Episode 8: The Wrath of Khan (Episode Start Date: March 17, 2016)
FBI Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia
“I’ll call you after work,” said Behavioural Analysis Unit team member Emily Prentiss, kissing Patrick Jane goodbye. The two continued to hold each other. “Thanks for driving me to work today.”
“No problem,” said Jane, giving Prentiss another kiss. “Maybe one day we’ll actually come to work together.”
“Have you thought about Hotch’s offer?”
“Not yet…I would entertain the thought of joining the team though. I think I need to think about things and see where my life is and contemplate the move…and maybe get some rest too. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling lately…it’s taken its toll.”
“You did a great job in New Rome…and I really hope I get to see you more often.”
“I do too. I haven’t felt this happy since I met my first wife.”
Prentiss couldn’t help but smile after hearing Jane refer to his old wife as his “first” wife, not simply as his wife. She caught on that Jane believed the two of them had a viable future.
Jane smiled. “I guess I telegraphed my intentions.”
“Yeah, but I like knowing that you believe in us.”
“I do too.” The two of them proceeded to kiss passionately for a few minutes before Prentiss managed to convince herself that it actually was finally time to get inside and get to work.
Inside, BAU teammate David Rossi stepped out of his office with a broad smile.
“Someone is having a good morning,” noted BAU media liaison Jennifer “JJ” Jareau.
“I know,” said BAU teammate Zoe Hawkes, rubbing her eyes. “I’m still struggling with recovering from the long flight from New Rome.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Rossi, boastfully. He was never one for subtlety. “We’ve finally apprehended the suspects in Calgary.”
“Oh,” said teammate Spencer Reid. “The Calgary case is finished…congratulations.”
“Yup,” said Rossi. “I’m told that Calgary Police arrested the suspects last night. They got the map our colleague Kevin Lynch prepared, and followed the clues of the profile and the Counter-Terrorism Unit and they got the guys.”
“Was it a clean arrest?” asked BAU Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, who stopped in the bullpen after accessing the photocopier.
“Clean as a whistle,” said Rossi, his smile as vibrant as he was. “The evidence is solid too…those guys are going to be locked up for a while.”
“Congratulations,” said Hotchner. “That was a difficult case…glad you closed it.”
“I’ve done a bit of thinking,” said BAU teammate Derek Morgan, who was meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Lucius Black. “I do want the job, but I think we need to flesh out a few things.”
“Okay, so you will accept the role of leader of the Roman profiling team,” said Black, smiling. “You can have whatever you’d like for the team. What is it that you would like?”
“I want to keep as much of this team together as possible. Since I’m not the best at paperwork and better in the field, I would like Hotch and Rossi to handle that. I would also like to retain Jennifer Jareau as our liaison, and, of course, I want to keep Penelope.” Morgan paused, remembering something. “Oh, and I want Patrick Jane on this team.”
“I like your ideas, even though it could mean I’ll have to hire a new team for North America, but that’s okay. The only thing I’m worried about is whether or not Hotch would accept a subservient role.”
Morgan grimaced. “I understand what you mean.”
“We’ll sort things out in time…we still have a long way to go before this team is a reality. Let’s be patient…but I’m glad you’ve accepted our offer. You deserve the best, Derek.”
Morgan smiled and shook Black’s hand heartily before departing his office.
After Morgan left, Black received a phone call. “FBI Director Lucius Black,” he said, answering the phone. “Okay, I’ll be down in a minute.”
At the receptionist desk, Mongol Khan Ogedei XI was waiting for Black. His consort, the Kheshig, were waiting outside the building.
“Great Khan,” said Black, greeting Ogedei by putting his together and bowing, as was the Mongol custom. Ogedei returned the favour.
“Thank you, Director Black,” replied Ogedei, “but please, call me Ogedei. Let us cut the formalities…they are not important.”
“Understood. You may call me Lucius.”
“I wish not to discuss this matter out here. Can we go to your office?”
As Ogedei and Black walked in to the elevator to go to Black’s office, Prentiss stepped out of the elevator to step out to make a quick stop to a deli to grab lunch before heading back to work.
When she got back, she couldn’t help but take notice about what she saw.
“Guys,” said Prentiss, returning to the bullpen. “The Khan is here.”
“Ogedei?” replied Morgan, puzzled but intrigued.
“I’m surprised he would come here,” said Reid, also puzzled but intrigued. “The Mongols have been hailed for years for their relatively safe society…I’m surprised that he’d need the FBI to help him out…those guys have everything under control.”
“How much of that safety is because the Mongols aren’t telling us everything?” said Morgan, skeptically.
“I know the Mongols are a dictatorship,” said Reid, “but they’re benevolent. They have freedom of the press…all the crime statistics are there for us to see.”
“…and if the Khan ever got heavy-handed,” said Hawkes, “he has to answer to the parliaments of the democratically-elected Governorates, where if two-thirds of which vote to impeach the Khan, it forces the vote for a new one by the Governors.”
“It’s still not foolproof,” retorted Morgan. “I don’t trust anyone that can rule as he pleases…eventually, every man abuses absolute power.”
“Democracy hasn’t been that much better,” answered Reid. “Politicians rarely ever implement any kind of long-term vision, knowing that they can’t guarantee being in power long enough to implement their plan…and forget about bold actions…no politician wants to risk losing voters enacting a law that might not be well-received.”
“That may be true,” interjected Hotchner, still photocopying. “However, in a democracy you have a lot more accountability. I can vote knowing that the person leading my country is the person I’ve picked and thus has to answer to me. Further to the point, this means that if I don’t like him or her, I don’t have to wait too long to vote them out. In the Mongol system, the recall process is arduous, meaning unless the Khan is really abusing their power, they can continue ruling unencumbered. I know they can rule more swiftly than in our system, but I like knowing that every law still has to go through checks and balances before being enacted.”
Meanwhile, in Black’s office, the Khan and Black got down to business.
“You know,” said the clean-shaven Black as both were sitting down at his desk, “I’ve always admired your moustaches. I wish I could grow something as epic as your brethren could.”
Ogedei laughed, twirling the whiskers of his Genghis Khan-inspired facial hair that most Khans traditionally sported. “Thank you for the compliment,” Ogedei said, “most people do not understand the honour behind the facial hair. The Fu Manchu characterization is a burden, driven by people who fail to understand who we really are as people.”
“That’s what happens when you’re on ‘the other side of the world’. People make stuff up…it’s why ‘Borat’ is so successful.”
Black clasped his hands together and brought them onto his desk, leaning forward. “Since there’s no easy way to get into it…what brings you here, Ogedei?”
“Two weeks ago my daughter mysteriously disappeared.”
“Monkhtsetseg?” Black leaned back, sighing with concern. “Oh no. She’s a sweet lady…I’ve met her before.”
“Yes, unfortunately. She was on a state function before her disappearance. It was just a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Ridder, where we opened a new medical school, so she wasn’t supposed to be there long. However, the next day, one of her boyfriends called me and said she had gone missing. I sent my best men forward- we interviewed everyone she’s ever met, checked the crime scene…we turned up nothing. The only thing we do know is that there was a struggle inside her hotel room, but apart from that…we couldn’t find anything. There was a text message I received two days after she disappeared but I was so saddened by it that I deleted it, not thinking of the consequences.”
Black continued with his purposeful look. “Hmmmnnn…okay.”
“We have a tip line and everything…and, so far…nothing. No leads.”
“That is something.”
“So I’ve come to you…I have heard of your ‘Behavioural Analysis Unit’…I have heard about their excellent crime fighting skills and I wish to employ them into my service.”
“Anything you want my friend. Anything. You will have them without a moment’s hesitation.”
Ogedei was relieved. “Thank you. I really want you to bring back my daughter…she means the world to me.”
“We will do everything we can, I promise.”
Ogedei gave Black a hearty handshake as the two go up, thanking Black again for his help.
Two weeks ago, 35 km north of Zaysan, East Kazakhstan Province
I think I’ve lost him, Monkhtsetseg thought. She had managed to slip away from her captor by finding a knife in his car and using it to free herself of her bonds and escape into the nearby woods. She had been running for quite some time before deciding that it was time to slow down. She was deep in the forest and didn’t see a soul around her, so she relaxed, but only a little. She was lucky that her captor took a nap, but it wouldn’t be long before he would set out looking for her once he realized what had happened.
Eventually, Monkhtsetseg came across Lake Zaysan. The flow of the river was calming and relaxing, as Monkhtsetseg allowed the cold breeze to flow upon her face. Even though the weather was foreboding, it was the feeling of freedom, and once she could find cell phone service, she would phone home to let authorities know where she was.
As day turned to nigh, Monkhtsetseg decided it was time to collect firewood and find a place to camp out for the night. After an hour of searching, she eventually found a spot underneath a tree where she could sleep. It wasn’t very comfortable, but her options were limited. As she lay there, trying to ease herself to sleep, she kept thinking about her father’s rose gardens and how she would love to tend to them again. Eventually, she just used her coat as her own blanket, curling up like a baby and falling blissfully asleep.
Present day, BAU War Room, FBI Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia
“Hello everyone,” said Jareau, starting her briefing of the case to the entire team. “I hope you guys had a great time readjusting to your homes because we’ll be back on the move again.”
Morgan let out a frustrated sigh. “Where are we going now?” he asked.
“This is Ogedei Monkhtsetseg, the daughter of Ogedei Khan XI,” said Jareau, showing Monkhtsetseg’s picture.
“Monksetsing?” said Morgan, confused by the name.
“Monkhtsetseg!” admonished Reid. “Can you not say it right?”
“Whoa…excuse me for not being you, ‘Mr. I-Know-Every-Language-On-The-Planet’!” said Morgan, very defensively. “I’m used to our names, and that’s challenging enough!”
“It’s okay Morgan,” said Jareau reassuringly. “I needed a few tries before I got it right myself.”
“The name means ‘eternal flower’ in Mongolian,” said Prentiss. “It’s actually a very popular name, spurred by Ogedei’s usage of the name.”
“Anyhow, Monkhtsetseg went missing two weeks ago from the city of Ridder, in the Altai Province of the Mongol Empire,” continued Jareau. “Everyone from Ridder police on up to the Mongol Army has had no success in trying to locate her, so the Khan has asked for our help.”
“So that’s why Ogedei was here yesterday,” said Rossi. “I feel honoured that he would drop by and ask for us.”
“I’ve never been to that side of the world,” said Reid. “It should be fun.”
“What was she doing at the time of her abduction?” said Hawkes.
“She was in Ridder for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of a medical school there,” said Jareau. “On the night of her disappearance, she was supposed to fly out but did not take her flight. One of her boyfriends phoned the Khan and told him the news.”
“One of her boyfriends?” asked Morgan, confused.
“The Mongols practice polygamy and polyamory,” said Hawkes, “occurring in both genders. Mostly polyamory, as Mongol law requires one to take care of all of the children they have parented, rendering polygamy rare from a logistical standpoint. It’s not that uncommon for someone, even married people, to have multiple girlfriends or boyfriends and for people not to bat an eye at that notion. It used to be restricted to men but social revolutions over in our continent spilled over there causing their laws to open up. Wife and husband swapping is not uncommon either.”
“Oh okay,” said Morgan, acknowledging the point. “How many does she have?”
“Estimates vary, but apparently it’s close to twenty at any one time,” said Jareau.
“Maybe one of those boyfriends got jealous and wanted her all to himself,” said Reid.
“It would be a viable explanation,” said Rossi. “What did the Mongols find?”
“They interviewed everyone she had a relationship with,” said Jareau, “and they found nothing.”
“Maybe she had a boyfriend we don’t know about,” said Morgan.
“She was taken in the Altai Province,” noted Reid. “It’s still a ways away…but from time to time Tibetan terrorists are known to make an appearance there, because of the border dispute over Aksai Chin.”
“So far the Tibetan link has not been made,” said Jareau. “In fact, right after her disappearance, the Dalai Lama himself went as far as saying that Tibet had no involvement in the matter.”
“Of course, terrorists aren’t always a wing of the government,” said Hotchner. “Especially not in Tibet.”
“There was a cryptic message left on Ogedei’s phone two days after she disappeared,” said Jareau. “Ogedei deleted the message in an emotional response, but Garcia, you were able to recover it.”
“Yes I was,” said Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia. “I was confused by it…the message sounds like a ransom note but it didn’t ask for money.”
“If you want Monksetseng back, you need to see the light,” said Rossi, reading the note. “It sounds like a political message.” Reid tried his hardest not to admonish Rossi’s pronunciation, though he was visibly grated.
“Increases our chances of finding her alive,” said Morgan. “He’s not going to kill her in expecting something from Ogedei.”
“Did surveillance catch anything?” asked Rossi.
“Only outside,” said Jareau. “Her captor broke through her hotel window, subdued her and dragged her to his car. However, the captor was wearing all black attire and had a mask.”
“He had a reason to take her,” said Hotchner. “Even though the Tibetans have denied involvement we have to explore the political angle.”
“Definitely we’ll need to get into victimology,” said Morgan. “Since we don’t have much on the attacker himself we’ll have to understand who would want to attack Mongsetsing personally.” Morgan noticed Reid being grated at his mispronunciation and threw his hands up.
“I’ve been told ‘Setseg’ would still be appropriate,” said Garcia. “I can’t say the name either Derek, don’t be too flustered.”
“Setseg, Monksetsing,” said Hotchner, frustrated, “whatever the name is, we have our work cut out for us. Morgan and Reid, I want you guys to go to the crime scene. There you’ll meet with the Mongol Imperial Police’s lead detective, Jack Bauer.”
“The legendary Jack Bauer?” asked Morgan, intrigued.
“Yes,” said Hotchner. “He moved to the Mongol Empire three years ago.”
“Cool,” said Morgan, enthused. “It’ll be a pleasure to meet him…and, finally, I get a name I can say.”
“Prentiss and Hawkes,” continued Hotchner, “I want you guys to interview Ganbaatar Ganzorig the boyfriend she was supposed to meet up with after her trip to Ridder. Rossi and I will interview Ogedei. Garcia, you’ll be coming with us…it would be impractical for you to be in Quantico given the time differences. Wheels up in 30…and get some sleep…it’ll be a long flight.”
Peace Hotel, Karakorum, Mongol Capitol Territory
“Hello?” Rossi said, groggily as he answered the phone.
“Mr. Rossi?” said the caller, Connie Galen, one of the kids whose murdered parents were involved in a long cold case that Rossi solved five years ago.
“Oh hey Connie.” Rossi was happy to hear from her. “What’s up kiddo?”
“Did I wake you up? I thought you’d be just getting out of work.”
“Yes you did, actually, but I’m on the other side of the world…I have a case in Karakorum this week.”
“Yeah. The Khan’s daughter went missing two weeks ago…the Khan personally came to us for help.”
“That’s quite the honour.”
“It is…but enough about me. How are you doing? It’s been a while.”
“The three of us are doing great. We opened up our own car dealership here in Indianapolis…it’s doing really well. We specialize in sports cars, ‘cause, you know, Indy is all about sports. I’m doing all the administrative stuff and the accounting, while Alicia is handling marketing and Georgie…well, let me say, he’s quite the salesman. You should come by…I hear you’re a big sports car buff.”
“Yeah…my AMC AMX-10 needs an upgrade.”
“We’ve got the 11.”
“Oooh…well, I’ll have to check it out.”
“It was great talking to you, and thanks again. We couldn’t be here without you.”
Rossi smiled, warmed by those words. “It was great to hear from you too.”
Sunflower Hotel, Ridder, Altai Province
“Jack Bauer,” said Morgan, heartily shaking Bauer’s hand outside of the hotel. “I’ve heard a lot of nice things about you.”
“…and not so nice things,” said Reid, slightly intimidated, “but, uh, hopefully we won’t have to worry about all that.”
“Dr. Spencer Reid, right?” said Bauer, menacingly.
“Yes,” Reid gulped.
“You’re that little runt that criticized my intelligence gathering methods,” snarled Bauer.
“Well, um…not all of them,” stammered Reid, “just…uh…all that torture.”
Bauer got into Reid’s face. “Well, if you so much as even raise a peep about it,” growled Bauer, “I’ll hang you upside down and use you as a tetherball.”
“O-ok-k-kay,” Reid quivered, hyperventilating.
Bauer leaned back, smacking his knee with a belly laugh. “I’m just playing with you, kid,” said Bauer, loudly smacking Reid on the shoulder. “I love doing that…it relieves the tension.”
“Yeah,” said Reid, still shaken up. “I guess it does.” Morgan, who laughed with Bauer once he realized it was all a joke, came over and put his arm around Reid to assuage him while the trio walked inside the hotel.
Once inside, the trio made their way to the ground-floor room Monkhtsetseg was staying at the night of her abduction. They were joined by the hotel manager, Otgonbayar Ganbold, who worked that night.
“She was supposed to fly out the night of her abduction,” said Morgan.
“Yes,” confirmed Bauer. “Flight records confirmed that Setseg had a ticket to go back to Karakorum that night, which she never boarded.”
“She flew commercial?” Reid inquired, puzzled.
“ 'Setseg', huh?” Morgan noted. “I guess these named trip you up too.”
“All the time,” concurred Bauer. “That's why I don't bother. She mostly gets referred to as 'Setseg' here anyway...and yes, Setseg flew commercial. She loved mingling with the people, she was a real social butterfly.”
“The hotel guys cleaned up pretty good,” said Morgan, looking around. “We'll have to rely on the crime scene photos.”
Ganbold spoke in Mongolian, which Reid translated.
“Ganbold says that they had to return the room to its normal state,” explained Reid. “He didn't want to scare off future guests.”
“That's okay,” said Morgan, “I think we have enough. Can you ask him if any of the guests heard any screaming?”
Reid posed the question to Ganbold, who responded. “He says yes, there was a scream but then it died down,” said Reid.
“Did she come with security?” Morgan asked.
“She never does,” replied Bauer. “The crime rate is so low that she never even thinks about it...and she's quite the capable fighter herself.”
Morgan then walked to the window that was broken. “Okay,” he said as he started roleplaying. “I'm the UnSub. I break the window, why am I doing that?”
“You either lack confidence to get up to Monkhtsetseg's room,” reasoned Reid, “or you're not a guest she wants to have.”
“Okay, but then the footprints show that I walk three steps forward and then stop, before taking three steps towards Setseg.”
“She stopped to talk to you.”
“Right. Then I punch her in the face, and pull her head onto the bed to muffle her screams, before I silence her with a cleve gag or a drugged cloth. Either way, we've got an UnSub that is much bigger and stronger than she is, and managed to subdue her and bring her out of her room undetected and quickly.”
“So if you're bringing stuff to subdue her with, that makes you organized...and the fact that she stopped to talk to you indicates that she knows you.”
“Has to be someone she knows but doesn't like. It can't be just a simple fan...they wouldn't walk as purposefully as our UnSub does...a fan would gradually edge their way towards her or just go in one swoop. The fact that our UnSub takes a few steps, stops, talks to her and then attacks her indicates that he's comfortable with her, indicating a prior relationship, but the fact that he didn't get to her door indicates that she didn't want him there.”
Reid turned to Ganbold to ask him if anyone tried visiting Monkhtsetseg. Ganbold revealed that no one did.
Morgan continued assuredly. “That means whatever happened between our UnSub and Setseg has been going on for a while.”
Imperial Palace, Karakorum
“They don't call him 'Great Khan' for nothing,” said Rossi to Hotchner as the two of them walked up the front steps of Ogedei's palace in Karakorum.
Not one for subtlety, Ogedei's palace was strewn with ornaments and statues. The palace itself was designed to look like a menacing dragon, taken from Ogedei's own nickname as “The Dragon Slayer” from his days as a corruption-battling lawyer. The main doorway was the dragon's mouth, and two carefully constructed wings formed observation decks.
It was at the left wing where Rossi and Hotchner met the Great Khan. As Ogedei had promised, a feast was awaiting the profilers, cooked by his personal staff.
“Eat,” implored Ogedei, seated at the table and seeing Rossi and Hotchner still standing. “You are my honoured guests.”
“We appreciate the gesture,” said Hotchner, “but it's not necessary.”
“I insist,” said Ogedei heartily. “You take care of me, so I take care of you.” Rossi and Hotchner nodded in agreement and sat down to eat their meals.
“This caviar is exquisite,” noted Rossi, really enjoying the meal.
“It’s the best from the Yellow Sea,” said Ogedei. “Carefully selected. I only accept the best.”
“I’m glad we could be a part of this,” said Rossi.
“Great Khan,” started Hotchner.
“Please, dispense with the formalities,” interjected Ogedei, “I wish not to burden something this important with needless trivialities.”
“Fair enough,” said Hotchner, trying to proceed with the questioning. “Ogedei, our records show that you have three children, two girls and one boy, with Setseg being the only one living on her own. How come she moved out but the other two decided to stay?”
“Setseg craved independence,” said Ogedei. “From a very early age she wanted to leave her mark on this world and I encouraged her, because I saw her potential. I couldn’t keep her here very long even if I wanted to- she was passionate. Very passionate. She wanted to get involved with everything…I saw her as a future Khan one day.”
“She would be the first female Khan, wouldn’t she?” inquired Rossi.
“Yes that’s true,” replied Ogedei.
“There must be quite a few people that would be upset about that,” said Rossi. “I’m sure you’re aware of the problems American women had moving up in society- I can’t imagine the Khanate being that much different.”
“We are a patriarchal society,” said Ogedei. “There is no question about that, although our women had more rights than yours did for a while…Mongol society had always been, more or less, an equal society. Leadership, however, is a whole different story…women in politics is still frowned upon, and the few brave souls that wanted to partake in it have to constantly answer unfortunate questions about how their gender plays a role in their decisions.”
“Did she make any moves towards politics?” said Hotchner.
“Some noises here and there,” said Ogedei. “A tweet, once, where she announced she was joining the Great Cormorant Party, but she didn’t talk much about it afterward. She also joined the Imperial Crisis Hotline, eventually becoming its president and reforming it into the institution it is today.”
“She was quite busy,” said Rossi, really enjoying the food.
“Setseg was a workaholic,” said Ogedei. “She never knew when to quit...many days she'd be bedridden because she was so exhausted...you know how some people just don't know how to stop themselves? That was Monkhtsetseg...right to a T.”
“Did she get into any other endeavours?” Hotchner asked.
Ogedei sighed in frustration. “I don't mean to be rude,” he said, “but how does asking about Monkhtsetseg help in finding her? Shouldn't we be discussing friends and the like?”
“We don't yet have a lead in that regard,” said Hotchner. “Once we understand who Setseg was as a person, we'll be able to understand who she would associate with and who might want to target her.”
Ogedei nodded, understanding Hotchner. “Ah okay,” he said, taking a deep breath before continuing. “She got into modelling...even took some nude pictures. Artistically nude pictures, but she was...still nude. First time the Khan's daughter had ever done that...made quite the waves. She said she did it not for publicity but because the art called for it, but I still think she was making a statement...you can't underscore the gravity of the picture.”
“How long ago was this?” Hotchner asked.
“One long year ago,” explained Ogedei.
“Sounds like you're quite bitter about it,” noted Rossi.
“Wouldn't any father?” Ogedei asked rhetorically. “If that was your little girl up there for all to see, wouldn't you be a little uncomfortable about it?”
“Neither of us have daughters,” said Rossi, referring to himself and Hotchner, “but we understand how you feel.”
“How did the rest of your family take it?” Hotchner asked.
“Monkhbat didn't realize who it was at first,” said Ogedei. “So, like any man, he found it sexy- until I pointed out to him that it was his sister. Makeup does wonders, it seems. He was still supportive, though. Monkh-Erdene was lukewarm...shocked it was Setseg, but thought I was being stuck up for not appreciating the art. I told her I appreciated it, it's just...my daughter.”
Hotchner picked up something from Ogedei's tone. “Sounds like you and your kids don't get along much lately,” he said.
Ogedei let out a pensive sigh. “My kids are jealous of Setseg's liberty,” he explained. “Neither of her siblings have Setseg's drive...they both still live here and want me to pay for their first home...I told them they have to earn it. I have to drag them out to functions now...it's frustrating.”
“Mongol society typically features kids staying at home with their parents until marriage, though,” said Hotchner, reflecting on Ogedei's statements.
“Yes, typically,” said Ogedei, “but I don't always subscribe to convention. Besides, neither Bat or Erdene even try to find work or try to start a family of their own...they just want to live like playboys...I would kick them out, but what message does that send to my people?”
“So Bat and Erdene were jealous of Setseg,” said Rossi, analyzing.
“Very much so,” said Ogedei, wistfully. “They fought a lot, sometimes even violently...it's probably one reason why she moved out. I wouldn't blame her.”
Ulan Bator, Tov Province
“I love the architecture here,” said Hawkes, as her and Prentiss were walking towards Ganzorig's apartment complex.
“They're really into horses,” said Prentiss. “Just about every block here in Mongolia seems to have a horse statue of some kind.”
“The Mongols made their name on horseback, so it makes sense. Their army, though since modernized, still has a token cavalry unit as a nod to this history. Besides, there's a lot of honour in a horse.”
“...and, of course, the Mongols like to think they're 'hung' like one too.”
Hawkes snickered. “Men and their pride.”
After a half hour walking through downtown, they reached Ganzorig's apartment complex, a Medieval Buddhist-style building with ornate decorations that glistened in the midday Sun. After walking past the dueling fountains that adorned the front gates, Hawkes and Prentiss opened the front door and called the intercom.
“Ganbaatar Ganzorig,” said Prentiss, knocking on Ganzorig's door.
“Who is it?” Ganzorig replied, quizzically.
“It's Emily Prentiss of the FBI. I'm here with my fellow agent, Zoe Hawkes. We'd like to ask you a few questions about your girlfriend, Ogedei Monkhtsetseg.”
“The FBI? You have no authority here. This is the Mongol Khanate, not North America.”
“We've been called in specifically by the Great Khan. We'll even let you call his office to verify.” After ten minutes of no answer, Prentiss buzzed Ganzorig again.
Ganzorig replied, reluctantly. “Okay, you guys can come up.”
Upon descending on the pair, the stress of Monkhtsetseg’s disappearance had gotten to Ganzorig. He had let his facial hair grow into a scraggily beard, with his clothes unkempt and his hair ruffled, with even a patch of it missing due to him pulling his hair out. He’d already spoken to numerous officers about Monkhtsetseg and was frustrated to have to do it again, but he was assured by the Great Khan’s office that the BAU gets results so he agreed to let them in.
“Don’t get much sleep, do you?” said Hawkes, looking around Ganzorig’s apartment when the agents made it in. The place was an uncharacteristic mess, with items strewn all over the place.
“I haven’t been to work since Setseg disappeared,” said Ganzorig, sighing. “All I can do is think about her and just hope she’ll come back safe.”
“You’re an architectural consultant,” said Prentiss, “and work primarily as an independent contractor…so you’ve rejected all projects since her disappearance…I can see how hard this has been for you.”
“No income, Agent Prentiss,” replied Ganzorig. “I’ve saved quite a bit, but it’s draining.”
“How long were you going out with Setseg?” asked Hawkes. She wanted to use her full name but caught that Ganzorig was more comfortable with the short-form name.
“I met her two years ago,” said Ganzorig. “I always loved her but she never did reciprocate the feelings. She had a number of boyfriends, and they all complained that she didn’t seem to care for them as they did for her…we were just ‘sex toys’.”
