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Chapter 15: John Seeks a Clue

"Mister Black, I presume?"

John came around slowly, coughing several times to rid his throat of the remnants of the gas.  He was still a bit woozy, the combined after-effects of the gas and the LRAD device on his nervous system.  It took a few minutes before he could lift his head and get his bearings.

He was in a small windowless room, the walls paneled in a dark wood, Mahogany perhaps.  He frowned, realizing that the wall panels covered every inch of the place.  It had no discernible doors.  He also realized that he was in a chair seated at a table, and had no restraints.  He also was completely alone.

"Mr. Black?" the voice probed.  It belonged to a man and had an American accent.

"That's me," he said, trying to spot the source of the voice.  Obviously, there were hidden cameras and microphones.  He stood up from the chair and began walking casually around the room.  He hated being trapped, but he was not going to show any sign of nerves.

"You're fortunate none of the guards shot you.  Those are their standing orders."

"Yeah, well, it's pretty fortunate that none of your guards tried to shoot at me."

The voice sounded amused.  "Perhaps.  Your reputation precedes you."

That was an interesting giveaway.  Whoever was on the other end of the speaker did not seem to know John personally, which made little sense, as most of the higher-ups in the ISA and, by extension, Nightwing knew him extremely well.  His involvement in the Nightwing planning had meant interminable hours of meetings with its top people.  John pursed his lips as he thought.  Who could possibly have access to this level of Nightwing, but be a stranger to him?  He was wracking his brain for an answer when the voice spoke again.

"Tell me why you pulled this little stunt, Mr. Black?"

John shrugged.  "Nobody answered my phone calls."

"About Donovan?"

"Yeah, about Shane," John shot back.  "Where is he and why are you covering it up?"

"Nobody is covering anything up," the voice said, placidly.  "Mr. Donovan is on assignment."

"That's BS, and you know it.  Shane wouldn't go without talking to his kids for so long, even if he was deep under.  So why don't we try again, and, this time, don't give me the party line."  As he said that, something clicked. 

"Mr. Black, I understand you have a long association with Mr. Donovan, but he is just performing his job."

"His job?"  John did not hide the sarcastic edge in his voice.  "And which job is that?  ISA Chief or Nightwing CEO?  Don't try to deny it.  I helped Shane build this place, and we both know nobody in those positions would disappear off the face of the earth for a year.  So tell me where Shane is."

"I can't do that."

John let his frustration get the better of him.  "What the hell is wrong with you, you damn political hack?  Yeah, I know what you are.  I'm sure you like your cushy little job.  How long will you do it?  Two years, maybe?  Three?  Then you'll go off and work for some company that'll pay big bucks for your contacts.  Well, I'll tell you something.  Shane Donovan's spent a lifetime with the ISA.  He's given just about everything he has for this country, and I want to know why you're writing him off without a second thought.  Tell me why?"

The voice did not respond.

"Look."  John's mind raced as he tried to come up with another tactic.  "The ISA doesn't have to be involved.  Just let me know where he was last seen, or just give me a lead I can follow.  I'll get him out."

"You're assuming he's alive."

"I know he's alive, pal."  This exchange had made John even more certain of that fact.  "If Shane was dead, you wouldn't be covering it -- sorry, maintaining that he's on assignment.  So all I'm asking for is a lead.  Just give me a clue."

There was a long silence.  Finally, the voice spoke again.  "You may leave, Mr. Black.  Do not return."

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