After two years of heavy hard hitting make or break cases and a little arm twisting Maria as take her family to Sicily on vacation. Unknown to them or the OICA a deadly ghost from the past would rear its ugly bringing with it death and destruction.
by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.
Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.
Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.
Sant’ Agata di Militello, Sicily
Maria drove through the night with a purpose. She knew there was only one person in all of Europe could forge new id’s in under twelve hours for that many people. Catlin ‘the Cat’ Leland, Mistress of Forgeries on three continents. It didn't matter if its artwork or id’s, the Cat was the person to go to.
“Mama, who are we going to see?” Annette asked when they were fifteen kilometers from Cresta. She had a feeling, but wasn’t sure.
“My old friend the Cat, Annette. I have a feeling that she supplied our fugitives with their new id's. If she has; then she will give me the needed information for them all.” There was a note of finality in Maria’s voice.
Even Sam could tell that Maria was pissed about something. “Mama Maria, why are you so pissed off at a forger? It’s not like you to interfere with another’s activities. What did this woman promise you?”
Maria sighed and looked further down the road. “Before I turned the family business over to Annette, I had a contract for the Cat. She had delivered the forgery on time, but it was flawed. She had done so on purpose. The forgery was to be used as insurance against theft. The problem was the client tried to use it for an insurance claim. The Cat found out and turned the pig in. She maybe a criminal, but she does have scruples. Anyway, I got the contract and tracked her down. When I finally caught up to her; I couldn’t go through with the contract.”
“Let me guess, Mama. She was pregnant, wasn’t she?” Annette smiled at her mother.
“She was eight months going on nine, with a baby girl. She named her daughter after you Annette. I got her out of the black market business and turned her into a legitimet art forgery expert. It cost me ten-thousand Euro’s at the time, but it was worth it. So you can see why I am upset that Cat went back to her old ways. I hate it when people break their word without reason. I just want to know her reason.” The growl in Maria’s voice left no doubt to her anger.
Fifteen minutes later; that reason opened the door to the home of Catlin Leland for Maria and her daughters. “Hi. Can I help you ma’am?”
“Yes dear. Is your mother home?” Maria asked the ten year old girl.
“She’s in her studio, ma’am. If you’ll wait here, I’ll go get her for you?” The ten year old girl smiled up at the three women.
“Go right ahead dear. Just tell her that Maria DeMarco is here for a visit.” Maria smiled knowing that her name would get the needed response.
Ten minutes later Catlin walked into the front of her house. Catlin took one look at her visitors and sighed. “It has been a long-time Madam Maria. What brings you to my door at this hour of the night?”
“I had thought that we would catch up on old times, but seeing as how you wish to get straight down to business. You made nine false identities in the last twenty-four hours. I want those names, Catlin. I know that you didn’t do this without reservation. I take it the men threatened your daughter?”
“They started off with that, Maria. You know that I would never break my word to you and yours. As for those names you want, give me five minutes.” With a smile that never reached her eyes; Catlin returned to her office. As promised Catlin returned five minutes later with the names and copies of the id's she had forged.
Maria looked at the stack of paper Catlin handed her. Nine complete id's with the former names for each man. Maria knew without a doubt that she held the key in this fight, all thanks to someone she saved. “Thank you, Catlin. I owe you one.”
“No, Maria. I am the one who is repaying a debt. They came here and threatened my child. They forced me to forge id's for the nine of them at gun point. This is my way of repaying them in kind.” Reaching in to her pants pocket Catlin pulled out a solid gold coin. Handing it to Maria, Catlin smiled. “I believe that this should be more than enough payment to handle my obligation.”
Maria looked down at the coin in her hand and smiled. “More than enough Cat, more than enough. I know how long you've held on to this coin.”
“Thank you, Maria. I do have one request. Aldo Rossi; make him scream as he dies.” There was something in Catlin’s voice that grabbed Maria, Samantha, and Annette’s attention. This woman wanted more than just payback she wanted revenge.
“I’ll make sure he dies with your name on his lips, Catlin.” Maria turned to her daughters. “Let’s go girls, we have a flight to catch.”
Three hours later they were pulling back into their hotel parking lot. As the three women entered the hotel lobby they were in a very somber mood. During the ride, back from Cresta, Maria outlined what needed to be done. Maria knew that they had a short amount of time to capture or kill the escapees. Maria kept her thoughts to herself as they entered the elevator.
