Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Lost Chronicles: Cases of the BAU- the Final Year Episode 3

In December 2013, the once great Behavioural Analysis Unit, first of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and then of its replacement, the Foederatio Borealis Indigatores Imperiale (FBII), was reformed and reduced in size due to damning implications found in the controversial Milner Report. The Report alleged that the BAU's methods had caused unethical practices that corrupted law enforcement operation as a whole across North America, and thus recommended its disbandment. The BAU counters that it has always "followed the rules" and misapplication by lower level officers was really the culprit. Thus, the cases from its last year of operation are presented here, so that the readers may decide for themselves the validity of the BAU's assertion.

Friday, January 25, 2013
Cases of the BAU: Hidden Talents
 An abandoned prison, 49 miles south of Manhattan, Kiowa Territory (old Kansas)

“Guys,” said Behavioural Analysis Unit member Pascal Yves, motioning the team to a door. “She’s in here.”
“Robert Griffith,” bellowed teammate Zeke Coleman. “We know you’re in there. Open up!” When there wasn’t an answer, Coleman opened the door the only way that he could- by kicking it open.

Coleman gave the room a look. It was the prison lunch area, so it was pretty expansive. The rest of the team- Yves, leader Aaron “Fitch” Fitchner, senior agent Claudio Pucci, Emily Proctor, Zoe Parkes and media liaison Jenna Jayme “JJ” Cooke- followed Coleman in, with everyone looking in every nook that they could. When they realized the person they were looking for wasn’t in the room, Fitchner gave the team the order to leave.

That’s when the door Coleman had just kicked open slammed shut on them, trapping them in the lunch room.

“I just kicked it open,” said Coleman, trying to pry the door open. “How in the world did it get stuck again?”
“Griffith must have sneaked up on us,” said Fitchner. “He’s the only other one in here.”
“Is he, Aaron?” asked Pucci.
“Well, we didn’t encounter any resistance when we got into the prison,” said Fitchner. “Certainly if he had minions we would have seen them by now.”
“I have a bad feeling about this,” said Coleman.
“How could we be so stupid as to fall into a trap?” asked Proctor, confused. “We’re smarter than this, aren’t we?” The team then started to look Parkes’ way.
“Don’t look at me,” said Parkes, curtly. “I had nothing to do with this hunch this time.”
“Guys,” snapped Fitchner, loudly. “Placing blame on someone isn’t going to get us out of here. It’s obvious Griffith wants to break us.”
“Fitch is right,” answered Cooke. “Remember North Mammon? That was the UnSub’s goal and because everyone snipped at each other it was executed perfectly.”

Coleman looked around, frantically. The room had no windows, just the door, which was made of cast iron and bulletproof glass. Coleman tried shooting at the door but the bullets just bounced off the door, the casings landing right next to him.

“JJ” said Coleman, frustrated. “None of this ‘North Mammon’ stuff is going to do us any good. There’s no way out of here...that door is locked shut.” Coleman then looked at his cell phone. “Great...no cell service either.” He then tried to get to the prison phone, but when he picked it up, the line had been cut. “This son of a b*** is good...when I get my hands you f***er...”

Moments later, Griffith thought it would be fun to mock the team on the intercom.

“Greetings, FBII,” cackled Griffith through the intercom. “So you think you’ve caught me. You came this far, only to find that I have turned the tables on you. You guys thought that if this was a prison in the middle of nowhere that you wouldn’t need SWAT...looks like you were wrong.”

“Robert,” said Fitchner, directing his attention to the intercom. Griffith had already hung up. Fitchner resigned to a chair in defeat.

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Thanks,” said Oldrich James, handing a file to the receptionist, Julia Clarkson.
“No problem,” replied Clarkson with a smile. “When they get back from their current case they’d be more than happy to review your file.”
“It’s a lark, I know...but Randy Joe has haunted me for far too long.”
“So you’re doing this alone?”
“I figure at some point I’ll let my team at the CBI know what I’ve done...but it’s too late in the day, I didn’t want to disturb them.”
“Fair enough.”

In the distance, the BAU’s Technical Analyst, Andi Morales noticed James as she was walking out for a break.

“Are you...?” said Morales, nervously approaching James.
“Am I the Boogeyman?” said James, with his usual charm. “No I am not. I am Oldrich James though...you may have heard of me through such TV specials as ‘Reading the Mind of a Killer’ and ‘Daddy, I Know Who Really Shot Your Mother’.”
Morales laughed. “You’re cute,” she said, smiling.
“You’re even cuter,” smiled James.
“Thanks,” said Morales. By this point, the two of them had made it outside of the doors. “I do have a boyfriend, though.”
“You don’t sound so happy about that,” replied James, with a hint of concern.
“Oh no, we’re good,” reassured Morales. “We just had a fight this morning, that’s all...we’ve been going out for five years now...it has peaks and valleys...you know what I mean.”
“Maybe,” said James, thrusting his hand from one side to the other, “your relationship has lost some zip. I’ve done some counselling, I might be able to help.”
“I might like that,” said Morales, “and maybe you can give us a reading or something...I hear you’re a psychic.”
James smiled. He bristled at the notion of being called a psychic, but he since he still hadn’t told his own employers, the California Bureau of Investigation, that he wasn’t psychic, he had to keep up the charade. “Sure, I’d love to give you guys a reading, if it would help,” he replied. He clasped his hands together before continuing. “Forgive me, I should have asked this sooner, but what’s your name?”
“Oh,” said Morales, enraptured by James. “My name’s Andi Morales...I work for the Behavioural Analysis Unit as their Technical Analyst...basically I just sit in front of the computer while the rest of the team goes out and has ‘fun’, but I wouldn’t want it any other way- I like being safe here in Quantico. Computer screens can’t actually shoot me.”
“The BAU, huh?” said James, nodding his head. “I’m trying to get their help on Randy Joe...perhaps you’ve heard of him?”
“Oh yeah,” said Morales, excited. “I watch The Mentalist-
James waved his hand to interrupt her. “Please, please, please,” he pleaded. “The show has it all wrong. They’ve tacked on all these things about him, with cults and connections and accomplices...none of it is real. That’s just Hollywood theatrics. That’s what’s been hindering this case...everyone is watching the show and thinking all those details are real when they’re not...they’ve just been added because, in Hollywood, you can’t have simple villains- you need ‘epic’ ones. The proof is that Randy Joe has stopped killing after he killed my family...there is no web, there are no accomplices, there’s no grand cover up...just a man who was smart. A man who realized that if he continued he’d get caught.”
“So he stopped killing, what, nine years ago?” asked Morales.
“Thereabouts,” replied James.
“Why would he stop?” asked Morales.
“Maybe something changed in his life,” thought James, out loud. “Maybe he just got bored. Maybe he just wised up and figured if he continued he was playing with fire. The one thing I do know is that he doesn’t leave a whole lot of clues, and what little I do have...I wonder if it means anything. That’s why I hope your team can help me.”
“Of course we can help,” beamed Morales. “They should be coming back any moment now.”
“Oh?” said James, intrigued. “Where are they?”
“They’re somewhere near Manhattan,” said Morales. “They didn’t tell me where.”
“Manhattan?” asked James, puzzled. “Pretty hard to get lost in the Big Apple.”
“No,” laughed Morales. “It’s Manhattan, Kansas. Or, at least it used to be called Manhattan before the Native Americans took over the territory after the Cold War.”
“Ah, right,” said James, understanding what she said. “Kiowa Territory.”
“Right,” said Morales, “and, outside of Manhattan, a lot of their kingdom is ‘off the grid’, and thus they don’t have a lot of records.”
“The Natives never liked being tethered,” said James. “The Kiowa in particular…they’re warriors, and primarily hunters and gatherers. They never believed in staying in one area.”
“Exactly,” said Morales, pointedly. “South of Manhattan is what is considered a ‘squatting area’…no one actually owns it. They maintain it but there’s no record of ownership.”
“Sounds like it’s easy to hide,” said James.
“Yeah it was…but I’m told they found the guy,” said Morales. She then continued playfully, “through their super-duper profiling skills…I really don’t know how they do it.”
James laughed, then shook Morales’s hand. “Hey, I should get going,” he said, “but let me leave you my card and you can tell me when you want that reading.”
“Sounds good,” said Morales, smiling as James left.

