Freedom of Naethari: Chapter 21

Printer-friendly version
Naethari2.png

 

Chapter 21: Movements

Naiya and her fellow Naethari have killed Edward Pierce and gained their freedom, but there are others who want the Naethari for their own ends. Can they keep their hard-won freedom?

 

Whoever was driving, they weren’t very good at tailing someone. “Huh, let’s see how these good they are when I give them something to really chase. I’ve been wanting to open this baby up since I bought it from Sandro.”

 


 
Author's Note: Here's chapter 21 of Freedom of Naethari. Further chapters are available on Patreon.~Amethyst.
 


 Chapter 21: Movements

For the next week and a half, Luiza got settled in as we got to know her better and let her get to know us as well. She also told us as much as she could about General Carmichael and how he usually operated. After my little message, he probably changed some things and tightened security, but he was also a man who was set in his ways and accustomed to his usual methods and tenacity working out for him.

Luiza had been suffering silently and waiting out her remaining time in the military when her search for answers about magic brought her to us. She kept quiet about exactly why she wanted out of the service, but we didn't push her on what was essentially a personal matter. The emotions that Kara sensed from her when it was brought up, and the sudden promotion and reassignment in her file, indicated that it was something bad and we hoped that she would open up to one of us about how she was suffering once she knew and trusted us a bit more.

One topic that she was eager to talk about was magic and the different ways that it could be used, especially after seeing the illusion that Kieshala had cast on the video that we sent to her former commanding officer. Whenever Kieshala had time, Luiza would talk with her about her aetral and what she was able to do with it. She very obviously had a passion for the topic and was dearly hoping that she would end up as a Spellweaver as well once we turned her and she became one of us. It wasn't just magic that they talked about though, and it was nice to see Kieshala welcoming the former soldier into our ranks.

Still, most of her waking hours (and Kara's Jenny's, and mine as well) were dedicated to training Nat and Maddie to use their new bodies, working them hard to become faster and more agile in the water, and Kieshala and I instructing them in the use of their respective aetral. Their swimming improved by the day and both of them were making good progress on using their aetral as well. Natalie could now control small pools of water reliably for short periods, but she wanted to work more on her fine control and staying power.

As for Maddie, she took well to shifting and was working on both partial and full shifts. She could now hold a human form that looked very different from her base form for roughly fifteen minutes before reverting. It wasn't enough to join me for my brief forays into Havana for supplies and intel, but it would allow her enough time to move around the house a bit when she needed to.

Speaking of my trips into the city, I had to make a few of them to augment our food and supplies. I also made a few to do some surveillance of Carmichael and his known local operatives. The longer he went without any information on us, the more that paranoia seemed to settle upon him, and he had instituted several security measures around himself such as scheduled check-ins for those that he had direct contact with, passphrases, and portable fingerprint and retinal scanners.

It probably didn't help that I had sent him a few more messages in that time, veiled death threats and comments that were meant to get into his head and make him think that I was much closer than I really was. My Soulsinger ability was also useful with this, though I had to be careful where and when I used it. I had also made several false tips to his canvassers that had his people racing all over town and generally wasting their time. Today was going to be a very full day for me though.

Warren had two very particular vices that made him an easy target. The first was Cuban cigars, but Luiza told me that he already had a couple of boxes of those hidden away. The other was a good cup of coffee, and he had made Luiza make a coffee run by foot every morning so he could have one with his breakfast to start the day off right. He had been smart enough to change the location that he got it from since we captured and ‘killed’ Luiza, but he still had one of his minions going on a coffee run for him every morning.

I had gotten up very early and stolen a car to be waiting and watching the hotel from a distance when Private Malcolm Graves left for that onerous task before it was even light outside. Since Uncle Jack could access the local traffic cameras as well as our pursuers could, I already knew where the new coffeehouse of choice was and what route he would take to get there. Once I was certain that Carmichael didn’t have anyone tailing his gopher, I made my way toward the coffee shop to intercept Private Graves.

It was quiet at this time of morning, and the darkness would help with my task. I waited for my prey around the corner of an alleyway roughly a block away from the coffee shop, well out of the sight of any cameras, and only when both my sonar sense and my sense of smell said he was closing in did I start to sing Come to Me by the Goo Goo Dolls. He was tired and bored and I could feel his resistance crumble nearly immediately. I beckoned to him flirtatiously as I continued to sing and strengthen my grip on his mind, and he followed me further into the alley with a blank look on his face.

Before I even finished the song, his mind was pliable to my wishes. ~ Private Graves, you will go to the coffee shop as planned to get your commanding officer’s morning coffee. Before leaving, you will add this and then discard the vial. Then you will forget doing so and act normally when you take the coffee to General Carmichael. When the General dismisses you, instead of following his orders you will return to this alley, climb into the dumpster behind me, and fall into a restful sleep. When you wake, you will not remember me, this meeting, or anything after leaving the hotel to get the coffee, ~ I told him once our minds were linked and handing him a vial filled with a slightly oily liquid.

