Chapter Thirteen: Too Personal
Reggy arrived at work the following day to find the whole place humming with barely concealed anger and frustration which was enough to bring his good mood down a couple of notches.
"What's going on?" he asked a glowering Greg as soon as he reached his desk, removing his jacket as he spoke. Greg shoved a cup of coffee towards him which Reggy accepted with a small grateful smile. Since he'd started dating Kriss his visits to the coffee house with Greg had become a rarity since they now tended to make their own way to work. Reggy felt a slight stab of guilt for letting their tradition slip and silently vowed to make more of an effort. Right now he was more interested in the ominous mood of his colleagues and he fixed Greg with an expectant look as he sat in his chair, eyebrows raised.
Greg took a mouthful of his own coffee, contemplating the dark brown liquid thoughtfully before looking up to answer. "There's been news handed down from on high," he began, his lip curling slightly. "It seems the feds have decided to completely take over the Harris bombing case. We've been left high and dry."
Reggy's brow creased into a frown as the magnitude of this news sank in. He knew the feds liked to be in control but to take the case over completely? It was an insult to every cop in the Harris PD who'd spent every waking moment trying to put this guy away. It was a steaming pile of horse shit.
His anger must have shown on his face because Greg let out a short mirthless laugh. "Yeah, that was pretty much everyone else's expression when the chief told us. It's a fucking joke man."
"Did he give any explanation?"
Greg shook his head. "He just said that the case has become too complicated for the department to handle. That's code for you had your chance and you screwed up, if you ask me."
Reggy came to a decision and stood up abruptly.
"Uh-oh, I know that expression," Greg said warily. "Don't do it buddy."
Reggy ignored him and walked towards the chief's office, coming to a stop in front of the receptionist's desk. Regardless of orders, he wasn't going to take this lying down.
Jan, a pretty but no-nonsense kind of woman, was in the middle of a phone-call and held a finger up to him to acknowledge his presence and ask him to wait a moment. After a few moments of listening to her particularly dull conversation Reggy's patience was wearing thin and he decided to take matters into his own hands. He walked around her desk, ignoring her indignant splutter, and raised his hand to knock on the door.
Reggy winced slightly. It was widely known within the department that you could tell what sort of mood the chief was in by the first few words he spoke to you. Judging by his loud, clipped, tone this morning, he was a dangerously close to losing his temper.
Reggy hesitated slightly but then he thought about the two police officers who'd been killed in the skyway explosions and it strengthened his resolve. Grasping the door handle firmly he turned it and entered the chief's office, or the fortress of doom as Greg liked to call it.
The office was light, spacious and deceptively welcoming. Reggy always got the impression that it was an attempt to lull any unwary visitor into a false sense of security, like you were simply going to visit a favorite uncle.
There was a comfy looking, if somewhat dilapidated, couch off to one side which was flanked by two leafy plants, no doubt added after a report on the psychological benefits of having living plants in offices was published recently. A large desk dominated the center of the room and the wall above it was covered in old photos of proud and haughty dignitaries bestowing various awards on the department. Two large black chairs sat in front of the desk, inviting you to sit and relax.
The chair behind the desk was occupied by a large man in glasses, his face tense as his dark eyes skimmed over a document in front of him. Reggy cleared his throat loudly and Taliesin glanced up at him briefly before returning to the page he was reading.
"What is it Kistoff? I'm incredibly busy this morning."
"Busy giving everything we've been working on over to the feds?" Reggy asked brashly.
Taliesin's head snapped up and, for a moment, Reggy feared he'd over-stepped the mark, bracing himself for an onslaught of fury. However, Taliesin simply leans back in his chair and surveyed him calmly for several moments.
"You're not one to beat about the bush are you Kistoff? I've always liked that about you." He nodded firmly, as if agreeing to something he hadn't said out loud. "Fair enough, I'll extend you the same courtesy. Whether we like it or not, and believe me I don't like it one bit, we've been ordered to hand this bomber case over to the feds and step back."
"On what grounds?" Reggy demanded, his temper rising once more. "This department has been working its ass off trying to catch this guy and we've lost good men in the process."
"I'm well aware of that but the feds think they can handle it more efficiently on their own."
Reggy met his gaze steadily, determined to get to the bottom of the matter. "With all due respect sir, we both know that's bullshit. What's really going on here?"
There was silence as Taliesin got up and moved to the window, Reggy's eyes following his movements as he waited for some kind of explanation. When Taliesin turned and spoke again, his voice was much quieter.
"What I'm about to tell you cannot leave this room, understood?"
Reggy nodded, feeling more confused by the minute.
"Did you hear about the lead we got not long after the Skyway bombing?" Taliesin asked, waiting for Reggy to nod again before continuing. "That was the closest we've got to catching the sonofabitch but he was somehow alerted to our intended raid and managed to evade us. That raised a lot of worrying questions I can tell you."
He walked back to his desk and sat down, gesturing for Reggy to do the same. Once they were both seated Taliesin resumed his explanation.
"The feds took his place apart, dusted every surface for fingerprints, but the whole apartment had been completely wiped clean and there was still nothing to identify him. Needless to say he'd given false details to the landlord. He had, however, left a message which the feds found a few days later when they were analyzing the various items they had recovered from his apartment. It was a medal, just like that one in fact."
He pointed to a old photo behind him in which he was receiving the medal for distinguished service from the mayor. Reggy stared wide-eyed at the photo, the significance of this new piece of information not lost on him. "He used to be a cop?"
"Not just any cop, a damn good cop; they don't give out those medals very often. That's not all though. The feds discovered that the second bomb in the Skyway didn't explode late because of a mistake in it's assembly as they first suspected, it was purposely rigged to detonate much later than the first."
"Wh..." Reggy stopped mid-question and his eyes widened. "The bastard was targeting the emergency services. Why?"
Taliesin's expression was grim as he shrugged. "He obviously left the force under bad circumstances and is holding one helluva grudge. He wants revenge and he doesn't care who he hurts in the process."
"I still don't understand why we can't assist the feds on the case. Surely that gives us more of a reason to catch him; it's personal now."
"Exactly," Taliesin replied with a shake of the head, "judgment is bound to be clouded. A more worrying matter has been raised however. The feds have reason to believe that someone within the department is protecting this asshole and we have no idea who. The only reason I'm telling you all this is that I know you couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the tip-off seeing as you knew nothing about it."
"Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence," Reggy muttered, sarcasm creeping into his tone of voice.
"Don't take it personally," Taliesin said, managing a small smile. "It's just a case of trust no one at the moment. That's the real reason the feds have taken over the case. We have a traitor in our midst."
Quite a crowd had gathered outside Taliesin's office by the time Reggy emerged, all anxious to find out what he'd learned. He looked at his many friends and colleagues briefly, ignoring their inquiring glances, before walking back to his desk where Greg, Kip, and Kenney were waiting.
"Should we start packing your things?" Greg asked as Reggy slumped into his seat.
"No," Reggy replied, looking through the new pile of paperwork that had accumulated over his day off.
"He wasn't mad?" Kip asked in surprise.
"Oh he was, just not enough to fire me."
"So...," Kenney prompted when he showed no signs of continuing, "what did he say about the case?"
Reggy's hand stilled and he looked up at his friends, wishing he could confide in them. Whatever Taliesin thought, Reggy knew for certain that his three best friends would never betray their brothers on the force, let alone allow someone to put Kriss in danger. He had given his word however and he was conscious of the fact that others were also listening.
"Just that the feds think they can handle it more efficiently on their own. We don't have any choice but to accept it."