DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To vivalab[at]btinternet.com
Chapter 6: Loyalty
Alex rose from the bench and glanced at both doors.
"I wouldn't if I were you Miss Cabot, this house is well protected and it would be " he paused, tilting his head in contemplation, " unfortunate, if anything should happen to you before the General has a chance to meet you," he finished, his tone laced with insincerity.
Alex concentrated on keeping her expression neutral as she buttoned her jacket in an effort to mask the unsteadiness in her hands. She raised a well defined eyebrow at him expectantly, "Now what?" she asked with a calmness she didn't feel.
Kenanga moved slowly towards the door from which Olivia had recently departed, he turned and looked at her as his hand rested on the handle, "It is time for us to leave," he replied smiling, indicating with his cane for her to follow, "We have a boat to catch," he added, his grin growing wider.
Donald Cragen looked up from the file he was reading as Jo Marlowe entered his office, "Well?" he asked hopefully.
"Hold on Don, the others are just coming," she replied as she moved over to the observation window and heaved a weary sigh.
Cragen studied her back and eased to his feet, he rounded his desk and moved towards her, "Are you okay?" he asked quietly.
Jo turned and smiled weakly, "I will be once we get Liv and Cabot back " she replied, running a hand through her hair, " this is a mess," she breathed out, meeting his concerned gaze. She was about to continue when three figures entered the room, their faces etched with frustration and tiredness.
Elliot led the way, his eyes immediately focusing on the blonde, "NSA gonna help this time and not just jerk us around?" he asked impatiently, the images from the screen still fresh in his mind.
Jo nodded, "Yeah. I think you all better sit down," she advised, folding her arms across her chest and leaning back against the wall. She watched as Munch and Fin lowered themselves into the visitors chairs in front of Cragen's desk while Elliot defiantly, remained standing.
Cragen moved back to his seat and bobbed his head at Elliot, "Take a seat El," he instructed as he sat down.
Elliot considered ignoring him and then saw a familiar look pass across the Captain's face, reluctantly he crossed the room to the chair by the side door and perched on the wooden arm, his eyes riveted on the blonde.
Jo glanced down at her feet to mask the nervous swallow she took, "NSA know where they are," she said, lifting her eyes and meeting four dumbfounded expressions.
"What?!" Elliot barked, immediately rising to his feet.
Jo unfolded her arms, readying herself for the onslaught, "They've been tracking them through satellite surveillance since they left the DA's building " she glanced at her watch, " over seven hours ago."
"This is bull!" Elliot growled out angrily.
Munch and Fin looked at each other with matching expressions of confusion before looking over at the Captain, "It's almost 3am and now we're being told the men in black know exactly where Alex and Liv are?" Munch asked, shaking his head.
Cragen shifted his eyes to Jo, "What's going on?"
"The NSA believe one of their most wanted is in the US. They have information that the Congo's most notorious militia leader, General Natoo-"
"Natoomby?" Elliot interrupted, furrowing his brow.
Jo nodded, "General Natoomby is believed to be somewhere along the East Coast. They don't know where, but they have reliable intelligence that Alex Cabot is the reason for his visit," she replied.
Fin shook his head, "How do they know he isn't with them, where ever they are?"
"He wouldn't take that risk," she answered.
Cragen narrowed his eyes, "But if he's here, I'd say that's already a pretty big risk," he commented.
She shrugged her shoulders, "I can only tell you what they told me, which is off the record," she said pointedly.
Cragen held her steely, blue gaze and nodded, "What else?"
"They're being held in a farmhouse near Pelham Bay Park, heavily guarded, accessible from only one road. Natoomby's right hand man, Kenanga, is also inside."
"Pelham? That's only forty minutes away," Fin supplied.
Munch nodded in agreement, "Kenanga has a reputation for not getting his hands dirty that's why he always wears the cream suit," he added.
Elliot's mind instantly flashed to the barbaric images from the screen and the man in the cream suit and panama hat, he took a step towards Cragen's desk, "We gotta go get them," he stated.
Jo pushed off the wall, "No Elliot. We can't," she said firmly.
He turned and glared at her, fire in his eyes, "They could be doing anything to them and we're supposed to do nothing?" he yelled, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Intelligence suggests Natoomby came by boat, but they haven't been able to determine its location. From Turtle Cove to Pelham, it's nothing but marina's," she replied calmly, moving closer, "Kenanga was ordered to deliver Cabot to Natoomby, they don't know when and they don't know where, but they'll have that intel soon," she said, gentling her tone as she held his penetrating gaze, "Once they have that they'll storm the farmhouse," she finished.
Cragen frowned at her, "How are they going to get their information?" he asked.
Jo shifted her eyes to the Captain, "They've got a man on the inside," she said, ignoring the snort of disbelief from Elliot.
Olivia followed the man up the narrow staircase, her mind racing at the story he had told. She knew Alex had been on a personal mission in the Congo, determined to convict as many of the barbarians as possible, but she'd never considered the possibility that the younger woman's life would be in danger or that their maniacal leader would personally, come after her.
The guard had been eager to save his own life and quickly divulged everything he knew about their situation. She had made it clear, if he betrayed her, she would not hesitate to shoot.
They reached the top of the stairs and she looked at him, "Remember, one word, one slip," she advised, pointing the gun at his chest as she glanced at the dried blood on his head, "You know what to do," she nodded.
Alex stood to the left of the heavy set man, swallowing the nausea rising in her throat as she inhaled his pungent, body odor. She saw the door slowly open and held her breath, wondering who and what lay behind it.
She frowned as Kenanga stood unmoving in the open doorway and cautiously stepped closer, instantly recoiling in shock as the butt of a gun was unceremoniously smashed into his sweaty face.
She watched as he fell backwards, parallel with the ground, almost in slow motion, landing heavily with an ominous thud. The panama hat rolling under the table as his cane bounced noisily off the hard, tiled floor.
She held her breath, fear coursing through her veins as a figure stepped into the kitchen.
"Hey," Olivia said casually, smiling at her.
