Contents

  1. Cover
  2. What is COTTON FBI?
  3. The Author
  4. Title
  5. Copyright
  6. 1
  7. 2
  8. 3
  9. 4
  10. 5
  11. 6
  12. 7
  13. Next on Cotton FBI

What is COTTON FBI?

Your name is Jeremiah Cotton. You are a small-time cop in the NYPD, a rookie that no one takes seriously. But you want more. You have a score to settle with the world. And anyone who calls you “Jerry” will be sorry.

A new time. A new hero. A new mission. Experience the birth of a digital cult-series: Cotton FBI is the remake of JERRY COTTON, the most successful series of German novels with more than one billion copies sold, and it tells an entirely new story in e-book form.

Cotton FBI is published twice a month, with each episode a self-contained story.

COTTON FBI

Deadly Game

Alfred Bekker

Translated by Sharmila Cohen

1

“Hey, people, calm down!”

The young man with Asian facial features was eighteen, but he looked younger. He patiently signed autographs and seemed rather accustomed to the adulation, given how practiced the whole thing looked. His smile was like a mask — but it was suitable for photos, at any rate.

“Mr. Park, a little to the left, please,” a female voice requested. “Strawberry Fields and the Dakota should be in the picture!”

Park complied with the request. It was part of his job. And these pictures were important for the fans at home. They should be able to see where he was. On the west side of Central Park, to be precise.

The reporter holding the microphone out to him asked, “What do you think of your team’s chances of winning the e-sport tournament in New Rochelle?”

The young man grinned.

“Frankly, they might as well just hand over the six hundred thousand dollar prize right now. I don’t think any of the other teams can hold a candle to us.”

“Here in the States, computer sports are nowhere near as big as they are in Korea. Do you think the New Rochelle Games Competition can contribute to the sport’s popularity in this country?”

“Well, I’ve heard that there are already a few tournaments in the USA and Europe that have prizes of over half a million dollars.”

“That’s true, but you still can’t compare that to the e-sports leagues in Korea or Taiwan, don’t you think?”

“To be honest …”

Park’s face froze.

There was a hole in the middle of his forehead.

Blood streamed down his face. His eyes were wide open. A split second later, a second bullet hole appeared, and the young man’s entire body jerked.

His brawny bodyguards pulled out their concealed weapons and threw themselves in front of Park. The reporter was knocked to the ground.

One of the bodyguards screamed as a bullet hit him in the shoulder. The force of the shot spun his body halfway around. The bullet had ripped his jacket open, and blood gushed from the wound.

“Where is the bastard?” another bodyguard shouted.

*

Jerry Cotton entered the underground offices of the G-Team, a secret division of the FBI. Its headquarters were located near the New York FBI field office in a nondescript one-story office building, disguised as a software company called “Cyberedge.”

Cotton was late.

“Don’t bother sitting down,” he heard his partner say. Agent Philippa “Phil” Decker was standing in front of Cotton’s desk with her hands on her hips. She pointed to their boss’s office, which was partitioned off with glass walls. “Mr. High is waiting for us.”

Cotton looked at his watch.

“I’m on time.”

“I’m not denying that. But he’s still waiting for us.”

“That’s not a fair standard. He’s always the first to arrive and the last to leave. I …”

“You always have to have the last word, don’t you?” Decker interrupted him. Her tone of voice reminded him that although they were a team, she’d been with the FBI a few years longer, and that made her the senior partner. It was a reminder he was given with some regularity.

Mr. High stood behind the glass wall of his office. One hand rested in the wide pocket of his elegant trousers, the other held a phone to his ear. His lean, ebony face, which was hairless except for his eyebrows, looked serious. His mouth moved, but they couldn’t hear his words through the glass. The head of the G-Team seemed very focused on the conversation. When he noticed Cotton and Decker, he took his hand out of his pocket and gestured to them in a manner that required no further explanation:

Hurry!

When Cotton and Decker entered his office, their boss had just finished his conversation.

“Good morning, agents,” he said curtly. “I see you haven’t brought any coffee with you. Good. You wouldn’t have had time to drink it anyway.”

“What’s up, sir?” Decker asked.

John D. High gestured toward a large screen and turned it on with a remote control.

They saw what was evidently an excerpt from a TV program. In the top left corner of the screen, there was the logo of one of the countless special-interest channels that were available on cable TV in New York. Underneath, there were a few characters that made Cotton squint. Looks like Chinese, he thought. Or Japanese.

High didn’t bother making any long-winded introduction. He had flat-out ignored Decker’s question and now came straight to the point.

“This video was recorded at Strawberry Fields in Central Park, in front of the Dakota, and it was broadcast live by a cable channel for Korean immigrants.”

When the subject of Asians in New York City is brought up, Chinese or Japanese immigrants are usually the first to come to mind. That being said, a considerable portion of the residents of New York’s Chinatown originally came from Korea or Vietnam. Throughout the city, there are more than a hundred thousand Koreans and Korean-Americans — enough to support their own TV channel.

A Korean reporter held a mic up to a young man and conversed with him in their native language.

“Interesting conversation,” Cotton joked.

“I didn’t expect you to be able to understand Korean, Agent Cotton,” Mr. High said sternly. “The interviewee is Park Dae-Young, a star in the Korean e-sports league. He’s a member of a team that flew in for the gaming convention in New Rochelle.”

“I’ve heard that professional gamers are superstars in Korea the way that football and baseball players are here,” Cotton said.

“Correct.” Mr. High nodded. “They play in teams over there, which are called clans. Their computers are linked up, and the whole thing is broadcast on huge screens for their fans. Personally, I think computer games are a waste of time, and I can’t imagine what would be so fascinating about watching other people play them. But apparently there are enough people interested in this country to fill Eisenhower Hall in New Rochelle. And now, please watch closely.”

