TG Universes & Series:
"Conflict Of Interest"
Saturday 19th November 2016
Dinner with the McIntosh's been polite but Tammy sensed that Steven was simply doing a favour for a fellow Old Boy, or two, of St Andrews. Of course, the former Headmaster did not want to become too involved so Dave and Tammy kept the conversation off-topic.
One thing was clear, the investigation wouldn't be easy and wouldn't be quick, but many lives were at stake. It was now clear that included Tammy's and Dave's lives. She really didn't know where to begin and Dave had warned her not to discuss the issue with Ann or Steven, the least they knew the better, he'd said the previous teatime.
Her first task this morning was to get to the rehearsal at the Mill Theatre, time was running out before the first live performance. This morning, at least, students from the art and design faculty had arrived with the costumes, three sets, so there were fifteen clothing bags on a rail just inside the stage door.
"Each bag is named, if the sizes are wrong then it's because the actor didn't know their own size!"
The stage clothes were part of third year coursework and had been ready for three weeks, but the tutors had only just finished their assessments. There were minor differences between the A Cast costumes and the B Cast costumes as they'd been created by different students. The third set of costumes were for the understudies, where they were a different size.
Tammy isolated all of the B Cast clothes and handed them out as they arrived. "Go change, this is a dress rehearsal."
They had been warned the previous Saturday, and by email during the week, but one of the girls admitted to having "the wrong undies". Tammy was uncertain what that meant in reality, but the girl had arrived on stage wearing a mismatch of costume and her own clothes.
Regardless of minor issues, the costumes helped cement the stage directions and the cast were good, quite good.
They left at lunchtime and a short while later the A cast arrived and went through a similar routine. This group didn't have the same dynamic as the B cast, and they included Lucy who, again, stuttered over a few of her lines, causing one of the cast to corpse.
"If one of you makes an error, the rest of you are to continue as if nothing has happened, understood?" They did, apparently. "Right, repeat that scene."
Lucy made a beeline for Tammy as they were finishing, around three.
"I'm sorry about that, Tom was making faces at me and I lost my place."
"And he then laughed?"
"Yes, same one. I do know my lines but I have to struggle to concentrate. I might have said this to Tom a few weeks ago."
"Thank you Lucy, question is how do we deal with this?"
"I really don't want to get him into trouble."
"And I don't want the cast, the show, to be let down by one person. Thank you Lucy."
"Thanks Tammy, Uncle Iain said you'd understand."
"Indeed." Nepotism was alive and well.
As soon as she could, Tammy locked up the theatre. She'd managed to negotiate one additional rehearsal day for the following Sunday, although that was subject to the weather as a storm was due to hit by the end of the following week.
She parked behind Sarah's shop but went into Caithness Marine instead, this time she was carrying her security pass and knew the current code for the inner door.
"Right, now you're here, can we get started?"
"Hold on Dave, I'm worn out, my throat hurts and I haven't had a drink since lunchtime."
"Well, the coffee pot is on, any more sightings of Mr Dougall?"
"No. Did you speak to Chief Inspector Davison?"
"I can't Tammy, I have no official standing right now."
"Yeah, I can't say I'm comfortable."
"Regardless, tell me about your suspicions?"
"It's conjecture, extrapolation if you wish, but I can't call it a suspicion."
"Why not, the phrase doesn't imply that you have damning evidence."
"Well, Dave, would he really kill his own sister?"
"It's not uncommon, albeit rare in the UK."
"Did he know George Smith? Did he approve of the relationship?"
"It's an interesting idea, but there's no evidence."
"Iain said the murder weapon would be key."
"It would, if it still exists, if it can be found and if DNA or prints can be extracted from it."
"That's a lot of ifs?"
"It is, which means you may be asking for the impossible, Tammy."
"I'd simply like to help solve the crime."
"I'm sure George Smith's remaining family feel the same but I haven't heard of them becoming amateur sleuths?"
"The police are the professionals in this case, if you find something out let them have it, don't investigate this by yourself as you could end up breaking the law or bringing attention to yourself - both of which would end your career and this bureau's work."
"Okay, okay, but that doesn't stop me going back over public records?"
"If it's simply a paper-chase then, it's unlikely you could get into trouble, but that's not what you're being paid for."
"Yes, complete a time-sheet and you'll get paid for the hours you spend in this office; you need my authority to work anywhere else, understood?"
"Now, what do you remember from the briefing yesterday?"
"The hacks on the Scottish Universities were just the start, further hacks are targeting provincial universities across the country."
"That the attacks are co-ordinated and mostly use remote access obtained from phishing emails."
"Indeed with only a few incidents due to break-ins and physical data retrieval."
"So, the next question is why are these attacks happening, who is financing them and what the end result will be?"
"There was a report in today's paper about a murder, someone had been found and killed in cold-blood. It was suggested that this person had gone to great lengths to hide. I suppose if you wanted to find people like that, having access to government databases would be ideal?"
"Indeed, Tammy, but if you can't get at the National Health and National Insurance databases, you would find it difficult to track people down."
"So build your own database, using student and past student records. My guess is that past students, Alumni, keep in touch with their colleges and universities so their current name and address would be on file?"
"So you can target people, so long as you know where they took their degree?"
"Or their Doctorate, Tammy?"
"How many of the senior security service personnel have degrees, Dave?"
"Over ninety percent, and their addresses are not normally public knowledge."
"Hence the Amber alert a few days ago?"
"I'm assuming that the people who are stealing the data are not going to be the same as the ones selling it?"
"Indeed, we've discovered several sites on the dark web that offer name and address lookup, as well as a few offering the whole database plus updates."
