by Tess DiCorsi
Eric and Deeks were grabbed by two of Lorraine’s bodyguards. As he and Eric were marched back to the computer room, Deeks knew any move he made would be futile. The bodyguards, unlike Jasper and Horace, were pros. Not that he could give them much of a struggle anyway. While he didn’t think any of his injuries were dire, he wasn’t exactly in fighting form. Fighting form had him thinking of Kensi. He was hoping against hope she’d be waiting for them. They always worked best as a team.
“David, sit his ass on the floor,” Phin told the man with Deeks as they entered the computer room. No Kensi, Jasper or Horace. “Eddie, you watch the hall. Eric, you have pictures of your girlfriend getting medical treatment. I’m going to start shooting holes into your buddy here if you don’t start working, now.”
“Eric, don’t do it,” Deeks said.
Phin nodded at the guard standing over Deeks who kicked his charge in the ribs. Deeks didn’t want to react but the pain was excruciating. He was pretty sure they heard him scream back at the Luxor.
“Stop!” Eric yelled. “Deeks, I’m going to do this.” Eric sat at the keyboard. He knew if Nell was conscious she’d be working to rescue them. He needed to keep himself, Kensi and Deeks alive until Nell could send help. “But Phin, anyone hits him again or if your men hurt Kensi, I’ll stop and there’s nothing you can do to make me start again.”
“You’re not that tough, Eric,” Phin sneered.
“Are you willing to bet ten million on that, Phin?”
“Start working,” Phin ordered.
“What the hell is going on here?” Lorraine asked as she breezed into the room. “You’re disturbing the paying customers.”
“Sorry darlin’,” Deeks drawled. “Your beefy boy-toy here kicks like a showgirl.”
“David,” Lorraine scolded the guard. “Your father taught you better than to hit civilians.”
“He and the girl don’t strike me as civilians, ma’am,” David was remarkably soft-spoken for muscle.
“Yeah, because I look like a soldier. Or a fed. Even better, a cop. That’s hilarious.”
Lorraine eyed Deeks with a little caution. “You a pig, Marty?”
“Lawyer,” Deeks smiled.
“A professional. An educated man,” Lorraine purred.
“I’m always willing to learn a thing or two,” Deeks winked at Lorraine.
“Mother, you’re making a fool of yourself and that son of a bitch is helping you.”
While Deeks flirted with Lorraine and traded insults with Phin, Eric started to work. He had no plans of hacking the casino, instead just making it look like he did. While trying to piece together a plan, Eric was able to get the ISP address for the computer and a GPS location for the casino. Now he had to figure out what to do with it. He also downloaded a Cantonese font.
“So what kind of law do you practice, Marty?” Lorraine pulled her chair up right across from Deeks.
“Oh, Lorraine, I don’t practice, I’m perfect,” he said with a smile and a wink.
“Yes you are, baby boy. Yes you are.”
“The both of you, shut up.”
“Phineas, is that any way to speak to your mother?”
“Oh Marty, don’t. I tried to teach that boy some manners but they never took.”
“Oh, don’t worry Lorraine, it isn’t your fault your boy isn’t…”
“Another word from you blondie and your girlfriend will pay.”
“Is she really your girlfriend, Marty? Because you strike me as a free spirit, not someone to be tied down,” Lorraine feigned being wounded while completely ignoring her son.
“We have an open relationship. We’re zip code faithful,” Deeks lied. Kensi would kill him if he ever pulled any of this on her but this was all for a good cause, like them surviving, he thought.
“Zip code, what?” David the bodyguard was interested.
“If we’re in the same zip code, we’re faithful. If she’s out of town on business, or if I am, well, what happens in Vegas, or Miami or even Los Angeles when the other is out of town– you know how that goes.”
“So if you were to visit me here in Nevada?” Lorraine asked.
“Just don’t bring it home,” Deeks said with a smile and a shrug. “And if you’re in Vegas, why would you want to think about home?”
“And the brunette’s okay with that?” Lorraine ran her hand through Deeks’ hair. “Because she doesn’t seem like someone who would share. Not that anyone would want to share you.”
“Ask her yourself, Lorraine. It isn’t like I’m tying her down. She’s as free as I am. And knowing Kensi, I’m sure she is free by now.”
“What are you talking about?” Phineas turned his full attention to Deeks.
Seeing that Phin was mixing it up with Deeks, Eric was able to access the Fallon Naval Air Station public affairs website. Breaking into their server, he hacked the e-mails of Fallon’s commanding officer and their chief of Intel, sending Hetty an e-mail GPS location, their ISP and “Hilfe senden, Herr Beale.” from both accounts. Even if Hetty didn’t see the e-mails right away, Commander Patterson and Col. Russo as well as NCIS’s Cyber Unit would want to know why e-mails in German were being sent from their accounts to an NCIS e-mail address.
