After two years of heavy hard hitting make or break cases and a little arm twisting Maria has taken her family to Sicily on vacation. Unknown to them or the OICA a deadly ghost from the past would rear its ugly head 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.
New York, New York later that afternoon
Sam, Annette, Hunter, and Bobby walked in through the secure entrance for court personal, police, and judges. The Courtroom Security Officer stopped them just inside the door. “Id’s.”
Bobby pulled out the SOG credentials and handed them over. “Deputy Marshals; Everbrite, Justice, DeMarco and Taugh. Special Operations Group. We need to see the bomb site Deputy.”
Handing Bobby’s credentials back the CSO Deputy smiled. “Take the stairs Deputies. They’re still working on the elevators. They took a beating during the blast. I doubt that the Detectives that are working this case are going to welcome you with open arms though. The both of them are real territorial over their cases.”
“Thanks for the warning, partner. You got any idea how they got the bomb in here in the first place?” Hunter asked.
“Check the mailroom before going upstairs. There was a lot of inter-office mail that day and the day before. I know I shouldn’t have stuck my nose in, but there was something about a bicycle-carrier that came through that just didn’t set right with me. We had to let him through because his id and creds all checked out.”
“Gotcha. You felt uneasy with the guy because he was a creep, but had no reason to keep him out. If we locked up all the people that put us on edge, the jails would be past the point of over-crowding to insanity. Anything else about the guy that made you think twice about him?” Sam asked.
“Now that you mention it, yeah. He had one of those old-world accents when I talked to him. I think it was Italian or Sicilian. The guy was a definitely a greaser.”
Both Bobby and Hunter cringed at the slur as both Sam and Annette bristled. Bobby stepped in before the girls took the matter into their hands to correct the CSO. “Deputy, if I were you I would apologize to our partners. Both Deputies Justice and DeMarco are first generation Italian to the U.S.”
The CSO blanched then hurried to follow Bobby’s advice. “Oh shit. Sorry Deputies. I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just that.”
Annette cuts him off. “Just that most Italians or Sicilians are criminals or members of the mob, is that it?”
“I believe the man needs to have an education in political correctness, Annette.” Sam snarled. “Maybe sometime in Prisoner Transport will correct his attitude? I’m sure that we can call in more than one favor to make that happen.”
The implied threat was very real. One that the CSO had no desire to see fulfilled. Every CSO knew that shit happens on transport details. Shit that got Deputies killed or ended careers, usually with those Deputies ending up behind bars.
“Girls.” Bobby called them both down before giving the CSO the gambit eye. “Think before you open your mouth next Deputy.”
As Bobby led Sam and Annette away Hunter stepped up to the CSO Deputy. “You don’t know how lucky you just got buddy. SOG Deputies DeMarco and Justice have arrest records longer than your arm and thicker than your waist. If those two ladies want your star the only thing your Union Rep could do is gift wrap for you. If you don’t report your stupidity to your supervisor before we leave, then you better pray those ladies forget your fucking name. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that though. Make a call.”
The CSO breathed a sigh of relief as the massive Deputy walked away. He did do one thing though. He called for his supervisor and reported his own stupidity and volunteered for Diversity Training.
As Hunter join the others in the mailroom, he noticed that Both Samantha and Annette were going over the log-in ledger. Bobby was already interviewing the mailroom staff. Seeing that they had things in hand Hunter started looking at how the mail was distributed throughout the building. It didn’t take him long to spot how the bomb was delivered. “Sam, Annette, have you seen this delivery route the mail takes? It’s almost perfect for a letter bomb.”
That got all their attention. All three deputies walked over and studied the route map. It didn’t take the two seasoned deputies and former assassin long to see what Hunter was talking about.
Sam put all their thoughts into words. “Must be a full hour time delay from here to the judges’ cambers. More than enough time to get the bomb into the mail and get out with none the wiser.”
Bobby turned to the mailroom staff. “We need to know when the mail usually leaves for delivery. Is it the same time every day?”
“Not really set in stone Deputy, but it is pretty close to the same time daily. We try to get the inter-office mail out first. That’s why we have two delivery times posted. Because most of the inter-office stuff is court related.” The lead clerk answered.
“Thank you, sir. Come on folks we have what we need here, let’s go look at the actual crime scene. I have a feeling that we’ll learn more there.”