The next day, FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Stupid elevator,” said Morales, impatiently waiting for the elevator just past reception. She started to furiously pound at the buttons, thinking it would come quicker. “Finally,” she said, relieved when it finally did show up.

“Hello pumpkin,” said Kevin Finch, another Technical Analyst and Morales’s boyfriend.
“Oh my goodness!” said Morales, jumping, being surprised that someone else was in the elevator.
Finch responded playfully. “Did I scare you?”
“Yes you did you bugger! I still love you though.” Morales planted a kiss on Finch’s lips.
“You know, Andi…” Finch started to run his fingers up her side, “it’s just the two of us in this elevator…think of the possibilities.”
“Easy tiger.” Morales softly clutched Finch’s playful hand and put it on her shoulder. “We start thinking about that here then we can start thinking about the unemployment line.”
“Good point.”
“Did you just get in now?”
“I was in early this morning…I forgot my USB stick in my car.”
“Oh, cool. What are you working on today?”
“Something for Pucci actually…this bizarre Calgary case…terrorists at a university…they need me to map out the school…they think the terrorists have actually carved out of a section of a building to use as a hideout spot.”
“Boy, they’re sneaky…and weird.”
“I know…it gets stranger by the minute.”
“Keep at it,” said Morales, kissing Finch goodbye and walking on to her floor.

“What the?” said Morales, scanning the room. None of the BAU had returned from Manhattan. “They told me it wouldn’t take long…this is weird.” She took out one of her phones and made a phone call.

“Hello. You’ve reached the sexy phone of Zeke Coleman,” started Coleman’s playful voicemail. “I’m sorry, I’m too busy preparing myself for you to come to the phone right now, but if you’d like to set up a date and have some fun, please leave your name and number after the tone…unless you’re Yves, in which case know this thang ain’t over yet!
“Hey Zeke,” started Morales, though she was reserved worried about Coleman, “if you’re there or…anywhere…please give me a call. I’m worried about you. I want to laugh and cry together again and knowing you’re not here really troubles me…besides, we need to figure out how to get back at Yves for rigging that bet the other day…please call me…tell me you’re okay.”

Morales then tried the rest of the team.

“This is Behavioural Analysis Unit Chief Aaron Fitchner. I can’t…” –click-
“You’ve reached the voicemail of Doctor Pascal Yves. I’m away computing the feasibility of tachyon drives, so I can’t…” –click-
“You’ve reached the phone of Zoe Parkes. I can’t…” –click-
“This is Emily Proctor. I can’t come to the phone right now, so please leave a message…unless you’re a collections agent in which case, please leave me alone…” –click-
“I’m sorry, Claudio Pucci cannot be reached right now, because his phone made him upset. If you’d like to leave a message, leave your name after the tone. If you like pina coladas, press one now. If you’d like me to make…” –click-

“Something is strange,” said Morales. She began to stress. “Something happened…oh no…my family…no…” She then scurried to her office, hurriedly slammed the door and made a phone call.

“Oldrich?” said Morales, a noticeable quiver in her voice.
“Andi?” said James, groggy since he was just getting up.
“Yes, it’s Andi.” Morales started to plead. “Oldrich…you have to help me…I need to know my team is safe.”
“Your team?”
“Yes…the BAU…they were supposed to come home last night…they’re…they’re not here and…and…I’m freaking out.”
“Whoa…whoa…slow down Andi.” James continued in a soothing tone. “Take a deep breath…relax…everything’s going to be okay.”
Morales took a deep breath, and was reassured by James’ relaxing voice. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay. I understand your team is in some kind of trouble.”
“Yes…they’re missing…I need you to do a reading and tell me they’re okay.”
James sighed. “I should probably tell you that I’m not actually a psychic…I just have to trick everyone because they refused to believe me.”
“Can you come in today and see me? We need to find them.”
“I’ll be over in an hour.”

Morales ended the call and walked towards Lucius Black’s office. She was worried about how the FBII Director would react upon hearing the BAU was missing, but it had to be done.

She knocked, nervously, on Black’s open door.

“Andi!” beamed Black. “How are you today?”
“Sir,” said Morales, still standing by the door, nervous.
“Andi, it’s okay…I don’t bite…I know I’m Roman but really, I’m a nice guy.”
Morales laughed, her tension relieved a little by Black’s statement. She walked in and closed the door. Black could tell something happened.
“What’s wrong? Did something happen to the team?”
“Sir…they’re missing.”
“They’re…no…they can’t be.” Black was overcome with concern. He then adopted an authoritative tone. “Where are they now? I’ll get SWAT, choppers, dogs…I’ll get everybody.”
“Sir, I wish it were that easy. They’re south of Manhattan, and not the-”
“I know, it’s not the one in New York. I signed off on the case, and I’ve been there before…hmmmnnn, that’s tricky.”
“See what I mean sir? We’d be searching for days…and I’m not sure we have days, and the Natives…well, they hate us, they won’t allow us to just walk right in.”
“I did have to twist a lot of arms just to get Fitch in there…but I can’t leave them hanging…if I have to twist arms for them again I’ll do it…they would expect no less. Let me make a few phone calls Andi. In the meantime…review the case file…see if you can locate them…it’ll make the search effort easier.”
“Will do sir. I’ve also asked Oldrich James to come in and help.”
“Oldrich James? The psychic?”
“Yes, well, he says not…oh wait…” Morales stopped herself realizing she wasn’t supposed to reveal James’ secret.
Black gave her a look. “Andi, I already know he’s not a psychic…I’m not stupid. I’ve been a hardened skeptic my entire life…he’s just an awesome detective. Well, see what he can provide.”

