THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 8:00 A.M. AND 9:00 A.M.
For a couple of seconds Sydney was clearly thrown. She didn't know why seeing the man who had been one of her best friends once should be more paralyzing than seeing her mother was alive after nearly thirty years or watching a man's face shift into the features of another, but for some reason, it was. Had she even spared a thought about Will for the last five years? And now, he had turned up in the middle of a war zone.
Kim, not having any knowledge of the man, was able to react faster. She saw what was happening, and moved in to try and find the woman's pulse, then her heartbeat.
"Is she dead?" Will spoke with a kind of detachment that Syd had never associated with him. Was this a consequence of being around her? Were she and her friends just an abyss of darkness?
She shook this off. Will's being here was a coincidence, a horrible one, but a coincidence just the same. And she wouldn't be able to help her friend if she was gathering wool.
All of this took place in the space of a minute.
"Yes," Kim admitted. "I'm so sorry, but there's nothing we can do for her."
Will nodded. "Could you give me a moment alone?"
They probably weren't going to have enough time for this, but everybody else knew sometimes you had to make it. Fortunately, the madness seemed to have abated a bit.
Chloe then asked the question they were all considering. "What the hell is happening?"
"It isn't just happening here," Kim replied. "And it seems to involve at least four different gangs."
"Any of them relating to Bell?"
"We just picked up half of them. Someone killed Bell before this whole mess got started." Sydney told them.
"So who's pulling the strings?" Chloe demanded.
Syd took out her cell. "Someone knew this was going down before we did, and we still have him in custody. Maybe your father will be able to make him more... cooperative."
As it turned out, Jack had been considering the exact same scenarios. Normally, he would've been willing to subject a suspect to one of his patented interrogations. However, he was dealing with two issues.
First, Kenny Williams was only fourteen, and as heartless as the government seemed to consider him, there were some lines he had trouble crossing. Torturing a minor was one such thing, even one as repellent as Williams was.
Given the gravity of the situation, he would have been able to get past it were it not for the second and more important factor: he was in a New York Police station, not CTU. There would be lawyers on the street, reporters, each one of them making Jack into the bad guy for torturing a "poor innocent little boy." Forget that the "innocent little boy" already had a violent criminal rap sheet, several inches and a few dozen pounds on Jack, and was obviously a part of what seemed to be the biggest urban rampage since the Bronx was burning.
None of this would have stopped Jack, but it would certainly stop every single cop in that station, and they, in turn, would definitely be interested in stopping Jack from causing that scenario. Even if every cop wanted to sell tickets to Jack making Kenny talk, the cops would be obligated to stop him. And if Jack started making Kenny sing, would he have enough time to get the information out of him? Maybe. But, again, this wasn't CTU. If he laid a hand on Kenny, the DA would be obligated to throw Jack in a jail cell.
So, much as witnessing Sydney's little tete a tete with Williams had turned his stomach, he had gone to Goldblume and told him to call the ADA and get Williams an immunity agreement. The lieutenant had argued, but half-heartedly - he knew Williams was small potatoes, and there was a much bigger threat on the line.
Normally, this kind of bureaucratic maneuvering would have taken a few hours to get done. Today it took less than fifteen minutes. The ADA had one caveat. "This kid goddamn better have something that we can confirm right away," he told them. "I'm not giving this kind of pass to someone who got lucky knowing what happened to his boss."
Knowing how high the stakes were, Goldblume said he was going to speak to the kid himself, which is where the situation was when Syd called.
"I gotta tell you," she told Jack. "I have my own questions. Starting with why a relatively low ranked slinger knew how bad the situation on the street was before we did."
"Or why in two weeks of surveillance we turned up nothing to suggest this kind of plan was in the works," Jack added. "A drug bust in Brooklyn doesn't lead to three separate gang wars."
