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Cotton FBI - Episode 13

What is COTTON FBI?

Your name is Jeremiah Cotton. You are a small-time cop in the NYPD, a rookie that no one takes seriously. But you want more. You have a score to settle with the world. And anyone who calls you “Jerry” will be sorry.

A new time. A new hero. A new mission. Experience the birth of a digital cult-series: Cotton FBI is the remake of JERRY COTTON, the most successful series of German novels with more than one billion copies sold, and it tells an entirely new story in e-book form.

Cotton FBI is published twice a month, with each episode a self-contained story.

The Author

Jürgen Benvenuti was born in 1972 in Bregenz, Austria. After some time in Berlin and Barcelona, he now lives in Vienna. In addition to his novels, which have been published by Bastei Lübbe, dtv and the Falter Verlag, he has also written numerous reviews and articles for a variety of newspapers, magazines and online publications. From time to time he dares to take a detour into the movie business.

1

No hesitation, no delay. When it began, there was only one direction: forward.

Tuesday, just before midnight. A November storm was passing over New York early that evening, and icy rain pelted the roof of the black Dodge Challenger at full force. Special Agents Cotton, Decker and Dillagio had been waiting inside for what felt like an eternity for the operation to finally get moving. Cotton knew that the nervousness and impatience were messing with their sense of time — it had only been ten minutes since they parked the Dodge less than a quarter of a mile away from the long, squat warehouse that stretched almost all the way down to Flushing Bay. Riker’s Island was little more than a mile north on the other side of the bay, LaGuardia Airport was to the west, and there were a few bottling plants just east of them. It was a truly lovely location.

Cotton squinted into the darkness.

The lights were on behind the triple-barred windows at the far end of the warehouse. At one point, a dark silhouette had scurried past the half-lowered blinds — probably Bobby Gold, their target. Otherwise, nothing had happened. Nothing at all.

“Shit, what are those guys doing out there, anyway?” Dillagio cursed. He was sprawled out on the back seat, tunelessly humming to himself. Over his greasy leather jacket, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, its straps carelessly left hanging down the sides. No problem. Steve Dillagio wasn’t a stickler for details.

“I suppose they’re getting the lay of the land,” said Philippa Decker, who was sitting in the passenger seat, holding a small high-tech radio in her slender hand. With her blond hair, intelligent eyes, and dark combat uniform, she looked like a cross between a model, a lawyer, and a ninja.

“Steve’s right,” said Cotton, who was crouched behind the steering wheel. He felt uncomfortable in the unfamiliar, tight-fitting vest, which had an unpleasant chemical smell. “The SWAT team should really hurry up a bit. If they keep dawdling like this, Gold will probably be long gone.”

“They’re seasoned professionals being thorough at their job,” Decker said, directing a faint smile toward Cotton. He was still the rookie on the G-Team, and he’d become familiar with this sort of teasing.

“We’re professionals, too, sweetie,” Dillagio drawled.

“I’m not your sweetie,” Decker retorted snappishly, “and I never will be. Understood?”

Dillagio gave her a mock salute. “Take it easy. Without me, we wouldn’t be here at all today. You should be thanking me.”

He was right. After all, it was Steve Dillagio with his wide-reaching contacts who had called Sandy Overmeyer this afternoon and set the whole operation in motion.

Overmeyer was nineteen. She had left her backwater hometown in Utah to study journalism at NYU. For almost two months, she had been doing an internship at the popular No Stars Just Stripes magazine, which had made a name for itself on the basis of its in-depth social criticism. Through sheer tenacity, Overmeyer had actually managed to persuade the infamous drug dealer Roberto González a.k.a. Bobby Gold to give her an interview. Better still: He would take her to one of his warehouses, where he not only stashed the drugs and packaged them for the streets but also lived. Thanks to his constant changes of residence, Gold had always managed to stay a step ahead of the law throughout his criminal career. He had expanded his empire, intimidated his competitors, and driven them out of his territory. Those who wouldn’t be intimidated or couldn’t be driven out were murdered in cold blood. Preferably with their throat slit by the serrated edge of a hunting knife. Bobby Gold’s specialty.

But something had gone wrong during the interview. Maybe it had dawned on Sandy that her article — no matter how critical it might be — would make a murderer and drug dealer out to be some sort of hero. Maybe it had been the sight of the couriers who transported the goods for Bobby Gold — many of them were children, since minors couldn’t be prosecuted as adults if they were caught. Or maybe there was some other reason that she had chosen not to reveal to Dillagio during their conversation. In any case, Sandy Overmeyer had violated the most important rule of journalism, and quite deliberately at that.

Protect. Your. Sources.

She had not protected her source.

After her interview with Bobby Gold, Sandy had wandered through the streets of Queens, brooding, until she finally managed to make up her mind. She called Steve Dillagio, whom she’d met a few weeks earlier while researching another story, and she divulged Bobby Gold’s whereabouts to him. Dillagio immediately contacted Mr. High and, together with the rest of the G-Team and a SWAT unit, crafted a battle plan to finally arrest the dealer and murderer Bobby Gold.

We’re almost set,” a voice crackled from Decker’s radio, tearing Cotton away from his thoughts. “Be at the ready.”

“Well, finally,” Dillagio muttered, then sluggishly sat up and stretched.

“Do you always have to play the clown?” Decker asked, watching him in the rearview mirror with an irritated look on her face.

“I’m just a naturally funny guy,” Dillagio answered with a disarming grin.

“You’re a pain in the ass,” Decker exclaimed.

“I hate to interrupt your little back-and-forth here,” Cotton jumped in, “but maybe we should be focusing on our job.”