The prison, Kiowa Territory

“Okay…so how did we get here?” asked Coleman, frustrated.
“Well, we profiled the guy had a prison background, which got us into the prison,” said Yves.
“We also knew that Griffith loved Kiowa culture, which brought us to the territory,” said Fitchner.
“…and the lunchroom was the last place in the prison left to look for Sarah Milton,” said Parkes.
“Okay,” said Proctor, waving her hand to draw everyone’s attention, “but that doesn’t explain why we’re in this mess. We had to have missed something. We don’t get trapped this easily.”
“Proctor,” said Coleman, “we make mistakes…it happens.”
“This is a pretty bad mistake to make,” said Pucci, sardonically.
“Well, we made it…now we just need to figure out how to get out,” said Fitchner.

Fitchner got up. He looked around the lunchroom, searching for something, anything, that could serve as an escape. He tried to force open the windows that lead to the kitchen, but they wouldn’t budge. He then turned to the washbasin where the prisoners would wash their dishes, looking for a path under the sink. He searched, frantically, but found nothing.

“Darnit,” said Fitchner, banging a table in frustration.
“It’s a prison, Fitch,” said Coleman. “They’re not designed to escape from that easily.” Fitchner took a seat at a table.

“Where’s Griffith?” asked Yves.
“If he was smart,” said Parkes, “he’s left by now.”
“Why can’t this be some bad TV show and he sticks around just to taunt us?” said Coleman, in frustration.
“Because he’s already achieved his goal,” said Yves. “He got rid of us, and now he can do whatever he wants with Sarah.”
“Do you think I care about Sarah now?” scowled Coleman.
“Let’s not forget her,” said Pucci. “Like that last package in Castaway, Sarah will keep us sane…we can’t lose hope.” Coleman grimaced before nodding in agreement.

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Okay, so,” said Morales, prancing around her office waiting anxiously for James. “They go to Manhattan. They follow this strange case...find the guy...and they get lost...somehow...think...how’d they get there...oh crap...I’m not a profiler...I haven’t a clue.”

James then walked into her office, not even bothering to knock. Morales didn’t notice until he started to speak.

“Traffic is annoying today,” said James as he walked in.
Morales jumped. “My gosh...you don’t knock?” she said, in shock.
“I knew you were expecting me. I didn’t need to. Besides, I like to catch people by surprise...it adds to my...mystery.”
“Well Mr. Mystery, I don’t like surprises...unless I’m the one starting them...then I’m all for it.”
“I knew you liked being in control. Most people in this profession, they love control. It could be why you’ve arranged all of your screens carefully...or why you’ve only buttoned up your cardigan up to the midway point of your chest...because you get to ‘control’ the view.”
“Are you trying to give me a compliment or are you putting me down?”
“I’m definitely not trying to put you down...I think you are a very beautiful woman. I’m just saying your fashion sense is so keen that you know exactly how to accentuate the curves you do like and hide the ones you don’t. Tell me, Andi, were you once in theatre?”
“Yes, yes I was...ages ago...how’d you know?”
“Your clothes...they’re very well thought out. You wear a lot of bright colours, because you aren’t the kind of lady that likes to be quiet. Everything is about the spectacle for you...you, Andi, like to be different...you want to standout, much like a showman. Plus, when you talk, you have a flair about you that commands a presence...it’s almost a pity that you have to waste it front of a computer screen when you could do so much more...you could be famous.”
“Well, I am already. I’m sure you remember the day that Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, McAfee and Symantec all went down simultaneously, right?”
“Yeah...that day was annoying...nothing on the Web worked...but I should have known it was someone like you...the hacker...they hacked all those sites at once because they wanted to be noticed...and replacing all their logos with a flower was a creative touch...I knew the hacker was special...wow, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Yeah...that day...in 2004...the FBII spent three weeks trying to find me...I kept changing my I.P. address and doing all sorts of other tricks online trying to mask my identity except for the one that would have kept them from me- my screen handle. That’s how they connected the hacking to me...they were so impressed with my work that they decided to give me a job instead of prosecuting me.”
“The online community must have had a field day with you.”
“Oh yeah...they said I was a sellout...but the FBII had enough evidence to put me away for ten lifetimes...I think I’d rather take a job over prison, wouldn’t you?”
“Principle only gets you so far, I agree.” James then pulled out a sandwich he had made and started to eat.
Morales ripped the sandwich from his hands and threw it in the trash. “No eating in here! You’re with computers...have some manners!”
“That was a good sandwich...and I was hungry.” James then just shrugged and smiled, knowing it was Morales’s sense of control that made her do what she did.
“I’ll make you a sandwich later...just don’t eat in here!”
James just laughed.

“Okay,” said Morales, trying to get things on track. “So let’s review the case.”
“So they have this guy,” started James, reading a case note Morales gave him. “He goes by the name of Robert Griffith...he calls Aaron Fitchner yesterday at 4:45PM, says he’s kidnapped this girl by the name of Sarah Milton and that the team has an hour to find her or else she’s dead.”
“Yes,” said Morales. “It was creepy. Fitch told me to look into the missing person files and confirm that Milton was missing, which she was. He also asked me to trace the cell phone call, and that’s what brought them to Manhattan. After that, I really don’t know what happened.”
“Mr. Griffith only gave them an hour?” said James, surprised. “It takes more than an hour to fly to Manhattan.”
“Well, one of my colleagues, Claudio Pucci, is an expert negotiator...he probably bought them some more time.”
“All right...well, let’s assume Mr. Pucci did buy them more time...it’s still obvious that they were scrambling...so they go on the jet...they do have a jet, right?”
“Yes...that part Criminal Minds got right. It may be the only thing.” Morales then got antsy. “You know, every week Criminal Minds has their tech solving their cases for them…I wish real life were like that!”
James talked soothingly. “Relax, Andi…you’re going to solve this case.” He then readopted his serious tone. “Okay...so they go on the jet...they arrive in Manhattan...say, at 7...just to be on the safe side. Did they communicate with Manhattan PD?”
Morales stared at their phone records. “No...looks like they just landed at the airbase and hit the ground running.”
“So they did most of their ‘solving’ on the plane, then?”
“Looks like it...they didn’t bring any files or anything.”
“How’d they know there was a case to investigate?”
“Well, Griffith’s story seemed pretty legit.”
“Ah...it ‘seemed’ legit.”
“You don’t think it’s real?”
“The first thing that strikes me about this case is that Robert Griffith identified himself to Fitchner...or, at least that’s how I understand it.”
“You can call him ‘Fitch’...we all do...and yes, Griffith explicitly told Fitch who he was.”
“See, I find that very curious...if I were a criminal, I wouldn’t want the police knowing who I was...unless...the name I give them is fake.”
“So you think ‘Robert Griffith’ is an alias?”
“I bet my bottom dollar on it. His identity should have been looked into before they took off.”
“You’re right...I guess they were scrambling...and they didn’t have time.”
“See, that’s something Griffith knew...I bet this whole thing is a sham.”
“Sarah Milton is not real either?”
“She could be, being just a tool in his narrative, but his story isn’t real…just because I find it odd that he calls them about the case and makes them hunt after him…I get that some criminals like the thrill of the chase, but smart ones don’t egg on the police.”
“Unless…he’s trying to trap them.”
“Exactly. He knew that if he created this case where they had to hurry, they wouldn’t have time to think about things like this...and he trapped them because of it.”
“Sneaky...and creepy good...oooohhh I hate this guy!”
“Why don’t you take a look into his name?”