"And some pretty heavy artillery for it." Jack was not at all happy to learn that his daughter and sister-in-law had just missed being taken out by a rocket-propelled grenade. "Something big is going on, and we seem to have missed the forest for the trees."
"We're not with CTU anymore," Nadia reminded her husband. "When we hear hoofs, it usually is a horse."
Just then, Goldblume rapped on the mirror to the interrogation room. "Whatever this is, I think we're going to find out what he knows," Jack told them.
"Put it on speaker. I want to hear this too." Marshall's phones really were works of art, Jack thought as he adjusted it.
"Tell ADA Cutter what you just told me," Goldblume was saying.
"It's like this. Last couple of weeks, Freddie Mack's been buying our packages from a new supplier." They'd heard something like this on the wire. This was going to be the first question they asked Mack when they hauled him in. "Said that he wanted to adjust our clientele. Marlowe was having problems with this. Said he wanted a sit-down. Guy said he didn't meet with the scum of the earth."
"Apart from demonstrating enormously good judgment, what does this have to do with all the violence?" Cutter demanded.
"Couple days ago, Mack starts getting feels from the Latinos and the Sicilians, guys he wouldn't piss on if they were on fire," Williams was still as cocky as ever. "Said they'd been getting messages from some brother telling them that there were going to be some changes made, and if they didn't like it, they could fuck off."
Jack frowned. While going through the wires of the last few days, they had noticed that some of the lower-level thugs had been getting calls from cells that connected to numbers that didn't exist. Because it hadn't had anything pertinent to the bust, he had told Chloe and Edgar to file it away, and they'd go through it after the arrest had been made. Which would be now.
He was about to ask Chloe if she could send him the relevant files, when he realized that Williams was still talking.
"Guy said that all of us were nothing more than cockroaches," he was telling Goldblume, "and that the exterminator was coming. But that there would be a place for some of us, and people would make triple the money for half the work."
"And you just bought into his sales talk." Cutter was buying this.
"The brother said he wasn't scared of anything they could do to him. Said he'd already been killed when he was in the joint. Nothing else they could do to him, and that when the time came he'd show them what death was like."
"And now we have to call our friends in the FBI," Nadia told them doubtfully.
"You don't have a name for this guy by any chance?" Goldblume asked, clearly thinking this was all bullshit.
"Brother Jamal," Williams answered. "Said that those sat as his right hand would be well rewarded."
"You didn't need a last name to decide to betray the man you'd been running dope for the last three years," Cutter seemed just as convinced as Goldblume. "He just says that he rose from the dead, that he'll improve your bottom line, and you buy into it."
"Marlowe's dead, ain't he?" Williams replied, as if this were enough.
"Do you have any proof of this fairy tale?"
Williams shrugged. "Two days ago, this runner named White Mike who said he worked for Jamal told me if I was interested in getting down with this to go to a PO Box in Bensonhurst at midnight last night. I get there, there's a phone and a gun. I pick it up, just get a busy signal. 'Bout fifteen minutes later, it rings. When I answer, voice on the other end tells me to fire that gun when I get a text. Says to wait for a call, and that the phone won't work until then."
"And when is this magic phone going to ring?" Cutter asked.
"'Bout fifteen minutes."
Goldblume and Cutter looked at the young felon like he was certifiable. The people watched from the interrogation room felt otherwise.
"They must have taken it from when they brought it into the station," Vaughn told them. "I'll get it, get in touch with Edgar and Marshall."
Jack and Nadia both nodded at this. "Syd, you get all that?" Jack asked.
"Jack, there's a long line from Williams getting a text message to gang wars breaking out in four different parts of the city," Sydney reminded him.
"I know it's a longshot, and that Williams' story is full of holes," Jack admitted, "but what we just heard doesn't sound like any drug kingpin we've dealt with."
"Assuming you're right, what do you want me and Sydney to do?" Kim asked.
Jack thought for a second. "Will, your friend, get him to the nearest care center. By the time you've got that handled, we should be ready to backtrace that call. The three of you are going to be our eyes and ears on the ground."
