Team Knight Rider - Season Two
Chapter Five: Codebreaker
The modest mansion sat amidst a sea of greenery that spanned for many yards in each direction. Busy workers set about the task of keeping the vegetation in top condition. Sprinklers were activated regularly, and small symmetrical flowerbeds were weeded and cared for on a daily basis. Tall palm trees and sculptured shrubbery interrupted the carefully cut grass here and there, and a quaint little brick path snaked around the grounds, through flowerbeds and around trees.
Some of the gardeners were working on weeding the flowerbeds at that time. It was mid-morning, and the sun was out and shining in all its glory. One of the gardeners, a tall, muscular-looking man in dirt-stained gray overalls, stood up straight and wiped a small trickle of sweat off his glistening forehead. As he did, he looked carefully around him.
"Do you see Ellison yet?" a man's voice suddenly came out of the gardener's watch.
"Not yet," Duke replied in a quiet voice, careful not to let the other gardeners hear him. Duke then did a double take as he saw two people coming out of the mansion into the garden.
"I take that back," Duke said, "He and Erica just stepped outside. I see them now."
Duke then went back to work, keeping an eye on his teammate and their target.
* * *
"Wow!" Erica exclaimed in her blonde voice, "What a pretty garden!"
"Yes, it is," the man walking alongside her replied. He was a medium-sized man with short dark hair and a square, tanned face that could be called handsome and distinguished. He regarded the garden with some pride.
"I keep my garden in perfect condition," Ellison told her, "I am a stickler for detail. Nothing I own is taken for granted."
Erica gave him a seducing smile and sidled a bit closer.
"Is that so?" she asked suggestively.
Ellison gave her an amused grin, then turned away.
"So what makes you think you would be a good personal assistant for me?" he asked her.
Erica pretended to consider.
"Well," she drawled, "I'm very attentive, and I'm reliable, and I always aim to please." She said that last part with a suggestive look in his direction.
Ellison just chuckled briefly.
"That's very impressive," he assured her, "However, I'm afraid you just don't have what I want."
Erica frowned in surprise.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Ellison told her, "Frankly, I prefer dark-haired, more exotic women. You're just too American for my taste. Sorry."
With that Ellison left her standing there, dumb-faced. Erica then kicked her heels and turned away to speak into her watch in annoyance.
"Well, that didn't work," she reported, "It seems Mr. Greenthumbs here prefers more exotic women."
At that she stormed out of the garden and back to her awaiting motorcycle.
"Not everybody likes blondes, Erica," her vehicle told her reasonably.
"Just take me home, Kat," Erica told her.
* * *
On board SkyOne, Kyle, Jenny and Trek sat around the console. Another man sat in Duke's chair. He was dark-haired and dark-skinned and wore a gray suit and tie. He had a thick file folder open in front of him that he glanced at every few seconds.
"Robert Ellison used to work for us," the man told them, "until a few years ago when he quit. Since then we suspect he's been dealing in international secrets with other countries, particularly the Mid-East. We want to catch him before he can do any more harm."
"Why us?" Jenny asked.
"Because everything we've tried has failed," the man admitted, "We thought with you and your vehicles helping, we could catch him."
Just then Erica stormed into the room and dropped unceremoniously into her chair without even a glance at any of them.
"Erica," Kyle introduced, "This is Agent Omar Xavier from the FBI."
Erica spared Xavier a short glance before returning to her in-depth study of her nails.
"Nice to meet you," she told him off-hand.
"You too, Ms West," Xavier said with a nod.
"Agent Xavier was just telling us about Ellison," Kyle said.
"You mean besides the fact he has no taste?" Erica asked.
"Hey!" Jenny objected.
"Besides you, of course," Erica amended.
Jenny gave her a knowing grin.
"As I was saying," Xavier continued, picking up where he left off, "we believe Ellison is about to make another deal. This time with a man we know as Hamal. They've worked together before. I believe Ellison is looking for someone, someone in particular, to help him crack some hard security codes so he can access Pentagon files. From what we've been able to dig up, he's been trying to find someone we know only as the Codebreaker."
