Darkstar: Chapter One, part seven

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“So let me get this straight.” Masen had calmed down at first, but was angry again after a brief conversation with Simmons. “You knew who killed my family and you did nothing, not even pass on the information to the LAPD?”
Masen was sitting in the VIP area of the club with Burke and Simmons, leaning back with a mixture of anger and despair into the plush cream leather sofa he was on. Burke and Simmons sat opposite him in armchairs of the same design, both with guilty looks on their faces. Detective Sanders and the CIA officers were not with them, instead they were standing at the entrance to the VIP area, ensuring that none of the few partygoers entered and interrupted the meeting.
“It’s not as simple as that.” Simmons was calm, controlled as he spoke to Masen. “We had reason to believe that Harlow was involved, but we couldn’t act straight away. There was no proof that he was connected to whoever was hired to kill you.”
“You know we questioned him Bill.” Burke cut in. “We had a motive but nothing else. There were a few suspects, we had to be delicate.”
Masen wasn’t impressed. “**** that. My wife, kid and friends died and you did nothing. You had him and we both know it.”
Burke was a little surprised. Masen had been upset and angry after the murders, they all had but he understandably had been the most. But never towards Burke. This was new.
“Well we didn’t have all the information at the time.” The lieutenant gave a somewhat condescending glance towards Simmons, who looked down, apparently very interested in his shoelaces. “But we do now, and we can make a difference. And now we have the assistance of one of the most resourceful intelligence agencies in the world. We’ll get our guy.” He couldn’t bring himself to call them the most resourceful, not after the time he’d spent working for MI5. That wouldn’t be fair on his former colleagues.
“Mr Masen I understand that your angry at myself and my team, you have every right to be. We can’t give you the last two years of your life back and we can’t bring back your family. But what we can do is make things right now. The people behind this crime will not go unpunished.” Simmons’s face had a look of pure guilt on it now, staring down into his lap nervously.
Burke didn’t give Masen any time to respond before thrusting a small folder onto the table, along with a pen. “These documents will bring you back onto the LAPD, into Homicide Special on a provisional basis until the conclusion of the investigation. There’s also a badge, ID set and Glock 27 waiting for you in the car. If you want back in after we’re done together, then that’s fine, we can work something out. Please Bill, we need you on this one.”
Masen hesitated for a moment. “If, and I mean If I were to agree to this, who would we be working with?”
Simmons looked over his shoulder and motioned for Harris to come over. “This is Supervisory Investigative Agent James Harris. He’s been heading up the investigation into the Salesman for the last few years.” Simmons paused, and Harris merely nodded curtly at Masen as he sat down next to the DDSP. “With him there’s a team of a dozen men, all of whom have been working exclusively on this case for at least six months.”
It was then Burke’s turn. “The CIA will be there in an investigatory assistance and tactical role only. I’m bringing in a team of HS officers as well.”
“Who are you thinking?” Masen asked as he shook Harris’s hand. It was pretty clear that he was warming to the plan now.
“Pete Sanders obviously, he’ll be working as your partner. I want to bring in Gary Trenton as my deputy on the LAPD side of things. George Chance, he’s nearing retirement but is still pretty sharp. He also worked the original case. His partner Drew Casey was killed in a car crash last summer, so we’ve paired him with Ian Brewster.”
A quizzical look passed over Masen’s face. “I know the name, but I’m not sure I’m too familiar with him. He used to work Vice in Newton before he transferred to Central GTA right?” Masen winced. “Yeah, didn’t he shoot those two chop shop workers in Valencia right before I left the force?”
Burke nodded. “Don’t be fooled Bill. He may have been a bit quick on the trigger finger that one time but he’s a fast track detective, and he’s very good. He and Chance have an eighty percent hit rate on cases.” Masen nodded and the matter was closed. “I’m also thinking officers French and Brooks. You’ve worked with both of them before, there experienced members of my squad and they both have solid records.”
Masen seemed enthusiastic but could see a flaw. “Andy they’re great but aren’t they-”
“Yeah they’re still seeing each other and think we don’t know about it, despite all the jokes in the squad room. But both of them are professionals, they won’t let it get in the way.” I hope, he forgot to add. “Finally we’ve got Lieutenant Aaron Tollard. You ever meet him?” Masen shook his head. “Well he’s got a degree in Psychology, he runs the Detective Bureau’s internal profiling unit. Only been working with us for a year but he’s very good, solve rate’s gone up by twenty percent since he joined us.”
“Where was he before?” Masen asked, perplexed.
“Worked for LVPD. This guy is fast track material, and I trust him. Of course I’ll be maintaining operational command of the unit but he’s the best we could have for profiling this guy.” Harris moved on. Finally I want Gary Trenton as my number two man. I’ve got three deputies and he’s by far the best for the role, at least in my opinion. You’ve worked with him before, you know he’s good.”
“Alright then.” Masen smiled slightly. “Let’s talk tactics and go get this bastard.”

