After weeks the trail had brought them to the east coast of the United States where the clues had dried up, and Zara had seemingly vanished. They had tried in New York City to check the offices that had belonged to the Dteam, only to find them vacated. The only solid lead they’d found was that one of the diamond district merchants indicated that he had turned down a lady’s diamond necklace that had been offered for sale. Between the description of her, her accent, and the diamonds, they were confident that it was in fact Zara. They also learned that no one would buy the diamonds without paperwork, so they correctly deduced she had not yet been able to sell them nor travel very far without a lot of cash. They surmised she was stuck here, but hunting in the city that never sleeps was quite the challenge.
Won’s fruit phone chirped, and upon his quick inspection of the incoming call, he took it but said nothing while he listened.
The caller asked, “Where are we with the search?”
Won promptly handed the phone to Ton for the verbal update. Putting the fruit phone on speaker with video, Ton said, “Good day, Chairman. Our search continues, but we’ve run into a bit of a snag here in New York. No one knows anything, and no one would tell us anything until we changed our tactics.”
Chairman wrinkled his face into a puzzled look as he asked, “Changed your tactics?”
Ton beamed enthusiastically and responded, “Yes, sir! Since we are accomplished identity laundering experts, we gave ourselves Hong Kong detective aliases. We were sure that New Yorkers would respect Hong Kong detectives in search of a fugitive in their city, so we manufactured new detective ID’s and became Hang Onn and Tue Tite.”
Chairman stared blankly off into space, unable to comment right away, then he finally asked, “Did your masterful identity change afford you all the civilian cooperation you were expecting?”
Frowning slightly, Ton replied, “Point in fact, it did not, sir, so we had to improvise again. As the forged IDs did not get us anywhere with the indigenous locals, we then began augmenting our story to say we were really role-playing for an upcoming TV/Cable series to be called Drugnet! After we promised to do some filming in their place of business with them getting a small cameo appearance, everyone was most agreeable and definitely helpful.
“We even have enough material worked out for a couple of first season episodes based on our investigative conversations!”
Chairman slowly closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. Struggling to free his mind from the sleuthing efforts and cover identities of his two young associates, Chairman finally moved to a slightly louder, more insistent voice as he asked, “Can you just tell me what you found, not how you found it?”
Ton, somewhat confused by Chairman’s tone, responded, “Well, yes, sir! We know Zara is here in New York, and she has tried to fence the diamond necklace, but no one will touch it without the proper documentation. That is as far as we have gotten however.
“She has fallen off the grid and doesn’t seem to be in any of the usual places, which is to be expected, since she didn’t get any of the cash from the anticipated sale. If she is back with her former team, they have relocated as that building was vacated. Frankly, we are at a dead end, sir.”
Chairman, now recovering from the earlier discussion, suggested, “Then how about we arrange for a showing through Dmitry? Dmitry indicated that he was brokering the diamond necklace for someone. A clever broker would not tell the buyer or the seller of the other’s identity, lest they be cut out of the transaction. Thanks to your efforts, we now know it is in fact Zara who has the diamonds, but we can’t approach her directly.
“Let’s have Dmitry arrange a viewing of the merchandise. I will ask him to withhold my identity and will have the meeting arrangement with my third party agents, namely you two. That way we can get close enough to get everything.”
Ton asked, “Won’t she decline based on the possibility of it being a trap? If I were her, I would expect a possible double-cross and probably my loss of freedom without a guarantee.”
Chairman studied the situation a moment and added, “You’re right, so this will only be a showing not the purchase. I will indicate to Dmitry that I now have a buyer for the diamond necklace. I will suggest I am prepared to pay now three million Euros, if my expert can inspect the merchandise in person. The location and the security of the diamond necklace will be under their control, and after that we can discuss an actual transfer.”
Ton puzzled even more as he asked, “You are willing to pay cash for the return of the necklace? We thought you were only interested in its return as well as the Russian thief?”
Chairman was now pleased to instruct as he clarified, “I have no intention of paying anything. Once she shows herself, or the diamonds are shown, you two will follow to capture and bring back what is rightfully mine. Now do you see?”
Now both smiling at each other, Ton replied, “Oh, of course, sir! Now we understand. But who will be the diamond expert? She already knows both of us, and if we show up on the scene she will know immediately it is for you, and our element of surprise will be lost.”
Chairman thought for a moment then suggested, “I can dispatch Major Guano to act in the capacity of our diamond expert. He can be our point person, while you observe the participants to arrange the return of my property. In the meantime, keep up your surveillance efforts in case she does surface along with the diamonds. I will call the Russian cyber-thug, Dmitry, and make the arrangements. Keep hunting, gentlemen.”
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