As they reached their floor, Maria left her daughters to be by herself. She needed to think about how to keep this situation under her control. She knew that the rest of the OICA would have a better idea of the situation with the six on the ship. Her problem lay with the three that flew out that morning. As she thought about the three escapees being in New York an idea came to her. Reaching over for the phone in her room, Maria dialed a phone number from memory.
It was not a number she called often. When the call was answered, Maria knew the man by his voice. “Make it quick, whoever you are.”
“Tomas, don’t be an ass. Get me Jacob, and do so now.”
“Just a moment, Donna Maria.” Maria smiled at the abrupt change in attitude of the man on the other end. Tomas Dain had been in the service of Jacob Mallory for as long as Anna had been in her service. There was no finer butler or bodyguard in all of New York State.
“It has been a LONG time Maria. To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?” Jacob’s cultured voice was tinted with a mild Welsh accent and a hint of amusement. Jacob always loved to flirt with women.
“Jacob, this is a business call. Please keep things on a professional level. I need your resources for a contract.” Maria’s blunt reply had the desired effect.
“The Dove needs my help? I’m all ears. What do you need Maria?”
“Three men landed in New York yesterday. I need to know where they went. Who is helping them? How they're getting around? Everything under the sun, Jacob. These men are not to disappear into the populace. Understood?”
“From the tone of your voice, Donna Maria DeMarco, these men have crossed a line.” Jacob dropped all sarcasm and turned deadly serious. “I will have the information for you within the day. Where should I send it?”
“To the Cayman account, please Jacob. I will be in the islands in twenty-four hours.” Maria knew where she would be, along with her team.
“It will be out with the morning mail, Maria. You have my word on this. I will have everything you have requested within twenty-four hours or heads will roll.”
“Thank you, Jacob. I will send the normal payment, plus a little extra for the timely delivery. Say, an extra ten-thousand?”
“My usual fee will be enough, Maria. This is one time that I can tell time is of the essence. I bid you a good day.” The phone went dead in Maria’s hand.
Maria sighed and turned to rejoin the rest of her team in the teens’ room. “Well, I’ve got the ball rolling in the underworld. I wonder what my grandchildren have found since we left.”
As Maria entered their room she had to stop and stare. There, laying all across the beds, were stacks of paper. Nine stacks in total. Maria looked around the room and found that a printer has somehow appeared out of nowhere. Maria stepped closer to the printer and saw the hotel's name written on the side.
“Please tell me that you at least asked to use this?” Maria asked of Bobby and Hunter.
“Yes, ma’am. I paid the desk clerk four hound dollars to 'rent' the printer plus six reams of paper. The man also threw in four replacement cartages of ink. I think he didn’t mind us using the printer.” Answered Hunter truthfully.
“I don’t doubt that at all, Hunter. You paid the man close to three weeks’ wages. Why, for the amount you paid him, he’ll be able to replace the printer and still have two weeks’ worth of profit.” Maria told him smiling. “Now please explain what all of this is about, Bobby?”
“Yes ma’am. I knew that it would be easier to just put all this information into a digital format, but this way we can see the individual files on each man in question. It is old school, but when you’re tracking down multiple suspects on the run, there is no better way.” Bobby told his mother-in-law with a smile. “Don’t worry though, I have the girls putting everything into a packet for Ram’s Rock.”
“Thank you, Bobby. As for breaking down the suspects in this manner, I highly agree. We just need to insure the security of these files before doing anything else. Now what can you tell me about our prey, gentlemen?"
Hunter smiled over at Maria. “I think that I should start off, Bobby. As you can see, Marshal, we have nine different suspects. This is where it gets tricky.”
“How so Hunter?” Maria gave Hunter a quizzical look.
“It’s the fact that we HAVE nine different suspects, Marshal. You see, the more Runners you have, the greater number of psychological quirks that come into play. Each of these men have different ideologies, religions, methodology, the factors for what is keeping them together are truly baffling right now.” Hunter explained for Maria. He knew that this might be something she wasn’t used to.
Then to his and Bobby’s surprise Maria summed up the situation up for them. “So, what you’re telling me is that they have no reason for staying together, but they are. In short, we have two groups with no real reason for staying together, this implies an outside force behind them. Does that fit the situation, Deputies?”
Bobby chuckled. “Yes, ma’am. That about sums it up. Everything that Gemini has been able to dig up over the last few hours points to this being a well-funded, organized and direct operation, Marshal. The only reason that we have not come out totally behind this, is Rossi. He doesn’t fit into any of the categories.”