"Got it. Call you when it's done."
Sydney hung up, and walked back over to Will, who didn't seem to have moved since Kim had told him his girlfriend was dead. "Will, we should probably get out of here."
"What's this about, Syd?" Will asked instead.
"Will, we need to get your girlfriend-"
"Fiancée," Will mentioned, in an oddly detached tone. "Sharon and I were going to get married later this week."
This was not the thing she needed to hear, and frankly all she wanted to do was get one of her dearest friends out of the line of fire. Still, considering that Will had been there for her in the exact same situation nearly a decade ago, she decided to give him a little latitude. "This isn't safe for you, Will."
Will looked at her. "There never is, Syd. But I don't want to be left in the dark. I spent too much of my life like that."
This may have been true, but her resolve didn't shift. "Will, this was just an accident of circumstance. Nothing more."
"There are no accidents. You and I both know that. So at least be honest to tell me what the hell's going on."
Syd looked at her friend, who had gotten up this morning with no idea that he was going to have to bury the woman he loved today. So she made a bad judgment, and listened to her heart instead of her head.
"Get her in our car. I'll explain on the drive over."
The moment Vaughn saw the phone, he knew they had just gotten confirmation that there was more going on than a drug war. The cell was a variation on a model they'd seen a couple of times in CTU. It didn't respond when you pressed the keys or when you tried to call a different line, and would be next to impossible a run a trace on it. Pablo Escobar would not be able to get a phone like this, much less a fly-by-night drug dealer.
After Jack told Cutter to give Williams immunity, he had called Marshall and asked him point blank if he'd ever created a phone like the model they had, meaning 'for Sloane.' Marshall told them he had not, but he had worked on a couple of models like it before, and that there was no way to initiate a backtrace in the time they had, even if he was on site.
"I'm not the only one who thinks that letting this kid get this call is a bad idea, right?" Nadia asked. "This whole thing smells like a Trojan Horse."
"It probably is," Jack admitted. "But the cops have talking to all the other dealers we picked up. None of them know anything about this Brother Jamal or any other sit down. Edgar's going through the backlog of call, but he says even the most efficient search is going to take at least thirty minutes. This is the best lead we have."
Just then, Lt. Goldblume reentered the office, looking genuinely worried. He told them that the rioting was starting to escalate in the immediate area. He'd had to dispatch three units already, and half of his people were still on the street locking up the remnants of Bell's crew. He'd already called for assistance from other precincts, only to find that the gang warfare had stretched the resources of the city so thin.
"I gotta ask you, Jack, how much shit are we in?"
"I'm not going to lie to you," Jack told him. "This may just be the beginning."
And at that moment, Jack's cell rang again. This was the call he had not been looking forward to. "Hello, Bill."
"Jack, what the hell have you got the city into?" Bill Buchanan demanded.
"You've got my old job, you tell me," Jack replied.
He knew he wasn't being fair. Before Jack had gotten axed, Buchanan had been one of their oldest allies in the company. Considering that he was in the Division track, he was both incredibly capable and amicable to the majority of what CTU agents could pursue. The fact that his promotion had come because of the mass exodus over a year ago didn't change that. Most of the people in CTU wouldn't have bothered calling him at all with the news that he was about to be overridden.
"You wouldn't want your job now," Buchanan told him. "We've got three other agencies snapping that they should be taking the lead on this particular problem. So, please try to explain why you wanted this dropped in CTU's lap?"
"It's nothing personal, but this doesn't smell like a gang war," Jack then relayed what they had found over the last hour.
"A gangbanger's confession and a bulletproof cell doesn't add up to a terrorist action," Buchanan reminded him. "But you didn't call for that yet."
"You have to have been monitoring the situation before we called," Jack pointed out. "We need the government to get out of the circle jerk it seems to be in, and do something before the city combusts."
