the Entertainment section and promptly switched over to Sports. There was an article about the ongoing contract dispute between Omar Harris and the Delphi Legion. The dispute, it seemed, had gotten to the point where Harris was demanding that he be traded to the Caprica City Buccaneers. Harris had gone on about not being shown respect by the Legion regarding his contract and salary, and implied that he would give his all for a team that would give him both the number of years he wanted and the hefty salary he desired.
Out of habit, he checked for any news that came from Canceron. Because of a run-in with the Basileus, while he was with the Canceron Army Special Forces he had been sent to Caprica to work at the Canceron Embassy. The move had been made mainly to keep him safe. Carl Tolan had bought and paid for many powerful people in the Canceron government.
He still liked to read the news from home and in this case, he wanted to see what was new in the sporting world. He skimmed over stories involving the Hades Vice and the Canceron Hydras. He could not help but smile at the story of how the Hydras planned to recover from their loss the previous week to the Tauron Bulls. The Tolans had purchased a stake in the ownership of the Hydras and England enjoyed reading news involving the team having some form of hardship.
"Chris," Ratliff called out and when he put down the magazine and motioned her over to where he was sitting she said, "The files are being brought down to my car. I don't know how long it will take to load them but it shouldn't be too much longer."
He got out of the chair and followed her to the lobby doors, "I called in a favor with the embassy. A friend of mine is going to be helping us with the investigation."
"Who is it?" she asked.
"His name is Lincoln Blair; he was an investigator with the Hades PD before he got the job with the embassy. He'll give us an extra pair of eyes that could be useful."
"Not a bad idea. I may see if I can get some favors called in at Headquarters. I wonder how Milone and Randle are going to do with interviewing Carani."
England shrugged, "I think if it will help him to get out of prison he'll be more than happy to tell them anything they want."
Later, with the files securely tucked away inside the trunk, the car sped away from the office building and back towards Caprica City. After some debate, it had been decided that the group would use England's rented house in the suburb of Altamonte Springs as their base of operations. There they would be able to sort through the files and evidence to see if Alden Carani was indeed guilty or had been framed by the Taurons as he had claimed.