Excerpts from The Final Turning

HARTSFIELD-JACKSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

OCTOBER 1, 2016, 1400 HOURS

PROLOGUE – THE SACRED CAUSE

Judge Robert Purcell Johns was beyond angry. An hour getting through the TSA checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson. Absurd. Some snafu about his name being on the terrorist no-fly list and him a candidate for SCOTUS being vetted in the last few weeks. He finally had them call the AG in Texas on his personal cell number to get cleared and his identity confirmed. Jack Donalson who’d come to pick him up was waiting all this time, but as the CEO of Optitron Labs, Donalson probably had plenty of mobile business he could take care of. Donalson had texted him earlier from the South Terminal parking deck and had given him directions to where he was parked.

Johns slipped on his dangling boonie hat as he headed out the sliding doors to the parking deck, carryon bag over his shoulder. Donalson had said he was in the vintage silver Porsche Carrera. He checked Donalson’s location on his smartphone tracker app and made the first turn to the right out on the deck. Donalson was only a couple of aisles down this way. Several minutes later he spotted the Porsche under the E9 sign.

Donalson stirred, looked up and waved. Johns moved to the passenger door and opened it. He threw his bag into the back seat of the Porsche.

“Goin’ my way, buddy?” Donalson said.

Johns lowered himself into the front seat, spoke and reached across with his right hand to shake, “You know it. I am so ready to get out of this terminal. Good to see you, Jack.”

“Nothing like TSA hassles. Welcome to the ATL, Bobby.” Donalson started the Porsche and turned off the radio from its talk station.

“Let’s pull to the north. I have an appointment this evening after you drop me off at my house in Marietta.”

“A hot date?” Donalson joked.

“Unfortunately, not. I have to go to a wedding reception for one of my old Georgia Law buddies. He’s getting married this afternoon.”

“Do I know him?”

“No, he wasn’t in any of our social circles over the years. He goes way back to my first year in Law School.”

Donalson pulled up to the parking kiosk and tapped his smartphone to pay. The gate raised and he gunned the Porsche to ten miles over speed limit and merged into the exit lane. Soon, they’d moved out onto I-85 North and the traffic flow was astonishingly at the speed limit.

“So,” Donalson asked, “How was your flight from Dallas?”

“At least that went well. Smooth, no delays for a change.”

“Are you keeping them straight out west of the Pecos?”

“Yeah, sort of. I’ve been on a Federal appeals case for two weeks. Very routine. I was ready for a change of scenery. How are things here in the ATL?”

“BAU. Bad traffic jams every afternoon, specially up north. They’re in the middle of building those crazy reversible lanes on I-75. What an abomination that’s going to be. I’m glad I don’t live in Kennesaw any more. I just have a 5-mile commute by limo from my place in Alpharetta to work at Optitron Labs HQ.”

“Oh, that’s right you all moved into some new digs up there in Forsyth county didn’t you?”

“Yeah, a good business decision and of great personal benefit. Actually, my new house up there in Windward Reserve has had a state-of-the-art electronic security frontier installed. With the Islamic terrorist threat escalating, we’ve upped the security ante at all Optiron Labs facilities and for our execs residences.”

Johns changed the subject, “Have you heard from Jimmy this week? I know you’re in touch with him more than I am now that he’s so close.” He wanted to know how things were going for his younger half-brother down at his new assignment at King’s Bay Naval Base.

“As expected. He’s psyched to get back into the boomers and more importantly that assignment is key to the sacred cause. He was vegetating in that last assignment in Norfolk but it was necessary. He’s going on leave in a few weeks and plans to stop by Atlanta and visit.”

“Good to hear. Sorry I’ll miss him on this trip.” Johns switched subjects. “What’s the latest on the corporate cartel?”

“We’re having a dynamite year at Optitron Labs and at Optitron Biomed in Israel, revenues and profits are up and share price is up 21 percent for the year. It’s those new silicone photonics product lines. It’s all about accommodating customers’ cloud data center implementations. The Schloss-Beachten Aerospace merger in Marietta is being finalized and should be a done deal by next year. It looks like no matter who wins the election in November, that the DOD will go with the lower cost F-37 replacement for the F-35.”

“Sounds good for your company and our corporate compatriots.”

“It’s not all good news. SouthCo Power has announced another delay in the new nuclear units near Augusta; looking like a 2020 completion date and another multibillion-dollar cost over-run.”