"I don't have to remind you the situation with CTU's manpower."
"Bill, I think we're about two more shootouts away from reenacting Assault on Precinct 13. If New York starts going up in smoke, they will find a way to blame you."
There really wasn't any way to answer, so Buchanan agreed he would dispatch three units to their location, and start coordinating with local law enforcement. "Can you hold out another ten minutes?"
Jack thought of saying "Ask me in ten minutes." Then he realized he was going to be dealing with a much bigger problem by then.
As it turned out explaining what was going on right now took far less time than Kim had thought it would. Will seemed to be assuming that they were will still working with the government, and this was part of some much larger plan. Sydney no doubt thought that she was just giving Will something else to concentrate on while they got to where they needed to be.
That in itself was a much smaller problem than they had thought that it would be. Apparently, breaking up one group of rioters combined with an explosion was enough to clear the area. Kim had no doubt they had probably moved the carnage to the next neighborhood over, but that was a problem would deal with when they had adequate backup.
The urgent care center, not surprisingly, was overwhelmingly crowded, and the day when their names could clear a room had passed. So Sydney took Will up to the front desk, and explained in a succinct matter that Will's fiancée was dead, and they needed a place where he could wait with the body. The doctor on staff was understanding, and managed to get someone to take care of Will.
Sydney was trying to figure out to way adequately say goodbye to her friend when he seemed to beat her to it with a non sequitur. "When were you planning on telling me you didn't work with the government anymore?" Will asked.
She was only momentarily nonplussed "I don't see how that matters," she responded.
"I was in witness protection for four years, not on another planet; I'm fully aware why and how you left," Will replied. "What I can't understand is why you're still dealing with something that isn't in your paygrade any longer."
"This is at least partially our mess," she said slowly. "We didn't cause it, but it's happening in our backyard."
"Is that why you still don't ask for help even when it's right in front of you?" Sydney clearly didn't follow this, so Will followed up. "Remember that consulting job the FBI had me up for last time we met?"
"You still work with the Bureau?" At some other point, Sydney might have considering using this, but she had no intentions of making lemonade with these particularly bitter lemons.
"Have been for the last three years. They moved me out of Witness Protection after Sloane was killed. I thought I could get back to a normal life." A grimace passed over Will's face. "As normal as any of us are allowed to get, anyway."
"Will, I'm glad to hear all this, but your fiance just got killed. You shouldn't have to do anything like -
"-Like the way you did when Sloane had Danny killed?" Will seemed way too rational for someone who had to be going through a world of hurt.
By now, Kim had reentered the room. "Look, I don't mean interrupt, but the situation isn't going to get any easier with us just staying here."
"Yeah, we should go," Will told them.
"Will, you're in no condition to be doing anything," Sydney tried to argue one last time.
"The woman I love is dead. Much as I'd like to change that, she's gone. But I can't ignore the fact that the world is imploding around me." Will told her. "Now, if you're really serious about stopping the same kind of monsters who murdered Shannon, I can help you. Frankly, I have to."
Why do my friends keep wanting to put themselves in harm's way?Sydney thought. But she knew Will, and how hard it was to get him to let go of something, even if it was for his own good. However, she swore to herself that she would make sure that nothing else happened to him today.
"How?" she asked.
Jack had not been able to convince Goldblume to completely empty out the squad room, mainly because there were still too many felons, and they were starting to run out of police. "Besides," as he put it, "there are a lot easier ways to ice a drug dealer."
Mainly to humor them, he reduced the number of people in the station by half, and put the group of them in a smaller room out of the line of traffic.
Vaughn still thought they'd be better off waiting for Buchanan's people to come in, which would make tracking the call a lot quicker, and definitely could come up with a more secure location. Jack would've been willing to do that given another five minutes, which they just didn't have.
Williams seemed to find all this maneuvering hysterical, especially considering that it might end up with him a body bag. Vaughn was beginning to wonder, Sydney's concerns about him notwithstanding, if it was worth all this trouble just to keep this kid alive.