Maria gave Bobby a confused look. “How so? Is he not just another killer, like the others? There is the fact that he is a serial killer, yes, but he is still just a killer.”
“No ma’am. The original data was faulty. In fact, if Gemini hadn’t gone digging deeper into the prison records and trial transcripts for each suspect, we would have a real BIG problem on our hands.” Hunter pointed out.
“Okay, stop. I need to understand what is going on here. Are you telling that these men have had their records changed?” Maria knew that it happened. Prison records get changed all the time to cover up something.
“In more ways than one, Marshal. The only things about the information we and your brother gathered is there are five terrorists and that all nine are on the most wanted list, that is where the truth stops. The rest of the files from the original download were bogus.” Hunter picked up one of the files. The file was almost three inches thick. “Marshal, this is the real file for Raana Facees.”
“Dear God.” Maria looked over the other eight files. Only the one for Rossi hadn’t changed in thickness. “Are you telling me that ALL those files have been tampered with? That ALL of them belong to KNOWN terrorists?”
“Yes Ma’am, we are. The real kicker is, they were all a part of the same cell at one time. I have a feeling that Rossi, while dangerous, is nothing more than a red herring. Marshal, I’ve double checked the arrest records for all of them.” Bobby really didn’t want to say what was on his mind. “Your brother may have been used to set this all up, Mom.”
“No need to worry about that Robert. I had already figured that out on my own.” Maria, had been thinking along those lines already, plus one other. “He might even have been part of the operation from the start. Whomever is behind this would need an honest component, to give credibility.”
“What do we do now, Marshal?” Hunter asked.
“We stay with the current plan, Hunter. With one change.” Maria, looked over at Kasey, who was typing away like mad. “Kasey, I need a secure connection with Command.”
“Yes, ma’am. Give me a moment, please?” The teen never looked up from her laptop. Maria, didn’t bother to correct her granddaughter’s lack of eye contact. Maria knew that her granddaughters were working in two deferent worlds at the same time. “Connection up on the screen over there Marshal.” Kasey said pointing to the one laptop not in use.
Kimberly looked out at Maria form the Command Center. “Command here. What can we do for you Bravo-Bravo Actual?”
Maria smiled at the greeting. Actual being the designation for the Commander of an element, Bravo-Bravo stood for Black Badge.
“New Intelligence Captain, and a change in plans. Have both support trucks loaded on to the C-17, with complete load out. They need to meet us at Miami International. Also arrange for the pickup of myself and Gemini for return to Base. The Deputies will be leaving for New York once they met up with the C-17. Also inform whoever is picking up Gemini and myself that we will be making a stop at little Cayman Island. Understood?”
Kimberly looked up at Maria and smiled. “The trucks are already loaded and stocked. Rodrick will meet you and Gemini at the private terminal for your return here. LoneStar, Pete and Carl will be waiting for the Deputies at the cargo terminal. We figured that you would be splitting up the team.”
“Thank you, Kimberly. I also need for you to forward the following information to Interpol. Kasey is that packet ready?”
“Sending now, Marshal. Miss Krystel, standby for upload. File name is Payback.”
“Why Payback, Gemini two?” Krystle asked from her station.
“That is the only reason that fits the profile of this cell, ma’am.” Kasey never looked over at the laptop that was in use for the connection. “Ma’am, I would suggest that you contact, the Maid. She’ll be able to give a better translation of the data in those.”
Maria smiled at her granddaughter. “Gemini two is correct, ladies. Anna has far more experience than all of us in profiling. Use her.”
“Copy that, Marshal. Any other advice for us?” Kimberly asked.
“Not at this time. We should be arriving in Miami around ten forty-five this evening. Until then, ladies.” Maria knew there was nothing they could for now and signed off. Turning to Hunter and Bobby. “Boys, I know this is going to sound stupid, but do you think you can figure out what their target is?”
The two seasoned Deputies had to look at each other long and hard before answering. Bobby was the one to give the bad news. “Sorry, but no Marshal. Not with what we have on them so far.”
“Do you think Samantha or Annette might be able to shed some more light?”
“It couldn’t hurt, mom Maria.” Hunter said. “In fact, they might have a better idea of how these shmucks think. Hell, you might have a better idea than we do on this one. There is one thing that all these guys have in common. Political Assassination. That is their number one commonality. Otherwise it's up the others, terrorists are what they do best.”