Alex's shoulders sagged with relief and she expelled the breath she had been holding as she lunged forward, embracing Olivia tightly, "Liv," she gasped as relief washed over her.
Olivia ignored the pain in her back as she gave the taller woman her best one armed hug, the gun safely gripped in her right hand.
After a few minutes, she felt Alex stiffen and slowly pull away, "What's wrong?" she asked.
Alex looked wide eyed, over Olivia's shoulder at the man standing a few feet behind her.
Olivia smiled knowingly, "Don't worry, he's with me," she said.
"Actually he's with me," a male voice with a thick African accent announced.
Chapter 7: Cold Steel
Cragen looked at the clock on the wall as he exited his office. Thirty minutes had passed since Jo had informed them of the NSA's plan. He slid his hands deeply into his pockets, a familiar, comforting gesture as he approached Elliot's desk and stopped in front of the blonde, "I just got off the phone with the Chief of D's," he announced, catching Elliot's pensive gaze.
Jo lifted her bowed head and looked questioningly at him, "And?"
He turned slightly and nodded at Munch and Fin, "We're going up there," he declared.
Elliot eagerly rose from his chair, "We working with NSA?" he asked, hurriedly reaching for his jacket.
Cragen shook his head, "No, we're going as observers," he clarified.
"What a crock," Elliot growled as he adjusted his collar.
Cragen moved until he stood directly in front of him, "I know you want to be involved in getting them back, but this was the only way I could get our presence approved," he replied.
Jo slipped off the desk, "With all due respect Don, your people have no place in an internationally, sensitive security operation," she reasoned.
Cragen shifted his stance and dipped his head, "With all due respect Counselor " he paused, lifting his eyes and meeting hers, " neither do you which is why you won't be coming," he added.
Jo frowned, "I got you the information in the first place, you wouldn't even begin to know where to look if it weren't for me," she argued.
Cragen removed his hands from his pockets and placed one on her arm, "Jo It isn't safe, especially for a woman you know that," he said, softening his tone. He saw the look of defiance in her eyes and continued, "You're more useful to us here, NSA won't tell us anything when we get there. We need someone with connections to keep us in the loop," he finished, gently bobbing his head.
Jo sighed, "Alright," she reluctantly agreed, smiling abjectly at him as he patted her arm.
Cragen turned to Munch and Fin, "Get everything we need and meet me downstairs in ten minutes," he ordered.
Elliot looked expectantly at him, "What about me?"
"Go home Elliot," he said quietly.
Elliot's mouth dropped open, "Go home?" he asked incredulously.
"It's almost 4am, you have a wife and five kids, you don't need to go up there," he replied.
Elliot shook his head, "Not go up there? She's my partner!" he snapped back.
Cragen watched his jaw tighten with rage and stepped closer, "We can't get involved, we're only going as observers," he repeated calmly.
Elliot clenched his fists, fury building inside as he thought of Olivia and Alex in the farmhouse with barbarians. He held the older man's gaze, "Please Cap," he begged, his voice thick with emotion.
Cragen studied him for a long minute before giving him a solemn nod, "Observers Elliot, we're only observers," he warned.
Olivia's grip on the gun tightened as the man behind her spoke again.
"Drop the gun before I drop you," he ordered coldly.
She noticed the slight nod from Alex and held her arm out before lowering the rifle to the ground, "Now what?" she asked, slowly turning round with her hands raised in surrender.
"Now you die," he calmly replied, pointing his weapon directly at her.
Alex's eyes widened, "STOP!" she yelled, quickly moving to Olivia's side, "Natoomby wants us both alive," she blurted.
The dark skinned man tilted his head and smiled, "Is that so?"
Alex nodded, studying his expression closely. She glanced at the insignia on his sleeve and forced aside memories of horrific images she had seen.
Olivia lowered her right arm and placed her hand protectively in front of Alex, "Kenanga told us," she added, thankful that the heavy set man had been knocked unconscious.
The man with the gun stared hard at Olivia, slowly raking his eyes up and down her taut frame, "I can see why," he replied, making no attempt to hide his lascivious gaze.
Suddenly the door at the opposite side of the room burst open and a man in matching military fatigues entered, "Why is she not en route to Natoomby?" he asked, pointing his weapon at Alex as he strode authoritatively into the room.
Alex and Olivia spun towards the sound and watched as he crossed the tiled floor urgently.
The man in front of Olivia frowned, "There is nothing to be alarmed about, only a slight delay. We had some trouble," he replied, indicating Kenanga's slumped form on the floor.
The newcomer roughly grabbed Olivia's arm and pulled her away from Alex, "This one was supposed to be killed, why is she still alive?" he demanded.
Alex reached for Olivia but stilled her movements as a gun was pointed in her direction.
Olivia watched as the men stared at each other in awkward silence. She caught a glimpse of the man from the basement, shifting nervously in the hallway and glared at him. She narrowed her eyes as he avoided her gaze, "He's a traitor," she informed their captors, motioning with her head towards the door.
The man holding her, looked into the open doorway and raised his weapon, "Get in here!" he commanded.
The man pointing the gun at Alex stepped to the side, allowing the guard to enter the kitchen, "The American is right, he is a traitor," he said, confirming Olivia's claims.
Olivia's brown eyes briefly met cerulean blue as she swallowed apprehensively.
The man in front of Alex shifted his aim to the traitorous guard, "You will pay dearly for your disloyalty," he announced, nodding at the man beside Olivia.
The guard who had led Olivia back up the stairs looked pleadingly at her before shifting his large, terrified eyes between the two armed men, "Please Please!" he pleaded.
Alex closed her eyes, unable to watch the inevitable and flinched at the sound of gunfire.
The heavy silence in the car was becoming unbearable to Elliot, he turned to the Captain, sitting alongside him in the backseat, "How do we know they won't just kill them in the farmhouse?" he asked quietly.
Cragen slowly turned in his seat, "We don't, but Natoomby wouldn't be here if he didn't want Alex alive," he replied logically.
"Exactly. He wants Alex alive he doesn't even know Liv, she's just another piece of meat for his men to play with," he said, blocking out barbaric images.
