Pete ran to the overpass only to see a black minivan peel off on the other side of the highway and get away. He cursed and then walked up to the spot where the RPG was fired from. The suspect had left the launcher where he had fired it, leaving Pete with a nice piece of evidence that could hopefully trace back to the Prophet. As he was walking back down to the car, he noticed that Jones was following to back him up, something that he respected despite the fact that he told her to remain behind and keep tabs on the man the Prophet just tried to murder. While he admired her instincts, it wasn't necessary.
"Our Prophet drove off in a black minivan," Pete said as Jones got closer. "But he did leave us a lovely parting gift."
"Did you get a look at the plate?" Jones asked.
"It was too far away," Pete said as he strolled past her and walked back to the cars. At this point, a fire truck had arrived to put out the flames bursting from what was left of the limo. Pete looked around the scene. "Where the hell is Cooper?"
"I'm sorry," Jones said as it became apparent that the rich man had fled the scene to get out of the city as originally planned. "He must have had someone pick him up before backup arrived."
"He won't get far." Pete took out his cell and made some calls. He couldn't help but look over at the burning wreckage and understand that the man he was dealing with was not the average psycho. It was only a matter of time before the feds tried to get in on his case. There were five dead at the first scene and now two people dead at this scene as the driver an additional security guard were in the car when the Prophet's rocket blew it to hell. Had Cooper not gotten out of the limo to speak with him, he would have been inside with the other two crispy critters. Pete strolled back to his car and sat down in the passenger side and waited for Jones to return from talking to one of the officers that was securing the scene. When she returned to the car, Pete was eager to go.
"Let's keep moving," Pete said as he tossed the launcher into the back
"Where to, Gibbons?" Jones asked.
"To our original destination," Pete answered. "We need to get to that airport. I'm pretty sure Cooper isn't the only one making his way there."
"I'm really sorry about Cooper," Jones said again.
"What for?" Pete asked.
"He's probably at his plane by now," Jones replied as she felt really bad about letting him go. "I should have stayed back like you asked."
"Don't sweat it," Pete said with a grin, "Before we left the station, I told David to call in a favor with a buddy of mine at the FAA. All flights at that private strip have been grounded until further notice, so Cooper isn't going anywhere and will be available to answer all our questions."
"Smart thinking, Gibbons," Jones said as she weaved around the emergency vehicles and finally got back on the road. They were very close to the airport, so it didn't take long to get there. When they arrived, it was clear there were a lot of frustrated passengers who wanted to fly out but were being denied. As Pete strolled into the terminal, he spotted their man.
"Mr. Cooper," Pete said as he walked over and grabbed his arm. "You are aware that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime?"
Mr. Cooper didn't look impressed. "As you can tell by the state of my ride, I'm eager to leave as soon as possible."
"Any reason why the Prophet would target you?" Jones asked.
"Besides the fact that I'm a successful capitalist?" Cooper replied. "I'm not exactly sure. The guy is a complete psycho."
"I'm not one to argue with that," Pete conceded. "But you were running for a reason. Did you get a letter from him as well?"
Cooper paused for a moment. "I did."
"Can we have it?" Jones asked.
"It's at my office. I'll have someone send it to you." Cooper was willing to do anything to get out of there.
"Thank you for your help." Pete wanted to ask Cooper a few more questions, but an old man tapped him on the shoulder. "Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?"
"I received a letter as well." The old man took it out of his pocket. "He threatened to kill my wife and I unless we gave our workers a raise and better medical benefits."
"When did you get this letter?" Jones quickly asked.
"A few weeks ago," the old man said. "We didn't think much of it until we saw the video on the news. We got scared and decided to leave town."
Pete looked around the lobby and could tell that there were several people there who were eager to get out of town. The Prophet had struck fear into them and no one wanted to be in town the next time he struck. Pete couldn't blame them for feeling this way, but Cooper was clearly the main target that day. The mass exodus was just an added bonus. This didn't make any sense to him as the lobby full of fat cats would have made a much better target for the Prophet, but he was nowhere to be seen. He was missing a piece of the puzzle and not knowing what it was bothered Pete a great deal. He needed the whole picture to know what the Prophet was thinking but there were some things that just didn't make sense.
"What do we do now?" Jones asked.
"Let them through," Pete answered, "but ask them if they have letters from the Prophet and if they still have it on them."