"The Codebreaker?" Jenny asked.
"Aside from that name, we don't know anything about him," Xavier admitted, "except that he's reputed to be capable of breaking any code in the world."
"That's impossible," Trek commented skeptically.
"Ellison seems to believe he's for real," Xavier told them, "Ever since we've heard about this Codebreaker person, we've been curious about him and have tried everything to track him down, but with no luck. Either he doesn't really exist, or he's a ghost, a shadow who's been able to hide from the rest of the world. I for one am also skeptical he exists, but Ellison seems to think he does, and that's what counts."
"If this person does exist," Kyle said, "and if he can in fact break any code, then he could pose as a very serious threat to national security."
Xavier nodded in agreement.
"That's what I had been thinking."
Kyle turned to Trek.
"Trek," he said, "you and Plato work on trying to figure out if this Codebreaker guy exists or not. Look in every nook and cranny and try to figure out who he is, if in fact he is."
"What do you want me to do?" Jenny asked.
"Well," Erica spoke up, "Ellison still needs that personal assistant. And you are kind of exotic."
Trek grinned and looked at Jenny, who looked at Kyle.
"You up for it?" Kyle asked her.
She grinned in reply.
"If it means catching a bad guy," she replied, "I'm up for anything."
Kyle nodded as she got up and left.
"Well, Plato and I have a shadow to look for," Trek said, standing.
"Only the Shadow knows!" Plato spoke up.
Trek chuckled as he left.
"Ellison is planning on leaving soon," Xavier spoke up, "We need to find out where so we can be ready for him.
"Well," Kyle said, "that's where Duke comes in."
* * *
Duke watched as Ellison and Jenny made their way slowly through the gardens. Ellison seemed enraptured by her and could hardly take his eyes off her. They were both laughing. From what he could tell, Jenny was not exactly in her element, but she didn't seem to be blowing it either. In fact, she was smiling along with him as they joked and talked, both carrying tropical drinks in their hands.
While they were busy chatting, Duke decided to make his move. He laid down his garden hoe and made his way as inconspicuously as possible to the doors leading inside the mansion. Once inside he checked around for any of Ellison's staff before heading for the spy's office.
"Anybody inside?" Duke asked into his watch.
"Nope," Beast replied, "The coast is clear. You can go in."
Duke approached the door and opened it, quickly sliding inside. The office was very large, with a marble desk and brand-new computer. Darkly stained oak bookshelves lined the walls, all full with thick volumes. The carpet was thick and yielding underneath Duke's heavy work boots. He walked across it to the desk and started looking through the drawers. In the second drawer down he found a fax printout and pulled it out.
"Bingo," he said, "Ellison made reservations at a hotel in Cuba. There's also something here about a meeting there. It doesn't say when or where."
"Nice goin' Duke," Beast told him, "But you better get outta there pronto. You just set off a silent alarm."
Duke quickly closed the drawer and hurried out of the room. He then made his way down a hall, but stopped short as he heard footsteps heading his way. Duke quickly ducked through the nearest door and closed it behind him. He held his ear to the door and listened as the people outside rushed past. Duke sighed, then turned around to see where he was.
"Well, just look on the bright side, Duke," Beast told him, "If you're stuck in there for a long time, at least you won't have to worry about going to the bathroom."
"My kinda day," Duke commented, "Next time I see Jenny, she and I are gonna have a long talk about my undercover assignments."
* * *
Ellison and Jenny laughed at the man's joke amiably, Jenny more out of necessity since she hadn't really found it funny. She took another small sip of her drink, noticing how Ellison had almost finished his while hers was still over 3/4 full. They walked casually along the garden path, a bit too close for Jenny's comfort. She tried to push those thoughts aside, though, and concentrate on her mission.
"I'm so glad you came," Ellison told her suddenly, "Out of all the women who have applied for this job, you're the only one who has what I need."
"Oh really?" Jenny asked.
Ellison nodded and looked at her admiringly.
"I hope it doesn't seem strange if I hire you on the spot," he told her.
Jenny shook her head, feigning excitement.
