CHAPTER 04

The crisis action team room was buzzing with activity by the time Tim Steep arrived at the far section of the SIOC. The Strategic Information and Operations Center had been set up as soon as the details of the heist started flowing in.

His team was excited to be back in the SIOC. It was the FBI's global watch and communications hub. Located in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D. C., it was their grand stadium. Proving grounds to display their proficiency.

Outside observers would think his Cyber Action Team was a strange bunch. Three quarters of his twenty man and woman team were analysts, all wearing jeans and t-shirts of bands and comic book characters. Over the years, he had become accustomed to their casual attire.

The FBI needed to recruit top talent. Talent that could keep up with the pace of technology. They were more attracted to the Silicon Valley culture than the conservative suit culture of old time Feds. The policies around attire needed to relax. For his team at least, it did. Due to their astonishing work ethic and drive to excel, he didn't much care.

The remaining quarter of the team were his special agents and support personnel. They kept to the conservative business attire. They were also tech-savvy, but their skill sets focused on case work and investigation in the field.

The workstations were set up on a tiered flooring. All faced a wall completely covered in screens that came to life as each of his team members logged in. As the ASAC, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tim Steep's temporary office was the glass box in the back of the room. The team room was only a small part of the forty thousand square feet that made up the entire SIOC.

Steep's cyber action team was about to prove their worth and would be the center focus of the complex. Every level of the leadership and representatives from other agencies would be watching their every move. Each group was compartmentalized into different rooms with different levels of access. Some would provide support. Most would be getting in the way.

He looked at his watch. It was already 21:30 and he dreaded calling Jill to tell her he wasn't coming home tonight. She was already upset with him about missing dinner. From the details he had seen coming in, he would be missing many more dinners.

The local D.C. authorities reported that ATMs across the city were completely emptied out. By 16:00, it was determined that this was a bigger job than just a few machines. There was no evidence of physical tampering and customer accounts were not affected. Not a single alert was triggered. Most of the bank locations didn't even realize they were thefts, not until their service men made the connection that it was happening all over the city.

"Padilla, what's the final count of how many machines were hit?" Steep asked his junior analyst.

Padilla nervously searched some documents on his screen. "Looks like they confirmed twenty, but not sure if that was all of them."

"Well, let's figure out where these twenty are. There must be some kind of pattern. I want it placed on the main map."

"Right away," replied Padilla, as he began getting the task done.

"This was a sophisticated team, but there must be some evidence we can get from these locations." He looked around the room, still not accustomed to where everyone was. "Summers. I want you and Pickles to look through every surveillance footage we can get our hands on. Anywhere near these ATMs," he said to his lead agent. "We need exact times, how many suspects, vehicles, anything. Get with CyWatch and see if they can provide you with some resources from the video surveillance center."

Steep walked down the tiers until he was at the lowest level. His most skilled analyst had the prime work station in front of the wall of screens. Ivan Blazevic already had his space arranged like he preferred. A massaging seat cushion that was always running. An upside-down milk crate that he used as an ottoman. His keyboard on his lap as he leaned back completely. His trackball sat on a rolling file cabinet that he placed at his right hand's resting position. Ivan was six foot four and looked more like a Croatian basketball player than a computer genius who sat in this position at least ten hours a day, six days a week. He was the best information engineer and hacker that Tim Steep had ever met or heard of.

"Ivan, do you have anything for me yet?" asked Steep. He was careful not to intrude on Ivan's personal space. Instead of looking over Ivan's shoulder, Steep looked in front of the station. Along the wall, four sections of screens represented Ivan's monitors. There were many windows already open, some that Tim understood, others that he didn't.

"With this many machines affected, I am thinking that it must be the software that maintains them," Ivan said. "I will need access to the company..." he paused to look through his notes on the screen,"... ATSI. Search their systems for vulnerability."

Steep looked at the analyst that sat behind Ivan on the next tier. "Robbie, find the home address for the CEO of ATSI. Send a street agent that's nearby to deliver the abstract. The agent will need to encourage him to give us full access of their systems and their lead engineer. We need this ASAP."

Just as he was about to turn back to Ivan, an analyst from the ADIC office ran down the steps toward him. Nearly out of breath, the young woman handed him a brown file folder. "The same thing happened in Boston." She leaned on the table next to her. "They found fifteen ATMs emptied so far. The ADIC just transferred it from the Boston office to us."

Tim took the folder. He couldn't reject a transfer made by the Assistant Director in Charge, his boss's boss.

He looked over the documents. They abstracted all the details and provided reference numbers. He would need these to transfer all the case work to his team.

He looked up at the large map displayed on the video wall. "So far."


This has been an excerpt from my full-length novel Jubilee: The Heist to Erase Debt. Available on Amazon.com, in audio, and almost everywhere else

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