Fin turned round from the front seat, "Stabler, I know she's your partner, but Liv's gotten out of a few tight spots before," he reminded him, specifically remembering the basement incident at Sealview prison a few years before.
Elliot glared at him in the breaking light of dawn, ready to snap off a reply. The retort never came as he recognized the genuine look of concern in Fin's eyes and gave a brief nod instead, "I know," he finally said.
Munch slowed the car as he approached an intersection, glancing up at the road sign, "We're almost at Pelham Bay Park, do the men in black know we're coming?" he asked, meeting Cragen's eyes in the rear view mirror.
"Head for Turtle Cove take a right here John," Cragen instructed.
Fin turned his attention back to the road as Elliot closed his eyes and wondered what was happening at the farmhouse.
Olivia released the breath she had been holding and looked at the man on the floor, her eyes instantly lifting to the man beside her in question.
The dark skinned man lay dead on the floor, a single entry wound in the centre of his forehead.
The man relinquished his hold on her, his aim shifting to the wide eyed guard beside the slain body, "Do you trust him?" he asked her.
Olivia looked at him with puzzlement, "Not exactly, we made a deal in the basement," she replied, wondering what was going on.
"Good," he replied, moving towards the terrified guard, "If you want to live, you'll do exactly as we say, do you understand?"
The terrified man bobbed his head furiously, "Yes, I will do anything please do not kill me," he begged.
"See if Kenanga's still alive," he instructed.
The guard rushed past Alex towards the man in the cream suit and fell to his knees, frantically searching for a pulse, "He is alive," he announced.
"Secure his hands and feet," he ordered, throwing plastic handcuffs at him.
Alex and Olivia stared in disbelief at one another, neither of them having moved. Olivia spoke first, "Who are you?" she asked.
He turned to her and smiled, "NSA," he replied, bending down and retrieving her fallen rifle. He handed it to her as he closed the door.
"NSA?" Alex queried, stepping over to Olivia.
He nodded as he passed them, heading towards the door he had entered before cautiously peering out into the hallway and closing it, "Special Agent Dexter Motega," he added as he moved to the table and looked down at Kenanga, "NSA's got this place covered, Natoomby's somewhere along the coastline, they can't move in until they have his location," he supplied.
"Where exactly are we?" Alex asked, her arm brushing against Olivia's.
He ignored her and knelt down beside the guard hovering over Kenanga, "What's your name?" he asked.
"Ngaru," the guard replied.
Dexter nodded, "You're with me now. If you forget that, even for one second, I won't hesitate to kill you. Understand?" he asked.
Ngaru swallowed and nodded, "Yes, boss," he stammered.
"Where are we?" Alex asked again, the icy edge in her tone unmistakable.
Dexter searched Kenanga's pockets and looked up at her, "A farmhouse in Pelham Bay, near Turtle Cove," he answered, studying a piece of paper.
Olivia's brain was still processing the events of the past few minutes, "How are they going to get his location?"
"From me actually from him," he said, slapping Kenanga's bloody face.
Alex looked at the blood drying on the cream suit and turned to Olivia, "I think you broke his nose," she commented.
"And a few teeth," the dark haired detective added dryly. She lifted her hand and placed it gently at the small of Alex's back, guiding her towards the table.
Dexter looked up at them, "I don't have time to go through the details, you're just going to have to trust me on this," he said before adding, "We don't have much time. I need to find out Natoomby's location and he's the only one who knows where he is," he finished.
"How many more guards are there?" Olivia asked, glancing between both doors.
Dexter shrugged as he stood up, "I'm not sure, I was part of the retrieval team " he paused and looked at Alex, " I'm sorry about that woman," he offered sincerely.
"You killed her?" Alex asked, unable to mask her shock.
The NSA agent shook his head, "No, but I was there," he clarified. He shifted his eyes to Olivia, "My mother's American, my father Nigerian. When the agency started investigating Natoomby, I volunteered for deep cover."
"Wasn't that a suicide mission?"
He shrugged, "Natoomby's men raped and killed my mother's family. I did what I had to do," he replied, lowering his eyes.
Alex moved closer to him, "I've seen what his men do to women and children what you're doing is incredibly brave," she said, looking up at him.
He nodded his head, "Or stupid if we don't get the information we need," he answered dismissively, leaning down and roughly shaking a cream covered shoulder.
Olivia kicked a thick, trouser clad leg and smiled as Kenanga's face contorted in pain.
"Get me a damp washcloth," Dexter instructed Alex.
Alex raced to the sink and returned with a wet rag, watching as Dexter tilted Kenanga's head back and covered his open mouth with the cloth.
Olivia knew exactly what the agent was about to do and reached across the table for a bottle of water. She handed it to him and tugged on Alex's sleeve, leading her to the other side of the room.
The four men stared at the six imposing figures in front of them. They had arrived at the NSA cover house and ordered to exit the vehicle, hands on their head. They had been searched and had their weapons removed, despite Elliot's wordy protestations. Cragen had been introduced to the man running the operation, SAC Kimbrano and was currently engaged in a heated discussion with him, just out of earshot.
The three detectives watched closely as the two men talked animatedly in hushed tones. SAC Kimbrano glaring over at them every now and again, making it blatantly obvious their presence was definitely not welcome.
"Never trust a man in black," Munch commented, sweeping his eyes around the armed men in front of them.
Fin snorted, "You wear black all the time," he retorted.
"Exactly my point," Munch drolled.
Elliot looked up at the early morning sky and sighed, "They know where they are, why don't they just send a small team in flash bang it would be over in less than ten minutes," he said, thinking of similar missions with the Marines.
"They want Natoomby," Fin reminded him.
Elliot shifted his gaze towards the Captain and Kimbrano, "They're wasting time," he added.
"Nah, Cap's marking his turf in the big dogs yard," Fin observed, smiling as the two men shook hands.
They watched Cragen approach, studying his face closely as he stopped in front of them. He waited until the agents moved away before speaking, "They're still waiting for Natoomby's location," he finally said.
Elliot balled his fists, "We're gonna be too late," he growled out, clenching his jaw.
