From there to here, p.1
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       From There To Here, p.1

           Kevin Cook
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From There To Here
From There to Here

  By Kevin Cook

  Copyright 2014 Kevin Cook

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This ebook remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied, and distributed for commercial purposes. The characters and events portrayed in this ebook are a work of fiction or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  From There to Here

  Chapter 1 Breaking Point

  Trace watched as the shards of ice fell into the ocean exploding upon impact. The Alaskan coastline was painted white and blue and Trace wondered how in the world he got here. The department’s shrink suggested or really imposed a 2 week leave of absence and the cruise was a 5 day break in getting away from the streets. Looking over the ship’s railing, wearing an oversized, over priced tropical shirt and staring at the Alaskan landscape, he couldn’t help but think that there was somewhere else he should be.

  The police report said that when they arrived, they found the perp laying on his back, in a pool of blood, almost in a coma. The poor store clerk was rambling on about how this man just flew all over the store and took down the perp. All she was mumbling was thank you, thank you, thank you, over and over.

  The detectives came knocking on his door at about 2 am. He was halfway through his favorite desensitizer when he heard the banging of fists at the door “Trace, Trace! You in there?” came the voice. “Hey, it’s Mac and Phil. We need to talk!!” Trace grudgingly walked towards the door fearing he was in a nightmare or just about to start one. That had been the story of his life the past 2 years.

  As he reached for the door, he felt his gun holster swing around on his back. That was strange because he always had his holster tied down or completely off, but never just loose flinging side to side.“Hey Nick”, that was Mac’s way of trying to calm down the situation. It was always Nick when the guys at the academy would get into his head to stop something from happening.

  “They told us down at the liquor store that some fellow just went off on some poor perp and almost killed him!” The door clicked and Phil pushed it slowly open. Trace walked back and reached for his glass of Jack. He lit up a smoke, took a deep drag and exhaled and began to talk.

  “Nah, I didn’t kill him, I just put him down like some poor dog that needed to be calmed down.” Trace muttered. Max jumped in “but you just walked away after, and didn’t call it in or say anything to the girl at the register or nothing. You just freaking walked away!”

  “Well, he didn’t say anything to me when he pulled out that 9 mil and pointed it into that scared girl’s face.” Trace replied. “She looked like a deer in the headlights” “But Trace,” responded Phil, “the medics said he was totally unconscious for half an hour before they got some response. What did you use, some super CIA takedown or something?”

  “That’s FBI,” Trace barked. “I was in the FBI, not CIA. And no it was just a reflex. He was pointing that piece at the girl right over my shoulder. I said ‘excuse me’ and he was about to say something dumb I could tell. He said ‘No one …’ and then I just finished the sentence for him” Phil remarked, “the store video shows you just reached up with one hand and grabbed his wrist and took the gun with the other and clicked the safety on as his wrist snapped. Is that what happened?”

  “Pretty much” said Trace. “He screamed like some sissy and started cussing me, so I popped him with my elbow and I guess that was when his nose broke and the blood flew out. Hell, all I wanted was the Jack Daniels and a pack of smokes. He was the one who should have said excuse me and I probably would have backed away and let him do his thing and then bought my stuff and came home. But you know I can’t stand perp’s that think they are above good manners.”

  “Yea, Right” said Mac. “perp’s with good manners. That’s what you re really concerned with. What about the bruise on the guy’s neck, that’s what we need to know about. Were you going to choke him to death or did you think you did. Was that why you left?” asked Mac

  “No, no” said Trace. “I grabbed him on the way down and just wanted him to stop screaming. That’s all. I applied enough pressure on his jugular to bring him down slowly. I knew he wasn’t dead. He didn’t have that look when you die; I know what that looks like.” (Too many times Trace had seen that look.) “I guess that’s why I just threw the money on the counter, took my stuff and came home.”