The four deputies headed up stairs to the old offices of the two dead judges. It didn’t take Annette or Samantha long to piece together what happened. That and the fact that Judge Harry Stone wasn’t the intended target, just the trigger. The blast area and damage to the other office told the story.
“Bobby, Hunter; I hate to say this, but Judge Stone wasn’t the target. Judge King was the target. They just used Stone to set off the bomb.” Annette said.
A gravelly voice snarled from behind them. “Care to explain how you four got past the security, and what you’re doing in my crime scene?”
All four turned to see a veteran Detective with the NYPD standing in the doorway. The gold shield of Lieutenant hung from a chain around the man’s neck. All four pulled out the badges and credentials flashing the detective. Hunter smiled as he talked with the man.
“We’re not trying to step on your toes here Detective. We’re investigating the how of the bombing, not the why.”
“I don’t care, deputies. THIS is an NYPD crime scene. Now, get your asses off it.”
Annette and Samantha both sighed as this time it was Bobby and Hunter who bristled. Bobby didn’t even think twice with his reply. “Wrong, Detective. This is a Federal Courthouse. That means this is crime scene BELONGS to the US Marshals. You want to get into a pissing match over this with us, go right ahead, but we’ll still win. Let me give you some advice before you go that running to the local Marshal. WE’RE SOG and don’t answer to him or you. AND unlike you, our jurisdiction doesn’t stop at the city limits. We don’t have any. Now, un-ass our A.O.”
As much as the NYPD Detective want to argue, the SOG Deputy was right. He and his partner had only been allowed to investigate until the Marshal team showed, then they were to turn the investigation over to the Deputies. Those were the orders from One PD Plaza, and Detective Jim Basco hated it. He stepped back out into the hallway and waved for his partner to follow. “Come on Eddy. We’re done here. The Deputies are taking over from here.”
Once they were down the hall, Jim turned to Eddy. “When we get back to the station, make copies of everything. I’m not letting a bunch of out of town cowboys take over my investigation. Fuck what downtown says. We’re going to work this damned case.”
The younger detective just nodded his head yes. He knew that the older detective wasn’t going to give up this case. Not when it would most likely be his last. The man was due to retire in three weeks and wanted to go out on a high note.
Bobby watched the two NYPD Detectives walk down the hallway and use the stairs. “Okay, we got may be forty minutes before those two show back up. Talk to us Annette. What did you mean that King was the true target? And how do you know that?”
“The blast wasn’t shaped for starters. Also, there was no shrapnel in the original explosive. All the shrapnel came from the office décor and walls. If you look at where this office sets compared to all the others on this floor the blast had only one way to go.” Annette pointed to Judge King’s office. “That wall is not structural. The other one is both structural and a fire break. That forces the blast in one direction, towards King’s office. The concussion from the blast would have been amplified by at least ten-fold.”
“Alright, I can see that Annette, but how did they know King would even be in his chambers at that time of the day?” Hunter asked.
“One of the downsides to our judicial system Hunter. Judges are required to post their chamber hours. All it took was one person walking through and checking the times and days. Shit, I could have pulled this off with just three hours of planning. I have to give credit to whoever did this, because they did their homework.” Only Sam was not surprised to Annette admit her professional respect.
“Damn, girl. That was cold. Please tell me you’ve never done something like that?” Hunter asked her with both respect and worry.
“Just once Hunter. And that one time was personal and not carried out in the courthouse. I’m good, maybe one of the best, but I’m not crazy. Whoever is doing this isn’t looking at the long-game. Stunts like this do nothing, but draw unwanted heat. Heat from one too many alphabet agencies, if you get my drift?”
Both Hunter and Bobby nodded their heads understanding what Annette was getting at. Sam though knew who that one time target was and why it was personal. If she had the chance sixteen years ago, she would have saved Annette the heartbreak and done the job then. Donald Mallory was a real piece of human crap disguised as a District Attorney. The man had put Annette and Maria through hell.
Hunter looked over at Bobby. “You know something partner. Your wives are flat fucking scary at times. Come on, let’s get out of here before the real SOG Investigation Team show up. Besides we got one more site to get to.”
By agree the Black Badge Deputies left the building by a different entrance.
As they exited the building Sam’s phone rang. “White Swan here.”