“That went well.” Harris smirked as he lit a cigarette outside Club 61, watching the car carrying the three LAPD officers as it drove off into the night. “Burke reacted as expected to your little game.”
“As expected. He’s a promising candidate, maybe someone we need to bring on board once this is over.” Simmons shivered slightly in the cold. “I hate this ****ing city, it’s so impersonal. Can’t wait for this to be over. So we need to be at Parker Center for eight am, you up for it?”
“Not a problem. Scott’s on his way down in the Gulfstream with the others. Todd and Miles are going to go down to Parker Center after they drop of the detectives and move our equipment in.”
“Do they have the bugging kit?”
“It’s all there. They’ll do the phones when they get started.”
“Good work.” Simmons paused. “James I know how you feel about all of this, but I need you to keep your focus and stay on the ball. We’ll do what we can to protect the detectives but at the end of the day we have a mission to complete and their safety isn’t a primary objective. We have to stop the Salesman. It’s a matter of national security.
“I understand. I’ll do my best.”

Burke waited outside his house after agents Collinson and Bennett dropped him off, finishing their impromptu carpool with taking Sanders home. He had one more call to make; he wanted to get more information on the Salesman, preferably from a source outside the CIA. Fortunately he had one card to play that he was pretty confident wasn’t on the CIA’s books.
He’d left the SAS in 1987, but not before signing a rather lucrative agreement with his former employers. For an extra ten thousand pounds a year from his SAS pension he had agreed to be MI5’s man inside the LAPD. It was nothing really, passing on occasional file that they were interested in. Nothing sinister.
His handler was an old friend of his from the SAS. Edward Bell had been wounded in action five years ago and transferred out of the SAS and into a role with MI5’s section B, Counter – Intelligence. They were still very close. It was eight am in London; Burke knew that Bell’s team had started work an hour earlier.
Taking out his cell phone Burke dialled a number that he recited from memory. After going through two separate identity checks he was put through to his old friend in Thames House, London.
“Andy old boy, what can I do for you today?” He heard Bell’s clear Home Counties accent over the phone. “Isn’t it a little past your bedtime?”
“Very funny. Something very interesting happened today, thought I should keep you informed.” He filled him in on the chat with Robert Simmons about the Salesman.
“Simmons. Yes, I’ve met him a few times. Watch your step Andy; he’s not someone who’s shy of using people for personal gain.”
“I gathered that. I’m going to watch my back. I don’t suppose there’s any chance you can give me the information you have on the Salesman and the Paris attack in ’89 is there?”
“Hmm, I don’t really know, that’s more Section D’s department. I’m working a late shift on Thursday; we’re expecting some information from my contact in another police department on your side of the pond.” Bell handled the contacts for most of the major US police departments, as well as the FBI, DEA and Secret Service. MI5 was still trying to get a mole within the CIA. “When I’m done I’m having dinner with a contact in D, I think he worked on the Salesman incident after that nasty shooting in Milan. How about I get him to brief me on it and I can call you later?”
“That sounds brilliant, thanks a lot Ed.”
“Not a problem. Oh and Andy? Does Simmons have a new assistant? Thirty – something man, brown hair, grey eyes, chap by the name of Harris?”
“Yeah. Want me to see what I can learn?”
“Do what you can. Just watch out for Simmons. He’s a piece of work, do not trust him.”
“Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be careful.”
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