Cragen shook his head, "No, they're expecting the information anytime now," he replied.
"How?" Munch asked.
Cragen shrugged, "Ours isn't to question how John, we're simply here to observe," he answered calmly.
Elliot snorted, "C'mon Cap, you don't believe that do you?"
Cragen stepped closer, "Ask me again once we know his location," he added conspiratorially.
"Liv, I've seen water torture before," Alex said quietly.
Olivia ignored the gurgling sounds emanating from the man on the floor and reached for Alex's hand, "I think you've seen enough torture to last a lifetime," she replied, giving the soft hand a gentle squeeze.
Blue eyes locked on brown, "Always looking out for me, detective," she whispered.
"Always," Olivia said in a hushed tone. She glanced over at the trio on the floor, unable to see what was going on and lifted her free hand to Alex's face. She stroked her cheek tenderly and smiled, "We're gonna be okay," she promised.
Alex felt her skin flush under the delicate, intimate touch and smiled, "I hope so," she said, covering the hand on her face with her own.
"I will never tell!" Kenanga's voice choked out.
They shared a shy smile, despite their surroundings and reluctantly headed towards the table.
"Where is he?" Dexter demanded, pouring more water over the cloth and into Kenanga's open mouth.
Alex tapped Dexter's shoulder, "May I?" she asked.
The NSA agent nodded and watched as the blonde silently instructed Ngaru to open Kenanga's jacket. Alex knelt down and released the brown leather belt at the heavy man's waist, then opened the button and unzipped his pants.
Olivia watched curiously as Alex and Ngaru lowered the cream material, revealing black boxer shorts.
"During my time in the Congo I discovered the fear that most men like Kenanga harbor is the humiliation at the hands of a woman," she informed them, glancing up at her rapt audience before turning to Ngaru, "Sit on his lower legs, when I cut off his testicles, he's going to start writhing around," she announced coolly.
Olivia's head snapped to her right and met Dexter's equally shocked expression.
"Liv, can you fetch me a knife the blunter the blade the better," Alex instructed.
Olivia moved quickly to the sink and opened a drawer. She returned and handed Alex the knife, wondering if the young ADA was actually going to do this.
Ngaru sat on the chunky lower legs while Olivia moved to the other side and Dexter knelt beside Alex.
Alex removed the washcloth covering his face and lowered her head, "Where is Natoomby?" she asked, pressing the cold blade against his genitals through the opening in his shorts.
Kenanga flinched and tried in vain to move, "I cannot tell you," he rushed out.
"Too bad you know, I watched a lot of torture footage while I was investigating cases in the Congo "
Dexter stuffed the wet rag into the fat man's mouth to prevent him screaming and nodded at Alex.
Alex pressed the blade against his skin once more and stared coolly into his round, white eyes, "Where is he?" she asked, pushing hard enough to make his skin pinch.
He shook his head and closed his eyes as the knife pressed harder before opening them and desperately nodding at Dexter.
Dexter removed the rag, "Where is he?"
"A cruiser on the east coast of Pelham Bay," he breathed out, gulping in air.
Dexter stared at him, "Which boat?"
"I do not know. I was supposed to drive Miss Cabot to the harbor and await instructions," he stammered.
Olivia looked down at him, "When are you supposed to be there?"
"Exactly 6am," he replied.
Olivia glanced at her watch, "That's thirty minutes from now," she exclaimed.
"How were you supposed to take me there?" Alex asked, lifting the knife into view.
Kenanga swallowed, "Two guards were to accompany me on the drive to the harbor," he supplied.
Dexter turned to Alex and smiled, "You feel up for a little morning drive?" he asked, ignoring Olivia's concerned gaze.
Chapter 8: Red Dust
The house was quiet as Motega crept into the hallway, tilting his head as he listened for any sign of movement. He paused at the entrance to another door and turned to the watching dark haired woman, "Cover me," he instructed in a hushed tone.
Olivia moved stealthily into the hallway and took up a crouching position on the other side of the doorway, raising the rifle to eye level. She focused on the door and nodded, "On three," she said quietly.
Alex peered through the gap in the kitchen door, ignoring the grunts of protest from behind her as Ngaru forced Kenanga to remain silent.
Motega held up his left hand and counted down from three, gently turning the handle as he reached one. Olivia steadied her aim and moved her finger to the trigger.
The door opened slowly revealing an apparently empty living room. Motega edged into the room, his eyes darting everywhere. He spotted a lone figure beside a door at the opposite side of the room and signaled behind his back to Olivia. He lowered his weapon as he approached the man, greeting him in his native tongue. As he stopped in front of him, he reached behind and removed a small blade from the sheath at his belt. He surged forward, spinning the guard round and muffled his scream with his free hand as he expertly slit his throat with the other.
Olivia blanched as the slain guard was lowered to the floor, wondering why Motega hadn't just disarmed him. Before she had time to process what she had seem Motega indicated for her to move forward.
"The main entrance is on the other side of this door. Get everyone into position while I see how clear the route to the car is," Motega said, already opening the door.
Olivia looked down at the man on the floor, "You didn't have to kill him, he wasn't a threat," she commented.
"I've seen what these people do, he wouldn't have thought twice about cutting your throat or Cabot's," he replied with finality.
Olivia studied him for a few seconds before turning and heading back to the kitchen.
Motega moved towards the front door of the house and peered out the side window. The car was no more than twenty feet from their position, no guards were visible in the early morning light and the house was still quiet save for the shuffling noise of movement coming from the living room.
Olivia paused at the door and turned to Kenanga, "I'll finish what was started if you make a sound," she threatened quietly.
Kenanga nodded, ignoring the sweat that trickled down his forehead into his eyes. Ngaru held him tightly by the plastic cuffs at his back and pushed him forward.
Alex looked at the dead man on the floor, lifting her eyes to meet the matching expression on Olivia's face. She swallowed at the coppery smell invading her nostrils and blew out a steadying breath.
Olivia stepped back into the room and looked at her, "You ready?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Alex swallowed again and nodded, not trusting her voice.