"Man, this dude's probably out there getting bail money for me," Williams told him. Jack decided against telling him that Jamal probably wasn't go to waste a dime on saving his life.
Just then, the phone rang. "Just remember to stick to the story," Jack told Williams.
"What, you think I'm stupid?"
No, just expendable.
Williams picked up. "Yo, it's Kenny."
"I honestly didn't think you'd pick up," the voice on the other end said.
"It's like your boy said earlier, cops are too busy dealing with the mess outside to deal with the rank and file." Williams told him.
"You must think I'm a complete fool, Kenny," The speaker's voice grew ice cold. "My people saw you got picked up an hour ago."
"Kenny, put the phone down now," Jack ordered.
Vaughn didn't know whether it was Jack's mood or the speaker that got to Williams, but whatever it was, he dropped the phone fast.
"You're a problem, now, Kenny, and I have of dealing with problems."
"DOWN!" Jack shouted.
All three of them hit the dirt, Jack slamming Williams to the floor. Five seconds later, the phone exploded.
Considering that they'd been expecting something like this for the last ten minutes, the explosion was something of a disappointment. There wasn't a lot of damage done or even much of a blast- the walls were barely singed. Then again, how much explosive can you fit in a cell phone? Or maybe Brother Jamal didn't think it was worth wasting so much firepower on some so low down the food chain.
Whatever the reason, the three people who were used to things like this happening got to their feet without even getting their clothes that mussed or their ears ringing. The people who were more concerned about it were the cops in the precinct, who now realized that they were being assailed from within as well as without.
"You willing to accept we're on to something?" Jack told Goldblume the second both of them could hear without a loud ringing in his ears.
"Then explain to me how Williams getting iced has anything to do with the chaos breaking out across the city," Goldblume asked.
The lieutenant had just asked a question Jack couldn't answer, but right then his phone started ringing. Marshall's technology seemed capable of surviving just about anything short of a nuclear blast. Though that was a theory Jack didn't want to test.
"Please tell me that my husband and my sister are still alive," Sydney asked tensely. After Jack assured her that they were, she laid into him. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"I was trying to follow a lead-"
"And you decided to make sure that everybody who was capable of handling this situation was all in the same place when you did it? That's the kind of logic I thought we'd gotten away from when I resigned."
Jack acknowledged that this probably hadn't been his best call, but that he had done the best he could with the intel and situation. "No one died," he reminded her.
"Yeah, I think we need a better criteria for success than that," Sydney reminded him. "Kim's not exactly thrilled about this, either."
Jack supposed he deserved that, too. "Have you handled the situation with Will?"
Now Sydney turned a bit reserved. "About that. Will's offered to give us a hand in this investigation." She then explained that Will was now an FBI liaison agent, that he had been transferred their less than a month ago, and that he had a certain amount of pull with the domestic terrorist network.
Jack knew that he shouldn't throw stones at this particular glass house, but knew he needed to make this clear. "You really think he's in the best position to be helping us right now?"
"He says that he needs a distraction," Sydney admitted. "And that he doesn't want to mourn his wife while the city burns around him. Given everything he and I have been through, I'm not sure how to argue with that."
Will Tippin had always been part of their pre-CTU life that Jack, even now, didn't ask much about. From the most cold-blooded standpoint, it would be useful to have another asset working with them. Still, there was something about the situation that smacked of trouble. Jack might've argued about it some more, but then Nadia came walking up to him, and told them that CTU was finally on the scene.
"What's our next move?"
"Tell Chloe to start running a filter through the recordings we hadn't yet had a chance to go through. Anything related to a Brother Jamal or any kind of operation that might be coming off today. Check if there's anyone in Marlowe Bell's gang that we haven't yet arrested who might be part of this." Jack paused. "Ask Will if he can speed up the process of accessing the Bureau database. Maybe there's someone there who can help us narrow it down."