I felt my geas take hold and the young soldier left the alley to continue his walk to the coffee shop as if nothing had happened. Once he was well away, I changed form from a pretty young local girl to a more androgynous teen and returned to the stolen car to make my way back to the cheap motel where I had stashed my things to change. I quickly changed clothes there but didn’t change into my Jessica Danvers persona quite yet. I waited until I was well away and back inside my car at a parking lot.

With my morning mischief meticulously managed, I went shopping for food and supplies for our upcoming trip. I had quite a lot to buy, and I was eager to get home once I was done. There was a lot to do this afternoon after all; emails to send, plans to finalize, and so many preparations to make.

The first trip went well, and I left Havana with a car packed full of the supplies that we would need. Once the car was unloaded, I helped the others with the preparations for phase two of our plan for dealing with Carmichael. With Maddie and Nat able to move a lot faster and more naturally in the water, and somewhat proficient in the basics of using their aetral, we were about ready to make our move.

I also sent another email to General Carmichael to mess with him again. Between my constant taunts and occasionally sending his people all over Havana with false information over the past week and a half, he was probably getting very frustrated with me by now. It was fun screwing with him, and it had been working so far in keeping him off balance.

~o~O~o~

It was late afternoon, and once again I was back in Havana for one more trip to the Supermercado Palco, which I had tried to avoid on my earlier trip into the city by going to one of the smaller supermercados. There was one thing in particular that I wanted on this shopping excursion, and I knew that I would most likely be able to get what I wanted there. This time, I was wearing the form of a buxom redhead and was stopped by the familiar Private Jeremy Adams as I approached the store from the parking lot. “Umm… excuse me, Miss? Do you speak English?”

I hadn’t expected Carmichael’s minions to canvass me until I left the store, but I shrugged it off. As tempting as it was for me to say something in Chinese, just to see the look of confusion on his face that it would likely cause, I decided not to toy with him any more than I had to. “Yeah, sure do,” I replied with a cheerful smile.

“Oh, good. I’m… uhh… looking for some friends that went missing recently,” he said uncertainly as he stared at my large chest, which was proudly displayed by the low plunging neckline of my very tight white blouse. “Could you tell me if you’ve seen any of these people recently?”

I barely glanced at the photos before pointing to the ones of my Dad and Aunt Carmen with a nod. “I think I saw those two earlier today actually. They were moving some stuff onto a boat,” I told him completely honestly before suggesting, “Maybe try looking near the waterfront?”

Adams’s eyes widened momentarily and he gave me a good once over with his eyes, again hovering briefly on my chest before nodding. “Umm… thanks, I’ll do that.” Then he took off toward the parking lot as quickly as he could.

I promptly headed into the store and got my shopping done as quickly as possible. It was mostly the basics that I hadn’t been able to get elsewhere, though I did get some chocolate, which I sat in the car to eat before heading back toward home. I had been having the worst craving for chocolate for some reason, but at least it was sated for now. It wasn’t long after I left the store that I realized that I was being followed.

One car with two men inside, one of whom I figured was probably Private Adams. Whoever was driving, they weren’t very good at tailing someone. “Huh, let’s see how these good they are when I give them something to really chase. I’ve been wanting to open this baby up since I bought it from Sandro.”

I punched the gas and deftly switched gears, leading them on a merry chase through much of the city before losing them by performing a high-speed U-turn. Naethari reflexes for the win. They weren’t near as adventurous in the driver’s seat as I was though, and I was long gone by the time that he managed to decelerate and turn around. Figuring that they might try using cameras to track me, and wanting to avoid the police, I quickly altered my course and slowed down for the safe route that would take me outside of the city and east, toward the villa.

~o~O~o~

Warren Carmichael fumed as he saw another email from his target/tormentor. He was in a foul mood already from suffering from a horrible case of diarrhea, but as usual, seeing an email from Danica Holmes was enough to make his mood much worse. He ran the message through the virus scanner, but there were no viruses and no attachments this time, just a simple message.

Hi Warren,

How are you doing? Feeling a little irregular today? I don’t know how I managed to keep the smile off my face when I handed you your morning cup of Joe. You should be more careful about what you drink and who gets it for you. Next time it could be cyanide instead of a laxative. I assume that the real Private Graves has reported in by now, though he was probably in dire need of a shower.

I’ll visit you again as someone else soon. I’ve been enjoying this time with you, but you haven’t taken my warnings to back off seriously. I think that I’ve proven by now that I can get to you no matter what security precautions you take. Count your blessings and manage your affairs, Warren. Your days are numbered.

Danica

He tried to ignore the shiver that ran down his spine as he read those final words. Somehow, that bitch had gotten past every security measure that he had in place. She had even passed through the retinal and fingerprint scanners and known the correct passcodes and phrases. Private Graves had indeed reported in just after lunch, smelling like the dumpster that he had woken up in, and hadn’t remembered anything after leaving the hotel for the morning coffee run.