Decker was itching to respond, but instead remained silent and just shook her head, annoyed. Cotton knew — sensed — that Decker was tense, and her little exchange with Dillagio only served to blow off some steam. Mr. High had entrusted her with managing the mission; since the head of the G-Team was a perfectionist, a responsibility like this could put even an experienced agent like Philippa Decker under significant pressure to succeed.

We’re going in,” the voice on the radio said quietly.

Then: “Go, go, go.”

Cotton leaned forward and stared out into the rain-soaked darkness, trying to see what was happening. There was not much to see. Two ghostly shadows were gliding toward the warehouse from both sides. Then a third silhouette appeared directly in front of the door, disappearing a second later into the damp darkness.

For a split second, a blinding flash lit up the night sky, followed by a heavy thudding sound. Even from this distance and with the car muffling some of the shock wave, Cotton could feel the pressure in his ears. The SWAT team had brought a few of their toys along for the mission.

“Let’s go,” Dillagio said and opened the door of the Dodge.

“No. We’re waiting on the OK from the SWAT team commander, as agreed,” Decker said in a flat voice. “Then we’ll get out.”

“I must have better ears than you, sweetie,” Dillagio said, “because I already heard the okay. Loud and clear.” He turned to Cotton, who was nervously crouched behind the wheel. “What about you, buddy? Did you hear it, too?”

Cotton hesitated for a second and glanced at Decker, who was staring back at him, pale and tense. Then he shrugged and said, “Hell, yeah, I heard it. Let’s get moving.”

Suppressing a string of profanity, Decker followed her two colleagues onto the street. Partially frozen raindrops bombarded them, as though the gods were strafing them with bullets. The tiny, stinging projectiles burst on their faces and hands, exploded on their necks and heads.

Decker wiped the sleet out of her eyes, then quickly looked around to scope out the situation. She held up her index finger, pointing first to Cotton and then to the left.

Cotton understood. He ducked down as low as he could and moved toward the warehouse.

Decker held up her finger again. This time she signaled Steve Dillagio to go to the right.

Dillagio nodded and disappeared into the darkness.

Decker took a deep breath, crouched down, and crept directly toward the warehouse door, which was hanging off its hinges.

Muffled shots rang out inside, accompanied by the flare of muzzle fire.

*

Damn, Cotton thought, what’s happening in there?

He had reached the entrance of the warehouse. The wind-driven rain roared against the dented and partially blackened metal door. Cotton straightened up a little, grabbed his gun more tightly, and walked with slow but decisive steps into the concrete structure ahead of him. He could make out a strip of light close to the floor a few yards further down; otherwise, there was complete darkness. His heart pounded, and adrenaline rushed through his body. He heard a gasp, then the sound of footsteps running. Nylon uniforms rustled in the darkness, and there was the sound of steel quietly clattering against steel.

Bam!

What the hell was that? Cotton wondered. A gunshot? No, it sounded more like a door slamming.

Cotton cautiously turned around. In the darkness, he sensed rather than saw two figures behind him on the left and right; he assumed it was Decker and Dillagio. The two agents came closer and looked at him questioningly.

What’s going on here?

Cotton shrugged. No idea.

Crouching down, he crept along the concrete hallway. Suddenly, a dark, hulking shadow stepped into his path. Before he could react, two strong hands had grabbed him.

“All clear,” said a man’s voice from the darkness. “I’m on the SWAT team. We got him.”

“Good,” Cotton said, freeing himself from the man’s grip, he put his gun back in its holster.

“What are you doing over there?” Dillagio grumbled from behind him, audibly annoyed.

“All clear,” Cotton answered. “They got him.”

“How about a little light?” Decker asked.

“At your service, ma’am.”

The ceiling lights — three dirt-encrusted fluorescent tubes — hummed and flickered on. Cotton’s eyes needed a few seconds to get used to the relative brightness. Thanks to his training, he was able to take in and analyze the scenario within seconds.

The warehouse consisted of a long, narrow room with plain metal shelves lined up in a row along the right wall, all the way to the back. On each shelf, there were neatly wrapped plastic packets of white and beige powder. The pungent smell of vinegar hung in the air; Cotton knew that meant there was heroin in the room. There was also a musty smell similar to damp wool, indicative of crack and cocaine.

Across from the shelves on the left side of the hall, a few wooden tables and plastic folding chairs had been set up. On the tables, there were scales, paper bags, and foot-long pieces of aluminum foil. The packaging materials for selling dope on the street.

Cotton moved forward. Dillagio and Decker followed him.

In the back left corner of the space, a small room had been constructed out of particleboard. The door was open, and they could see inside to a sort of office. The only source of light in the room was an aging lamp on the desk with a low-watt bulb that gave off a dim glow. Other than that, there was a chair, a sofa-bed, and a small sink in the corner. The floors were covered with gray industrial carpeting.

There was a body lying face down on the carpet. It was a man, as far as Cotton could tell, wearing jeans, high-tops, a dark hoodie, and a black wool hat. Between his shoulder blades, there were three spots that looked like wet, rusty metal coins. At the edges of the bullet holes, the hoodie was slightly singed.

One of the men from the SWAT team was leaning against the wall, casually cradling his impressive assault rifle in the crook of his arm. The SWAT team commander, who was standing beside the door, handed Cotton a wallet. “This was in his pocket.” He gestured toward the body. “There’s an ID inside. This is our man.”

“Where’s your colleague?” Cotton asked. “There were three of you.”

The commander smiled tersely and said, “He’s securing the back door. Don’t worry. We have everything under control.”

Cotton took another skeptical look at the slender body, and then examined the ID.

Shit.

“What’s wrong?” Decker asked.

Cotton handed her the card. She looked it over and shook her head, agitated.

“What’s the problem?&

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