Horatio walked in Monday morning, finding two Feds standing in his office. "Morning, gentlemen. Are we here to screw up another local investigation or is there some other reason for you to be lurking in my office?" he demanded, staring at the one he knew was the head guy.
"We're here because you were granted access to DragonTech," he said coolly. "We want to know why."
"We're testing a new electron microscope and a new program for the hummers for them. We went in to look at some other things that they had. It was a one-time-only access. Anything else?"
"We will be seeing what they gave you."
"No you won't. If you want to see it, you can ask them." He gave the other guy a look. "Or you can get a warrant, which you have no cause for." He knew him too, he was a lawyer, one who made his teeth ache from the gritting he was doing. "Anything else? If not, we're going to have people finding bodies within a few hours."
"Has no say in this matter," Horatio assured him. He looked at the head guy again, then took off his sunglasses. "If you want to see any of it, go to them directly. I'm not getting in the middle of the sick little game you people have with their company because they're good at what they do and you're jealous. Are we clear? If you want something from DragonTech, you go to them. You don't come bother my lab. Now, get out of my office."
"We'll be back."
"Then I'd have a warrant." They stomped off. He called Tiff, waking her up. "Fair warning, we just had an medium level FBI agent and his attorney waiting to ambush me in my office to look at the things you brought." He smiled at her swearing. "I told them they weren't getting at it, I wasn't getting in the middle of their jealousy game, and that we were only testing a new electron microscope and a program for the hummers. I also told them to go to your people directly or get a warrant." He smiled at her reassurance. "I figured they would be more easily handled with that. Yes, dear. Thank you, and thank you for the show this weekend. Calleigh's still talking about it." He grinned. "Of course. Just put on pants today, all right? Just in case my boss shows up?" He snorted. "Of course you can pick on Eric. It's a fun pastime for Speed and Calleigh both. See you then." He hung up and called his boss.
"It's Horatio." He heard the ranting. "No, they're jealous that their own inventors aren't as good as DragonTech's people. That's why they keep breaking into their labs to steal things, sir. Exactly, then those situations happen. It was told to me that the blue acid epidemic we had a few years back was because of a thieving agent who broke in to steal it. It was meant to be an anesthesia. Plus what they did in New York to the lab up there. If they do, they can call, we'll come investigate and clean up the mess. Because they do have the right to horde their own inventions, Chief," he reminded him. "The same as the Feds have no right to come into my lab and demand things. Thank you, and you have a better day as well. A warrant or someone from the company giving them the tour." He hung up. Then he called Speed. "Lock her up for the day," he said quietly. "Call to warn Ryan as well." He hung up again and settled in to do some work. Bodies really would begin showing up soon.
Speed walked up to where Ryan Wolfe was waiting on his morning briefing to begin. "Warning from Horatio. He came in to lurking Feds who wanted into the tester lab," he said quietly.
"My badge is kept there and the computer's safe," he assured him, looking at him. "Yours?"
"Very safe." He grinned. "You'll do." He walked off again, heading to the lab to start his day. He nodded at Horatio. "He's safe."
"Thank you, Speed." He gave him a look. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, H. Are you?"
"A bit less happy. Coming in to waiting and lurking agents does cut down the cheer quotient of the day."
Speed smirked at him. "Admit it, you wanted to bite them."
"Yes, I did," he agreed, walking past him. "Try to keep it in lockdown today, Speed."
"I can work without it for the moment." He went to Trace to start his day. He ran into Eric, who was still grinning. "There were feds waiting this morning."
"I heard that H got to chew butts already. Guess the murderer of the day won't be happy when he faces him down."
"That's an evil thought. I like that one," Speed decided, pulling on his lab coat and gloves. "Okay, where am I?" He found his notes from last night and got back to work. He frowned at something when he picked up the envelope. "HORATIO! GET TO TRACE!" he bellowed. Horatio came in a minute later. He held up the envelope, then tipped it over, showing nothing was inside. "It's not listed as checked out. It was where I left it. My notes are out of order. I want a damn tape review."
"Agreed. Check the others, write me an official complaint form," he agreed. Speed nodded, turning to do that. "I'll check with Cooper." He went to do that, finding him already in the tape system. "You heard?"
"Heard the yell, figured someone did something stupid."
"Tampered with evidence in Speed's case," he said quietly.
"Ow. Someone's going to die. Pity," he finished with a dry look. "Can't be too much of a loss to the genetic pool." He found where Speed left last night. Then Horatio left a few minutes later. "Okay, let's go forward," he said, moving forward through the tape. "There's Evil Bitch Elizabeth." Horatio gave him a look. "She is. She doesn't even say hi." He kept going. "There's no one else," he said, going until Eric walked in this morning. "Unless you think Eric did it?"
"Probably not. Copy that please?" He nodded and ran off the nightshift tape, handing over the DVD. "Thank you, Cooper." He went back to Speed's lab. "Elizabeth was in here," he said quietly. "She didn't leave."
"I'll check around but it's still compromised. I had DNA and it's compromised." He finished cataloging his samples from the secure area inside the lab. Then he and Eric looked through the lab, coming up with the sample in the microwave. "She put DNA in the microwave," he said grimly. He turned and opened the document program, finding the one he wanted. He filled out the report efficiently, then grabbed the DVD and walked off once he printed it. "Be right back," he said bitterly. He walked down to where Stetler liked to lurk. "The asshole here?" he asked the officer guarding that door. He got an odd look. "Someone tampered." He got pointed at. "Thank you." He walked outside. "Stetler!" he snapped, making him look at him. "Someone tampered in Trace."
"Did they break something?" He took the report and DVD. "What's on the disc?"
"Any idea why?"
"She broke something in the test lab. She's jealous."
He scanned the report. "Interesting. Only the one sample got compromised?"
"Nothing else was opened or missing. I only had three, no four - one duplicate, samples in the secure area in Trace. She put my DNA swab in the microwave and left an open envelope on the table. That's so far outside of lab protocol I'm going to kick her ass if you don't. So do your job so I can have popcorn, okay?" He turned and walked off again.
Stetler watched him huff off then walked back to his office with the report. This was his job and even though it would make Horatio Caine happy, he'd have fun busting another bad tech. First he would look up the incident report for that other breach. He found it locked by the Chief and settled in to call him. "Chief, it's Stetler. It was just reported to me that someone mishandled and compromised evidence on purpose in the nightshift felony lab. Yes, sir, she's the suspect at the moment. I'm looking at it but it's locked. That would be more than reasonable." He heard the reason and raised an eyebrow. "Really?" He nodded at that. Even he had heard of DragonTech and the problems they've had. "Thank you, I'll definitely be pursuing disciplinary action in this case. Of course I'll keep you informed." He hung up and got to work calling up her personnel records and doing a background check. It was interesting how she was part of a group that kept putting out conspiracy theories about DragonTech being run by real dragons who were trying to take over the world. So apparently she was mentally unstable as well. Even better.
