War: Part 16

So where do you look for a professional killer?

On Saturday, the whole team got together in HQ to read what the databases we had access to had on him, and figure out the best way to tackle the issue.

We weren’t all there all day, but Daniel, Travis, and Jaclyn came in the morning. Daniel was there at ten when I came in. Jaclyn and Travis came in while we were talking.

By noon, we’d read everything they had, and by one everyone had arrived to talk about it.

Jaclyn had read everything as fast as it appeared on the screen, and had time to think about it, so she got to brief us.

She stood between the big screen and the table where we sat.

“What surprised me more than anything else was that people didn’t know. Ray and his people had apartments in Chicago under their own names, but they didn’t use them. The neighbors barely ever saw them which means that they lived somewhere else most of the time, but no one knows where.

“Even assuming they took a few weeks to plan each series of killings, they still had most of the year free. They must have been training during some of it, but for the rest, I don’t know. Maybe they were on vacation, but if they were, they could take long vacations.”

She frowned. “This doesn’t give us anything. They never found out where they stayed in the places where they killed people. They’ve never found where they kept their equipment except for the cottage they blew up in December. The Feds don’t see any patterns except that they kill everybody connected with the target first, and even then there are exceptions.”

“Really?” I hadn’t heard of any.

“Ever heard of a team called Sorcerers’ Circle?” She searched our faces. “I hadn’t either, but the Executioners killed them all. They didn’t go after their relatives. They drugged the group of them all at once and executed them in an old warehouse.”

“Whoa,” Vaughn said. “How’d they know it was all at once? They have cameras?”

Jaclyn shook her head. “No. The FBI found them a few days later. The forensics report guessed it based the state of decomposition and the species of bugs… eating them.”

Marcus looked up from the computer screen. “They’re a bunch of psychos.”

“Right,” Travis said, “and we need to take them down.”

By the end of the meeting, we’d come up with a task list. We’d create a list of rented houses, rented cottages, foreclosures, hotels, and empty commercial buildings, and then we’d go down the list.

We’d have people call the hotels, the rentals, and divide up the rest for personal visits.

Over the next few days, we discovered that detective work was quite possibly the most boring job in existence — at least when you didn’t have any reason to narrow down the possibilities.

That the hotels hadn’t rented to anyone looking like Ray or his people wasn’t a surprise. The Feds had blanketed the area with warnings. Even if they hadn’t, the local TV and radio stations still covered his escape, Sean’s father’s killing, and regularly mentioned the possibility that he might be in Grand Lake.

We kept calling.

On Thursday morning, Daniel called a guy named Martin Vander Kodde, a landlord who owned seven houses on the southeast side of the city. When he got off the phone, he said, “I’ve got something.” Then he played it back.

Haley and I stopped and listened.

Martin picked up the phone on the second ring. “Vander Kodde Properties, Martin here.”

“Hello, Mr. Vander Kodde,” Daniel said, his voice lower thanks to technology Grandpa built into the phones. “I’m Detective John Baker of the Grand Lake Police Department, and I’ve got some questions for you.”

Then he described Ray’s team, and asked, “Has anyone matching those descriptions rented from you within the past two weeks?”

“No, I didn’t rent to them, but I did rent to four other people a little over two weeks ago, and now I’m wondering if I should have.”

“And why is that?”

“When I first talked to them they seemed nice enough, but last Thursday night they came back with another van full of people, all of them loud and cursing. The other van cleared out the next morning but my other renters called to complain. It’s a big house, and I rent out the upstairs and downstairs separate.”

“Could you describe them?”

“Four big guys. Almost look like they might be brothers.”

Daniel stopped the recording. “It doesn’t go much of anywhere from there, but you know what they’ve got to be? Prime’s reserves.”

12 thoughts on “War: Part 16”

  1. I find it somewhat disturbing that these inquiries can be done by phone. Hotels and landlords freely rendering information about their clientele to anyone calling and claiming to be a police officer means there’s no protection of privacy to speak of. No wonder the Executioner can find out people’s secret identities.