Olivia gave her a reassuring smile before moving towards Motega, "We good to go?" she asked, glancing at her watch.
"I don't see any guards, not sure if there were any posted out here, strange if there aren't," he replied.
Olivia glanced out the window at the parked car, "Maybe we took care of them?" she asked hopefully.
Motega looked at her, "I doubt it," he answered, shifting his eyes to Kenanga. He moved over to the large, sweating man, "How many guards are at this compound?"
Kenanga smiled, "Enough," he quipped.
Motega thrust the butt of his rifle into his stomach and watched as he struggled to remain upright. He leaned down to Kenanga's ear, "Let's try that again. How many?"
Kenanga puffed heavily, gasping for breath, "The gate two on the gate two monitoring the perimeter " he heaved.
Motega leaned closer, "if you make one slip, just one I won't hesitate to shoot," he promised menacingly, inhaling the putrid stench of urine and sweat oozing from the man.
Drops of sweat fell from Kenanga's face on to the hardwood floor as his mouth opened and closed rapidly, trying to suck in some air. He lifted his bright white eyes and nodded at Motega.
"Okay," Motega sad with urgency before pointing at Olivia, "You and Cabot in the back " he paused as he shifted his attention to Ngaru, " You sit in between them while I keep the big man company in front," he finished.
Alex and Olivia nodded in understanding as Motega reached for the handle of the front door.
"Stabler, quit pacing!"
Elliot stopped and looked over at Fin, "What else am I supposed to do?" he asked, frustration evident in his tone.
Fin shook his head, "Same as the rest of us, watch and wait," he replied coolly from his seat at a table in the house the NSA were using as their temporary command post.
Cragen moved across the room to the trio and slid his hands into his pockets, "Meet with Natoomby is scheduled for 6am," he announced.
Elliot looked at his watch, "That's in twenty five minutes," he said, shaking his head.
Cragen nodded, "They don't know his exact location, only that Kenanga is supposed to meet him somewhere at the harbor," he added.
"So why aren't we going to the harbor?" Munch asked.
Cragen shifted his eyes to the veteran detective, "It's unclear if Natoomby will be at the harbor location or if they'll be given further instructions," he clarified.
"Who's they?" Fin asked.
Cragen looked at him, "NSA agent, Liv, Alex and Kenanga," he replied.
"This is bullshit!" Elliot muttered angrily, shaking his head once more.
Cragen sighed, "A team is en route to the harbor, we should have a visual soon," he replied.
"What about us?" Fin asked.
Cragen nodded, "Like I said, we wait," he answered.
Elliot rubbed his hand off his jaw anxiously, "Anyone need coffee?" he asked.
Cragen studied him curiously, "Whatever you're thinking Elliot, forget it. We have no jurisdiction here, this is an NSA op," he warned.
"I'm just asking if anyone needs coffee," Elliot replied defensively, hiding his dismay that the Captain had seen through his weak ploy.
Cragen stared at him, "Pot's in the corner, help yourself," he replied calmly before heading off towards the command table.
"I could use some fresh air though, maybe call the house, see how things are," Fin commented.
Elliot looked at him in confusion before realizing what he was suggesting, "Yeah, be nice to hear if there's anything new at the house," he agreed.
Munch looked between them both, "As your superior officer I strongly advise against this course of action," he offered.
Fin smiled at him, "Then stay," he replied, rising from his chair and following Elliot towards the door.
Munch sighed, "Wait," he said, waiting for his partner to turn and face him. He glanced across the room at Cragen, "Use channel 12, I'll keep you posted from here," he added.
Fin smiled knowingly at him before turning and leaving the room.
"So far so good," Motega announced.
Olivia studied him as he drove the car steadily down the bumpy, dirt driveway. Her mind replaying the incident in the living room and the dead man they had left on the floor. She shifted her eyes to the man beside her, meeting his frightened expression, "It's nearly over," she assured him.
Ngaru blinked rapidly as he nodded, desperately hoping that was true.
Alex stared out the window, looking at the empty field they were driving past. She tilted her head to one side as he eyes caught a flurry of motion, "Liv "
Alex motioned discretely with her head, "We're not alone," she observed quietly.
Motega glanced to his left and saw movement behind some trees, "Natoomby's men or yours?" he asked Kenanga.
"They are not mine. Possibly Natoomby is ensuring all necessary security precautions are being taken. I am sure it is nothing to be alarmed about," he replied coolly.
Olivia studied the back of his head before glancing to her left, "I don't like it," she commented, adjusting her grip on the gun.
As the car approached the end of the driveway, two guards stepped on to the road, halting their movement. Motega smiled at Kenanga, "Remember," he warned quietly.
Kenanga smiled at the guards as they approached, lifting a free hand to his brow and wiping away the sweat, "Everything in order?" he asked in his native Igbo, making eye contact with the man on the right.
Olivia listened intently as the men engaged in brief conversation, watching Motega closely with her peripheral vision.
The guards stepped back, allowing the car to pass and saluted Kenanga as he left.
"What did he ask you?" Olivia asked curiously.
Kenanga tilted his head slightly, "He wanted to know where my jacket was and why my nose was cut," he replied.
"And what did you say?"
Motega interrupted before Kenanga could answer, "He told them you were feisty, but he broke you in the end," he answered.
Olivia kicked the seat in front, sending Kenanga forward. She smiled as his head cracked off the dashboard, "I'll show you feisty," she growled.
Motega looked at the clock on the dash and pressed his foot against the accelerator, "Fifteen minutes," he announced ominously.
Alex lost sight of the figures behind the trees as the car sped away, hoping for once her instinct was wrong.
Elliot's eyes glanced back and forth between his watch and the road as the car sped along the dirt road at Turtle Cove.
"Not gonna be much use to anybody if we're dead," Fin drolled.
Elliot snorted in acknowledgement as he steered the car skillfully around another twisting bend. He shifted his eyes briefly to the passenger seat, "If Jo's intel is right, the harbor's a diversion."