“White Swan are you and the Black Swan still with bravo team?”
“That’s a roger Command.” Sam answered quickly and waved for the others to stop.
“New mission. You’re to head for Richmond ASAP. Intel suggests that the next target is going to be there. Possible two team strike on this one.”
“Copy that Command. Head for Richmond. Any leads on possible safe houses?”
“Three possible safe houses at this time, White Swan. Working on cutting that number down as we speak. The Dolphin is doing her best.”
“Why isn’t Gemini helping?” Sam was worried when she heard that Krystel was doing the work on cutting down the number of safe houses.
“Don’t worry. I sent them to take a break and get some rest. They were up most of the night and part of the morning working on what we brought back.”
“Thanks, Command. Don’t let them push too hard. We’ll call the moment we reach Richmond. Should be there sometime tonight.”
“I know you want to push it, but don’t White Swan. This is one time that speed is not the issue. We have three teams working and not enough resources. We cannot afford to lose you or the Bravo team to stupidity.” The order left no room for argument. Sam did the only thing she could.
“Roger that Command. Drive in teams, take breaks, and don’t push it. Call when we reach Richmond. Out.” Sam hung up the phone and turned to the others. “We’re to skip the next crime scene and head for Richmond. According to Command that is where our runners are heading for their next target.”
The boys just nodded their heads as they head for the black F-350. Annette stopped Sam just before they got in the F-150. “Sis, we’re going to get bloody on this one. You know that right? Too many of the old treaties have been broken here. We both know that the old families have most likely already put out bounties for these guys. Did mama give you anything more than where to head for next?”
“No, nothing other than there are three possible safe houses for our marks.” Annette picked up on the change in attitude by Samantha. Gone was the Deputy Marshal.
“Okay Stephany. We’ll play it close to the chest with the boys for now. Do you think they’ll go for arrest over the kill?”
Samantha thought about it for a minute, then shook her head no. “I doubt they’ll go that route Annette. This is one time that I think that our husbands will not stop once they get started. These attacks hit a very big DO NOT TOUCH button for Deputies. Whoever sent these hitters made the mistake of attacking Judges in their chambers. Even our families would never do that.”
“You’re right. In the old days maybe, but not in the last seventy years or so. Once we’re on the road, I’ll make the call to mama. We need to know if there is a bounty out there on these jokers.” Annette finished her comment as she settled into her seat. Sam started the truck and fell in behind the F-350.
Wisp Mountain and Ski Resort, McHenry, Maryland 1600;
The six men in suits looked out of place as they walked through the doors of the lobby. Even to Marty Haskel, who was used to seeing men’s only groups at the resort this six stood out. You didn’t normally see Armani suits in this part of Maryland. Down around Baltimore and D.C. sure it was common place, but not up here. “How can I help you gentlemen?”
“We need rooms for the next three weeks. Will this be possible?” the man in front asked. Marty picked up on the soft French accent, and strange stance the man took.
Marty may not have ever spent a day in the military, but his brother and father had. He knew the signs to look for in veterans and this man had them all. “Sorry, sir, but the resort is full right now. This is one of our biggest weeks up here on the Lake. If you’re looking for a long term stay I would try the rental agencies to see if they have an open cabin.”
“Who would you suggest, my good man?” this was from one of the other men and he had a very polished English accent.
“You might want to start with Riely Realty, then H&W Realty. If neither of them has what you need then your best bet will be over in Accident with TGR Realty.” Marty didn’t know why he wanted these men out of the hotel and didn’t really care. These men put him ill at ease.
“Thank you, sir. Have a good day.” The first man said as they turned and walked away.
“Oh… I forgot to ask. What brought you all to Deep Creek gentlemen? It’s part of a survey that our council on Tourism is running.”
“We came for the fishing. Most of us are stuck in offices all day in D.C. and thought that some fresh air and fishing would be good relaxing fun. We all want to catch the big one that got away as you Americans say.” The Frenchman said as they walked out the door to laughter.
Since the 9-11 attacks; Marty, like a lot of the people in the hospitality industry, had received training on spotting possible terrorists. Unlike a lot of those hard working and underappreciated employees Marty also had his brother’s teachings to go off of. His brother Tommy had been an anti-terrorist Special Forces operative before injuries forced him into a medical retirement. Calling for one of the other desk clerks to cover for him Marty went to the breakroom and made a phone call.