Morales began typing into her computer. She pulled up every man named Robert Griffith, and looked.

“Oldrich,” said Morales, pointing to a record, “there is a Robert Griffith in Manhattan...just one though.”
“Okay,” said James, not fazed. “Look into him a bit more.”
“He’s got...” Morales started to dig. “Wow...he’s got...nothing...no phone activity except the one phone call...he doesn’t live in a house...no credit cards, no car, no social security number...it’s like...”
“He’s fake?”
“Yeah...weird.”
“Remember what we said about the Kiowa yesterday?”
“That they don’t like keeping records?”
“Exactly. This tells me he works for the government.”
“How do you know?”
“That was an official government database you pulled up, right?”
“Yes it was...well, it’s kind of like this hybrid database that combines a lot of other databases together into a single search engine...it’s pretty cool.”
“So that record came from the phone company, then?”
“Yeah...but his name also appears in the government database...that’s how my computer verifies the person’s name, otherwise it would have come up as simply an alias.”
“See...he works for the government, but probably not in an important job. Someone who concocts a scheme to trap seven FBII agents and cackle about it is making up for something...if he was an important government official he wouldn’t need a kidnapping plot for thrills.”
“How do you know he’s cackling about it?”
“He’s trapped your team somewhere...he thinks that because he so brilliantly deceived your team that he’s somehow clever...and it would inflate an ego...he’s going to rub it in your team’s face...heck, I would.”
Morales got visibly steamed at James’ last remark.
“Sorry...but let’s be honest...if you came up with such a plan and pulled it off, wouldn’t you rub it in a little?”
Morales thought for a few minutes, before nodding her head. “Yeah...I would...that son of a gun...”
“So...our first task is to get into the Kiowa database...but let’s download a few copies...I have a feeling Mr. Griffith has changed things multiple times...and since records are poorly kept, he likely got away with all the changes.”

The prison, Kiowa Territory

“Hello agents,” said Griffith through the intercom.
You son of a b***!” hollered Coleman, “You let us out of here or I’ll-”
“Or you’ll what, agent?” Griffith let out a devious laugh.
“Robert,” said Fitchner, trying to take control. “You don’t need to do this. We only care about Sarah...if you let us go and give us Sarah, then we can talk about a deal.”
“Fiddlesticks, agent,” pooh-poohed Griffith. “I have all the power here...besides, I know you guys won’t offer me any kind of ‘deal’. I know that you guys want me to confess about Sarah because then that means you have evidence to convict me...right now, you have nothing. Not a shred. Just a voice message that I can tell the cops that someone else uttered from my phone.”
“Robert,” started Parkes. “I know your life hasn’t quite been what you wanted it to be...but, really, what are you gaining from all this? You’ll kill us all, get a cheap thrill and then tomorrow you’ll be back at whatever menial job you have.”
“You don’t understand,” said Griffith, deviously. “This is about history. This is about taking out the most prized crime fighting unit in the entire world. Sure, my name won’t be known, but it won’t matter...knowing that I defeated the greatest crime fighters in the world is satisfaction enough for me. I won’t be just Randy Joe or the Zodiac...I’ll be better, because I didn’t just outlast the authorities...I outsmarted them.”
“If it’s fame that you’re after Mr. Griffith,” started Yves, “this all seems counterproductive...you’ll continue to live in anonymity...any number of people can claim that they were, in fact, ‘The BAU Killer’ and you have no way of proving otherwise.”
“Look at you,” said Griffith smugly, “you’re just grasping at straws. Do you expect me to believe that’s nothing more than just a sorry attempt to let you free? Well, sorry...the party’s over.” Griffith turned off the intercom.

Coleman started to cuss uncontrollably. Proctor started to bite her nails, not knowing any other way to keep calm. Parkes started to sulk, as did Cooke. Yves held his head in his hands, frustrated. Fitchner started, blankly at the wall.

Pucci smiled, though.

“I hear that petunias are a great help in clearing allergies,” said Pucci, with a laugh.
“Pucci,” said Coleman, angrily. “Do you think I give a crap about petunias right now?”
“Oh come on guys,” replied Pucci. “Lighten up. We’ve all forgotten why this guy is doing this to us...he wants to break us...so we have to be better...we can’t lose our resolve.”
“Why does he want to break us?” said Yves. “Why did he lure us here?”
“Pascal,” said Parkes. “He has a twisted sense of fame. This is a confidence trick...he wants to think that outsmarting a whole unit of FBII agents he’ll make up for whatever he’s lacking in his own life.”
“Maybe if we figure out why he did this then maybe we can find a way to reason with him to let us out,” thought Yves out loud.
“Yves,” said Coleman, dismissively. “What good would that do? He told us...he holds all the cards...there’s no reason for him to let us out. We just have to sit tight...and hope.”

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Look,” said Black in his office, calling the Kiowa government office in Manhattan, “I don’t give a darn about protocol. I don’t care about your stupid feelings...I have seven of my best men in your territory and I care about their safety. All I want is for them to come home.”
“Sir,” said Kiowa Defence Secretary Tom Benson, “I understand your concern...but our people will be distraught at seeing an army in their land...they will think the Americans are invading again.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, my men will be discreet. You won’t even notice that they’re there. I’ll even give them Kiowa Army dress if I have to. Your people won’t suspect a thing.”
“A Kiowa can tell a non-Kiowa from a mile away, just by their essence.”
“Their essence? Are you out of your mind?”
“We can tell when there are disturbances just by the flow of the air...when something isn’t right, we can just tell, and your army will disturb our balance.”
“Bulls--- Tom! Your ‘essence’ is nothing but poppycock...besides, don’t you think allowing seven FBII agents to die is going to disrupt your equilibrium even more? I’d like to see how the Kiowa can have thaton their conscience.”
“They were not supposed to be there. You forced them upon me.”
“A dangerous criminal escaped into your lands and you expect me to just let him walk? You really are something.”
“There is a reason why he came into our lands...you should not have disturbed him.”
“So you’ll just let murderers run free then?”
“Why didn’t you let us take care of him?”
You wouldn’t let me! You told me it was my problem and that I had to solve it! What was I supposed to do?”
“The wind needs to take its course.”
Black didn’t even bother saying goodbye, as he just angrily slammed down the phone.