Cotton and Decker looked at the screen. They saw Park’s body jerk as a bullet hole appeared in his forehead. A split second later, his bodyguards had pulled out their weapons and were frantically looking around.

The camera panned chaotically.

After that, there was nothing more to see.

“As you can imagine, Park didn’t survive the attack,” Mr. High said. “This all happened yesterday. We already have the ballistics report.”

“And?” Decker asked.

High turned off the screen, picked up a folder from his desk, and handed it to Decker. “I’ve forwarded the data to both of you, so you don’t have to rely on the paper version.”

Decker looked through the file and furrowed her brow.

“It seems there’s a connection with organized crime,” she noted.

“What would a computer game tournament in New Rochelle have to do with organized crime?” Cotton asked. “Is gambling involved?”

“Right on, Agent Cotton.” Mr. High said. “In almost every sport, there’s gambling, fraud, and all the associated evils.”

Decker scanned the results of the ballistics tests. “It says here that the murder weapon has previously been used in several shootings in Chinatown,” she said.

“Right,” Mr. High confirmed, “which brings us to the root of the problem. Chinatown is a stronghold of the triads and the gambling mafia, but I don’t need to tell you that. Park and his team were the favorites in the tournament in New Rochelle. Agent Zeerookah’s already checked on whether anyone put down a large sum against Park and his teammates.”

“I’d wager that it’s gambling fraud, sir,” Cotton couldn’t resist making a snarky comment.

Mr. High ran his hand over his face.

If he had worked through the night again, you couldn’t tell by looking at him, Cotton thought.

“That remains to be seen,” Mr. High said. “But there’s another reason why the G-Team is on the case.”

“Don’t tell me there was a call from the president,” Cotton said.

The looks that John D. High and Decker simultaneously gave him told Cotton that he should have kept his mouth shut.

“I always thought that you had good instincts, Cotton,” Mr. High said, “but it appears that you’re also psychic.”

“Does that mean he’s right?” Decker asked, annoyed.

“I mentioned the high status these professional gamers enjoy in South Korea. At home, Park is as famous as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are here. On top of that, Park comes from a very well-connected family. In short, even an idle rumor that North Korean intelligence might be behind the attack would be enough to make diplomatic waves. And, as you know, the situation on the Korean peninsula is already tense enough, with the North repeatedly making threats about their nuclear program and conducting missile tests in order to extort food and supplies for their people.”

“Could North Korean intelligence actually have anything to do with the murder?” Cotton asked.

High shrugged. “You shouldn’t rule it out, at any rate.”

“But is there any concrete evidence pointing in this direction?” Decker wanted to make sure.

“So far, no. But there’s one other dimension that we have to keep in mind.”

Cotton raised his eyebrows.

“One of the most famous celebrities from a friendly country,” High continued, “was shot to death in a public place in New York. Apparently, it wasn’t possible for the US to ensure his safety. It’s more than embarrassing for our government. I have to assume that this aspect is being taken very seriously in Washington.”

“Which NYPD unit was first on the scene?” Decker asked — as always, keeping her eye on the next important task.

“Captain Rutherford from the third homicide division at the eighteenth precinct,” Mr. High said.

Third homicide division? The eighteenth must be a rough area,” Cotton said.

“No worse than any other,” Mr. High said. “The multiple divisions are the result of the police units being restructured into smaller, more efficient teams; it’s a new system currently being tested by the NYPD. Talk to Rutherford and then take it from there.”

“All right, sir,” Decker said, nodding to Cotton. “I take it we have no time to lose, right?”

“On that point, you happen to be correct,” Cotton mumbled.

*

Captain Rutherford was a silver-haired man with sunken-in eyes and cheeks. A cop on the verge of retirement. His eyes were as gray as his wrinkled suit. His tie hung like a rope around his neck, and the amount of overtime he had racked up could be calculated from the dark circles under his eyes. It must have been a lot.

“Come in,” Rutherford said. “I hope you managed to find a parking spot. They’re so rare around here, they’re almost nonexistent.”

“We noticed,” Decker said.

The eighteenth precinct was located in a brownstone building five minutes away from Central Park. There was no underground parking garage, and the spaces set aside for parking outside had been reduced due to some much-needed renovation work on the building.

“Coffee?” Rutherford asked.

“Please,” Cotton replied.

“Me, too,” Decker said.

“It’s pretty watered-down,” Rutherford warned them. He went over to the gurgling coffee machine, filled two mugs, and handed them to the agents. To Rutherford, Decker and Cotton were just normal FBI agents. The chief of the eighteenth precinct knew nothing about the existence of the G-Team.

Rutherford poured a cup for himself, sipped from it, and grimaced. Either he had burnt his tongue, or the coffee really was too weak. After taking his first sip, Cotton knew the answer.

“Actually, do you two know Joe Brandenburg?” Rutherford asked.

“A bit,” Cotton said. After all, he was my partner when I was still on patrol with the NYPD, he added silently.

“We’ve worked with him in the past,” Decker explained, as businesslike as always.

“He warned me about you, Cotton,” Rutherford said. “He’s not in my precinct, but we’ve worked together a lot in the past, and I’ve come to trust his judgment.”

“I can’t really understand that,” Cotton said.

Rutherford made a face. “He specifically mentioned you, Agent Cotton. You must have rubbed him the wrong way at some point.”

“I think Joe Brandenburg just generally has a problem when the FBI takes over his cases,” Decker jumped in, looking sternly at Rutherford. “But there are probably a number of people who think the same way.”

“If you say so, Agent Decker,” the gray-haired cop muttered.

“Let’s get down to it. We need everything you have in terms of evidence. All the documents, the data, and …”

“… and the body,” Rutherford interrupted her.

“That, too.”

“It’”