|USF Personal Log|
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JPL: Featuring Captain Michael Holden as Devon Strong and the Mysterious Dark Figure and Counselor N'Tazzia as Matthew Bradley Esq. and Tiyan.
(This continues directly after "Difficult Duty")
......Matthew clicked over to the office intercom.
“Devon! Stop doing whatever it is that you are working on and get in here NOW!"
Matthew could be a patient and understanding boss, but today he was feeling neither patient or understanding. He was used to hearing a prompt reply from his clerk, so the silence that followed was unexpected and irksome.
"DEVON!" He shouted into the speaker. "My office! NOW!"
Still he got no reply from his clerk. This is totally unacceptable. Matthew thought. He commed the office manager.
"Tiyan, where's Devon?" He half demanded, half asked.
"I'm not sure Mr. Bradley, he was in very early this morning. Would you like me to try his personal link for you?" The woman replied cordially.
"Yes, do that. Tell him I need him in my office right away."
"No problem sir, I'll take care of that this instant."
Matthew raised his hand and clicked the connection off.
Devon Strong strolled back into the law office as if he had no care in the world. He desperately wanted to take off and be with his compatriots, but his instructions (as reiterated by his “boss”) were to stay put and keep track of progress from the inside.
“Tiyan!” he said greeting the aide. “Any messages?”
“Messages? You better believe it. Mr. Bradley is wanting to see you, and he means now.”
“Well, then I’ll go see him now,” Strong replied confidently. He knew this moment was coming, but was ready for it. He had been able to manipulate the timing on the message about the McMillian funds to appear as if it had been sent much later. He strode into Matthew’s office. “Yes, Mr. Bradley? You wanted to see me?”
"It's about time you got back." He said impatiently as he forcefully shoved a PADD across his desk toward the younger man. Luckily, a large arcane tome of law stopped the device from clattering to the floor. "Special assignment. I need to know who was responsible for delaying my notification regarding this bank draft and I want specifics, names, details, exact times both on the bank's end and on ours. And I need answers on my desk before the end of the normal business day."
Devon picked up the PADD.
"What are you still doing here? Get going!" Matthew commanded.
“I’m only still here, Mr. Bradley, because I did see this, first thing this morning,” Devon explained. “If you check the time-stamp, you’ll see when we received it from the bank, and I sent it immediately to you.” He turned the PADD around, showing Matthew the time indicators. “I will check into the delay between the time I sent it and you received it. I will also trace the payment.”
"No, no!" Matthew shook his head vigorously as he pushed the PADD away. "I have it on excellent authority that the request was made and filled a number of hours before that time stamp. So, unless you are personally responsible for this notice reaching us late, I need you to determine the source of the problem that delayed the notice from getting here in a timely manner. You needn't bother tracing the actual transfer, I know where the money went but I want you to get me the entire who, what, where, when, why, and how down to the minutiae and you can add a now to that list. A little girl may be in danger because of this snafu."
"Of course, Ma... Mr. Bradley," Strong replied. "I shall get right on it." Without further delay, he left the man's office wondering just how he could now cover this up. Maybe it was time to cut and run... And then it hit him.
Devon returned to his office. He immediately pulled out his portable communicator and tapped open the link.
"What is it now? Word on the McMillians?"
"No, but Bradley is questioning the delay of the message. I'm not sure how he knows, but he knows the time stamps are false. I do have an idea though."
"Go ahead..." the voice responded, somewhat hesitant. Devon explained what he needed.
Less than a half hour later, the console beside Matthew Bradley beeped, indicating he had a new personal message.
He accessed his message console and as he began to read his eyes widened in horror as the letters of he message one by one dropped to the bottom of the screen. Then the image of the blank message started melting and pooling at the bottom of the screen covering the letters. Devon burst into his office.
“Boss! Don’t open any em… “ The assistant saw the look on his boss’s face and did his best to look horrified. “Am I too late?”
Matthew pushed his chair back in disgust and swept the now dark computer terminal off his desk where it landed on the floor with a loud clatter.
"Does THAT answer your question Devon? You were late, the draft notice from the bank was late....it's beginning to feel like more than a coincidence. Get every connected device in the office physically cut off from our network...hell, yank their plugs out of the wall, drag Wingo's butt out of that dungeon he calls an office and get him in here, and get me a double raktajino -- in that order."
Devon's response was cut off abruptly by the scream of Matthew's personal assistant. They both turned and ran out to the outer office where the woman was staring at her own computer screen. On it was a shadowed figure.
"Do I have your attention now, Esquire?" the figure said, its voice masked by whatever technology they were utilizing. "Your Mr. Strong tried to route us out, and now you see the price you have paid for that. Now listen carefully. The McMillian girl is in our ... well she is our guest. As for how long she will remain a guest all depends on how well you can follow instructions. You have two hours to get your system back up and running and you will receive your instructions." The computer monitor suddenly went as dark as the one Bradley had sent flying.
Matthew's anger faded and was replaced by genuine fear for Malinda. Whomever had snatched her clearly had skills, dangerous skills that they weren't afraid to use. Had the order for Devon to get to the bottom of the delay in receipt of the notice inadvertently made things worse for the child? "You heard that...thing...Wingo has to...go, get Wingo."
Devon nodded and inched his way toward the door, satisfied his "cover" was intact.