A Friend in Need
07. chapter Seven
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“Chapter Seven”

Gibbs’ NCIS team and Fornell’s agents were not the only ones who had been busy on Saturday. An hour away from Washington, a few miles outside of Calverton - a small town in Virginia, the morning sun found Peter Phelps pacing the library floor in the spacious old plantation he was renting. The house was isolated from its neighbors by acres of rolling meadows and tree lined grounds that offered innumerable places to roam and savor nature’s beauty. But Phelps wasn’t interested in nature that morning. He was waiting - waiting for four other people to arrive. Waiting to hear the details on how his world had almost fallen apart last night. Waiting to make sure repairs had been made. Waiting to find out what he would need to do next. There was only one problem - Phelps wasn’t good at waiting.

Peter Phelps had spent twenty seven years with the FBI. Twenty seven years, during which he’d worked hard, slowly rising through the ranks until he was a well respected team leader in the Washington offices of the Bureau. He’d never married; he hadn’t had time for a personal life. His job had been his life, his team and associates, his family. That had all changed the year before last, though, when he’d been seriously wounded in what should have been a routine apprehension of a mid level drug runner. He’d been left with nothing but gross motor function in his left hand and severe reduction of his eyesight. He went from perfect vision, to needing extremely strong prescription eyeglasses, and even with that aid, had very limited night vision and frequent migraines. You couldn’t be an active field agent with those challenges. Rather than force him to retire on disability, however, the Bureau had offered him a desk job, running high clearance background checks. It had not been a supervisory position, but it allowed him to utilize his training and talents, and also provided the Director and Assistant Directors with an example they could wave around to various special interest groups and Congressional Subcommittees, highlighting how the Bureau was accommodating the 'special needs' of agents who had been seriously wounded while on active duty.

Phelps had found the job demeaning and mind numbing, and he became increasingly bitter. Slowly, his old friends began to fall away, and he’d blamed it on his new position, never taking into consideration that his increasingly vocal dissatisfaction with the Bureau might have something to do with it. Finally, finding the pay too little to compensate him for the humiliation he felt over his new position, he’d taken the early retirement package they had offered him right after his accident, and accepted a much more highly paid job in the private sector, working corporate security. The firm that hired him had initially been pleased to acquire an employee who had such extensive experience in federal law enforcement. However, his superior attitude made for a poor work environment for his co-workers, and he was let go within six months of being hired. That had left Phelps living only on the disability checks he received from the FBI, and with far too much time on his hands.

Eventually, Phelps had come up with a scheme for making the kind of money he felt he was owed after working for years to keep his country safe, sacrificing the use of his left hand and the better part of his eyesight in the process. The plan was actually based on an idle thought he’d had one day while completing one of the many background checks he’d been assigned, right before he’d left the Bureau. His job had been to check out not the actual person of interest, but all those around them: parents, children, spouses, lovers, and best friends, anyone who could be used to coerce the person of interest into betraying their country. As Peter spent more time on this assignment, he started noticing who was making a lot of money, who was in a position of power, and who made contributions to their employers that were highly valued. On that particular day he’d been struck by a strange notion. These people would make perfect targets for kidnapping, and if he were the one doing it, he wouldn’t bother asking their families for ransom. That wasn’t where the real money was " no - he would ask for ransom from the employers. He hadn’t thought much more about the idea, though, and soon he had left the Bureau to take the other job. But, eight months later, once again unemployed, he’d made an amazing discovery while tooling around on the internet one day.

Out of curiosity, Phelps had attempted to use his old ID code to get into the FBI databases. Imagine his surprise when it worked! For some reason, probably due to the serious under-manning of the support staff areas at the Bureau, no one had bothered to deactivate his codes when he’d ‘retired.’ He could still access the files he had been working on before he left, and newer files that were being created all the time, since no one had bothered to change any of the access codes. Then he remembered that strange idea he’d had one day while still working there, and he realize this gave him the perfect way of targeting victims, if he ever actually wanted to realize his plan.

