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Chapter 12: John Breaks In

When John Black grew frustrated, bad things happened. Marlena found herself with fewer plates and glasses.  Or some sad sot who decided to pick a fight on the wrong night wound up picking his teeth off the floor.  And right now, as he sat in the café in Washington, D.C., John was extremely frustrated.

Every ISA and Nightwing contact he had called told him nothing.  They all insisted that Shane was "on assignment" and "unreachable."  Utter BS, but the company line seemed to be holding.  He had tried to access every file he could find on Shane, but nearly all of them required a security clearance that, until the past week, John had not even known existed.  He had even come to DC to meet with the "Chief" of the ISA, a suck-up named Drogin, who kept insisting that Shane Donovan had left the ISA permanently three years earlier.  It was enough to make John want to break something.

Or break into something.

He heard the barkeep yell "final call" and took that as his cue to leave.  He walked out of the bar into the cold February night, and pulled his black jacket tight to ward off the freezing wind.  He crossed the street, keeping his head down.  Anyone watching on surveillance monitors would just see a solitary figure ducking his head against the cold.

Normally, an operation like this would take weeks of planning.  He would obtain blueprints, tour the building multiple times to check the security systems, ferret out the camera locations, and locate the guard outposts.  But his sixth sense told him he did not have weeks to plan.  He had to be more direct.

Bypassing the key card control pad outside the main doors was simple.  He stopped in front of them and pulled a cigarette pack from his pocket.  He went through the motions of pulling out a cigarette and tapping it on the pack.  Then he waved the pack in front of the card reader, and the main doors instantly slid open.  John slipped through them and made a beeline toward the elevators.

Any trained spy would tell you that the last thing to do when sneaking into a high-rise is to take the elevators.  They were the one part of a building that you could almost guarantee security would be monitoring 24-7.  Tonight, he ignored that training.  John pressed the "up" button, waited for the doors of one of the cars to open, and stepped inside.  Once inside, John flashed the cigarette pack in front of another card reader and pushed the button for the penthouse.  The car immediately started to move.

He looked down at the cigarette pack and grinned.  When he found Shane, he would have to report that this little gizmo worked perfectly.  Then he looked up at the corner of the elevator, where the security camera was undoubtedly placed, and gave a small salute.

The doors opened and he found himself face-to-face with the Nightwing logo, the front of a diving hawk that flowed into the letters.  Impressive, John thought.  It was just the touch of vanity that most government operations would overlook, but made the front more convincing.  He heard no sounds, meaning he was still alone and probably had another five minutes before the cavalry arrived.  He turned right and headed through some unlocked double-doors, making a mental note to chide Shane on the lax security up here.  Somebody had gotten complacent, figuring that the security on the elevator alone would keep people out.

Through the double doors, he turned left and followed the corridor to the corner office.  A small gold placard on the door said "Donovan," nothing more.  John glanced around, looking for a sign of some security, but saw none.  Strange.

"Here goes nothing," John muttered, as he turned the handle on the door.  It swung open easily and he stepped inside.

The assault was instantaneous.  The room filled with light, blinding him.  A high-pitch filled the room, disorienting him.  He started forward, but his hands struck something solid.  A wall.  He tried to back away, but struck another wall.  It must have slid across the doorway, trapping him inside.  Suddenly, his throat began to constrict, the tell-tale sign of a gas attack.

John shook his head and laughed.  Got to give Shane points for this one.  He covered his ears to ward off the noise and casually sank to the floor.  No point putting off the inevitable.  Then he took several deep breaths and waited for everything to completely go black.