Horatio stared at Tiff when she came in, blinking in horror at the women's business suit she was wearing. It wasn't the best of colors and she was clearly comfortable enough in it but you could tell it definitely wasn't her. It was almost like she was pretending to be someone. "You own clothes?"
"No, I borrowed," she assured him with a small grin. "The bastard ex burned most of my stuff before. Oh, my daughter's coming out this weekend so I won't be available for calls. Call Stephni or the others?"
"I can do that." He looked her over again. "You do look radically different."
"Yeah but I can't really work in this, Red. It's really hard to crawl under cars in this thing. Speaking of, I'm working on a new engine design."
"Speed might kiss you if you let him look at it when it's done. His is the racing bike," he offered with a smile.
"I'm sure he kisses very well," she teased back. "We'll see." She strolled inside, weathering the shocked looks. "It's borrowed, people. Don't even think I have such stick- up-the-ass clothes in my closet. I didn't even before my ex burned most of my clothes. Also, I won't be here this weekend. Got to find a real place to live since my daughter's coming down. Not that she's not used to camping in the lab, she has many times, but she gets cranky without her MTV and it's banished from the labs due to some of the techs and their air guitar habits."
Eric snickered and nodded. "I know a few good buildings with good security. Been looking with my sisters recently. I'll call and get you a list."
"Thank you, sweetie." She smiled. "If Muffin hits on you, be polite but firm. She has this thing for older men for some reason. Said she wanted to come take traditional salsa dancing lessons to hit on the instructor." He walked off laughing. "Not kidding," she said, then shrugged and headed to check on her babies. "Awww, did Red leave you guys in lockdown today?" she cooed, patting the machines. She picked up a handheld unit and carried it to where Speed was. "You can use them outside the lab as long as it's within antenna distance." He grinned at her and gave a pointed look at her clothes. "Salette. Needless to say she's in heat so she looks better than everyone else at the moment."
"You look good in that," he assured her. "Nearly pinup worthy. Don't believe me, look behind you." She glanced and waved at Cooper, who was staring with his mouth open in the doorway. "See? Doesn't she look nice, Cooper?" He babbled and then was walked off by Horatio. "See?" He smirked at her. "Need heels though."
"Sorry." He got back to work. "The jealous people struck again this morning. Tried to tank my case by putting DNA evidence in the microwave." She shuddered. "Yup. Turned them in already."
"Good!" She patted him on the lower back. "Red said I should talk to you about my new engine design." He gave her a sideways look and a half smile. "Something about you liking fast things?"
"I noticed your Toyota's engine wasn't a normal one."
"No, it's a chemical engine. I never get it out of second gear," she complained. He grinned at that. "I can go eighty in first. Traffic's too bad and the speedway's got a crappy surface that they're redoing."
He put down things and looked at her. "You get *eighty* miles per hour in *first* gear?" She beamed and nodded. "What do you get in fourth?"
"Around three hundred or so." She shrugged. "It's kinda fun." Then she grinned maniacally.
"Not on duty, Speed," Horatio warned as he walked past the doorway. "If you crash and die, I'd have to mutilate your corpse. Alexx would get very upset with me."
Speed waited until his telepathic boss was gone to look at her again. "You're *improving* it when it can do that?"
"No, I'm making it smaller. Some of the kids who use it need more trunk room."
"It's in the trunk?" She nodded at the doorway so he followed her out to her car, letting her pop the hood. The engine only took up half the engine compartment. The rest was padding so it wasn't free air. "And it runs that good?"
"It runs that great. The chemical mix is fairly long lasting. I get about three hundred miles a gallon." He blinked at her. "Now imagine what I could do if I could shrink this down to a Harley," she teased.
"I'd have kids for you," he said bluntly. She giggled and hugged him then looked at the person who was staring over her shoulder. "Yes, Officer?"
"I'm an auto nut," he said with a grin. "Just wondering, sir, ma'am."
"Chemical engine," she offered, grinning at him. "It's a prototype."
"How fast can it go?"
He blinked at that and then at her. "Really?" She nodded. "Wow." He stared then at her. "If I begged would you sell someone I know a prototype too? They'd be over the moon if they could put it into their classic muscle car."
She shook her head. "Sorry, can't yet."
"Pity. When you do, tell me." He handed over a card and left, going to pout about that.
She tucked it into her bra and shut the hood, looking at him. "Think you wanna help me test it? It's a bit out of balance so I'm still working on it but it shouldn't be too much longer."
"I'd bear kids for you," he reminded her. She grinned and walked her inside. "Have you told Eric that yet? He's the car guy of the team."
"I can drag race him some day," she teased.
"No, that's my thing," he admitted, stabbing the elevator button. "So, is that your baby?"
"No, that's Muffin," she said as she got onto the elevator, pulling him with her, winking at the guys on there with her. "But that's one of the many projects I'm doing in the labs."
"If I ever quit here I'm going to beg to be your assistant."
"Marry into the family, Speed," she said, patting him on the back. "There's lots of wacky and wild stuff going on in the family." The guy in handcuffs stared at her. "What?" she asked patiently.
"Do I know you?"
"Can I know you better?"
She looked at him then snickered. "Dude, you're in cuffs. I don't date crooks. It's bad for the family's rep. Besides, I work in a biochemical and engineering lab. Plus I've got a daughter." His face fell. "Sorry. Better luck next time."
"Pity. You'd scream pretty."
She snorted and shook her head. "The last one who tried to make me scream got stabbed in the femoral artery and bled out waiting for an ambulance to come save him before I cut off his dick."
"Oh." He crossed his legs and nodded. "Never mind," he said weakly, letting the nice officers lead him off, though one of the officers did give her an odd look.
Speed waited until they were alone. "You did?"
"Yeah. Probably hurt him like hell too. It was a survival knife, the type with the saw on the back of the blade. Six inches long and five went into his thigh. I'm told it was a mess in there," she said bluntly. "And the next bastard who tries to hurt me will get worse."
He smiled. "Good." He walked her back to the lab, going back to work. "Hey, Eric?" he called. Eric strolled in. "Did you know Tiff's working on a chemical engine?"
"I didn't. It any good?"
"Nascar quality," she told him simply and smugly.
He whimpered. "Fuel efficient?"
"Three hundred miles a gallon. I never get it out of second anymore." He whimpered and walked off looking morose. "I'm putting it onto a bike," she called after him.
"If Speed crashes it, we'll destroy you both," he vowed.
She giggled and patted Speed on the back. "It's good he loves you."
"Not like that, Tiff. I'm not gay."
"It'd be a hot bed."
