Chapter One: New York
The man with the black hat turned into the alley. Close behind him, John Jamieson peeked around the corner before trailing the man into the the dark alleyway. Making sure not to attract attention to himself, Jamieson pulled out the latest copy of the New York Times, watching as the persistent rain made illegible his front page article. He tipped his deerstalker hat down so as to cast a shadow upon his weatherbeaten face, and wrapped his trench coat tighter around himself to keep warm. The man with the black hat looked back at him and began to quicken his pace down the alleyway. Under his arm, he carried a stack of papers, but as the rain continued to grow in strength he slid them under his thick black coat to keep them dry. He stole another peek at Jamieson, this time holding his glance for slightly longer and quickening to a ferocious march. At his first opportunity, the man turned right and began walking illuminated by dim streetlights.
John Jamieson continued down the alleyway until he reached the next crossing avenue, where he turned right and began to walk briskly, attempting to keep pace with the mysterious man. At his next opportunity, Jamieson weaved right and then left – finding himself on the same street the man with the black hat had turned onto. After two blocks of speed-walking, the mysterious man became visible once again – this time unaware of Jamieson’s presence.
Jamieson continued to track the man until he turned onto Broadway Street and waited by the curb. Jamieson retreated to a nearby cafe, where he sat outside underneath an umbrella, keeping the mystery man in close sight. After a few minutes of waiting, he ordered a hot apple cider – extra sweet with a stick of cinnamon. He took out his camera and set it on the table while blowing on his drink. He kept one eye on the man in the black hat and another on the people sitting at the tables around him.
A few tables from him, five old men sat around a small table, laughing and sharing merriment while digging into a chocolate cake. Close to them sat a young woman, who slowly rested her head on her male companion’s shoulder while bundling herself up in a white shawl. Next, Jamieson’s eye rested on the family sitting only a few tables down from him. Two young boys – maybe eight and ten – were poking each other and spilling food all over the table while their parents attempted to control them, and their teenage sister pulled out her phone to send a text. Jamieson wondered if they would ever know of the situation unfolding around them. They were so unaware, he thought to himself. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
The man with the black hat reached into his back pocket and pulled out a cell phone. Jamieson watched as he dialled a number and brought the phone to his ear. The conversation didn’t last long. Only minutes later, a long black sports car came speeding to the curb. With a screech of the brakes it stopped right the man. The driver of the car jutted his hand out through the open passenger side window. The man with the black hat dug around under his coat to find his pile of papers and files, and handed them to the driver of the car. The driver took them, rolled up the window, and sped back onto the street.
The man with the black hat stood still amidst the gaseous fumes from the car engine. He slowly turned around and twisted his neck to scan the surrounding area. It was then when the man with the black hat once again spotted John Jamieson, this time with a camera in hand outside a cafe. Jamieson held the man’s gaze for several seconds, until the mysterious figure turned around and hastily darted across the street.
John Jamieson looked at the three pictures he had taken with a smile spreading across his face. He had caught the car, the licence plate number, and, if you zoomed in on the picture, you could even faintly make out the driver’s face. He wasted no time. He shuffled around in his pocket until he found his cell phone.
“Hello, this is Jack,” said the low, croaky voice on the other end of the line.
“Jack – this is Jamieson. The papers are in a car. A black sports car, licence plate 877-BGL. I’m sending you the pictures right now.”
“Copy that Jamieson.”
“Remember Jack, we need the papers. I don’t care if you wreck the car, I don’t care if you get arrested. I don’t care if you kill the driver. Just pass those files off to the next guy. This is critical Jack. If those files don’t get to the right hands in time, you can say goodbye to the city of Pittsburgh.”
“Understood Jamieson. Justice will be done.”
John Jamieson marched briskly along the sidewalk, pulling on his gloves and wrapping a woollen scarf around his neck. He had just retreated from a Broadway show – the 39 Steps – and was feeling very weary and ready to return home for some rest. After the chase earlier this evening he had needed a little bit of a mental break – so he had popped into the theatre and bought himself a balcony ticket with the last twenty dollar bill he had left in his wallet. It was only just now that he vacated the large, lively theatre and stepped out onto the busy New York City sidewalk. His shoulders were hunched over ever so slightly, and he quickened his pace with the growing ferocity of the persistent raindrops smudging his paper and dampening his head. He eventually submitted to the weather’s intention and waved his hand in the air to hail down a taxi cab. It was a black cab which stopped for him on the corner, the words “New York’s Finest – providing quality taxi services since 1929” emblazoned in large, yellow, cursive print on the side of the car. Jamieson hastily opened the door to the cab and jumped in, putting his brown leather briefcase under his feet and his newspaper on his lap. Jamieson’s article, albeit smudged by the rain, was printed on the front page of the paper. “Revolution?” read the headline, “Tensions build between the American government and Northeastern Congress.” The rest was illegible thanks to the smudged ink, but it was enough for Jamieson, who silently rejoiced in having yet another one of his articles printed on the front page of the New York Times.