  Chapter 2 Shrinks Office

  Trace scanned the coastline for a place to jump ship. He knew he couldn’t, but would dutifully fulfill his promise to the shrink to get back on the job. She wasn’t totally off base when she said he was about to split at the seams. She had figured out that life for him wasn’t just about perps and cuffs. Ever since his partner had been blown away by a dirty bomb 2 years ago, he didn’t have as much patience for the evil element of society that he once did. The 21st century was supposed to about the good guy’s ability to use high tech and take down the evildoers, not continue to lose good people like Bullet.

  “How long did you know officer Bullet?” quizzed Dr. Jackson. “Bullet and I were in the Navel Intel division back in 05, so what’s that? 13, 14 years?” replied Trace. “That’s along time to protect someone” said the shrink. “I didn’t have to do no protecting of Bullet. He was way ahead of all of us when it came to tracking perps.” Dr. Jackson interjects “Is that what bothers you about his passing?” Trace replies “Yeah, that’s what makes it tough to take, taken out by a bunch of low-level techies.”

  As trace looked around the room he searched for a place for his emotions to run. He didn’t want to come off as some freak needing counseling if he could help it. He wanted to keep that attack dog look in his eyes so she would go to another subject. Hopefully she would feel sorry for him and not pry any further. That had worked for him the last couple of years since the explosion.

  She was cool though. She could tell of the bond that Trace had developed with people he cared about. She had gone through the family tree litmus test and found he was an accomplished guy who cared about the ones who helped him along the way. His credentials were solid so she quietly closed the session and scheduled the next of many long afternoons for Trace.


  Chapter 3 Family Ties

  His father was a lieutenant in the navel air force; his mom was an all-around office girl who could shape up any business. She should have been an economics teacher but back then the kids started rolling in. When Trace was in junior high, his oldest twin brother was killed in Desert storm, 1 out of 148 that died. The other brother was now a flight test engineer for Boeing in the Seattle area, after his stint with the Navy.

  His older sister‘s were kept out of the military, but were top flight caregivers. One was a physician’s assistant in Texas and the other was a hospital administrator in Oregon, before she died of Leukemia. His mom and dad grew up in the Northwest and Trace loved the outdoors.

  The shrink had tied that all together with Bullet and she knew Trace was on the edge. He lived on the edge anyway, but this was sliding down the other side. His innate motivation to stop evil was bred from his birth it seemed.

  Youth spent in mission work all up and down the coast, Naval Intelligence after Stanford, Black Ice Unit, FBI academy after the Navy, then the explosion with Bullet. After a year back, he decided he needed a career change. He found that change in a regular detective job with the San Diego PD. Trace needed to get his hands on evil not just track it. Two years of busting perps was his therapy of choice.

  That put him in the liquor store that night, his daily deaden the senses, ritual.

  He had worked with Mac and Phil off and on the last two years.
He was kind of in-between partners at the present. The rookie that was assigned had gotten a job in forensics and took off. It was no big deal: Trace wasn’t getting close to anyone, ever again, anyway.


  Chapter 4 Called Back

  She must be a granddaughter from the grandfather’s side and the old woman is the caring grandmother that raised all the siblings. The young girl was the one with the deep feelings and the grandmother was playing it up for all that it was worth.

  “Do you see the mother seal there on the ice Sweetie?” asked the grandmother. “Yes Mam” replied the young girl. Grandmother said “There protecting their young from the bears and whales, just like I will always protect you.” The girl quietly replies, “Thank you grandmother. You know I love you, right? Grandmother smiled broadly “Yes dear, I know you do.” She took her hand and began to walk the deck.

  Trace was good at profiling.

  The girl and the women walking the ship’s deck were part of the game Trace played when he was bored. It was scary how close he would come to the truth just by observing. All those mystery and detective movies back in his childhood days fueled his curiosity. It made him feel good to think of his childhood days. He would watch movies and TV with his Mom and Dad. They had Rockford, Magnum P.I. and Remington Steele. Trace also added The X-Files, NYPD Blue, Nash Bridges, any Civil War movies and everything Sherlock Holmes, with a little Lethal Weapon thrown in.