He looked at her. "I'll tell him you said that and take pictures if we ever put a woman between us." She beamed and gave him a hug then went to bother Cooper for a bit. He went back to his sample, pouting a bit. If he had to sleep with Eric for an engine like that he would. Eric could go onto his back so he could have a good engine like that on his bike. He wouldn't mind...much. Maybe if Eric begged a bit too while he had him he could have one of his own for his Lexus.
Ryan leaned into the doorway of Horatio's office. "You needed me?" he asked hopefully.
"Something from you," he said tolerantly. Ryan walked in. "We never got the log-in sheet from the homicide this morning."
"I gave it to my supervisor. Wasn't I supposed to?"
"You were but he's apparently lost it." Ryan pulled out his notepad and handed over the sheet he had copied. "Thank you." He made a copy through his fax machine and handed it back. "Sorry."
"That's okay. That's what someone invented paperclips for. I've got a few of those," he admitted, sliding it onto the back cover where he had other sheets paperclipped. "Anything else, Lieutenant?"
"Not at the moment." Tiff strolled in and Ryan gaped in horror at her. "We had someone trying to get into the lab this morning. I requested she wear something other than cutoffs."
Ryan swallowed then he used his phone to take a picture and send it to Greg. He looked at her after he was done. "Need help shopping?"
"I wouldn't mind but Muffin's coming out this weekend finally."
"Killed your ex?"
"No, not yet. He quit fighting me giving him support when he found out he'd lose it once he got married and I'd be able to find him all the time."
Ryan snickered. "And you taunt me about my last ex. Tonight?"
"Good for me. I've got to find an apartment too." He opened his wallet and pulled out a card, handing it to her. She smiled. "It's on Eric's list too. Thanks, pookie." She kissed him on the cheek. "Red, I'm gonna book for the day."
"Have a good evening, Tiff. I hope we won't be bothered by more idiots in bad suits."
"If they do come back, call Amanda directly, Red. She loves to eat them. She puts their nuts on ice cream." She grinned and pinched Ryan on the cheek. "Call me."
"Of course." She strolled out.
Ryan shook his head. "I'm sorry you had to see her dressed preppie. That's nearly as bad as her in her school uniform." He grinned at Horatio. "Anything else I can do for you today, sir? If not, I'm off as well."
"Go ahead, Ryan, and thank you."
"Welcome, Lieutenant." He headed out, finding Tiff leaning against her car while Eric poked his head under her hood. "Ah, engine envy," he teased. She smirked at him. "I only have to check out. Following?"
"I can. Or I'll meet you at your place." He nodded and got into his cruiser, heading back to check out for the night and hand over his cruiser so he could pick up his own car.
Eric looked over at her. "You're taking *him* shopping?"
"He has good taste."
"He was wearing a sweater vest on Saturday."
"For the king of nerds," he taunted. But he did smile when he said it.
"No, I know him. Actually, thinking about it, I know most of the princes to that throne and the one true king I've only met once. Then again I know a guy who will *only* talk to his AI program. He plays D&D with her." She shrugged. "I've got brothers who're worse than him and sisters that are *so* the Queen of Geeks it's not funny."
"Babbling in Klingon?" he teased.
"Babbling in Elven." He snickered at that. "Seriously. I have one sister that will only speak Elven because she's pissed at us at the moment. The only two she speaks to in human languages are Mom and Nick, one of the big brothers. He's at Yale and over part of the Teacher system."
"What sort of chemical mix are you using?"
"It's a half-life, energy from the breakdown system. It's pretty cool. I'm almost never without gas." She let him open a valve to look into the chamber. "The purple stuff is what it breaks down to. Makes a great drain cleaner. Safe to pour into the drains too. Breaks down after ten minutes once it hits water." He grinned at that. "It turns into a biodegradable fertilizer mix. Salette uses it on some of her flowers. Nothing you want to use on plants you eat but for plants you look at it's killer."
"That's pretty neat," he agreed, recapping the chamber and closing her hood. "When do you think that'll become commercially available?"
She shrugged. "The auto and oil industries put a lot of pressure on anyone who doesn't want to use the traditional combustion engines. Right now there's a few of them in the family but nothing else. Most little, low slung sports cars. Mom gets really mad when the kids still in the school steal hers." She beamed. "Anyway, I'm working on making it smaller. Studly wants me to put one on his bike for him." Eric snickered. "Yes, Speed already begged. He's adorable when he's begging. He told me he'd bear me babies and everything."
Speed walked over to them. "Hell, if I had to make the earlier comment a reality, Eric can do my begging for me," he offered, giving her a hug. "Go find real clothes and an apartment."
"Yes, dear." She kissed him on the cheek, then Eric. "Gotta go meet Ryan to go shopping."
"Help him with the sweater vest thing," Speed ordered with a grin. "I'm the only unfashionable one in the lab, he's not allowed to be that unfashionable."
"She said she's got a sister who only talks to her in Elven because she's pissed at her," Eric told her. "She's used to geeks."
"I'm sure she is. Still a bit too much." He went to his bike and climbed on, turning the engine switch so he could feel the vibration. He put on his sunglasses and helmet, then backed his bike out of his parking spot and headed off into the late afternoon.
"Show off," Eric said dryly, heading for the lab. He had the late shift today. "Later, Tiff. Have fun playing with Ryan."
"Of course I do. Ryan's one of my favorite toys. Me and Salette both." She got into her car and headed for Ryan's house. She could use his room to change into her real clothes. The skirt was annoying the crap out of her.
Ryan looked around the mall, then up at the top floor. He paged Tiff, no answer. He groaned and paged her again, heading for the bookstore. It wasn't like this was her sort of place and she probably didn't need to eat. Besides, he had been in the food court. No her in the bookstore so he paged her again. Nothing. He called Salette. "It's Ryan. I was shopping with Tiff and she managed to lose me but she won't answer pages," he said, looking around. "I'm in the bookstore, Sal. Yeah, I'm sure. I was in the food court when I started to get worried. Ten minutes, tops. Thanks." He hung up and called Horatio. "Head's up only, Lieutenant. Can't find Tiff. She managed to lose me in the mall and she's not answering her phone." He hung up and went to have her paged the normal way. After a half-hour of her not answering, he went to the security office. "Guys, I've got a missing friend. She's a biochem researcher," he said, pulling out his badge. "She's in the middle of a very messy divorce."
"Where was she last, Officer."
"Ryan, please," he offered with a small smile. "Sears. We were in Hardware. She had three bags. One from the Gap, one from Hot Topic, and one from Victoria's Secret for underthings." That got a nod and they paged back through the security footage at Sears. "There I am," he noted. "She lost me about five minutes before then. Told me to go to the food court and she'd catch up." They ran it back and found her looking at hardware. He swore when he saw the person walk up to her. "Thank you." He hurried off, calling Horatio back. "One of the asshole Feds took her from Sears," he said as he walked. "I asked Security to show me the footage. There, yes. On my way back, sir." He hung up and got into his car, heading out of the parking garage as fast as he could legally without a light on his car. He got back and found Stephni pacing in Horatio's office. "It was the pale guy with the scar from a few weeks back," he told her. "The camera caught the scar beautifully."
