Chapter 16

"It's all connected, isn't it?" Sascha asked, digging into his eggs benedict.

"You know, I'm trying not to fall into the trap of drawing a link where there isn't one, but it feels like there's something. What does it really mean if there is a relationship between this student and the guys in Poland, though? People who participate in these crime rings are part of a relatively small community, so is it all that strange to think that one bad guy has done business with another? Unless the guy has a personal connection to the goons in Poland, there's no risk to any of us."

"That's where you're wrong, Jesse. Even if they don't have a personal connection, this student has been doing dirty work for crime rings for years. He's in the business of taking orders, collecting his pay, and keeping his head down. He won't be the one to pull a gun on you, but Shelby already made it clear that he knows where you work and how to get in touch with you. And he knows that you can be buffaloed into giving up sensitive records...."

"Hey!" Jesse protested sharply. "I followed all the protocols. The guy knew how to act. If I trusted my instincts the way I prefer to, then nobody would get any information from me."

Sascha laughed, holding up his hands. "I was just joking, dude. You did the right thing, and any judge or jury worth its salt will see that. Shelby has his agenda. He made that abundantly clear in the paper."

"Yeah, that made me laugh. `Hey, let the FBI do the real stuff. It will serve as a good cover for my underhanded politicking.' Anyway, what's the next step? Should we probe this a bit and try to find out how strong the connection is, if there is one at all?"

"I think it's safe to assume that there is some linkage. Look at it this way. If we ignore it, then the student will go to prison and the trail will go cold. The guys in Poland will hire someone else to do their bidding. If we dig a little, then we might be able to help the feds and CUNY to shed some light on groups that have been dogging them for decades."

Sascha held up his hand, fingers closed, waiting for a fist bump. "Are you in?"

Jesse didn't hesitate. Investigating the sneaky, ugly practices of these groups was exactly the reason that he had joined CUNY to work in the investigative journalism program. "I'm in," he said, closing his fist and thrusting it toward Sascha's.

"Let's go talk to the guy who represented you in the Warsaw trial," Sascha said, rubbing his hands together. "What was his name?"

"Browning. Chuck Browning."

"Right. He's familiar with the case, and we stand a better chance if we work with him instead of Shelby. We'll need to find out who prepared all of that intelligence that you were given on the flight to Warsaw. And come to think of it, we should probably talk to the NYPD. Maybe they'll ask the Hungarian kid a few questions for us."

Jesse enjoyed watching Sascha work once he got on a roll. "Anything else?" he said, grinning.

"Yeah. This coffee sucks. Let's go that place on 3rd that roasts their own beans. It's on the way to NYPD headquarters."