I was shocked. I didn't let it show on my face but I was seriously lost for words. Crow? Murdering an innocent? Inconceivable. He might be a tad violent and he might be marginally unstable but he'd never kill without a reason. Never. This required some more information. As team leader I needed to know about my team and that meant I needed to do some digging to get to the bottom of this. We split up after we left the cafeteria. Bethany was obviously distressed and went back to Jagan's place. If those guys hadn't had guns trained on her she would've fought her way to wherever they were going and busted Crow out herself. Dani had her own apartment now so she took off home and I made my way to SCIT HQ.
Since Harold Richards, SCIT's last leader had died we'd been kinda short on money and had had to relocate our base of operations to a much less spectacular centre than where we used to work from. Now our intelligence was carried out from a sleek yet modest office block. We owned the first three floors. Level one was our gym and training area. Weapons, munitions, technology, shooting range, combat training etc. Second floor was the operations section. Two briefing rooms for ops and mission control arrays all supplying data and intel on locations, people, terrain, and anything else that would be necessary for any given mission. I took the stairs to the third floor. Level three held our personal offices. They had ended up reflecting our personalities somewhat too. Jagan's was smart but had a little boyish charm added by the posters on the walls and the mess on his desk. Crow's was organised but had a bit of a dark edge to it. He had a few shots of himself on missons tacked to his noticeboard and in all of them he was looking mildly berserk. This was offset by the two photos on his desk next to his computer, one of he and Beth smiling in their younger days and one of the team together pulling stupid faces at the camera. He did have a heart really. Beth's room was sunny and warm and very organised. Her files were always flawless and she never left operations dossiers scattered around like some people (Jagan) did. Dani's office was inexplicably... girly. There was no other way to describe it. Even though it looked highly professional and personal effects were limited to pictures of her friends, siblings and the team, something about the way they were arranged was just purely feminine. Well apart from the picture of her with that sniper rifle. She'd become kinda attached to it and had insisted on us taking a picture of her in full greasy frosted combat fatigues whilst brandishing it like a madwoman. She looked almost as crazy as Steve in that one.
Lastly, my own office. A glass and steel lined intelligence hive. Not a dust speck out of place. It only held one personal item, the photograph of the team which everyone shared. I slid into my stainless steel and black leather chair and booted up my computer. Time to get to work.
I pulled up Steve's files again. I knew the guy beyond anything that these dossiers could tell me but I had to be sure. As expected everything checked out. There was nothing in there that I didn't already know about him. There was no way he'd kill an innocent. That was of course assuming the victim was entirely innocent. I'd have to investigate her identity myself later or get some of the other team members to do it. A footnote from the last operation caught my interest. This was something new. It was part of a report from Jagan. It read; Additional note: Note obtained in NK bunker. Direct threat to SCIT implied. Provenance claims to be called 'The Stalker.' Hint at greater organisation. Full note enclosed.
I read the message with trepidation. We will not rest until you are all dead. -The Stalker. If this was the cause of our current predicament then we were in some real trouble. It may be entirely unrelated. Possibly someone else with a personal grudge against Crow or perhaps a government related incident. However, we needed to find out about this Stalker character and whoever he worked with or for. Since SCIT had no prior knowledge of these guys there was no point searching our own databases anymore. Looks like I'd have to search further afield.
I grabbed a post-it note and scribbled out a message. Sticking it on Dani's office door I left the HQ and headed home to pack my bags. This time I was going solo.
I have to take off for a while. Beth is in charge for as long as Steve is out of commission. She is probably the most organised and clinical after Steve and myself. I want you to back her up and stay strong. Take joint leadership if necessary. I trust you will make all the right decisions. Steve isn't guilty, but if it comes to a military court the decision is likely to be fixed. Do whatever you can to save him if it comes to extreme circumstances. That goes for the whole team. If any of you need to reach me, try a certain UK line.