"You left her alone?" she demanded.
"She was picking out a new wrench, she told me to go to the food court and wait on her. I figured she forgot and went to the bookstore since that was our next target."
She groaned, nodding. "That's our Tiff. Okay. Not well known but Mom had us all tagged a few years back. I need one of the Teacher computers or into the lab here." Horatio walked her down there so she could get into it. She logged in with a special code and got into the security system for DragonTech, finding her listed. "Here we are. Still in Miami, that's a good sign." Horatio took down the address and headed off with Ryan right behind him. "Wait for me!" she called, shutting down the laptop and following, letting the door slam shut behind her. She jogged to catch up, finding Horatio giving her an odd look. "You'll need help. It's me or one of the Sisterhood's Guardians." He nodded, letting her into the hummer's backseat. "Thank you."
Ryan got into the other front seat. "You're staying in the hummer," he told her.
"Are you armed?" Horatio asked as he backed out.
"Of course. I even have my badge on me, Lieutenant. I never go anywhere without it. Regs say so." That got a single nod and Horatio sped off. He looked back at her. "I only waited ten minutes before I started paging her. So they've maybe had her for an hour," he said calmly.
"She can withstand that much torture. She has in the past," she agreed, calling the lab. "It's Stephni, put me in with Gallen. Now. Tiff got snatched from the mall with Ryan." She was put through to his home phone. "Where are we heading, Horatio?"
"We're going to the Feds this time. They've got Tiff. Could, yeah. Bring me mine." She hung up. "You've got backup."
"Thank you." He took a corner a bit sharply but traffic was rotten this time of day. It got them onto a secondary street that led more directly to their garage. "Will we need to wait on them?"
"Probably not. They should be there when you get there. Lab's closer."
"Point." He pulled into the parking garage and got out, letting Ryan follow him and nod at some of the DragonTech security people. "Subtly, please." That got nods and he got them into the elevator. One of the guards looked at him and he smirked. "Trade secret." They went up to the floor Stephni selected, watching her put on a bracelet and her vest. "Subtle," he reminded her.
"I'm probably the one they want. I'm their weapon's designer, Horatio." They got off and she led the way, knocking politely before walking into the office and punching someone. "You took my sister?" she demanded.
"She's creating illegal weapons."
"We're licensed, reputable weapons designers," Tiff complained. "Besides, *so* not my area, asshole. I deal with engines and testing equipment. Not weapons."
Stephni nodded. "She doesn't. I do." They gaped in horror at the people behind her. "Can you get her out of those cuffs please, Ryan?" He went to do that and helped her up. "Her things?"
"We made her drop them."
"We can go back and get them," Ryan assured her, walking her out with the majority of the guards following. A few agents gave them dirty looks. "Kidnaping people is wrong," he reminded them coldly. "Even by you guys." He got her back into the elevator and down to the garage. Then he paced until Horatio came off a few minutes later with everyone else. "We good?"
"We're fine, Mr. Wolfe. Thank you, people." That got a nod and the security force left, leaving him with the ladies and Ryan. "Sears?" Tiff nodded, still quiet. "Need medical attention?"
"Heavy bag," she said, looking at him. "Thank you. Can I go back up there and hit someone?"
"No," Steph said, climbing in beside her. She called Salette. "It's me. They made Tiff drop her stuff at Sears...." She grinned. "That works. Thank you." She hung up. "One of the security guys was sent to pick it up instead of here. You're coming back to the lab tonight."
"Of course I am." Ryan gave her a hug then closed the back door, getting into the passenger's side. Horatio got in to drive. "Thank you both, guys. It means a lot to me."
"What they did was wrong," Ryan reminded her. "Also very dumb. I know their group is ever-shrinking but it's still dumb of them to do." Horatio made an agreeing noise, backing out of the parking garage and heading to the lab. He looked back at her. "You're seriously okay?"
"I'm fine, pookie," she promised, smiling at him. "I have no idea why they thought I did weapons. They know better than that, or they used to."
"Maybe they heard you were present at the weapon's test," Horatio offered quietly, parking in front of the lab. He looked at her. "You'll stay inside?"
"I will be. Thanks, boys." She kissed them both on the cheek and got out, heading for the door. "Crap, they've got my ID!" she yelled. Then she kicked the building.
"We'll lock your old one out," Steph reminded her. She looked at Horatio. "It'll be okay. Just duck and cover if they come in. That's outside the law and they know it."
Horatio looked at her. "Have you thought about finding one you trust and letting them handle anything for you?" he suggested quietly.
"I don't know any I'd trust."
He nodded. "That could be a problem but there are some who are trustworthy. Mac may know some."
"I'll suggest that around. It's a good strategy." She smiled and slid out of the hummer, going to let them into the building. Security was already making her a new ID and the old one was locked out. "Sal?" she called. She came out of the computer lab. "Horatio suggested we find a spokesman from their own people. Someone who handles us exclusively."
She considered it. "It could ease some of the pressure on us but they'd hound him to death to see what we had."
"Still worth it to think about," Tiff said, leaning against a wall. One of the guards looked at her. "I'm fine."
"Good! Sister Nancy is upstairs waiting to look you over, Tiff." The guard handed her the new ID. "Still warm even," he offered with a smile.
"Thanks. Oh, Muffin's coming in and Ryan and Eric both gave me the names of some decent landlords with some secure places."
"We'll go with you," the guard promised. That got a smile. "If you can find an agent with a geek tie it might help."
She blinked at him. "Charlie," she said suddenly. He nodded with a grin for her. "I love you." She kissed him and walked off, going to call the older siblings in for a meeting. Mostly over the phone since so many of them were still in France babying their mother but that was fine. Less of them to baby and irritate her. "Guys, got a suggestion handed over by Lieutenant Caine," she announced once most everyone was present. "He suggested we find one *good* agent and use them to ward off the idiots who just had me."
"Are you all right?" her mother asked calmly.
"Fine. They were yelling and sneering. Thought I did weapons for some reason, Mom. How's Uncle Mal?"
"Good. His last nestmate is still whining greatly." You could hear the smile. "Tyler's finally found someone as bookish as he is and Malaki was most impressed with her and how protective the bookish one suddenly became."
"Good!" Salette said firmly. "We do have a suggestion on who but we'll need some research, Amanda."
"Okay, who?" she asked.
"Charlie's brother. The one who came in due to that one case where our receptionist went missing with classified materials."