“So you two didn’t see each other much,” said Prentiss.
“Off and on,” replied Ganzorig. “Sometimes we’d spend whole weekends together…I have a cottage near Lake Zaysan…Setseg and I went a couple of times a year, usually in the summer. I’ve been involved in a few projects in that area, so one year I scouted out some areas and built a cottage for myself and Setseg.”
“So you used the cottage as a way to win her favour,” said Prentiss.
“In a way, yes,” said Ganzorig. “I mean, when you have a girl with multiple boyfriends, you’ve got to do something to get ahead…alas, I don’t think it worked.”
“Is the competition between you and the other boyfriends pretty fierce?” asked Prentiss.
“We’re talking about the Khan’s daughter here,” said Ganzorig. “How could it not?”
“Yes, but it seems like it’s more than that,” said Hawkes. “It’s a cliché, I know, for one to look at the princess and think she’s sweet, but I see the glimmer in your eye when you talk about her…you see her as a truly special person.”
“It is true,” said Ganzorig. “You do hear about a lot of princesses who don’t live up to the allure of the title…just look at her own sister…but Setseg…she more than just lived up to that title. She just wanted to love everyone and wanted to be loved…if she doesn’t come back alive, the Khanate will be devastated.”
“We’re doing what we can,” reassured Prentiss.
“What were you guys planning on doing when you were supposed to meet up with her?” asked Hawkes.
“She was just going to spend the weekend here,” said Ganzorig. “Nothing special.”
“What attracted you two to each other?” asked Prentiss.
“Setseg was big into the arts,” said Ganzorig. “I met her at a gala for underprivileged youth here in Ulan Bator, and she admired the creativity that went into my job.”
“Here’s what’s troubling me,” said Hawkes, enlightened by a thought that popped into her head. “You’ve done all this stuff for her…gushed about how great she is as a character…but she’s not returning that love. You admitted yourself that she saw you guys as ‘nothing but sex toys’ and that has me wondering…why do you care so much? Aren’t your feelings better spent in someone that would reciprocate them?”
Ganzorig let out a heavy sigh. “I know what you’re saying,” he started. “I have noted myself that the feelings are not a 50-50 split…but…knowing Setseg…I think it had more to do with an unwillingness to settle down than with a genuine lack of love…when we’re together she treats me very well…it’s just…when it comes time to ask to take things to the next level, she gets reluctant.”
“Do you have any other girlfriends?” asked Hawkes.
“I do,” he said. “Two others, actually. However, I feel more for Setseg than I do for the other girls…I suppose I really don’t know why that’s true.”
“Did you ever take them to your cottage?” asked Prentiss.
“I didn’t,” replied Ganzorig. “Only Setseg went…she was big into the outdoors…we went hiking together a lot…we loved escaping away from the city…we’re both so busy, the great outdoors does wonders to restore your vibrancy.”
Hawkes gave Prentiss a look, which Prentiss nodded to. “Can you excuse us for a moment?” asked Prentiss.
“Sure,” said Ganzorig, who noticed the look but didn’t think much of it. The two agents then stepped outside of his apartment and down the hall, away from earshot.
“What do you think?” asked Prentiss, thinking Hawkes picked up on something.
“Something does not seem right about that guy,” said Hawkes. “He has the motive to kidnap her and kill her.”
“I know…but look at him. He hasn’t shaved since her disappearance. His apartment is a mess. That doesn’t look like he’s a killer.”
“What if it’s remorse? He did it but didn’t want to. What if, in the attack, he killed her by accident and dumped the body somewhere? Maybe at the cottage…he loves it there.”
“Well, we don’t even know if she’s dead yet…I think this is a bit premature. Besides, he has a rock-solid alibi for the night of her disappearance…he was at a bar with his friends.”
“Yes, but Prentiss…I didn’t say he actually did the kidnapping…just that he has the motive for doing it.”
Prentiss was dismissive. “So someone worked for him?”
“If you were to kidnap the princess, do you think you’d do it on your own?”
Genghis Khan Hotel, Karakorum
Prentiss heard a knock on her hotel room door. As she was just getting ready for bed, she wasn’t expecting any visitors, so she was confused at what she heard. When she looked into the peephole, though, she was excited.
“Patrick!” said Prentiss with glee, planting a big kiss on Jane’s lips and warmly wrapping her arms around him. “I’m so glad you came! What brings you to Mongolia?”
“I had to fly in as soon as I could,” said Jane. “I told Hotch about my visit…told him to keep it a secret because I wanted to surprise you…I just couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
“Me neither,” said Prentiss with a smile, giving Jane another kiss as the two of them stepped inside her room. “I wish I was a little more dressed for you,” Prentiss cooed, as she was wearing nothing but her nightgown.
“I think you’re dressed a little too much,” said Jane, kissing Prentiss again. “I’d more than happy to help you out there.”
“Oh I need all the help I can get,” said Prentiss, leading Jane towards her bed. The two of them passionately kissed and gradually took off each other’s clothes, before eventually having sex. As they were copulating, ecstasy overtook them both, as Prentiss couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the warmth and connectivity their act was providing, and Jane, holding Prentiss ever so tightly against his body, was so thrilled that he finally met a woman he truly bonded with…and, then, after a minute of sex, it was all over.
“I’m sorry,” said Jane, embarrassed. “I guess I got a little too excited…it’s been a while for me.”
“It’s okay,” said Prentiss, still hot from the lovemaking. “I’m a hard one to get off.”
“Well, I can’t leave my lady hanging,” said Jane, who went down to service Prentiss so she could get her own fulfillment from the experience. When it was finished, the two of them cuddled, naked, inside Prentiss’ covers.
“It’s been, what, one month?” said Jane, reminiscing.
“About that, I think,” said Prentiss, still wearing a warm smile. “I’m just happy you flew halfway around the world just to see me.”
Jane responded in stride. “Love does some weird things.”
“Wait…you love me?”
Jane paused, not realizing he let the cat out of the bag. “I…uh…didn’t realize I said that…oh man.”
“It’s okay.” Prentiss took a few deep breaths before continuing. “I love you.”
Jane let those words sink in, knowing the gravity of the situation. “I love you too.” The two of them lay there, looking at each other in fond silence, realizing just how far their relationship has progressed.
“You don’t think we’ve gone too quickly, do you?”
“No…I know what I feel and it’s real…we’ve both been looking for this for a while…why stretch it out when you already know?”
“I’m not going to ask you to marry me just yet…but I like where this is going.”
Prentiss just laughed before kissing Jane again.
“I’ve done some thinking…I really want to join the FBI.”
“Patrick…don’t do this for me…do it for yourself.”
“I am…I’ve worked with the CBI for almost a decade…it gets tiring after a while…those guys…I don’t even know how they have their badges…they’re terrible at their work. I play with their heads because, quite frankly, it’s fun…and it’s the only way I can make my job interesting after dealing with such buffoonery.”
Prentiss laughed. “Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across shoddy police work. Makes you wonder sometimes.”
“I look at you guys as my equals…working with you in New Rome was amazing…I really want to take the job.”
“How’s our relationship going to work?” Prentiss was worried.
“Maybe I don’t join the BAU…maybe I join another branch of the FBI.”
“Derek’s been talking about leading the Roman profiling team…maybe we work on different teams.”
“I just want to make this work…and I know my future is in profiling. I really need to work with people who are actually smart.”
“I promise…we’ll make this work.”
Lake Zaysan Southeast Shore, East Kazakhstan Province, 10 miles from Ganzorig's cottage
“My new favourite song,” said Bauer, turning up the radio as they were driving to what appeared to be a crime scene, reported by perplexed hikers.
“Bleed and Scream?” Morgan said, horrified.
“Eclipse man!” Bauer said, enthused. “Eclipse! This stuff rules!” He banged at the wheel, singing along nonchalantly to a song that described the torture of man hated by the protagonist of the song.
“Man, you're sick,” said Reid, also in shock.
They would be in more shock at the crime scene.
“Oh no,” said Morgan, looking at the body in horror. It was Monkhtsetseg, mauled by wolves operating in the vicinity.
“The Khan's not going to like this,” mused Bauer, who let out a heavy sigh.
“She's been dead for two days,” said Reid, examining the body. “She looks like she was dragged out here and eaten by multiple wolves...by the looks of it, she was feeding them.”
“How can you tell?” Bauer inquired.
“The first part of her body to go was her hand,” noted Reid. “In fact...this is going to sound really weird...she didn't put up much of a struggle.”
“She let herself be devoured by wolves?” Morgan asked, perplexed.
“There was a Chinese man by the name of Ling who tried a similar tactic on December 20, 2010,” said Reid. “It has happened.”
“Wei Ling,” said Bauer. “I investigated that case...only reason why he wasn't devoured was because he went to a sanctuary...those wolves were too used to humans to attack. This...this defies explanation.”
“Why would she want to be attacked?” Morgan asked, “and what brought her out here?”
“We need to call Hotch,” said Reid, also flummoxed. “Maybe he has something.”
Mongol Imperial Police Headquarters, Karakorum
“Okay, well as far as I can tell the story hasn't broken yet,” said Jareau, talking on the phone with Morgan. “You said some hikers reported the body...they didn't know who it was?” Jareau paused to let Morgan answer. “Okay good...if the media learns Monkhtsetseg is dead they'll have a field day...could compromise the investigation...the killer could flee once the police knows the eyes are upon him a bit more now. I think we'll need to tell the Emperor though...it's only right.” Jareau waited for Morgan's response before continuing. “I know he could blow the horn and jeopardize this...but I have a kid...if anything happened to Henry I'd want to be the first to know. I'm going to go meet Hotch...see what he says.” Jareau hung up the phone and drove to the Imperial Palace, where she met Hotchner and Rossi outside.
“Oh great,” said Hotchner with a heavy sigh once he heard the news.
“Good thing you didn't notify the media,” said Rossi. “If they got a hold of this the entire Empire would go out and lynch this guy...he definitely would flee.”
“I'm not sure if we should tell Ogedei though,” said Hotchner. “He might break protocol and let the cat out of the bag anyway.”
“As I told Morgan,” said Jareau with empathy, “if something happened to Henry I'd want to be the first one to know...it's his daughter...we can't deceive him. If he cares about the investigation he'll co-operate...he did ask us to come, after all.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner, rather reluctantly.
The trio stepped inside and greeted the Khan at the front steps. Ogedei wore a look of grave concern.
“Did something happen?” Ogedei asked with baited breath.
“We're sorry,” started Hotchner.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?” Ogedei asked, confused, knots forming in his stomach.
“Look, there's no easy way for me to say this,” started Jareau.
“No...no...no!” Ogedei interrupted, distraught. “You have it all wrong...she...she can't be...” He then slumped to his knees, crying.
“We're sorry,” said Rossi with regret in his voice. “We did all we could. This now turns into a homicide investigation.”
“Homicide?” Ogedei asked, shocked.
“From what we understand,” said Hotchner, “it appears her captors fed her to the wolves around Lake Zaysan.”
“Wolves? Who could do that?” Ogedei asked, flummoxed.
“We're not sure,” said Rossi. “We just ask that you don't go to the press about this until we're done investigating...we think it'll compromise the investigation.”
“Okay,” said Ogedei, agreeing. “Catch me later in the day though...I need some time to deal with this.”
“Take as much time as you need,” said Hotchner. “Call us when you're ready.”
Back at the HQ, the team gathered to understand what they had so far.
“So we know that Setseg was found near Lake Zaysan mauled to death,” said Rossi. “How does that tie in to our investigation?”
“I think she willingly killed herself,” said Reid. “I can tell from the bitemarks.”
“I think that's a bit premature,” said Rossi.
“It could still have happened,” said Prentiss. “She was hounded by boyfriends...she was likely very stressed.”
“...and she was a workaholic,” chimed in Hotchner.
“She knew her attacker,” said Morgan. “Her attacker was someone she didn't like...that's why the attacker broke the window but also why he stopped to talk to her.”
“Maybe she was brainwashed,” said Reid, considering what had been said. “Or had a gun held to her.”
“Zaysan,” said Hawkes, enlightened by the discussion. “Ganzorig has a cottage over there...and something wasn't right with him from the start.”
“Ganbataar Ganzorig, huh?” Morgan said, intrigued. “I think we need to pay him a visit.”
Ulan Bator Police Headquarters
“All right Ganzorig,” said Bauer, menacingly starting to interrogate Ganzorig. “Let's play a game.”
Outside the room, a concerned Hawkes had a word with Hotchner.
“Hotch,” said Hawkes, with trepidation in her voice.
“Yes Hawkes,” replied Hotchner.
“He's not going to...torture him...is he?”
“He promised us that he wouldn't go overboard.”
“You assured me right from the start that there wouldn't be any torture...if you're wrong, I'm just going to go home right now.”
“We told the Mongol Police that we weren't going to be involved in any human rights violation if they wanted our help...I expect Bauer to hold to his word.”
Inside the room, Bauer menacingly made small talk, enjoying the quivering coming from Ganzorig, chained to his chair. Then he got down to business.
“So let me explain how this works,” scowled Bauer, maniacally, holding up a rope. “I've got this...coil here. With the push of a button,” Bauer said, pausing before demonstrating the instrument as he continued, “right here on my glove, spikes will emerge all over the coil. So, unless you give me what I want...I'm going to shove this coil up your ass and you're going to have the most painful colonoscopy ever.”
“You're...you're...” Ganzorig stammered, cowering in fear over what was to transpire. “You're crazy!”
Bauer laughed manically. “I take that as...a compliment.” Bauer then walked towards the table, and casually flipped it up and tossed it violently against the wall. “Now...you little pipsqueak...are you going to give me what I want?” Bauer brandished the rope, opening and closing the spikes continuously to ramp up the tension. “All right...you leave me no choice.” He walked behind him and was about to take down his pants before Hawkes barged in the room.
“No! Stop!” Hawkes yelled. Bauer turned his attention towards Hawkes, still brandishing his scowl.
“Have you forgot whose investigation this is?” Bauer scolded. “It's my investigation! It's my rules!”
“We had an agreement! You wouldn't do any of this stuff!”
“Rules are meant to be broken. Besides, he's a monster!”
“No he's not...he's a human being! He deserves to be treated with dignity and respect! Not as some piñata that you can bash around at a birthday party!”
“He killed the princess! He doesn't qualify as human!”
Hawkes breathed heavily, then spoke calmly but sternly. “We don't know if he killed the princess yet...don't jump to conclusions.”
Bauer sighed, admitting defeat. “You Americans and your stupid rules,” he scowled, as he left the room in a huff.
Outside, he smiled and gave a knowing point to Prentiss, as Hotchner, who also knew of the gambit, smiled.
“That's some sweet trick you know there,” said Bauer, fist bumping Prentiss.
“I wanted Hawkes' emotions to be genuine,” explained Prentiss, “so I couldn't explain the gambit. She got a little confrontational with Ganzorig earlier, but she feels like he knows something, so, to open him up to her, he needed to feel like she was his protector.”
“It's funny...I hardly ever torture. 90% of the time, just the threat of it is enough...yet everyone thinks I'm some 'Torture Master' that loves to inflict pain...people don't realize that I have ethics and torture is restricted by Mongol law...it can only be used for serious crimes, not for stuff like petty theft...and I have to have a reasonable enough case for conviction without torture before I can use it. I can't just madly slap away...there are rules.”
“...but you have tortured, right?”
“Sometimes I have to...keeps them honest. What good is a threat if you'll never go through with it?”
Inside the room, Hawkes, still flustered, began to talk with Ganzorig after putting the table down.
“I'm sorry,” said Hawkes. “I didn't think he'd go off the rails like that.”
“Can you believe that guy?” Ganzorig asked rhetorically. “I mean I've heard stories but come on, that was a little crazy.”
“I'm guessing you're a little confused about why you're here.”
Ganzorig was incredulous. “A little? How about 'a lot'?”
“Setseg's body was found near your cottage...it's a strange coincidence, don't you think?”
“It is strange, yes.”
Hawkes pleaded. “Help us out here. Right now, we have enough evidence to convict you as an accessory to murder…so unless you tell us what happened…we’re just going to let the law run its course.”
“I…I really don’t know how her body got near my cottage. It has to be a setup.”
“I might be inclined to believe you…except for the fact that when we spoke earlier, you were quite dismissive about Setseg…you weren’t mournful over her, you were scornful. I also find it strange that someone who likes her as much as you do trivializes her by using her short form name, like she’s just some other person whose name you haven’t bothered to remember how to pronounce.”
“Just because I didn’t like certain things about her doesn’t mean I didn’t mourn…and I said a lot of good things about her.”
“You also admitted that the love wasn’t a 50-50 split.”
“Yeah…after you goaded me into the question.”
Hawkes pursed her lips, squirming inside at the statement. She then left the room without saying a word.
“Maybe I was wrong about this,” said Hawkes, frustrated. “I’m not sure he knows anything.”
“How long can we keep him in custody for?” asked Hotchner to Bauer, as Hotchner had only a passing knowledge of Mongol law.
“As long as you can prove he’s still a person of interest,” explained Bauer, “which you can, you can keep him indefinitely.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner, with a knowing nod of his head. “Thanks. Keep him here. I don’t think we’re done with him.”
The four agents descended into a police break room to continue discussing the case, catching up with Morgan, Rossi and Reid.
“What’d you get out of Ganzorig?” inquired Morgan.
“He was very defensive,” said Prentiss. “We tried breaking him with a ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine but it didn’t work…he held firm in his innocence, so I don’t think he actually committed the crime.”
“I still can’t shake that there’s something about him that points to his involvement in this mess,” said Hawkes. “Even if it’s just indirect.”
“So you think that instead of Ganzorig being an active participant, he was coerced?” asked Morgan.
“He said something in there about ‘a setup’,” noted Bauer. “Granted, it’s a common defence anytime someone denies a crime…but those boyfriends have quite the competition with each other…it could very well be a setup.”
“He did build the cottage just for her,” noted Prentiss. “All the boyfriends were in one-upmanship mode…it may be likely one boyfriend is jealous of Ganzorig’s ability.”
“We profiled the captor as someone Setseg knew but didn't like,” said Morgan. “Ganzorig didn't actually do the kidnapping but that doesn't mean he was involved...the captor was either recruited or is trying to frame him. We need to figure that out.”
“Monkhtsetseg has no shortage of potential enemies,” noted Reid. “She's got all sorts of jealous boyfriends, angry political leaders...even her siblings. We need to start somewhere...I say we find people who have worked for both Monkhtsetseg and Ganzorig...that will at least give us people who Ganzorig likely contacted.”
“Garcia's One-Stop Shop of Useful Information!” Garcia beamed, answering the phone from Reid. “Oh hello Prince Charming!”
“What?” Garcia's boyfriend, Kevin Lynch, answered, perplexed.
Garcia laughed, expecting that reaction from Lynch, visiting from Quantico. “What can I do for you today, oh troubled Obi-Wan?”
“Garcia,” started Reid. “I need a list of all the people who worked for both Ganbaatar Ganzorig and Ogedei Monkhtsetseg.”
“It's going to be a lengthy list,” said Garcia, tapping away.
“It's okay,” said Reid. “We'll narrow down the profile from there.”
“I'm on it,” said Garcia.
Lynch, ever the neurotic one, just had to know who Garcia was talking to.
“Who...who...who is Prince Charming?” Lynch asked, worried.
“You are,” said Garcia with a warm smile. “I was just speaking to Reid...you know me...I like it when you get neurotic...it makes you oh so hot.”
“Oh,” said Lynch sheepishly with a knowing smirk. He started to run his hand up Garcia's leg. “How long will it take for you to get that list?” Lynch cooed.
“I'll be done before you know it,” Garcia cooed, giving Lynch a teaser of a kiss before getting back to work.
“I had a thought,” said Reid. “Hotch, Rossi...you guys said that Monkhbat found Monkhtsetseg sexy, right?”
“Yeah,” said Rossi. “Ogedei said that Bat didn't realize who he oogling over until it was pointed out to him.”
“I find that odd,” said Reid. “Usually, you're able to recognize a face, especially a sibling's face, even if they're heavily Photoshopped.”
“Okay,” said Morgan, intrigued.
“There's a condition called 'prosopagnosia'...it's the inability to recognize faces,” explained Reid. “It's a condition that affects 2.5% of the population and, in some cases can be caused by trauma to the head. Ogedei explained that his siblings fought a lot with each other...we need to see if any of them developed head trauma.”
“Hello Smartman,” said Garcia, playfully, as she answered the phone from Reid.
“Someone's in a good mood,” noted Reid, smiling.
Garcia beamed. “Kevin paid me a visit.”
“Oh...first Patrick Jane and now Kevin? Why is no one paying me a visit? Anyhow...I need to know if Ogedei Monkhbat suffered any head injuries.”
Garcia tapped away at her computer. “Found something...on the original list you asked me for, I found that Ogedei arranged for his siblings to work in one of Ganzorig's projects, this time doing construction around Lake Baikal. This was over a year and a half ago...and almost a month into the job, Bat got into a fight with Setseg and got his bashed into with a pipe Setseg was holding. Five months later, Setseg appears in her birthday suit, Bat doesn't realize it's her and you know the rest from there.”
“Ogedei never mentioned a fight.”
“It didn't even make the news, even though Bat was in a coma for a week.”
“So Monkhtsetseg gets into a fight with Monkhbat, the fight gets covered up and five months later Monkhtsetseg is nude. Quite the chain of events.”
Reid got off the phone with Garcia and informed the team of what he found.
“So, let’s get this one straight,” said Rossi. “Ganzorig hires both Bat and Erdene in an attempt to get them out of the Palace. Bat gets into a fight with Setseg, gets bashed in the head and doesn’t recognize his own sister in a nude picture. Bat blames his own sister for the attraction so he abducts Setseg, kills her and dumps her body by Ganzorig’s cottage to frame him. There’s only one thing I don’t understand, and that’s how if Bat didn’t recognize Setseg’s face, how did he know which room she was staying in?”
“Rossi, I think there’s something you’re missing,” said Reid. “First of all, people who suffer from prosopagnosia can still be trained to recognize a face via finding an identifying mark…so, what could have happened is that the person who pointed out Setseg to Bat did so by identifying a mark, be it her hair, face, teeth…it could explain why he stopped before attacking her, so that he could positively identify her. Furthermore…I profiled that Setseg was willingly devoured by the wolves…she was running to Ganzorig to save her from Bat.”
“I still think Ganzorig is culpable in all this,” said Morgan. “Her body was found near Ganzorig’s cottage…even if she was running to Ganzorig, she had to have escaped from Bat’s car near the cottage.”
“Ganzorig is culpable,” said Reid. “He helped cover up the fight, as did Ogedei.
“Okay,” said Hotchner, taking control. “Morgan and Hawkes, I want you two to talk to Ganzorig. Rossi and I will pay Ogedei a visit. Agent Bauer, I’d like it if you were to come with us.”
“You guys can arrest the Great Khan,” said Bauer. “You don’t need me to do it.”
“I know,” said Hotchner, “but he likely doesn’t think that we can…so we need someone there who can arrest him.”
Ganzorig’s Interrogation Room
“Ganbaatar Ganzorig,” started Morgan as he walked into the room. “You never told us about that little tiff that happened between Setseg and Bat at one of your projects.”
“Excuse me?” said Ganzorig, confused.
“Don’t act like we don’t know,” said Morgan, threateningly.
“I…I don’t,” said Ganzorig, shifting in his chair, rattled and confused.
Hawkes continued softly. “We learned that you hired both Bat and Erdene for a project at Lake Baikal,” said Hawkes. “Setseg and Bat got into a fight during the project, where Bat got hit in the head, sending him into a coma for a week. He woke up with prosopagnosia, or the inability to recognize faces, so when he saw Setseg nude, he got attracted to her and attacked her for it. Of course, her body was found by your cottage, which means that you look like an accomplice in all of this.” Hawkes warmly palmed the top of Ganzorig’s hand. “I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here…but we really need your help.”
“Okay,” said Ganzorig, calmed by Hawkes, though his nerves still showed. He sighed before continuing. “You probably already know that Setseg and her siblings fought a lot. Bat, Erdene, Setseg…they were continually at each other, and they smacked each other pretty good very often. That day…Bat and Setseg got into another argument. I forget what it was…it was petty. Next thing I know, Bat’s lying on the ground unconscious with a head wound caused by a pipe that Setseg proudly held…she never even tried to hide the fact that she hit him. I scolded Setseg for it and she left in a huff…as for Bat, I didn’t like him from the start…he was lazy…so when he recovered I just paid him a severance package and let him go.”
“So you fired Bat,” analyzed Morgan, “and he strikes back at you for it by killing Setseg. There’s something missing here…just can’t put my finger on it.”
Imperial Palace, Karakorum
“He’s up in his quarters,” explained the Palace’s receptionist, Batbayar Bolormaa. “He’s still grieving…he wishes not to be disturbed.”
“Tell the Khan he doesn’t have a choice in this matter,” said Bauer, sternly.
“I’m sorry Agent Bauer, I can’t do that,” said Bolormaa.
“Well,” snarled Bauer. “You’re going to have to…or I’ll arrest you for impeding an Imperial investigation.”
“Okay,” said Bolormaa, cowering. “You may pass.”
When they entered the Khan’s bedroom, they found Ogedei lying on his bed, being lathered with oil by one of his mistresses, giving him a massage. Rossi barging in with his gun drawn surprised him.
“Party’s over Ogedei,” said Rossi. “Get some clothes on, we’re going to be a while.”
“What is going on here?” Ogedei asked, perplexed.
“There was something you didn’t tell us,” explained Rossi, sternly. “Something very important to the investigation, which means you’re impeding it…now, I know I can’t arrest you right now, but we’ve brought someone who can.” Immediately, Bauer stepped into Ogedei’s view.
“Okay, okay,” stammered Ogedei, putting on his pants. He was breathing heavily. “I still have no idea what you’re talking about…but if this is going to help solve the case of my daughter’s murder, then I’m all ears.”
“See, Ogedei-” started Hotchner.
“I’m the Great Khan to you now,” snapped Ogedei.
“Great Khan,” restarted Hotchner. “What we’ve found is that over a year and a half ago, you sent your children to work for Ganbataar Ganzorig. A month after they started working, Setseg and Bat got into a physical altercation that ended with Bat being struck in the head with a pipe. Despite being in a coma for a week, the incident never made the news, and Setseg never faced any consequences for her actions.”
“Which means,” snarled Bauer, “you covered up a crime, which makes you an accomplice to it…meaning we can haul your ass out of this palace in handcuffs for all to see, and you’ll have a…nice time trying to convince the Governors not to vote you out of office.”
“Okay, okay…” cowered Ogedei. “Yes, I admit…I covered up the crime. I was embarrassed…I supposedly had three grown adults who were still acting like children, and I was worried about the repercussions…the three of them would have been grilled by the media if they found out what happened…they likely would have challenged my parenting skills and, quite possibly, I would have been voted out by the Governors anyway. This wasn’t just about protecting Setseg…this was about protecting my entire family. I had to remind Setseg, constantly, not to speak ill of her siblings, even though she wanted to…you have to remember, Mongol society is still tied heavily to the family…the last thing anyone wants is a Khan with a dysfunctional family.”
“By the looks of it, though,” said Rossi, sternly. He had put his gun away by now. “You’re just protecting Setseg, and Bat struck out against her in retaliation, which still makes you culpable. What did you do to punish Setseg?”