This woman was terrifying in a way, but that just made him more determined to get her under his control. A creature like Danica Holmes could topple entire governments alone. Between her and the mermaids, he could change the course of future wars.

Warren’s musings were interrupted by the ring of his cell phone. The call display showed the caller to be Private Adams, so he answered. “What is it, Private?”

“Sir! You ordered that we follow anyone who seemed to know the people in the photo, we did as you ordered with a woman who offered Intel, but we just lost her,” the private reported.

Given the various false leads that his people had been given lately, probably from that shapeshifting freak Holmes, he had indeed ordered them to follow anybody who offered Intel. He felt like that damn woman had him on the back foot. It was not a feeling that he was used to, and it left a bitter taste in his mouth. “Did you manage to get photos, Private?” he asked, his heart suddenly pounding rapidly in his chest.

“Yes, Sir! Just like you ordered, we got pictures of the woman and her car,” the young soldier replied enthusiastically.

A smile tugged at the corners of Warren’s lips. “Send them to Lieutenant Williams, and tell him that I want her found as soon as possible. The woman is a master of disguise so focus on the car.”

He had just enough time to hear, “Yes, Sir!” before disconnecting the call.

It was quarter to midnight by the time that Lieutenant Williams reported in with his laptop in hand. He had Williams go through the security measures and use the newly updated passphrases, and then inquired, “What have you got for me, Lieutenant?”

“This is the car, Sir,” he said as he showed Warren several photos of a bright pink sports car and a woman with long hair that was dyed a bright but darker shade of pink. “There can’t be more than one car, or maybe two, of this make and color in the city, it’s very distinctive. The woman in the photos is unknown, but when we narrowed down the camera footage over the past three weeks to show this car, she was most commonly shown entering and exiting it. The car also shows up near the time and place of all of the recent tips that we’ve gotten.”

“Where is the car now?” Warren pressed.

“I don’t know for sure, Sir, she found a route that avoided any cameras to evade our pursuit. I can make an educated guess though. Up until today, she hasn’t seemed to care about keeping a low profile or avoiding cameras, probably relying on her disguises, but aside from a few short stays at local hotels or motels, she probably isn’t living in Havana. Time stamps on the various footage show that the car goes days without showing up in Havana unless she was avoiding cameras for some reason, but most often, the last footage before those gaps shows the car leaving the city, traveling eastward down the coastal road.”

At last, that bitch had made a mistake. She was overconfident and she was going to regret it. Soon, she was going to be under his control and then he would use her to retrieve the mermaids as well, if she wasn’t already with them. Those mermaids needed water. He had assumed that they were laying low in Havana since that was where the mercs had most often appeared prior to his arrival, but what if they were hidden away somewhere along the coast?

Despite the discomfort that even now simmered in his bowels, Warren wore a self-satisfied smile. “Make sure that the pilots know what that car looks like, Lieutenant. I want choppers in the air ASAP with my strike teams aboard and searching the coast east of Havana for that car or anywhere that a large boat could be hidden from our low-profile patrols of the coast. Those mercs came here by boat and they probably intend on leaving that way too once things get too hot.”

© 2022 - 2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

The original mermaid image is © Kateryna Shevtsova | Dreamstime.com

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

up
110 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

Really A Mistake?

joannebarbarella's picture

Or another red herring? Have to use these fishy allusions!

Fish puns!

Amethyst's picture

I'm really going to miss those when this story ends.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

You, umm, could create a book

You, umm, could create a book 3 of this story. Then you can go fishing for more puns. (And a few more of these love and romance scenes). :-D

Thx for another nice chapter^^

Too Sure of Herself

BarbieLee's picture

Should have led the tail to a hotel and left the car there.Hope her confidence in disguises isn't her downfall.
Hugs Amethyst
Barb
Pride goeth before fall

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

caution...

Amethyst's picture

might have been a good idea here. Hopefully, this isn't the mistake that will screw them all over.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

he's stupidly stubborn

it apparently hasn't occurred to him that even if he could catch her, how could he possibly get her to work for him. I'm thinking that the only death will keep him from trying, though . . .

DogSig.png

True

Amethyst's picture

He's too focused on what he can possibly get from this, to the point that he's ignoring very real dangers. He figures that some torture and an explosive collar will make her eventually do what he wants. Even if she did though, she'd be looking for the first opportunity to gut him.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Did she or didn't she

Wendy Jean's picture

make a mistake? We shall see.

Could go either way

Amethyst's picture

She could have made a huge mistake, or she could be setting him up to make a big one of his own.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Methinks the game's afoot !!

SuziAuchentiber's picture

Looks like they are setting up Carmichael to lose more of his assets - weakening him further so that he is less of a threat to their departure once all the "new" Naethari are strong enough to travel.
Look forward to reading more !
Hugs&Kudos!!

Suzi

There does seem to be a plan

Amethyst's picture

There does seem to be a plan afoot. Either they're looking to weaken Carmichael or getting ready for the coup de grace.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3