"Interesting choice. They're already tied to us. He's been in the outer portion of the labs. How much access were you thinking?" Amanda asked.
"Up to you. It's your toy company," Tiff reminded her. "But we could refer them to him and let them badger him for a bit. It might keep the rest of us safer."
"I can only hope so," she admitted. "I'll talk with him later. You're sure you're all right?" Amanda demanded.
"I'm fine," Tiff agreed. "Ryan and Horatio both came to my rescue. Ryan realized I was missing when I sent him off to the food court to nibble."
Her sister Salette smacked her on the arm for that. "You don't go anywhere without a guard! You know that!"
"I know," she sighed. "It's not like it's my fault my bonded had a car crash!" She sat down. "Anyway, I'm fine, they're very good. The guys looked very scared of Horatio. Ryan can pick handcuff locks by the way. I thought we should offer that suggestion to the group as a whole."
"It would at least ease some of the pressure," Amanda agreed. "I'll talk to him later tonight. You let someone baby you and get some rest. I'll tell Miffy you're fine. She's on my couch at the moment since her father's now disappeared. Anyone got any ideas?"
"Mexico?" one of the brothers joked.
"I wish," Tiff said dryly. "He was due to marry his ho right after the divorce was finalized."
"I'll keep that in mind," she agreed, hanging up. The others stayed to talk for a while but she had something she needed to do. She pulled open her phone book. "Muffin, honey, your mom's fine," she called.
"Why wouldn't she be?"
"Asshole feds," she called as she dialed. "One of the bastard feds kidnaped her from Sears. They found her fairly quickly and she's pouting about having to be babied."
"Really?" a male voice said over the phone. "One of my guys?"
"She's in Miami, but basically. You know that group that came to bother you?" she asked, sitting down and getting comfortable. He made an assenting noise. "It was suggested we should have someone who knows and we *trust* they can go to for verification of rumors. You're already cleared due to the two cases you've worked with us plus your brother, Don. So it was suggested by our security people that we use you and let them badger you."
He was silent for a few minutes. "You mean like switching jobs?"
"No, I mean like you're one of their own. You we trust not to touch stuff, steal stuff, sell stuff, or otherwise hurt us. You're one of their own so they can come to you for questions, concerns, and maybe, just maybe, you can help keep them from dying the next time they try to break into the lab."
He was quiet for a few more minutes. "Get with me in person, Amanda."
"I was going to offer you dinner if you weren't busy."
"Unfortunately I am," he admitted. "I hate sniper cases," he said with a small sigh on the end. "How about tomorrow afternoon?"
"I should be free." She looked in her book. "Nope, I've got a two o'clock appointment with your brother. Checking on how the Teacher system is working for him. I know he's found a few other math geeks who think he's God."
"I can probably be there then," he admitted. He snickered. "They do?"
"One's been putting in email bowing at his feet and things, Don. She's twelve and she's got the most major crush on him," she offered with a small smile. He laughed at that. "So, tomorrow?"
"Would be fine, Amanda. It might help," he agreed. "Thanks. Who got hit this time?"
"Tiff. They decided she was in the weapons department for some reason. Snatched her out of Sears. Fortunately some of the officers down there we trust. They came in for a weapons demonstration recently. We even found someone in New York that we trust."
"I'm impressed. I'll see you tomorrow. Charlie, we're still meeting with Amanda tomorrow, right?" he called. He laughed. "He's got this confused look. Amanda, Teacher system lady?" He snickered. "Now he's grinning and nodding. I'll see you then."
"Let us know if we can help, Epps. Not like we don't have a lot of brains on call in the family." She hung up and leaned back, looking out at her niece. "You good?"
"Is Miami going to be safe?"
"It is," she admitted, getting up to go hug her niece. "It's very safe. We've got people testing stuff in one of the labs down there and a few officers who know us. Including Sal's research guinea pig Ryan. He's an officer in Patrol, trying to get into the lab." That got a smile from her niece. "He's the one your mother sent away so she could get him a birthday present; he figured out she was missing. Went after her with the head of the lab down there. You'll be perfectly safe, Miffy."
She nodded. "Thanks, Auntie. How's Grandma?"
"Better. She's got Uncle Mal back. They used to fight all the time but he's good to her. Just frustrated that she's an opinionated woman with attitude now and then. Plus she works so he can't have on-demand sex."
That got a snicker. "I can't imagine Grandma having sex."
"Sweetheart, she traumatized us during the last century it was so loud and constant," she assured her. She stole a bite of bread. "We nearly on for dinner?"
"Ten more minutes. Go clean up." She nodded, going to do that. "Does this mean I get to pick on Uncle Studly about being less than perfectly built?"
"Sure, he could use the ego breaker," she called from the bathroom. "Made a few of the CSI in for the weapons thing drool."
"Why? There's better in the family."
"Yes, but they haven't met them yet, dear. Besides, he's still bald too."
"Eww!" She finished cooking and put their plates on the table, then got some soda to drink. "He needs to quit doing that. It's not worth it. He needs his hair back. It makes him prettier and then he can get laid too."
"Very true. He could use it," she agreed, coming out to sit down and eat. "Grilled cheese?"
"Not like I'm taking the cooking classes on Teacher."
"Point." She dug in, eating slowly and enjoying it. Her niece was so much like her mother now and then.
Horatio walked in the next morning and found the same agents in his office. "Considering kidnaping others?" he asked, putting his cup of coffee down onto the desk so he could look at them. He found his boss there. "They did not have a warrant."
"I heard. They like to kidnap the lab personnel and interrogate them for no reason."
"They also like to break in to steal things," Horatio agreed. He looked at the agents again. "Why are you here?"
"You led an invasion force into our building," one said.
"No, we didn't invade." He gave him a look. "You still kidnaped someone."
"We can have a post-dated warrant in place within minutes," he sneered. "Then we can arrest you for that as well as the breaking and entering and the leading the invasion force."
Horatio dialed his office phone. "Donnie please?" He was connected over. "Donnie, I need you in my office immediately. Yes, that situation. Thank you." He hung up and looked at them again. "We'll see won't we." His boss looked at him. "A new citizen of Miami was kidnaped. I was asked to help retrieve her. The fact that her kidnapers were agents makes no difference."
"It's still not very politically helpful," the Chief pointed out dryly. He looked over as someone knocked and came in. "Donald."
"Chief." He shook his hand then handed Horatio the papers he'd need. "Here you go, Horatio. Arrest warrants for the agents involved. Judge Moras agreed it was wrong of them to do. Also, their Internal Affair's person was following me for some reason." He nodded outside. "Got handcuffs?"
"This is an outrage!" one of the agents shouted. "He broke into our building!"