He stopped his pacing and reminiscences when he heard the sound of a car pulling into the long, circular drive in front to the mansion. Looking at his watch, he saw it was 10:15 A.M. Whoever had arrived was early. He suspected he knew who it would be, and peering out the window he saw that he’d been right. Climbing out of a jazzy little black Mercedes sports car was Sylvia Cooper, her long blonde hair tied back so that the wind from the sunroof didn’t tangle it beyond all repair. Peter stood and admired her. She was attractive in an understated way, and rarely dressed to show off her womanly curves and long shapely legs, and her intelligence shown through on her beautiful face, making it that much more engaging. At thirty three, Sylvia was in her prime.

Sylvia had been the first person Peter had recruited when he’d committed himself to actually trying the kidnapping scheme. He had met her while he was working corporate security. She ran her own consulting firm, and many private security firms brought her in to evaluate the effectiveness of the systems they were installing. Peter had liked her right away. She really knew her stuff; bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Sciences having ensured that, and he respected her for her knowledge. Sylvia had come from money, but her family lost the majority of their wealth in a Ponzi scam, and she felt cheated " to which Peter could certainly relate. Ultimately, it was that bitterness he’d tapped into when he broached the subject, offering it as a way for her to get back some of her family's lost money from these faceless companies that made a habit of sucking people dry.

Moving to the door, he let the young woman in, pressing a kiss to her left cheek. “Good morning Sylvia. I hope you got a little rest,” he greeted her.

“Hello Peter. I’m not surprised to see I’m the first here. I suspect everyone is having a hard time getting started today,” she answered. “How’s our guest today?” she asked.

“Getting restless,” his answered. “I peeked in on her earlier, just after Garrison had given her breakfast, and she was clearly agitated. I hope yesterday’s events haven’t made it impossible for us to conclude our business with her employer and get her home. I would hate to have to kill a woman.”

“I think it’ll be okay. Jillian and I spent hours pouring over the files David pulled from the surveillance room yesterday, and it doesn’t look as if the FBI had any actual contact with her CEO, so if nothing changes, we should be okay,” Sylvia responded, referencing two of the other people Peter was expecting to arrive.

Jillian Marshall worked for Sylvia at her consulting firm, and that was how she’d gotten involved in the kidnapping syndicate. Sylvia had hired her for the firm because of her background " twenty five years in the Marine Corps, where she’d been trained in covert ops and extractions in hostile environments, as well as computer investigation. She was tough as nails, but lacked the polish and political savvy that would have allowed her to advance past the rank of Captain, so when her twenty five years were up, and she could retire with full military benefits, she’d cut and run, knowing she could find work in any number of security related fields. Like Sylvia and Peter, she was single. For twenty five years her job had been her whole world. Not that she’d led a monastic life; she’d had plenty of short term relationships, and one or two that she would even have qualified as serious. One of which was still going on.

For the past ten years she’d been involved on and off, with a man named David Barker. David was different from the others she dated, who tended to be military men. Although he had once been in the Marines, he didn’t carry himself with the same rigidity she associated with the military. David was suave and trendy, and when she first met him, he’d told her he was a consultant for various companies, and hadn’t elaborated. Over time she’d come to realize he wasn’t that at all, rather, he supported himself by gun running, extortion, and high end cons, but by that time she was infatuated, and since he actively worked at staying off law enforcement's radar, and wasn’t likely to soon star on a 'Most Wanted' poster, she’d turned a blind eye. When Sylvia had recruited her for the kidnapping scheme, it was Jillian who had suggested that David should be included, and after meeting him, Sylvia had agreed. There was no telling when a little muscle would be needed, and David was in the unique position to supply that. Not only was he not above getting his own hands dirty, but he also had four men who worked with him regularly as hired muscle. They would be able to pay these men a minimal weekly salary and make use of their services, without ever having to divulge all of the details of the operation. It had been a win-win for everybody.