"That would be great!" she told him, hopefully with feeling.
He smiled at her and nodded.
"I thought so too," he replied, "I have another proposition for you."
"Oh?" she asked, "And what is that?"
"I'm taking a trip to Cuba in a couple of days," he informed her, "I'd like you to come with me, as my assistant."
"I'd like that," she told him.
Just then his pocket beeped. They stopped walking so Ellison could reach into his pocket and answer his cell phone.
"What is it?" he asked. Seconds later his smile turned into a frown, and he nodded soberly.
"I see," he said, then added, "We'll have to go tonight, then."
He hung up the phone, then tried to regain his smile as much as possible.
"I'm sorry about this," he told her apologetically, "I know this is very short notice, but something has just come up and we'll need to fly to Cuba tonight. Is that all right?"
"I'll go home and pack my things right now," she told him.
Ellison smiled widely.
"That's what I wanted to hear," he told her.
Ellison then showed her out, and Jenny climbed into Domino and headed back to SkyOne.
"Good job, Jenny," Domino praised her driver, "You made me proud."
"Thanks, Domino," Jenny told her, "It was all I could do to keep from slugging this guy. He's such a creep."
"Granted, he's a creep," Domino agreed, "but sometimes we need to hang around creeps in order to find even bigger creeps."
"Nicely put, Dom," she said.
"Thanks, Hon," Domino told her.
* * *
"Obviously Ellison is going to Cuba to meet someone," Kyle said to Xavier, Duke and Erica in the situation later that day, "Possibly this Codebreaker guy."
"We need to be there," Xavier told him.
"We'll charter a plane there tonight," Kyle said, "Hopefully we'll get there around the same time as Ellison. Meanwhile, Duke and Erica, you two help Trek and the cars find this Codebreaker guy."
"You're not just leaving us here, are you?" Dante asked indignantly.
"Of course not," Kyle replied, "We're taking you with us."
"How come he gets to go?" Domino asked, "My driver is out there, too."
"Because I'm much better at surveillance than you are," Dante told her.
"That's not true!" Domino protested, "I'm just as good as you are in every respect."
"Nothing personal, Domino," Kyle told her, "But I need you here helping the others."
"Oh, all right," Domino conceded, "But take good care of my girl for me."
Kyle then turned to Xavier, nodded, and stood. The FBI agent nodded back and followed him out of the room.
* * *
Hours later they were in tropical Cuba, driving through the worn-down gravel streets inside Dante. Ellison and Jenny had already arrived and were in their hotel. Kyle parked Dante close-by so they could keep a close eye on the hotel entrance.
"Look!" Xavier said, pointing towards the entrance.
Kyle looked and saw a short, olive-skinned man enter the building. He had a cigarette sticking out of his mouth and looked like he tolerated zero nonsense.
"That's Ahmed Hamal," Dante reported, "Xavier's partner in crime."
"Now that Hamal's here, things should be happening soon," Xavier said.
Soon turned out to be over five hours later. By that time it was pitch black outside. Both Kyle and Xavier were reclined in their seats tiredly. Dante was keeping his sensors targeted at the hotel.
"It's a good thing you brought me along," Dante told them, "If it were up to you, you'd both be sound asleep and you'd miss Ellison and Hamal leaving the hotel."
Kyle and Xavier both sat up straight, fully alert.
"Hamal's leaving?" Xavier asked.
"He should be stepping out any minute," Dante told them.
Sure enough, Ellison and his partner exited the hotel moments later.
"Do you see them leaving, Kyle?" Jenny asked over com-link.
"We see them," Kyle said, starting Dante's engine and going to follow them, "How are you doing?"
"Great, if you like being stuck with an international spy who tells horrible jokes," she told him.
"We're following them to their meeting now," Kyle told her, "We'll let you know what happens."
"All right, Kyle."
Ellison and Hamal drove to a nearby outdoor café where they parked and sat down at a table in full view of the dirt road. Kyle parked across the street on the opposite corner.
"We won't be able to hear what they say," Xavier complained.