"No, I didn't break. I have the codes," Horatio told him. He got given horrified looks. "Anything else, gentlemen? Officers!" he called. A few came jogging in. "Please execute these arrest warrants for kidnaping a researcher." He handed them over.
"You do and your career is over," one of them hissed.
Horatio looked at him. "I have it on good authority I can work with them." The angry one lunged at him and the officer caught him and put him onto the ground. "Thank you, Officer Jones." He looked at the other one. "Are you going to add resisting arrest to yours as well?"
"We do have your arrest warrant."
"That's fine. I'm sure the judge will side with me since I was rescuing someone you kidnaped."
The Chief coughed. "Did you announce yourself, Horatio?"
"I didn't have to, sir. I wasn't planning on making an arrest at that time. Merely removing the young woman from their custody. Their security forces did back us up so they could remove her to a safe locale. The other officer with me was with her when she got taken."
"He was in the food court," the handcuffed one sneered.
"So he said. He was still shopping with her when she got taken. He's the reporter of the kidnaping."
"Don't worry, he's safe, Horatio. You were in charge," the Chief reminded him.
"I was. It was necessary. Not like they had a warrant or reason to ask her anything about a field she doesn't practice." The other guy growled. "She designs engines and new x-ray equipment. Not weapons."
"They do weapons," he sneered, struggling as he was cuffed.
"Out in the lab in California," he agreed. "Not here. The only weapons around here were personal sidearms and one in for demonstration that has since been moved back to the warehouse in England. Or so I'm told."
"We can have them declared terrorists."
"You can try," Horatio corrected. "You have no proof that they are or that they constitute a threat to the government or any city in the United States. Even the secret judges won't let that one fly, boys. Please take them out of here."
"Of course, sir." The officers drug them off to an interrogation room. Being Feds they'd have to be processed specially.
Horatio looked outside, giving the stunned looking agent out there a look. "In here now." He walked in, pointing and starting to open his mouth. "They kidnaped a young lady from Sears last night because her sisters do some legitimate weapons design work for a licensed, well known company. Then they started to pressure her about things she doesn't personally work with."
"DragonTech," he moaned. Horatio nodded. "Who?"
"Tiff. Our on-site support tech for the new electron magnifying microscope and some new hummer software."
"Oh." He sighed and nodded. "Okay. They kidnaped her?" Horatio nodded. "How did you get her back?"
"Myself, the reporting officer, her sister, and their guards all drove into the parking garage, got on the elevator, and went to gather her from the office they had her stashed in. Then we left with a warning that such activities were not allowed in Miami."
"I got the arrest warrant this morning," Donald said, handing over a copy. "She did agree to press charges." He looked at his favorite witness. "She also said that Amanda's taking your suggestion?"
"I suggested that they find one agent that they could trust, one who would not try to break into the building to steal things or to harm them, and let him have access so such paranoid people can go to him instead of trying to break into the lab and die from it."
"Which is fairly reasonable. They'd listen to one of their own," the Chief agreed as he stood up. "Horatio, I do not like this."
"I'm sorry, sir, but this time it was necessary. Next time I'll let SWAT handle it." That got him a look. "It was necessary to rescue the young woman. The last time they used torture."
"Fine. Do not do it again and if one of them gets taken, warn me! They woke me up at five." Horatio held out his coffee cup with a small smile. "Have my own, thanks." He walked off shaking his head.
Horatio looked at the new fed. "So, would you like them in your custody or ours?"
"Let me check with the boss. This is going to get messy. There's about ten people who want to break into DragonTech and destroy them." He went outside to make the call. "Sir," he said, standing up straighter. "I did not know that you had called the Director, sir. Yes, sir, those agents were arrested by Miami-Dade's crime lab just a few moments ago. They're presently in custody. Kidnaping and resisting arrest, sir. I'm not kidding, sir. They took her from Sears. I do have a copy, yes, sir." He read it over quickly. "Including a sworn statement that they did not say she was under arrest, had no warrant, and did not identify themselves as agents. Her deposition was included." He listened. "The present question is do we want them or can Miami-Dade have them, sir?" He frowned at the blustering.
"Sir, they did break the law. They did kidnap the young lady. There's a statement here from mall security, there's a statement included from another officer. There's a statement in here from Lieutenant Caine. These are the same sorts who try to break into their lab to steal things and end up dying. This way they're only discredited and banned from working for the government ever again. They have suggested that one of our agents be a liaison to those sort. Apparently the head of DragonTech liked that idea." He nodded. "I can do that, sir. Thank you." He hung up and went to take custody of them once the paperwork got faxed over. He handed it to the waiting detectives. "I'm very sorry they bothered your citizens."
"So are they if they do it again," Frank warned him. He let the officers drag them down to the Fed IAB guy's car. Then he went to check on Horatio. "You good?"
"Mentally swearing about idiot agents," he admitted, looking at him. "You?"
"They decided to kidnap Tiff without a warrant." Frank moaned, clutching the doorframe. "Exactly. So we went to bring her back." An officer brought in a letter. "From?"
"The Chief, sir."
Horatio opened it and read the note, then smiled. "I'll let him know. Thank him for me." That got a nod and the officer left. He dialed his phone. "Sergeant Pierce, I need Officer Wolfe in the lab. The Chief is having him transferred. No, don't tell him, just have him report to me please. Thank you." He hung up and smiled at Frank. "He said better to have all the problems in one department. Easier to watch us all." Frank walked off snickering. Ryan walked in and saluted him. "The next time you salute me I had better be handing you a gold shield, Ryan." He handed over the letter with a fond look.
Ryan looked at the letter then at him. "Really?"
"It appears so."
Ryan squealed and hugged him, then blushed and backed off. "Sorry, Lieutenant."
"Try Horatio," he ordered.
"Horatio then. Let me change?"
"Please do. You'll be fairly uncomfortable crawling around on scenes in that. Report back to me when you're done. Do you have a field kit?"
"In the car." He headed back to his locker room to pack his locker and change, grinning at the guys giving him odd looks. "I'm being moved to the lab." That got him clapped on the back, congratulated, and his partner said it was about time, this way he could have someone less stiff with him. But he didn't care! He was going to the lab! He called Tiff. "The Chief had me transferred!" He hung up and put his bag into his trunk, next to his very highly stocked kit, then he drove over to the lab, bringing both bags inside. "Locker assignment, Horatio?"
"This way, Mr. Wolfe." He led him down there to find him one. He found Eric in there changing his shirt. "Have an accident?"
"No, I was getting water and DC had an accident," he complained. "With his cranberry juice."
"It'll be fine, Eric. It washes and so do you."
"My dry cleaner has a really good hand at getting stains out," Ryan offered.
Eric looked at him. "Back again?" he taunted with a smirk. "Quit staring, Wolfe."