“Texan Legate Emilianus speaking,” said Rufus Emilianus, the Legate of the Texas Legions of the Roman Army.
“Rufus, it’s FBII Director Black,” said Black, speaking in Latin. Emilianus soon caught on. “How long will it take for you to mobilize your Special Forces to go into Kiowa territory?”
“The Kiowa Kingdom? I don’t think we can just walk right in...the Union Congress...they’d have a field day.”
“Rufus, we can be discreet. They won’t even know we were in there.”
“What do you need the Special Forces for?”
“I have the Behvioural Analysis Unit missing.”
“The BAU?” Emilianus understood the urgency of the situation. “I can have a team ready by tonight. I need you to tell me where to go.”
“That’s the problem...I don’t know where they are...all I know is that they are south of Manhattan.”
“That area is not surveyed...we’ll be searching for days.”
“I’ve got our Technical Analyst working the case...hopefully very soon we can narrow this down.”
“Got it. I’ll get them ready.”
“Thanks Rufus.”
“Anything for you, Lucius.”

In Morales’s office, James and Morales continued examining the evidence.

“We have to look for inconsistencies,” explained James. “This guy…he likely didn’t just create one fake name, he created many.”
“He certainly had fun with it,” said Morales. “Aside from the usual ‘Dan Druff’ and ‘Seymour Butts’, we’ve got ‘Dustin Ferfingaprints’ and ‘Moe Thalawn’.”
James had a bit of a laugh. “I think if I could manipulate a government database I’d do that too.”
“Okay, so if he’s created fake names…he’s likely created fake residences too.”
“See, now you’re getting the hang of it.”
“…and…well, he has…fifty places, all over the Kingdom, with addresses to non-existent buildings.”
“We need to focus on Manhattan…that’s your team’s last known whereabouts.”
“We don’t know if they’re all his…those could very well be buildings that have been torn down but not yet excised from the records.”
“We are going to find this guy here in the databases…but we need to think about this guy a bit more.”
“Well, if my team can find him…so can I.”

The prison, Kiowa Territory

Parkes took a look at her phone. She stared, pensively at it, laughed, before cupping her face trying not to cry.

He’s so cute when he makes silly faces. Her phone showed a picture of Yves, contorting his face weirdly on the drive to the prison, just to be silly. It was the last message her phone was able to receive and, if she didn’t get out of the prison, might be the last text message she’d ever receive.

She then pulled another message, this one also from Yves:

“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential- Winston Churchill”

“So true,” she muttered to herself, before resting her head against the wall and curling up her legs. Like the rest of her team, she was feeling hungry, and the lack of energy had made her cold.

Yves, noticing Parkes curled up by herself, came over and sat right next to her, putting his arm around her. Parkes instinctively rested her head against his shoulder.

“Thanks Pascal,” said Parkes. “I was getting cold. This place…it’s so foreboding.”
“I know Zoe,” replied Yves. “It’s tough…but we can’t lose hope.”
“I know…it’s just that the longer this takes, the more you start thinking about the finality of things. Did I do enough in my life? Did I love those who I love with the right energy and in the right way? Is the legacy I leave on this world going to be one that future generations can build on? I’m too young for this to happen…but I guess fate is cruel, sometimes.”
“I rather not think of this as ‘the end’, but rather, ‘the beginning’. Death can be maligned…many cultures celebrate it, talking about a new beginning in the afterlife…it’s something to strive for after all the trials and tribulations of this life can make things so hard.”
“True…the belief that if you put the effort into this life makes the next one better is one to keep you going.”
“We’ve been through so much…it makes me think, of all the ways to go…this has to be the strangest, but…as you said, fate is cruel, sometimes.”

Over in the other corner, Pucci still trying to bring some levity to the situation.

“Is it just me or is everyone famished?” said Pucci, playfully. “I feel like I haven’t eaten in days.”
“That’s because we haven’t,” said Fitchner, curtly.
“I don’t know what we’re going to eat,” said Coleman, frustrated. I guess we can start with these tables, or something.”
“I really could use a burger,” said Pucci, nodding his head. “Am I the only one?”
“Well, Vincent Shyer once called Coleman a side of beef,” said Yves, calling out from the other side of the room.
“Coleman does describe himself as tasty,” noted Cooke, “but I don’t think he meant that in the literal sense.”
“I don’t know,” said Proctor. “At this stage, I just might be able to try anything.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa man,” said Coleman, moving his hands up and down as if to say, “slow down”. “I would do anything for this team…but I don’t think we’re at the stage where we need to start eating each other…that’s just sick.”
“We’re all going to get out of here alive,” said Fitchner, “let’s not lose our wits.”
“Sarah,” said Pucci. “Remember Sarah. She will get us through this.”

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Okay, so let’s look into Sarah a little bit,” said Morales. “If, as you say, she’s fake too then there are going to be other kernels.”
“Sarah might be real,” said James, “but the missing person report will be fake.”
“Okay…” Morales typed away at her computer, looking up Milton and seeing what she could find. “She’s listed as being in Virginia Beach, and Virginia Beach Police did actually file a missing person report.”
“So that one is legitimate…that’s interesting.”
“Does that mean this case isn’t as fake as we’ve thought?”
“No…it wouldn’t take much for a guy to scan missing person reports, pick a name and use it to spur an investigation. Plus, whoever is playing Griffith knew that if he added urgency to the message, due diligence- and his eventual reveal as a fraud- wouldn’t happen.”
“So Griffith doesn’t have anything to do with Sarah then.”
“He still could…but it’s unlikely at this stage.”

A knock was heard on Morales’s door. It was Black.