“I certainly hope so,” Peter said to Sylvia. Then, before he could get the door shut, he saw another car pull in. “Speak of the devils, here come Jillian and David. I thought we’d meet in the kitchen. There’s that large table and everyone can help themselves to drinks and food as they see fit.”

“Sounds good. All I ask is that we have a full pot of coffee at all times. I’m beat; it was a long night,” Sylvia agreed.

“There’s some already brewed. Go on in and help yourself while I wait for the newest arrivals,” Peter told her.

Jillian and David hurried when they say Peter standing in the doorway. “We’re not late, are we?” Jillian asked as they approached the door.

“No, you’re on time. Sylvia just arrived, and Richard isn’t here yet,” Peter assured her. “Good morning David,” he then said to the man walking behind her, his voice less warm than it had been when he’d addressed Jillian. He was angry with the other man, as he blamed him for the events of yesterday that had resulted in none of them enjoying a decent night’s sleep, but was not willing to fully show his irritation until he’d heard the whole story.

“Peter,” David greeted him, as he watched the man warily. David Barker didn’t really trust Peter. He’d been a criminal too many years to be completely comfortable teaming up with an ex-FBI agent, even if the whole scheme had been his idea. Even though they now had a common goal, they just didn’t see the world the same way. He knew Peter would be upset over the way yesterday had turned out, and he’d spent the drive out to Calverton dreading the impending meeting. All he could hope was that Peter would be too focused on making sure they collected the ransom for Melissa Carter to let yesterday be a deal breaker.

“Sylvia’s back in the kitchen. Why don’t you both go and get yourselves something to eat while I wait here for Richard. He shouldn’t be much longer,” Peter suggested, eager to have just a bit more time alone before they had to start analyzing the situation. He stood aside and watched the couple as they meandered through the formal living room towards the kitchen. Privately he thought that Jillian was a fool to let herself get involved with that man, but that was her business, not his, he reminded himself.

He was again just about to close the door, when he saw the car he’d been waiting for arrive. ‘I’m beginning to feel like a doorman,’ he told himself as he waited for the last of his partners. The dark sedan pulled in next to Sylvia’s Mercedes, and Peter watched as Richard DeAngelo climbed out. He could barely hide his grin when he watched the man carefully lock his car. ‘Once a cop, always a cop,’ he thought to himself, ‘As if anyone was going to get into the car, out here, miles from the next nearest house, even farther than that from an actual town.’ That was one of the main reasons he’d picked this house, after all, when he’d started looking for rental property to use as their home base. That, and the fact that the utilities were paid by the rental property company, so there would be no extraneous records of their residency.

Peter had known Richard for many years, due to his position as Washington Metro’s FBI Liaison. They had shared drinks and dinners on occasion over the years, and worked well together. Peter learned about Richard's personal life, and his wife's almost pathological hatred for his dedication to his job. When her frustration with his job had destroyed their marriage, Peter had been there. Richard's wife wanted a husband who was actually home at a normal hour every night, and who wasn't called into work at all hours of the day and night, with no regard for family events, such as birthday parties and anniversaries. She wanted a husband who was more than passingly familiar with fatherhood, and could actually make and keep a promise to attend a child's school play, or baseball game. After fifteen years of disappointment, she had finally had enough and filed for divorce. Peter had quietly supported Richard through his marital woes, and his subsequent frustration at his lack of access to his children, and their less than enthusiastic responses in the time he actually did get with them. When Peter's mission had literally blown up in his face, Richard had been one of the few people who stood by him, and worked to maintain their friendship. So, when Peter had started to put his new ‘team’ together, he’d immediately thought of Richard.