“I fined her myself,” explained Ogedei. “Kept it off the books…was going to remove her from working for Ganzorig but Ganzorig didn’t want to have any of that, so he agreed to help cover up the crime by not documenting the incident himself. He also paid Setseg's fine, as I understand.”
“So Ganzorig was really just trying to save Setseg,” analyzed Rossi, “while you were trying to make sense out of a nonsense family.”
“Yes,” replied Ogedei.
“Interesting,” said Rossi. “Interesting.”
Ganzorig's Interrogation Room
“Hello Ganzorig,” Morgan said, reappearing in Ganzorig's interrogation room. It had been some eight hours since Morgan and Ganzorig last talked, since Morgan had to wait for Hotchner and Rossi to finish their five-hour drive to Karakorum and their subsequent questioning of Ogedei before he could continue with Ganzorig.
“What do you want?” Ganzorig said, groggy from the lack of sleep.
Morgan mocked him. “Did you have a good night's rest? Because I did.”
Ganzorig growled. “I'm chained to a chair...how can I?”
Morgan sat down in his chair across from Ganzorig and leaned in real close, so Ganzorig could smell the coffee in his breath. “Well I'm about to make things even more uncomfortable for you now.”
Ganzorig grimaced at Morgan's breath. “I'm glad I don't have to kiss you,” came Ganzorig's snarky quip.
“Think you're a funny boy now, eh?” Morgan chuckled before continuing. “ 'Cause, you know, I find it funny that you protected your own girlfriend after that fight.”
Ganzorig laughed nervously.
Morgan spoke assuredly and authoritatively, his intensity bellowing from his soft, calm but stern delivery. “We know that you stopped Ogedei from removing Setseg from her post, and we also found out that you paid Setseg's fine. That's going to put you in a lot of hot water...covering up an assault. The Khan can get out of it because he's the Khan and he at least took responsibility for his actions...but you...there's nothing you can do about it...so...why don't you help us out...and maybe...your problems will be...a little bit easier.”
Ganzorig hung his head in shame. “Okay...Setseg and I...we had a fight a week before she disappeared...I was frustrated that she could never take things to the next level. Bat was still blaming me for favouring Setseg over him after the fight, so, to make it up to him, we conspired to kidnap Setseg. We wanted to take her back to an abandonned factory I jerryrigged in Kaifeng and 'set her straight'...that was it...we didn't want to kill her...you have to understand, a strong woman in Mongol society is threatening...she couldn't continue like she did...we had to do something.”
“...and you would have gotten away with it, had Setseg not escaped and knew to escape to your cottage so we knew to question you. She's a smart girl...smarter than yourself.”
Ganzorig sat silent as Morgan smirked knowingly at him.
“So this was just an act of contrition, although...you could still then maybe frame him if things got out of hand.”
“I guess...” Ganzorig sat, sheepishly, resigned to his fate.
Morgan took a look at his phone. Hotchner texted him that Bat went missing earlier that day.
“Did something happen?”
“Yeah, pipsqueak...your friend bolted. Now, unless you want to be in a bigger world of hurt, why don't you tell me where he is?”
Kaifeng, North China Province
“Ogedei Monkhbat!” Morgan hollered upon descending on Ganzorig's factory. “This is the Imperial Police! Come out with your hands up!”
“How much do you want to bet that he won't answer?” Rossi asked, sardonically.
“Well, let's see how jerryrigged this factory is,” said Morgan, kicking down the door and starting the raid, with the rest of the BAU and the Imperial Police Special Forces in tow.
The factory wasn't particularly large, and, despite numerous fences, the Forces didn't encounter many obstacles. What they did see were numerous torture devices, no doubt for Monkhtsetseg, with the team finding a girl tied up in a corner under Monkhtsetseg's nude picture. It was Erdene.
“Keep an eye on her,” ordered Morgan to two Special Forces operatives. The rest of the group searched for Bat.
They eventually found him in an office, devising a plan to torture his sister, taken today as a surrogate for Monkhtsetseg. When Morgan broke down the office door, Bat grabbed a knife sitting on the table.
“Ogedei Mon-” Morgan began to holler, until he had to flinch to protect himself. Bat didn't waste any time in throwing the knife at Morgan, forcing Bauer, right behind Morgan, to unload his gun into Bat, killing him instantly. Morgan and Bauer both sighed after the death, understanding the wider implications of what they'd done.
The next day, the BAU Plane
“My friends,” said Ogedei in a live address to the Khanate. “I have been less than honourable with you. I freely admit to you today that, as a father, I have dishonoured my own family by playing favourites with my daughter, Monkhtsetseg, creating an atmosphere of tension within the Palace that resulted in the deaths of my only son and Setseg, as well as needlessly putting Erdene in danger. I have no one to blame but myself for letting my ego get in the way of doing what is right, and not even I know if today you will be able to forgive me, but I hope one day, you shall.”
“At least he came clean,” noted Morgan, watching the address seated on the plane.
“We'll have to see if this will cost him his career,” said Reid, sitting next to Morgan and also watching the feed. “I don't think it will- it was honourable what he did, admitting his faults, and honour scores well in Mongol society.”
“He could have just pinned all the blame on Ganzorig and gotten away with it though.”
“Yes, but the press would have found out anyway, if not now, later, digging up info on the story. The inconsistencies inherent in filing a false report would be too much to ignore.”
“At least Erdene is pledging to live for her sister.”
“Exactly. Even though he's admitted to the faux pas of having a dysfunctional family, if he can prove he's fixing things, he'll recover.”
“He's more honest than some of the guys in North America.”
“The downside of having absolute power- everyone wants a crack at you. Forces you to stay honest.”
“Heh. An honest politician. Now that's a first.”
Episode 9: Adrian's Journey (Episode Start Date: April 17, 2013)
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Cardinal Wilhelm Claes sat pensively in the Presider’s Chair. In mere moments, the Cardinal was expected to make history, declaring an open revolt against the Catholic Church. Despite his confidence, Claes took in the silence of the empty Church to contemplate things. This was no small moment, and, for that he needed to feel its essence. He prayed and then meditated, because, in his head he did not wish to rush such a momentous moment, lest he flub his speech and someone takes the wrong idea. He already had enlisted the Samarians for the capture of Jerusalem, asserting that he wished to create a new, powerful Rite of Christianity centred at the Church. Thus, Cardinal Claes wouldn’t be content with only Jerusalem- no, to assert his own brand of Christianity, Cardinal Claes needed to expand his base- and he looked no further than the Papacy itself.
Content in his thoughts he emerged outside from the Church doors, ready to give his scheduled speech.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” began Cardinal Claes, “I will begin by reading a passage from the Great Bishop of Carthage, St. Cyprian, because it is this passage that best captures what I am feeling today:
“If the Church is one which is loved by Christ, and is alone cleansed by His washing, how can he who is not in the Church be either loved by Christ, or washed and cleansed by His washing? Wherefore, since the Church alone has the living water, and the power of baptizing and cleansing man, he who says that any one can be baptized and sanctified by Novatian must first show and teach that Novatian is in the Church or presides over the Church. For the Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with Novatian, she was not with Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop Fabian by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honour of the priesthood, the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way. (Epistles of Cyprian, 75:2-3)
“It is here that I present to you that the Antichrist that Cyrpian talked about, Novatian, has returned, in the flesh, claiming he has been ordained to serve in the Church, but he has not. He has succumbed to the Devil’s desires in accepting his ideas of policy in advocating sexual empowerment and challenging gender roles and identities, as well as refusing to take a hardline stance on the vices of humanity, such as partying and capitalism. It is therefore my duty to contest the unlawful ordination of a one Adrian VII and assert the throne that is rightly mine, and I will capture said throne in any way possible. For it is I, Petrus Romanus, Peter II the Roman, who will come as the Great Prophet St. Malachy predicted, to preside over the Church and ready it for Christ and His Ultimate Judgement. Good day.”
Roman Special Crimes Headquarters, Rome
It had been a long flight for Derek Morgan. The Behavioural Analysis Unit member was in Rome on the behest of FBI Director Lucius Black, who wanted to start his own Roman criminal profiling team across the entire Empire, with Morgan tagged to lead it. As he walked into the RSC offices for the first time, he decided to take a small break before going up to meet with Black, who had an office at the RSC. He checked into a visitor’s computer terminal to check his E-Mails and read some news when something caught his eye.
“Is he...am I,” said Morgan with shock. “No...he didn’t just...”
“It looks like he did,” said Morgan’s colleague, Dr. Spencer Reid, who just happened to be at the terminal beside him. He was reading the same story.
Morgan was still flabbergasted. “Who excommunicates the Pope? Are they nuts?”
“He’s obviously a narcissist...taking on such a public persona is a clear attempt to draw attention to themselves in order to mask their own deficiencies...in this case, I surmise it’s because Cardinal Claes lost in the election of the new Pope, so he’s retaliating.”
“Yeah, but Reid...Cardinal Claes has to know the consequences of this action...the whole world is going to go ape***. Narcissist or not, this is political suicide.”
“Perhaps he knew about the consequences and he’s prepared to deal with them.”
“Or he’s delusional with a severe Napoleon complex and doesn’t understand fully what it is he’s getting into.”
“Either way, these next few weeks are going to be a bit of fun.”
Morgan logged off and placed his hand on Reid’s shoulder. “In any case, it’s not our problem. Let’s go see what Director Black wants.”
Reid nodded his head, logged off and went off to join Morgan.
The Office of the Pope, The Curia
“Oooh! Bouncy!” said the new Pope, Pope Adrian VII, getting used to his desk chair after sitting in it for the first time. “Hee hee!” He was thoroughly enjoying how bouncy his chair was when Cardinal Jesse Newman entered his office.
“Your Holiness,” said Newman, 60, genuflecting. “Congratulations on your electoral victory. I see you’re quite enjoying your new chair.”
Adrian, one of the youngest Popes in the modern age at 42, reacted with unbridled glee while continuing to bounce up and down. “I’ve never sat in something so liberating!”
Newman closed the door to the office, slowly.
Adrian’s smile was replaced by a face of concern. “Did...did something happen? I...I...just started...can’t people wait?”
Newman spoke sternly, to emphasize the gravity of the situation. “Cardinal Wilhelm Claes has excommunicated you and declared himself the new Pope.”
Adrian whimpered, befuddled. “He...he...but...me...wait...um...”
“Yes, I know...he can’t legally excommunicate you...he’s trying to usurp your power.”
Adrian curled up into a ball on his chair, scared, whimpering even more. “I just...I just...I just started...it’s...it’s too early for this...no!” He started to cry.
Newman put his head in his hands and wiped his face, frustrated. How’d this guy get elected? He then loudly placed his hand on the Pope’s desk, jarring Adrian. “Get a hold of yourself Your Holiness! We can figure this out! You’ve got the entire world to help protect you! This man is an imposter and he’ll go down quickly! We just need you to start thinking straight!”
Adrian was still rattled. “but...but...but...I’m...just me...”
Newman threw his hands up in frustration. “Oh come on now! If I know my history, you’re the guy that once took down an entire squadron in Mali with nothing but your bare hands! How can you be scared of the village idiot?”
Adrian just stared blankly into space, still frozen with fear.
Newman sighed, frustrated. “Okay, I’m going to let you think things over...I’ll catch up with you later.”
Newman left the office, knowing he had to take charge. He wrote a communique for Adrian declaring a worldwide Crusade, the Ninth Crusade, inviting them to the Curia. He also placed a call to Black.
“Hello, Director Black?” Newman asked through the phone.
“This is Director Lucius Black,” responded Black.
“Your profilers are here, right?”
Black sensed the urgency in Newman’s voice. “Yes, yes they are. What’s wrong?”
“I need them to talk to the new Pope. He’s nothing but a cowering mess since he assumed office, and we need him to be strong. Something happened...something shook him up and he’s not himself...I need your guys to figure it out.”
“Anything your Excellency.”
FBI Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia
David Rossi was nonchalantly enjoying his sandwich. The senior BAU member had quite the morning after coming back home from the Mongol Khanate, having sent off five profiles for police officers just before lunch.
Nothing like the sweet smell of success, thought Rossi, pleasantly chewing away. It was at this point where Rossi’s boss and longtime friend, Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, entered his office.
“Hey Dave,” said Hotchner, greeting Rossi. He was taken aback by Rossi’s smug eating. “What are you doing?”
“Masticating,” explained Rossi, still eating. “What are you doing?”
“Have to review Patrick Jane’s background file before I can give the green light to get him on the team.”
“Oh. Did something come up?”
“No, it’s just procedure.”
“Where’s Morgan, Reid and Hawkes?”
“They’re in Rome, meeting with Director Black. Morgan’s been tapped to start a Roman profiling team.”
Rossi smiled, happy for Morgan. “Finally, after all these years. What happens when he leaves?”
“We’re still sorting that out. People are going to get promotions...I might get the Director’s chair if Lucius Black moves to Rome full time...Prentiss might get the BAU Chief chair...have you made any decisions?”
“I’m old...I think I’d rather stay here. Although filling an administrative role in Rome would be fun.”
“Nothing is set in stone yet, but things are moving.”
“Changes are coming. Let’s just enjoy the ride.” Rossi and Hotchner exchanged smiles as Hotchner departed Rossi’s office.
In the bullpen, the rest of the BAU, Emily Prentiss, media liaison Jennifer “JJ” Jareau and Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia were simultaneously playing Tetris.
“Look at that!” Jareau boasted, “Level 42!”
“You cheated,” said Garcia, stuck at Level 1.
“I just think you’re unlucky,” said Prentiss, rubbing salt in Garcia’s wounded ego.
“Grr!” Garcia said, frustrated as yet another game went by the wayside.
“So Emily,” said Jareau, “how are things between you and Jane?”
“Oh they’re great,” said Prentiss. “We’re on the same page about everything...we couldn’t click any better.”
“That’s great,” said Jareau, “but what will you do when he joins the BAU?”
“There’s a chance he’ll join Morgan’s team,” said Prentiss. “In which case, I won’t have to worry about that. Besides, we’re professionals...we’ll make this work.”
“Well,” said Garcia with a smile. “I’m happy for you.” She then grunted in frustration at yet another loss. “Eventually this game will give me some love.”
The ladies just laughed as they continued their game.
The Caesar’s Office, Roman Senate
“Sir, you have a Cardinal Jesse Newman here to see you,” said the secretary for Caesar Valerius IV through Valerius’ intercom.
Seriously? What now? Valerius sighed before giving instructions to let Newman come visit him. Despite being one of the most popular Caesars in recent memory, the Catholic vote was one that eluded him, and Cardinal Newman often led that charge. Still, Valerius was a man of duty, knowing he had to put the interests of the country before his own. Even if it didn’t come across that way.
“Cardinal Newman! So great to see you!” Valerius exclaimed with mock excitement, holding out his arms for an embrace.
“You disgust me, Valerius,” said Newman, stonewalling him.
Valerius responded sarcastically. “So I guess you’re not ready to apologize for writing that wonderful article in The Vatican Times.”
“...and I guess you’re not ready to apologize for stifling free speech.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s a difference between ‘free speech’ and ‘slander’ and you went for the latter. The judge said as much.”
Newman clenched his mouth in frustration and sighed heavily. He thought about continuing the debate, but decided against it since it would be counterproductive- he wasn’t in a position of strength.
Valerius smiled smugly. “Since I know you’re not here to discuss the past over coffee and biscuits, why don’t you tell me why you’ve decided to bother me at this hour of the morning?”
“Sir, it’s Cardinal Claes.”
Valerius scoffed. “Oh, so you expect me to pay attention to some loony in Samaria?”
“He’s not some loony...he’s raised an army capable of unsettling an already tenuous peace in the Levant.”
Valerius laughed dismissively. “He’s just some crazy that’s just out for a desperate plea for attention that everyone will stop paying attention to in two weeks. Just you watch.”
“Sir, there are already a multitude of nations gearing up for an assault...this is serious business. Can we get your help?”
Valerius was curt. “Nope.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Do I need to make like Dr. Evil and spell things out? Because I’ll do that.”
“You sicken me.”
Valerius waved mockingly. “Bye!” Newman then left in a huff.
A few minutes later, Valerius’ Foreign Affairs Minister Jomo Marea walked in to his office to discuss some matters, noticing Newman.
“Your Majesty,” started Marea, befuddled. “Did you just blow off The Vatican?”
“Marea,” started Valerius, leaning forward purposefully on his desk. “I need you to understand something. We’ve got a diverse Empire, and no matter what kind of a nutcase Peter II may be, we can’t appear to be taking sides. The enemies of Catholicism, and there are many, will seize the opportunity to strike at us if we lend the Vatican our support, and if we lend Peter support, we draw the Catholics against us. It’s a lose-lose situation. Our Empire has survived for over 2600 years by not creating needless enemies...I’m not about to start now.”
“Sir...he’s got nukes.”
“Yes, and he knows it’s suicide to launch them. I’m not worried. We’ll monitor the situation, still, and make sure he does not take an aggressive stance against Roman soil and react accordingly, but not a moment sooner.”
Marea was still concerned with the Caesar’s dismissiveness. “We need to say something. We can’t just stay silent...we house the Vatican...we need to act.”
“Okay, let’s do what we normally do.”
“Declare our neutrality, say we’ll monitor the events closely and invite the parties to resolve the issue diplomatically, even though we both know these guys are way too trigger-happy to even consider the peaceful solution.”
“Exactly. We save face because we at least made the effort and then get back to our own business and let the kids play in the sandbox.”
“Okay. I’ll go release that statement.”
Lucius Black’s Office, RSC Headquarters, Rome
“Hello gentlemen,” said Black, leaning back in his chair greeting Morgan and Reid. “Have a seat.”
“Trying to keep things light today, huh?” Morgan said with a nervous smile, taking his seat.
“I think you’ll learn, Derek, that as a leader you can’t let things get to you,” explained Black. “When you’re in charge so many things come at you at once...you have to take things in stride. It’s not easy, but you have to do it- an exasperated brain is one that does not think clearly.”
“I hear ya,” nodded Morgan in agreement. “Hotch really needs to learn that.”
“He will,” concurred Black. “You have to remember, he was thrust into the job haphazardly and had to learn on the fly...he’s done remarkably well, considering.” Black then leaned forward, pointing his finger momentarily to draw attention to his next words. “Anyway...you two have a case.”
“Already?” Reid exclaimed, surprised.
“Yes,” said Black. “The Vatican called me and explained that the Pope has been acting strange lately...and, given that we have trouble brewing in Jerusalem, we need you guys to figure out what’s troubling him and get him out of his panic attack.”
“We should call Jane,” said Morgan, referring to Patrick Jane, the erstwhile psychic and mentalist detective the BAU wants to recruit.
“I already did,” said Black. “He’ll be here later today. I meantime, I need you to observe the Pope and interview Cardinal Newman, the Pope’s right hand man, and see what you can come up with.”
“We’re on it,” said Morgan, assuredly.
January 9, 2013, Lecce Marina, Lecce, Apulia, Italy
Carla Perotta needed a smoke. Most of her morning was spent hauling boats that had been cast adrift by the previous’ nights winds and securing them properly back in their docks. It was tiring work, made even more difficult considering the fact Perotta had to cover for the laziness of the night time manager of the Marina, who never seemed to properly fasten the boats the right way.
As she took her break, she couldn’t help but notice a man standing beside his Rolls-Royce parked in the visitor’s lot. He was a dapper gentleman, adorned in a pinstripe suit complemented by a grey fedora. His demeanour was cool and his delivery every bit as slick as his clothes were. The hazel-haired Perotta, clad in nothing but a dusty T-Shirt and overalls, couldn’t help but be taken by the man and approached him playfully but with a purpose.
“Hey,” said Perotta warmly, her ivory skin brightening up. “Come to pick up your boat?”
“No,” said the man, who spoke with an alluring gruff, “I came to see you.”
Perotta was pleasantly surprised. “Me? What could you possibly want out of me? I’m just a simple girl. You on the other hand…”
“You may be but a simple girl, Carla…but you are a simple girl with potential. It is one you don’t realize that you have.”
Perotta was too smitten by the man to notice that he had used her real name even though she never offered it to him. “Well…I suppose…but I like it here at the Marina…I have no regrets about my life.”
The man shifted a bit alongside the car, inching towards her. “Do you really like it here? You have a dead-end job…sure, you’re in a union, but you get no respect. What if I told you that I have a job where you can earn that respect, and then some, as well as utilize your full potential?”
Perotta was intrigued, but she was still skeptical. “Okay…but why should I believe you?”
“Look at this.” The man extended his arms to show off his car and draw attention to himself. “My opportunity bought all this for me…and it can buy it for you too.”
“Oh!” Perotta’s eyes shot wide open. “Please, tell me more!”
“I’d rather I show it to you.” The man gave Perotta his card, telling her to meet him after her shift.
After her shift, Perotta excitedly drove to the place the man talked about. As she drove, all she could think about were the riches she was about to obtain, her thoughts kept her from paying much attention to the road. She skirted a few accidents, but she didn’t care- even if she got into an accident, the man’s opportunity would more than compensate for that.
When she arrived at her destination- an office plaza with an underground parking garage that the man owned- she parked her car in the spot the man told her about. She then exited her car and waited…and waited. What’s taking this guy so long? I’m on time…why can’t he just show up? Perotta thought. She then got worried, wondering if she made a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong garage, before confusing herself even more when she realized the garage was exactly the way the man described it should be.
After a nervous hour, the man emerged from an elevator door, handbag in tow, and walked towards Perotta. Her smile soon turned into an anxious gasp.
“Don’t shout,” barked the man, pointing a gun at her with a silencer on it. “Get in your car.” Perotta, still afraid, didn’t even question the man, dutifully re-entering her car cowering in fear, but awaiting further instructions. The man soon followed, still pointing the gun at her.
“Take off your clothes,” he barked. Perotta quivered, stunned with fear. The man was unrelenting. “I’m not going to say it again!” This time Perotta complied.
The man twisted Perotta onto her back and got on top of her, digging his knee excruciatingly into her back. He grabbed her hands and placed them behind her back, tying them together. He also bound her feet and cleave-gagged her. He then proceeded to beat her senselessly, raping her for good measure, beating her face into an unrecognizable pulp. When she was unconscious, the man opened a window and stepped outside of the car, shooting Perotta dead. He then drove the car back to the Marina’s visitors’ lot, leaving it there, but before he left, he pulled a power drill, marked only with the number 10, from his handbag and put it in Perotta’s hand, forcing the drill into a screw that bolted a piece of fabric onto the floor.
Present day, Roman Special Crimes Headquarters, Rome
“Such an amazing quote,” said Galla Claudia, 34, a seasoned veteran of the RSC who was taking the classes the Behavioural Analysis Unit were teaching in Rome in order to help build an Imperial profiling team of their own.
“Which quote is that?” said Zoe Hawkes, of the BAU, as she passed by.
“It’s from Decius Tarsus,” explained Claudia.
“Oh, the billionaire…the richest man in Rome,” said Hawkes, intrigued at what Claudia had to present.
“Yeah,” said Claudia, reading from her computer screen. “One day, he was in Egypt. As you know, women are forbidden from working in Egypt, due to their rather archaic laws.”
“I don’t quite understand that,” said Hawkes, concurring with Claudia’s point.
“Anyway,” continued Claudia, excited. “Four fifths of the audience were men, with one-fifth being women, separated with a partition. During the engagement, a man asked what Egypt could do to break out of their economic depression, to which Tarsus supposedly replied, ‘if you’re not using the talents of half of your workforce, you’ll never get out of it. Operation of a power drill knows no gender.’ Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah,” said Hawkes, deadpanning. “I guess it is.”
“What’s wrong?” said Claudia, confused. “You’re a feminist…I thought you’d love this.”
“I like the quote, don’t get me wrong,” said Hawkes. “However…there’s just…something about it that seems off.”
Claudia was intrigued. “What would that be?” she asked.
“I really don’t know,” said Hawkes, who quickly changed the subject. “Anyway, we’ve got some work to take care of…we’ll worry about that later.”
“Okay,” said Claudia, acknowledging the point.
St. Peter’s Square
“Tell me, Father, when did you first meet Adrian?” asked Reid, as he, Morgan and Newman were observing Adrian greet followers after Mass.
“He was an altar boy I had,” explained Newman. “I moved to Rome from Calgary over 30 years ago, and fresh-faced Adrian was one of the first people I met when I started celebrating Mass in Rome.”
“His full name is Hadrianus Cornelius,” said Morgan, recalling his notes. “He’s the first Pope in quite a while who used his given name.”
“Funny how that worked out,” said Newman. “Adrian wanted to have a Papal name, but couldn’t think one up in time- so he just reverted to his given name. I know you guys would call that ‘narcissistic’ but Adrian reasoned, eventually, because he felt like he had nothing to hide- if he assumed a Papal name, there would be people who would only know him by that name, and wouldn’t know his past...Adrian felt that his past was relevant, since without his past he wouldn’t have become Pope.”
“So when did the panic attacks start?” asked Morgan.
“The day after he got elected,” said Newman. “He was never the most assertive of men to begin with...a wonderful orator, sure, and great at appearing strong, but deep down inside was someone who was terribly insecure...in fact, ever since he came back from Mali during a stint in the Roman Army in his twenties, he’s been prone to episodes like this, but never on this level.”
“He’s a bit less of a goofball in public than he is in private,” noticed Reid.
“I coached him a long time ago on how to hide his insecurities,” said Newman, “so that, at least in public, he’ll appear somewhat dignified. I helped him get elected...I was his liaison with the press, and I coached him on the proper things to say at interviews and in press conferences...of course, Papal elections are not nearly as vicious as Roman elections and interviewers are far more sympathetic than the curve-ball throwers we get on CNN.”
“So when he made all those points at the Papal Debate,” said Reid, “that was you who wrote them?”
“He gave me the ideas,” said Newman, “but yes, I phrased them, and whenever there was a recess I chatted with him.”
“That also explains why, at the debate, he flubbed a few lines,” said Reid, “because he’s better when he can anticipate things and his challengers threw him a few curve-balls.”
“Yeah, the election was tough sledding,” said Newman, “but we made it, mostly because Adrian ran on a ticket of reform and reaching out to disillusioned Catholics.”
“The antithesis of Claes,” noted Morgan.
“Yes,” said Newman.
“So Claes loses the election to Adrian,” said Morgan, analyzing. “So he runs off and forms his own Papacy.”
“Seems to be the course of events,” said Newman.
“Okay,” said Reid. “Let’s backtrack for a second. You said, Father, that Adrian’s panic attacks started because of his ascent to Office, right?”
“Roughly speaking, yes,” nodded Newman in agreement.
“Did the attacks get more pronounced after Claes ran off to Israel?” asked Reid.
“Now that I think of it,” said Newman, reflecting, “they did. We both didn’t know what Claes was going to do but we had a feeling he was up to something. Claes invited Adrian to his office shortly after the electoral victory and confronted Adrian...from then on, Adrian has been a nervous wreck.”
“Explains a lot,” said Reid.
“So Pope Adrian has anger issues,” noted Morgan, “and Claes set him off.”
“What happened in Mali?” asked Reid. “You said, Father, that his unassertive streak started then.”
“He’s never talked about it,” said Newman, “not even to me...and I’m his closest friend.”
“Repressed memory,” said Morgan. “Happens within post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“Did he mention anything about Mali?” asked Reid.