"Not to worry," Dante told them, "Thanks to Trek, my new surveillance equipment includes a broad range listening device. We can all hear what they're saying perfectly."
"Impressive," Xavier commented.
"I should think so," Dante said modestly.
They waited about six minutes before someone joined them at their table. The newcomer was obviously Mexican, with jet-black hair and a similarly colored moustache. He appeared to be in his mid-forties and appeared to have eaten a few too many burritos.
"Hola, amigos," the Mexican man greeted Ellison and Hamal. The three of them all shook hands.
"Can you figure out who that is?" Kyle asked Dante.
"Of course," Dante replied.
"Do you think he's Codebreaker?" Kyle asked.
Xavier shook his head and shrugged.
"I sure hope not," Dante spoke up, "I was hoping for someone much more impressive-looking."
"You already have the information you need to retrieve the right files," Ellison was telling the stranger, "I want everything there is on any American government operatives working in the Mid-East, as well as any who may be assigned to myself. I will give your friend $5 million for each operative."
They saw the Mexican nod.
"My friend tells me it will not be a problem," he told them, "He will have what you ask for within three days. All I need to know is where you will be."
"My associate and I are flying over to Ar-Riyad in the morning," Ellison said, "I would like your friend to meet us there once he has the goods."
Codebreaker's friend nodded.
"It will be done," he said in his Mexican accent, "He will find you there within the next two days. Then he is expected to be paid in full."
"As he will be," Ellison agreed.
They then watched as Hamal pulled a briefcase from underneath his chair and slid it over to the stranger.
"Here is fifteen million, just to get him going," Ellison said.
The Mexican took the briefcase and nodded satisfactorily. He then gave them each a curt nod, stood up and left with the briefcase full of cash. Ellison and Hamal also got up to leave.
"His name is Ramon Riguerez," Dante announced, referring to the Mexican, "He's a well-known wealthy industrialist with absolutely no rap sheet and no ties to any illegal activities. In other words he's as clean as a whistle."
"Let's follow him," Kyle decided.
Riguerez climbed into a banged-up rental car and started driving away. Kyle, Xavier and Dante followed.
"He's making a call on his cell phone," Dante announced.
"Can you trace the call?" Kyle asked.
"Need you ask?" Dante asked, then added, "He's making a call to somewhere in Washington DC. I'm sorry I can't be any more specific."
"He must be Codebreaker's contact," Xavier guessed, "He must be calling Codebreaker now."
"That means he's already in Washington," Kyle said, "Right there with the Pentagon."
Xavier nodded soberly, then dug out his own cell.
"I'll have agents alerted about him right away," he said, "But unless he actually tries to break in, I doubt we'll be able to catch him, especially without any kind of description."
"So chances are Codebreaker will succeed in getting those files, if he's as good as his reputation implies," Kyle said.
Xavier sighed as he dialed.
"We'll have to say with Ellison," Xavier decided, "We'll follow them to Saudi Arabia and hope we can catch Codebreaker before he gives them the information."
Kyle nodded in agreement, then turned around and headed back to the hotel.
* * *
Meanwhile, back on SkyOne, Trek and the others were searching through every corner of the net they could for any sign of the Codebreaker they were looking for. Duke and Beast tried ex-government agents, with no luck. Erica, Kat and Domino searched through every file they could on known criminals from the files of the CIA, FBI and FLAG. None had anything on Codebreaker.
Trek and Plato tried the more imaginative approach.
"What have you got?" Erica asked Trek, coming up to him. Trek was seated on Plato, going over information appearing on the monitor.
"Plato and I decided to scrap our search of Codebreaker using normal methods," Trek told her, "Instead we're trying to find him when he was a kid."
"Won't it be too late then?" she asked.
Trek shook her head.
"If we find out who this guy was when he was a kid," Trek explained, "We'll know who he is now."
"So how do you plan on doing that?" Duke asked, joining them.
"We've been searching through old email accounts with login names Codebreaker," Trek informed them, "So far we found 124 matches. Plato's cross-referencing them now."
"And we have a winner!" Plato exclaimed.
Trek immediately looked at the monitor.
"Yes!" he exclaimed, "This is it!"