"You don't want us to come in?" Sydney asked.
Jack looked outside one of the windows. In the early morning sky, he could see smoke coming over the horizon. The carnage that had infested their streets was getting closer.
"I think right now, the safest thing for you to do is to make any location you're at secure as possible." Jack told her. "This is going to get ugly fast, and we're going to need to have people out there, who know what they're doing."
EASTSIDE URGENT CARE
"We'll update you as soon as we brief CTU. "
"Got it," Sydney hung up and walked over to Chloe, who was already online with Edgar. "How long will it take you get the data we need?"
"Five minutes, maybe a little less with these pass codes that your friend gave us," Chloe looked at Will. "Jack okay having him around?"
"He'll live with it." By now, Kim was back over to her.
"Technically speaking, it's not safe for him to be here," she told Syd.
"Technically speaking, neither are we," Sydney countered. "You have the hope chest?"
The 'hope chest' was the euphemism that all Double B employees called the weapons locker that was on all of their vehicles. They contained enough weapons, ammo, and selected riot gear to furnish a small troupe. Two of them put together would probably be enough firepower to stave off a small invasion. Sydney hoped that she wasn't going to have to prove that they could.
They took out the keys they carried, twisted them in the locks and entered a three digit ID code. There was no other way to access them. When Will saw the munitions they were carrying, he had to blink several times. "Guys, we're in Harlem, not Chechnya." he reminded him.
"Russian soldiers are more easily identifiable than the enemies that we might end up fighting," Sydney pointed out.
When Will reached for a weapon, Kim fixed him with a look. "We appreciate your help, Will, but we're not going to arm civilians," she told him.
"You gave one to Miss O'Brien," Will reminded her.
"Yeah, and you saw how well that worked out," Kim countered. "You may work with the FBI, but even I know that you spend your day behind a desk."
Will looked a little hurt at this. "Syd, if I could handle Allison Dorian, I can certainly handle a few gang-bangers."
Syd knew that Will could handle a weapon, and that they needed people they could trust, but she wasn't entirely sold on Will being able to help that much, given his emotional state. She also knew that making this argument with him would hold next to zero weight with him.
They were then interrupted by Chloe. "Think I've got something!" Apparently while going through the backlog of calls they had, they had come with a name that might have a link to what they were looking for.
It was a ninety second conservation between Freddie Mackenna, chief supplier and a lower-level enforcer named Elijah Kaye, a member of a rival crew. Kaye fell outside the scope of the investigation, and the conversation they were having was mostly a back and forth about re-ups. But in the last thirty seconds of the conversation, Mackenna mentioned "that thing we talked about." Kaye said that he had checked it with his guy in Em City, and that he was good. "Call me with the time and place."
"I've no idea what he means by Em City, but I back-traced the origin of the call," Chloe told them. " A payphone just outside of Washington Heights, enemy territory for both of them."
Marveling that they had found a working payphone anywhere in New York, Sydney wondered why either one would risk a public call in a section of town where neither one knew where they'd be safe.
"Why don't we have my father ask him?" Kim replied. "Last I checked, Freddie Mac was the first one we picked up."
By the time Jack and Vaughn had finished briefing Buchanan's team (one tech, four heavily armed field agents and a supervisory agent named Lee Castle, who Kim had worked with in LA), you would have had to have been blind or worked at Division to not see how desperate the situation was getting. The rioting and shooting had been spreading in a concentrated pattern, and while some of the groups had been put down, the one they were dealing with seemed to be, if anything, gathering steam. And it was clearly heading due east, right for the precinct squad.
"I've already had calls from the President's chief of staff," Buchanan told Jack. "She wants to know if he should begin mobilizing the National Guard."
"I don't think we're there yet," Jack admitted, "but it may just be a matter of hours."
Nadia walked out, and told the others what Chloe had just uncovered. "I checked the logs; Mackenna's still in lockup."