“Ah. Not again. What is it this time?”

“Some Japanese vendor problem—could be major. Say—we’ll be at your exit soon if this traffic stays good and I have to run to the office to take care of some urgent transition business all evening before I ship out of Dobbins tomorrow at 0630.”

“You mentioned this unexpected deployment last week. What’s up with that?”

“Yeah, funny—very unexpected. Simple, President ‘Nemo’ has fouled up things in Afghanistan so badly, we’re sending more troops back in. I’ll be on a special ops deployment for the next year. I couldn’t get out of it, despite my special status in the Reserves and all of the Optitron Labs’ government contracts. I was just due for a deployment before I retire in 2018.”

“Sounds like it will be good training.” Johns snickered.

Donalson laughed with him. “Now, let’s get to the situation with Hogan.”

“I’m very concerned about it, as I’ve made clear to you in our calls.”

“Let’s not cover the same ground again. We’ve discussed this situation with Hogan enough the past two weeks. You’re just going to have to handle him on your own for me. The meeting is set for 0900 tomorrow at Wild Dog’s in downtown Kennesaw.”

“I’ll be ready for tough love.”

“You better be. Hogan is not a happy customer right about now despite my reserving him and his girlfriend a room at the Ritz tonight. They’re supposed to be biking over later tonight. He’s had some kind of periodic tenure review going on for days. That’s why I couldn’t schedule him until tomorrow.”

NEAR WILD-DOG’S CONFEDERATE QUARTERMASTER

DOWNTOWN KENNESAW, GEORGIA

OCTOBER 2, 2016, 0900 HOURS

Johns pulled the zipper up on his tattered Iraqi Freedom field jacket as the early morning breeze reminded him that it was unusually chilly for early October. He tugged at the wide-brim of his gray boonie hat pulling it down over his sunglasses, as if to further assert his anonymity. He’d walked all the way from the Confederate museum parking lot, as usual, and he hoped the early hour would keep anyone from recognizing him. Although this was his former home town and he’d served on the bench at the Cobb County State Court for eight years, he did not want to draw unnecessary attention to the fact that a candidate for U.S. Supreme Court Justice was walking into this historic establishment.

He still wished Donalson could be at the meeting with Roland Hogan—their erstwhile militia leader creeped him out. Donalson would be airborne by now, headed out by C-17 for his Reserve deployment to Afghanistan from Dobbins ARB. Donalson had some cahones–nothing like hiding in plain sight.

Now, it was time to face Hogan and see if he could reel him back in. He’d met with Hogan twice last year and found him to be uncomfortable to engage. Although a tenured Ph.D. at North Alabama State University, Hogan was the greatest wild-card in their sacred cause. He wasn’t sure who gave him the willies the most, Hogan or that high-strung nut-job German friend of Jack’s, Colonel Von Loringhaven. Maybe it was Hogan’s PTSD or maybe it was his heavily medicated bipolar condition. It didn’t help that he looked like a renegade biker with skin-jobs all over his body. He came across as a laid back good-ole-boy, but under the surface was ruthless and volatile. It didn’t matter: Jack had insisted that he needed to take care of this situation ASAP.

He reached the entrance way to the tacky Civil War shop and pushed the ramshackle antique wooden and glass door open. A cow bell jangled overhead. The gray long-haired, bearded proprietor in denim bib overalls stood from his seat on a wooden stool behind the counter, a Colt .45 in its West Texas leather holster hung from the hand-crafted belt on his waist which Johns had given him as a Christmas present two years ago. He spoke with a heavy southern drawl faking indifference, “Howdy, Mister. You look like somebody who wants to see our specialty collector’s items we keep down in the cellar.”

“Hey, Uncle Max,” he said. “Good to see you again. I was hoping to look at some of your pistols or Enfields.” The proprietor, Max Hogan, was Roland Hogan’s loyal elderly uncle and everyone called him Uncle Max. Most of the townies thought him an eccentric kook who’d been on open-carry as long as the law had permitted.

“Sure thing. Follow me and I’ll take you down. There’s already a collector perusing my wares downstairs. I’m sure he won’t mind if you join him.”

Uncle Max spoke in the usual code-talk, even though there was no one else in the place at the moment. He followed the proprietor through a doorway at the back of the store draped with burlap sacks stitched together. They carefully descended two flights of wooden stairs down to a dank, dim basement. Uncle Max opened a door at the end of a short hall and they stepped into a well-lit ante-room with racks of antique guns and enclosed glass cases. They crossed the room to a heavy metal door. Uncle Max knocked twice and opened the door for him. He beckoned him in with his right hand. “I’ll see you boys later.”

