When Liz Murphy arrived at the scene, it was chaos. Other cops arriving where running into the construction site. Liz looked up at the top of the building and saw the chopper. She arrived just in time to see a man drop from the chopper. She gasped, first assuming it was a cop, then was astonished to see the falling man glide away. She realized then it was not a cop as she saw the wings on the suit worn by the man she now assumed to be the suspect they were chasing. As the man glided away, she looked around at the other cops. Most of them were now watching, too. She spotted her lieutenant then looked up again, but the gliding man had turned and was out of sight.
She walked over to the lieutenant to get the latest. As she approached, she noticed he was talking to a man wearing jeans, a blazer and dark brown fedora. He finished speaking with the man with the fedora and turned to Murphy.
“Hey Murphy,” he said. “Did you just see that?”
“Yeah, what the heck was it?” she asked.
“That was our perp, he just bought a nuclear-powered device from our undercover team that could be used for some pretty bad stuff. I need you to make this your top priority though we’ll probably lose the case to Homeland Security. Until then, it’s your top.”
“Ok,” she said, “you got it. A nuke? What are the details?”
“This is Detective Conner. He made the sale,” Lieutenant Kramer said.
“Hi,” said Murphy, extending her hand. Conner just looked down at her and said “Hi,”, then looked up in the direction Brian flew.
Kramer continued “He made the deal with the perp, whose name is Chuck. We have a number for him, but it’s probably a burner number since it’s the second one Conner used to correspond with him. The device is like a nuclear battery, developed by NASA JPL to power stuff on Mars.”
“Say what?!” Liz exclaimed. “A nuclear battery?”
Kramer spoke up “That’s the best way to describe it. It has a small radioactive pill inside it. If it’s removed, it could be made into a dirty bomb.”
“But it came from JPL?” Liz asked. “Why get it there? Seems like an unlikely place to acquire nuclear material.”
“Yeah,” Kramer replied, “but what else would this guy want to do with it.”
“How long does the battery last? Maybe he just wants to live off the grid for a while,” she said.
“I don’t think he’d pay 1.3 million just to live off the grid,” Kramer said.
“So how big is this thing?” Liz asked.
“It’s a little bigger than a breadbox and weighs about forty pounds,” replied Conner.
“And he just jumped off a helicopter and glided away with it?” Liz asked. “Seems unlikely.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” said Kramer. “They’re searching the building. We’re hoping he panicked and left it there.”
“But he brought the flying suit, right,” she asked. “If that was his plan, don’t you think he would have carried it with him.”
“Yes, and maybe he has it strapped to his back, but I don’t think so,” said Conner.
“How did he get on the helicopter?” Liz asked.
“He jumped from the building onto it,” replied Kramer.
“What? Wait, can we start from the beginning?” she asked.
Kramer replied “The perpetrator met with Conner at the deli, over here, to make the purchase. We had unis staged in the alley to pick him up after the sale. And we had some in plain clothes inside, to keep the patrons inside when he left. When the perp exited the deli, our guys tried to pin him in and he ran across, through traffic, jumping one vehicle and then the fence to enter the construction site. Our guys followed. He ran up 45 flights to the roof. On the way up, he encountered a couple of our guys, one of which was shot, likely in the crossfire. He should make it. On the roof, the chopper tried to locate him and he jumped out onto the chopper and tied a cable to it so they wouldn’t follow him when he took flight off the roof.”
“What the hell?” said Liz. “I’ve never heard of anything so crazy.”
“They got him,” shouted an officer in uniform.
“What, where?” Kramer asked.
“One of our guys spotted him and shot him. He landed on a parking deck on East 10th” said the officer. “They’re on their way up to get him.”
“OK,” shouted Kramer, “move out. Let’s go get him.” He turned to another detective. “Hey Clark, stay and keep searching for that device.”
“You got it, Lieutenant,” Clark replied.
“Murphy, you stay here with Detective Conner and go through all the details again,” said I the Lieutenant. “We have to find that device.”
“Yes sir,” said Murphy.
Kramer took off, following the team. Clark walked over to join Murphy and Conner. Murphy turned to Clark, “how much of the building has been searched?”
“We have two teams, working bottom-up and another top-down,” said Clark. “There is a lot of construction material up there. It’s taking a while.”
“So, tell me again, how did he end up on that chopper?” asked Liz.
“He evaded it for a while, long enough to put that suit on. Then he found a cable, attached to a wench and jumped out there,” said Clark.
“He jumped out there holding a cable?” she asked.
“Yeah,” said Clark. “The pilot freaked and almost crashed. He said it was unlike anything he’d ever seen.”
“And he attached the cable to the chopper, tying them to the building?” asked Liz.
“Yeah,” said Clark. Then he asked the pilot if he had fuel and then told him not to follow him, showing him that he was tied to the building. He scratched it all in the glass of the chopper with a knife or something. Then he jumped.”
“Why would he bother? If he evaded them long enough to put the suit on, why didn’t he just jump off the other side of the building?” Liz asked.
She turned to Conner, who was checking his phone. “How did you coordinate with this guy, when did you make contact?” Liz asked Conner.
Conner looked up from the phone and held it up. “We communicated mostly by text messages. He had two numbers. I first made contact with him via phone, after hearing that he was looking for a way to get his hands on this kind of device. We spoke first about two weeks ago, then we met two days ago and again today for the transaction. Here are the numbers I have for him. They’re both burners.” He held up his phone. Liz jotted the numbers into her notebook.
“What did he say he was planning to do with it?” she asked.
“He said he was working with another guy, who invented something ‘life-changing.’ He hinted that it was a vehicle or something. I have everything recorded, but it’s not clear what he is planning. He could be lying his ass off and planning to sell it for twice the price on the black market. He did assure me that no one would get hurt and was adamant that no one was hurt while acquiring the device.” Conner said, shrugged a little. “Who knows? But there is enough nuclear material in the device to create a dirty bomb, that could affect all of Manhattan.”
Clark’s radio crackled and a voice said “We found something! A brown briefcase with foam and an electronic device.” Clark picked up the radio. “Where is it? Don’t touch it!”
The radio crackled again and the voice said: “On the roof.”
“Ok, I’ll send the team up,” Clark said. He walked over to a white van and opened the door. Three guys wearing hazmat suits climbed out, picked up some gear and walked into the construction site. Clark walked back over dialing his phone. “Hey, Lieutenant, they found something. NASA is heading up now. Yeah. It’s on the roof, so they gotta long climb ahead of them. Yeah, I’ll keep you posted. Yeah, ok. “
Clark looked over at Murphy. “Just heard from Williams. Looks like the guy may have gotten away. No sign of him except for a bunch of crushed cars. And one eyewitness said they saw a bird-man jump down from the parking deck. Four stories.” He shook his head. “This guy’s crazy.”
“How did NASA get here so quickly?” Liz asked.
Conner looked up from his phone. “They were already here. That’s how I got the device. They brought it.”