Fin nodded, remembering the brief, but informative call to Jo Marlowe. She had told them satellite surveillance showed a car parked in a side road, near the house, with four figures hiding in the undergrowth. NSA were planning on observing the meet, but holding off until Natoomby had been located and positively identified before moving in. Either way he looked at it, Fin didn't like it. He adjusted the Kevlar at his chest, "I hope Liv's armed," he commented.
Elliot nodded in agreement, "I hope they both are," he added.
"Five minutes out," Motega announced, maneuvering the car along a narrow path.
Suddenly a car appeared in front of them, travelling at high speed, intention clear. Motega dipped his head forward to get a better look at the driver and instantly braked, showering the car in a cloud of red dust as they skidded to a halt before throwing the car into reverse.
Olivia strained her eyes through the rear window, peering through the dust at the single track road, "Car!" she yelled, spotting another car bearing down on them from the rear.
Chapter 9: Duel
Munch looked anxiously between the radio in his hand and the cellphone on the table. He pressed the talk button on the side of the portable unit again, "Fin? You copy?" he asked with quiet urgency.
"Care to fill me in John?" Cragen asked as he approached the seated figure.
Munch looked up in surprise, startled that he hadn't noticed the Captain cross the room. He shook his head in defeat, "They went to the harbor. I lost contact about a minute ago. They were approaching a brown sedan, that's all I know," he replied.
Cragen pulled out the chair beside him and sat down, sighing wearily, "Last satellite feed showed a single vehicle on approach to the harbor from the south with another approaching from the north at speed," he said, tilting his head to look directly at Munch.
"Is that good news or bad news?"
Cragen shook his head slightly, "Nothing about any of this is good," he answered, folding his hands together on the table, "And now we don't have transport," he added.
Munch was about to respond when the radio crackled into life, "Munch Munch!"
"Go ahead," he replied urgently.
Cragen stared at the portable radio, straining to hear above the interference and then he heard it. He bolted from the chair and hurried across the room towards the command table, "Gunfire. We've got gunfire on the road leading to the harbor."
Alex groaned as she rubbed the back of her neck with her left hand and slowly opened her eyes. She frowned at the blurry images and reached around for her glasses, locating them quickly and slipping them on. She gasped in horror at the sight of Ngaru's twisted, bloody body, lying halfway through the shattered windshield and looked between the lifeless forms of Motega and Kenanga, unsure if they were dead or wounded. She jumped as a hand gently patted her thigh and turned her head, meeting familiar dark orbs.
"You okay?" Olivia asked quietly.
Alex nodded as the sound of gunfire echoed around them. Olivia tugged her down on to the back seat and blindly reached behind for the door handle. She kicked it open with her foot and slowly slid out backwards, her grip tightly on the rifle. Once she was kneeling on the gravelly road, she glanced around, ducking her head as bullets whizzed overhead.
The sedan that crashed into them from behind was a mangled mass of metal. She looked at the body lying in a pool of blood beside the open passenger door and crawled on her stomach towards him. She looked underneath the vehicle and saw another still form, lying motionless on the other side. She retrieved the fallen weapon and slipped it into the back of her waistband. She peered around the door, spotting another vehicle further along the road, 'Three cars?' she thought to herself before turning to her left and mentally measuring the distance to the cover of the trees. She cautiously began moving back towards the open rear door.
"Come on," she whispered, holding out her hand. Her eyes remaining focused on the cars behind them.
Alex slid towards the outstretched hand, keeping her tall frame low. Just as she had almost closed the distance between them, a hand grabbed her left shoulder, holding her firmly in place.
"I don't think so."
Alex whipped her head round in surprise and frowned at Motega, "We need to get out of here," she replied, trying to shake off his grasp.
"You're not going anywhere," he answered, lifting a pistol from his lap. He rested his left arm casually along the back of Ngaru's thigh and shot the slumped, unconscious form of Kenanga in the head before shifting his aim to the back seat.
"Liv!" Alex screamed, a split second before the pistol connected with the top of her head.
Olivia's body instantly spun towards the sound, coming face to face with the barrel of Motega's gun.
"D'you see 'em?"
Elliot strained around the driver's door he was using as a shield, "Sedan's blocking my view," he yelled across the front seat at Fin.
Fin stepped sideways and looked along the edge of the road, pulling his frame back in as a hail of bullets sailed past, "Two on the right; one in the ditch, one at the trees," he barked, pulling the passenger door closer towards him.
"Any sign of Liv or Alex?"
Fin shook his head, "I saw movement on the ground, too low to get a proper visual, coulda been Liv," he replied hopefully.
Elliot nodded, cautiously raising his head and aiming his weapon through the shattered window. He squeezed off a few rounds before ducking for cover. They had almost caught up with the sedan when it suddenly rammed into a reversing vehicle. The detectives reacted instinctively, opening their doors, intent on offering help when a hail of gunfire stopped their movements. Fin had taken out the passenger while Elliot played a visual game of cat and mouse for a few minutes with the driver before nailing his target. Now they were firing blindly at whomever was in front of the car they assumed held Liv and Alex.
"I gotta get to the trunk, I need more ammo," Elliot announced.
Fin nodded, "Go. I'll hold them off and follow," he replied, firing his weapon towards the trees.
Elliot scrambled to the rear of the car and popped the trunk, hurriedly reaching inside for the assault rifles and ammunition, "Fin!"
Fin appeared instantly, accepting the offered weapon and stuffing bullet clips into his pockets. He shook his head at the Kevlar vest in Elliot's hand, "We don't got time for that," he replied coolly before stepping to the side and spraying the trees with a continuous stream of fire.
"What are you doing?" Olivia yelled at Motega above the constant barrage of bullets, looking over at Alex with concern.
Motega lifted out a cellphone and pressed a speed dial button, "Delivering the goods," he replied coldly before turning his attention to the phone as it was answered, "I have Cabot," he announced, listening intently to what was being said. He shifted his aim to Alex's head as he released the call and nodded at Olivia, "Lower your weapon and get in slowly," he ordered.
Olivia lifted the rifle into view and placed it on the floor of the car before sliding onto the backseat with her hands in front of her. She glanced at Alex, "You okay?" she asked gently.