In the end, it had been surprisingly easy to convince DeAngelo to join up. Peter’s plan was to kidnap ten executives and hold each of them for a ransom of five million dollars. Dividing that up equally amongst five partners would give each person ten million dollars. All Peter had had to do was point out to Richard the kind of freedom that money would buy him. Richard had seen it as a way to reclaim his family. He’d retire, buy some land somewhere, convince his wife to take him back, then they could take their children and move out of the city and start all over again, free from the pressures of a job that demanded twenty four hour a day availability. It didn’t matter if the plan wasn’t realistic - it was the best opportunity Richard thought he’d get. So he’d signed on the imaginary dotted line, and agreed to lend his extensive knowledge and access to both the Metro Police’s and FBI’s computer systems, files, and facilities to the mission.

Richard was shaking his head as he climbed the three steps that took him up to the wide front porch that the mansion’s front door opened on to. “Well, things certainly got out of control, didn’t they?” he said to Peter, when he was close enough to be heard. “Probably what we deserve for bringing a thug like Barker into this.”

“We don’t know that this was all Barker’s fault,” Peter said. “After all, he was sent in to disrupt the FBI’s surveillance of the Nabscot corporate offices,” he reminded his friend. This was why he’d wanted to be alone when Richard arrived. He’d suspected the police captain would be more than a little agitated, and he hoped to calm him down before the meeting began.

“Disrupt, yes - shoot two federal agents, and then later gun down another agent and an Assistant Director of the FBI in broad daylight " no!” Richard snapped. “And let’s not forget about the other three dead agents at the safe house and the missing girl.”

“We need to hear the whole story, Richard. We were all so busy working damage control yesterday that no one has a complete picture of what went down. Get a hold of yourself and then we’ll go in. Everyone’s gathered in the kitchen, so we can get started as soon as you’re ready,” Peter soothed. There was no way he was going to let this devolve into finger pointing and hurled accusations. Not when they’d gotten this far already. He just needed to hold them together long enough to successfully conclude the transaction with Carter’s employer, and move on to the last four targets. Then they could take their money and never have to see one another again.

“Let’s get it over with,” DeAngelo said, as he brushed past Peter and marched towards the kitchen.

Peter hurried along behind Richard, not willing to let Barker and DeAngelo be in a room alone together without him there to serve as a buffer. When they got to the kitchen, they found the other three conspirators sitting at the table, nursing cups of coffee and nibbling on pastries from the tray Peter had set in the middle of the table. Peter didn’t allow anyone else to say anything. He began speaking the minute he cleared the threshold. “Okay, now that Richard’s here, we can get started. I’m going to start by summarizing what we already know " just so we have a clear framework. Okay?” he asked, and looked around, pleased to find four heads nodding in agreement.

“We all know that on late Thursday afternoon, when Sylvia was running a sweep on the Nabscot CEO’s office to determine how close he was to paying the ransom, she picked up on some other electronic surveillance, which she backtracked to an office on the tenth floor of the next building. Does anyone have anything they want to comment on here?” he asked. Four heads shook in response.

“Okay, so then Richard did some snooping and discovered that the Bureau was running some kind of operation in the area, although no one he talked to had much information on it. Sylvia eventually managed to get mike feed on the office and we learned it was indeed the FBI, but that they seemed to be running some kind of independent surveillance, without the knowledge of anyone at Nabscot. Sylvia, do you want to add anything?” he asked.

“I’ve got more information on that, but I’ll wait until you’re done summarizing,” she said.

“That’s fine,” Peter said. “So, we determined that it would be possible to get into the building the FBI was using by disguising David and his men as exterminators. To that end, Sylvia hacked into the management company’s computers and downloaded the appropriate work orders, while Jillian and David raided the offices of the pest control business they usually used to get coveralls and equipment, while two of David’s men " was it Joe White and Marty Franklin?” he asked, looking at David for confirmation. When David rolled his eyes and nodded, Peter continued, “Okay, White and Franklin arranged to have logos made for the van that would identify them as employees of the extermination company. The plan was for David and three of his men to go in on Friday afternoon, leaving Garrison in the van as lookout, get past security, go up to the tenth floor, restrain anyone in the surveillance room, and get the hard drives from any computers in the room and all the paperwork they could find, so we would know exactly what they were up to, and put a stop to the operation.”