“Lucius,” said Morales. “Come in.”
“Okay, Agent Morales,” started Black, after acknowledging James and shaking his hand. “What have we got?”
“Well the missing girl is real,” started Morales before Black waved his hand telling her to stop.
“I know she’s real,” said Black. “That’s why I authorized the case.”
“So it was you,” said James, wagging his finger, “that didn’t check on the veracity of there being a ‘Robert Griffith’.”
“It’s not my job,” replied Black, curtly. “I’m not here to look over Fitch’s shoulder…I trust him. He made a mistake. I know that. He probably knows that too, and it’s killing him.” Black let out a heavy sigh, concerned for where the BAU may be. “Any leads so far, Agent Morales?”
“Not yet,” said Morales. “Oldrich and I have figured out that he probably works in the Kiowa database department…my computer gave out a hit on Robert Griffith’s name but the name in the system doesn’t have anything tied to him…in fact, the Kiowa database is riddled with errors and other made up stuff…so we think whoever is playing Griffith is manipulating things.”
“So whatever hiding spot the BAU is in he could transfer ownership,” said Black, who then snapped his fingers while continuing. “Like that.”
“He couldn’t do big things though,” said Morales, “or else his boss would catch on.”
“What if he is the boss?” said Black. “That way, the only one he answers to is likely the Minister of Information, and he’s not likely to spend hours making sure the records he has are accurate. He’d still have to be careful to make sure the changes to the database are ones the public wouldn’t notice, but, being the boss would explain why he hasn’t been found out until now.”
“We still don’t know what his real name is, though,” said James.
“You have to think about this,” said Black, appearing to cup an imaginary ball with his hands, “in a different way. You’re not going to find his name just by looking over a database…he’s manipulated it, who knows what you’re going to be able to trust in there. Mr. James, how did you conclude that Robert Griffith was fake?”
“You can call me Oldrich, it’s no big deal,” said James with a smile. “Anyway, I reasoned that it was odd Griffith would just come to the BAU with a case…usually criminals don’t like egging on the police, so I thought this was a trap. Since Griffith didn’t allow the team a lot of time before diving into the case, it gave him the perfect cover.”
“Read between the lines,” said Black. “If he wanted the BAU to find him then I think he’s going to want us to find him too, or at least leave us some kind of message indicating how he thinks he’s outsmarted us.”
“I predicted he’s cackling at the BAU,” said James, “because this is a pretty big thing that he’s done.”
“Wait,” said Morales, a light turning on inside her head. “If he’s cackling, then maybe he’s a showman, or at least he likes the arts. Now, Sarah Milton…” Morales clicked away at her database, looking up her file. “It says here that Sarah acted in a play in Virginia Beach for a week before she went missing and if we look at the audience…” Morales pulled up another file onto her screen, “you’ll see a Tyler Vance, who just happens to call Manhattan his home. His credit card gives him away. You’ll also see that he’s using it in such a manner that indicates that he drove back to Manhattan shortly after the play had run its course in Virginia Beach, allowing him time to escape.”
“Very good work,” said Black, impressed. “I should give you a raise.”
Morales laughed. “Yeah, I could use one,” beamed Morales. “Thanks though. We still only have half the battle though…his home ownership records are obviously tampered with.”
“He didn’t use the credit card to buy the phone?” inquired James.
“No,” said Morales. “He didn’t have to, though…disposable cell phones are cheap.”
“If his credit cards work,” thought Black out loud, “then maybe we can use his purchases to map out where he lives.”
“I’m already on that, Director,” said Morales.
“Good,” said Black. “I’m going to go back to my office. Let me know what you guys find…if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”

The prison, Kiowa Territory

“Pascal,” said Parkes, cuddling with Yves in a corner.
“Yes Zoe,” said Yves, resting his head on top of Parkes’.
“I want you to know that, no matter what happens, I’ve always loved you.”
“Me too.”
“Hey guys,” cracked Coleman, “wait until we’re dead until you get your freak on.”
Parkes and Yves just sat their laughing.

“Listen guys,” said Fitchner, “I know it’s not much but if we keep our spirits up maybe it’ll be enough to throw Griffith off his game. He wants to break us...if we show we’re not affected by this maybe he’ll get bored and let us go.”
“Aaron,” said Pucci, “I agree until the last part. He’s got no reason to let us go...but, I think we should remember that we’re the government’s best crime-fighters...I don’t they want to lose us so easily.”
“Vaughan would have left us here to rot,” snarled Coleman. “I want to believe that Lucius Black is different, but we’ve never seen him in this position before.”
“He is easier to get along with,” said Fitchner, “but, you’re right...it does seem like a bit of a front sometimes.”
“Vaughan would have left you guys to rot?” inquired Parkes, the only agent who didn’t know Erin Vaughan, whom Black replaced in 2007. “That sounds wrong on so many levels.”
“Vaughan was always about people learning things ‘the hard way’,” said Pucci, “and about procedure and protocol...she never liked the BAU...thought we got too much credit for the FBII...so I think she would have done a few token attempts to cover herself but she would have just left us here.”
“Vaughan was not fun to work for at all,” said Yves, “I’m glad she’s gone...and we have Emily to thank for that.”
“Vaughan had a twisted sense of justice,” noted Proctor. “It was always personal for her...it cost Vaughan her job in the end.”
“You weren’t scared to blow the whistle on her?” inquired Parkes.
“It was easy,” said Proctor. “I had nothing to lose...morale at the BAU was at all time low...Simeon said he left because of Sarah Jacobs but I really think he left because of Vaughan. As soon as she told me I was placed in the BAU simply to be a mole I had to act...I didn’t care if I lost my job...I had to do what was right.”
“Now we just have to hope that Lucius is different,” said Coleman.

Tyler Vance’s house, a farm outside of Manhattan, Kiowa Territory

“I kidnapped the agents,” said Tyler Vance, tending to a man in a bed, the light on in his room because it was night time.
“Good,” said the man, bedridden with an illness. “I can die happy now.”
“I hope you’ll last a little longer, Joe.”
“I hope so too...AIDS has been unfriendly to me.”
“If you’re dying, why did you care about the BAU?”
“I want to die knowing that they could never find out who Randy Joe truly is.”
“My cousin would have been proud of you.”
“Yeah, well, your cousin also infected me with AIDS...but I didn’t know that when I got involved with him ten years ago.”
“That’s why I’m caring for you...because I owe that to my cousin.”
“Thanks.” Joe slumped into his pillow and tried to get some sleep.

Vance went for a peak into his fridge. “I’m out of tapioca. Drats,” he said to himself. He picked up his car keys and went for a drive into town from his ranch.
An hour after he left, Emilianus was leading the Roman Special Forces onto his house, with Black keeping watch from a jerry-rigged weather helicopter from above.

“Lion 1,” said Black, radioing Emilianus from the helicopter, “do you have a visual on the UnSub?”
“Eagle,” replied Emilianus, looking around. “Negative sir. There is a man on his bed in the house though.”
“Lion 1...is he armed?”
“Negative. He has an IV attached to him...he appears sick.”
“Get two of your men in there...arrest him on the spot. Hold him there and see if he knows where Tyler went.”
“Roger Eagle.”

Two of Emilianus’ troops entered Vance’s house. When they descended upon Joe, they tried to wake him but he was in a deep slumber. The soldiers had a look around, uncovering a notebook with Randy Joe’s signature cowboy hat adorned on the cover- along with notes on each of his crimes and a hair taken from each of his victims.