"So who is it?" Duke asked, "And how do you know it's him?"
Trek replied, "Codebreaker@startrek.net. It's an old email last used five years ago. It's a guy named J. Mason. His is the only one that doesn't make sense. I had Plato check through all the government records of the others with that login name. Out of all of them, Mason is the only one who doesn't seem to exist."
"Doesn't exist?" Duke asked skeptically.
Trek grinned, nodded, and read off the monitor.
"I think somehow he managed to erase all existence of himself," Trek said, "There aren't even any birth places or school records or anything on file. All there is is a dinky little profile. It has his last known address. Dodge City, Kansas."
"Well, then, what are we waiting for?" Erica asked.
* * *
The street address of Mason was located in a suburban area about half an hour from the airport. Trek and Erica parked the HSPV on the curb outside and stepped out.
"Looks homey," Trek commented.
"Not your typical criminal headquarters," Erica agreed.
"Not your typical criminal," Trek replied.
The two of them walked up the front steps and rang the front doorbell. It was a few moments before the door opened before them. From inside they could hear the muffled sound of classic rock. The man who answered the door was very tall, about 6'3", and was incredibly skinny. His hair was balding, but covered by a headband. He wore old jeans and a navy silk shirt.
"Hey, dudes, what's up?" he asked them amiably.
Trek and Erica gave him a polite smile.
"We're, uh, looking for a guy named J. Mason," Trek told him.
"You mean Jamie?" the guy asked, "Sorry, man. He's been gone five years."
Trek and Erica exchanged glances.
"Look," Erica said, "We're from the Foundation for Law and Government. We'd like to come in and ask you a few questions."
"Gnarly," the guy said, inviting them in.
Erica gave Trek a funny look, then entered. They stepped right out of the 90's and back into the 60's. The living room the man led them to had orange shag carpet and 60's style décor. A lava lamp stood in one corner, and a record player sat next to the TV. The furniture was a pale green and covered with afghans.
"You are now entering the Twilight Zone," Plato intoned in a quiet, mysterious voice.
"Tell me about it," Erica muttered as she and Trek took a seat on the tacky couch.
"Hey, honey!" the man called out loudly, "Company!"
Moments later a woman in her late forties came down with impossibly long black hair - obviously dyed - and wearing skin-tight jeans and a tight tank top. No bra. One look at her and Trek's face scrunched up in disgust. Erica elbowed him.
"Hey, dudes!" the lady greeted them enthusiastically.
"Sheri," the man told his wife, "These kids are from the Foundation for Law and Government. They're hear to ask us about Jamie."
"Nice to meet you," Sheri told them, "Frank and I are glad you dropped by."
"Um, yeah," Erica said, "So, about your son?"
Frank and Sheri looked at each other and laughed.
"No, no, he wasn't our son, man," Frank told him.
"We were his foster parents for a few years," Sheri told them, "We got him when he was fourteen, but he ran away two years later. That was five years ago."
"Five years ago?" Trek asked in surprised, "That would make him 21."
"Geez, he's even younger than you," Erica whispered to him.
"Can you tell us anything about him?" Trek asked.
"Just that he was really weird," Frank said, "He used to spend all his time in his room on his computer. And if he wasn't there, he was out with his techno-wizard friends."
"We tried to get him to make normal friends," Sheri told them, "but he wouldn't listen to us."
Trek and Erica hesitated and exchanged glances, noting the irony.
"Do you know any of these friends he had?" Trek asked.
Sheri and Frank shook their heads in unison.
"Jamie never brought them over a lot," Sheri told them, "And he never talked about them. Funny thing was that they were all older than him, like in their twenties or thirties. He didn't have any friends his age."
"So none of them went to his school?" Erica asked.
"Jamie didn't go to school," Frank told them, "He got his GED the year we got him. I guess he was really smart or somethin'. He refused to go to college, though. Instead he got a part time job and did whatever."
Trek and Erica exchanged glances, both thinking the same thing - that this Mason guy was sounding more and more like their Codebreaker.
"You wouldn't happen to have a recent picture of him, would you?" Erica asked them.
