Agent Patrick Jones of the United Nations Investigations, eXtranormal was sitting in the cafeteria of the FBI’s headquarters in Quantico when everything went to hell. The croissant he was chewing was terrible by American standards, the coffee was swill, but the training sessions that week had been mutually beneficial.
As he sipped the coffee, he suddenly saw various people in the cafeteria pull out cell phones and quickly file out. Agent Jones soon realized that the only people in the room were the various foreign intelligence agents attending the conference. Turning to Andre Beaucoup, a French Interpol agent, he asked, “Do you know what’s going on?”
Beaucoup shrugged. “None. Maybe they’ve gone off to find better coffee.” It was a joke, Jones knew. But the coffee the FBI served to its men was truly terrible. Not only was the taste horrid, but even a sip could cause the heart to race uncomfortably. Until they discovered the existence energy drinks, they had believed that it was the moonshine of caffeinated drinks. “In all seriousness, though, we can most likely discover it ourselves.”
“I suppose,” Jones said. “Your phone or mine?”
“Yours,” Beaucoup said. “Mine has no internet.”
Slightly shocked at a phone with no internet connection, Jones took out his own. He then went to Google News. “Oh bloody hell.”
“What is it?” Beaucoup asked.
“Well,” Jones said, “the first picture on the Google News international section is a picture of two Washington police officers dead on the steps of the capitol building.”
“Well,” Beaucoup said, “I guess the rest of the summit is canceled.” He sighed. “We are also going to be here for the rest of the year.”
“At least I’ve been transferred,” Jones said. “I’m supposed to be in the Boston office now.”
“Ah, a promotion! Congratulations, my friend. Our last case…”
“Ah yes,” Jones said, “What an honor… I get to work with Takeda and Brosnan.”
“Dear God!” Beaucoup said, horrified. Jones did not blame him. “Those… those… Did you know the reason they don’t work in France any more is because Takeda assaulted my partner? There were also some… questions about Brosnan.”
“Oh, I heard about that,” Jones said sagely. “That was after I had worked with you, correct? There’s been far worse from those two. Judging by their steady rise in pay grade, they’ve been rewarded for it, though.” Jones frown became a look of determination. “But I will get something on them, you mark my words. They will leave my organization in disgrace, if I have any say in the matter.”
“Well, good luck, mon ami,” Beaucoup said. “In the meantime, I will be looking to confirm the rest of the seminar is canceled.”
After the French detective left, Jones’ phone rang. It was UNIX’s American director, Director Sodhi. “Agent Jones,” the man began in his heavy Indian accent, “for some reason, Director Harris wants us to get identification on the people attacking the US capitol. Fingerprints, DNA, origination, equipment, everything. How he knew about it, I have no idea…”
“It’s all over the news…”
Suddenly, Jones had the sense that Director Sodhi wanted to tell him something. There was a long pause. “Sir?” Jones asked.
“Get it done,” Sodhi said distractedly. “Director Harris is…” There was another long pause. “Goodbye.”
The first thing to do, Jones decided, was to contact the FBI’s director of the Critical Incident Response Group. He knew that he would not be seen by the director that day (or even that month, if he knew crises,) but he could wait. After all, Sodhi hadn’t given him a time limit.
Needless to say, he was surprised that he got a call from the FBI that very same day as soon as he got back to his hotel room. “Agent Jones, UNIX,” Jones said, “Who am I speaking to?”
“Agent Hicks.” The voice speaking was an older man’s. He sounded pissed. “I’m just calling to tell you that the FBI is not going to be cooperating with you.”
“I’m sorry,” Jones said, “but wouldn’t it be in global interests to…”
“Share information, right?” Hicks said sarcastically. “Like how you gave us everything about the attempts on Director Harris’ life that have been happening every few months? Or how you gave us a heads-up on your Parahuman-slaving bust in New Mexico?”
Jones was speechless. First off, he had no idea that there had ever been an attempt on the life of a UNIX director, ever, let alone in the past few months. Second, he thought the New Dawn Laboratories Bust had been sanctioned. Agent Brosnan had… Oh. I took Brosnan’s word on something. That’s where I went wrong.
“You realize,” Hicks said, his calm voice hiding barely controlled rage, “that because of that last one, we were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to extradite people who butcher children for a living?”
A dozen arguments from how hypocritical it was for an American agency to say that to pointing out that they didn’t have to do it jumped into Jones’ mind. Every single one, however, would probably significantly lower the chances of getting a look at the body. Instead, Jones said, “I will refer the information to my superiors as requested. Shall I tell him to start packing?”
“Coincidentally,” Hicks said, “We’d need an act of Congress to make you leave. That particular bill was being discussed when the attack happened. Ask your boss if he believes in coincidence, ok?” From his tone of voice it was painfully clear that Hicks, like any good investigator, did not. With that, he hung up.
Jones sat on his bed for a while, considering his options. Then he had flash of inspiration.
Two weeks later, Beaucoup met him at an American chain restaurant that, for some reason, had a decidedly Australian theme. They carried matching briefcases.
Beaucoup, sitting down, said without preamble, “Well, this has been nightmarish. I’ve been running around trying to get information from twenty different agencies, both in-town and out. Why this has anything to do with me, I don’t know.”
Actually, it had nothing to do with him, and they both knew it. Beaucoup was just doing it as a favor for Jones. As a result, Jones was buying.
“In fact,” Beaucoup said, “the whole incident reminds me of an incident that occurred at Petain’s this summer. It was a much smaller scale, and it was right around the time those Dragon’s Teeth bastards made their little announcement, so even the local media ignored it.”
“Oh, really?” Jones said.
“Yes,” Beaucoup said. “There’s this little bar in Vichy called Clouseau’s. Have you heard of it?”
“No,” Jones said. “But Vichy’s where UNIX’s headquarters is!”
“And Clouseau’s is where it’s rumored that Director Harris takes his evening drinks,” Beaucoup said. “Of course, it would be bad security if someone of my caliber knew his schedule.”
“Anyway, some red-haired gentlemen with some peculiar weapons assaulted the building. They had a very distinctive gas. It made everyone for a block or two go completely mad. Luckily, a UNIX Quick Response Team was nearby and had the presence of mind to get their gas masks on.”
Beaucoup paused for a bit. “Now… these men… I think this is the first time I have ever encountered identical treisprezlets.” Upon seeing Jones’ blank expression, Beaucoup said, “They are like identical twins, except there are thirteen instead of two.”
“Are… are you sure they were identical?” Jones asked.
“We ran the DNA,” Beaucoup said. “Thirteen times, just to be safe. Twins actually have greater genetic differences. Mutations happen in the womb, you see.”
“Then… what were these guys?” Jones asked.
“Sorry,” Beaucoup said, “can’t tell you any more.”
The rest of the meal was more casual. When Jones left, he took Beaucoup’s briefcase. It was not a mistake. As he left, Jones desperately hoped this was the last time he’d need to do something like this.