“Nothing,” said Newman, who didn’t understand Adrian’s actions himself. “All I heard about was in the news...Adrian wouldn’t discuss the episode with anyone, not even when he received his Eagle Award.”
“At least we’ve got something to tell Jane,” said Morgan, who placed a phone call.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with hypnosis,” said Newman, waiting in a hallway with Morgan and Reid after Adrian’s time with his followers was finished.
“The Catholic Church doesn’t have an opinion on it, from what I understand,” said Reid.
“My objections are not religious,” said Newman. “I’m just not sure it will work.”
“This guy is the best at it,” said Morgan, trying to ease Newman’s tension. “Patrick Jane can unlock even the most beat down of memories...whatever is troubling Adrian Patrick will find it.”
“...and now that we know where to focus the search,” explained Reid, “it’ll be easier.”
“All right,” said Morgan, receiving a call on his cell phone. “Send him in.”
In a few moments, Patrick Jane descended into the hallways, walking in with a cool bravado that he was known for.
“He’s going to fix the Pope?” said Newman, befuddled.
“Don’t mind him,” said Reid. “Patrick’s not one for subtlety. You’ll get used to it.”
“Hello gang,” said Jane, greeting the trio. He continued with his trademark smirk. “We should have some fun today, will we not?”
“How are you going to approach this?” asked Morgan
Jane chuckled cockily. “Trust me Derek...I got it all figured out.” Jane then spotted Adrian coming out of his office and darted towards him. The agents and the Cardinal sat in confused silence.
“Hey, Adrian, how ya doing?” exclaimed Jane in excitement. He then slapped his arm around the Pope as if Adrian were simply a childhood friend and let him to another room, which Jane locked from the inside and reinforced it by pushing a cabinet in front of it.
Cardinal Newman was apoplectic at what he saw. “What is he doing?” said Newman, enraged. “He can’t just put his arm around the Pope! He is a heretic! Does he have no sense of decorum?”
Morgan was similarly disgusted. “I did not see that,” said Morgan, angrily. “Let it be known Father, I didn’t approve of that...nor will I.” Reid, too, was shocked, but he refrained from getting angry since he had a feeling this was just another of Jane’s tricks.
“I didn’t think you approved that,” said Newman. “You are a man of honour, Agent Morgan...I can tell.” Newman angrily pointed down the hall. “That...he is not even a man, he is a monster!”
Morgan didn’t waste any time. He approached the room with Jane and the Pope with purpose, and tried to unlock the door. When that didn’t work, he then tried to kick it down like he normally did, only for the door to not even budge off its hinges.
Meanwhile, inside the room, Jane was making progress with Adrian.
“Close your eyes and concentrate. I need you to listen to the sound of my voice,” said Jane, softly. “You are entering a trance...you will soon leave this place and enter into the dark abscesses of your mind...we need to go on a journey...back to Mali...something happened there that you don’t like to recall...something...we need to find it.” Jane continued to hum softly, to keep Adrian in his trance. Eventually, Adrian started to talk.
“I’m in Bamako,” started Adrian. “The town is deserted, save for rebels who have infiltrated the city and forced the town’s inhabitants to flee to refugee camps. We were there to save Roman hostages, and I led a century. Our century was ambushed by the rebels...most of us managed to flee, but my contubernium was in too deep in the city and thus all of us died except myself...meaning I had to go at it alone. I see myself fighting the rebels, all at once, and I won the fight quite handily...then...” Adrian began to slip.
“It’s okay,” reassured Jane. “Think...you’ve fought the rebels...now what do you see?”
“I see a cellar...I open it...inside there’s this little boy...but, as I reach for him, I’m hit in the head. I turn around and there’s a rebel, twice the size of me. We grapple...I pin him to the ground momentarily but he manages to escape...the boy...no! The boy...” Adrian began to sob.
“It’s okay,” reassured Jane. “You’re doing wonderful...no need to blame yourself...you were tricked.”
“He unsheathed his sword and killed the boy right in front of me,” said Adrian. “Then he ran off, but I was too distraught to chase him. I sat there, clutching the dead boy in my arms...crying...if only I had been smarter...I could have saved him.” Adrian started to breathe heavily, and put his head in his hands.
Jane saw that Adrian was distraught so he ended the session by snapping his fingers. Adrian broke his trance.
“So,” said Jane, smiling. “How do you feel?”
“I feel,” said Adrian, who sounded very relieved. “I feel like this weight has been lifted off my shoulders.” He then got up, seemingly to shake Jane’s hand in gratitude. Jane got up as well and extended his own hand.
“Well, I’m glad I could help,” said Jane, grabbing on to Adrian’s hand.
Adrian, though, wasn’t going to give Jane a pass. After taking Jane’s hand, Adrian took his other hand and flipped Jane onto the table in the room.
“Let that be a reminder that if you ever disrespect me again,” said Adrian, menacingly. “It’ll be more than just the marble on that table you’ll be tasting.” Adrian then fixed his frock, pushed the cabinet out of the way and greeted Newman, who saw a new man in the Pope.
Jane needed a moment before he could think about getting up from the table after taking that hard hit. Morgan, however, wouldn’t relent.
“What was that all about?” scowled Morgan. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You needed me to fix his head,” said Jane with a smirk. “I did that.”
“By disrespecting the Pope! I’m going to fire you right now!”
“No you won’t.”
“I just did.”
“See, after you hear my explanation-”
Morgan didn’t care for Jane’s explanation. In mid-sentence, Morgan lifted Jane over his shoulder and carried him outside of the Curia, throwing him onto the steps. Jane grimaced from the hit, as he still hadn’t recovered from the hit Adrian gave him, but he did manage to set himself straight to sit on one of the steps.
He continued to sit on the step, waiting. Despite the fact that Jane had been, until now, tabbed by Morgan to be a part of the Roman profiling team, Jane wasn’t worried. Ten minutes later, Jane received a phone call.
“A very sore Patrick Jane speaking,” said Jane, answering his cell phone. “Oh hello Morgan.”
“I don’t know how you do it,” said Morgan, exasperated.
“See, that’s what I was trying to tell you,” said Jane. “I knew the Pope felt that someone had overpowered him earlier in his life, which is why he second-guesses himself. Since he’s the Pope, he never dealt with someone who was openly disrespectful of him, so I had to be to unlock the hidden assertiveness that he had inside. Once he figured out that he did have someone he was mad at, unlocking his assertiveness was easy. That’s all it was.”
Morgan sighed, having to acknowledge that Jane’s unorthodox tactic worked. “Okay, fine,” said Morgan, “I’ll let it go. Adrian told us to let it go. However, the next time you want to pull a stunt like that, at least run it by me. You should know us by now...we know about your antics...it’s why I want you on this team; but if you’re going to be on this team, we’re going to have to work together, not against each other. I’m not like your former employers at the CBI...I trust you...you gotta repay that trust. Is that understood?”
“Yes, that’s understood,” said Jane, realizing that Morgan was right. “Next time I want to do something like that I’ll run it by you...you guys have treated me fairly...it’s time I repay that.”
“Thank you,” said Morgan, as the two ended the call.
February 17, 2013, Groningen, Netherlands
“Hello,” said the plumber, greeting the receptionist, Lisanne Meijer, at William of Orange High School. “I’m here to see Julia Winters.”
“Ah yes,” said Meijer. “The drain in the boys’ bathroom has been acting up lately…Ms. Winters…she’s done all that she could…she really needs your help.”
“Well, I’ll be glad to provide it,” said the plumber, who flashed a polite smile.
“I’ll page her,” said Meijer. In a few minutes, Winters arrived at reception and greeted the plumber, and escorted him to the offending bathroom.
“I’m glad you came,” said Winters, the fair-skinned brunette walking with the plumber to the bathroom. “Sewage came up from the drain and exploded onto the floor…I’ve done what I could to clean it up and unplug it, but I need more advanced tools than the school is willing to give me.”
“You don’t normally call plumbers, do you?” said the plumber.
“I don’t…usually I can fix everything myself, just with my ingenuity and my limited tools…I think I know what’s blocking the drain but I can’t get to it.”
The plumber flashed a wry smile. “That’s what you have me for…I unclog the permaclogged.”
After making sure the bathroom was empty- easy because the stench from the drain meant no one wanted to use the bathroom anyway- the plumber and Winters got to work.
“This drain is wedged in pretty tightly,” said the plumber. As he started to unscrew the drain, the plumber heard the lock on the bathroom door get undone. A service man then entered, locking the door behind him.
“I was told you guys needed some help,” said the service man.
“Yes, yes we do,” said the plumber.
“Who are you?” asked Winters, confused at seeing the service man. She was only expecting the plumber.
“I work with the City of Groningen,” explained the service man. “Every time there’s a drain problem, I need to investigate for health issues.”
“Shouldn’t you wait until we’re done?” asked Winters. “We know about the risks and we’re cleaning it up right now.”
“I don’t have time for this,” said the service man, reaching into his pockets.
Out came a gun with a silencer.
“Don’t scream or I’ll shoot you both,” threatened the service man. “Put both of your hands behind your back and lie down on your stomachs.” Neither the plumber or Winters took any chances, complying with the request. “If I hear one peep out of you, I’ll shoot you.”
The service man then knelt on top of Winters, making sure he incapacitated her hands. She did her best not to scream, though she writhed in pain. As he knelt on top of Winters, he tied up hands, knees and feet of the plumber and gagged and blindfolded him with zip ties. He then got off of Winters and tied her hands and feet together, though he only gagged her.
After incapacitating Winters, the service man put his hands around the plumber’s throat and squeezed. He applied as much pressure as he could, with fierce intensity in his eyes and watching with enjoyment as the plumber writhed in pain. However, he looked up and noticed the open toilet, and decided not to take any chances. He dragged the plumber and plunged his head into the toilet bowl, making sure his nose and his mouth were submerged. After a few minutes the plumber drowned to death.
Winters watched, gripped with fear, knowing that she was next. The service man wasn’t going to make quick work of her though. He turned her over and ripped off her clothes with a knife. He then raped her, having his way with her body and held her close to his so that she could take in the stench of her attacker and remember, as her last memory, of who was the one who defiled her. After he was finished raping her, the service man took her head and violently smashed her face several times against the wall, leaving it a bloody pulp. To finish her off, he then submerged her head into the other toilet, waiting until she drowned to death, which, afterward, the service man defecated over Winters’ submerged head. He then undid the ties to her hands, placing a power drill with the number “10” marked on it, changed the drill bit and wedged it into a screw he had on him.
BAU War Room, FBI Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia
“We’ll be logging a lot of miles, guys,” said Jareau, as she started the presentation for the team’s newest case. “Our latest case has us flying out of North America again.”
“Again?” said Rossi, surprised. “Are serial killers in North America taking a break or something?”
“Lucius Black wants us on the case,” explained Jareau. “He’s afraid that something bigger is at play here and we’re his best crime fighters.”
“So that’s why Morgan, Reid and Hawkes are in Rome,” said Rossi pensively.
“Actually they’re in Rome for something completely unrelated,” responded Jareau.
“For now,” said Prentiss. “These cases seem to have a strange way of connecting, don’t they?”
“Right now, we can’t comment on that,” said Jareau. “As far as we know, what we’ve got is a European serial killer who has so far claimed ten lives, all women except for one man. They’re all working class women, they were found naked, raped and beaten after being restrained and gagged. Each of them were also found holding a power drill with the number ‘10’ emblazoned on it, with the drill being inserted into a screw.”
“In Groningen, Julia Winters got defecated on?” said Prentiss, not hiding her disgust and shock at the information.
“I wish I was making that up,” said Jareau, agreeing. She paused and then continued. “Our latest victim is Cecile Beaufort, 36, of Djon, Burgundy. She was a taxi driver, found in a state like the other women, only this time she was murdered in her own car.”
“Judging by the victimology,” said Hotchner, looking at the notes, “our UnSub seems to have issues with a certain woman, and these women are surrogates. They’re all from the same background and have the same appearance.”
“The ‘10’ and the power drill have some significance, though,” said Rossi. “Last year, Decius Tarsus, Rome’s richest man, is reported to have made a statement in Egypt condemning the country’s policy forbidding women from working, and a power drill was specifically referenced in the quote. I believe these murders are tied to him somehow.”
“You don’t think he made the comments?” asked Prentiss, intrigued. She always thought Tarsus did.
“There’s only one source for the quote, and that’s an opinion piece in The Roman Free Press,” explained Rossi, “however, the piece is vague about whether or not Decius actually made the quote, but I haven’t seen any other news reports that independently verify Decius’ speech.”
“We’re going to talk with him anyway,” said Hotchner. “Rossi and Prentiss, I want you to interview Decius, and see if you can get a lead on his next target. I’m going to go to the latest crime scene, where I’ll be joined by Gideon, who I’ve called to help out on this case. We’ll also rendezvous with Morgan, Reid and Hawkes while we’re there- they’re still working security detail on the Pope, so right now they’re unavailable for the case but we’ll keep them posted.” Hotchner then closed his file folder and started to get up to leave. “Wheels up in 30.”
“Sorry for interrupting your vacation at your chateau, Jason,” said Hotchner, greeting BAU Alternate Jason Gideon at the Beaufort crime scene.
“Nah, it’s okay,” said Gideon with a wry smile. “Who doesn’t like a busman’s holiday?”
Hotchner laughed before getting down to business, observing the cab. “So Cecile Beaufort has been driving a cab for ten years.”
Gideon took a closer look at the body. “Would have been ten years next week.”
“So the UnSub gets in the cab, and then threatens her in some way to gain control of the vehicle.”
“I think the UnSub gets control of the vehicle before he steps in. He holds a gun in his pocket, tells her not to scream, she gives up the driver’s seat and he drives her here, where he can beat and rape her without detection.”
“How would the UnSub know if the cab he’s approaching is Cecile’s though?”
Gideon continued to look around the car. “My guess is that he stalked her, memorized her route and struck at the best moment. This crime scene is carefully planned.”
“I will grant you that.” Hotchner stood, folding his arms and cupping his face pensively. “However, what do you make the timing of the killings? If all of these are planned, how did one UnSub pull it off?”
“That’s because there isn’t one UnSub. There’s nine of them. Nine highly trained and highly disciplined serial killers.”
“So we have an organization of international killers. I find it interesting that they’ve all repeated the pattern of crimes…usually with multiple killers some deviate more than others.”
“Just look at the overkill, Hotch. Julia Winters got defecated on. This poor lady had her eyes torn out. Carla Perotta, bless her soul, was lucky enough just to get a beating.”
“It’s clear that the UnSubs have a particular woman in mind as their ultimate target. All the victims look similar and have similar ages. This woman is also hated- you can see it through the overkill, as well as the rape.”
“Hotch.” Gideon waved Hotchner over to the passenger seat window, where Beaufort was draped over holding the power drill. It had the initials “GC”, for the person who made it, Gaia Cornelia, pressed on the bottom. Gideon recognized the initials, having used a similar drill himself, but didn’t think too much of it, since the “10” was much more prominent.
“Yes, Jason, what do you see?”
“Look at this.” Gideon picked up the drill and tried to wedge it into the screw, but the drill wouldn’t fit. “Wrong bit.”
Hotchner was enlightened by the observation, having seen something in the police reports. “So our UnSubs are killing working-class women to prove they’re incapable of performing the jobs that men can do, because each woman is positioned holding a drill with the wrong drill bit. They’ve also been denigrated and beaten beyond recognition as a symbol of how weak they are.”
“We’ve got a ‘social revolution’ happening…and it’s not going to stop any time soon.”
“Unless we stop it.”
Decius Tarsus’ Residence, L’Aquila, Roman Republic
“Welcome,” said Tarsus with a full-bodied grin as he greeted Prentiss and Rossi at the door of his mansion. He heartily shook Rossi’s hand before grabbing Prentiss’ hand and kneeling down to kiss the top of her hand before Prentiss pulled it away.
“Flattery ain’t going to get you anywhere honey,” snapped Prentiss.
“Ooh,” said Tarsus, maintaining his cool. He slicked his already gelled-hair back. “You play hard to get.”
“I play impossible to get,” scowled Prentiss. Tarsus just chuckled, deciding he needed more time to try to woo her.
Ornate wouldn’t begin to describe Tarsus’ house. Gold statues of bulls of various sizes littered the floor space, with the counters made of the finest marble and the walls made with magnesium oxide wallboards. The colours were earthy in tone, with lots of blues and greens, giving it an ambient, vibrant feel. The look wasn’t the only part Tarsus didn’t spare expense for- if there was a fancy technological gadget or two, he had it in his cavernous abode.
His narcissism didn’t end there though. At every point possible hung a monument or a wall decoration aimed at celebrating Tarsus’ many entrepreneurial achievements. Tarsus’ business empire spanned many different products and fields, from household care to electronics to even alien research. He was most famous, though, for the Sabre automaker brand, which he launched in Brampton, Ontario in 1966 and built it into the Roman Empire’s second largest carmaker, just behind Fiat Auto.
“To say this guy loves himself is an understatement,” whispered Prentiss to Rossi, who chuckled in agreement.
They eventually made their way to Tarsus’ expansive living room, taking seats on opposite leather couches.
“Italian leather,” Rossi couldn’t help but note, given his own fondness for Italian leather.
Tarsus called three of his many maids over.
“These are three of my finest maids,” said Tarsus, slapping each emphatically on their butts. “Would you guys like anything? Sandwiches? Tea? Coffee? Oh wait! I know what you want! Steak!”
“Actually I think we’re okay,” said Rossi, declining.
“Oh come on,” said Tarsus, egging the agents on. “I have the finest materials in the world…you’ll love it.”
“No thanks,” Prentiss repeated for Rossi.
“Suit yourself,” said Tarsus, who ordered one of the maids into the kitchen to fix a steak. The other two women then knelt down in front of both Tarsus and Rossi and planted their heads in between their legs and started to undo their pants.
“Excuse me,” said Rossi, shocked. “What is she doing?” Prentiss could only look on in sheer disgust.
“I thought it was a long flight for you,” replied Tarsus, smugly. “I thought maybe you could use a little…’pick me up’.”
Rossi furiously put his pants back on. “We’re two federal agents on official business,” scolded Rossi. “We’re not here for ‘pick me ups!’ In fact, we need you to start showing some class this instant!”
“Well,” chuckled Tarsus with a smirk, “maybe I’ll let that go for you. For me…you’re not going to get any co-operation from me unless I-” Tarsus could feel the sensations of enjoyment oozing through his body as his maid pleasured him. “Unless I…ooh…unless I get my pleasure. Ooh she’s good…ooh yeah baby, work it! Work it for me! Ride that bull!”
“Dear goodness,” whispered Rossi to himself, putting his head in his hands, “the things I have to work through to do my job…”
St. Peter’s Square, Rome
“Are you sure, Your Holiness, that you want to say Mass from the Obelisk?” Hawkes inquired, scoping the intended place for the Altar in the middle of the Square at the Obelisk.
“You guys may call me Adrian,” said Adrian. “We’re friends now, and yes...I know it’s not the safest position...but I campaigned on being an ‘accessible’ Pope...I’m not about to change that now.”
“Okay,” said Hawkes. “Fair enough...if we need to change anything, just let me know.”
Hawkes then joined Reid, who was also observing the setup. Reid was at the southeast corner, right in front of the Friezenkirk, or the Church of Saints Michael and Magnus.
“The Pope likes being risky,” said Hawkes, approaching Reid.
“It’s a risky job,” responded Reid. “However, I admire his determination...even in the face of all of these threats, he’s holding strong.”
“Oh he’s at the RSC firing range...Morgan told him he needs to have a gun so he’s practicing.”
“I thought he hated guns.”
“He still does, but at least he recognizes what needs to be done.”
Hawkes then noticed someting about the Vatican flag being draped over the corner. “The left ring...it’s positioned too nicely around the window of the Church.”
“This can’t be good.”
Decius Tarsus’ Residence
Rossi and Prentiss were uneasy with Tarsus having oral sex right in front of them, though both knew they weren’t exactly in a position of power so they had to go along with the ordeal. Keeping their composure was a challenge.
“Mr. Tarsus,” started Rossi, fumbling his speech a little. “As I understand from our records, you’re quite the champion for women’s rights.”
“I love women,” said Tarsus, still enjoying his maid’s service. The other maid came by with his steak, which he gladly started to eat. “Can’t you tell?” Tarsus said, with a smug smile.
“Yes, we really can,” said Prentiss sarcastically.
“Hey Emily,” said Tarsus playfully. “Once you deep throat this,” he said, pointing to where the maid’s head is, “you’ll love it forever.”
“It’s Agent Prentiss,” snapped Prentiss, “and no I will not.”
Rossi was still confused. This was not a man who looks like someone who championed women’s rights.
Prentiss soldiered on. “So what organizations have you helped out with?” Prentiss asked.
“Oh I have a long history,” replied Tarsus with a pleased series of smiles. “My proudest moment came with the Vestal Virgins...I’ve been contributing to them for over a decade now...I’ve really gotten behind them, if you know what I mean.” Tarsus winked, then silently moaned enjoying the oral pleasuring.
“The Vestal Virgins,” said Rossi, chuckling. The group no longer actually requires its members to be virgins, in fact becoming the Empire’s foremost proponent of responsible sex, contraceptives and abortion. The irony of their name does get pointed out, but the Vestals kept it for brand recognition.
“So that’s why you were so quick to defend women in Egypt,” said Prentiss. “The Vestals loved that quote of yours.”
“It’s a golden one,” said Tarsus, smiling with appreciation. “One of my favourites...the din of that concert hall fills me with joy every time I think of it.”
“I didn’t know it was in a concert hall,” said Rossi, not following Tarsus’ logic. “The quote talked about a partition separating the men and the women...quite hard to partition a concert hall.”
“None of our records even indicate you were in a concert hall when you were in Egypt,” said Prentiss. “In fact, you weren’t there at all when you were claimed to have uttered the quote.” The maid pleasuring Tarsus looked up at him with a bit of bewilderment, but decided to keep going anyway.
“Hey, don’t slow down!” said Tarsus to the maid, sensing she had eased up a little. He then answered suavely. “Anyway, Agent Prentiss…if I wasn’t in Egypt the day of the quote…where was I?”
Prentiss pulled up a story on her cell phone. “You were arrested for assaulting a Vestal Virgin and making derogatory comments about them,” said Prentiss, sternly flashing the story in front of Tarsus. “In fact, you covered it up with millions in ‘hush money’, and a day later you were claiming you were in Egypt teaching them about respecting the talents of women.”
“Judging by your treatment of women,” said Rossi, smugly, “it seems like the only ‘talent’ of theirs that you respect is sexual.”
“You know what I else I find funny Rossi?” said Prentiss, tapping Rossi’s shoulder. “He claims he loves women but the only women he can get to show him any love are the ones he pays. There must be a reason why a good looking, 50-year-old guy never did get married.” She continued with a smirk. “Oh yeah…it’s because you have no class.”
The maid had enough of what the agents were saying, stopping her servicing of Tarsus. “I was a Vestal Virgin,” she exclaimed in disgusted horror to Tarsus. “I was enamoured by you ever since you apparently made that quote…I can’t believe I’ve been living a lie my entire life!” She then went down over Tarsus’ penis and bit down hard on it, but not enough to draw blood. She then flipped Tarsus’ steak dish off of his lap splattering it all over the floor before leaving in a huff.
Tarsus, still writhing in pain, had unintentionally left himself exposed.
“Looks like big money isn’t enough to get you a big package,” said Rossi, who couldn’t help but crack a joke at his expense. Prentiss bawled over with a belly laugh, agreeing with Rossi. Rossi then got up and put his coat back on, while Prentiss followed the maid into the kitchen.
“Hey,” said Prentiss, finding the angry maid. “I’m sorry for what happened.”
“It’s okay,” said the maid. “I have to re-evaluate things…I can’t stay here anymore. Thank you for making me see the light…I felt so dirty being nothing more than a prostitute to this guy.”
“Listen,” said Prentiss handing the maid her card, “if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call.”
“Will do,” replied the maid, happily.
St. Peter’s Square
“Hello Your Holiness,” said Newman, greeting Adrian, getting ready inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
“My first Mass as the new Pope,” said Adrian, sitting in his chair pensively. “I’m pretty excited…I get to show the Catholics of the world why they voted for me.”
Newman smiled warmly. “I’ll let you be. It’s great to see you happy again.”
“I agree, Cardinal.” Newman left Adrian alone, allowing Adrian to open a drawer he had been eyeing.
“I didn’t think I’d have to use these,” whispered Adrian to himself, “but I can’t take any chances with Peter the Roman running around.” He then put on a bulletproof vest and hid it under his shirt and took out a small, military-grade handgun, the same one that Morgan had, concealing both under his smock.
When it came time to start the Mass, Adrian joined the procession like he was supposed to. Meanwhile, Morgan met up with Reid and Hawkes by the Obelisk.
“What’s wrong?” Morgan said with urgency.
“Look at the flag,” noted Reid.
“Yeah, so?” Morgan said, confused.
“The left ring on the flag,” said Hawkes, pointing it out. “It fits too nicely around the window of the Friezenkirk, and aims directly to where Adrian would be standing for Mass.”
“You guys waited until now to tell me this?” Morgan scolded. “We can’t stop the Mass now.”
“They only put it up ten minutes ago,” said Reid. “There was nothing we can do.”
“We’ve tried to find out who installed the flag,” explained Hawkes, “but the commanders don’t know.”
“We’ve got an inside job,” said Morgan with grave concern. “How did we miss this? We should be catching things like this.”
“Morgan,” said Hawkes. “We were only given the case a few days ago, our focus was the Pope and ultimate command is with the Vatican Army, not us. We didn’t have the opportunity to vet any of the soldiers, since it wasn’t our job and we’d be stuck with them anyway.”
Morgan sighed then got back on track. “I know what our job is,” he said authoritatively. “We can profile the soldiers now and see which ones were in on the job. I’m going to focus on the Pope. Hawkes and Reid, I want you guys to profile the soldiers and do it discreetly. Once we identify who did it then we’ll know who we can trust to go in that Church. Hurry, because we don’t have much time.” Morgan cussed in frustration, which drew some shocked reactions from people nearby but Morgan was too stressed to worry about decorum.
Morgan saw the Pope walking towards the Altar, ready to start the Mass. Morgan began to run to the Pope to tackle him out of harm’s way, but as there were too many people to wade through, Morgan’s chase would be slowed. His worst nightmare then happened.
A shot crackled through the air and struck Adrian in the back, knocking him down, face first, onto the ground with red oozing out of his clothes.
Morgan panicked. “Get the paramedics! Get the f***ing paramedics!” Morgan hollered, “Pope down! Pope down!” He breathed frantically and heavily, wanting to cry in sadness but there was no time for that. He knew where the shot came from and pushed his way towards the Frienzenkirk.
Meanwhile, Reid and Hawkes had to work impromptu crowd control, but it was bedlam. There was confusion in the crowd and even in the Vatican ranks, as some of the dishonest soldiers were undermining the work of the honest ones. Some of the corrupt soldiers even started to open fire on the civillians, hoping to create an even bigger tragedy. This forced Hawkes and Reid to abandon crowd control, since they weren’t equipped for a firefight. The Vaticans fought between themselves, civilians and soldiers alike. Reid called in the Roman Army but it would be a while yet before they could attend to the situation.
“That door will lead us to the Friezenkirk,” said Reid, pointing to another passageway.
