A young man, in downtown Los Angeles bought a latte and a muffin and approached a streetside ATM, intent on withdrawing some money when his cell phone rang, prompting him to answer it. He said a confident hello into the phone and was answered by an ear shattering explosion which killed him instantly. The ATM camera caught the explosion and subsequent death as did a store camera just across the street. Passersby reacted by screaming and running away from the scene, running for their lives. A man lurking nearby, maybe half a block away, wearing a hoodie and still clutching the phone that he had used to call the dead man's cell phone took one last look at the tragic scene he'd just caused, turned on his heel and sprinted away to disappear into the milling crowds.
Agents Callen and Sam were sent to the blood covered scene to investigate what had happened. The victim turned out to be one Asher Ross, a Marine with an medical discharge who had served in Iraq. His medical discharge had been due to being deaf in one ear caused by explosives in the military field. His address was traced down and the dead man's father was there, packing up his son's belongings. The father told Callen and Sam that he and his son had quarreled the last time the two had seen each other. The elder Mr. Ross had not seen his son since and was tearfully reminiscing about his son's childhood, saying that when his son had become a youth, the two did not seem to get along very well, but that he was very proud of his son's military service and greatly respected him for that. Mr. Ross told the agents, when asked if his son had any close friends, that there was one man, Hastings King, who had been in Ross's EOD unit in Iraq, who still owed him money and they had had a falling out. The two agents set out to locate King. Sam decided that the phone explosion had been set off by a prepaid cell phone and asked Eric, the FBI's electronics wizard, to locate the lost phone. Eric traced it to a dumpster using triangulation and Sam followed his directions via his own phone until he found it in a maggot-ridden dumpster. Screwing up his courage and his face, Sam dug into the worm-covered garbage and pulled out the prepaid cell phone, taking it back to the lab for Eric to work on.
Sam tracked King down to the Automotive Quality garage where King lay under a car, looking at something. Sam asked him to come out from under the vehicle to which King snapped that he had a problem here and Sam had better leave. Sam's face blanched when King told him there was a bomb attached to the car's under carriage. Together, Sam and King clipped the wires from the bomb and defused it, much to the men's relief. Sam told King that his buddy, Ross, was dead and King didn't have much to offer in the way of information. King climbed back up into his wheelchair, telling Sam that he had lost one leg to an explosives attack in Iraq and that his world was now this garage, that he did not get out much. Sam gave him his card and left.
Back at the lab, Eric told Sam that he had found military grade explosives on Ross's laptop and that he was working to find out more. Records on the laptop indicated that Ross had had a friend named Stanton Olon, another of Ross's EOD unit, with whom he had had lunch two days prior. Kenzie and Callen set out to find Olon. When they reached his house, he did not answer the door and when they called out his name, he was in his black SUV, just taking off down the street. Suddenly, his vehicle exploded and began to burn. The agents raced up the street and pulled Olon from the car. Minus a few minor burns, he was alright. Olon claimed that someone had been following him, that they had written in Arabic, from the Koran, on the back of his dusty car's window. The scripture read that the non believers would burn in hell. Olon said that one Terek AlJabiri, another in the EOD unit, had it in for him.They took him to headquarters and interrogated him about Ross's death. Turns out Olon was an explosives expert in Iraq and in the states and he was continuing such work to make his living in this country. He mentioned an incident in Iraq that had involved a native woman holding an explosives shell wrapped up in a blanket to look like a baby who had walked up to the Hummer the men were in and asked for help. She was shot dead by King and all involved were very shocked, but Olon had had to do it to save the other soldiers' lives.
Callen and Sam tracked down Terek's girlfriend who turned out to be the mother of his niece. His brother had fallen in love with the woman, then promptly left her when she said she was pregnant by him. Terek stepped in and supported the woman and child, then fell in love with her, then left for Iraq because his younger brother had gone before him. She said that Terek sent her money each month for the support of herself and the girl and that she loved him very much, that she felt he could not have killed Ross despite the fact that he had been burnt badly in Iraq, too, and that he worked at the King garage. Thus informed, the agents came up with a plan for Agent Kenzie to don leathers and ride a motorcycle to the Automotive Quality garage, claiming to need mechanic work and find out what she could about Terek. Upon arriving at the garage, King asked her how she knew about his garage to which she told him that she had run into Terek somewhere in the city and came to the garage upon his recommendation. She d drawing King out as she spun a yarn about dating a Marine for a few years which didn't work out. The one thing she didn't lie about was her deceased father having been a career Marine. Terek showed up at the garage and when he said that he had never met Kenzie, that she was a liar, the agents arrested him. They interrogated him at headquarters and he denied killing Ross. He told them that King could speak and write Arabic and had a complete working knowledge of both the Bible and the Koran. He often quoted versed from both holy books to Terek and was a religious fanatic, brooking no criticism. Terek told the agents that he thought King had used a prepaid cell phone to trigger the explosion that had killed Ross, that the agents should track the man down.
They went to King's house, cautiously approaching the front door.They found pressure pads beneath the front room carpet and several other triggering devices around the house. The agents found a list of names and cities of former EOD unit soldiers on King's laptop, indicating to them that those people were going to be killed eventually by this mad man. There was also record of an airline ticket purchase to Atlanta that night, but on a hunch, Sam urged Callen to go with him to the King garage that same night. It turned out that Olon was there at the garage bearing bombs to kill himself and Terek who was also there. Kenzie showed up to join the agents with guns drawn to arrest Olon who had been seeking absolution for crimes he considered that he and his unit had committed during war in Iraq. He could not forgive himself and his fellow soldiers, but he was foiled by the agents. Olon was arrested and taken into custody.
Back at the headquarters, the tired agents talked about the case they had just solved when Hetty Cole walked in with a bottle of single malt whiskey for them. She turned on the bright, colorful twinkling Christmas lights that she had set up just for them to enjoy, thanking them for all their hard work. The agents thanked her and settled in to enjoy a drink or two.
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