“Sheriff, it’s Marty Haskel over at the Wisp.”
“What can I do for you Marty?”
“Sir, I just had six men up here asking for rooms for the next three weeks. Sir, I know that I’m only a simple reservation clerk, but there was something way off about those men. They really gave me an uneasy feeling. Like they was up to no good.”
“Marty, what time do you get off?”
“Not for another four hours sir.”
“Get someone to cover you for the next two hours. Tell Dale, that I want to see you in my office. Don’t tell him what it is about, just that I need to see you. Understand Marty? You’re to tell no one why I want to see.”
“Yes sir. Just tell Dale, that you need to see, but I don’t know why. I can swing that. I’ll be there in thirty minutes. See you then Sheriff.” After saying goodbye Marty hung up the phone and went to see Dale the manager on duty. “Dale, I got to step out for a couple of hours. Sheriff Elise wants to see me about something.”
Dale Wenthorp looked up from his computer screen. “Did the Sheriff say why he needed to see you in the middle of your shift?”
“Boss, you and I both know that Sheriff Elise doesn’t talk about stuff he doesn’t want to over the phone. All I know is that Sheriff Elise wants to talk to me.”
“Okay, Marty, I get it now. Go ahead and head out. Don’t worry about clocking out. I think I know what the Sheriff wants talk to you about. Just remember, if he asks about the Daniels brothers using our docks for fueling their fishing boat, that we take care for two to three hundred boats a damned day. We don’t answer to DNR or the County as to who our customers are.” Dale turned back to his computer. As Marty was leaving the office he heard Dale muttering. “Fucking Daniels better keep the mouths shut about their buyers.”
Marty headed downtown to Oakland and the Sheriff’s Office. He had no sooner walked through the door than a Deputy led him straight to Sheriff Elise’s office. “Thanks Mike, you can go.” The Deputy nodded his head and closed the door. He understood the implied order. “Okay Marty tell me about these ‘fishermen’.”
“Sir, they came in about forty to forty-five minutes after our morning rush to checkout. The first thing that I noticed about them was their suits. All of them were wearing really high-end European suits. The same with their shoes. I know that's nothing big in D.C. and Alexandria, sir. But up here, people leave those behind for jeans, shorts, tennis shoes, boots and t-shirts. Then there was the fact that none of them had any fishing gear with them. Sure, I know that Walmart carries fishing gear and supplies, but people like that bring their own gear. They sure as hell won’t shop at Wally world for their gear. Those types go to places like Gander Mountain, or Bass Pro for their hunting and fishing gear. Then there was the accents that I heard. Two of them were from Western Europe. A Frenchman and Englishman. Both sounded like they were from real old world High Class families. Not your normal working-class folk.” The more Marty talked about the men the deeper the scowl grew on Billy Elise’s face.
“Tell me something Marty. Did any of these men have a military or police type bearing about them?”
“Yes sir, Sheriff. All of them did. Three of the men actually scanned the lobby as they came through the door. Tommy and pa gave me enough experience growing up to spot the signs for vets. None of these men work for some Consulate in D.C. Sheriff. I’ll give you even odds on that, along with points, and still come out ahead.” Marty may not be a college grad, but he knew how to run the odds for a betting pool. His was the biggest sports pool in the Resort area, and Elise knew it.
Like a lot of small towns in America, the local Sheriff knew everybody that broke the law. The ones that took things too far were quickly sent to prison. The ones like Marty, who ran a small-time bookmaking operation were usually ignored. The small-timers were usually ignored in favor of keeping the peace. These men and women usually kept the big-time criminals and street-thugs out of their territory. In a way, they policed a big part of the criminal element of modern day society. They were also usually the ones to spot trouble before it got out of hand.
“No thanks, Marty. I won’t be taking those odds. Where did you send them?”
“I sent them to see Mrs. Donna, over at Reily Realty, and Miss Jessie over at H&W Realty. I told them that if they need a place to stay for longer than four days that one of the rental cabins would be best, sir.”