“Good idea,” said Hawkes. “We can’t get close to the Obelisk or we’ll get shot too.”
Meanwhile, Adrian heard in the background that the fighting was getting closer to the Obelisk. Still smarting from the gunshot, he took off his smock- which had a few splattered ketchup packets attached to it- and headdress and got up gingerly, but as soon as he was on his feet he regained his energy. Several in the crowd stopped running watching in utter shock that Adrian had gotten up, largely unscathed, from the gunshot, with many, including Newman, doing the Sign of the Cross.
Adrian, though, wasn’t paying any attention. He pushed himself through the crowd, shooting down two attempted assassins and knocking out another that jumped him with a well-timed punch (as, by now, the corrupt Vaticans had realized that Adrian wasn’t actually dead) and escaping towards the Friezenkirk. Just outside the Church entrance, he found Morgan, engaged in hand to hand combat with ten different soldiers. He was holding his own, but Adrian knew he had to give him help.
“Adrian,” said Morgan, relieved, as Adrian assumed a battle stance next to him. “You just might make me believe in miracles.”
“Let’s show these guys what the Power of God can do,” said Adrian, grinning.
The two engaged the group of corrupt Vaticans in earnest. It was a difficult fight, since they were dealing with trained soldiers, but Morgan and Adrian were trained fighters in their own regard. The two of them were in the middle, encircled by the mooks, but they wore but the slightest of concern.
Eventually, one of the corrupt soldiers started forward, causing the rest to come forward as well. Adrian responded by clotheslining the first soldier to get to him while delivering a roundhouse kick that leveled two other soldiers. Morgan flipped his first challenger over his shoulder and kicked him in the face after he landed, before grabbing another challenger and using him as a baseball bat against another soldier.
Over his shoulder, Morgan noticed Hawkes and Reid coming towards the Church. Hawkes thought Morgan and Adrian had the situation under control so she darted into the Church, with Reid following in the pursuit.
“F***!” Morgan said outloud. He knew neither agent were seasoned fighters and feared the worst, but there was little he could do given his preoccupation.
The soldiers kept coming. One of them got Morgan with a kick to the face, but he rolled over and punched the guy from his stomach, before getting up and leveling him again with another punch. Meanwhile, Adrian got jumped from behind, and the soldier restrained his arms allowing another soldier to get a few free shots at him. However, Adrian used his upper body strength to pull the soldier from behind him and strike the solider in front of him, knocking them both out.
“Morgan,” called out Adrian, “crouch down, I’ve got an idea.” Morgan nodded, and followed Adrian’s instructions.
Adrian jumped on top of Morgan and placed his hands on Morgan’s back. He then kicked up his feet and used his arms to twirl himself around perpendicularly from Morgan’s back, his legs fully extended, striking each of the soldiers several times in a circular motion, knocking them all out simultaneously.
“Good work,” said Morgan, tossing Adrian some zip ties to use as handcuffs. The two of them restrained the soldiers before darting towards the Church to join Hawkes and Reid.
Near the Church, Hawkes and Reid had their own difficulties. As soon as Hawkes darted up the stairs that led to the Church, her excitement got the better of her and she got struck in the face by the barrel of a rifle from a soldier guarding the first entrance. Hawkes fell to the floor, dazed with her face bloodied by the attack. The soldier then took out his revolver, and was about to shoot Hawkes dead before Reid picked up his discarded rifle and struck the soldier on the head.
“What happened?” Hawkes said, groggily with her senses hazy.
“You got lucky,” barked Reid, handcuffing the felled soldier.
Reid barely had a chance to catch his breath when another soldier came from behind and jumped on his back, tackling him to the ground. As the soldier wrestled with Reid (with the agent getting the worst of the fight), Hawkes, recovering, slowly got up, cocked her gun and shoved it right against the soldier’s back.
“Back off or I will kill you,” Hawkes snarled. The soldier’s moment of hesitation was all that Reid needed to flip the soldier on to his back, allowing for another arrest.
After shooting down two more guards (and having to rescue Reid from being jumped again, although this time he held his own a bit better), Hawkes and Reid got inside the Church. Hawkes was ready to run in before Reid stopped her.
“Wait,” he said. “There’s a sniper in there…he knows we’re coming.”
“You’re right,” said Hawkes. “We need some cover.”
A few moments later, Morgan and Adrian arrived.
“Guys,” said Morgan. “The Roman Army is outside…they’ve got their own guns trained on the sniper. Let’s move in.”
The team moved up the stairs, eventually getting to the top of the tower where the sniper was. When they descended upon him, they found a sniper who was still rattled by the arrival of the Roman Army and the BAU, and he was even more confused when he saw the Pope staring down at him, his own gun raised.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” barked Morgan, his eyes belying the intensity of the moment.
“I don’t…I don’t understand,” stuttered the sniper. “I thought I killed the Pope.”
“The LORD is on my side,” replied Adrian. “He told me to get the Kevlar and the ketchup…just to throw you off your game.”
“You really fooled me,” said the sniper, still rattled. He hadn’t left the observatory thinking he had accomplished his task, and stayed amidst the confusion of his henchmen getting beaten up. He then pulled a knife out of his pocket, which Adrian shot right out of his hand, causing him to writhe in pain. Morgan called for paramedics as he formally arrested the sniper, with the Army arresting the other corrupt soldiers inside the Square and in the Friezenkirk.
As the Army attended to arresting the corrupt soldiers, Morgan attended to Hawkes and Reid at the Church’s First Aid quarters.
“He got you real good,” said Morgan, who has a St. John’s Ambulance certification, cleaning up Hawkes’ bloody face. Her nose was broken and swollen, welding her glasses, which only got a scratch, onto her face, with her left eye being blackened.
“I didn’t realize how much it hurts until now,” said Hawkes, wincing in pain as the adrenaline that kept her going had worn off.
“You gotta be more careful,” said Morgan. “You can’t just run in with guns blazing...you’ll get into trouble.”
“You go on impulse too, though,” said Hawkes.
“I’m experienced,” said Morgan. “I’ve been in more dangerous situations than anyone could ever dream of...I’ve learned how to assess danger and do it quickly. That moment will come for you...you just need time. In the meantime, think before you act.”
Adrian came in to check on things.
“Are you okay?” Reid, also being treated by Morgan, said, clutching onto Hawkes’ hand.
“I’m fine,” said Hawkes, reciprocating Reid’s gesture. “Morgan is taking very good care of me.”
“Morgan is great like that,” said Reid, smiling.
“You took a shot from an AK-47,” said Adrian, examining Hawkes’ wound. “Tough girl.”
Reid had a closer look at the wound. “Good eye,” he commented, commending Adrian on his observation.
“Been an Army guy most of my life,” said Adrian. “I can spot an AK from a mile away.”
The paramedics then arrived to take a look at Hawkes and Reid, allowing Morgan to have a word with Adrian.
“Ketchup and Kevlar, huh?” Morgan said with a smirk. “Looks like your hunch worked.”
“I had an inkling Peter II wanted to strike at me,” said Adrian, “so I set him up. That’s why I wanted to preach from the Obelisk, because it was just daring him to come at me...and it worked. I wanted to see what kind of a man he was...late last night he called for peace...so I wanted to see if I could trust him. Turns out I can’t.”
Morgan smiled, impressed that Adrian seemed like an adept, if raw, profiler. “Where’d you learn your profiling skills?”
“I met a priest...I’m sure you know him...Father Frank Dowling. He’s from Chicago, just like you, Agent Morgan.”
“Father Dowling...he helped me when I had my issues with Carl Buford...he encouraged me to become a cop. I owe him a lot.” Morgan took another look at Hawkes and Reid before scratching his head and breathing heavily out of concern.
“Your agents will be fine,” said Adrian, picking up on Morgan’s concern.
“I know,” Morgan sighed, still concerned for them. “I just realized Lucius will grill me for what happened.”
“No he won’t. You guys are crime fighters...you’re not trained to fight an army. Given the circumstances, you did the best that you could.”
Morgan lamented. “I still allowed two of my least seasoned combat agents into the Friezenkirk without backup. Granted, both have got a mind of their own and get carried away rather easily...but still.”
“What were you going to do? Leave me alone with those soldiers? Your hands were tied. Besides, they’re young...they’ll eventually see the error of their ways and be more calculated. It just takes experience. Give them time.”
“This just in,” bellowed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer as Hotchner watched on TV. “Mere minutes into Pope Adrian VII’s first Mass we are reporting that Adrian has been shot amidst a firefight that has erupted in St. Peter’s Square...it is absolute bedlam and anarchy in there, requiring the assistance of an entire Roman Legion. To fill us in a little more, we turn to our Roman correspondent, Sextus Pilus. Sextus, what can you tell us?”
“Wolf,” started Pilus, who spoke with a distinct Scottish accent since that is where he learned his English, “there isn’t much that we can tell you at this stage. I do know the Romans have managed to retake control of St. Pete’s Square and that the corrupt soldiers, including the sniper that shot His Holiness, are all in Roman custody. The situation on the ground is, as I am told, just getting back to normal but other details, such as the condition of the Pope, are unknown to us at this stage.”
“So we don’t even know if he made it out alive?”
“There was a lot of confusion, Wolf, after the shot. Some witnesses report that His Holiness managed to escape and left his smock behind, while others contend that they saw the body of the Pope being dragged out and that the person witnesses saw running was an apparition...it’s very hard to get a clear account of what happened at this stage.”
“Did the Army say where the shot came from?”
“Witnesses are saying they heard the shot from the southwest corner, in the direction of the Friezenkirk observatory...indeed, that’s where the sniper was found. As far as who attacked the Pope, the authorities are not divulging any information at this time...what I do know is that there were Vatican soldiers, or people dressed as Vatican soldiers, who opened fire on the crowd...estimates vary on the dead and injured, with totals as low as 53 and as high as 1075. Roman officials have promised us to clarify this at a later time.”
“Thank you Sextus.” Hotchner then heard something that caught his ear.
“This just in,” bellowed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer as BAU Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner watched on TV. “Mere minutes into Pope Adrian VII’s first Mass we are reporting that Adrian has been shot amidst a firefight that has erupted in St. Peter’s Square...it is absolute bedlam and anarchy in there, requiring the assistance of an entire Roman Legion. To fill us in a little more, we turn to our Roman correspondent, Sextus Pilus. Sextus, what can you tell us?”
“Wolf,” started Pilus, who spoke with a distinct Scottish accent since that is where he learned his English, “there isn’t much that we can tell you at this stage. I do know the Romans have managed to retake control of St. Pete’s Square and that the corrupt soldiers, including the sniper that shot His Holiness, are all in Roman custody. The situation on the ground is, as I am told, just getting back to normal but other details, such as the condition of the Pope, are unknown to us at this stage.”
“So we don’t even know if he made it out alive?”
“There was a lot of confusion, Wolf, after the shot. Some witnesses report that His Holiness managed to escape and left his smock behind, while others contend that they saw the body of the Pope being dragged out and that the person witnesses saw running was an apparition...it’s very hard to get a clear account of what happened at this stage.”
“Did the Army say where the shot came from?”
“Witnesses are saying they heard the shot from the southwest corner, in the direction of the Friezenkirk observatory...indeed, that’s where the sniper was found. As far as who attacked the Pope, the authorities are not divulging any information at this time...what I do know is that there were Vatican soldiers, or people dressed as Vatican soldiers, who opened fire on the crowd...estimates vary on the dead and injured, with totals as low as 53 and as high as 1075. Roman officials have promised us to clarify this at a later time.”
“Thank you Sextus.” Hotchner then heard something that caught his ear.
“One other thing Wolf...at the scene of the crime, a power drill with the number ‘10’ was reported at the scene by witnesses. We don’t know for sure what this means but we’ll keep you posted. We also found a cross that’s an exact replica of the one from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the scene, leading to speculation that ‘Peter the Roman’ is involved.”
“Thank you Sextus.”
“Dave,” said Hotchner, calling his colleague, David Rossi.
“Yes Aaron?” Rossi replied, hearing Hotchner’s concern.
“How many people work at Decius Tarsus’ mansion?”
“Tarsus’ mansion is next. At the Obelisk, a power drill with the number ‘10’ was recovered.”
“I heard. I just heard about it on the news.”
“Adrian was supposed to be victim No. 1. Decius and his maids will round out the total to ten, as our killer kills in groups of ten.”
“Doesn’t fit the victimology, though. Our killer has only killed one man so far and that man seemed like collateral, not as an intended victim...now, I know Adrian ran on a platform involving women’s rights, so he could have been the tenth victim.”
“So we have one person that is missing. In any case, I don’t want to take any chances...set up a security detail for Tarsus’ home.”
Rossi sighed. “I hate that guy...Tarsus is a despicable human...but...he’s still human...I guess. I’ll get it set up.”
“In the meantime, we need to explore Adrian’s side of things. Cardinal Claes is our prime suspect...he’s the only one who could have the manpower to pull off the assassination attempt and has the motive to do so.”
Rossi and Hotchner said their goodbyes and ended the call. Rossi then slumped in his chair.
“What’s wrong?” BAU teammate Emily Prentiss, visiting Rossi’s room, asked.
“Hotch wants us to set up a security detail for Tarsus,” said Rossi, with frustrated indignation.
“Tarsus? I’m sorry, but I don’t think he deserves our protection...in fact, he just may be our UnSub.”
“You think so?”
“Just look at him...we’ve got a guy who treats women badly. Very badly. He’s a classic narcissist who will do anything to make himself look good...he lied about the women quote just like he lied about the story about sending a man the rest of his mortgage payments after the man fixed Tarsus’ flat tire. The ‘10’? That’s just his way of saying his guys are the ones committing the crimes...and the cross? Red herring. He’s trying to pin this on Claes because he’s the criminal du jour when he’s got nothing to do with this. Rossi, everything points to Tarsus.”
“I don’t think we can dismiss Claes just yet...he’s got more reason to kill Adrian than Tarsus does. However, the other killings...it does fit Tarsus’ profile. We’ll keep tabs on him and see what turns up.”
Gaia Cornelia’s Workshop, Neapolis, Campania
“I think this is the drill you need,” said Gaia Cornelia, helping out a customer.
Her curly brown locks fell beautifully against her snow white skin, her well-built frame and simple clothing belying her no-nonsense, workmanlike attitude. “It’s slender, so it fits in the corners a lot better.”
“Thank you,” said the customer.
“Excuse me just one minute,” said Cornelia, noticing two police officers enter her store.
“We gotta take you in,” said one of the officers, a burly man brandishing his badge, identifying him as Officer Zayaletta.
“What’s wrong officers?” Cornelia asked, stunned.
“We found the body of Ms. Fulgencia Drusia, a maid for Decius Tarsus, in your shop this morning,” replied Zayaletta.
“There must be some kind of mistake. I’ve been here all day,” said Cornelia, sternly. She noticed something off about Zayaletta, but couldn’t put her finger on it. “I need to see your badge again.”
Zayaletta didn’t waste any time. He grabbed Cornelia, turned her around and violently threw her against the wall, where his partner handcuffed her. The customer Cornelia helped out couldn’t help but notice what was happening, and decided to hide behind a shelf. Zayaletta, though, noticed the customer. As his partner violently dragged the resisting Cornelia from the store (at one point smashing her head against a shelf), Zayaletta grabbed the customer and threw her to the ground, where he handcuffed her, pulled down her pants and sexually assaulted her, before dragging her out of the store too and into their jerryrigged car. Zayaletta then made a phone call.
“We got her,” said Zayaletta. “Plus a nosy witness.”
“Good,” replied the voice at the other end. “Bring them to me.”
Caesar’s Office, Roman Senate
“All right,” said Roman Emperor Caesar Valerius IV, switching off the TV, clasping his hands and leaning forward toward FBI Director Lucius Black, wearing a sarcastic smirk on his face. “Explain this to me, ‘cause I’m just...a little lost by all this ‘profiling’ you’re doing. Do you think the Pope is someone you can just play with?”
Black was unnerved in his chair. “You heard Claes...he was calling for peace,” explained Black. “We had to call his bluff, see what he really wanted...and what you saw is what you saw...Claes is a criminal who cannot be trusted.”
“Oh so this is about proof-making...I assign you to look after the Pope and you think it’s okay to use him as evidence against a criminal...are you out of your mind?”
“Caesar...let me remind you that this wasn’t my idea. This was Adrian’s idea, and, while extreme, I saw the merit in the exercise. So I approved it.”
“...and your little game cost the lives of 274 innocent civilians in St. Peter’s Square.” Valerius chuckled, sardonically. “Tell me why I shouldn’t fire you right now?”
“There were certain logistical points that we could not account for. I told him about all this...His Holiness understood my concerns. We both believed that we’d get the full support of the Vatican Army...we didn’t think they’d turn on us. I’ve known many of those guys for years...so did Adrian. Really, this boggles my mind...we were betrayed, Caesar. Deeply betrayed.” Black took a few, slow deep breaths, sighing heavily.
Valerius nodded his head after a few thoughts, conceding the point to Black. “That is true, but your agent…Derek Morgan. You have him lead your profiling team and he sends in his two worst agents in terms of combat to battle an army. Not only that, but as soon as the shots fired, he didn’t gather his agents or give them instructions…he just bolted towards the Friezenkirk. Alone. Don’t try to dispute this information, Black. I heard it from multiple sources, including Cardinal Newman. At best, Morgan is someone who has issues trusting others to do their jobs and, at worst, he is completely incompetent as he has no idea how to use his own agents…and you think he’s a leader?”
“Caesar…I think you’d be the first to understand that Morgan, Reid and Hawkes are not army veterans…they’re trained detectives. Fortunately, Morgan has military combat training and is built like a soldier, but still…they can’t possibly expect to fight an army. In fact, as you already know, we weren’t expecting to fight an army…circumstances went way beyond our control. Furthermore, this is Morgan’s first assignment leading an investigative team in three and a half years, and the first time he’s dealt with a hand-picked team…he’s still learning the ropes, and knows he made a mistake. He also scolded them for their actions…Reid and Hawkes knew they made mistakes. Plus, Morgan knows them well enough to know they’ll learn from those mistakes…he’s worked with them for years…in fact, Reid started at the FBI with him in 2002. He knows what he’s doing.”
Valerius sighed, cocking his mouth to the side. He then wagged his finger pointedly. “I’m putting a lot of trust in you, Black…don’t blow it.”
“Caesar…I’ve known you for over 15 years…when have I ever let you down?”
“Well, there was the time you made dinner for the office…that didn’t go so well.”
Black laughed. “Just be thankful you didn’t hire me to cook.”
“Okay,” started Prentiss, taking a look around Gaia’s store. “So witnesses say that earlier this morning, two people posing as police officers violently abducted Gaia and another customer who was also in the store, before leaving without locking the store.”
“Why leave the door unlocked?” asked BAU alternate Jason Gideon, pensively.
“Maybe they did it on purpose,” said Hotchner. “They wanted us to find something…or they wanted to defile Gaia’s store.”
“The ‘10’ power drill was found here,” said Rossi, picking up said drill. “So defiling seems like a possibility.”
“Okay,” said Gideon, turning and facing the other agents with purpose, “but why just rob Gaia’s store and kidnap her? If these are the same UnSubs who murdered all those women…wouldn’t they rape and kill Gaia in her store right then and there? Why keep her alive?” He paused, because he had a theory and wanted to see if another agent caught on first before continuing.
“He needs something out of Gaia,” said Rossi, “but what?”
Prentiss called the agents to another corner of the store.
“What is it Prentiss?” said Hotchner.
“It’s a message,” said Prentiss, holding up a cloth that appeared to have fallen from being affixed to the ceiling:
للعثور عليها، أدريان، يجب أن تتبع ثعبان
“It’s written in Arabic, more specifically Egyptian Arabic…the Egyptians came by and took Gaia.”
“Muslim terrorists?” said Rossi, chuckling. “I knew we were going to bump into them at some point.”
“Prentiss, can you translate it?” asked Hotchner.
“Of course,” said Prentiss. “The document is a little scuffed, so I’ll need some time to make out the wording exactly, but I can translate it.”
“Good,” said Gideon.
As the agents walked to their cars, Rossi and Hotchner couldn’t help but reminisce.
“Hey Aaron,” said Rossi, his hands casually in his coat pockets.
“Yeah Dave,” said Hotchner, slowing his pace for his friend.
“Remember the days when all we had to deal with was some deranged loner who shot people in a blind rage? Call me crazy, but I miss those days.”
Hotchner laughed. “This has been a strange case. Just goes to show that there are no freebies anymore.”
“Reconnaissance for Samaria is complete, sir,” said Praetor Legatus Primus Julius Emitrius to Valerius. The pair were seated in Valerius’ office.
“Okay,” said Valerius, leaning forward with interest. “What have you found?”
Emitrius pulled out a map from his tablet. “It appears that the Samarian defence is concentrated at the beachhead near Ashkelon. This is because the Samarians are already engaged in several skirmishes with Philistine militants, so that area of Samaria is already battle-hardened and thus we’d encounter the stiffest resistance. Our best bet is to go through Ashdod…their defences are not as strong in that area, and it provides a clearer path to Jerusalem.”
“Have you already contacted Philistine authorities? Perhaps we can get their assistance…it would make the war effort easier.”
“Already done sir. We’ve also contacted the Jewish leaders in Ashdod, as well as the Polish, Quebecois, the Chileans and the Parisians. Everyone who has an interest in taking out Cardinal Claes is on our side.”
“Good. So when does the assault start?”
“Well, we gave the Samarians until noon today to accept our ultimatum.” Emitrius checked his watch. “That gives us…another fifteen minutes. Our troops are at the ready to strike the minute the deadline passes.”
Valerius nodded heartily with approval. “Good. Let the Christian heretics in Jerusalem know that they messed with the wrong nation.”
Neapolis Police Headquarters, Neapolis, Campania
“Agent Hotchner?” said Neapolis Police Chief Umberto Rocchi, running towards Hotchner with urgency.
“Yes Chief Rocchi?” said Hotchner.
“We identified the body found earlier today hanging from the trident at the Fountain of Neptune. It’s Fulgencia Drusia…dental records identified her since her face was beaten beyond recognition.”
“Was there any sign of sexual assault?”
“Drusia was raped. Repeatedly.”
“Was there a power drill found at the scene?”
“Yes there was…complete with the ‘10’. It was recovered a ways from the scene because we speculate that it fell from Drusia’s hand. That’s all we know at this stage.
“Thank you.” The Chief then left Hotchner, allowing him to reconnect with the other agents.
“Fulgencia Drusia’s body was found at the Fountain of Neptune,” said Hotchner.
“Fulgencia?” said Prentiss. “That’s the maid I gave my card to.” Prentiss sighed with frustration and disappointment. “I can’t believe she’s dead.”
“This only furthers my belief that Tarsus is the ultimate target of these attacks,” said Hotchner.
“Who could it be, though?” said Rossi. “We’ve already checked his records, and the police have already interviewed him…there’s no one that checks out as a smoking gun for someone that would hate him this much.”
“Let’s recap the profile,” said Hotchner.
“This is an organization of UnSubs,” said Gideon. “They’re highly motivated, organized and dedicated. They have a specific woman in mind since the women they’ve raped and killed have a specific appearance. They’re tied to Decius because of the power drill with the number ‘10’ on it, as per his quote, so whomever is leading this organization, disagrees with the quote. This is further bolstered by the fact that the power drill is inserted into a screw head that’s the wrong bit for the drill. We find today the cloth with Arabic writing on it, which suggests that this group are Egyptian terrorists. However, before that, there was a cross and a power drill found at the scene of Adrian’s attempted assassination, indicating that Claes is behind the murders. Emily…have you translated the message?”
“Yes,” said Prentiss. “It says ‘Adrian, if you want to find her, follow the snake’. However, there’s something-”
Gideon cut her off, annoying Prentiss. “So that means Claes has recruited the Egyptian terrorists, and that Gaia Cornelia is connected to Adrian in some way. We need to start looking into her.”
“Guys,” said Prentiss assertively, getting animated. “We’re missing the point. Tarsus is the UnSub. As I already mentioned to Rossi, everything that we’ve found so far is a red herring. This is a man who is quite open about how he treats women poorly, Rossi and I saw that first-hand. He lied about making the quote just how he lied about paying off the mortgage of a man who helped him with a flat tire. He plants all these clues so that we think someone else is behind them but we know better. The ‘10’ on the drills say it all…we all know that the root for ‘Decius’ is 10…it’s a clear marker that he’s behind the crimes. As I was going to say about the message, it’s clearly not written by a native Egyptian- it’s written by someone who found a phrase they liked and threw it into Google Translate. I don’t know enough about the Vatican attack to know for sure if that was a red herring, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.”
“All this still implicates Claes,” said Hotchner. “We’ll have to check the records, but he’s likely not a native speaker of Arabic so it would make sense for him to use that as a red herring just to throw us off. I know what you are trying to say about Tarsus, but Claes has far more of a motive than Tarsus does to kill Adrian, and it fits the fact that Adrian favours women’s rights. The evidence points to Claes.”
“We should still get Garcia to run a background check on Gaia,” said Rossi. “It’s obvious that she’s the woman whom the other victims were surrogates for.”
“How did we miss this?” said Gideon, frustrated. “I saw her name on those drills…I dismissed it because the ‘10’ was much more prominent.”
“It happens,” said Hotchner. “When we notice a message on a car, do we automatically assume the company who made the car is involved in the crime?”
“Good point,” said Gideon.
“In any case, I’ll call Garcia,” said Hotchner. “This UnSub wants something out of Gaia, which is why he didn’t kill her, and out of Adrian, which is why he’s in the message.”
FBI Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia
“You’ve reached Penelope Garcia, who holds more info than the Library of Alexandria could dream of having!” said Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, cheerfully through the phone. “What’s the request today?”
“Garcia,” said Hotchner, “we need you to run a background check on Gaia Cornelia. We need to know what kind of links she has to Fulgencia Drusia, Decius Tarsus, Cardinal Wilhelm Claes and Pope Adrian VII.”
“Got it.” Garcia reacted normally before her attention was piqued at the last moment. “Pope Adrian? I thought Popes weren’t allowed to get married.”
“We’re not saying that at this stage. All that we know is that the UnSub left a message at the crime scene that referred to Adrian, so we need to know what connections he has to Cornelia.”
“Okay.” Garcia tapped away at her computer. “My, Gaia’s beautiful…she looks like someone any man would sin over.”
“Right…sorry. Well, according to official Papal records, Adrian took his Holy Orders in 1997, a year after he went through a string of confessionals and Sacraments of Reconciliation…now…as I unseal the Papal records…wow…Adrian took a vow of celibacy during this time and had to cleanse himself to do it because he and Gaia had been in a relationship prior to his time in Mali.”
“Thanks Garcia. See what else you can dig up.”
“Righto, El Capitan!”
“What did she find?” asked Gideon, as Hotchner got off the phone.
“Adrian and Gaia were in a relationship prior to his time with the Army in Mali,” said Hotchner. “In fact, Adrian decided to become a priest shortly after he returned from the war, going through numerous rituals of contrition in order to get properly ordained…it’s a long record.”
“The Vatican keeps a record of that?” said Prentiss. “I’ve been to confession numerous times…I didn’t know they were writing it down…in fact, I don’t think they’re supposed to.”