“Thanks.” He stepped into the well-lit room and the door closed behind him. The room looked like a corporate conference room with tract lighting around the sound-proof ceiling, no small thanks to Donalson’s company. A large mahogany conference table filled the center of the room and one lone figure sat in one of the dozen chairs around the table.

Johns crossed to the empty seat next to Roland Hogan. He stood with an extended right hand. Hogan’s long curly red hair, graying at the temples, was tied back into a pony-tail, revealing his full beard. His black leather biker jacket hung on the chair back, a long-sleeve gray tee bearing the North Alabama State logo was tucked into his leather trousers. He spoke with a gruff Alabama drawl, “Bobby, good to see you again after so long. I was about to think we’d lost you to the Washington elites.”

Hogan

He took Hogan’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “It’s good to be back in the good ole North Georgia mountains again. How are things over in Decatur?”

“Hunky-dory. We had a nice ride over yesterday; crisp and dry. Jack put me and my girl up at the Ritz downtown. Plush digs.”

“He said you were biking over with your girlfriend. Not another history grad student is she?”

“Negatory. That dog won’t hunt anymore. I found me a nice divorced forty-something professor—writing and linguistics type. Name’s Marnie Chastain. Something completely one-eighty from my Civil War history gambit. She’s a poet and a screenwriter—she just sold a romantic comedy script to Fox. They say Witherspoon’s to be the lead.”

“Impressive. I assume another one of your svelte fashion-model types?”

“Of course, what else is there?”

Johns sat down with Hogan and they swiveled in their chairs to face each other. Hogan lifted an aluminum coffee decanter and poured into his large mug. “Uncle Max brought us in some Starbucks brew and pastries. Feel free to help yourself.”

Johns took the coffee decanter and poured the empty mug in front of his chair three-quarters full. He took a long sip, swallowed and said, “Hogan. I know Jack already prepped you, since he couldn’t be here. Let’s get on to the issue at hand. I have to wrap this up fairly quickly. I have a luncheon and a tee time to make out at Big Canoe. I’m playing a round of golf with Coop Newton and some of our old Georgia Law buddies from back in the day.”

“I know Jack’s concerns,” he said. “After the white supremacist shootings in North Carolina this past summer and the whole Confederate battle flag executive order by President ‘Nemo’, some things have moved in unexpected directions.”

“It’s not just that. We are at a critical juncture in working through some delicate issues with Admiral Enright and his Black Cadre. Also, our African-American mega-church pastor, Billy Joe Hagan, has had to bend over backwards to walk the fine line between affirming the overpowering Biblical justifications for opposing abortion in America and not dredging up ghosts of the Civil War and Confederate slavery. Symbols and brands have become a big deal all of a sudden.”

“I get that. But my militia has always been called the Dixie Militia since day one, when we trained for the first time up in the Ozarks back in 2011. I now have over thirty thousand dedicated prior-service veterans who stand with us one-hundred percent in the sacred cause. They are the Dixie Militia and in their minds that’s what they’ll always be.”

“Well, that’s got to change—now! We can’t afford to lose our black constituency in the military or in the evangelical public. This whole Confederate flag uproar means we have to make some drastic alterations. Newton has already had our new national flag re-designed, so that it doesn’t evoke the image of the Confederate battle flag. In the early days, that was not such a big deal, but now—with what’s happened…”

“So, you’re gonna sell out to the PC crowd after all!”

“Hogan, it’s not that simple. As a candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States and as someone who has observed the decline of our judicial system into a morass of ungodly, unconstitutional activism, I joined with Coop and Jack, two years ago in the sacred cause. I believe with all that is within me that the Bible and godly Judeo-Christian principles should be the foundation for our American Republic. Now, I am convicted more than ever in the course of our actions. If Gilroy loses the election to that godless, socialist witch Williamson, we will have to be ready to move, sooner than later.”

“Yeah, sure. It always comes back to the sacred cause that Jack and Reverend Hagan have rallied us to.”

“Yes, it does. We have all sworn to give our lives for the creation of the Constitutional Republic of America: our only hope for an American nation—an American people—that will return to God and reverse the tide of socialist-humanism.”