"What's the price of the full database?"
"100 Bitcoins, that's approximately £75,000 right now."
"That depends on how badly you want the data, several foreign security services would dearly love a trove such as this."
"What can we do?"
"The sites are being taken down within a few days of them coming online, but we need to track who is behind the database maintenance, and who supplies the updates."
"Surely there are better equipped teams working on this, and there must be an international aspect as well?"
"Obviously GCHQ is heavily involved, and we've pulled in help from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand."
"The Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance?"
"Yes, Tammy, this problem puts many of their own key intelligence and military personnel at risk, especially true of the Commonwealth countries."
"Can we assume that the police know that murder is connected, or that someone has made the connection?"
"No, assume nothing. Scan the newspapers for possibles and submit a list, with references. I'll disseminate it."
"We'll need a copy of the data for ourselves?"
"Agreed, it should be loaded onto our server by Monday."
"Now, Dave, why are we sat in Thurso, and not in London?"
"There's a risk the Service has been penetrated, we do not wish any third parties to know how the investigation is proceeding. This is not the only unit, but we don't need to know where the others are, and they don't need to know about us."
Tammy spent two hours scanning the main newspapers, once she'd gone to buy them. Eventually she had three possible murders and one burglary that looked as if they were connected to the data. She wrote them up and used the Caithness Marine system to send Dave her work. Then it was home time.
Monday 21st November 2016
"You look tired."
"Seriously Tammy, what are you involved in?"
"Apart from my coursework and the play?"
"Yes, where were you all day yesterday?"
"I was in town the whole day, Mum, reading reports, writing reports and then talking about those reports. I'm in college most of this week and then next weekend I'll be in the theatre both days. Even without report writing I'll be busy until the play's over with."
"Remember, you were diagnosed with exhaustion almost three months ago and I'm beginning to see the same signs today. You'll have to drop something."
"In two weeks time the play will be over, no-one has mentioned the next one yet. The reports may take a couple of days a week, but that's all it is, and it's not a long-term project."
"Can you tell me what it's about?"
"No, but it is important. Look, I'm prioritising my coursework."
"So how come you look like you didn't sleep last night? What time did you get back?"
"I came in just before eight and I went straight to my room as I had a piece of coursework to do for this morning."
"What time did you finish?"
"What about your dinner?"
"I came down and warmed it up once the work was done."
"Come on Tammy, that is not good for you."
"It's a one-off, mum, I promise."
"I expect to see you here for tea?"
"You look tired."
Tammy looked around but she already knew where the comment had come from.
"Thanks Lucas, I needed that encouragement."
"Hey, just saying what I saw, what did you spend the weekend doing?"
"Have a guess?"
"Oh, you'd doing that thing at the Mill? I couldn't do that."
"Direct a play, that is what you do there?"
"I saw you in town, on Friday, with those old folk?"
"They're the theatre management."
Tammy decided to escape into the ladies loo, at first only to end that conversation. Her phone pinged but she now had a more important matter to deal with.
Suitably refreshed she made it to the small classroom they were using that day.
"Unfortunately Mr Templeton had been called away on family business and no-one else is available due to sickness. Please submit any work and then go to the library or head home. Keep an eye on your emails."
Tammy's work was on a memory stick, she opted for the library and found a vacant PC in a quiet corner. It only took a minute to login and send her coursework off. Next she pulled up the local news websites, there had been an attempted burglary the previous evening but the uninvited guest had been discovered and quickly ran off; the potential victim was unnamed.
She opted to get out of college and parked up behind the shop, alongside Sarah's vehicle. First call, however, was the office of Caithness Marine.
"Can I help you?"
"Sorry, that should be my line? I'm Tammy Smart, who are you?"
"Oh, Miss Smart, my apologies. I'm Karen Higgs and I'm the manager."
"For the Border Agency?"
"I've been here for the last three days and there was only myself and ..."
"Mr Brown? Yes, I was told, but I had to attend a briefing at Glasgow Airport on Friday. I'm told you drink coffee, the pot's fresh."
"Okay Karen, have you seen Dave today?"
"Yes, he popped in about eight but he flew out of Wick Airport about half an hour ago."
Tammy poured herself a mug of hot coffee, "I see, what's your role here?"
"I'm the local co-ordinator for marine intelligence, I understand you had a hand in setting this up?"
"I own the building."
"Ah, I wasn't aware of that. I take it you'd like to continue using the facility?"
"For the duration of the investigation, yes."
"Well, I'm not here all the time so all I ask is that you keep the place tidy,"
"No problem, Karen."
"Oh, there's a box in the safe for you, do you know the current combination?"
"I do, thanks."
The box was a small metallic box with a small combination lock. She was about to ask Karen about the lock when she remembered the text she'd received an hour earlier that morning.
She dialled this code and the box opened. She quickly shut the box up, closed and locked the safe, then took herself and her coffee to the secure room.
There was a note from Dave.
This is a Met-issued Glock 19 and it's not registered to you, yet. Do not put it in your bag unless there is a valid operational need. Leave it in the safe here the rest of the time. Karen does not know about our firearms and only has minimal info on you. She is not cleared for our investigation and has her own work to do. Please continue to collate, I'll be in touch if further actions are required, I'm going South for a few days and will be back soon.
Tammy's personal phone rang as she was on her way back to the safe.
"I haven't caught you in class, have I?"
"There's an incident at the school, one of the teachers has been hurt, The police are here and we're locked down."
"I'm on my way."
"Tammy, I called to make sure you didn't come here."
"But I can help, Dad."
"No, don't you dare, please stay away."
Five Eyes Alliance - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes
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