“Is this really necessary?” Barker snapped. “We all know what the plan was.”

“It never hurts to review,” Peter said, rather fastidiously. “We can’t talk about what went wrong if we aren’t clear on what was supposed to happen.”

“Well, we’re clear now, right?” Barker asked, looking around the table at the others. When no one seemed to disagree, he said, “Why don’t you let me tell you what did happen?”

“Let’s let Sylvia start, why don’t we?” Peter suggested, hoping Barker would cool off before they got to him. “Just take us through the break in on the surveillance site for now,” he instructed her.

“Well, you’ve already covered most of it,” she said. “Once the operation started, Jillian and I didn’t have a lot to do. The only thing you left out really, was that Jillian and I spent most of Friday morning perfecting a virus we could introduce into the computer system that runs the security cameras for the office building the FBI was using. Once we set the bug loose, it deactivated all the security cameras on the inside and outside of the building for one half hour. Barker had a stop watch so he could keep track of the time. That way there wouldn’t be any visual record of them being there. That part of the plan worked perfectly,” she said, rather smugly.

“Okay David, tell us where things went wrong,” Peter said.

“It started when we got into the lobby,” Barker said. “This girl was coming out of the elevator, and she was digging in her purse, not looking where she was going. She rammed right into me, knocking us both off balance. When I reached over to stop her from falling, I brushed up against her side and felt a gun, so I knew she must be one of the feds. Anyway, the stupid bitch made a big deal of apologizing, and once we got loose from her, we headed to the elevators.”

“So why didn’t you abort right then?” Richard demanded from across the table.

“Because it wasn’t supposed to be that big a fucking deal,” Barker snapped back at him. He was tired and that made his temper, which was never very good, even more hair triggered. “Put on the face masks and gloves, get in, tie up anyone in the room, take out the computers, grab the papers and run. Nothing to warrant an all out manhunt. Figured they’d be so busy scrambling to figure out why they’d been hit that it would take them a few days to find their own asses and get around to realizing she’d seen anything.”

“That was your first mistake,” Richard muttered under his breath.

David just ignored him. “Anyway, we got up to the tenth floor and they opened the door just like we planned. Then it all went to hell. I knocked down the agent who answered the door, but before we could get to the other one, he’d drawn a gun and Steve Holmes had to shoot him before he could shoot me. Then the other one, the one on the ground, pulled his gun and started to get up, and Marty put a round in him. No one planned for that to happen. Since we were in there, we went ahead and got the hard drives and shoved them and all the paperwork we could find in the empty spray canisters, destroyed all the surveillance equipment we could see, and got the hell out of there with eight minutes to spare,” he finished with a quick glare at DeAngelo.

“And then?” Peter prompted.

“And then I had a fucking problem, didn’t I?” David hissed. “Two FBI agents had just been shot, I wasn’t even sure if they were dead or not, and some stupid little bitch could identify me.”

“That’s enough,” Peter warned, tired of David’s profanity and hostility. “Just tell us about the Hummer attack, which was featured on the nightly news last night!”

“When we got the van back to the garage we were stashing it in, we pulled the fake insignia, swapped the license plates and got out of the coveralls. I called Jillian to tell her what had happened. She told me to look through the paperwork and see if I could find anything that might identify who the agents assigned to the case were. So we did that, and ended up finding a sheet with the names, badge numbers and phone numbers of five people. I called Jillian back and gave her that info, and she and Sylvia ran a trace on their phones, and told me to come on back to Sylvia’s consulting firm. I sent my guys away and arranged to meet them in two hours at another garage, and then I drove the van to where we usually keep it, and got my own car. While I was doing that, Sylvia and Jillian were able to figure out who the two agents were that we hit. When I got to Sylvia’s you were there,” he said to Peter, “so you know what happened.”

“Richard doesn’t David,” Peter said, trying very hard not to lose his patience. “Go ahead and tell him.”