“All right, Bobby! You win on this one. I can tell you, Taggart’s not going to like it and neither will most of his boys.” Hogan conceded. “I’ll take it up with the Officer Corps when we meet at the next Civil War battle reenactment up in Louisville this week. I’ll come up with a new name and a new battle flag—for the sacred cause.”

Johns reached out and shook Hogan’s hand firmly. That was easier than he thought it would be. Yet as he looked into the intensity of Hogan’s dark eyes, he knew demons churned inside him.

***

BEYOND U.S. TERRITORIAL LIMIT, OFF KING’S BAY, GEORGIA

USS RHODE ISLAND (SSBN-740)

OCTOBER 1, 2021, 0330 HOURS EDT

CHAPTER TWO — SUPER-CRITICAL REACTOR AXE MAN

LtCmdrJohns

Lieutenant Commander James Vernon Johns, as XO of the Rhode Island, would have no problem with his next task. He had access at any, and all, times to the areas he needed to enter. No one would think anything unusual was up. He had a rep for being an early riser as a former Navy SEAL. When he made his surprise visit to the engine room, Drobinski would be on duty. He would just mess with his head a little bit. He felt surreptitiously of his BDU left shirt pocket with his left hand. The data pod was there. The data pod with the encrypted code from the orbital NADIR which he’d downloaded yesterday from the Optitron Labs private cloud via the ultra-secure VPN node on his home server. It hardly seemed possible that that was less than twenty-four hours ago. Things had moved quickly—too quickly he felt—since his encrypted communication with Jack on Wednesday night. Jack had insisted over his reservations that the NADIR had arrived at this next critical chain method sequence of events as optimal for the prototype Cyber-Uberblitz Test.

The almost omniscient Optitron Labs ultra-secret orbital AI had been monitoring his personal assignments and naval missions for over six months and had determined that this current patrol was GO for their black op. With what Von Loringhaven had cooking over in Germany, it seemed right, but he still had a bad feeling about it. And he’d let Jack know it. However, Jack and the most advanced quantum computing-powered AI in geosynchronous orbit had won out. He just couldn’t argue with 10,000 qubits of AI. The orbital NADIR had determined this morning at zero-dark-thirty was to be SCRAM-Day. So here he was, ready to do the deed. It made him even more uneasy that Jack had been urgently called over to Hamburg yesterday to meet Von Loringhaven in regard to a terrorist evolution in progress over in the Med. No matter, he’d rehearsed this black op numerous times in his head and on the simulator at Schloss-Beachten Aerospace. Piece of cake.

He opened the hatch to the Engine room. “Officer of the Watch!”

“Yes, sir. Drobinski here, sir!” The young lieutenant in BDU’s at his console across the room stood, turned and came to attention.

Johns strode quickly over to face him. “At ease, Lieutenant. Report.”

“All systems nominal. Everything is situation normal.” Drobinski curtly reported.

“The skipper wants me to run an engine room check before we start our maneuvers. When was the diesel plant last checked?”

“Diesel systems…” Drobinski reached down and picked up his mini-tablet. “Status check at 2000 Hours last night: All diagnostics nominal.”

“Very good. Your relief will be in soon. Carry on. I need to do a walk-through. No need for you to accompany me.”

“Yes, sir.” The lieutenant was seated and touched his display to bring up a window for the nuclear propulsion dashboard.

Johns moved past him and two other crewmen came to attention as he approached them. Johns saluted and moved quickly past them to the diesel engine compartment. He entered the compartment and pulled the hatch closed behind him. No one in the compartment. Perfect. He would be able to jack in to the diagnostics interface with the datapod and get er’ done in seconds. By design, the diesel plant was not connected to the US Navy IoT ECANS network, so using a direct interface into the diesel plant was the only way to sabotage the system. The NADIR would handle his part of the Cyber-Uberblitz Test from orbit.

 

USS RHODE ISLAND COMMANDER’S QUARTERS

OCTOBER 1, 2021, 0430 HOURS EDT

 

Commander Dallas McGregor left his quarters and moved down the gangway to the bridge. He finished buttoning up his BDU shirt. He had just ordered the watertight integrity checks from his handheld. Ship’s status was nominal—the SSBN submarine was at periscope depth. Their escort sub, USS Miami, was moving out ahead at twenty knots onto the continental shelf per SOP.

