This story is now on the list to be finished so over the new few weeks, expect a new episode every few days.
The reason why new episodes have been sporadic, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Things are about to get complicated…
I thanked the CCTV operator and left with Joanne to go back to the third floor and Monica’s office. Joanne had called her the moment we made the discovery, and she was there to make sure I made it.
It was a passing thought I leave, but I would not get past the soldier at the front door.
We waited for a few minutes in the outer office where an efficient personal assistant was typing faster than I could think.
A buzzing sound broke the steady keyboard sounds, and she said we could go in.
I could imagine another page and a half being entered in the time it took for us to get from the chairs to the door.
Inside, the office had wooden panelling, shelves lined with books, a minibar, benchtops covered in trinkets picked up in many travels, and strategically placed in a corner, four chairs and a coffee table.
Monica was sitting on one, and she motioned for us to sit in two others.
Was a fourth person expected?
If there was we were not waiting for them. As soon as I was seated, she asked, “What did you find?”
She already knew, via Joanne, but perhaps this was a test.
“There were two people at the café, or perhaps one, the intermediary that O’Connell was looking for inside, and another nearby, like out the back of the café.
“I’d been too wrapped up in surviving the aftermath of the bomb to see O’Connell head for an alley near the café. I thought it might be to check on the intermediary, but apparently, it was to meet someone else who obviously survived.”
Of course, Joanne had briefed her. No secrets among friends.
“What do we know about her?”
Joanne answered that one, “She’s a fugitive, and Interpol is looking for her, as are the local police.”
“And she’s here?”
“If she hasn’t run. A bomb nearby can do that. She has to know people are out there actively trying to kill her like they did her husband.”
“He originally created the USB?”
“It looks like it. And my guess, Dobbin was using O’Connell to act as a journalist and buy the information off her before it went to the highest bidder. If we were to throw hypotheses out there, it’s not a stretch to believe Severin and Maury, as Westcott and Salvin, supposedly ex-department, were charged to get inside the lab and investigate the data breach, found out who it was, followed them here, and then set up an off-book surveillance group to watch the players culminating in the botched operation I was just on. Severin wasn’t working for Dobbin but someone else, which means someone else in this department has an active interest in the breach, and who was running his or her own operation. That wouldn’t be you would it?”
“That would be someone in a corner office. I can barely see daylight here. In other words, not high enough up in the food chain. Like you, I’m staggering around in the dark. Dobbin has a corner office.”
“Who’s in charge of matters concerning biological weapons?”
“The MOD. Not us.”
“But you have experts. You must come across credible threats from time to time, and I doubt you just hand it over.”
“We’re supposed to. There is a chain of command you know. It’s not like the movies.”
The way this operation had been running, that was exactly what I thought.
“That’s what I think I know. Still no indication O’Connell is alive, but I suspect Dobbin does know, and just not telling. Might also know where he is. Perhaps while I’m trying to find him, you go over Dobbin’s head and find out.”
“Easier said than done. You need help?”
“No. Everyone I work with has their own axe to grind, so I’m better off alone.”
“That Jan woman?”
“OK. Keep me, via Joanne, informed. If you need anything, tell Joanne.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2023