“When I got to Sylvia’s, Peter debriefed me, and when he and Jillian heard about the agent in the lobby they freaked,” David told Richard. “They said she’d been trained to remember faces and details and Peter said I had to take her out right away. Peter had me call my guys back, and told me to go get the Hummer, while Sylvia ran a trace on the girl’s phone. The plan was they’d let me know when she was on the move, and we’d take her out before she had a chance to give anyone a good description of me. So my crew met me at the garage, we put on black coveralls, gloves, and face masks, got clean plates for the Hummer, and headed towards the girl's phone signal. Once she was on the move, Sylvia tracked her, and we set ourselves up to intercept. And everyone knows the rest. When Sylvia said the signal was almost by us, we saw an SUV with government plates and knew that had to be it. We circled around, got in front of them, and then cut them off. My guys opened up the back of the Hummer, and shot the hell out of that SUV with AK-47’s. No one in that SUV should have been able to walk away from it.”

“But they did, didn’t they?” Richard said hotly.

“That is not my fault,” David hissed. “That SUV looked like swiss cheese.”

“Why didn’t you get out and make sure you’d got her?” Richard wanted to know.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because we were in the middle of fucking downtown D.C. and I could hear the cop cars coming before they’d even got done shooting?” David said.

“Take it easy,” Peter told David, and he shot DeAngelo a look, letting him know he had to back off. “Just go on.”

“There isn’t all that much more to tell,” David said. “It was hours before we had another crack at her, since they took her to the Hoover building straight from the SUV attack site, and no one’s getting in there. But Jillian kept the trace running. Finally they moved her, we followed, figured out it was a safe house, and Sylvia and Jillian did their computer magic,” he said.

Sylvia looked over at Richard and elaborated, “I was able to knock out their cameras and alarm system with that new program I told you about. It’s a mistake to run both off the same computer,” she said with a self satisfied smile.

“We got in there, ended up killing the three agents guarding her, but somehow she got away,” David said.

“And we lost the trace right after that,” Sylvia said. “I guess whoever picked her up was smarter than she was, and had her disable the phone. We’ve been tracking her bank accounts and credit cards all night, but there hasn’t been any movement on them. Guess the feds have her locked down pretty tight.”

“They don’t have her,” Richard said.

“What?” Peter asked. “What do you mean?”

“They think we have her,” Richard said, and they all looked at each other in confusion.

“I think its your turn Richard,” Peter said, when he got over the shock. “How did you learn this?”

“I did just what you and I discussed. I got myself over to Bethesda as soon as I could, after I spent hours listening to the Chief rant about the holier than thou attitudes of the FBI. When I got there, the visitors’ lounge with crammed with agents. The team leader - a guy named Ed Morgan was there, a couple of other lower level agents, Tobias Fornell and Jethro Gibbs from NCIS and his second….”

“Did you say, Gibbs?” Peter interrupted him.

“Yes, Gibbs,” DeAngelo confirmed. “Why?”

“That isn’t good. What was he doing there?” Peter wanted to know.

“One of the guys shot at the surveillance site, Langer, had worked for him. I think he was there checking up on him.”

“Does he know about the kidnapping?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know, that wasn’t mentioned at all,” DeAngelo said, confused by why this was such a big deal.

Peter could see this, and attempted to clarify. “Gibbs is like a dog with a bone. The things that set him off the fastest are crimes against children and crimes against wives of military personnel. He learns about Carter, there won’t be any holding him back. I knew these two agents, Liz Templeton and Viv Blackadder who used to work under him, and they had horror stories. He’s got a whole set of rules his agents have to learn and follow, and once, on a joint operation, I saw him physically assault his second in command.”

“Liz Templeton was there last night,” DeAngelo told Peter, “and so was his second, a guy called Tony DiNozzo. I don’t think he’s going to be assaulting that one. He and Templeton got into it, and Templeton spewed venom at the guy, and Gibbs about killed her. If looks could kill, Templeton would be dead already, no bullets necessary,” he joked, but Peter didn’t laugh. Instead, he just looked thoughtful.