The moment Maria heard this fact she grabbed up the file on Aldo Rossi. Flipping through to the list of known accomplices Maria scanned down the list of names. She stopped reading when one name jumped out at her. "Figlio di puttana, marcio non ratto buona cazzo, sporco, va bene per niente merda bastone, sapevo che avrei dovuto raddoppiare controllato con Rinaldo."
“Um… Mom Maria, what was that you just said? I’ve been working on my Italian, but I’m not up to the girls’ level yet.” Hunter was honest in his confusion.
“Uncle Hunter, you REALLY don’t want to know. Nonnina is REALLY p.o.ed at great uncle Rinaldo right now. If I had to guess, I would say that Aldo Rossi is not who he was reported as being. Someone that she hates.” Kasey never looked up as she answered Hunter.
“Thanks, kiddo, but I kind of figured that part out on my own.” Hunter quirked.
“Your niece is correct Hunter. This is not Aldo Rossi.” Maria said as she waved the file in her hand. “The man in this picture is a known assassin who specializes in Political Assassination. He is one of the most successful in this field, and has no loyalties. The last person he targeted sent a nation into civil war, that lasted for six years. Boys, I give you the face of John Casey Wain, better known as Blacklist.”
“OH HELL! How could this have happened mom Maria?” Hunter asked for both him and Bobby.
“Money. Plain and simple uncle Hunter. Someone paid for these files to be doctored at the main server farm. That is where Kristine found all the real files.” Kasey answered. “We’ve been trying to unravel the mess that was used to cover the truth in those files.”
Maria was stopped from saying more as Sam and Annette walked into the room. Both women had very angry looks on their faces. It was Sam who gave the reason why.
“Our location is compromised. We need to secure those files and get them over to Uncle Rinaldo now. Someone has ransacked our room. And no, they didn’t find our surprise packages or anything else that would point to our real id’s.” Sam’s orders got the teens attention. “That means everything you got Gemini. We can send him whatever else you find once you’re back on Ram’s Rock.”
Maria held up her hand and stopped both Annette and Sam in mid-step. “Girls before we do anything, I need you to go through these files.”
The two women looked at their elder and did as Maria asked. While they were going through the files Kasey was bringing Kristine back from the world of cyberspace. It was Annette who spotted the common theme, but it was Sam who started to place a possible target for them. A target that would have far-reaching effects.
“Mom, I know that you, Bobby and Hunter have already tagged the political assassination tie. Have either of you tweaked the target yet?” none of them answered Sam’s question, but Annette did.
“These guys all go after Federal Judges and Congress/Senatorial reps. With the POTUS elections over with and so many new Congress/Senatorial reps there just far too many unknowns in play. When we throw in the new Supreme Court Judge to the mix.” Annette left the rest unsaid and shrugged her shoulders.
“Oh HOLY HELL!” Bobby summed up what the others were thinking with that one statement. “Kasey, get me a secure connection to Dorothy Rose now.”
Kasey stopped what she was doing and pointed to the team's Sat-phone. “Enter, six, four, nine, three, two, three, then the number dad. That will disguise your voice and scramble our location by bouncing the signal through twenty-five countries. If you don’t stay on for more than forty-five minutes, they’ll NEVER find us.”
“When did you girls come up with this new security function?” Maria asked.
“While we were recovering from our operation, Nonnina.” Kristine blushed and then smiled at her grandmother, and parents. “We were bored sitting around doing nothing, so when Kasey asked if I could write a program for scrambling voices I said yes. We kind of kicked the bounce thing back and forth before adding it in once we had the voice scrambler down. We ran it pass Miss Krystel when we got done. She really liked what we, and uploaded it on the team Sat-phones. She said, and I quote, 'That's funny as all Hell. I like it'.”
Bobby just chuckled at the girls and stepped out on the rooms balcony. He knew this was one conversation that needed to be kept to the adults. After entering the numbered sequence that Kasey gave him, he entered the phone number for Dorothy’s private cellphone. As he waited for her to answer, Bobby thought about what the teens had done. Once again, he was glad that the girls worked and trained with someone who could help keep them out of trouble. Robbie Ironsides had done the right thing when she called the OICA to pull them out of Ohio
The home of Dorothy Rose, Washington D.C.
If there was one thing that every Deputy Marshal knew; it was to never, ever, wake U.S. Marshal Director Dorothy Rose in the middle of the night. Rose was well known for biting the heads off Deputies who woke her before sunrise. So when she heard her personal phone ring at three in the morning, it had to be bad.
