||[Jul. 31st, 2006|04:58 am]
Title: Chapter Five - Family Affairs|
Word Count: Roughly 2300 words
Slow days had a tendency to make Sevita tense, and when a longer period of slow days rolled around, it was almost inevitable that she'd get snappish. When a new case finally came in, she jumped it like a hungry dog would attack a juicy steak. Before anyone else in the office had even realized that there was a new case, she had already run it past Walter, picked out her team among the free personnel, and assembled a meeting.
She watched impatiently as Joshua, Richard and Anna filed into the conference room, seating themselves at even intervals. "Where's Joseph?" She asked, tapping her foot restlessly.
"Right here." Joseph popped up behind her, strolling by at a relaxed pace, hands clasped at the small of his back. "You know, if you don't learn to unwind, you'll wear down your shoes unevenly."
Sevita grimaced slightly, pressing her toes to the bottom of her low pumps to keep from tapping her foot again. "And Tammy?"
Anna raised her hand nervously, like a school girl asking for permission to speak.
"Yes?" Sevita said, pressing her lips together almost painfully.
"She said she'd hook up to the system-thingamajig and conference from her computer." Anna said meekly, slumping lower into her chair.
Sevita sighed, running a hand down her face. "She couldn't be bothered to move 40 feet to attend in person?" She looked at Richard, who was sitting closest to the door. "You. Go fetch her."
Richard twitched in his seat, fumbling with the papers on the table in front of him. "Me?"
"Yes." Sevita said, pointing through the open doorway. "You're good with people. Now fetch."
"If she's made up her mind, she won't listen to me." Richard said, slowly getting out of his chair.
Sevita glared at him, her eyebrows raised. "Then wheel her in forcibly. Just get her in here."
Richard scurried out of the room, returning moments later with the chairbound woman in tow. "Ok, we're all here. I think. Should I get anyone else?" He hesitated in front of his chair for a moment, finally sitting down when Sevita didn't answer him.
"Alright, people. Walter's working the Miller case right now, so I'm leading on this one." Sevita pointed to the tiny stack of thin files on the table from which Richard had already helped himself to a copy. "We've got a family that wants their son back."
"Hey, I'm working the Miller case too!" Anna protested, biting her lip as soon as the words had escaped her. "I mean, none of the other's that are working that case with Walter are here, so..."
"I need a paper-pusher for this one, so Walter agreed to share you. Your workload on the other case isn't very heavy, so you'll manage." Sevita said, straightening the hem of her suit jacket. "As you can see from the file, we're looking at an extraction. Clarence Young got involved in a sect and a few months ago he cut all ties with his family. In order to go in and get him, we need to know everything we can possibly find out about this group." She paced over to the other side of the room, the excitement of working a proper case making her blood run searing through her body. "You all know what tasks you're expected to preform. Joseph, you and Richard will start preparing the deprogramming. Talk to the family and all that lovely stuff. Anna and Tammy will find out everything about this sect. Who the members are, blueprints of any buildings they might be in, even their daily breakfast habits. I want the works. Joshua and I will set up and execute the actual extraction. Any questions?"
Joshua twirled the stick of his lolli, pursing his lips as he pulled the bright red ball out of his mouth. "We're going to go in, just the two of us?"
"We're the only ones that are available." Sevita replied. "We can't count on Walter wrapping up his case in time to give us assistance on this, so we'll have to do it alone."
Joshua frowned slightly, sucking on his lolli again. "Maybe if we can grab him when he's away from the others. Off-grounds would be best."
"Now that's the spirit." Sevita said, the corners of her mouth curling up slightly. "Alright, people. Get to work!"
"Maybe we could get a van and just crash right through the front gates..." Joshua suggested, doodling at the sheet of paper lying on the table before him. "Do we know what kind of fortifications they have yet?"
"No." Sevita sighed, leaning her elbows heavily against the table. "They might not even have a front gate. Or they may have one that's heavily armored so people like us can't just drive through it. Either way, perhaps announcing out entrance like that isn't the best way to go about this."
Anna stuck her head in through the doorway, stretching her arm in and holding up a piece of paper to nobody in particular. "Found the address of the place. And a small map." She said, waiting until Joshua got up to take the paper from her before disappearing.
Joshua sat down again, reading the small note before handing it over to Sevita. "Looks like this place is in a typical small-town sort of place."
Sevita frowned slightly, twisting her lips together as she stared blankly at the note. "Maybe we can get Tammy to provide us with some satellite images of this place..."
Joshua nodded, going back to his doodling. "It'd be helpful to know if there was a gate."
Sevita sighed, folding her arms and leaning her forehead against them. "It'd be helpful to know how many members there are, and what the sect's credo is. At this point, I'd even settle for some Chow Mein noodles." She said, raising her head again.
"How would that help?" Joshua asked, looking up from his scribbling for a moment.
"I'm hungry." Sevita replied, sitting up properly and stretching her arms over her head. "Maybe we should just break for lunch." She stood up, cracking her neck. "Would you ask Tammy for those satellite images? I'm going out for some food."
Joshua nodded, replacing the cap on his pen and putting it down next to the paper.
"Do you want anything from Ming Palace?" Sevita asked over her shoulder, buttoning her suit jacket and heading out of the conference room towards her desk to grab her purse.
Joshua shook his head, walking slowly towards Tammy's desk area. "I brought my own lunch."
"Alright." Sevita said, swinging the front door open. "Bring it into the conference room, we can work while eating."
"Do you really like those sprout thingies?" Sevita asked, dropping her chopsticks in the box that had just recently contained her lunch.