As they interviewed the people waiting in the terminal to board their flights, it turned out that over half of them, some thirty people, had been threatened by the Prophet. Pete could tell by the fear in their eyes that the Prophet had finally struck a nerve. He was one of thousands of protesters who had grown tired of the red tape and political bullshit that allowed these fat cats to do what they wanted and screw the workers. Now someone was finally starting to take matters into his hands and despite Pete's best efforts, people were still dying. Each time the Prophet used a different method in his attempts to take out the target, which gave Pete the impression that this guy wasn't going to make it easy for the police or the feds to find him. Once everyone was interviewed and allowed to move on to their private planes, Gibbons and Jones walked back to their car and started to drive back to the station.
Jones could tell her new boss had been rattled. "This is probably going to get worse before it gets better, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid so," Pete said as he looked out the window, thinking about what they had been through so far that day. "This guy isn't going to stop, and without a precise method of operation to look out for, his next target is never going to see him coming and neither will we."
"I'm a little rattled, too," Jones admitted. "That's the first time someone fired a rocket propelled anything in my direction."
"I wish I could say the same," Pete replied. "But I can't."
"War vet, sir?" Jones asked, surprised.
"Just one tour, but that was enough," Pete admitted. "Long enough to see some combat, and the instinct to duck for cover when you hear a whistling sound that never goes away. There were times during the first year I came back where the ex-wife couldn't boil the kettle without spooking me into cover. The two sounds are different but close enough to get your attention if you're doing something else."
"Well, thank you for pushing me out of the way," Jones said, a little emotional. "You might have saved my life."
"No, you were never in that much danger," Pete admitted to her. "But there is a good chance I may have saved you from experiencing the blissful hell that is hot shrapnel."
"That means the first round on me, Detective." Jones said with a smile.
"I'm flattered," Pete replied, "But I'm going to have to take a rain check on that for the time being, Jones."
"Why is that, Gibbons?" Jones asked, her feelings singed.
"It's not you," Pete replied. "It's just that I have responsibilities that will keep me occupied all weekend. It's my time with the boys."
"You have rug rats?" Jones asked with a smile. "How many of them do you have?"
"Three," Pete answered with a grin. "A girl from my first marriage and two boys from my second. Michael is going to be eight in two months, and Jack turns four in December."
"Better you than me," Jones said with a laugh. "I'm not ready to give up my freedom and the ability to sleep in just yet."
"We're eight billion strong," Pete said with a sigh. "So no pressure."
"And your daughter?" Jones asked.
"Jessie's twenty-one," Gibbons answered, "and a few years from getting her BA in Anthropology."
"Criminal?" Jones inquired.
"Hell no," Pete said with a laugh. "She has no intention of following her old man into this field. Her studies take her more into the realm of archaeology."
"Interesting," Jones noted. "Do you get to see her often?"
"When I can afford it," Pete answered.
"I'm sorry?" Jones asked, a little confused.
"I'm a very busy guy so I offer her money if she comes every other weekend to help with the boys," Pete explained. "That way, if something hits the fan, I can leave her with the boys. I don't want to lose any time with them, but it's nice to know I'm covered if there's an emergency. That reminds me." He pulled out his smartphone and dialed one of his contacts. "Jessie, it's Dad. Yes, I'm going to need your help this weekend. I'm working on a very big case that I might have to go back in at any time. Yes, that case on television. Look, I will give you above rate. Yes, you can bring one friend to help you study. No, I'm not paying her, too. If I get called in, I'll leave money for takeout. Okay, see you tomorrow. Love you, too."
"That's sweet," Jones said, never taking her eyes off the road. "I was kind of curious how you managed to juggle work and family, and now I know. You delegate."
"It's all I can do for now," Pete confessed. "Sometimes that call never comes in and we all spend some quality time together. Other times, the phone never stops ringing. I have a feeling the Prophet isn't going to give me any time to rest, so I'm making sure my backups are on standby and ready to go."
"You don't think he's going to slow down, do you?" Jones asked.
"Not a chance," Pete replied. "He's been planning this for quite some time. I have no doubt he's going to strike as often as possible to take out as many of these rich bastards as he can until we catch him. Every minute he waits, he's risking not getting one of them. He'll do it again and as often as possible."
"So that means I should cancel my plans, too?" Jones asked.
"If you have any, I would," Pete admitted. "I have a feeling it's going to be a very long weekend."