“Rose, talk to me.” Dorothy snarled.
The voice that greeted her was machine-like and distorted. “Marshal Rose, you have three known terrorists who just arrived in your country. These men specialize in political assassination.”
“Just WHO the hell is this? And how did you get MY private number?” Dorothy growled out. “William, if this you, you better start looking for a new job.”
“This is not a joke Marshal Rose. Nine men broke out of a Sicilian Super-max prison just over forty-eight hours ago. All nine are headed for CONUS. Once again, they specialize in political assassination.”
It took Dorothy a few seconds to realize that this was not a prank call. Whoever she was talking to knew far more than she did. “Names.”
“A package will arrive at your office in the next twelve hours Marshal. I suggest that you be there to sign for it. It will have all the needed Intel. Goodbye Marshal.” Dorothy’s phone went dead in her hand.
Dorothy sat up in bed and looked at her phone. There was something about the voice that made think about a Deputy that disappeared a little over a year ago. He and two others dropped off the face of the earth and no one knew where they were. No one would tell her anything, not even her friend Roberta Ironsides. There were the rumors that they were now working the dark cases that no one wanted to deal with. In her mind, they were the Black Badges that had returned from out of myth and legend to bring justice to those who were above the law.
“I hope like hell you’re watching your six Bobby. You, Hunter, and Sam are the best, but you better hope to Hell you know what you’re getting into this time.” Sighing Dorothy looked at her alarm clock. “Well, no use going back to sleep now. I’ll just have to get up in another three hours. Might as well get an early start on the day. One that I feel is going to be a very, fucking long one.”
With that said Dorothy headed for her kitchen to start the coffee pot. Dorothy Rose would not know how prophetic her words would be. Within five hours Dorothy Rose would find just how bad the situation really was.
Federal Courthouse, New York, New York…
Judge Harry T. Stone walked into his office just after seven-thirty to be greeted by his secretary’s. “Good morning, your Honor. Have a good run?”
“Yes, I did Sally. How’s the docket look?” Judge Stone asked.
“You have a busy day sir. From eight-thirty to noon, you have bond hearings. At noon, you’ll be sitting the Macy versus State pre-trial evidence hearing. Slone, Harris, and Carswell for the defense and ADA Howell for the State, sir. Then you have dinner with Congresswoman Sheila Hines at the Benjamin, at six-thirty. Oh and Sir, the Congresswoman and her staff will be observing your court today.” Sally had to hide the smile as she saw the look on her boss’s face at hearing this last part. She more than anyone knew how much Harry hated Congressional observers.
Judge Stone asked hotly. “Sally, how many times do I have to tell you? No congressional-pains-in-the-ass in my courtroom? Just how the hell did they manage to swing it anyway?”
Sally smirked before answering. “Two words, The Mayor.” Sally giggled as Harry groaned. He knew it was an election year and the current mayor was pushing himself as a ‘tuff but far on crime’ candidate. “Look on the brightside, your Honor. In six to eight months; we get a break for the next four years.”
Harry just shook his head and headed for his office. As per usual Sally had placed his morning mail on his desk. After placing his briefcase on the floor Harry started going through his mail. The large brown envelope at the bottom of the stack was marked with the address for the D.A.’s office. That meant it was inter-office mail, and urgent.
The blast that ripped through Judge Harry T. Stones' office was felt throughout the courthouse. It set off fire-alarms on every floor. Car alarms for three city blocks sounded, the power went out on the block that held the courthouse. Harry Stone felt the heat of the blast for a mere one-one-hundredth of a second before the shockwave crushed his life out. Sally More joined her boss in death in less time than it took to blow out a candle.
In the offices next to Judge Stone’s, Judge Marten King was holding chambers for a name change of a young teen. A teenager with gender dysphoria. The girl was fighting her parents for the right to be a girl. The blast killed everyone in the room. The Judge, her parents, her, and their lawyers. Only the lawyers would go un-mourned. After all, nobody mourns a slug when they die, so why should a lawyer be any different.
Across the street from the courthouse a plain four-door, brown, sedan pulled away. Inside were three men in business suits. The man in back looked at his companions. “We should reach Philadelphia in about two to three hours; depending on traffic. No need to speed. The State Police won’t be looking for us for the next six hours. By that time, we’ll be on our way to our next target in Baltimore.”