“What’s the condition of the wounded agents?” Peter asked.

“Well, I’m sure you already know Glenn died. Its been on every TV and radio station all morning,” DeAngelo said. “Victor Merit, the one that got it in the shoulder, made it through surgery fine, and the doctors said he’d make a full recovery. The other one, Brent Langer, is in bad shape. His lungs got damaged, and he’s developed an infection. They don’t know if he’s going to make it. He’s the one that worked for Gibbs. I could tell he took it hard because DiNozzo spent some time consoling him, just before they left.”

“Gibbs is going to be a bigger problem than the FBI,” Peter scowled.

“He’s NCIS,” David scoffed. “Almost no one’s ever heard of them. How big a problem can he possibly be? Besides, as long as he doesn’t find out about Carter, he doesn’t have any jurisdiction.”

“That’s just it,” Peter said. “Gibbs doesn’t need jurisdiction. He does whatever he pleases. He’s going to go ape shit when Langer dies, and by the way, Langer and Merit need to die. They may not have seen your faces, but we can’t take that chance. We’ll have to figure out how to deal with that later. This DiNozzo may be our answer with Gibbs. If they’re as close as you think, Richard, maybe we can use DiNozzo for leverage with Gibbs. We’ll have to watch Gibbs, and see if that’s going to be necessary. One last thing, explain why they think we have the girl. Did Fornell say something about that?”

“No, they never mentioned her. But after they left, I went and sat with Morgan, and I asked him if they’d found the girl. He said they’d called off the search for her because they hadn’t found any sign of her. Said Fornell had decided that the attackers on the safe house must have taken her. So I don’t know what that means, or where she is,” DeAngelo said, frowning, not liking the unexplained mystery.

Peter didn’t like it either, it just smelled wrong to him. “Well, now we all have a better picture of what’s going on. Now we need to decide what needs to happen next.”

They determined that since the papers they’d confiscated had told them that the FBI had not had any contact with the CEO of Nabscot, and that the FBI had only learned about her disappearance through back channels, which is why they had been running a covert surveillance operation, hoping for information or at least confirmation of a kidnapping, that they could proceed as planned. The rest of the procedure they had in place for collecting the ransom would be carried out as if no disruption in their routine had taken place. The money was be wired to the off-shore account then transferred to their Swiss account, after it had been passed through several banks along the way, all set up by Sylvia, and virtually untraceable. Carter would be delivered to her home, unconscious, just as the others had been, and left with a note reminding her that her life will be forfeited if she notifies any authorities of where she had been, or what happened during her absence. The note would say she was to contact her CEO immediately upon awakening, and he would explain everything to her.

They then refocused on the troublesome FBI agents. They all agreed that DeAngelo couldn’t be the one to do any of the killing, since people would note his presence way too readily. Peter decreed that he was far too recognizable a figure to both FBI and DC Metro cops, so he couldn’t even be present at the hospital when any of the killing took place. Everyone thought his time would best be spent focusing on finding Kreiger. After discussing it, DeAngelo suggested he offer the assistance of DC Metro to the FBI in finding Kreiger and her captors, and see how the offer was received. That might give them some idea on how to proceed. Jillian and Sylvia were to keep monitoring Kreiger's bank accounts and credit cards, but Peter wasn’t hopeful. ‘She's a law enforcement officer, and she knows that 'follow the money' is one of the cardinal rules of tracking someone, so she's likely to avoid using any and all of her credit cards and she would also stay away from her bank, but then how is she accessing funds, and WHERE THE HELL IS SHE???’ he thought.

David was assigned the task of developing a plan for the elimination of Merit and Langer, and the additional responsibility of watching Gibbs and his team. Peter made it clear he wanted to know if it looked like Gibbs was even mildly interested in the FBI’s operation.

Finally, with nothing more to discuss, Peter ended the meeting and sent everyone on their way, demanding he be given hourly reports on their progress.