Previous parts are here. This chapter won't make much sense if you haven't read them!
No special warnings, apart from BIG spoilers for Dexter Seasons 2, 3 and 4, and more fandoms added to the mix.
This is a multiple crossover, beginning with NCIS and Dexter and eventually taking in several other fandoms. Some sections include passages with a first person viewpoint, reflecting the narrative style used in (for example) the Dexter TV show and books. I will always try to make the identity of the viewpoint characters clear.
Major spoilers for Dexter S2, S3 and S4.
See the first chapter for disclaimers etc.
By Marcus L. Rowland
Interlude: Wolfram, Hart, and Donowitz, Washington DC
"People are getting anxious," said M. Alison Hart. "We're within days of completion of the Miami project, and NCIS should never have been in the picture. One ridiculous accident and years of work are jeopardised. What can you tell me?" She handed the hooded figure a copy of that morning's Miami Herald, flown in at considerable expense. Of course the on-line edition wasn't suitable, that would have been too cheap and convenient.
The Seer opened the paper to the comics and games, ran his hands over the Sudoku puzzle, then dipped his right hand into a leather pouch and pulled out an ivory tile. "Seven... so, a seven." He dipped a quill into dark brown ink and marked a neat seven on the puzzle. For the next ten minutes he repeated the process, a tile at a time, until there were only eight spaces left, two blocks of four. "Most curious..."
"What is?" asked Alison.
"There is an error in the puzzle. These last spaces... Here, to the left, an eight and a four above, a three and a six below. There, three and six above, eight and four below."
"What's the problem?"
"There is still a solution if the positions are vertically reversed, with three and six above on the left, eight and four below, and the right side eight and four above, three and six below. There is nothing to contradict either choice."
"Two outcomes," said the Seer, "two possibilities, both equally probable. One is success, the other failure. Tick and Tock, Yin and Yang. A delicate balance, do you see?"
"Even without this flaw in the puzzle, the sequence of tiles told me that events are balanced on a delicate cusp. Any choice that you make may bring you closer to the outcome you prefer, or rob you of it forever. The error makes this utterly certain."
"So there's nothing we can do?"
"Anything you do is likely to reduce the likelihood that things will go as you desire."
"Crap." Alison thought for a moment, then said "Okay, let me have that in writing. I'll inform the Senior Partners; they can decide what to do."
Miami-Dade Crime Laboratory
Horatio Caine removed his sunglasses and peered at Gibbs again, tilting his head slightly. Pretending to take notes, Tony added another line to a row, realised it made five, and crossed through them, deciding that it must be some sort of nervous tic, like the bad joke when he'd heard of Marten's death.
"So you had no particular reason to believe that Marten was actively involved?" asked Gibbs.
"Several of his former associates were implicated," said Caine, "and the data stored with some of the recent images on their computers showed that a Canon Eos 1D SLR with a four hundred millimetre lens had been used. That was Marten's favourite camera at the time he was arrested. These days you can pick up the camera bodies for four or five hundred dollars if you shop around, that lens would add at least six or seven hundred more, if you could find one second hand. But Marten was a professional photographer before his arrest, it's possible that he managed to hold on to a lens when the rest of his equipment was confiscated."
"I remember the 1D," said Gibbs. "Good professional camera for the time, but heavy."
McGee began to tap a search into the web browser on his PDA, Gibbs ignored it.
Caine said "They can shoot twenty-one frames at eight frames a second, which makes them a good choice for someone who wants to take a lot of pictures and get out in a hurry."
"So you thought it would be worth checking on him?"
"He was a convicted sex offender," said Caine, "and his MO fitted the evidence; we got a warrant and raided his house at the same time as the others."
"Why didn't Miami Metro handle the raid?" asked Gibbs.
"The judge issued the warrants to us," said Caine. "If we'd involved Metro there would have been another judge, another set of warrants, and an increased chance of word getting out before the raid. Nobody wanted that to happen."
