Operation: Shell Game
Operation: Shell Game
“Jackie… I mean it”, the scrambled voice spoke adamantly into her earpiece.
“I love you too, honey. It’s just that I’ve got a time frame thing going on here…” the raven haired woman replied into the air, “you know how the child can be.”
“Er, uh…. Roger that. Make sure you pick up milk and bread,” replied the scrambled voice, suddenly unsure of both the conversation and the security level.
“Kisses,” Jacqueline Vaughn said ending the call with a tap to her bag. The tall and slender woman moved gracefully from the sedan onto the crowded sidewalk of Manhattan’s business district. Beneath the darkened sunglasses an eye looked at the camera view of that which trailed behind her.
It was the same 3 piece suit from Wednesday. Amazing how the same stock broker can be reading the Journal at 10am one day and 2pm two days later. He must be the only trader that works from street corners, she thought, mildly amused. Jacqueline felt a rush. She hoped it would get down to the physical. Many years of martial training and she still felt the rush.
Jacqueline strode into the End of the Grind coffee shop and slid into the booth at table 12. Slipping her laptop out of its bag, she quickly powered up.
“Subject has entered the coffee shop and engaged link”, came a secure line communication into the ear of the 3 piece suit.
“On it. Maintaining scout. Your turn,” replied the man in the suit quickly as he moved to the opposite side of the street.
The white box truck that unloaded a delivery of fresh fruit to the restaurant a block away from the coffee shop was suddenly spiking with keystrokes. The lag wasn’t evident to the wifi users at the coffee shop… except the lone occupant of table 12.
Boys… you’ll have to be faster than that, thought Jacqueline. Uploading the data was brisk.
“Subject has established connections with 5 users. Exclude business links. 150 foot radius. Encryption heavy. Confirm count,” came a hurried voice into the suit’s ear.
“Count is 4. No shops on either side. 2nd floor is unknown,” spoke the suit.
Suddenly, 3 men in the cafe pack their laptops quickly looking at each other nervously and head for the door.
“3 connections terminated. Do you have something?” spoke a voice from the truck.
“We’ve got movement. 3 casually dressed men. Stick out like thumbs. 3 different directions. We need legs. Palm devices in hand. Advise,” hurried the man in the suit.
Quick switches from different communications are barked from the truck. The man in the 3 piece suit doesn’t move.
“Subject is on the move. Rear exit. Sans link,” said the suit.
“Retrieve link. Take down the 4th user,” commanded the truck.
The suit moved into the coffee shop.
Jacqueline exited the building and paused at the rear door. Her blood was pumping heavily. Her orders were to move on; to move to the cab 1 block over and get inside. She wanted to stay. To seek vengeance. It wasn’t clear that this was the people responsible. Did it matter? Shouldn’t all of them pay?
A van opens in front of a man finding a path along his palm device. He is quickly thrown in and the van speeds down an alleyway.
“Where are you going? What file did she give you?” a voice demands.
“Who? What?” came a scared and stuttered reply.
The laptop and palm device were ripped from the bewildered man. Mad searches began on the laptop.
“Palm indicates 559 9th Avenue,” reported a man from inside the van, “what is at 559 9th Avenue?!”
“Nothing. I’m geocaching,” sputtered the captured man.
The suit went to the empty laptop. The 4th was harmless. Hadn’t looked at him since he opened the door. The laptop was dead. Hard drive stripped was a pullout.
“Shop and link are not factors. Request permission to pursue,” reported the suit.
The floor above the coffee shop was silent. Shadows blocked out the sun as shapes swifter and more silent than a stream spread out.
Shouldn’t all of them pay?
“The top is clean,” spoke the man emerging from a shadow on the second floor.
All of them?
“Request permission to pursue,” the suit repeated with expectancy.
The suit burst through the rear door. The alleyway was empty. The suit ran to the next street. The crowds blocked all vision. The man in the 3 piece suit, discouraged and disheveled, stood straight and tightened his tie.
“Subject at large.”
Beneath the bustle of rush hour crush, the street musician collected the offerings in his case. Barely in view through the bustle, the guitarist hits a button on the object hidden in the lining of the case.