Alex nodded, massaging the bump on her head.
Olivia smiled at her before shifting her eyes to Motega, "There's nowhere to go," she advised him.
"For you not for me," he replied.
Olivia tilted her head, "They're shooting at us," she reminded him.
"Are they?" he asked, his dark eyes boring into hers.
Olivia tilted her head and realized the bullets were coming from the front and rear of their vehicle, "NSA?"
Motega shook his head, "Colleagues of yours actually," he corrected.
Olivia felt her stomach tighten and clenched her jaw, "Well, what are you waiting for?" she spat out.
Motega laughed and shook his head, "My ride," he answered cryptically.
Olivia was about to reply when a loud whirring noise sounded overhead. She ducked her head and looked out the side window.
"You see that?" Elliot shouted.
Fin shifted his eyes upwards and saw an approaching helicopter, "Friend or foe?" he yelled.
Elliot strained his eyes in the early morning light, about to answer when bullets landed on the ground beside him, spraying dust everywhere, "Take cover!" he barked at Fin as he threw himself over the hood of the car.
Fin dove into the ditch, firing his weapon towards the trees as he surfaced, providing Elliot with cover. Elliot landed beside him with a thud, instantly recovering and adjusting his aim.
"I'll cover this side," Fin said.
Elliot nodded, "I'll take the chopper," he replied.
Both men adjusted their positions and squeezed off short bursts of gunfire. The chopper pulled back as a scream came from the trees. Fin smiled in victory and began to crawl along the ditch towards the sedan.
Motega watched as the chopper landed in a nearby field, "Looks like we're going for an early morning run," he said, turning to Alex.
Alex cast an icy cerulean glare at him, "I'm not going anywhere," she replied.
Motega snorted, "Your coolness is admirable, even in the face of death," he retorted.
"Hardly. You wouldn't have gone through all this just to kill me. You need me " she paused and glanced at Olivia, " and I need her," she finished.
The dark man shook his head, "My mission was to kill Kenanga and deliver you it does not involve her," he replied, jerking the gun at Olivia.
Alex nodded, "You knew about the location of this meeting all along," she accused.
Motega shook his head, "No. I was given no instructions other than to deliver you. This was a test of my resourcefulness and loyalty."
The man glanced at the lifeless form in the passenger seat, "He was becoming a liability," he replied.
"So you're what? His replacement?" Olivia asked, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Motega smiled, "Something like that. In this business, retirement is never an option," he answered coolly.
Alex frowned, "What about your family?"
He shook his head, "What family? I've always been loyal to our cause. Gaining entry to the NSA was always part of the plan this," he indicated between Alex and Kenanga, "Is a fortunate coincidence. Now I will be Natoomby's number two and a hero to the NSA, with my cover intact," he added.
"How d'you figure that one out?" Olivia asked incredulously.
He snorted again, "Miss Cabot and I will be taken by Natoomby and there will be no witnesses to say otherwise," he replied.
Olivia understood the implications of what he was saying and tried to stall him by asking more questions. If that was Elliot behind them, she knew he'd reach them eventually. She just needed more time, she was about to ask another question when Motega's cellphone chirped into life. She studied his expression as he spoke into the phone and lowered his gaze, 'Now or never,' she decided, shifting slightly on the seat.
Chapter 10: Trigger Happy
Munch discretely observed the angry exchange between Cragen and SAC Kimbrano, knowing exactly what the Captain was saying to him. He nodded at Cragen as he shifted his attention towards him and rose from his chair expectantly.
"Sergeant Munch, we're moving," Cragen shouted as he approached.
Munch nodded as he buttoned his jacket, "Any news?" he asked hopefully.
"Latest images show four vehicles on scene, Elliot and Fin are holding their own at the rear," he replied as he accepted the Kevlar vest Kimbrano offered him. He motioned for Munch to put on his before continuing, "A chopper just flew in, NSA have no ID on it, but it could be Natoomby," he added.
Kimbrano looked at Munch, "My team are five minutes out, they were in position at the harbor," he supplied.
"So the meeting was a diversion?" Munch asked.
Cragen shook his head, "We don't know yet. Come on, I got us a ride," he said, indicating the door.
Olivia slid closer to Alex, her hands still high in front of her.
"Don't even think about it," Motega warned, leveling the pistol at her head.
Olivia stopped moving and nodded, "What are you gonna do, run to the helicopter?" she asked motioning towards the side window. She shook her head, "They'll drop you before you make it across the road," she added.
Alex nodded, "She's right, you know she is," she agreed.
"Not if I take you with me!" he growled.
Olivia frowned, "Thought you said no witnesses?"
"I'll take care of you once we make it to the chopper," he shot back.
Olivia arched an eyebrow, "We'll see," she replied, recoiling backwards as the gun connected with the side of her head.
Alex reached for her instantly and turned to Motega, "Either we go now, or not at all," she said, glaring at him venomously.
"Do NOT threaten me," he spat, staring hard at her. He spun his head quickly to look out the window before addressing Olivia, "I'm going to open the door and you're both going to walk in front of me, if you try anything " he shifted his dark eyes to Alex, " I'll kill her," he promised, through gritted teeth.
Olivia bobbed her head in agreement; confident all she needed was a few seconds to reach for the gun tucked in her waistband.
Elliot looked at the helicopter sitting in the nearby field, rotary blades spinning; he could just make out a dark figure sitting at the open rear door, pointing something in their direction. He looked down the road at Fin, inching his way along the ditch and decided to follow. The gunfire had eased, coming in short bursts rather than the constant onslaught. Glancing again towards the field, his gut told him something was about to go down.
Something landed nearby with an ominous thud and suddenly the air began to fill with thick red smoke. Elliot recognized it immediately and shielded his face with his forearm, "Fin, cover your eyes!" he yelled.
Motega watched matching red clouds appear on either side of him, creating a clear path for him to follow. He counted aloud to three before yelling, "Go!" to Alex. His arm tightened around her neck as he propelled her forward with Olivia directly in front of her.