Again the couple shook their heads.
"Jamie refused to get his picture taken," Frank told them.
"Can you tell us what he looks like then?"
"He was thin, and pale," she told them, "He had very white-blond hair, and he wore glasses."
"And he had scars on his face," Frank added, "He said he got them in a bike accident.
"Thanks," Trek said, "That'll help."
Sheri looked at them speculatively.
"He's not in any trouble with the fuzz, is he?" she asked.
Trek and Erica hesitated.
"Not at the moment," Erica stalled.
"Hey," Frank said, leaning forward in his seat, "You two look like you're pretty groovin’. Are you busy tonight? Because Sher and I were gonna try this gnarly new bar. It's supposed to have all the good tunes from the good ol' days. You two hip?"
Trek and Erica exchanged frightened glances.
"Uh, no, we're not hip," Erica told them, "Sorry."
She and Trek stood up and moved to leave. Frank and Sheri stood and blocked their path.
"Hey, if you two are busy tonight, that's groovy," Frank said, "We can always postpone 'til tomorrow."
Trek and Erica squeezed through the overeager couple to the door.
"Thanks a lot for all your help," Trek told them, "If we're free tomorrow, we'll give you a call."
"Far out!" Sheri exclaimed, waving good-bye. Frank joined her.
Erica and Trek took one last look at them before they bolted back to their motorcycles.
"And I thought Plato was weird," Kat commented.
They cast a glance back in the odd couple's direction. Frank and Sheri were still by the door, watching and waving.
"Let's get out of here," Erica pleaded, "Now!"
* * *
They met Duke in the situation room as soon as they returned from their mission. Trek immediately contacted Kyle.
"What have you found?" Kyle asked. His image was a bit staticy and he appeared to be at a tiny airplane. Dante stood just behind him, fastened down to the floor.
"We found out who Codebreaker is," Trek informed him, "Turns out he's a guy named Jamie Mason, only 21 years old. Used to live with a really eccentric couple who think they're teenagers back in the 60's."
"Very scary," Erica added.
"Anything else?" Kyle asked.
"Just that he ran away from his foster home when he was sixteen and decided to take up a life of crime," Erica replied.
"Mason erased all data on his own existence," Trek told him, "There's nothing in any government file. We were lucky to find his last known address from an old email he used to use. I'm guessing he's covering his tracks in case anyone comes looking."
"Did you get a description?" he asked.
"Blond, skinny, glasses, scars on his face," Erica supplied.
"They didn't have any pictures," Trek explained.
"Sounds like he doesn't want anyone to know who he is," Duke commented.
"And for good reason," Trek said, "If he can do what people say he can do, then every government in the world would be trying to track him down."
Kyle pursed his lips.
"Are you sure there's nothing else on him?" he asked.
Trek was just about to respond when Plato spoke up.
"Argg!" he spoke in pirate lingo, "Me found me buried treasure!"
The others all frowned.
"What did he find?" Erica asked.
They all watched Trek as he turned his attention to his display monitor.
"Plato found a hidden file on Mason," Trek told them a short moment later, "It was almost undetectable."
"Can you open it?" Kyle asked.
Trek shook his head.
"No," he said, "It's very highly protected. You need exact codes to get in."
"Too bad we don't have a Codebreaker handy," Duke joked.
"It looks almost like a government file," Trek added.
"Do what you can," Kyle told them, "Dante, Xavier and I are following Jenny and Ellison to Ar-Riyad. Once you're finished there, come over and meet us."
"Right-E-O!" Plato responded.
Kyle's image suddenly disappeared. The others then went to work.
* * *
Ellison's private jet landed in Ar-Riyad late the following morning. Within an hour of landing they had driven through the main city to a luxurious hotel that, Jenny noticed with much displeasure, contained only one bed. Hamal had left them at the airport, leaving Jenny with Ellison and his two armed bodyguards, Bob and Gord.
"I'm sorry about such a long flight," Ellison told her, "But I'll make it up to you."
"Oh?" she asked.
Ellison smiled at her and came closer.
