“Someone,” Haughn eyed the room at large, “just managed to take a flamethrower to the pit of copperheads I’ve been trying to sneak up on with nets for the past four years.”
Why does everybody look at me when someone says stuff like that?
“Mr. Ryans,” Haughn said dryly. “Somehow I knew you’d be up to your ears in this.”
“My son is a minor,” Richard started, shoulders thrown back and ready for a fight.
“I know. I know,” Haughn said tiredly. “But if it hadn’t been for both the Ryans and a certain landfill, I never would have known where to start looking. And… I can’t thank Anne, anymore.”
Alan sat up straight, meeting the man’s gaze no matter how tired he was. “She wasn’t sure we could trust you, you know.”
“From what I’ve found out about Agent Biegen so far, I can’t blame her,” Haughn said bluntly. “And from other informants. I caught a certain young man called Pablo taking his cousin out of a Shays-owned facility. He didn’t want to talk, but she apparently made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Something about a rescued unicorn.” That drew a smile from the agent, tired or not; but it vanished again with his next words. “Apparently the Shays have ways of… making people forget certain things.”
Against his back, Alan felt Maria stiffen. He drew a breath, and nodded. “It’s why we had to find everything with a paper trail. The kids tried to help. But they couldn’t remember who hurt them.”
“Well, my office and Child Services now has at least two dozen illegal kids and three missing locals in the exact same boat,” Haughn said bluntly. “We may not know what happened but we can at least show it did happen.” He paused. “If I can keep it from happening to my agents.”
“It shouldn’t work if you’re not in the same room,” Ja’far said clinically. “And not at all if you’ve searched them well. They apparently need some chemical help to pull it off.”
“Thank you,” Haughn said gruffly. “That’s what I needed to know.” He stared at his younger agent. “Domingo. Take your family and get out of town.”
“This isn’t a request.”
Alan tensed, feeling Simon’s eyes narrow from across the room as their principal prepared to defend one of his Generals.
“You’re a witness, Domingo. All of you are,” Haughn said flatly. “You can’t be investigating your own case. More important, you’re one of the agents I know I can trust, but your cousin Ernesto is in this up to his eyeteeth. And we both know all Homeland Security has to do is breathe counterterrorism, and all of you could end up in custody who knows how long. If you’re lucky. This is a mass murder case. The Shays have every reason to make sure there are no inconvenient witnesses left standing. I want you, and your family, and everyone in this room out of Boston.”