Olivia moved slowly, conscious of Alex's proximity; even if she turned and fired, the odds were high she'd hit Alex in the process. She crossed the road, holding her breath as her eyes began to sting, 'CS gas,' she thought before dropping into the ditch.
Motega jumped with Alex and collided with Olivia, angrily rising to his feet, "Move!" he ordered.
Olivia crawled up the other side and headed towards the field, the chopper's two occupants clearly visible.
Motega sneered into Alex's ear, "Almost there," he whispered triumphantly.
Elliot blinked rapidly, desperately trying to see through the red fog despite the pain in his eyes. He spotted a flurry of movement at the other side of the road, "They're heading for the chopper!" he shouted.
Fin scrambled to his feet and raced towards him, "Liv 'n Alex?"
"I think so," Elliot replied.
Fin nodded, "Smoke's covering us. You go left, I'll go right," he said.
Olivia's hands were high as she approached the helicopter, thankful her leather coat was bulky enough to hide the outline of her weapon. She glanced behind her and smiled weakly at Alex.
The guard in the rear of the chopper leapt out and ran towards them, "I was told only two passengers," he snapped at Motega.
Motega shook his head angrily at the man before raising his weapon and firing.
Alex jumped as the man instantly fell to the ground.
"Turn around," Motega ordered Olivia.
Olivia turned slowly and locked her gaze on him.
He shifted his aim and pointed his gun directly at her, "Now it's your turn," he commented.
Olivia's eyes widened, "Wait!" she cried anxiously, "Can't I at least say goodbye?" she asked, indicating Alex.
"Make it quick and don't try anything," he warned.
Olivia nodded and stepped forward, she reached for Alex, sliding her arms around the taller woman's waist and leaned in close.
Alex sagged against her and closed her eyes, opening them instantly as Olivia whispered in her ear.
"Hurry up!" Motega growled.
Alex slipped her hands inside Olivia's coat as she brought their lips together.
"That's enough," Motega barked, grabbing Alex by her upper arm.
Alex smiled at Olivia as they parted, keeping her hands hidden from their captor. Without warning, she spun quickly and squeezed the trigger. Repeatedly.
The gun reflexively fell from Motega's hand as bullets struck his chest.
Alex continued to fire at him as he fell backwards, only stopping when Olivia's hand covered her own. They stood motionless for a few seconds, watching as blood bubbles frothed at Motega's mouth.
The sound of a door opening made Olivia spin them both round. Instinctively, she squeezed Alex's hand holding the gun, the bullet striking the pilot in the neck. They watched as he tumbled out of the helicopter, the pistol slipping from his lifeless hand.
They turned and saw Fin and Elliot racing towards them. Olivia released Alex's hand and removed the weapon, giving the slender fingers a comforting squeeze.
"You okay?" Elliot asked, looking at them both as he ran to the man hanging from the helicopter. He retrieved the gun and reached inside, shutting off the engine.
Olivia snorted as he approached them, "Since when did you know how to fly one of these?"
Elliot stopped in front of her, "Marines, never know when it'll come in handy," he replied, unable to hide his relieved smile.
Fin kicked the gun away from Motega's dead body, "He kill the NSA agent?" he asked, giving Alex a gentle smile.
"He is the NSA agent," Alex replied, stepping closer to Olivia.
Olivia bumped her shoulder, "Was," she corrected.
"Are you okay?" Elliot asked them both again.
Olivia placed a hand on his arm, "Fine. Honestly El," she answered softly.
As sirens wailed in the distance, Fin shook his head at Elliot, "Cap's gonna be pissed," he commented.
"And then some," Elliot agreed.
Alex reached for Olivia's hand and spoke quietly, "What about Natoomby, he's here somewhere," she said.
Elliot dipped his head, "NSA's got that covered, he's out on the water, somewhere along the coast," he replied.
"Motega was working for Natoomby, we don't know if any of that's true," she said anxiously.
Fin nodded, "She's got a point," he reluctantly admitted.
Olivia squeezed Alex's hand reassuringly, "We'll find out what they know and take it from there. If it means protective custody, then we'll look after you. I promise," she said solemnly.
Alex smiled in response as a familiar pair of figures approached.
"Hard to believe it's not even 8am yet," Munch commented as he sipped slowly from a cup of coffee.
Cragen glared at him in response before turning his attention to the rest of the table. They had returned to the NSA house at Turtle Cove where Alex and Olivia had filled everyone in on their kidnapping.
SAC Kimbrano had been visibly disturbed by the revelation that his undercover agent, Dexter Motega, was working for Natoomby. He had instantly put together a special task force to look through all Motega's reports since he infiltrated the group and was determined to ensure he was the only rogue agent in his team. "Coastguard's checked all cruisers in the bay, no sign of Natoomby," he said, snapping his cellphone shut.
Olivia looked across the table at him, "Somebody sent him the air rescue," she commented, absently peeling the label from her bottle of water.
Kimbrano shook his head at her, "There's no logged flight plans. It first showed up on the satellite feed over Hart Island," he supplied.
Alex frowned and turned to Olivia, "Why does that sound familiar?" she asked, tapping her dark frames off her chin.
"Potter's Field " Cragen offered, " it's uninhabited except for a security detail housed at the north end of the island," he added.
Elliot nodded, "He could be moored on the south side, he couldn't have a cruiser big enough for a chopper though," he said.
"What if the chopper's based on the mainland and only used as transport to and from the island?" Fin suggested.
Kimbrano mulled over the possibilities, "It's plausible," he replied.
Cragen bobbed his head at him, "How soon can you get us there?"
The NSA agent lifted his cellphone, "I'll mobilize the coastguard, be ready to move in ten minutes," he said, rising from the table as his call connected.
Cragen shifted his gaze to Alex and Olivia, "It's best if you two stay here," he advised.
Olivia shook her head, "Cap, I wanna go," she pleaded.
Alex dropped her gaze as she answered him, "I'll stay," she said quietly.
Cragen smiled at her, "I'll have NSA agents with you at all times. You'll be perfectly safe," he replied.
"With a promise like that, how can I possibly go," she said, sighing loudly as she placed the bottle noisily on the table.
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