Jack looked at Castle. "Whatever you're planning on doing, you better do it fast," Castle told them. "We'll be ready to stand siege here, but if what you say is true, some of Mackenna's people are going to be en route. And he's got to know that."
Nadia nodded, and turned back to her husband. "Who do you want to handle it?"
Jack had already considered this. Freddie Mackenna had spent his entire life in one bad-ass confrontation after the other. The only way to get to him was use whatever surprise they could, which meant it had come from the person he would expect the least threat.
This interrogation room was quite a bit smaller then the one where Sydney had impersonated a public defender, and the walls were the color most commonly associated with urine. There was a camera on the far wall; Nadia and Jack had been assured it was turned off. Goldblume was uneasy with this, even after he had been assured by CTU that what they were looking for would not come back to bite them in court. No one was thinking further ahead then the next ten minutes. Mackenna had been handcuffed to the chair in the far corner of the room.
Nadia walked in the room. Like everyone else associated with Double B, Freddie Mac didn't know her from Eve. So his reaction was probably about the same he'd give any woman who walked in the room. "Hey bitch, where's my lawyer?"
Freddie Mackenna was not an imposing figure even by the standards of drug dealers. He topped out at five-eight, and most of his hundred sixty pounds tended towards fat rather than muscle. He nevertheless probably thought that Nadia amounted to nothing more than a twig. She was going to change that mindset quickly.
"Attorney can't get you of the mess you're in," Nadia told him. "You're assuming way too much."
"You gonna scare me with some weak-ass threat?" Freddie didn't seem to realize the trouble he was in. "You know my record. I can jail."
"Oh, Freddie, you have so much more to worry about than prison. I'd be more concerned about you're getting out of this room." You wouldn't think a sentence like that could've been delivered pleasantly, but Nadia made it sound like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.
Mackenna snorted, then began to laugh outright. "Shit! Now they're making runway models into cops?"
"I'm not a cop, Freddie. You'd probably be safer if I was a cop. But I did once do this for a living. And I learned something very useful at my old job."
Mackenna never knew what hit him. Nadia hit him twice in the gut so fast that his mind didn't realize what had happened until his body did. He was doubled over and moaning.
"Very useful, learning how to hit someone without leaving a mark. But that's probably too subtle for you gangsters."
She then reached down and kneed him in the testicles. Hard enough for his howl of pain to go up an octave. Unfortunately, his mouth worked ahead of his mind.
"You crazy bitch, aggh!"
This time she hit him in the small of the back.
"Who is Brother Jamal?" she demanded.
"What the fuck-"
Nadia then took out a very small knife, grabbed Mackenna's sleeve, and yanked him up. "You're going to start telling me all you know about Brother Jamal. Names, dates, people he runs with. Otherwise, I'm going to start taking your balls out from under you. See how long you last on cell block nine without those."
She then began to lower the knife. She had just reached the crotch of his pants, when he finally started jabbering. "I never met the guy! He just started making contact with me a month ago through a guy I knew in the joint! Says he's been working the projects for months!"
"Doing what?' Nadia's grip didn't even loosen.
"Some Black Panther bullshit, about taking the streets back from the cops, stopping us from warring among ourselves and focusing the rage on the ones who deserve it!"
"How do we find him?"
Mackenna actually looked at her if she were crazy. "Look around! Bastard's gonna be on your fucking doorstep in a few minutes."
This was almost certainly a line. The days of gangster leaders fighting on the ground had gone out with Che Guevara. Brother Jamal, whoever he was, would be watching from a distance. "You'd better be telling the truth."
"Or what? I saw how they got to Snot Boogie," There was more fear in McKenna's voice then when she'd had a knife to his balls. "Right under your damn noses. I'm a dead man either way."
Nadia decided not to tell Freddie Mackenna that Williams was unconscious but alive, because the fundamental point was still true. This guy had a hell of a reach, and he wouldn't have to try that hard to get them soon.