“The rules are different if you’re becoming a priest,” said Hotchner. “In order to go through the Holy Orders, the prospective priest must make a detailed list of all of his sins, with the overseeing priest documenting all the various rituals he has to go through to cleanse himself of those sins. In addition to this, the prospective priest must also submit to a criminal background check before he can proceed into the priesthood…this was all enacted in 1993 by Pope John Paul II when news of the sexual abuse scandals first came out.”
“So that’s what this is all about,” said Gideon, analyzing. “Our UnSub is seeking to expose Adrian’s past…and bring him down by proxy.”
RSC Headquarters, Rome
“All right,” said BAU teammate Derek Morgan, in an interrogation room with the sniper, Pasquale Casiraghi. He angled his body in his chair in such a way that Casiraghi could see how much Morgan towered over him, as well as how fit and strong he was. Morgan spoke very threateningly. “There’s two ways we can go about this. You can either tell me what I need to know right now…or…I charge you with attempted murder of the Pope…and believe me, Pasquale…the Roman magistrates aren’t going to be that accommodating to you if it came to that.”
Casiraghi just sat there, with smug silence.
“Oh really?” Morgan chuckled, sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth in sarcasm. “You think this funny, don’t you? Let me remind you that you attempted to assassinate a head of state…that makes you a terrorist, and we can keep you here as long as you want. Of course…if you talk…we just might be able to talk about a deal.”
Casiraghi scratched his face, continuing to stay silent.
Morgan was prepared for this. “Suit yourself then.” He got up to leave the room, but before he did, he unfurled a large picture of Adrian with his arms folded and smiling smugly and placed it right in front of Casiraghi’s sightline, forcing him to stare at it.
After leaving the room, Morgan left to check on his teammates Spencer Reid and Zoe Hawkes.
“What have you found?” asked Morgan.
“We knew from how the shot was fired,” explained Reid, “that the shooter has something against not just Adrian but the Catholic Church as a whole. Otherwise, why position the flag in such a way that you’d have to shoot through it?”
“…and disrespect the flag, right,” concurred Morgan.
“Furthermore,” piped in Hawkes, “the shot came from the Friezenkirk, which is a Frisian Church. Now, this could just have been picked because it provided the best sightline toward the Obelisk, but I still find it interesting that the Belgian Claes would pick a Frisian monument to shoot from.”
“So you think Claes is a red herring,” said Morgan.
“The Frisians and the Belgians hate each other,” said Hawkes, “so yes, I do.”
“Good work,” said Morgan, patting both agents on the back. “I need to speak with Adrian.”
Down the hall, Adrian was relaxing in a break room. Before Morgan greeted him, he received a phone call from Hotchner, which he took before meeting up with Adrian.
“What have they found?” said Adrian.
“My boss at the FBI just called,” said Morgan. “He wants to know what you know about Gaia Cornelia.”
“Gaia?” Adrian’s face was overcome with concern, worried for Gaia. “Well, I had nothing to hide…and this is proof of that.” He sighed heavily before continuing. “Gaia and I were high school sweethearts…we had sex numerous times. We were in love, and I thought I was going to marry her. Then we had a falling out…it’s why I joined the military and eventually the priesthood…that part of my life concluded.”
“Why did you two break up?”
“Gaia is a strong-willed woman…some would be intimidated by her but I wasn’t. She’s a very kind and loving soul, but she’s headstrong…she can get stubborn at times and I think, at that age, I felt like she was too much of an authority figure for me so I ended things…and turned to the priesthood. The horrors in Mali showed me that I had to restore hope and a belief in God in the people in the world…so I did what I had to do to become a priest. The public knows about it…it’s no secret…but I guess Claes is trying to bring it to the forefront again, after he failed to do it successfully during the election campaign.”
Morgan sensed something was off in that story but didn’t know what. Unbeknownst to Morgan, prospective BAU agent Patrick Jane walked into the break room and fixed himself some tea.
“That boy in Mali,” started Jane as he was making his tea.
“When did you get here?” Morgan asked, surprised Jane had shown up.
“Oh, I just finished at the firing range,” said Jane. “Really digging the baby Glock...love the flashlight on top of it...it’s incredibly light...doesn’t even feel like you’re handling a gun at all. It’s also so smooth and-”
“That boy in Mali,” said Adrian, interrupting out of aggravation. He sighed before continuing. “Okay, that boy in Mali made me realize I didn’t want to be a father...so I ended things with Gaia after the war and went into the priesthood. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing a child...Gaia understood where I was coming from.”
“So all this stuff about Gaia being strong-willed,” noted Morgan, “was just you trying to give a palatable explanation so you wouldn’t have to explain the harsh truth.”
“Okay,” said Adrian, ashamed. “You caught me. Well, the stuff about Gaia being strong-willed is true...I just repressed my other reasons for breaking up with her...you understand, sometimes it’s just easier to skirt the truth than to deal with it. Can I come back later? I need to atone for this sin.”
“Absolutely,” said Morgan.
Adrian left for the chapel. He needed to pray for lying, as well as pray for Gaia’s safe return.
In the chapel, Adrian found Reid, fixatedly analyzing the various art found there along the walls and in the windows.
“Surprised to see you in here,” commented Adrian. “I thought you told me you were atheist.”
“I think you have me confused,” said Reid, who didn’t break his glare. “What I meant was that rational thought and other kinds of reasonable inquiry don’t really leave a lot of room for the supernatural to operate...by its very definition, the scientific method cannot allow for the supernatural, because the goal of the method is to find natural causes for things. However...there’s just certain things the natural can’t explain, like how karma seems to work...I know rational thought would suggest karma is just coincidences but sometimes things just seem ‘too’ coincidental that one can’t deny that there may actually be a supernatural force at work trying to keep us all in line. There has to be a reason why we’ve had skeptic thought for millennia yet the belief in the supernatural is still so pervasive...I think it’s better to say I’m agnostic than atheist.”
Adrian nodded in acknowledgement. “I see.” He then noticed the plastic bag Reid was holding. “Is that the cross recovered from St. Peter’s Square?”
“It is. It’s been stylized and painted to look like it came from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but something’s off about it. I can see crack marks around the centre of the cross...looks like there was a circle there.”
“Let me have a look at it.” Adrian studied the cross, looking for inconsistencies. “This was moulded from the cross of Saint Marinus, which has a circle around the centre of the cross.”
“That’s it!” Reid was enlightened, and continued with unbridled excitement. “Tarsus…he’s trying to frame Claes. He went so far that he’s even trying to replicate the Cross of the Holy Sepulchre! In doing so…he’s revealed where he is…San Marino! I gotta step outside...get Morgan. Thank you Your Holiness.”
“No problem Dr. Reid.” Reid left allowing Adrian to pray.
Meanwhile, Morgan was getting background information on their new leads.
“Hey babygirl,” said Morgan excitedly on the phone. “Work your magic!”
“You got it, my Dark Knight!” Garcia beamed.
Morgan continued playfully. “Oh so I’m Batman now.”
“Oh you always were...just not with those disgusting tights...never understood why heroes wore their underwear outside of their uniforms...anyway, I got some wonderful information on Wilhelm Claes.”
“I’m all ears.”
“It turns out that our Papal pretender was also a pretender of honour. You see, our dear Claes was the high school priest when both Adrian and Ms. Cornelia were there, and, at one point got accused by Ms. Cornelia when she was in high school of inappropriate conduct...the records don’t clarify what happened because, and here’s the fun part, the investigation closed abruptly for some reason, never to be opened again.”
“Father Claes covered it up.”
“Exactly. So when Adrian ran for the Papacy this year, it must have triggered all kinds of memories for him.”
“...and when he lost...he started killing.”
“You’re right. At the beginning of the year, right after he lost the election, Claes was wired around $100 million from an unknown account in San Marino...which I traced to...”
“Exactly. It took some doing because Tarsus had some crazy hacks going on there but I pulled through.”
“So Claes is really behind all these murders, and, to make sure he doesn’t get his hands dirty, he hires henchmen. Since he doesn’t have the money for that, he recruits Tarsus, who hires a team of hitmen to do the dirty work. Have you found anything so far, Garcia?”
“How come you guys didn’t start looking for the hitmen right away?”
“Well, each one performed their task cleanly and efficiently, and their MO’s were extremely similar. Furthermore, none of the victims, in their criminal investigations or in their backgrounds, provided much in the way of links…the hitmen covered their tracks extremely well. Our only hope was to figure out who they work for, because by then we’ll be able to see their entire employee list. They’re mission-oriented killers…they wouldn’t reveal themselves until we figured out what the mission was about…and now we know.”
“Oh okay…so…anyway…after receiving $100 million from Tarsus, Claes paid a few associates to commit his crimes…the one that got the most? Some $10 million? That would be your sniper, Pasquale Casiraghi.”
“Thank you babygirl.” Morgan smiled. “You really are something.”
Garcia frantically piped in trying to stop Morgan from hanging up. “Wait! That’s not all!”
“No, it’s not. Claes was born in San Marino…his parents moved there from Belgium three years before he was born. In fact, he doesn’t even have a home in Jerusalem…his credit card activity reveals that he only moved to Jerusalem to raise an army to go against the Pope. Furthermore, this army of his has numerous ties to Egypt…and there’s a civil war going on there between the Copts and the Arabs and the Catholics…it seems like Claes wanted Tarsus’ involvement so that his own armies could get the upper hand in Egypt.”
Morgan was impressed and intrigued. “Wow…this is something! Thanks babygirl.” As he hung up the phone, Reid and Hawkes caught up with Morgan.
“Guys!” said Reid, excitedly. “Tarsus has a base in San Marino. The cross found at St. Peter’s Square…it’s made to look like it came from the Holy Sepulchre but it’s really the Cross of Saint Marinus, the founder of San Marino.”
“So you don’t think Claes has anything to do with this at all,” said Morgan, challenging Reid’s assertion.
Reid and Hawkes were perplexed. “Yeah, we’re certain,” said Hawkes. “Just five minutes ago you were agreeing with us.”
“Five minutes later I talked to Garcia,” said Morgan. “Turns out Claes is a part of this after all. He lives in San Marino…he only moved to Jerusalem so that he and Tarsus could turn the tide of the civil war in Egypt.”
“So Claes put all these red herring clues to make it look like he didn’t commit the crimes when he actually did,” said Hawkes, analyzing.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” said Reid, animatedly flummoxed. “Why would someone go through all these lengths to make it look like someone else is framing them for a crime they actually committed…I mean, wouldn’t you rather just frame someone else? The St. Peter’s Square Attack…makes more sense if it was framed on Peter II than it would if Peter II framed himself.”
Jane couldn’t help but interrupt.
“Maybe,” he started. “That’s what he wants you to think. You see…Tarsus…he’s sloppy. Obvious narcissist…and lazy. He wanted to make sure that he did the bare minimum in covering his tracks so that he wouldn’t get caught, but he couldn’t resist putting his own touches on the crimes…I mean, the ‘10’? Seriously, why not just put your own name on the drill for all to see?
“Claes, however…he’s smart. He’s in a war. He knows he has to cover his tracks a lot better. That’s why he went to all those lengths to look like someone else committed that assassination attempt on the Pope, when we all know that only Claes would realistically have the resources to pull something like that off. In fact…I don’t think that cross is a mistake…we might think it is but I think it’s a setup. See, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an Orthodox Church, and the Samarians are Orthodox, plus making all those announcements from Jerusalem gives one the impression that is where he is based. Besides, why go through the trouble of forging a cross from the Holy Sepulchre when he could just get one? They’re not hard to find. No, his real camp is in San Marino, where he has his real army…he only helped out the Samarians knowing that the Romans would retaliate and turn their attention on to them, figuring that if he could draw the Romans into the civil war in Egypt and take out his enemies, he’d get the upper hand in winning the war…and Rome took the bait.”
“So where does Gaia fit into all this?” said Adrian, joining the conversation.
“Well,” said Jane. “Looks like Claes wants a final battle with you, Your Holiness…and the only way to do that is to take your former girlfriend and maybe score some political points along the way.”
Undisclosed factory, Khartoum, Sudan
As the minutes passed, the woman’s screams became louder and louder. She was naked, her hands were bound together and were affixed to a chain suspending her from the ceiling, while her legs were spread as far apart as they could, affixed each to a chain suspended from the ceiling, giving the impression that she was lying on her back in the air.
Tending to her was a man, who was quite happily enjoying himself with her. As her moans got louder and louder, it served to egg him on even more. In her mind, all she wanted was for the ordeal to stop, but, by now, there was nothing she could do.
When the man finished, he put his pants back on and joined his friend outside.
“I never thought rape could be this fun,” said Claes on the phone to Tarsus.
“These women,” said Tarsus, “they really need to know who really controls them.”
“Gaia was a maid of yours, wasn’t she?”
“No, but she was friends of the Vestal Virgin I assaulted...and she blew the whistle on me. So I blew the whistle on her instead...and once we get Adrian here, the whole world will know about her hypocrisy.”
“...and teach these women about where they belong...the kitchen.”
Tarsus laughed, nodding in agreement, before Claes decided to re-enter the room so that he could rape Gaia again.
RSC Headquarters, Rome
“Now that we’re all here,” said Hotchner as the entire team plus Adrian gathered in a boardroom, “what do we know about the Tarsus and Claes team?”
“I think this is Claes’ team,” said Morgan. “He had the highest profile target, and his crime was the cleanest of the bunch. He fooled us for a while.”
“Tarsus appears to be the junior partner in this,” said Jane. “The ‘10’ says it all, like he has to have his stamp on these crimes...someone with more confidence wouldn’t feel the need to compulsively point something like this out.”
“I still think Tarsus is far from being submissive, though,” said Reid. “He didn’t become CEO of Sabre by being weak...plus, he knows Claes needs his money...so he probably feels like an equal to him.”
“His group is also highly motivated and dedicated,” said Prentiss. “I’d say the deadly precision at which they commit their crimes indicates a cult-like mentality, and definitely suggests a religious undertone.”
“Meaning that Claes is likely an extremist and will turn Egypt into a dangerous militant theocracy if we don’t act,” said Hawkes.
“I got some info on the henchmen,” piped Garcia through the phone’s speaker. “There was one other reason why they were all hard to track, and that’s because they all used one-time aliases where they committed their murders. All of their names are bull-related- heck, someone even used ‘Bull Durham’- and all had credit card transactions related to their crimes in the weeks prior to their assaults. Took some digging though...only if one knew Tarsus was involved could you make the connection.”
“Garcia,” said Gideon, “can you trace the aliases to the real persons? Maybe we can arrest them.”
“I can trace them to real people,” replied Garcia. “I sent them to your phones. However, they got smart and fled. They’re all back in Egypt.”
“Working on the next step,” noted Rossi.
Ashkelon, Philistia Province, Judea
Right on schedule, the bombardment of Ashkelon began at the stroke of noon. The Romans started with air strikes before landing beachheads once the beach defences were softened. Aided by the Philistine contingent, by 4PM, the Romans had managed to tear a hole through the Samarian defence, allowing for easy access to the downtown core. With two cohorts marching downtown, the others worked at encircling the city, meaning it got “cut off” from the outside world two hours later. After some more fierce downtown fighting, Ashkelon was secure, just after sundown.
Emitrius wasn’t content with just Ashkelon. He ordered his troops forward, hitting the defences of Lachish in full force in the hour. Halfway through the assault, Emitrius received a call to pull back.
“Retreat?” Emitrius said, flabbergasted. “Valerius, we’re on a roll…we can’t stop now! This is an outrage!”
“Emitrius,” said Valerius on the phone with him, “the Samaria link is a red herring. Cardinal Claes fooled us into thinking the Samarians were involved with the assassination attempt…Claes is really just using the Samarians to get Jerusalem for himself, and wants to strike at them at some point.”
“Okay…I’ll tell my men to hold their fire except for defensive purposes,” said Emitrius, disappointed.
“All right,” said Valerius to Samarian Emperor Paul Alsap. “I told my men to stand down.” Alsap nodded his head and gave the order to his general to stand down as well.
“You do realize this won’t be enough, Caesar,” said Alsap, still angry with Valerius.
Valerius was contrite with egg on his face. “On top of my heartfelt apology, we will also pay for the repairs to the cities we’ve destroyed, as well as provide compensation to the families of the soldiers we’ve needlessly killed, as well as any civilians caught in the crossfire. We will also throw in some extra cash for indemnity as well. You have to understand, Cardinal Claes played us too...and I’ll have to answer to my people for being fooled.”
Alsap’s anger started to dissipate seeing the contrition on Valerius’ face. “Claes is clever. He was able to sweet talk me into helping him out...I didn’t realize he was a sham.”
“Anything to get ahead, especially in the powderkeg that is Judea and Egypt.”
“Egypt is the prize...with the Suez and the fertile Nile Valley. It was once the breadbasket of Rome.”
“Since we are brothers in being duped by the heretic, we will help you in this war and bring this man to justice…your terms are acceptable to us, Caesar.”
“Glad we came to an agreement.”
The walls of San Marino
“Morgan,” said Hotchner, standing stoically, staring at the city walls at a building that served as a makeshift command post several feet away. The BAU were there with a Roman SWAT team, with the Rimini Legion on call nearby. “We can’t just go in there…we have no concrete proof that Claes is in there.”
Morgan was pacing, furiously, around the command centre. “This man is good,” said Morgan, intensely. “I want this so badly…I’m not going to let him win. I just he’d stop hiding like a coward behind that stupid wall!”
Outside of the command centre, Rossi, who gained military experience serving in Vietnam as a youth, held a walkie-talkie to radio a reconnaissance helicopter overlooking San Marino.
“Dolphin,” said Rossi, radioing the helicopter. “Do you see anything?”
“Negative Graybeard,” said Dolphin.
Back at the centre, Reid and Hawkes were brainstorming, hoping a clue would unlock a path into Sammarinese territory.
“The clues fit a lot better if they’re tied to the Sepulchre,” said Reid, wiping his face with frustration.
“All we’ve got is the cross of Saint Marinus,” said Hawkes, breathing heavily and still frustrated.
“The cross could mean anything Zoe...it’s not going to narrow down where in San Marino Claes is.”
Hawkes could only sigh heavily, stressed at the lack of clues.
“Derek,” said Adrian, approaching Morgan. “Let me go in there.”
“We can’t let you do that Adrian,” said Morgan sternly.
Adrian replied in kind. “I’m the Pope, Derek. They will listen to me.”
“Adrian, this is a trap. Claes knew we’d figure out that he was here and he’s just waiting to capture you too and bring you to your death right next to Gaia. That’s why he took her...because he knew he could get you too.”
“For all we know, Gaia could already be dead. My death doesn’t matter. I’m a military man, Derek...I laugh in the face of death.”
“Gaia is still alive...Claes needs you to see her alive because only then will the pain of her death, in front of your eyes, will be more brutal. He needs to draw you in to have the cruelest fate possible. Then he can claim that you and the Church are hypocrites, because then the world will have a visual of the two of you together. He needs her to be alive for that to happen...so the longer you stay with us, the longer that she stays alive!”
Adrian sighed and nodded reluctantly. “Very well then. Just find the bull.”
“Yeah, Tarsus is here, not Claes. Remember, everything has been set up to make us think one possibility is really the other...besides, why would Claes hide here when he’s got all of Egypt to work with? He’s also the submissive partner...eventually we can break him down and find Claes.”
Morgan nodded, enlightened by the Pope’s suggestions. He then radioed the info to Rossi.
“Dolphin,” radioed Rossi.
“Dolphin here,” said Dolphin. “Go ahead Graybeard.”
“Look for a bull structure or a number 10 or some kind of facsimile thereof...Tarsus is here in San Marino, not Claes. Since he’s a classic narcissist he’ll pick some kind of symbol that relates to him. Copy that?”
“Got it. Copy.”
Rossi grabbed his binoculars and started to study San Marino from what he could see. A few minutes later, Dolphin radioed in.
“This is Graybeard. Go ahead Dolphin.”
“Found a cattle ranch in Serravalle, with the number ‘10’ on the silo. I’m using infrared to look inside and...oh this isn’t good.”
“What is it?”
“He’s got a nuke.”
The Command Centre, right outside of San Marino
“He’s got a what?” said Morgan intensely through the phone.
“Tarsus has a nuclear warhead trapped in that silo,” said Rossi.
Morgan sighed heavily, wiping his face with stress. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“I wish I was Morgan. This case is getting stranger by the minute.”
“Wait for further action. In the meantime, send us the scans.”
Within a few minutes, the team received the infrared scans of the device and were studying it.
“I can’t believe this idiot has a nuke!” said Morgan, exasperated.
“It could be a red herring,” said Reid with a nervous smile.
Morgan was apoplectic, his eyes getting menacingly big with the blood vessels in his shaved head becoming much more prominent. “Yeah, genius…it could be a red herring…and while we sit here playing his bluff he’ll trick us and blow up half of Europe ‘cause we just thought it was all a joke.” He then flailed his armed wide, animatedly, and got right into Reid’s face. “That’s why we can’t play chicken with this guy, idiot!” He then put his hand underneath the table Reid was sitting at and violently flipped it across the room, before storming off.
Reid make a snarky reply. “One of these days one of those blood vessels will burst.” Hotchner, concerned for Morgan, followed his teammate, having stayed calm for the entire exchange.
“Morgan,” said Hotchner, walking into the room Morgan had hid to.
“Leave me alone Hotch!” yelled Morgan, slumped into a corner, holding his head.
Hotchner stayed calm. “Morgan, I know this situation is stressful…but you can’t let these things get to you if you want to be a leader.”
“I know Hotch, but this…this is beyond the pale. Plus what Reid said was incredibly stupid. He knows better than that.”
“Reid, though not very tactful, is right though…given what we know about how this case has progressed, not everything is what it seems…that nuke could just be a decoy. In any case, you need to learn how to channel your emotions and deal with your stress…this job isn’t easy.”
Morgan had calmed down by this point. “How do you do it Hotch? You’re always so calm in the face of adversity.”
“Trust me, Morgan, it’s not easy. Takes a lot of practice…and time. I’ll help in any way that I can. Now, can we go back to the case?” Morgan agreed, going back to the command post with Hotchner.
As soon as he saw Reid Morgan gave him a giant hug.
“I’m sorry man,” said Morgan, hugging his best friend. “You understand this has been unbelievably stressful, right?”
“It’s okay,” said Reid, responding in kind. “I didn’t take it personally…this has been a bizarre case and you’ve been through a lifetime of stress in such a short period of time. Really it’s no big deal.”
“Okay now guys,” said Hawkes, who couldn’t help but crack a joke at their expense. “Kiss and make up.”
Morgan reacted with playful disgust. “I love Reid,” he said as the two agents parted from their embrace, with Morgan rustling Reid’s hair at the end, “but not like that. This ain’t Criminal Minds.”
“So what do we know about the weapon?” asked Morgan, getting back on track.
“It’s a one megaton nuclear warhead,” said Reid, “so I was right…kind of.”
“I don’t follow,” said Hotchner.
“What we have is still a very powerful bomb,” explained Reid, “but today’s nuclear weaponry has surpassed that level of payload in terms of direct damage…if Tarsus’ intention was to simply launch a nuclear bomb at a target, he would have amassed several of them at once, or acquired a bigger bomb.”
“He could still have other bombs though,” countered Morgan. “Just because we’ve found one doesn’t mean we’ve found them all.”
“That’d be quite expensive,” said Reid. “One nuclear warhead already costs hundreds of millions of dollars with little reinvestment value because the technology is constantly changing, plus San Marino’s not big enough to hold that many undetected warheads.”
“So what’s his gameplan?” asked Hotchner.
“Tarsus is planning an electromagnetic pulse attack,” said Reid.
“An EMP?” said Morgan, intrigued. “How do you figure?”
“An EMP attack can provide much more long lasting and far-reaching damage than a conventional nuclear warhead,” explained Reid. “For example, a nuclear warhead detonated at 400 kilometres over the Earth’s surface at, say, Amsterdam, would be enough to cripple the entire electronic infrastructure of the European continent. Furthermore, even if the missile was intercepted by the Romans, the resulting EMP would likely incapacitate the entire Italian peninsula, as modern anti-ballistic missile defence systems don’t intercept the missile until it hits an altitude of 100 km, at least, which would still be enough to cripple Rome.”
“So it’s in our best interests to make sure he doesn’t launch it,” analyzed Morgan.
“Correct,” said Reid.
“I want to know something,” said Prentiss, “how does a EMP strike figure into Tarsus’ overall message?”
“He figures he can cripple the Romans into the Stone Age, forcing more physical labour,” explained Hawkes, “and physical labour tends to favour males…hence why all those drill bits were the wrong size…he wanted to show that women ‘can’t’ do physically demanding ‘workmanlike’ jobs.”
“What’s our next step?” asked Hotchner. The agents sat there, pondering their next options before Jane piped up.
“Tell the Romans to play some sort of war games with the Samarians,” said Jane. “Make press releases saying that the two of them are still at war and have the two combatants pretend they’re still fighting each other when they’re actually not. If we can trick Claes and Tarsus into thinking the Roman troops are still distracted in Samaria that would give us enough time to try to deactivate the bomb before it gets launched, because if Tarsus thinks we’re on to him, he’ll launch it in a panic…and we’ll have some real trouble.”
“Let the mind games begin,” said Morgan, making the phone call to Black.
San Marino, 22:10 local time
“Here’s the plan,” said Morgan, briefing the SWAT team that was accompanying him into the farm. “We’re all going to drive in to San Marino. Discreetly. Then we drive to the farm. Most of you will forage the barn to cover our backs and find Tarsus, but some of you will come with me to deactivate the bomb. Remember, whatever you do, do it discreetly. The Sammarinese government is working with Tarsus here...if they find out that we’ve found the bomb it could jeopardize our entire operation and compromise our safety. Is that understood?” The SWAT team all nodded in agreement, as Morgan and the rest of the team drove toward the farm.
“Babygirl,” said Morgan, calling Garcia. “See if you can hack into the hardware and disrupt its communication system.”
“Okay mon cherie,” said Garcia, “it’ll take some doing though...these things aren’t on conventional Internet networks.”
“Do what you can,” said Morgan, hanging up.
Once at the farm, the SWAT found the place deserted, allowing for easy access into the silo. After securing the farm, the SWAT kept watch, making sure no one interrupted Morgan during his work.
“Okay Derek,” said Morgan, talking to himself which spurred his thought process. “It’s been a while since you looked at a nuclear warhead...what do you know about the bombs?” He stared intently at the large device, before grabbing a ladder and climbing, reaching a small panel at the side of the bomb.
“Behind here is the power chord...I find it...I disarm the bomb,” he mused to himself. He unscrewed the panel, and stared at the wires. Eventually, he came across a large green wire hidden in the mass of wires.
He reached in, carefully, because any one of those wires could set off the bomb if they were jumbled too much. Eventually, he was able to dig to the green wire, which he effortlessly cut with his pliers. Having now disarmed the bomb, Morgan climbed down the ladder, ready to rejoin his unit.
What he saw when he came out from the silo astounded him.
“Oh s***,” he said, staring in disbelief.
23:15 local time, BAU Command Centre
“Morgan?” Hotchner said, calling Morgan’s cell phone. His level of worry went up each second Morgan did not respond. “Morgan? Morgan? Are you there? This is Hotch.”
“He’s not answering?” Rossi asked, concern overtaking his face.
“We gotta go in there,” said Prentiss, anxiously. “What are we waiting for? Morgan’s in trouble.”