Deeks saw a flash of what looked like a website on the screen of Eric’s computer and not the hacking protocols Deeks saw in Ops all the time. Figuring it was time to entertain Phin and company, Deeks challenged the group. “Ask me how I met her.”
“E-Harmony?” Phin sneered.
“Dis-harmony. She was a client. Ask me what she did.”
Phin stifled a yawn. “Killed a man in Reno, just to see him die.”
“Oh, that’s funny, Phin. And not all that wrong. Seems a guy got a little handsy with her in a bar. She got handsy back. And fisty. And kicky.”
“She beat up a guy?” David asked.
“That undersells what she did. By a lot. As her lawyer, I was able to find some issues the handsy guy had in the past. The judge also thought the alleged victim was overselling his injuries but I don’t think guys fake having their jaws wired shut and drinking everything out of a straw for six months.”
“So she’s a bad ass.”
“Oh, you have no idea. And you sent her off with those two stupid guys. They’ll be lucky if they aren’t walking with canes for the rest of their lives.”
“Oh sweetie, should you be involved with such a dangerous woman?” Lorraine asked.
“Kensi knows I’m a lover not a fighter, Lorraine.”
“Good to know you have someone looking out for you, Marty. I’d hate for anything to happen to you.”
Phin turned his attention to Eric. “Well, something is going to happen to you if Eric doesn’t get going.”
Eric was back working on the code by the time Phin looked his way. “This is a serious firewall, dude. I can’t even get near the admin access until I have an approved ISP location. I’m trying to spoof an approved ISP location– something you should have done and could have done if you wanted me to do this quickly. After that, there is a 512-bit encryption key to deal with and then a program that needs to be written and installed so the casino doesn’t first notice the money being drained away and second, can’t trace it to you. So you just keep arguing with Deeks and your mother. Just like back in college, I’ll do all the work and you’ll slide by.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You had more talent than any of us on the floor but you’d rather run card games, design and sell counterfeit concert tickets and throw parties where everyone paid for your good time.”
“Phineas,” Deeks sounded like a disapproving dad. “Your mother had such hopes for you.”
“Shut up. And you know what,” Phineas looked at David the bodyguard. “You take him and my mother to her office. He does anything stupid, break his leg. You remember how your father used to do that to Mom’s non-paying clients.”
“I won’t touch your mother,” David told Phineas. “Lorraine has been good to me.”
“Nobody touches my mother but if she starts to act up, wreck pretty boy’s face.”
“Oh Phin, you think I’m pretty?” Deeks said, batting his eyelashes at his captor.
“Get him out of here before I shoot him on the spot.”
“You shoot him, I stop working.”
“Well then you’re no use to me either and I’m done negotiating with everyone here. David, lock them in my mother’s office. Eric, you start working. I don’t see real progress in half an hour, your guy Marty will watch me beat his girl in the same zip code.”
“Not if she finds you first,” Deeks said as David hauled him up and walked him to the door. “And then she’s going to ruin you.”
Kensi had a brutal headache as she came around but was feeling otherwise okay. She was lying flat on her back in what was probably one of the working girl’s rooms. The windowless bedroom was generic– queen size bed, dresser with a mirror, an armoire and a rocking chair. No Deeks, no Eric on the downside, but no Phin, no buffoon brothers and their sinister sister either.
As she started to stand, Kensi heard someone coming to the door. She needed a plan to get away from them and back to Deeks and Eric. Looking at the room, the floor lamp looked like an excellent weapon.
Eric was typing away. While he was working, Eric was leaving clues throughout. He opened a freeware program that was recording his keystrokes. Every two minutes, those keystrokes would be stored and sent to Don Keating in Cybercrimes. He wasn’t sure what time it was at the Navy Yard but Keating had to check his e-mail sooner or later.
“Eric, you never told me what you meant about me having more talent than anyone on the floor.”
“You were the smartest guy on our floor of the dorm, Phin. You were also the laziest. Never did a thing beyond what was required.”
“Sorry, I wasn’t there on a scholarship.”
“Neither was I.”
“I had a single mother.”
“And my parents were divorced when I was eight. The only thing they agreed on was spending every dime they had sending me to college.”
“Yeah, but Teddy was rich.”
“Teddy’s parents had money, big deal. He picked up the check when we’d go out and when you didn’t have enough money to go home for Christmas break, he got you a plane ticket home.”