“Then we have plenty of time to do the job right. Any chance of the FBI getting involved before we reach our fourth target area?” The driver asked.
The man in back nodded his head. “Some, but by that time they’ll be looking at D.C. not Richmond. Which is why D.C. is our last target, not the first. Trust me, I know what I am doing gentlemen. By this time, two days from now, the United States of America will be in a total panic. Then, and only then, will the President die. Do not worry, your friends will get their monies' worth.”
The brown sedan drove steadily out of the city of New York as fire trucks, police cars, ambulances arrived at the Federal Courthouse. It would take the NYPD twelve hours before they started looking for the criminals that did this. By that time three more courthouses would be bombed and nine more judges would be dead with countless victims.
Ram’s Rock Island…
Anna walked into the Command and Control Center with some apprehension. In the year and a half that she had been on the island, Anna had only been down there a maybe two dozen times. Normally to bring Kimberly and Krystel dinner or whoever was manning the equipment. Only one other time had she been requested to come down in the middle of the day. That one time was when Maria had found trouble on her annual inspection tour of her businesses. For Kimberly to call her at ten in the morning meant there was trouble.
Anna looked to the Operations Officer. “What has happened Kimberly? Is my family in trouble?”
“No Miss Anna, they are safe and healthy.” Anna breathed a sigh of relief hearing this. “But, we need your specialized skills ma’am. It seems that there was a breakout at the Sicilian National Super-Max Prison. Nine of the world's most wanted broke out, but the Intel that Gemini sent us doesn’t jive. The Madam suggested that you might be able to shed more light on our suspects.”
“I’m not sure that I’ll be of help, but I’ll try. Do you have the files?” Krystel typed in a command and placed the files up on the plasma screen. Anna looked up at the big screen and frowned. “Krystel, can you place them up there one at a time please? I need to read the whole file first.”
“That’ll take a minute, Miss Anna.” Kimberly didn’t see why the older woman wanted to see the files individually.
“I have my reasons, Kimberly. The first of which is there is something off with these files? I need to find that one little twitch first. Then I’ll be able to figure out what our Mistress of Assassination wants?”
Kimberly nodded. "The Spore. Bring them up Krystel."
"Aye Ma'am." Krystel called out then nodded to the bank of screens. "All yours."
From behind her Lyssa sighed. “Anna, please remember that your employer has left that life behind.”
“No more than I have, Prima Lyssa.” Anna smirked while reading over the first file that came up. At the end, Anna got a good look at the photo and stopped reading turning to Krystel. “Krystel, can you put just the photos up on the screen please?”
Krystel quickly typed away to do what Anna requested. Within seconds all nine photos were on the screen in a three by three square. Anna now knew what Maria needed her to do. First though, she needed to break the nine men down.
“Krystel; place numbers one, four, and five in one row. Two, three, and eight in a second row. Now; six, seven, nine, in the last row. That’s it. Yes, just as I thought. Three teams of political assassins. This has all the earmarks of someone seeking revenge against the establishment. That, or they are out to make a political statement. One that will have ramifications throughout the world.” Maria stopped dead in her little speech and looked over at Kimberly. “Have there been any bombings in the last twelve hours? Ones that involve judges or congressmen.”
Kim looked up at her in shock. “There was one in New York this morning, but it was in the Civil court judge’s chambers. Why?”
“Did any of the Judges make landmark decisions on Civil Rights Cases in the last few years?” Anna asked quickly.
This time Kimberly was ahead of Anna’s question. “Yes, Judge Martin King, decided in favor of a transteen boy in his lawsuit against his school. That decision led to other schools being sued. The final total on all the suits came to around nine and a half million. Needless to say, those lawsuits damned near bankrupted the school district and the city of New York.”
“What were the lawsuits for Kimberly?” This was something Anna needed to know.
Kimberly looked over Krystel. Krystel brought up the information on the main screen.
“Well, the original one was over the school’s attitude towards bullying of LGBT students. The others just took it from there, but all the suits were for bullying.” Kimberly summarized didn’t understand where Anna was going.
Even Lyssa was lost in Anna’s logic just then. “Anna, what are you getting at?”
Pointing up at the screen Anna began her lesson in the world of Hired Assassins and their ways. “These nine men represent three teams of assassins with very defined skills for each member. Each team has a hitter, hacker, and thief. This is the type of team you put together to take down a political base by either blackmail or assassination. Everything is there for them to do the job. Why eight of these men all have additional skillsets that would allow them to cover for a grifter and mastermind. All of them can step in for the other with no hiccups. In short Prima Lyssa, they are exactly what I would put together to take down a government or kill a dictator.”