“We can’t just barge right in,” said Gideon, his own face awash with worry. “We still don’t know if that nuke is incapacitated.”
“We’re also dealing with an independent country,” said Jane. “Our authority doesn’t extend there.”
“I think it does,” said Hawkes. “Last year, San Marino defaulted for the first time in their history...Tarsus bailed them out, making sure his companies could be registered in San Marino to avoid paying Roman taxes. Tarsus is also bankrolling other Sammarinese institutions, such as the army...in short, Tarsus is San Marino.”
“I also think the presence of a nuke is pretext enough,” opined Reid, doing his best to handle his nerves over the situation.
Roman Senate, Rome
“What are you talking about, your agent’s in trouble?” Valerius said, incredulously, to Black after Black informed him of what happened. “I thought you said if we played war games you’d have the nuke disarmed safely.”
Black slumped into his chair, his face overcome with emotions worried for Morgan. “Sir, we don’t know yet what happened to Morgan...he’s not answering his phone. It’s like he disappeared.”
“Black, Black, Black!” Valerius was beside himself with sarcastic laughter. “Unless San Marino is a black hole- which, for our taxmen, it is- no one just ‘disappears’…Morgan’s somewhere…you just have to find him!” Valerius gave Black a death glare, folding his arms disbelievingly at a man whose agents seemed two steps too slow for the entire investigation.
“Your Majesty…I know this hasn’t been pretty…but this case…”
“Don’t ‘this case’ me! I pay you to solve them, not to bumble around going on ‘hunches’ and putting the entire nation in danger!”
Black sighed heavily, wiping his face due to stress. “Your Highness, please…we can’t lose our cool…look, I’m frustrated too…it seems like every time we get something right it blows up in our faces.”
Valerius let out a deep breath, reluctantly agreeing. “This has been a bigger case than even I thought it could be.” He then pondered a little before deciding his next course of action. “Put San Marino under siege. No one leaves or comes in. No one. No exceptions. I will take that city by storm…no questions asked, and if I have to burn it down, I will. That will serve as a lovely message to the world about what happens when you stroke the Roman fire!”
23:00 local time, Outside of the warhead housing silo, San Marino
Every one of them dead. The hundreds of men Morgan led into the farm were all perished, done in under a hail of sniper bullets, not a single SWAT team member a match for the Sammarinese Army that challenged them. Worse, Morgan stood in bewilderment, as those same Sammarinese troops were staring down on him, their guns so menacingly trained at his head.
He stood there, breathing heavily, thinking about what to do next. He then decided that he wasn’t going to let the Sammarinese take him without a fight. It was then that Tarsus appeared from behind a shadow to set him straight.
“No no no,” said Tarsus, wagging his finger at Morgan and walking towards him. “I wouldn’t do that, tough guy. You forget, the instant you pull out that gun, every one of these trained snipers will put a bullet in your brain…and maybe through it too.”
“Sir,” said Tarsus’ second in command, Enricus Iapitus, “can we kill him now? We’re all getting restless.”
“No,” said Tarsus, caressing Morgan’s face, which caused Morgan to swat away Tarsus’ hand. “You forget, Derek, about the guns,” he scolded, leaning in real close to Morgan’s ear.
“Now can we kill him?” said Iapitus.
“Still no,” said Tarsus, caressing Morgan again, much to Morgan’s chagrin. “I like this one. He’s everything a man should be. I’m going to take him back with me. Arrest him- and do it quickly- we need to escape before the Romans catch on and blockade us.” Two soldiers dutifully handcuffed Morgan and ushered him into the trunk of a black Sports Utility Vehicle, which Tarsus was driving. Iapitus and another soldier joined the ride, with Iapitus watching Morgan in the trunk. The soldiers managed to escape San Marino mere minutes before the Roman order to commence the siege went up, allowing them to escape to the coast where a small aircraft was waiting for the group.
“We got lucky,” said Iapitus once the plane was in flight. He couldn’t help but notice the Romans starting to move on San Marino.
“Enricus,” said Tarsus, “when you’re good, you’re lucky- and we, my friend, are good.”
BAU Command Centre
“Hello?” Hotchner said, receiving the phone call.
“Is my honeybunch okay?” Garcia asked, worry overcoming her voice.
“Penelope.” Hotchner’s normal calm voice couldn’t help but allow his own concern to creep in. “We don’t know that yet. The Romans are going to move in to San Marino and we’ll find out.”
“Oh please...please tell me he’ll be okay.” Garcia began to sob.
Hotchner himself also began to well up. “Penny...please...we’re going to get him back alive. I promise.” Hotchner ended the call, collecting himself for a few minutes before rejoining his team.
“How did we miss this?” Rossi asked, puzzled at how Morgan could find himself in danger. “It’s like Tarsus planned this entire investigation.”
“Rossi,” said Jane, the only one who didn’t show a major amount of worry. “Stuff like this happens...they got lucky and we didn’t. Simple as that.”
“How can you be so dismissive of this entire situation?” Prentiss asked Jane, her voice filled with disgust. “If you care about me, you should care about my team too!” She then stormed off.
“Emily,” said Jane, trying to stop her from leaving but he couldn’t. He followed her.
“Emily,” said Jane, putting his hand on Prentiss’ shoulder.
“Don’t,” said Prentiss angrily, moving away from his touch. Jane pulled away his hand.
Jane let out a heavy sigh. “I didn’t mean to sound like I didn’t care about him...maybe it’s all just because I don’t know him like you do and thus haven’t developed that kind of a bond with him, but I’m also trying to be levelheaded about all this...look, we’re not going to find him if we just go with our emotions.”
“You were still very callous in there...as if Morgan was nothing.”
Jane cocked his mouth to the side and sighed. “I do feel bad too.” He hung his head in shame. “I remember now that I thought this could be a setup...I don’t know why I didn’t think about that before Morgan went in there.”
“So you’re only worried for him because you screwed up?”
“No...it’s because I put a man who I deeply respect in peril. Morgan also said to me the other day that he trusts me and that he values my tactics, however insane they may be.” He sighed heavily. “I can’t tell you what that means to me.”
Prentiss saw Jane’s genuine concern, and gave him a hug, which he returned. The two of them held each other, with Jane cradling Prentiss’s head for quite some time.
01:22 local time, The walls of San Marino
The Romans went to work starting with attack helicopters clearing the defenders from the top of the wall, with soldiers in Hummers driving towards the wall and shooting at any defender that they saw trying to challenge them. The fighting stagnated at the wall as the Sammarinese backed up their wall with small artillery and tanks, hidden in area farms, which the Romans couldn’t challenge yet since their tanks had yet to arrive. Half an hour later, the full force of the Rimini Legion was able to kick in, with Roman tanks able to engage the Sammarinese tanks at Dogana.
After fierce fighting, the Romans finally broke through the wall at Dogana and started to drive into the heart of San Marino. The mountainous terrain provided some difficulties for the armoured vehicles, but the Roman Air Force made up for that, gunning down whatever Sammarinese artillery vehicles that showed up before they faced the tanks. Turning the tide of the battle was the simple fact that Rome had military aircraft, something the Sammarinese just weren’t able to obtain, due to their country’s small size.
By 05:02, the southcentral part of the Sammarinese wall had fallen, forcing the depleted Sammarinese Army to fight on two fronts. This allowed the Special Forces to enter the towns and buildings and eliminate the rest of the resistance piecemeal. An hour later, the tanks from the north met up with the tanks from the south, culminating in one last stand by the Sammarinese at the Three Towers. At this point, the battle became one between the Air Force and the castle defenders, which were slim pickings for the Romans. By 07:15, the last of the Towers, Guaita, had fallen, meaning the Sammarinese resistence was no more. San Marino was now officially in Roman hands.
There was still the task of finding Morgan, which fell to the Special Forces. For most of the morning, the Forces combed the Sammarinese interior, looking in every building, tree and tunnel they could find. By noon, the BAU- which tried to fight the urge to sleep but couldn’t- were awoken by the worst possible news.
“Okay,” said Hotchner, downcast after receiving the telephone call. “I’ll tell them.” He then lowered his head as he faced his team.
“Did they find him?” Reid asked, quivering, as both he and Hawkes were holding each other’s hands nervously as the rest of the BAU waited with baited breath.
“No,” said Hotchner, welling up. “They took him.”
“Come on!” barked a soldier, brandishing a whip on Behavioural Analysis Unit team member Derek Morgan’s back. Morgan, naked except for a loin cloth around his waist, dropped the boulder he was carrying and was about to attack the soldier until another one barked at him.
“Guns Derek!” said the commanding officer. “The guns, Derek! You keep forgetting about them!”
Morgan sighed, resigned to his fate. He’d been warned multiple times about the guns every time he tried to strike at his captors, and each time he got progressively more submissive. By this point, he decided it wasn’t worth fighting them anymore. Cardinal Wilhelm Claes and Decius Tarsus had him in chains at all times, both mentally and (when needed) physically. He then picked up the boulder and carried about the task at hand, which was to create an artillery hole to bolster the fortress of Claes and Tarsus.
Meanwhile, Gaia Cornelia was in the kitchen of the fortress, clad in nothing. She had work alone to cook dinner for the fortress’ 400 soldiers, a task that wasn’t helped when soldiers helped themselves to raping her and copping a feel whenever they felt like it.
After another rape, Gaia stood at the counter, stunned in sadness. She wanted to cry, but she knew that would lead to her getting beaten and she had enough of that. She also had to finish her cooking task or else they were going to give her some more beatings and make the sex even less pleasurable for her. After taking a few deep, difficult breaths she found the strength to keep on going, hoping that no one would bother her for the rest of the day.
Morgan himself wasn’t so lucky. Since he was still new, he was still subject to the beatings that Gaia used to get on a regular basis. Every day after he finished his backbreaking work in the searing desert heat, he’d be worked over by a few soldiers with whips, in addition to being whacked with their fists. For the normally strong and dominant Morgan, he was experiencing the greatest humiliation he’d ever known. Still, he knew he had to be strong- Claes was keeping him alive for something, but for what?
RSC Headquarters, Rome
“I’m lost,” said FBI Director Lucius Black, as the team gathered in a boardroom. “We had the guy cornered and he corners us. How did we let this happen?”
“Maybe we didn’t give Tarsus enough credit,” opined BAU teammate David Rossi. “We kept thinking he’d be the subservient one to Claes but he seems to be pretty clever himself.”
“He only amassed a nearly trillion-dollar empire,” said BAU alternate Jason Gideon, curtly. “Frankly, Rossi, I don’t know how you could have missed that.”
“Okay smarty pants,” said Rossi, agitated. “Why didn’t you pipe up something before Morgan put himself in peril? Maybe then he’d be here with us planning the next stage instead of somewhere in the Gobi Desert!”
“It’s the Sahara, actually,” corrected BAU teammate Spencer Reid.
Rossi threw his arms up in fury. “Semantics!” he replied in a huff.
“Guys!” said Black, trying to reel everyone in. “Sniping at each other isn’t going to save Morgan…now’s not the time to assign blame.”
“Whatever it is,” said BAU Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, “whatever army Claes and Tarsus have amassed are far more disciplined and organized than we anticipated…so we need to proceed with the utmost caution.”
“The Romans are going to enter the war in Egypt,” said Black. “They hope that, at the very least, they can create a diversion to allow us to get in there and find Morgan and Cornelia, after which they can at least incapacitate Egypt’s ability to harbour more terrorists.”
“There’s so many factions in Egypt and Sudan though,” said BAU teammate Emily Prentiss. “I mean, I’m sure the Romans can handle all of them put together but wouldn’t ‘divide and conquer’ be a better idea?”
“Valerius is trying to get in touch with local leaders and see who will be co-operative,” said Black, “but there will be a tough go of it. We’re not exactly liked in Egypt for our ‘heretical’ values.”
“I think our job should be to profile the factions and see who could be co-operative,” said Hotchner. “We need to get a sense of their tactics and fighting spirit…if we can get inside their heads and use their own neuroses against them we’ll get the upper hand.”
“Good idea,” said Black, firmly nodding his head. “I’m getting the intelligence reports as we speak…Hotch, I’ll let you determine who reviews what. Jane, Adrian…I want you guys to review the evidence that we have and figure out where Morgan could be…it will give our army a focus. Is everything clear?” The team nodded in agreement. “Good. Let’s get to work.”
08:45 local time, 25 nautical miles off the coast of Sidi Barrani, Egypt
“Okay men,” said Drusus Marcus, the Dux of the Roman Legions- who came with two Avii air squadrons, two siege engines and one Classis naval squadron, just in case it was needed- that would be tasked to take Egypt and Sudan. “Our intelligence records show that Alexandria is armed to the teeth at the coast, so we have to attack from an alternate position. We will meet up with the Sinai Legion at Damietta and then push our way down...according to our estimates, if all goes well, we should link up at the same time. Right now, though, our goal is to reach the International Coast Road- that will take us right to Alexandria. Any questions?” His leading officers all shook their heads for “no”, allowing the Romans to depart on their trip.
After encountering some small Egyptian sorties at the beachhead, which were easily handled, down the road, partially hidden by the desert sands, Primus Pilus Gnaeus Musus of the 10th Neapolis Legion saw something that caught his eye.
“Oh dear no,” he said, cupping his face. Although he’d seen more than his fair share of skeletons in his lifetime- some of those caused by his own actions on the battlefield- there was something about this skeleton that took him aback.
“Sir,” said Overall Camp Prefect Cladius Gallo, approaching the scene. “What is it?”
“We have buried here,” said Musus, distressed, “alongside the skeletons the credentials of Derek Morgan. He was a good man,” he said, trying not to cry. “He didn’t deserve to die like this.”
“They found what?” said Rossi, devastated by the news. The team sat in stunned silence, not knowing what to make of the latest development, with some of them tearing up while others simply breathed heavily. Jane and Prentiss could be seen consoling each other, seated in a corner. Even Hotchner, the normally stoic one, was reduced to tears, sitting, hunched over and cupping his face, with both Rossi and Gideon- themselves inconsolable- doing their best to console their grief-stricken leader.
“I’m sorry guys,” said Black, not even hiding his tears. “I wish I had something better to tell you all, but I don’t.”
“What are we going to do?” said Hawkes, sobbing. “Morgan’s our guy…we can’t continue the case like this.” She then collapsed herself into Reid, who held her. However, Reid wasn’t crying, and neither was Adrian, who was seen examining the picture of the skeleton.
“Your Holiness,” said Black, “did you find something?”
Adrian didn’t answer. He stared, intently at the picture. He knew something was off but couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Agent Reid,” started Adrian, “you’re good with all this medical stuff, right?”
“Yes,” replied Reid.
“Come here, I need your help.”
Reid walked over, wondering what Adrian had found. He too had doubts about the authenticity of the skeleton. Hawkes, wondering what the commotion was about, joined them.
“This does not look like what Derek Morgan’s skeleton would look like,” said Adrian firmly. “I can say this with the fullest of confidence that it’s not him. I just don’t know why I have that sense.”
“I’ll tell you why,” said Reid, noticing the pelvis. “It’s because this skeleton is a female…the pelvis...it’s shorter and more rounded, typical of a female’s skeleton.”
“Wait.” Adrian was overcome with worry, realizing what that revelation could mean.
Reid spoke reassuringly. “It’s not Gaia’s either…Gaia was well-built…this looks like it came from a smaller woman. This is because…” Reid took a longer look at the picture, “as I suspected, this skeleton looks like it’s been touched up in some way to make it appear like it has greater muscle mass than it does.” He then paused before another thought came to him. “Police reports said that two women were abducted at Gaia’s store, right?”
“Yeah…there were two…though I believed the other customer was collateral.”
“Well, that’s your collateral.”
Adrian stepped forward to front of the room, commanding the attention of those present. Reid joined him at the front, where the skeleton found was shown over a projector lying on the table.
“First of all, Morgan is not dead,” said Adrian, authoritatively, “and neither is Gaia.”
“That’s right,” said Reid. “If I could direct everyone’s attention to the screen, what you’ll see is quite clearly a female skeleton. It’s been touched up by plastic welded onto the frame to make it look like it’s got greater muscle mass than it actually does, but…” Reid then directed the room’s attention to the pelvic area, “as you can see, the pelvis is short and round, which is indicative of a female skeleton. We’ll need to have the skeleton examined, but I think there’s a good chance that’s the woman that got kidnapped with Gaia at the store.”
“Another red herring,” said Rossi, flabbergasted, throwing his hands up in frustration. “When will this end?”
“Quite clearly,” continued Adrian, “Claes and Tarsus are toying with us…it’s like they’re saying that we can’t catch them because they’re always one step ahead of us.”
“There’s one problem,” said Gideon. “The woman captured at the store fell into their laps…they couldn’t have planned for her to be available to them. Morgan also fell into their laps.”
“Yes,” piped in Jane, “but they also knew that we’d send someone into San Marino…and that someone was Morgan. What this tells us is that Claes and Tarsus are extremely adaptable.”
“How could they know that we’re not going to hit Alexandria directly?” asked Prentiss.
“Simple military tactics,” said Adrian. “You don’t start an invasion by attacking the strongest part of the wall…you find the weakest…and Sidi Barrani was the weakest point. So they left us a ‘message’ reminding us of that.”
“This whole thing,” said Rossi, flustered, “we’re just playing right into their hands…we’ve got to find a way to undermine their plan somehow.”
“Okay,” said Adrian, going to the boardroom’s dry erase board. “Let’s recap how we got here. Okay, so Wilhem Claes tries to rattle me by saying some choice words before I assume my role as Pope.”
“Wait,” said Jane, confused, “that whole thing where you were blubbering like a schoolchild…that was all fake?”
“Well, yes and no,” said Adrian. “I’d always had anxiety issues since I came back from Mali…but I had to exaggerate them in front of Cardinal Newman so that I could get my mind set straight…I needed therapy, and you gave it to me, Patrick.”
“Oh,” said Jane, smiling though he was still confused. “Thanks.”
“Not to get too carried away,” continued Adrian, “but Cardinal Newman didn’t think I needed therapy for what happened in Mali. I always told him that I did…so…panic attacks.”
“Now it all makes sense,” said Jane. “You’re a smart one, Your Holiness.”
“Can you guys just call me Adrian, please?” said Adrian. “I appreciate the respect, but I think we’re past the initial pleasantries.”
“Very well Adrian,” said Black, standing with his back to the back wall. “Continue on.”
“Anyway,” continued Adrian, writing things down on the board as he went along. “I get spooked, and Patrick helps me out. At the same time, the murders of the women start with Carla Perotta. Then they continue with other women, including that brutal murder of Julia Winters, and then we get the assassination attempt, on me. Who knows if Claes knew that I’d be prepared for that…it’s a possibility.”
“I think his plan would have continued whether or not you were actually dead,” opined Gideon. “You were just a symbol…a marker for people to know that it’s your views that he doesn’t like…and you championed women’s rights during the election. Whether or not he actually killed you we’d still be able to make that connection, because of the symbolism of the murders.”
“Wouldn’t Gaia have been killed if Adrian was,” said Prentiss. “I mean, we reason that Claes is keeping Gaia alive because he wants Adrian to go after her.”
“Unless he has another reason for keeping Gaia alive,” said Hotchner. “Gaia was the surrogate all along…all these targets were meant to show Gaia that Claes has a distinct message for her, and it’s quite possible that message is to mould her into what he thinks is ‘the model woman’. He wants a state for himself in Egypt, to use as a new base for Catholicism…one that rejects the direction that Rome took.”
“He essentially wants to create a Victorian Catholic state,” opined Hawkes, “…and change the state that he believes promotes the antithesis of that, which is Rome, by striking at one of its most important figures.”
“In any case,” continued Adrian, “after the assassination attempt, he leaves the clue that tells us to go to San Marino, but not before kidnapping Gaia and sending the Roman Army on a wild goose chase to Samaria. Of course, he was prepared that we’d figure out that ruse so he has people in San Marino to ambush us…which he did. Now, since he knows we’re in Egypt and that we’ve launched our invasion, and the skeleton was his way of reminding us of that.”
Prentiss then had a thought occur to her. “The message at Gaia’s workshop,” she thought out loud, “it said ‘Adrian, if you want to find her, follow the snake’…the snake…that’s the Nile River…and the end of it is in Khartoum, where it branches off into two different rivers. So he’s in Khartoum and knows that we have to go down the Nile to find him.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner, “that means we have to send the Army away from the Nile…he’ll ambush us from the desert.”
“No,” said Rossi. “He’s planned for that too…every time we’ve thought of the most conventional alternative, he’s thought of that too. So we need to do something unexpected.”
“Our intelligence reports,” said Black, “show that he has pockets of support throughout Egypt surrounded by hostile tribes, with better control in Sudan. He clearly has the strongest force in the Egypt-Sudan corridor but his control is far from complete.”
“That’s his plan,” said Rossi. “He wanted the Romans to come in to ‘finish the job’ for him, just so he could drive them out.”
Black scoffed. “How could he even think he could defeat the Roman Army? He’s just some small-time terrorist with a rich friend…he’s got nothing on us.”
“We thought the same thing about the Viet Cong,” said Rossi, “and look what they did to the American Army.”
“Hastened the eventual dissolution of the United States, I know,” said Black. “I still think the situation is a bit different…we have a much larger GDP than the Americans did, and we’ve been a lot smarter with our money, so I don’t think we need to worry about a collapse.”
“Oh no,” said Rossi, “I don’t think a collapse would happen…but, it could still turn into an embarrassment for Rome, and that’s a feather in anyone’s cap.”
Black still gave him a disbelieving look.
Adrian jumped in. “Lucius, I know that you might not think something could happen,” he said, “but we have to be prepared. Claes has been prepared this entire time…so we need to catch him off guard. We can’t continue playing his bluff…he’s burned us time and again so why risk things?”
“Good point,” said Black. “Okay, team, let’s continue profiling the Egyptian and Sudanese tribes…we can see which ones we can link up with and see if we can surprise Claes for a change.”
“What about the Roman assault?” asked Hotchner.
“Why don’t we keep it going,” said Black. “We can make him think that we haven’t caught on to him when we have.”
The International Coast Road, Egypt
“What’s our intelligence say about the strength of Claes’ army?” Black asked Marcus over the phone.
“He’s got about 200,000 soldiers, all things considered,” replied Marcus, “including whatever tanks and planes he seized from Jerusalem.”
Black spoke with urgency. “Double that strength...or even triple it. He’s likely got a lot of soldiers hidden where we can’t see them.”
“How though? Egypt’s not particularly known for having subways...they only have one, in Cairo.”
“The pyramids have tunnels, and there are many caves and the like, especially along the Nile. Trust me, there’s plenty of hiding spots.”
“Okay. Thanks Director.”
Marcus then summoned his leading commanders to brief them on the road ahead. “Before we move on,” started Marcus authoritatively, “we need to review the Egyptian landscape. Director Black tells me that Claes has likely set up a trap for us somewhere in Egypt…since he likely knows that we’re on to his ‘red herring scheme’, we can’t just follow a traditional invasion path down the Nile…we’ll get ambushed. So we need to proceed with caution and watch our flanks.”
“So we’re not going to change our invasion plan?” asked Gallo, confused. “If his plan is to surprise us, shouldn’t we figure out where he’s surprising us and take it from there?”
“I understand what you mean, Claudius,” replied Marcus, “but Black suggested that we proceed as normal and make Claes think we don’t know what he’s up to. The Cardinal has shown himself to be incredibly adaptable…if we show him that we know what he’s doing, he’ll change his modus operandi and surprise us in a different way.” He then retook control of the room. “Okay men, let’s move!”
“I’m not doing it!” Morgan said, defiantly. He then screamed in anguish, as the effects of the shock collar he was fitted with set in.
“Heh,” said Tarsus, chuckling maniacally, before leaning in real close. “You’re my dog now...dawg.” Tarsus laughed manically, enjoying the dominance he had over Morgan.
“Now,” said Tarsus. “Originally, I was going to marry Cornelia and together we’d start the proper Eastern Catholic society...but then I found you. You perfect hunk of a man. You are far better for this role than I, so I decided that you should be the one setting Cornelia straight. Besides...that customer of yours, Cornelia...she was quite the looker herself. Of course, every good couple needs to have sex...so allow me to remind you what your duty is...Derek.”
He then ushered Morgan to Cornelia’s cell, instructing him to get right behind the already kneeled over Cornelia. Tarsus was going to make them have sex, doggy style.
“Come on,” said Tarsus. “Stick it in there. Don’t be shy.”
Morgan sighed, resigned to his fate and followed along with the order.
“My men really love her,” cackled Tarsus. “She should be sufficiently softened, just for you. Now go...work it! Grunt like an animal! Show her who’s boss!” As Tarsus egged him on, Morgan did exactly as he commanded during sex, barking and grunting while going at Cornelia hard. “Faster now, Derek, faster!” Morgan did as commanded, making Cornelia shriek even more. After half an hour, the sex ended as both climaxed. Both started to cry before Tarsus shocked both of them back to their senses.
“That,” sneered Tarsus. “Was a good show. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have someone to enjoy.” He then departed for the cell of Gaia’s customer, Marcia Gamma, where she was held, chained and naked, ready for Tarsus.
14:30 local time, El-Hamam, Egypt, just outside of Alexandria
When the Romans reached the outskirts of Alexandria, they found it as they expected it- a city lined with artillery walls and other assorted weapon systems that underscored how valuable the city was. The linear geography of the city also provided some challenges- sprawled along the coast, laying siege to it would be much more difficult than a landlocked city like San Marino was. The beaches were all closed and lined with mines, while whatever made up the Alexandrian Navy dutifully patrolled the coast. Straight-up, the Romans looked like they would be in for a long battle.
Not that Marcus wasn’t worried about having a conventional battle…he had the better troops and the better equipment. Rather, Marcus was worried about what tricks Claes would have up his sleeve, so if he could avoid losing as many troops as possible, it would soften whatever “surprise blow” Claes had planned.
So he ordered his men to stop short of Alexandria’s city limits, both on the ground and in the sea, and told them to only fire if fired upon.
Then they were told to wait…and wait…and wait...and wait some more.
“Sir,” radioed in Marcus’ lead Legate Franciscus Paulus, “what are we waiting for? We didn’t come all the way here just to sit and do nothing. We’re getting a bit antsy.”
“Patience Paulus,” replied Marcus. “I know exactly what we’re doing.”
Paulus was confused. “Which is…?”
“Just you wait. The wise commander never reveals his secrets. I just need ALL of you to stay disciplined.”
On the other side was Zalayetta, Claes’ commander in Alexandria. He stood in his makeshift command tower at the Alexandria Airport confused as to what the Romans were trying to do, especially considering he could see their Air Force flying around and doing absolutely nothing.
“Is this a game that they’re playing?” said Zalayetta to his officers at the Airport, looking at the Roman forces through his binoculars. Meanwhile, the Romans continued to sit there, in one grand stare down with the Alexandrian troops, one that Marcus would let go on for days if he had to.
“How are we doing with the profile?” Black asked, as Rossi and Gideon were conducting their research, in between sniping at each other.
“Don’t think we’re going to get much help,” said Gideon firmly. “All of the factions here believe the Romans are heretics.”
“It’s a political mind game,” retorted Rossi. “I’m sure the people just want their citizens to start getting along again. We need to look deeper...the Romans have been known to get along fine with just about anyone.”
Gideon was flabbergasted. “Well if you see something, why don’t you tell Lucius about it?” Gideon sneered. “All I see are Wahhabists who are in control...and Wahhabists don’t like anyone.”