Chloe had spent the last ten minutes going through the backlog of calls, and was now performing one of those tricks that only Marshall's software could have provided. Using the cell network that they had been tracking ever since that had been chasing Bell, Marshall could use a reverse GPS to figure out where the caller had been at each call. He had not bothered to report this particular item to the NYPD because, frankly, this was a detail that wasn't pertinent to any part of the investigation. Until now.
"Five members of the Bell crew took calls that originate from areas within Washington Heights." Chloe told them. "All of them seem to come from accounts that were terminated some time in the last three days."
That did seem to indicate that they were prepping for something. "Anything in Marshall's software that can narrow down our location a little more?" Sydney asked.
"Working on it, but, um," Chloe paused deliberately "don't we have to deal more pressing matters?"
It was a pretty pertinent question. During the twenty minutes since they'd arrived, the noise on the streets had been getting noticeably louder, and the smoke and shooting had become more prominent. Up until now, no one seemed intent on raiding the Center, but none of them thought they would stay that lucky.
Kim had just gone into waiting room, which was another problem. There were at least thirty people, half of whom hadn't been there in the last fifteen minutes. The gangsters didn't seem to care that much who got hit; she had scene at least five people wearing gang colors, and who appeared to be packing serious heat. Kim had gotten well-versed in gang relations to know that this med care center was probably about one shouting match away from becoming a shooting gallery itself.
"There any chance we'll be seeing help from anybody on the right side of the law?" she asked Syd.
Reluctantly, Syd told her no. Never mind getting help from the fifteenth precinct; the police scanner had revealed that forces throughout the city had been dispatched to cover the major flashpoints. CTU decision to take command aside, a good part of the alphabet soup was trying to figure out which portions of the city were the biggest. Normally, knowing that they would not be apart of the giant clusterfuck that this was shaping up to be would have raised both of their spirits. However, given their situation, this wasn't cheerful news.
"Most cheerful estimate is maybe forty minutes to an hour," Sydney told them. "Do you think we can hold out that long?"
And at that point, the shouting in the waiting room, which the former government agents had managed to regard as white noise up until now.
"I think we're about to find out where we get it from first," Kim told her.
Telling Chloe to stay put no matter what she heard (she was armed but, as she had proved just an hour earlier, pressed she couldn't hit the broadside of a barn) Sydney and Kim took out their weapons and proceeded to the front.
Two black gangstas dressed in loud colors were in the middle of a shouting match with a young Latino. They had progressed from random insults to a cacophony of abuse, and the boiling point had just been reached, as all three of them had .9mm's out.
Somehow, Sydney didn't think reasoning with these people was going to work. She fired her weapon in the air. Half of the people in the waiting room hit the dirt. This did get all of the participants attention, but not in a good way. They all turned their weapons from each other to her.
"Bitch, this ain't any of your goddamn business!" the would be gangsta told her.
"Drop your weapon or I spread your brains on the wall," Sydney replied
"Don't you know, we ain't taking shit from cops no more," one of them told her.
"Then I guess it's a good thing we're not cops," Kim told them.
"Hey, bitch," the Latino shouted. "Can't you count?"
Nothing better to bring gang scum together than the threat of a cop, Sydney thought. Martin Luther King was so wrong.
Kim took it a different way, and fired a perfect shot into one of the shooters wrists. "Insult me again. I fucking dare you," she snapped as he dropped the gun.
Unfortunately, they had been so focused on the shooter, they had forgotten about the other people in the waiting room. The other would be gangstas grabbed one of the patients, and put the gun at her head. "You willing to play with the big boys, little girl?" he snarled. "Both of you girls, put your guns on the ground now."
Vaughn had heard how bad the situation was at the urgent care center, and was about to head out into the firestorm, when the decision was taken out of his hands.
A bullet hole appeared in the squadroom wall. The rioters had officially arrived.