"Not, Delko. I'm not like that. Thanks for the offer though." Eric looked stunned. He grinned sweetly. "Just because I don't often date doesn't mean I'm gay." Horatio smothered a laugh and opened the locker for him, putting his name on some tape on it. "Thank you, Horatio."
"Welcome, Mr. Wolfe." He watched him unpack efficiently, glancing at Eric. "The Chief had him sent over."
"Less work for me," Eric decided. "More time to date and find my mother a new daughter-in-law." He closed his locker and walked out buttoning up his shirt. "Newbie in the lab!" he yelled as he walked.
Speed's cackle said it all.
It was time to play with the rookie.
Horatio led Ryan back to the main area, finding most everyone peeking out. "This is Ryan Wolfe. The Chief had him transferred in today. Speed?" He gave him a mean, cruel, evil smirk. "Don't you dare," he warned. "You drive him off you'll have to pull his shift too."
"Crap," he muttered. "He mine?"
"Only if you can play nicely." Horatio gave him a look. Speed shrugged. "Fine, Ryan, I'm sure you remember Speed. Tell me if the hazing gets too bad."
"I will, right after I start picking back, Horatio. Thank you for this chance."
"Try your best, Ryan. That's what I want." He patted him on the back and Ryan walked over to where Speed was waiting.
"Hi. Are you going to proposition me like Delko did?"
"No, but if Tiff would give me one of the new engines for my bike I'd make him beg for her pleasure."
Ryan snickered. "She's not got the watching thing going on. That's Sal."
"Good to know." He let him into Trace. "Let's see how good you are, Wolfe." Ryan gloved up and got to work with him, keeping up pretty well.
Horatio went back to his office to send his boss a letter of thanks. He had needed another tech. It cut down on their overtime hours. When Stephni came in a few hours later she was snickering in joy at the duo in the lab. Speed was telling him how he should be attached at the hips to him and be bowing at his feet. She pointed and Horatio nodded. "I know. It's cute and Ryan can hold his own." He smiled at her. "Tiff all right?"
"Just fine. You really had those agents arrested?" He nodded. "Thank you."
"What they did was wrong," he reminded her. "I'm sure they'll at least be fired. If not, then we'll have to make sure they leave Miami permanently."
She smirked evilly at him. "Don't wish them on New York or LA."
"I'm sure the head agent out there can straighten them out should they be allowed to remain on the job," he said with an evil look at her. She giggled and hugged him then went to check on the hummer's processors. She was going to steal one that weekend to update and she needed to know which one she was using as a test.
Frank looked at the very pale woman who was in the back of the hummer. "Work with Tiff?" he suggested.
She looked. "I'm Stephni. The one they got Tiff confused with. Because I'm so blonde," she joked dryly. "Tiff won't even dye her hair my shade of black." He grinned at that. "But I'm helping with the hummer test. We've got to figure out which one we're snatching this weekend."
"If the nightshift people can't use them, you'll have to take Horatio's. They get all the others."
She looked at him. "He'd pout."
"He will," he agreed with a small smile. "But if that's how you're playing it...."
"Good point." She climbed out and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, cutie." She walked inside, going to talk to Horatio. "Is yours the only one that night shift doesn't get?" He moaned and nodded. "Then we'll have to do the test equipment in yours, Horatio. Maybe Speed'll give you a ride all weekend?" He gave her a look and she grinned. "We'll have to snatch it to do the computer upgrades, Red."
"If you must. Don't adjust anything else."
"Of course not." She beamed. "I'll come get it Friday and drop you off at your place before taking it to the lab." He nodded at that plan. "Good." She walked off, going to look at his. It had some of the older processors since he didn't use it that often in the field these days. It could use the upgrade. Then he'd have a greater hummer. Even if she did say so herself.
Amanda looked at the two men in front of her, and the one off to the side lurking. "Larry, did you want to teach a class?" she teased.
"I would never presume to even ask," he said, backing further away.
She pulled him closer and looked at him. "Tell me now," she ordered patiently. He smiled and nodded shyly. "Then we can do that. You can help Doctor Wallendorf from Yale and Doctor Oxendale from Cambridge. Charlie suggested you and had you cleared already." He beamed at that. "This does mean you'll have to be online a lot more often however."
He pouted. "I don't like electronic tethers."
"It's not that hard," Charlie assured him. "I do mine in about an hour a night, Larry. Some questions, a few students who give ideas."
"I heard a few were worshiping you," Don teased his brother.
Charlie looked at him. "They don't know me, Don. They can't bow at my feet until they do." He looked at his buddy again, getting a smile. "Plus one twelve-year-old genius who believes I'm the right hand of God. She's looking more and more like a quantum physics person really."
"I'll let you get into mine," Charlie promised, looking at Amanda, who nodded and handed him a folder. "Thank you." He grinned. "So, how am I doing?"
"That's what I was going to ask you, Charlie."
"I'm loving this. I wish some of our distance education were done this way," he admitted. "Its a lot easier. The formula come through very clearly in the formatted emails. The one time they didn't one of the other teachers taught me how to click the little box that allowed it. They're great and that one teacher from Yale, Nick, is a very nice helper for me."
"He's a big brother. Mom's stand-in at La Mer when she got taken." Don looked at her. "Asshole who wanted her." That got a single nod. "So... You're going to sign up for more classes?" she teased.
"I'm only doing two."
"Yes, but you can keep those on there for later students and do two more if you want. We have some teachers who have twenty and thirty classes in the system." He smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Charlie. Our last math person was kind of creepy and dour. Didn't like anyone at all."
"I heard she had a heart attack." Amanda nodded. "From this?"
"She was forced to go to the grocery store and interact with others. She hated it so much it popped a hole in her heart."
"Ah." He nodded. "Some people are scared of other people." He shifted some things around on his desk. "So, why ask Don to come?"
"Because it was suggested that we have a liaison officer within the FBI. Someone that the idiots who break-in can go to instead of dying when they try to break in or getting arrested when they try to steal someone." Charlie looked at him. "Tiff."
"Is she all right? She was always very nice to me," he offered. "Even if she does call me Curly all the time."
"She's fine. Horatio, down in Miami's lab, went in to rescue her from the assholes. Had them arrested this morning according to Steph." She grinned. "He doesn't like politics that much." Don snickered at that. "He doesn't." She shrugged. "It was thought that you've been in the lab, we've cleared you already to a minor degree, plus we adore your brother and a few of the siblings would love to steal him for their own help in the labs. And other things," she admitted at Charlie's blush. She looked at Don again. "So, we were wondering if you'd be our liaison person."
"Any more paycheck involved?"