“With his father’s frequent flyer miles. And it wasn’t a great flight. I had to switch planes in Dallas and I sat in coach.”
“He sent you home and all you did was bitch about that. He was done with you after that. And by the end of sophomore year, so was everyone else.”
“You guys all had money…”
“We worked for our money. And there was lots of money to be had. It was Y2K. We all knew COBOL. You knew COBOL. I got a job with the two West Coast banks making sure they didn’t lose everything. Ricky took the semester off and went back to New York and spent ten hours a day six days a week working for the phone company. You were working for the casinos here with their Y2K protocols but were fired after what, a month, because you couldn’t drag your lazy ass in on time. We had money because we earned it. You could be the head of cyber security at any one of those casinos by now but that required hard work and let’s face it, hiring goons to terrorizing someone who was once a friend and taking what’s not yours– that’s much more your style.”
Phin was quiet for a minute. “Do you really think I could have been the head of security at the Luxor?”
“You were smart. Phin. If you put as much effort into your work as you put into getting out of doing your work, you’d be…” Eric shook his head. “Forget it.”
“We did have fun in college,” Phin sat in the chair his mother had vacated.
“Sometimes,” Eric couldn’t believe Phin was taking some warm trip down memory lane but decided to play along.
“The time we broke into Professor Braun’s e-mail account.”
“It was 2000. What was the head of computer sciences doing with an AOL account and ‘qwerty’ as a password?”
“And that dog. Mr. Wrinkles.”
“Least creative name ever for a shar-pei.”
“But creatively dressed. Putting one of Braun’s photos of Mr. Wrinkles in his top hat and coattails on the scoreboard at the basketball game– genius Eric, genius.”
“No, Ricky breaking into the Loews ticket system and getting us an entire theater for the first midnight showing of ‘Phantom Menace’– that was genius. Twenty-five focused ‘Star Wars’ fans with the entire theater to ourselves. Ricky was a god that weekend.”
“You were a god, Eric. You could have done so much more than what, working for a cyber-security firm. You could own the world.”
“Or I could have a girlfriend, great friends who mean the world to me. If I’m waiting for the feds to bust me every five minutes, nothing fun about that. I have a great life. You could have one too but…” Eric shook his head again.
“I have a great life and I’m about to have a spectacular on. So is pretty boy keeping his teeth?” Phin noticed a shudder going through Eric but didn’t think much of it. “Are you in?”
“Give me your account number.”
“Let me see what you’ve done first,” Phin reach over and saw a screen filled with Chinese characters. “What the hell is this?”
“Code. Has it been that long since you’ve done any work, Phin?” Eric’s voice dripped with contempt.
“Chinese. If you don’t want the casino looking for someone with Vegas connections as the hacker, Chinese code will have the FBI looking at Beijing for some Sony-style hack and not here.”
Phin handed Eric an index card with the Grand Caymans National Bank routing number and a 12-digit account number. Eric entered the numbers. “If you had a working cellphone, you’d know the money was moving. Because I didn’t want to trigger possible accounting security software, $500,000 will transfer into the account every two minutes. You should have all the money in less than an hour.”
Clapping Eric on the back Phin said, “Well done, Eric. Well done. You could have really tripped me up with that accounting software but you took care of your boy. And I won’t forget that. After I kill your friends, I’ll have Jasper and Horace only beat you mostly to death. If you survive, you probably won’t remember what happened and if you don’t survive, oh well. Time to kill the blonde asshole and once the transfer is complete, his bitch.”
“NO! I did everything you asked. You have your money. You let us go and you’ll be long gone before anyone….”
“Oh I’ll be long gone, as will your friends,” Phin pulled out his gun and shot the modem. “Don’t want you to be tempted to reverse the transfer or call for help. Move from this room and I’ll take a little of my new wealth and use it to hunt down your girlfriend and have her killed slowly and painfully. Don’t move.”
“Don’t kill them, Phin. Please don’t. If we were ever friends…”
“We were friends, Eric. And now we’re not. You saved the redhead once this weekend. Shame not to keep her alive.” Phin walked to the door and locked it behind him before handing the key to Eddie. After ordering the guard to check on Eric every five minutes, he started walking to his mother’s office. When he got confirmation the money was in the account, Eric’s usefulness, like their friendship would come to an end.
Alone, Eric picked up the modem and hoped he could salvage it. Phin was going to regret shooting it. Especially when Phin realized the code Eric wrote was to make it look like Phin had money in his account. There was never a hack of the Luxor.
To Be Continued…
Tess DiCorsi is a wikiDeeks contributor. You can read more by Tess HERE.