“Lion 1” said one of the soliders.
“Yes Lion 6,” said Emilianus.
“Looks like we’ve got something. We’ll need forensics to look at this but I think we’ve just caught Randy Joe.”
“How do you know?” Emilianus tried to hide his joy at the news.
“We’ve got a notebook with his cowboy hat on it...with detailed accounts of all of his crimes, as well as a hair sample from each victim.”
“That is something. Bring it out...I’ll put it in my truck.”
Lion 6 dutifully ran from the house to bring it to Emilianus, who hid the notebook in his glove compartment. Lion 6 went back inside the house to observe Randy Joe with his partner.

Over in the distance, a Kiowa man noticed one of the Special Forces’ trademark eagle lapels, signifying that the Romans had come into their territory.

“Romans!” said the Kiowa man, motioning some of his friends. They all brought with them shotguns. When they got within range of the house, the leader of the Kiowa group put the soldier in his sights and fired.

Bogies to your left! Bogies to your left!” screamed the soldier who was fired upon. The Kiowa’s aim wasn’t good so his bullet whizzed harmlessly by. The rest of the Roman forces took aim at the Kiowa group once they got into sight.

“Another twenty are descending upon your location from town,” said Black from the helicopter. He was prepared for this, requesting the attack helicopter- containing another Roman Special Forces team- he hid in Manhattan to the battlefield.

“Lions!” hollered Emilianus. “Engage on sight! Fire at will!”

The Special Forces, being better trained soldiers, dealt with the Kiowa group rather easily. After about twenty minutes, the Kiowa that had descended upon Vance’s house were all killed, with the Romans not taking a single hit.

Emilianus figured something was off. He ordered the team that had originally descended upon Vance’s house to gather around him. The Forces were all dressed in Kiowa civilian attire, with their bulletproof vests being concealed under their clothing. Emilianus knew they shouldn’t have been recognized, so he examined each soldier closely.

“Lion 4!” Emilianus screamed at the soldier with his eagle lapel. “Why didn’t you take off your Legion lapel! Were you not ordered to take it off?”
“Yes sir! I was sir!” answered Lion 4.
“So why is it still on?”
“Sir! It’s my favourite lapel! I snuck it back on sir!”
“When we get back, you’ll be suspended for four weeks and you’ll have work detail for six months.” Emilianus turned his attention to the rest of his troops. “Let that be a lesson to the rest of you...what Lion 4 did endangered our safety and will not be tolerated. Is that understood?”
The team replied, “Yes sir!” in unison.
“Good,” said Emilianus. He then took Lion 4’s lapel off of his shoulder and stuffed it in his pocket. “Lion 4...you will get this back when you are finished your suspension. At ease troops.”

“Lion 1,” said Black from the helicopter, “there’s a shed behind Vance’s house. Send some of your men there.”
“Roger Eagle,” replied Emilianus. Emilianus himself went to the shed, and broke open the lock with the butt of his rifle. Inside was Sarah Milton, bound and gagged.

“It’s okay,” said Emilianus. “I’m Rufus Emilianus, Roman Legate for the Texas Legions...I’m here with Director Lucius Black from the FBII. I’m here to bring you home.” Milton stopped quivering upon hearing Emilianus, allowing him to untie her.

“Eagle,” radioed Emilianus. “I have Sarah. I’m taking her to the other chopper.”
“Roger Lion 1,” said Black. “I’ll have them meet a chopper at the border in Oklahoma, and see to it that she is looked after in Dallas.” The other helicopter took Milton, and met an Oklahoman helicopter that took her to Dallas.

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Lucius is telling me that he’s found Sarah Milton,” said Morales to James, observing the action from their computer screen. “No sign of Vance or the BAU though.”
“Of course Vance won’t be there,” said James. “He has to know that by capturing the BAU that we’re on his tail...he’ll spend as little time at his house as he has to.”
A look of fear came across Morales’s face. “He could...he could go back to where he’s keeping the BAU...and kill him...Oldrich! We need to work!”
“Relax, pumpkin. We’re really close...you just need to think.”
“Okay...we know he works as the boss of the Kiowa Database...that’s how he can get away with concealing his license plate and his residence. We know he appreciates the arts, that’s how he caught Sarah...but...what else?”
“Think Andi...you’re missing something.” James sat trying to think himself, but he didn’t want to sound unsure, believing Morales would be frustrated if he showed any signs of pessimism.
“If he’s a boss...” Morales reacted as if a light went on in her head. “He likes control.”
“That’s it!” said James, excited that Morales had given him that lead. “He doesn’t just like control...he lovesit...you know, I knew something was fishy from that database...I think I know what it was.” James then frantically examined the files before coming across something. “Dustin Ferfingaprints! It’s right there.”
“He owns...Hardy Adams Correctional Facility...49 miles south of Manhattan! That’s where my team is!”

James reached for the phone, hurriedly dialing Black’s number.

“Lucius!” said James, excited into the phone. “Get a team to the Hardy Adams Correctional Facility...it’s 74 miles south of your position.”
“Roger Oldrich,” said Black, relieved. “You did a great job.”
“Actually you can thank Andi. She found it.”
“Well I thank both of you.”

Hardy Adams Correctional Facility, Kiowa Territory

“No sign of Vance’s car anywhere,” said Emilianus, switching places with Black in the helicopter. “I’ll keep an eye out for him...Lions, you go into the Facility.”
“Roger Lion 1,” said Black, leading the charges. “Men, let’s move!

The Special Forces wasted no time inside the facility. They searched every prison cell and every room, moving quickly. Since Vance only reinforced the lunchroom’s doors at a Kiowa army surplus store, the decaying doors of the prison were no match for the might of the Roman forces.

The lunchroom was the last place the Special Forces descended upon, as it was at the other end of the Facility. The doors were held shut by a single steel beam strewn across the door’s handles and a tight padlock.

Black, sensing his goal was near, summoned his strength to remove the beam. The former military detective was years removed from his last post, but he kept up much of his strength at the FBII’s own gym, which he helped remodel. He then used a pair of tweezers to gently unlock the door.

He smiled upon opening the door. The BAU was busy huddled in a circle singing “Kumbya”, an effort by Pucci to keep the team’s spirits up.

“Ready the paramedics,” said Black, radioing back Emilianus. He then turned his attention to the team, happy to see a path to freedom. “I think I know why I hired all of you as agents...because your singing sucks.”
“Coleman has a pretty good alto voce,” cracked Yves.
“Well I guess if I was trapped here for two days I’d think anyone’s voice sounds nice,” said Black, who disagreed, but smiled knowing the team was still in good spirits.

