If you want to read the rest of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, and Part 22.
Geoffrey was inside the building and on his way to his office when he first saw signs that Todd's colleagues had started their raid. He kept his eyes on the corridor wall and let his co-workers run past him. They weren't his problem anymore, and from what Todd had told him, he was confident no-one was going to get out before they were allowed to.
He unlocked his office door, made a cursory check to ensure nothing had been disturbed in his absence, and sat down behind his desk. He made a point of not looking at the chair Cinnamon had sat in.
Geoffrey unplugged the network cable from his laptop and flicked the wireless network switch to "off" before powering up. He'd have to risk logging on to figure out which pod of questioning rooms they were keeping Pepper in, but first he had to make sure his audio file proof was ready to be presented. He copied the file to his laptop. Then, since he could hear the sound of at least three people wearing body armour jogging along the corridor, he copied the contents of the microSD card Pepper had found and DeBussy's green USB key as well. He took a quick glance at what was on the USB key — he and Pepper had never had access to a computer long enough to check it out — and smiled when he saw all of the files were zero bytes long.
The office door banged open just as Geoffrey had the laptop half-lifted to plug the network cable back in. He dropped the computer onto his desk and flinched as it thudded against his desk blotter.
"You need to put your hands up and take one step away from that, sir," said the young man in the doorway. His rifle was lowered, but he looked like he was waiting for an excuse to raise it.
Geoffrey didn't reply, just did as he was told. Of course. There couldn't be a white list for an op like this. He'd have to be cleared like everyone else. He just hoped Doug wasn't anywhere near Pepper at the moment.
The young man gave a hand signal, and another man and a woman followed him into the office. The woman noticed an ID card on the desk, picked it up, and checked the photograph on it against Geoffrey's face. "That's him," she said. To Geoffrey, she sounded a little disappointed.
The young man seemed to think so too. "So, good, right?" he said.
"He's not freaked out at all," said the other man. He lifted his rifle a centimetre. "Everyone else has been freaking out."
Geoffrey decided risk speaking. "I knew you were coming."
All three members of the raid team froze and stared at him. "How?" said the woman.
"Todd told me," said Geoffrey. "Todd Brendan."
"Okay, so you know some names in our group that —"
"Manticore," said Geoffrey. "Send a message back to command. Just tell them 'manticore'."
The woman and the other man held their guns up while the young man fumbled to retrieve a cell phone from a pocket hidden under his armour. "Is that with a Y in the middle or..."
Geoffrey spelled it for him, then stood silent while they waited for the reply.
The reply came within three minutes. "We have to escort you out and make sure you get sent back to HQ to help with the investigation," said the young man. "We're supposed to take all your computer gear with us. You got a phone on you?"
"Right hip pocket," said Geoffrey. The young man retrieved it and took the laptop off the desk.
"Okay," the young man said. "You can put your hands down now. Technically you're not under arrest or anything, but, you know."
Geoffrey cleared his throat. "I'm actually here to help a friend of mine. She may have been in one of the questioning pods..."
"The one who was beaten up?" said the woman. "They were asking for medical help over the radio."
The woman shrugged. "They were going to take her to a hospital. I think."
The young man nudged Geoffrey towards the door. "Did they say which one? St. Mike's, or on University Avenue, or..."
"We have to go," said the young man. "They didn't say. You're busy right now anyhow."
To be continued...