Joshua nodded, putting down his sandwich between bites. "You know, you really should chew slower. You'll get a stomach ache if you eat like that."
"Eh, I'll worry about that later." Sevita said airily, waving her left hand dismissively. "Besides, it's not like I don't chew properly. You just eat a whole lot more than me, that's why I'm so fast in comparison. When did Tammy say she'd have those satellite images?"
Joshua swallowed, looking at his wristwatch. "10 more minutes, approximately."
"Right." Savita said, flinging her braid back over her shoulder. "Meanwhile, let's go over the more obvious points. We'll need to use non-lethal force only. Some of the people we encounter may be innocent victims trapped in the same situation as Clarence."
Joshua nodded, taking another bite of his sandwich.
"Rubber bullets, and maybe pepper spray." Sevita continued, thinking out loud.
"I go unarmed, if that's alright with you." Joshua interjected, screwing the top off of his bottle of ice tea.
"What if we're greatly outnumbered?" Sevita asked, chewing on her lower lip. "You'll need to carry some form of weapon to defend yourself, just in case."
Joshua shook his head, taking a deep drink. "I can handle over 20 opponents in unarmed combat, without hurting any of them."
Sevita raised an eyebrow sceptically. "That sounds impossible. I don't think even Walter could handle that many people, with or without some kind of side arms. And how exactly do you defeat someone without hurting them at least a little bit?"
Joshua screwed the top back on, setting the bottle down neatly next to the napkin that the remains of his sandwich was resting on. "You wear them out. And they generally don't attack all at once when there's that many of them. I may be big, but not big enough for 20 people to fit around me closely enough to hit me."
"Ok, let's say you can." Sevita said, leaning back in her chair. "It sounds terribly time consuming, and I'm not sure we have that kind of time once we get inside."
"Then we run. You can't stop someone if you can't catch up with them." He stuffed the last of his sandwich into his mouth.
Sevita smiled crookedly. "But how fast are you with a grown man on your back?"
Joshua shrugged, wiping his fingers on the napkin and tossing it in a nearby wastebin. "That's why a van would be good. We could be in and out of there before they knew what happened."
Sevita frowned slightly, crossing her arms as she considered their options. "We'd have to surprise them..." She picked up a pencil and scribbled on the pad in front of her in neat little letters. "While they're sleeping."
"We could go in while it's still dark." Joshua said, going back to doodling on his piece of paper. "But they might see the headlights coming long before we actually crash through. That would give them ample warning."
"Just after dawn, then?" Sevita suggested, resting the tip of the pencil lightly against the paper. "It would be light enough for us to see where we're going, so we won't need to turn on the lights. Most of them will probably still be sleeping, and those that aren't won't see or hear us until we're in."
"Assuming they're as sleepy as you are in the early morning?" Joshua asked, not looking up from his creative distraction.
"Assuming that you step on the pedal." Sevite replied, tempted to poke out her tongue at him. "Just after 6 am should be good." She scribbled down the time on the pad, circling it softly before writing down 'van?' underneath. "Some people will probably be up, maybe even all of them. But as you pointed out, people are sleepy in the morning. It'll take them some time to realize what's happening."
"Maybe these people get up at 4 in the morning." Joshua said, turning his paper over and starting on the back.
Sevita shrugged half-heartedly, dropping the pen on the table. "We'll adjust as we get more information." She stretched back in her chair, folding her arms behind her head. "For now, let's just roll with it and get a rough plan sketched out."
A small knock on the door interrupted their discussions, and Anna entered the room, carrying a bundle of folders and papers. "This is what we've dug up so far. But I don't think you'll need it."
"And why is that?" Sevita stood up, taking the top file from the pile and flipping it open.
"I found Clarence." Anna smiled brightly, appearing a bit more relaxed than she had at their morning meeting. "Apparently, the United Humanity Church is a peace club with religious undertones."
"A peace club?" Sevita repeated incredulously, her eyebrows lifting impressively.
"Yeah. You know, they sit around and talk about peace, do some charity projects, that sort of stuff. I got a list of their activities right here." She pulled out a sheet of paper from her stack of folders, holding it up. "Let's see..." She glanced down at the notepad on the table, and then looked back at the paper she was holding. "You were thinking that it'd be best to strike early in the morning, right? ...Shortly after 6 am." Her eyes ran down the sheet in her hand. "That's when they hold morning exercise for elderly in the front yard. You were about to mount an assault on a bunch of senior citizens doing pilates on the lawn."
"But-!" Sevita stuttered, feeling like her eyes might leap out of her head. "If it's not a sect, why would Clarence isolate himself from his family?"
Anna flipped through the stack again, pulling out a sheet from a small notebook, clearing her throat. "The darned hippies wouldn't let me live my own life." She read out loud from the paper. "The only thing we could ever agree on was peace. I don't want weed and a stripper for my birthday, and I want nothing to do with these people anymore."
"You... You talked to him?" She blinked at Anna, feeling a bit stupid for not thinking of trying to contact Clarence herself.
"Yeah. I gave him a call." Anna said, dumping the stack of folders and papers on the table. "Seemed like a good place to start."
"So, to sum things up..." Joshua said softly, standing up and carefully folding the paper he had been doodling on, putting it in his back pocket along with his pen. "There's no sect, Clarence doesn't need rescuing, and we're done with the case... Does that sound about right?"
"Right." Sevita concluded with a sigh, tossing the folder she had taken from Anna on top of the others. "I'll go tell Walter than we've solved the case." She shuffled slowly towards the door.
Joshua stood silent for a moment, and then spoke. "Do we still get paid for this?"