  Trace looked at the couple by the rail. She’s 28, he’s 43. He’s a real estate investor and she is eye candy for sure. Trace hadn’t seen a twenty-something like that in a while. His vision on twenty-something’s were full of drugs and alcohol, or lying on a slab looking like they were fifty. That’s the world he lived in now. His thoughts raced around sadly as he glanced out to sea.

  “Mr. Terrance Nickels, Mr. Terrance Nickels” the loudspeaker bellowed. “Please report to the Captain’s quarters.”

  “Nobody calls me Terrance besides Mom,” Trace mumbled. His thought‘s flashed, Is something wrong with her,? Did something happen with the family? He began a quick climb toward the captain’s deck and made his way to his quarters.

  “Captain; I’m Nickels, you sent for me?” The captain was a studious and regal looking Englishman. He turned towards Trace. “Ah, are you a Rockefeller or maybe the Prince of Persia?” He said. “Not Exactly” replied Trace. The captain stroked his mustache and exclaimed,” then I wonder why the Coast Guard is fast approaching my vessel with orders to pluck you off my deck and whisk you away to places unknown if you were not some extraordinary person.”

  “Coast Guard?” Trace quizzed. The Captain barked back. “You have fifteen minutes to have your satchel on the heliport to be transported to a coast guard ship. We will forward any luggage. They implied that it was urgent, so off you go with Ensign Shelley.”

  Well at least I’m off this tugboat. Trace thought. The only people that know I’m here were the shrink, and Captain Rodgers. This has got to be something departmental. Maybe the perp I busted up died.

  The helicopter whispered above the heliport. The passengers were craning their neck to get a look. With a quick salute from the captain, the bird was back in the air to who knows where. Maybe I get to go back to work. How I need to Work!


  Chapter 5 Cold Case

  The helicopter landed with a gush of wind on top of a Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter. The pilot pointed the direction to disembark and as he stepped out an ensign saluted and waved him onto the ship. He followed the stairs down to a dimly lit room. Trace thought this was odd for a naval ship but as he entered he noticed a civilian and two uniforms. This brought back memories of covert meetings and undercover intel. “Colonel Nickels” said the uniform voice. “I’m Commander Albright. This is agent Samuelson. Your services are required on board the Alexis.” Trace recognized the Alexis as a Virginia class submarine. What are we in for here? Trace thought.

  “You will have access to a cabin to clean up and fresh cloths will be provided. We will dock with the Alexis in about an hour. The ensign will escort you to your cabin.”

  The civilian hadn’t said a word. Trace knew that wasn’t odd, because most civies he knew in the navy were political hacks or some special envoy and they didn’t give away any clues so to act like they belonged.

  Then the voiced said. “Mr. Nickels have you ever been to Brussels?” Trace replied, “Not since my days in college.” Nothing else was said until the ensign piped in. “This way sir.”

  It sure feels good to be on a boat again he thought as Trace looked at the cleaned and pressed suit. For a moment Trace felt he was being drafted and that wasn’t what he wanted to feel like. If there was going to be shooting then Trace wanted to be the shooter, no chain of command to shoot at perps.

  “Colonel Nickels” said the voice expecting a response. “Yes” said Trace. The voice replied “We’re ready for your transfer.”

  Where did the years go? Trace really loved the sea. He and His dad would sail this small sailboat out in the San Diego harbor and his Dad would make him work the sail and rudder until his hands were raw. Trace looked down at his hands and thought, Man that felt good.

  As Trace stepped out of the cabin, there was the usual activity aboard the ship. They went right to the captain’s deck. “This way” said the captain. The suit was with him as they approached. “Agent Samuelson will accompany you on board the Alexis” added the captain.