“Guys,” barked Black. “That’s enough! If I have to seperate you two I will...and then I will severely reprimand you both. Don’t make me do that.”
“We could have told you that the two of us don’t get along,” retorted Rossi.
“You two are our best profilers,” Black said, angrily. “I’m not asking you to be friends, but by Jove, I’m asking you to solve this case!”
Rossi sighed. “Okay,” he said, as Black departed.
Rossi and Gideon then stared at each other, blankly, resigning to their fate. However, Rossi wasn’t one for silence, so he spoke up first.
“Before Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in 2001,” Rossi said, “Egypt used to be a haven for moderate Muslims and moderate Christians. There has to be some left.”
“If I remember correctly,” said Gideon, “in the aftermath, radicals chased the Church from its headquarters in Alexandria and Cairo to Aswan, in the south.”
Rossi answered excitedly. “Yes, yes yes...and after missionaries from Rome and Virginia were killed in Cairo in 2005, the Militant Islamic Society and the Armed Christian Alliance were created by the radicals to counter what they thought was a surreptitious attempt to undercut them.”
“...and now both are at war with each other and with Claes.”
“He’s working with one of them, though, at the very least...he can’t get the ambush correct if he isn’t.”
“Geographically both are a wash...the ACA control the western desert and the Gilf Plateau caves, and the MIS control the eastern desert with its mountains and the Red Sea Riviera...and likely the only Roman allies are at Aswan.”
“So Aswan is the ambush point...still doesn’t tell us who the ambusher will be.”
“It could be both.”
“Doubt it...Claes brought the Romans here to destroy one of them and leave the other to the ambush, allowing him to come in and defeat whatever soldiers are left, since most of his troops are in Sudan anyway.”
“...and since both are terrorist organizations, numerical intelligence would be spotty, meaning Claes knew that the Romans wouldn’t bring enough soldiers to deal with the ambush.”
“More to the point...Claes has a conventional army, while the ACA and MIS thrive on guerilla tactics...Claes needs to recruit one to make his own tactic work, as well as provide him with enough men so that his own men don’t get hurt.”
“Well, if it’s just one it’s the ACA, surely.”
Gideon spoke with urgency. “Think like Claes.”
“Right...red herring. The MIS are more likely...because it’s the least likely group you’d group him with. This means we’ll need to talk to Mr. Abaza again.”
“...and continue attacking the ACA.”
“Why? Shouldn’t we talk to them too?”
“If we play Claes to his bluff, then we’ll need to make him think that we still haven’t caught on to his plan. Only way to do that is attack the ACA, because that’s still how he thinks the war would go down. We can’t deviate from the script or else Claes will change his plan too.”
“I’m not sure I like attacking the ACA...they may not be friends of the Romans but they’re not part of our investigation.”
“To get to Morgan and Gaia we need to win the war...and they’re part of this war.”
“Yes, but couldn’t we pretend like we’re fighting them? If we get into a long, drawn out battle with them, we could lose whatever superiority we need at Aswan.”
“Paulus,” radioed in Marcus.
“Yes, sir?” radioed back Paulus.
“I need your first Cohort to cross the city limit of Alexandria momentarily and then beat a hasty retreat.”
Paulus was befuddled. “I’m sorry?” Paulus wanted to fight, and didn’t like that Marcus sounded like he was taking that away from him. “Marcus…those are my best guys…and you just want them to run like wimps?”
Marcus was livid. “That’s my order, isn’t it?”
“Marcus…you sound like you’re giving up.”
“Paulus…just do it…and when you’ll see it, you’ll know what to do.”
Paulus sighed in frustration, but he wasn’t going to undermine his boss. He ordered one of his soldiers to walk to the border and walk over it. One of his men spoke up, volunteering to do the task.
The soldier drove to the border, stopping short of the marker that separated the Alexandria Governorate from Matrouh. He then casually stepped out of his truck, slapped his hands in his pockets and nonchalantly whistled while walking. He then got to the border and pretended to stumble over it.
“Oops,” he said, playfully, before laughing while jumping back hastily into his truck and driving away.
As Marcus predicted, the Alexandrians, who were far too eager, followed the soldier and his retreating cohort in hot pursuit. The two armies fought each other as they fled, firing volleys for well over an hour as they drove. By the second hour, the two factions were already deep in the Egyptian desert, causing the Roman cohort to split apart suddenly.
“What the…?” said the lead Alexandrian soldier with surprise.
As the Romans split up, it revealed an array of RPGs and other assorted salvos that were supposed to be headed Paulus’ way headed towards the Alexandrian contingent. It was the ACA.
“Hook, line...sinker!” Marcus said, excitedly. He knew the Alexandrians were way too eager to fight, so he goaded them to make the first move, also knowing they’d be too excited to see the ACA coming towards them and the Romans, something he noted.
With the Alexandrian rear exposed along the International Coast Road, this opened up an avenue for the Roman assault. The Roman objective was to clear the Coast Road as a path for themselves, to eventually clear a path to Rasheed and on to Damietta. The linear nature of the city meant the Legion couldn’t just drive straight through without an ambush, so some cohorts went to the other side of the city and furrowed their way through. Fighting went deep into the night, but by sunrise, Alexandria was in Roman hands.
Meanwhile, the fight between the ACA, the Alexandrians and the Romans went the way Marcus expected: with the ACA and Alexandrians pounding each other allowing the Romans to finish the job. This meant that the northern extremity of the desert belonged to Rome as well, protecting the Legion’s rear.
“Good job guys,” Marcus said to his troops. He then sent soldiers to maintain control of Alexandria, before sending Paulus forward.
Meanwhile, at Arish, in the Sinai, the Roman Legion stationed there had to deal with a flash riot that had erupted, stalling their progress. They were supposed to secure a path to Damietta but the riot kept them occupied. The Legate, Antonius Fusus, radioed this to Marcus.
“I understand Fusus,” said Marcus, who noticed another message on his communication device. “Just hang tight and don’t sweat it- we can take the Delta on our own.”
Pandataria Prison, Pandataria Island, Latium
The cell was dark, damp and lonely, but for Jamal Abaza, the exiled leader of the MIS, it had become his home. Although the cell was only slightly big enough to contain his frame, Abaza had grown comfortable with his surroundings, having spent the last 15 years of his life here, in Rome’s most forboding prison having been convicted of leading the plot that saw the bombing of the Roman subway in 1997, killing 33.
Still, the island was no picnic. Dubbed “Rome’s Alcatraz”, the island was fitted with the most up to date security measures, making maximum security prisons look like amusement parks in comparison. Every prisoner was in solitary confinement, with only a peephole being their connection to the outside world, with the prisoners denied any kind of priviledge, except for the bare minimum of clothing and food. Many a prisoner had committed suicide under such drab conditions, but for Abaza, he didn’t just come to accept it- he loved it.
So when he heard that the BAU were coming by for a visit, he could only grin. This is going to be fun, he thought.
“Agent Gideon!” Abaza said heartily, as if Gideon was an old friend.
“Hello Jamal,” Gideon answered blankly.
Abaza then held his arms opem. “What I don’t get a hug?”
Gideon, knowing what Abaza was trying to do, decided against reacting angrily and just smiled, curtly.
Abaza continued mockingly. “Did somebody shoot down your favourite bird, Gideon?”
“How’d you know I like bird watching?” Gideon was surprised by Abaza’s observation.
“I can just tell, just by looking at you.” Abaza was connected to the outside world, but didn’t feel like admitting that to Gideon.
Gideon made a mental note to remind the guards that Abaza’s visitors needed screening.
“For a man that likes to talk, you sure have been silent tonight. Come on, tell me that you love me.”
Gideon then decided to leave the room.
“You want to leave me? How could you do that to me?” Abaza pretended to cry, as inside he was laughing at Gideon for his actions.
“What’s the scoop?” asked Rossi as Gideon emerged from the room.
“Well, he knows that he holds the power in the interrogation,” said Gideon, “but we already knew that. He’s going to play us, I can tell.”
“So he’s not going to be that helpful,” said Hawkes, analyzing.
“I think he can help us,” said Jane. “We just need to feed into his ego.”
“To do that we’ll have to release him from custody,” said Reid. “Abaza is too smart to know if he’s being played…especially since we tricked him once before.”
“Why does he trust Claes?” asked Hawkes. “If he’s smart to know if we’re playing him, then surely he has to be smart enough to know Claes is playing him too.”
“That’s because Claes is a manipulator,” said Jane. “He works so subtly so as not to arouse suspicion…if Claes can play us, he can play Abaza without arousing suspicion.”
“What makes us so certain that Abaza is going to get played by Claes?” asked Rossi. “Ideologically, Abaza and Claes are very similar…they both want a Catholic religion that’s ultra-conservative and extremely patriarchal…they could be working together.”
“We still have Casiraghi, right?” said Gideon.
“He isn’t talking,” said Reid, “but yes we do.”
“We need to talk to him,” said Rossi. “I’ll stay here…maybe a new face will open Abaza up. Jane, Prentiss…you two stay with me. Gideon…take Reid and Hawkes with you to Casiraghi.”
“Hopefully then we’ll get some answers,” said Gideon.
RSC Headquarters, Pasquale Casiraghi’s Interrogation Room
“Why’d they put it up?” said Casiraghi, unhinged as he stared at the picture of Adrian. As he had for days, he pulled at his chains fruitlessly, as he so desperately wanted to take down the picture plastered in front of him when his interrogation began so long ago. He’d been given food to eat from time to time, but other than the occassional checks on his health, the chains bound him in perpetuity.
It was in this environment that Reid stepped in.
“Hello Pasquale,” he started, taking a deep breath as he sat down.
“You?” Casiraghi scowled. “They expect me to be scared of a pencil like you?” He then laughed sardonically.
Reid adjusted his collar before moving on. “I think you have the role of an interview wrong...my goal isn’t to scare you, it’s to see how you can help us solve the case. I’ve done numerous studies and I’ve found scary or other kinds of coercive tactics are ineffective at procuring the interviewee’s assistance.”
Casiraghi was disbelieving. “What makes me think that you want my help?”
Reid leaned forward, letting Casiraghi understand the sense of urgency. “I want to know, Pasquale, when I say the word ‘Muslim’, what’s the first thing that pops into your head?”
Casiraghi didn’t hesitate to answer. “Islam is a brotherhood...the Muslims are our brothers. They agree just like we do that women shouldn’t be left to their own devices and that men should be the sole determiner of their fate. We may not agree with the whole ‘covering up’ thing but, as I understand, the MIS and Claes have reached some sort of agreement.”
“Thank you, that’s all I need.” Reid then got up from his chair and exited, with Casiraghi staring in disbelief that Reid left him in the chains and left the poster of Adrian on the wall.
“That was quick,” Hawkes said after Reid closed the door of the room.
“He was very quick to bring up the MIS,” noted Gideon, “and he wasn’t even prodded into giving up that information. That means that Claes has no intention at all on turning on Abaza.”
“That doesn’t mean we can’t make Abaza think that Claes will turn on him,” said Reid. “We have precedent.”
“Divide and conquer,” said Hawkes, “with a twist.”
“All right, scumbag,” said Rossi, greeting Abaza. “You think you’re so smart, eh? Tell me, what do you think of the Catholics?”
“They are nothing but the scourge of the Earth,” said Abaza quickly and derisively. He was going to continue before Rossi cut him off.
Rossi then got right in his face. “So why are you allies with them?” He then gestured his hand around the side of his head, leaving the other on the table. “Explain that to me because I don’t get it.”
“As I was going to explain.” Abaza then paused because he was agitated. “Your Catholics have bastardized the Word of God...their Popes and their priests have invented so much codswallop that they have become the heretics they claim to fight against. Cardinal Wilhelm Claes understands this too...I see it. He wanted to create a new institution, a new Catholicism, one that is friends with Muslim ideals. He is a true believer...you are nothing but a sinner.”
“...and yet you don’t buy the inherent contradiction in that? Your group has forever claimed that Islam is the ‘one true way’...why suddenly get in bed with Catholics?”
“Because Wilhelm Claes is the first Catholic that finally sees the truth...besides, Agent Rossi, you seem to forget that Muslims and Christians were friends for a while before the Christians turned their backs on us...Claes is the first Christian to attempt to right the wrongs of the past.”
“Surely you know that Claes said the same thing to the Samarians...and look how that turned out.”
“The Samarians were fools...they were easy to manipulate. You should have known moderates don’t mix well with radicals...and Claes and I are radicals.”
“Yes...but you know what happens when egos collide.”
The next day, 07:00 local time, Cairo, Egypt
Paulus was ambitious. Knowing that the Roman Navy had the coast of the Nile Delta covered, he decided to change course and head to the southern tip of the Delta, at Cairo. His desire was to cut off the Deltans from the rest of Egypt and progressively hem them in, producing what would be the world’s largest siege. Marcus disagreed with the plan but he trusted Paulus, so he left him to his own devices.
He entered Cairo at the district of the 6th of October City, and immediately identified the entrance to the district’s subway station. He gathered his Special Forces and guided them into the subway, under orders to take out any of Claes’ troops that he felt were hiding in the subway system. The rest of the Legion would stay above ground, told to fight through the city and clear a path eastward towards Suez.
“Leave no stone unturned,” barked Paulus as he led his men through the subway. “Let’s move!”
At first, Paulus’ men didn’t meet any resistance, since it looked like Paulus’ prediction that there would be Egyptians in the subway tunnels bore little fruit. Just as his men were getting frustrated, around downtown Cairo at the Martyrs interchange station, the Special Forces were entangled in a fierce firefight. The Egyptians seemed to come out of nowhere, as the multiple tunnels of the interchange station provided ample cover.
Soon, the subway’s dull hum was replaced by the inescapable din of guns firing and bullets ricocheting off of their targets. Some of Paulus’ men were overwhelmed, not expecting to deal with what seemed like an endless supply of Egyptian soldiers coming at them. It was an absolute frenzy, with heart-stopping action around every corner. If dealing with the masses of Egyptians wasn’t enough, having to trudge through the dust, the ferocious rats and the grime present along the subway floors that promised to bring sickness to many of the soldiers made the fighting especially unbearable.
Eventually Paulus and his men fought through the hardships and dealt with the Egyptians admirably, allowing them to forge ahead along the subway. By the next day, Paulus and his men had managed to clear the subway of any threats, and emerged at Heliopolis hoping to reconnect with his Legion.
What he saw was astounding.
Waiting for him were Egyptian soldiers with their guns trained on the emerging soldiers, meaning Paulus’ men had to face another firefight. Paulus and his men were able to handle those soldiers as well, but it was already too late- the situation was dire for Paulus and he had to turn back.
His Legion was nowhere to be found, as they got caught in an ambush of their own in Cairo’s downtown. The Egyptians were hiding in the buildings there too, armed with RPGs and other assorted small artillery that made life difficult for the Romans. Half of the Legion’s tanks and four fighter jets were downed before the Legion’s Broad-Striped Tribune, Rufus Castorus, gave the order to retreat to stronger positions, as there seemed to be more Egyptians in Cairo than the Legion had accounted for.
Once back at the Camp just outside of the 6th of October City, Paulus received his expected reprimand from Marcus.
“You have some serious explaining to do,” said Marcus from the radio. “You told me marching through Cairo would be a piece of cake. Instead, we just got schooled on urban warfare by an enemy that bought all of its equipment from the Dollar Store!”
“Dux, I can explain,” started Paulus.
Marcus scoffed in his retort. “I bet you can!”
“Sir.” Paulus paused, as he spoke with contrition. “I was following the intelligence reports and they misrepresented the threat, so I went in with fewer resources than I should.”
“Uh-huh…yeah, blame the intelligence reports why don’t ya? You know, I have those same reports, and I told you that I didn’t agree with the plan but you went along with it anyway. So don’t blame our intelligence. Blame your own incompetence, Legate! From now on, you take your advance orders from me and no more freelancing! Is that understood?”
Paulus sighed, resigned to his fate. “Yes sir.”
The next day, 08:00 local time, RSC Headquarters, Rome
“Hello?” said Black, answering his phone in his office. It was Valerius.
“Okay, so we’re playing all these mind games,” said Valerius, sardonically.
“Okay…” Black was confused but wasn’t sure he liked where Valerius was going.
“…and our army had their hides handed to them on a platter by soldiers that you convinced me were no better than fanatics with cricket bats, is that correct?”
“I wouldn’t characterize Claes’ army like that…I never underestimated them, you did.”
“Ha, likely story. Don’t try to deflect blame, Lucius. Your ‘profilers’ led us directly into a trap in Cairo and that’s making my military men believe there’s some kind of a mole in this investigation. It got me thinking…no matter where we’ve turned, Claes seems a little too far ahead of us, catching us right after moves that your people have made.”
Black was apoplectic. “Caesar, don’t go there.”
“Oh I will, and I’m going to arrest every one of your agents for treason, including you.”
“Please, please, please…” Black was now begging. “We’re not the moles…we’ll be able to find out who they are, just trust me.”
Valerius laughed. “Really? Well then Black, you have until noon to find out who it is…and if you don’t, you’re all getting arrested. Is that understood?”
“We’ll need more time than that.”
“That’s not my problem, is it?” Valerius then slammed the phone down, ending the call.
Black wiped his face with stress and cupped it. He was still cupping it when Hotchner, whom Black summoned, entered his office.
“Lucius, what’s wrong?” asked Hotchner, seeing the look of concern on Black’s face.
“It’s Valerius,” replied Black. “He believes that there’s a mole feeding Claes information about the investigation and that we’re the moles.”
“Us?” Hotchner was flabbergasted. “How could he think that? What would we have to gain from feeding Claes information?”
“You don’t understand, Aaron…he doesn’t think like we do. He thinks like a politician, who can only react to what he sees…we understand the intangibles, Valerius only sees the tangibles, and right now, our tangibles are- justifiably so- creating a lot of worry within Rome.”
“So we need to figure out who the mole is.”
“…and do it in four hours.” Black took in several deep breaths, as Hotchner sighed in frustration.
“I’ll summon the team.”
In the boardroom, Hotchner gathered his agents and briefed them on what Black had just told him.
“What?” said Rossi, flabbergasted. “How could we be the moles? What do we have to gain from that?”
“Hotch,” said Jane, the only agent not distraught at Hotchner’s news. “What’s the number for the Roman camp outside of Cairo?”
“We don’t have access to it, Jane,” said Hotchner curtly.
“I need access to it,” replied Jane. “I know who the mole is. It came to me as soon as you said ‘mole’…it was a pretty easy deduction.”
“Well, it won’t be easy,” said Hotchner, sighing with frustration, “but I’ll get it from Black. Just tell me what your plan is and I’ll do what I can to get the camp’s number.”
“I’m going to tell all of you,” said Jane, who addressed the boardroom and relayed his plan.
09:00 local time
“Thanks Garcia,” said Jane on the phone with Technical Analyst Penelope Garia. “Wow, this is pretty salacious stuff.”
“They ask me to dig up the dirt and dirt is what I find!” Garcia beamed enthusiastically.
Jane thanked Garcia and ended the call, placing another one into the Roman camp.
Roman camp, 6th of October City, Egypt
“Attention soldiers of the 10th Neapolis Legion!” Jane’s voice beamed over the loudspeaker, “my name is Patrick Jane, the world famous psychic! Now, I’ve been told that your camp has been down your luck recently, but never fear, because Patrick Jane is here!”
Castorus, who was particularly depressed today, perked up as soon as he heard Jane. He thought that maybe Jane could help him get out of his rut.
“Now, who wants their reading? Come on now, don’t be shy.”
Castorus dutifully ran up to the radio and spoke to Jane.
“Hi Patrick,” he said. “It’s an honour to meet you.”
“It’s an honour to meet you as well, Rufus,” said Jane, excitedly.
“So, what would you like me to do for the reading?”
“Seeing as, you’re the mole, I think you have some explaining to do first.”
Before Castorus could reply, Musus, the Primus Pilus, came by and placed him under arrest.
“What’s going on here?” Castorus asked, shocked and confused at what was happening.
“You heard Jane,” said Musus. “You’re the mole for Claes. Therefore, I’m putting you under arrest. The Atrium Militaris is going to have some fun with you.”
“Ladies and gentlemen of the 10th Neapolis Legion!” Jane boomed through the loudspeaker, “I’d like you to meet your mole to Claes, Primus Pilus Gnaeus Musus!”
Musus was stunned with shock as Paulus emerged from a tank and formally arrested him, telling him they caught him since he seemed too eager to arrest his superior officer. Paulus then ordered Musus to be driven to the coast, so as not to create a scene, and be flown to Rome where he would face trial.
“Mr. Jane,” said Paulus into the radio. “That was well done.”
08:45 local time, 6th of October City, Egypt
Paulus wasn’t going to waste any time. Shortly after dispatching Musus, Paulus decided he had to strike at Cairo once again. The Egyptians called in reinforcements readying themselves for the Roman offensive, so Paulus expected another tough battle.
Believing the Egyptians would hide in the buildings and tunnels again, he ordered his tanks to cover the perimeter of Cairo, and brought one of his siege engines into play. His infantry would push into the city with their artillery-mounted trucks, which were better for mobility. The Avii would fly over the city first to take care of whatever Egyptian fighter planes they had, as well as take out any snipers they saw hiding in high rises.
The operation was smooth sailing for the Romans for most of the morning, allowing Paulus to push through downtown by noon. However, as Paulus suspected, that was just the test- as soon as they got to Heliopolis, the real battle begun.
This is going to be fun, thought Paulus. The symbolism- Heliopolis being the site of one of the Romans’ worst defeats in their history in 640, inflicted by the Arabs and stopping the Romans from thinking about recapturing Egypt until this point. So, for Paulus, he had a chance to correct the ills of the past and have a hand in reasserting Roman glory in a long-lost province.
The battle started at Maryland Park. Since the Egyptians had their tanks rooted in the Park, he ordered his infantry to hide behind the buildings for better cover. Some of the tanks that were closing the perimeter were ordered to Heliopolis, as Paulus was forced to do given the circumstances. Trouble was brewing to the north of him, but he hoped his forces could strike quick enough so that the Egyptian reinforcements would not pose problems.
Meanwhile, the Egyptians at Heliopolis were not going to wait for the Roman tanks- they saw the infantry’s mild retreat and went after them, not afraid to fire at their own buildings. Paulus found this curious, until he noticed that no Egyptians were volleying in the direction of the Sports Club.
“Castorus,” said Paulus to Castorus.
“Yes Paulus,” replied Castorus.
“Get your artillery men to bomb the s*** out of the courtyard of the Sports Club.”
“Because the Egyptians have something hiding there. It’s why they’re hitting every building in Heliopolis except the Sports Club.”
As the firefight continued, Paulus noticed the Egyptians were attempting to steer the Roman infantry into the Sports Club. They were encircling the Romans, with the firefight being very fierce. The Egyptians knew what they were doing, refusing to let up in their volleys just so the Romans were forced to retreat.
“Which way is the wind blowing?” Paulus asked Castorus.
“Northeast sir,” replied Castorus.
“Then order the strike to come from the southwest, and move everyone else northeast.”
Paulus kept the retreat going. His soldiers were starting to get antsy, as was the Legate as he was wondering what was taking the artillery men so long to get a strike out. Meanwhile, the Egyptians were grinning, sensing they were closing in on the kill, pushing the Romans further and further back.
It was a trick, though, as by this point the artillery men did their job, blowing up the mines planted in the Sports Club gardens. Coupled with the wind, the debris gave the Romans ample cover with which to proceed forward and fire back.
The Egyptians were ready for this, though, and backed up towards Maryland Park. A frontline developed in between the Park and the Sports Club, with the Romans and Egyptians trading volleys with little in the way of advancement.
Up the road to the north, the tanks called in for reinforcements on both sides got tangled into a battle of their own. On the plains of Ain Shams, the site of the ancient Heliopolis, the Romans were tasked with protecting the entry into Cairo from the Egyptians, while also finding a way to get to Cairo themselves. The Ring Road became their front, and the Battle of Ain Shams felt more like a chess match with the slow moving tanks.
Back at Heliopolis, Paulus was anxious to find an opening. There were no significant casualties as of yet, but the Egyptians’ unrelenting pressure kept the Roman line back. He then came up with a plan: half of the Roman infantry would form a single line down on roadway and aim all their artillery at the Egyptians blocking that one specific roadway. If it went according to plan, the Romans would break through the Egyptian line at that point in the road, and work progressively to encircle the Egyptians.
The plan worked like a charm. Since the Romans struck so quickly, the Egyptians didn’t have time to react, allowing the Romans to burst through their line without much difficulty. Confusion set into the Egyptian ranks as volleys came in on both sides, and it was Roman pressure that hemmed them in this time. After five fruitless hours and many casualties later, the Egyptians at Heliopolis capitulated.
At Ain Shams, the Romans didn’t bother trying a wedge, although the Egyptians anticipated it. Since the Romans had superior equipment, they decided attrition was the way to go. It worked, as Egypt’s tanks started to progressively wear down, allowing for an easy encirclement. By the following morning, Cairo was in Roman hands, allowing Paulus unfettered access to the pivotal Suez Canal.
“Good job Paulus,” radioed Marcus upon hearing the news.
“Thanks Marcus,” Paulus said, “but there’s no time to celebrate. We’ve got a lot of work left to do still.”
“The Romans have taken Cairo,” said Gideon to Rossi.
“That’s the good news,” Rossi said with a hint of a sigh. “The bad news is that we’re still playing into Claes’ hands.”
“We’ve still got a few cards to play.”
“I’m worried about it getting to that point...the Egyptians have proven remarkably resilient...this could become nothing more than a Phyrric victory and that’s what Claes wants.”
Hawkes then approached the bemused agents.
“I have an idea,” the soft-spoken petite agent said. “Their entire premise rests on the idea that men do the heavy lifting and dominate while the women are submissive and do the housework.”
“Okay,” prodded Rossi. “Carry on.”
“I want to create a Legion that’s entirely female,” said Hawkes, boldly, “and have it take Khartoum.”
“On such short notice I don’t know if it’s possible,” said Gideon.
“All right,” said Hawkes, “we get a Special Forces and they take Claes’ bunker, all while forming that all-female Legion.”
“I like the idea,” said Rossi, “but I’m worried about logistics…the Red Sea is a fortress right now.”
“So have the Legion take over the Suez and attack the MIS,” said Hawkes, confidently.
“If we attack the MIS directly,” sighed Gideon, “Claes will likely switch sides to the ACA and still ambush us.”
“Yes, but that’s only with the army that we have now,” said Hawkes. “What you’re forgetting is that if you have women kicking the butts of MIS and Claes, they’ll be rattled so much that their resistance would fall apart. Their identities are tied so much to the notion that men are better than women, so if we show them just how misguided they actually are, we can subvert his plan.”
“You know, you might be on to something,” said Rossi, intrigued. “These guys are obsessed with bringing women down…with women gaining the upper hand on them, it just might be enough to throw them off their game so that we can end this thing quicker than it’s going right now. Zoe…tell Black about your idea. He’ll be most impressed.”
“Will do sir,” said Hawkes, leaving to tell Black about her plan.
Rossi then spoke pensively with Gideon.
“Now why didn’t we think of that?” asked Rossi sardonically.
“Because we’re men, Rossi,” said Gideon.
Rossi laughed. “Stubborn, grumpy old men.”