“222 West 39th please.” Said Jamieson as he fumbled around for his seatbelt.
“Certainly” replied the cabbie in a cheerful tone.“Radio?”
“Fine by me” replied Jamieson as he attempted to shake the raindrops off his hair with his hand.
There was an audible click and the speakers jumped into action.
“Tensions between the two parties have grown over the last few weeks as the northeastern states are divided as to which trade agreement is most beneficial for the founding colonies.” Said the deep voice of a news anchor. “Among those in favour of executing the deal with the European Union – an action that would surely increase tensions between the United States government and the Northeastern Congress – is the governor of New York State, and president of the Northeastern Congress, Abraham Thompson. In a recent interview obtained by NBC News, Thompson is quoted as stating,
“In recent years, the United States government has shown unlawful neglect for the Northeastern colonies, the reason for the formation of the Northeastern Congress. The proposed trade agreement by the United States takes advantage of the resources which the Northeast is entitled to possess, and is absurdly and absolutely unjust and contrary to the freedom and liberty which our founding fathers once stood for. If the president and the government as a whole continue to take advantage of the resources obtained in the Northeastern Colonies, this nation will be in need of a revolution not seen since the documentation of the Declaration of Independence.’
“On the other hand,” continued the reporter, “newly elected governor of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Twain, is a strong supporter of the Northeastern loyalists, who believe in staying loyal to the American government. Twain and Thompson have continually butted heads in congress, most recently when debating the actions the Northeastern states should take when it comes to signing a trade agreement with either the United States or the European Union. The states which are involved in the ongoing tensions with the American government include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.”
The cabbie shut the radio off and turned to look at Jamieson.
“Don’t know what I think about this whole mess, personally. Don’t know much about it. What about you? You know anything about it?”
Jamieson chuckled. “A little.” he said. “A little.”
When Jamieson finally returned home, it was nearly one-clock morning. The cabbie let him off at the corner of Columbia and 40th, from where he weaved down onto 39th avenue and marched by the cute little residential townhouses until he reached number 222. Everything was silent and still. Even the saxophone player, who would typically set up on the corner around noon, and play late into the night, had retreated home. Jamieson watched a leaf blow by his feet as he quietly made his way up the steps and to his front doorstep. He stuck his hand in his back pocket and retrieved his key – placing it in the keyhole underneath the bronze knocker that hung from the door. The door happily swung open, and Jamieson flicked the light switches to reveal his cozy, albeit crammed, three room townhouse. He hung his coat on the inside of the door, unwrapped his scarf, and removed his deerstalker hat from his head. Jamieson then headed straight for the kitchen, where he put on a kettle to make his bedtime tea. A few minutes later, he was sitting at his desk in the living room, illuminated by the light of his computer screen, while tapping away on his keyboard and blowing on a mug of hot peppermint tea. His computer screen read,
“Property of Boston Yard Secret Police. Contains classified information. Please scan retina and fingerprint.”
Jamieson moved his right eye so that it lined up with the camera at the top of his computer. After a few seconds, a message popped up on the display.
“Retina scan successful, please scan fingerprint.”
Jamieson did just that, taking the index finger on his right hand and placing it on his keypad.
“Fingerprint scan successful. Access granted.”
The website opened up to Jamieson, who navigated his way to the archived library of information. Jamieson had just been assigned to a new mission – to keep the tensions between the Northeastern separatists and American government under control. Tonight’s chase had been the first action involved with his new mission, but he hadn’t had time to do some background research before hand. Of course, being a journalist for the New York Times, he was in touch with the current situation, even writing frequent articles on the story. Where his knowledge was weak was the classified information surrounding the terrorism in the Northeastern States. Of course, during his previous mission, no classified details of this mission were available to him. He began to read, whispering the words to himself as he went.