McGregor should have been thinking about angles and dangles, but instead his mind was on retirement. This would be his last FBM patrol near the end of a 27-year career. He was thinking about his son’s upcoming marriage to his Vermont socialite fiancé, Delaine Mitchell, at Thanksgiving. He was thinking about his daughter’s graduation from Florida State University in May; would she be able to find a job in this recession? He was thinking about the house that he and his wife, Meg, were in the process of purchasing in Nag’s Head, North Carolina. What he was not even remotely thinking about, was the sound of an alarm. The klaxon sounded. It was a SCRAM alert! McGregor raced forward to the bridge.

“Commander on the bridge!” Lieutenant Greenfield snapped as McGregor came through the hatch.

McGregor worked his way to his XO. “Jimmy, do you verify that SCRAM alert!”

Johns turned to his intercom and immediately contacted Lieutenant Johnson back in Maneuvering. “XO to Lieutenant Johnson.”

“Johnson, here,” the Maneuvering officer on duty responded.

“Jerry! What the hell is going on back there? Is this thing for real?”

“Sir! The SCRAM has engaged and the alarm has gone off, but no one has initiated it! This is really happening.  This is not a malfunction Repeat: not a malfunction! We are in SCRAM. The system is in lock-down and I can’t override it.”

Johns turned back to McGregor, “Sir, there is a SCRAM in progress, but it was not initiated by any of the crew. Johnson is not able to override.”

McGregor snapped the command he never thought he’d hear himself say, “Emergency SCRAM procedures, Lieutenant!”

Hearing his proclamation, Lieutenant Greenfield quickly issued orders to his helmsman and planesman for an emergency surface.

McGregor moved quickly to the communications shack and motioned to the operator, “Rawlins, get me the emergency freq for HQ!” The com tech punched in the freq and got King’s Bay Operations.

McGregor grabbed the mike from Rawlins and spoke, “Mayday, Mayday! This is USS Rhode Island. We have a verified SCRAM! Repeat: we are in SCRAM and cannot stop it!”

***

FBI HEADQUARTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C.

OCTOBER 11, 2021, 0845 HOURS

CHAPTER SIX — ANOMOLOUS ACCOUNTS OUT OF ANNISTON, ALABAMA

Washington

Washington was late and he knew it. However, it could not be helped. His red-eye flight back to Dulles from Savannah-Hilton Head International had been delayed over an hour. Murphy’s Law, his first pet theory of life, and Six Degrees of Separation, his second pet theory of life: you could always count on them. He was supposed to meet with Joyner at 0800 Hours, but the cab had let him out in front of the FBI Headquarters at 0845. It was now pushing 0900 Hours by the time he got through security, stopped at his office on the fifth floor, dropped his garment bag and tablet case and grabbed a hardcopy file from his desk drawer. He rushed out of the elevator on the sixth floor and down the hall to the deputy director’s office. He went in to the outer office, quickly apologized to the secretary and she told him to go right in to the inner office.

Joyner sat behind her desk lost in reading a report. She looked up with a smile and greeted him, “Carvey! Glad you’re finally here. I got your text from the airport.”

“Sorry, about being so late. You can never count on those red-eyes.”

“That’s okay. Please take a seat,” she motioned with her slim fingers at the chair in front of her desk.

“By the way, outstanding job down in Savannah with the Rhode Island task force. Admiral Huxley phoned me late yesterday to commend your work with them. He had the highest accolades for your contributions. I knew you would come through for me.”

“Thanks, Janice.” he explained, “I’ve got the final report ready on my tablet. Did it while in-flight. The Task Force will not be meeting again until next week. Admiral Huxley is taking us in to King’s Bay.”

“Good, so we won’t be needing that report right now. Just as well,” she reassured, “I have another hot situation I need to brief you on right away. I need for you to head right down to Atlanta as soon as possible. We may have an ‘international incident’ on our hands down in Anniston, Alabama.”

“Anniston, Alabama?”

“Yes, I want you to look at this video on the wall screen,” she replied, picking up the remote and hitting the play button on a paused scene within a browser window.

Washington looked to his right. The audio came up and the view of a party in-progress sprang into motion. There was a large group of buzz-cut soldiers in gray dress uniforms seated at a table, in what appeared to be a Mexican restaurant. Little Mexican flags hung from the ceiling on cords, a sombrero was hung on the wall behind the table, and Mexican instrumental music rang tinny in the background. The soldiers were singing in German overpowering the ambient music. “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit! Ein Prosit, ein Prosit DER GEMUETLICHKEIT!” They finished with a loud flourish, lifted their beer glasses and toasted the guest of honor, seated at the center of the table, directly across from the unseen smartphone cameraman. One lanky young red-haired soldier stood at the end of the table and spoke, “Alles gute, Dieter! Froehliche Gebuertstag!” The dark-haired apparent guest of honor stood at the center of the table and spoke, “Danke, sehr, meine Freunden! Ich hab’ mich vergnuegt! Und danke fuer die viele Geschenke, Ich…” Joyner hit the pause button, freezing the soldier in mid-sentence.