"There is a party being held tonight," he told her, "Very formal. I would like you to accompany me."
Jenny forced a grin.
"I'm afraid I didn't bring anything suitable to wear," she told him, hoping to get out of it.
"No problem," Ellison said lightly, "We have the afternoon. I'll take you shopping. We'll find something just right for tonight."
He leered at her suggestively. Jenny leaned away a bit and tried to keep the smile on her face.
"How nice of you," she said politely.
* * *
While Ellison and Jenny were out shopping, Kyle, Dante and Xavier were arriving at a small airport in Ar-Riyad. As soon as they arrived they unloaded Dante and drove out. They had to pass through customs first before leaving the airport, and Dante had to be searched.
"I've never felt more violated in my whole life," Dante huffed as they finally drove away, "Those customs agents were way too rough on my interior."
"Relax, Dante," Kyle told him, "As soon as we get back to SkyOne, I'll have Gil clean you inside and out."
"That's more like it," Dante said, calming down.
"I have some agents in the airport checking everyone coming in for Mason's description," Xavier told him, his ear to his cell, "My contact here will meet us by the hotel Ellison is staying at."
They parked on the curb opposite the hotel a while later.
"Is Jenny inside?" Kyle asked.
"No," Dante replied, "Her communicator is not in there. They must have left."
"Damn," Kyle muttered. He didn't want to lose them, especially Jenny.
Just then a medium-sized man in dark clothes approached Dante and opened the backseat door to climb in. He appeared to be native, with olive skin and short black hair.
"I just hate in when strangers barge in," Dante complained.
"This is my contact, Khalil," Xavier introduced the man, "Khalil, Kyle Stewart from the Foundation for Law and Government."
Khalil shook hands with Kyle.
"Nice meeting you," he said, his deep voice accented in Arabic.
"Same here," Kyle said.
"Of course, no one thinks to introduce me," Dante spoke up sulkily.
Kyle rolled his eyes.
"Um, the vehicle is called Dante," Xavier said.
"A talking car?" Khalil asked skeptically.
"I'm a sport utility vehicle, thank-you," Dante replied.
Khalil frowned, not knowing what to make of it.
"Did you see Ellison?" Xavier asked him.
"He went in with a dark-haired woman and two bodyguards," Khalil reported, "They left an hour ago to go shopping."
"Shopping?" Kyle asked.
Xavier told his friend, "The dark-haired woman is named Jenny Andrews. She's also from the Foundation, working undercover."
Khalil nodded as if he'd suspected as much.
"Ellison is planning on attending a soiree tonight," Khalil continued, "It is being hosted by Sadam Garat."
"Garat is a government official here in the city," Xavier informed Kyle, "He is very well respected."
"Rumors have been going around saying he is accepting bribes," Khalil informed them, "So far there is no proof. We suspect Garat may be the one who is buying the Pentagon information from Ellison, and that he is using Hamal as a messenger."
"Sounds pretty involved," Kyle commented.
"Nothing you can't handle, I'm sure," Dante said.
"I'm going to the soiree alone," Xavier informed Kyle, "I'm afraid you would just stick out too much. Khalil will stay with you."
"Jenny has a brooch Trek gave her," Kyle told them, "It has a hidden camera in it. We can use it to monitor the party."
"Let's hope she remembers to wear it," Khalil said.
Kyle was about to suggest contacting her, but thought better of it. If he tried to get in touch with her now or any other time, Jenny's cover could be blown. Not only that, but Kyle knew people like Ellison, as especially like Hamal. They wouldn't hesitate to kill her.
Khalil regarded Kyle and seemed to know what he was thinking.
"I've been dealing with Ellison and Hamal for a long time," he told him, "Both are ruthless. If they find out who Jenny is, they will interrogate her severely and then kill her."
"That's thinking positive," Dante said sarcastically.
"Maybe I should pull her out now," Kyle thought out loud, worried for his teammate.
Xavier shook his head.
"Better not," he advised, "We have no reason to believe either of them suspect her. We need her on the inside."
Kyle nodded reluctantly.
* * *
On to Part Two