  Looking portside, Trace could see the submarine Alexis. It was probably out of Sub-Flot One, a sub base down the coast known for its excellent record. There was no land in sight, so Trace knew they were out a few miles. As we walked the ramp connecting the boats, we were quickly escorted down the main hatch and through the top deck into a conference room.

  There was another suit waiting for us there. Agent Samuelson spoke first.” Colonel, this is agent Thomas.” Trace replied, “it’s just detective now.” Trace could feel the air of authority in the air, clearly way up. Agent Thomas said “well we may need to go back to colonel with this thing.” They shook hands and as he sat down at the table, there it was. The Damn File. Son of a Bitch, thought Trace. RX-55.


  Chapter 6 New Clue

  Trace had spent the last two years in a Jack Daniels stupor replaying every move he and Bullet had made that day. He replayed all the evidence in his head almost every night until he fell asleep. It was the only way he could deal with the day. He knew they had missed something, somewhere and had to search his brain until he found it.

  The mushroom cloud grew in height. It’s vapor turning over on itself. Trace knew instantly that Bullet was dead. “Detective Nickels”, agent Thomas said curtly. “Recognize this?” The intel in the file was etched in Trace’s mind. Reaching for the FBI file labeled RX-55, agent Thomas pushed it aside and revealed a second file. “Is this old or new?” asked Trace hesitantly. “New” responded agent Thomas.

  “We have a new situation with RX-55 and we thought you would like to help. Are you up to it?” quizzed agent Thomas. The last time Trace saw RX-55 was inside a metallic briefcase. It was a dirty bomb that Bullet was trying to defuse. He was a bomb expert and Trace was intel. It was the last time Trace and Bullet worked together.

  “We intercepted some cell communication within the bureau that had reference to RX-55. We think someone has acquired another case” added agent Thomas. Trace remembered that there were 12 cases originally made somewhere in Iran between 2004-2006, back when he was with Black Ice.

  At first the thought was that they were all replicas and distributed to groups around the world. But after the explosion the FBI received information that made it more difficult. Three groups of 4, each group stronger and more deadly than the first. They were all nuclear devices but each dispersed different agents. The first was Sarin Gas, the second group, was a virus thought to be small pox, and the third was something even the FBI didn’t know about. Most of the bombs migrated to the US
, so that’s how the FBI took over.

  The FBI had tracked down three of the first group, named 155’s, and they found the last one in an abandoned building on Long Island. They were working on the last of the second group, or so they thought, when the explosion happened. The first one was in Seattle, in 2006. The second one the FBI located was in Los Angeles in 2007 and the third in Chicago, 2009, right after Obama’s first inauguration. All were disarmed without releasing the Small Pox that was within them. That’s why they had so much confidence that the one Bullet was looking at was the fourth one and they were going to be able to be handle it without a problem.

  The intelligence community had only hoped there were not hundreds of these that were made in Russia or Iran or Syria and would eventually land in the hands of a terrorist. There was real concern over Iran and the nuclear community. These briefcases were beginning to show up everywhere and anywhere that nuclear technology was even remotely available.

  Any drug lord, arms dealer, or insurgent group was actively searching for a case. A separate FBI department was set up just for searching for these bombs. Of course Russia and the good ol’ USA were way ahead of this technology so we knew what we were looking for. We had the upper hand in taking out these cases; until RX-255 detonated.

  Trace new that the CIA spooks had knowledge of these also and they had there own techniques to deal with them. They bragged that they wanted to blow the up in the hands of the owners and wipe out multiple problems at once. Of course the CIA doesn’t care about collateral damage just the bottom line.

  The RX factor was nuclear bioterrorism. They would blow up a case and the mushroom cloud would disperse whatever virus, bug or chemical weapon someone had planted in the case. You could either disarm the bomb or at least disarm the delivery agent. Bullet and I thought the first group contained a virus strain that wasn’t real contagious. Just made a lot of people sick, not mass death like the inventors had hoped for. The second group was far more dangerous and we really needed to get a hold of those cases.

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