“Oh shit! And these people were all in the same prison together?” Kimberly asked. Only to have Anna look at her in even more shock.
“Did you say they were all in the same prison?!” Anna just stood there in amazement when Kimberly nodded yes. “Oh, sweet love of God. This is NOT good. Where is the Madam and her team now?”
“They flew out of Palermo–Boccadifalco Airport an hour ago.” Once again, Lyssa's tradecraft was coming into play. “Full breakdown Anna. What does those men all being in the same prison mean? What aren't we seeing?”
“They were all put there so they could plan. I think you call it staging or prepping. Whatever the final target is for these teams it will be major, Prima Lyssa. Also, with them all being in the same prison, it gives whoever is behind this time to gather resources. Someone is targeting judges that have made in-roads for the equal rights fight for LGBT.”
Lyssa nodded. "A criminal version of going sterile. Nobody in prison talks, because anything to do with getting out or a gig, gives them hope they will be next in line for freedom or revenge."
"If not both." Kimberly added. "Krystel, bring up tasking on everybody. Black Bayonet."
Anna asked Lyssa. "What does that mean?"
"Standby for immediate deployment. One-hour recall." Lyssa replied then looked to Kimberly. "Kim, work with Anna. Run the Tangos down. The threat is verified; CONUS is under attack."
The home of Rinaldo DeMarco, Sant’ Agata di Militello, Sicily
The private messenger carried the heavy box to the door as Rinaldo stepped outside to greet him. “I wasn’t expecting anything, Giorgio.”
“I was paid to deliver this by noon today, Inspector. A Mrs. Dannigan paid upfront for it to be here by noon. She even tipped me VERY well.” The young man was smiling up at one of the few men he respected in Sant’ Agata di Militello more than his father. “Before you ask Sir, she was an Americano staying at l'Hotel Grand Fantasy. There were two very big men with her. I would say they were her bodyguards, but they didn’t have that feel to them.”
“Was she an older lady say around my wife’s age with black hair? Maybe a Sicilian accent? So pretty that she could be, say a Prima Ballerina?” Rinaldo knew who might have sent the package, but want to be sure.
“Oh SI! She was all of what you say Sir. Do you know who she is really?” The young man smiled.
“Let’s just say that you might want to drop that line of questions. Better yet, forget that you ever met the woman and her friends, Giorgio. My sister, does not like people who stick their noses into her business. She is old school, understand?”
Giorgio’s often overlooked and ignored common sense gene kicked-in at hearing that. Everyone had heard and knew all about the woman known as Maria DeMarco. One of the greatest Primas to ever come out of Sicily. “Did I really just meet your famous sister, sir? The Prima Maria the Dove DeMarco.”
Rinaldo just chuckled at the boy. In a way, Rinaldo was prouder that his sister was better known as a Prima Ballerina than as an assassin, even here in the old country. In his mind this was a good thing. Reaching out Rinaldo took the box from the boy’s hands. “Yes, you did, Giorgio. Now, run along. I am sure that you have more deliveries to make today.”
The teenager gave Rinaldo a saucy salute and headed back to his messenger cycle. As he rode away he pulled his receipt pad to look at the name on the bottom of his last run. Sure, enough there it was in bold black ink. Maria DeMarco really had used his messenger service to deliver a package to the Inspector. Giorgio knew the moment he got back to the office, that receipt was going to be photocopied and the original going into his pocket to be saved in his Memory Book.
Rinaldo took the heavy box back to his home office before opening it. He knew that if his sister wanted him dead, there would be eight inches of steel in his chest. No, his worry was that whatever was in this box, was far deadlier than C-4 covered with ball-bearings and a hair trigger. When he got the box open and the contents spread across his desk, he wished it was the C-4 option. There, in front of him, was a nightmare. One that he would have to deal with.
“How on earth, and by all that may or may not be holy, did you get your hands on ALL this evidence Maria? In the name of God, not even my best computer forensic personnel found a third of this.” Picking up the note that came with the box Rinaldo started to first read, then chuckle, and finally laugh outright. “Leave it to Maria, to bring her OWN damned high level cyber-specialists with her on vacation. If those two great nieces of mine ever get back here, I may not let them leave.”
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