Fitchner gave Black a hearty handshake. “Thank you,” said Fitchner.
“No problem,” said Black, who responded in kind. He turned his attention to the rest of the team. “I was a military man...I only live by one credo.”
“Never leave a man behind,” said Coleman, reciting the Marine Corps’ motto. He then gave Black a hearty hug.
“Now,” said Black, pointing furiously outside. “I’ve got a ton of food for you guys in Rufus Emilianus’ truck...please, have at it.” The BAU excitedly ran towards Rufus, with Black talking to Fitchner as he was eating.

“How are you guys?” asked Black, concerned for the team.
“We’re okay,” replied Fitchner. “It was tough but we thought that if we stayed positive that we could beat Robert Griffith, and we were right.”
“His name wasn’t Robert. It was Tyler Vance...he’s the boss of the Kiowa Database...he tricked us with urgency...he knew that if we were rushing we wouldn’t know who he really is.”
“We were pressed for time...so we could only do a cursory profile...we only talked on the phone...he sounded very controlled so that’s what lead us to the prison. He must have known only we could figure out that message and had us waiting.”
Black tried to deflect blame for the mishap. “I should have gotten Morales to look into it before you guys left...I take responsibility for what happened.”
“You shouldn’t...it’s not your job to remind Morales to do that, it’s mine. Nobody feels worse about this than I do.”
“Fitch.” Black placed his hand firmly on his shoulder. “Do not feel bad about this. We all make mistakes. I grant this was a pretty big one...but an excusable one.”
“There are no excusable mistakes.”
“Yes there are...I’m not Vaughan. I know you’re just human. These things happen. Don’t sweat it.”

Gas station, 10 miles from Vance’s home

“Stupid tapioca,” said Vance. “I shouldn’t eat so much of it...I’m going to feel this in the morning.” He leaned against his car, frustratingly waiting for the gas he paid for to finish pumping. When the pump stopped abruptly, he stepped inside his car to start it up, only to find that not a single drop of gas had been filled into his car.

He threw up his hands in frustration and cussed. He then placed his credit card back into the station’s prepay slot and again paid for his gas. He tried to fill his car again before he noticed that, once again, it didn’t fill.

“What the heck?” said Vance, stupefied. “Why won’t this P.O.S. fill up?” He then tried to start the car, only for it to fail. “Seriously...this is ridiculous.”

He repeated the same process again. He placed his credit card into the prepay slot. He then reached for the gas pump. This time, the pump stopped working. He threw his hands in the air in frustration. He looked up into the sky and asked, “what is this? Some sick joke? I know you Kiowa gods hate me...but believe me I’m trying.”

He frantically paced around his car for a few minutes. He got to the driver’s side and kicked the door, frustrated. When he turned his back, Coleman came from behind and tackled him.

“Tyler Vance!” said Coleman, unyielding on top of him. “FBII! You are under arrest!” He then completed the arrest as Vance was led into a waiting Roman Special Forces vehicle, hiding behind the station.

“Babygirl,” said Coleman, calling Morales. “That was genius. I never thought you could control a gas station.”
“Perils of the modern age,” cooed Morales. “See, Tyler Vance didn’t realize I found him with his credit card activity...once I had that I had his car, which was computerized and so was the pumps. The pumps are connected to a central server at the company so they can keep track of gas levels...it’s pretty genius stuff...and it allowed us to catch our guy.”
“Is it true?”
“Is what true?”
“That you found us?”
“Well, I had a lot of help from Oldrich James here.” Morales saw James giving her a look telling her not to sell herself short. “Well, okay, yes, I found you guys. James unlocked my hidden gifts...I guess I really am as much as a profiler as you guys are.”
Coleman smiled. “Babygirl...you really are my God-given solace. You never...ever forget that.”

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Joe Hendridge,” said James, looking at the completed case file, happy that he had finally caught his family’s killer. “So he got sick…that’s why he struck one last time. Interesting.” He then gave the BAU hearty handshakes. “Thank you so much…this is years of frustration ended.”
“You’re welcome,” said Coleman. “It was a bit of a lucky break, I know, but at least we caught him. We should be thanking you though.”
“It was nothing…like I said, it was all Andi…I just unlocked her hidden talents…she just had a hard time believing in her abilities.”
“You got that right.”
“I’m also glad we rescued Sarah.”
“Vance was trying to finish the job of his cousin, Joe Carlton. Thankfully they executed him last week.”
“It’s nice when everything can be wrapped up so nicely in a bow, isn’t it?”
“That’s what we do at the BAU…we answer the tough questions.”
“Well, if we at the CBI need you we will definitely give you a call.”
“Definitely.”

In Black’s office, Fitchner and Black were in a meeting.

“I don’t know if we can accept that,” said Fitchner, slumping in his chair.
“This isn’t disciplinary,” said Black. “It’s not a suspension…it’s a recognition that you guys just might be a little overworked.”
“I don’t know if I can take a week off.”
“See, that’s the sign of someone who’s just been working too hard…it’s why you make mistakes…you guys should embrace having a break…it’ll clear your heads. In fact, your guys can take as much time off as you’d like…I recognize things have been a little crazy lately, and I think you need to unwind.”
“Criminals don’t stop…they’re always operating. We can’t take breaks.”
“Fitch, I’ll monitor that…if something outrageous happens that we really need you guys back that instant I’ll call you in…but the vast majority of your cases are investigations that are months old anyway…one week isn’t going to affect anyone. Besides, we have other agents…we can cover for you guys.”
“I guess I’m just in shock that you’re trying to take care of us.”
“I come from a different background, Fitch. I believe a leader must look after his men, and know when to push them and when to take a step back. I told you from day one, I’m not your boss-”
“I know. A boss orders people around, a leader takes care of his troops.”
“Exactly. Look, you can come in tomorrow if you’d like…I’m not forcing you to take this vacation…but I heartily suggest it. You guys are wiped out…I want you guys recharged.”

Fitchner nodded okay and got up to leave, but before he left he asked Black one last question.

“Lucius,” he said, “why did you go over the heads of the Kiowa?”
“Fitch,” answered Black firmly. “They left me no choice. I know what the rules are, but remember…rules are meant to be guidelines. They’re not restrictions. I had to do what I had to do…besides, I wasn’t going to let some obstructive bureaucrat stop me from rescuing my men.”
“Well, as I understand, the Kiowa Chief himself was disgusted with his own Defence Ministry and ordered sweeping changes so this doesn’t happen again.”
“I heard about that…I’m glad he’s taking charge…something wasn’t right there.” Black then became poignant. “Fitch, let today remind you that, no matter what, I’ve always got your back. No matter what. Don’t you ever forget that.”
Fitchner replied with a wry smile. “Thanks. I’m going to call home, see how Jeff is doing…I think he’ll be happy to see dad a bit more often.”

“That’s the spirit.” Black smiled as Fitchner left, allowing Black to resume his other work.