Data Miners – Chapter 12

“Jesus-Aged-ClusterFUCCCCK!”

Nina winces and imagines just how far down the hall people could hear that one. Griswold has been on the phone with Cyber Division for a few minutes now, and from the sounds of it, things are not going too well. She waits until the thumping and muffled shouts are finished before breathing easy again. She also steps closer to the door and puts her hand on the knob, anticipating what’s to come when the phone is slammed down on its cradle.

“Righetti! Get the fuck in here!”

Griswold is surprised when the door pops open less than half a second later. He makes a noise in the back of his throat then motions at her to sit.

“I just got off the phone with Walters over at CCRS, he’s given me a heads-up on what they’ve learned, and it’s not much. They say they’ve found the entry point the hacker used. They used some kind of ‘breaker’ to get past our firewalls and some kind of program to cover their ISP address, whatever the hell that means! No doubt about it, we have got a serious clusterfuck on our hands here!”

Nina nods without smiling. The familiarity of the words on his tongue is patently evident. He doesn’t even bother to hide it. And the direness of the news would be a lot more convincing for her if he weren’t being so loud and profane about it. By now, she’s come to understand that the good ole CF is very popular in their line of work. Everyone in the intelligence services appears to use it; it’s kind of like their version of SNAFU or FUBAR. Funny how people in the military and intelligence community need standardized terms for fucked-up situations, she thinks. One would think they dealt with them all the time.

“I’m sending you over to DC, care of Cyber Division. You’re to pack up and head over immediately, call me direct to let me know if you need anything. Otherwise, you’ll be reporting to DD Domovitch, head of Cyber. Understood?”

“You want me there, sir?” Nina asks.

“Yes,” Griswold replies with a fair degree of annoyance, “I want your eyes and ears there, and I also want you to make sure we remind those dickheads exactly whose shit pile this is! Now who did you say brought this to your attention?”

“Johnson, sir. He was the one who got the call from the Post and gave me the file numbers on all those pics.”

“Fine, take him with you! Just get yer ass over to the capitol and make sure those fuck ups don’t screw this up any more than they already have!”

“Are we to drive ourselves, sir?” she asks semi-sarcastically.

Griswold sighs. “We still have a budget, sweetheart. I got a helicopter waiting for you outside. Now move unless you want to lose your job!”

Nina nods and turns to leave in great haste. There’s only so much of Griswold’s profanity she can stand, then she feels dirty somehow. Someday, if she were the litigious type, she might consider folding all of his curse words and offhand sexual references into one big harassment lawsuit. But right now, she’s got more important things to think about. For one, this whole hack job. It’s all a little confusing to her, naturally. She’s pretty sure Cyber crimes is not her business and that her involvement in this case ended when she handed her boss the photographic evidence of the hack. But Griswold’s paranoia is understandable. Their business has been violated and he wants someone from their department to oversee the attempts at redress.

One thing is for sure: they need to find out who did this and how. Then, they need to bring them in for some serious “questioning”. And Nina knows what will happen next, as per the Bureau’s policy. If they don’t kill them first, they’ll probably offer them a job. That’s how the whole industry works, really. If you can’t beat em, hire em!

Getting back to her desk, he picks up her phone and dials Mark’s extension. He is there, surprisingly. No voice mail and no call backs within fifteen seconds, which is his usual ritual. His voice is plain and professional too.

“Johnson.”

She is straight to the point. “Mark? Nina. You remember where my desk is?”

There is a moment of hesitation. “Yes, of course. What’s the problem?”

“No problem,” she says unequivocally. “We’ve just been reassigned to DC. Get your kit together and meet me downstairs. We’re to leave immediately, by chopper.”

She hangs up and begins dialling her next number before he can answer enthusiastically. A chopper ride is a rare privilege and she knows Mark is far more excited than she is to be getting out from behind their desks for a change. Her next call is to old unfaithful, just to let him know that she’ll be gone. That and his car privileges have been extended, among other things. She gets the answering machine at their shared apartment and leaves a message.

“Garret, this is Nina. I’ll be away for a few days. Car is yours and you’ve got the run of the place. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone and if anything’s broken when I get back – anything of mine, that is, you can start looking for a new best friend. Bye!”

Her tone is playful but Garret knows her well enough to know she’s serious. She omitted Garret’s title of “dumb shit”, and “with benefits” from her description of their relationship, for obvious reasons. She’s at work, after all. Some modicum of decorum must be maintained, especially since their boss has the market on smut talk cornered. Who wants to hear about a visiting friend she obviously doesn’t trust fully, who also happens to share her bed? Righetti is a saintly name, and she’s determined to keep it that way.

Reaching into her desk drawer, she grabs her FBI ID and her sidearm, putting both in her carrying bag and heading for the elevator to meet Mark below.

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