“Behind all of the politics regarding the issue of separatism in the Northeastern United States, there is an element of terrorism currently unknown to the public.” Read the article. “Both sides – the separatists who support the Northeastern Congress, and the loyalists who support the American government – have terrorist groups backing them. The scene of terrorism in the Northeast is split into two radical groups: The Minutemen – who support the American loyalists – and The Sons of Liberty – who support the Northeastern separatists.”
Jamieson clicked on the link to the Minutemen first, and was directed to a separate article.
“The Minutemen are a group of American terrorists who support the United States government and Northeastern loyalists in their attempts to keep the Northeastern states members of the United States of America. They believe in the abolishment of the newly formed Northeastern Congress – a separate government within the United States federal government – and support the proposed trade deal between the Northeast and the United States. Among the attacks they have claimed responsibility for are the Rhode Island shootings, the assassination of the New Jersey minister of finance, and the bombings in Connecticut. They have main headquarters in New York City, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Boston. Members of the Minutemen are marked by a star tattoo on the back of their neck. Their main adversaries are the Sons of Liberty.”
Next, Jamieson clicked on the link to The Sons of Liberty.
“Named after a group of American rebels in the 18th century, The Sons of Liberty are a terrorist group situated in the Northeastern United States. They are strong supporters of the separatist movement in the Northeastern colonies, believing that the Northeast should be a nation separate from the United States of America, whose government they believe to be corrupt and unjust. They have been known to use means of violence and military force in an attempt to establish the Northeastern United States as a separate nation. They have claimed responsibility for the Buffalo Massacre, the Rochester Riots and the Vermont bombings. The Sons of Liberty have headquarters in New York City, Pittsburgh, Hartford, and Boston. Members of the Sons of Liberty are marked by a tattoo of a rattlesnake on their shoulder, and their main rivals are the Minutemen.”
Having been caught up on what he needed to know, Jamieson closed the lid to his computer and gulped down the last sip of what was now his lukewarm peppermint tea. Leaving his mug and computer sitting on the desk, Jamieson retreated to his bedroom and sprawled onto his bedspread. Still in his clothes, John Jamieson fell asleep before his head hit his pillow.
It was only two hours later when John Jamieson’s phone started to ring. He ignored the first two calls – he didn’t have to wake up for another three hours for work. When the phone rang for the third time however, Jamieson couldn’t ignore it. He reluctantly sat up in bed, stretching his legs and letting out a big yawn before picking up the phone.
“Hello?” He said drearily.
“Is this Jamieson?”
“Yup. What do you want? It’s early.”
“Jamieson, this in Jack Harrington, from Boston Yard. There’s been an attack. The governor – Abraham Thompson – he’s been assassinated. The Minutemen are claiming responsibility.”
Jamieson’s eyes went wide and his mouth let out a gasp as he sat prostrate in bed, wide awake. “What?” He asked. “How?”
“They infiltrated the governor’s mansion. He was having a late night meeting with the governor of Pennsylvania – Jonathan Twain. They got by security and murdered him in cold blood. They took Twain and it looks like they’ll hold him hostage.”
Jamieson took a second to absorb all of this information. He took a deep breath, and continued.
“Why didn’t anyone stop them before they got to the house? You know we’ve been keeping tabs on the Minutemen for weeks now.”
“All of our men were after the files that you were following earlier this evening. We retrieved the files a little over an hour ago, and it appears that they were a decoy. They wanted us to be pre-occupied. That’s the only way they could’ve pulled a stunt like this off.”
“Okay.” Said Jamieson in an authoritative voice. “Here’s what we’re going to do: Get all of our men together, we’re going on a full scale manhunt for the murderer and the Pennsylvania governor.”
“Can’t do that sir.” Replied Harrington. “Remember, the press can’t know anything about Boston Yard, the Minutemen, or the Sons of Liberty. As far as the public’s concerned, Abraham Thompson committed suicide and Jonathan Twain is on vacation in the Bahamas. Plus, remember what happened last time we sent all of our forces after one man? That’s how we got into this mess in the first place – we can’t put all our eggs in one basket.”
“So then what’s the solution!” Hollered Jamieson.
“We’ll go chase after the criminal and the governor – but it has to be a small group of people. I’m putting you and me on the job, along with a team of about ten agents. Congratulations. You’ve gotten yourself a piece of the action.”
“Great.” Jamieson whispered to himself. “Just great.”
There was no denying it – the chase was on. The war had begun.
By: Eric D.