“This is a German Bundeswehr soldier. He was Lieutenant Heinz Dietrich Stockmann from the city of Erlangen, Germany. This video was shot at the thirty-second birthday celebration his army buddies had for him out at Fort Bliss, Texas in a Pancho’s Mexican restaurant about five years ago. The video was taken by a Corporal Rolf Ettingen. We skimmed it off his Facebook account.”

“So, these were German Federal troops in some kind of training out at the Army Air Defense unit in El Paso?”

“Yes, they were one of the last units of Germans to train out there before deploying with NATO to Afghanistan.” Joyner replied, “And the party’s guest of honor is now dead. He was murdered last night between 1930 and 2000 Hours Central Time in Anniston, Alabama at the home of Billy Ray and Shayna McConnell. The wife—Shayna—was murdered as well; they were found by the woman’s mother, a Mrs. Mary Lou Baudreau, just an hour after it happened. The victims were apparently having sex in the hot tub. The woman’s husband, Billy Ray McConnell is missing, so he is a definite person of interest. The German Lieutenant is the potential international incident I spoke about earlier. Identification was found in his wallet on the dresser; they found some city government cards and a soccer club ID. Sloppy, sentimental stuff.”

“Murdered, last night,” Washington repeated. “What was he doing in Anniston? Fort McClellan was in a base closure more than twenty years ago.”

She replied, “We don’t really know for sure, it gets worse. He is officially showing in NATO-German records as Missing-in-Action—presumed dead—in Afghanistan as of 12 December 2017 near Mazar-e Sharif. That’s all we’re able to get from German military authorities and NATO. There is total denial as to the identity of the murdered man by the German military; they say it must be a mistake on our part.”

“Stranger and stranger.

“That’s why I’m sending you. You’re available, your partner is still on administrative leave for that ethics investigation and—there’s something else,” she explained.

“Yes, I know.” He second-guessed her. “My old Army buddy from Operation Iraqi Freedom, C. C. Zeisig, is the Sheriff down there. I am still in touch with him regularly through a group of alumni officers we served with in Iraqi Freedom.”

“Exactly. You will already have an edge with local law enforcement in the area. At the direction of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Sheriff Zeisig has already been in touch with my office. He doesn’t know yet that we’re sending you. He has his team holding down the crime scene. Given his military background, he immediately realized this situation was extremely one off.”

“How so?”

“They found Lieutenant Stockmann’s belongings in a guest bedroom of the house where the murder occurred. It looked to Zeisig as though he was billeted there at the McConnell house: he had combat uniforms, full field gear and a weapon.”

“What kind of weapon?”

“Some type of modified Steyr AUG rifle, 5.56 mm, with an advanced wire-guided grenade launcher no-less—clearly non-standard issue. And there’s one more thing—they found a combat-hardened tablet, turned on, still plugged in and sitting on the desk in the lieutenant’s room. Zeisig and his men had the sense not to touch it or turn it off.”

“Sounds like they’re on top of it.”

“Here’s the rest of the story: we’ve contacted a Special Agent in the Atlanta Branch, an advanced data forensics specialist. She has been assigned as your working field partner. Her name is Special Agent Diana Riera. She and her forensics team will pick you up when you arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson at about 1230 Hours today. Sorry to rush you, but you need to head back to Dulles to catch your flight to Atlanta asap. We have a car waiting to take you. Check with Collier in transportation.”

“Affirmative. Do you have any further details on this Lieutenant Stockmann? And how about the couple he was staying with?”

“Should already be in your shared drive on the Quantico cloud; get to it, Carvey!” she enjoined, standing and shaking his hand. “This is another chance for you to shine for the promotion board in November. We must move quickly on this one. It is imperative that we get our person of interest, Billy Ray McConnell, and question him. Also, we need Riera to get a quick read on Stockmann’s equipment and weapon and, most importantly, that tablet. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working the international side of it up here with State and the German Embassy.

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