"Don't know yet," she admitted. "I have worked out that you'd be allowed limited access to the labs. You'd get to go into the weapons section and if you needed to make sure who we sold something to that could be arranged. Basically all the irritating crap I get from those guys in DC and on the floor below you would go to you instead." She pulled out a file. "These are the federal bumps we've gotten this year so far. Just at this lab. Not counting the one in Miami yesterday or the ones in the Chicago lab since it's a special subset and that's a whole different matter that's handled locally through one of their officers there." She grinned at him. "Usually we'd require a marriage to give anyone this sort of access, but they all say you work too hard and you wouldn't like handcuffs enough."
Don looked at her and grinned. "No comment." He went back to looking it over. "They really do bother you guys."
"That's because we're not in it for the quick buck, we're in it to design and advance things," she pointed out, leaning against a table after checking it for things. Amita, Charlie's girlfriend walked in. "Come on in, sweetie. I'm Amanda Disher, I'm the person who got Charlie hooked into the Teacher program."
"Pleasure to meet you," she said, shaking her hand. "Adding more classes for him?"
"If he wants. We can leave up his old ones and let whoever take them." She smiled at that. "We also want to let some asshole Feds bother Don instead of us and I'm seeing if Larry would like to teach as well."
"It's a lot of fun, Larry," Charlie said, leading him over to his computer so he could log in and let him see. "That's Teacher."
"It's an artificial intelligence?"
Amanda looked at him. "Don't spread that around, but yes."
He smiled at her. "How far along is it?"
"She's also changing clothes into an evening gown," Charlie said.
She sighed and pulled out her phone to call someone. "Someone go slap Mertzburg. Evening gown. Thank you." She hung up. "The one at St. Sebastian's will be stopped," she said with a grin. "Quickly."
"St. Sebastian's?" Amita asked. "Isn't that in Scotland?"
Amanda nodded. "It is. It's also eleven miles from the nearest road. He's bored so he's hacking Teacher to get some play from a pretty girl." Amita snickered at that. "He is."
"He is," Charlie agreed. Don snickered at that. "Last time he put her in a bikini and had her purring at everyone. Can't he do that just for his?"
"We won't let him have that sort of access." She came over to fix the outfit for his personal use. "There, that's how you change her attire for yourself and only yourself."
"Thank you." He changed her to something more demure and set it then got back to showing Larry how things worked. "I've uploaded video lectures from the distance learning program," he offered.
"How wide are the offerings? I know Doctor Oxendale teaches general and spatial physics at Cambridge." He watched as Charlie pulled up a course list, nearly swooning in delight. "You can get credit for them?"
"You can," she agreed. "A lot of the older people in the system use them for continuing education or their end degree. We've recently graduated two CSIs as well." She looked at Don, who was giving the two geeks a fond look. "One of the new guys in the system nearly slept with Tiff on sight when he got his Teacher computer."
"Some people are like that," he agreed, handing it back. "As long as it doesn't take too much energy or take me away from cases."
"If it does, tell me and I'll assign you an assistant. I've got two new little ones coming into the company soon." Don nodded at that. "They might be able to help you as well."
"Sure. I can stand that. I'll let it be known to the people on the next floor down later." She hugged him with a little squeal. He patted her on the back and she let go. "Anything else we can do for you?"
"Have Charlie teach this summer on Teacher?"
"If he's not scheduled for anything. Charlie, any summer classes?"
"No," he said absently, smiling at a message from one of his students. "I did give my chaos theory student the generalities of your case and she agreed with my analysis. She also said that the academy should make a special track for people like me and her so we can have full credit and another paycheck."
"Then you'd never see the inside of your office here, Charlie," he pointed out, grinning at him. Amanda giggled and packed up things. "Let me know when you need me."
"For now, let it be known and I'll spread that around. Thank you, Don." She kissed him on the cheek, weathering the shocked looks from the two agents walking in. "Hi, boys."
"Miss Disher," one of them said respectfully. "Someone break into the lab again?"
"No, but Don's agreed to play semi-nicely with the agents who keep trying so I don't have to kill any more of you."
He nodded. "Works for me. I'll help if he needs it." He grinned. "I did like the Sisters I ran into doing aid missions in Afghanistan. They were always very nice, even if we did have to save that one repeatedly for going off on one of the local warlords." She nodded at that. He smiled. "Can we borrow Charlie from you?"
"Go ahead. He's talking Larry into signing up to teach a class for us."
"Teach a joint class, boys," Don ordered, standing up. "We have anything?"
"Not a thing," he admitted. "Charlie?"
"The analysis only narrowed it down to those five points," he admitted, looking over. "I wish I could get more specific but we're missing a variable. We don't know enough about the sniper." Amanda handed over a file with a wink and strolled out. He looked at it then at Don. "They have profilers too?"
He took the report. "Apparently they have very good ones with military or other experience." He saw the name and frowned. "I know that name from somewhere." He called their other agent. "Look up Donnally Quients please? I got handed a profile on our sniper by them." He waited while she did that, both eyebrows going up. "Huh. Thanks, Megan. Yeah, they're here, we'll be back shortly." He hung up. "They're from SARC."
"The big, underground criminal syndicate in Europe?" Cody asked.
Don nodded. "Apparently. So they'd know."
"How does someone from DragonTech know them?"
Charlie looked over. "One of her sisters is an administrative person over there." He went back to working with Larry, who was very impressed.
"Don't let that take time away from Megan, Larry," Don warned. "She'll pout." He walked out with his agents. "Come see me when you're free, Charlie."
"Sure, Don. I'll look that over to put it into my analysis and redo it."
"Thanks." He walked off shaking his head. "Well, that makes some sense," he admitted. "She's probably one of the ones who didn't want to work for White Knight."
"You know about White Knight?" Colby asked.
Don nodded. "Yeah, heard about it in Quantico. Great guys from what I hear but a bit fussy and odd."
"So you'll probably get along just fine," the other guy said with a smirk. "Office?"
"Please. I've got to stop in on someone then I'll be up there." That got a nod and they headed out in their various cars. Don walked into the office underneath his, looking at the agent in there. "There's an FYI you should hear."
"You've been talking to Miss Disher," he said bluntly.
"Yeah and she's going to give me the access to answer all the irritating questions that you want to know so you quit taking her out of the lab."
"Which one are you marrying?"
"I'm not." He gave him a look. "She likes Charlie."
"Ah. Geek love." He nodded. "That's fine. See if you can find out anything about their new laser system."
"Laser system?" That got a nod. "Aren't they myths?"
"They showed it to some CSI in Miami recently."
"Oh. If I can. I doubt they're selling it. They won't let anything out unless it's not that far above what we have."
"I know that, but we still worry about people getting into their warehouses."
"As a few stupid people have proved, it's nearly impossible." He walked off, leaving it there. Though he did email and ask her that. She sent back video of the destruction tests they had done. It was a very sweet system but even the thought of some people getting it was going to make him sick to his stomach. He would definitely help protect their labs if they had more stuff like that.