"I see," said Gibbs. "And what did you find?"
"Marten had been gone for at least a couple of weeks. The food in the refrigerator was rotten, and there was mould growing in a coffee cup on his desk. His computer was wiped clean, and there were no cameras in the house, although we did find a wide-angle lens with the Eos fitting. We couldn't find any evidence of foul play, so we assumed he'd run."
"Wiped clean?" said McGee. "You couldn't recover files?"
"The hard disk of his desktop computer was completely overwritten with ones and zeros, our tech people said there was nothing left to recover. We found a receipt for a laptop, but it was missing. About all that we know for sure is that he uploaded some of the files, the IP records make that clear."
"Do you still have the computer?" asked Gibbs
"We didn't have any reason to keep it," said Caine. "His landlord might know what happened to it."
"What did you make of him?" Gibbs asked as they drove towards Marten's home.
"Glory hound," said Tony; "wants to bring down the bad guys single-handed. A mass raid like that, you need all the help you can get. He went out of his way to keep complete control of the case."
Gibbs grunted something that might have been agreement, and Tony belatedly thought of Gibbs' reluctance to give up on the Marten case.
"It's possible I can get something off the computer," said McGee, "if it was never reused, of course, but what are the odds of that?"
"Poor," said Ziva.
"One thing, boss," said McGee. "You remember the objects that fell out of the bag in the ROV's recording, the ones that sank quickly and we couldn't identify?"
"Way ahead of you, McGeek," said Tony. "A camera body and a lens?"
"Could be," said Gibbs. "Those were heavy cameras; that would be enough weight to keep a body submerged."
"One of the objects was a light-coloured cylinder with a couple of dark bands," said McGee. "I didn't think of a lens because they're usually black, but some Canon lenses have white outer casings. The other could certainly be a camera; we just saw it from the wrong angle to identify it."
"The poor light and the blood in the water did not help," said Ziva.
"Not much chance of recovering them," said Gibbs, "and even if there was, the memory card was probably pulled before the body was dumped. Whoever we're after knew what they were doing."
"Dexter, would you come into my office for a moment?" Lieutenant LaGuerta didn't wait for a reply. I closed a couple of files, more of my Trinity research, and followed her.
"Shut the door and take a seat."
"Okay. What's this about, Lieutenant?"
"You weren't in here when Agent Gibbs explained how the hand was found," said LaGuerta. "It reminded me a lot of another case."
"Another case?" I played dumb.
"The Bay Harbor Butcher."
"I'm not sure I follow," I lied.
"The body was dumped in the sea in a trash bag wrapped with duct tape. Gibbs wouldn't tell me how the hand was found, but that sounds a lot like the same MO."
"That case had huge publicity; it could just be a copy-cat."
"It could be," said LaGuerta, "but what if James was framed and murdered, and the butcher just kept a low profile for a while."
"The evidence was overwhelming," I said, "and you know how unstable he was."
"You can be unstable without being a killer."
"What do you want to do about it?" I asked. And thought Yes, please tell me how you're going to catch me.
"Officially the case is closed," said LaGuerta, "but I think I know someone unofficial who might be able to help. I'm hoping to see him this evening, I'd like you to come along with me, and answer any technical questions that come up."
"Okay," I said uneasily. "I hope you know what you're doing."
"We'll find out," said LaGuerta, picking up her cell and hitting speed dial. "Mister Axe? This is Maria LaGuerta again. I'd like to confirm tonight's meeting. I'll be bringing along the colleague I mentioned..." She listened for a moment, then said "Thank you, I'll look forward to meeting you and mister Westen this evening..."
Crossovers this chapter Angel, CSI: Miami, Burn Notice. I've previously used the idea for Sudoku as a fortune telling technique in the RPG supplement Elvis: The Legendary Tours, part of my Diana: Warrior Princess RPG.
Comments please before I post to archives.