    1. That’s a good point. That being said, for the purpose of getting straight to an important moment, I skipped writing about the people who weren’t home, or refused to say because the number was “unavailable” instead of saying “Grand Lake Police Department” in Caller ID. I also skipped the people who insisted on having them prove they were police, or something like that…

      What’s kind of shocking is how much you can get out of people even when you’re not pretending to be an authority figure and are engaging in casual conversation with someone you don’t know. Niceness goes a long way.

  2. Ok looking for Ray and they found some of Prime’s people, maybe they should let Lee know and just cover the exits for him.

  3. So, Jim.

    You must have realized by now that the more you put in references to interesting heroes that only exist (or existed) in the background, the more people are going to want to write their own stories about them.

    Me? I wanna write a Sorcerer’s Circle story.


  4. There was some sort of Law and Order episode about how much you can get away with by impersonating law enforcement. I don’t remeber which series of Law and Order, just not the standard one.

    Someone was calling fast food restaurants and claiming to be a detective named Milgram. He would then ask the manager to detain someone working there on some sort of suspicion, eventually having the manager tie them up and even strip search them. Oh, and this guy doing the calling was played by Robin Williams.

    The name Milgram was a reference to the Milgram experiment, which was further referenced in the episode. It is the one where the subject thinks they are shocking someone else who has a heart condition, but are prompted to continue by an authority figure. The original experiment’s setup was a bit more innocent seeming than that short description would let on, but it was found that many regular people would continue to do something they thought hurt someone else if prompted by an authority figure. Feel free to look it up for yourselves.

    Also, you have to remember that the Executioner and his team have training. A lot of training. Spec-ops wetworks stuff. Who’s to say they weren’t authority figures in the past? Some branch of the military. They could have even worked with the FBI before. They could easily have the know-how to create forgeries of documentation and/or identification to aid their masquerade. Or maybe they’ve shot up enough people in the past that they’ve got real ones lying around.

    I bet some of those vacations could be just work outside the country. An anti-American superhuman dictator here, a socialist group of South American super-rebels there.

    It has been awhile since I read back through everything, so I could be forgetting some previous information that makes all that unlikely. As your #1 source of paranoid opinions regarding the League, I welcome anyone correcting me on the facts. This has been Psycho Gecko, once again thinking things out loud on THE Spinning Teacups Zone.

    Up next, the Mustache-Man exclusive where he will be opening Liberace’s Tomb.

  5. @Psycho Gecko: Dude, you really gotta learn to shut up sooner before your commentary on the whole story doubles the size of the page. Mustache-Man? Law and Order? Milgram experiment? You really enjoy confusing people.

  6. Daymon: That might be one way out of the situation with a minimum of trouble. Will it be followed? Well…

    Hg: If you do, I won’t stop you.

    Psycho Gecko: I’ve got a long term interest in social psychology. I’m familiar with Stanley Milgram and also with Geraldo Rivera too (not that he’s got anything to do with psych)… So, it’s not too confusing.

    Just for the record though, Ray was in special ops. The others’ training hasn’t been mentioned, but it’s safe to assume they’re competent.

  7. I hate to necro a comment thread after 2 years, but I have to wonder if Psycho Gecko knows that the crime he mentioned from Law & Order was actually a real-life series of crimes.

    The biggest difference is that many times, the caller would identify himself as someone from Corporate Security/Loss Prevention, but the rest of the story is pretty much the same.

    That being said, I just found this in the past week, and have been rabidly reading through it all. This story has actually pulled me away from playing Borderlands 2, if you can believe that. Well done, Jim. I look forward to reading the rest of the story.

  8. Milgrams study has been largely discredited. Turns out a lot of fudging and altering experimental proceeders was done to get results he wanted.

  9. Quick Edit:

    “What surprised me more than anything else was people don’t know. Ray and his people had apartments in Chicago under their own names, but they didn’t use them.

    I think it should have the period removed, the comma after names changed to a semicolon, and the “don’t” changed to past tense as “didn’t”:

    “What surprised me more than anything else was people didn’t know Ray and his people had apartments in Chicago under their own names; but they didn’t use them.

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