“Smart thinking Marty. Okay, you can head back to work. Keep what we talked about between us. No one, and I mean no one, is to know about this.” The ‘or else’ was left unsaid by Billy Elise. Marty didn’t need for it to be said either. Once Marty was out of his office, Billy Elise made two phone calls. The first was to H&W Realty. Jessie Waters answer his call and told him that she had nothing a viable and that she sent the six-man party down to see Donna. After that call Billy got on the Donna Reily at Reily Realty. She informed him that she had rented a cabin to the men for the next three weeks, and gave the address. Neither woman had a problem with keeping what they talked about quiet for Billy.
Billy walked into the dispatch office after he talked with the two women. “Gladys, recall Mike, Rick and Jimmy. Just tell them I want to see them in my office.”
“Sure, thing Sheriff.” The elderly dispatcher turned to the radio mike and placed the calls. Once done she returned to filing her nails. She didn’t know what was bugging her boss, but she knew that it was big. Billy Elise never recalled a Deputy from the field to have a face to face in his office. If a deputy screwed up, Billy always waited for either before or after a shift to give the ass-chewing.
Garret School for Exceptional Girls, Friendsville, Maryland 1530;
Deputy Lisa Michaels had the duty for the day. Like all the other Deputies, she would do an eight-hour shift in the security office. She smiled as she watched the group of teens playing soccer in the open area between the dorms. There were a few standing off to one side watching, but she could see the hope that they would soon be joining the others. These were the kids that hadn’t yet been cleared by the medical staff for this kind of activity.
Lisa sighed as she thought back to that night when the first of the girls showed up at the school. She and the other twenty-four Deputies assigned to the detail just stared in disbelief as the light gray Freightliner pulled around in front of the school and a woman no bigger than a minute hopped out of the cab. The dark hat and pants gave the woman a menacing look as she swept the right edge of the dark duster back to reveal an auto-pistol in a speed-draw holster. “Who’s in charge?”
After Deputy Marston, the lead for the detail signed the woman’s clipboard, she opened the trailer doors. Inside were ten heavily armed Deputies and fifty scared young girls. Once the girls were off the Deputies reboarded and the driver closed the trailer doors. Within twenty minutes the school had received its first students. The mysterious truck and driver was gone. This would happen for several nights until the last student arrived. The trucks and the drivers varied, but none gave any mention of who they worked for and gave off the same intense vibe. That was over four months ago. One of the traveling deputies did confide that the trucks were for an elite company that specialized in extreme high-value loads only.
Lisa shook her head to clear the memory and concentrate on her duties. Whoever had the duty in the security office knew they were the first line of defense. As the eighty security cameras all fed in here to the monitors. Of those eighty, thirty covered the outer edges of the campus, with two on the gates. She and more than one deputy had walked the outer walls looking for blind spots. They were surprised that there was not one blind spot anywhere. Even the bear dens were covered.
Her partner Dan Wilcox had been on duty when the Code Gloria came in last night. Ever since then, the whole detail had been on high alert. Marston, had even called in the reserve deputies that were stationed in Oakland. She and they all knew that the teachers could pitch in at second's notice. When you have thirty men and women who were all former military of one type or another, that made for one hell of a backup. Marston even had all fourteen K9’s working. Ten were currently looking after the girls, with just four working the fence-line.
Lisa hit the button that would give her a look at the medical wing. This was the one wing of the whole school she worried about the most. This was where the most damaged of students were kept. These were the girls with real medical issues both physically and mentally. The one girl that she really worried about was Sally Billings. Of all the girls in the medical wing, she was the newest girl to be brought in. She had been here for seven weeks and still wouldn’t leave her room. The girl was scared of everyone in the school.
Not that Lisa blamed the fifteen-year-old kid. After what they had been put through, even Lisa doubted her ability to remain sane. The scars across the kid's back from the whips was enough to make Lisa want to kill the asshole who put them there. Then again, there were more than a few kids in this school that Lisa wanted to get some jailhouse justice for. Sally was just the newest one in that group. More than one of the Deputies assigned to this detail wanted to get some jailhouse justice for these kids.
Lisa sighed and returned to scanning the outer cameras. Lisa checked each one and did a headcount of the students. When she came up short four students, Lisa brought up the interior cameras. Normally Lisa wouldn’t be worried about four missing girls somewhere on the campus, but these four were the youngest. All four were under sixteen. The youngest of them was thirteen and others fourteen. These four girls were all rescued from the same sick, depraved, fuck. Lisa just wished she had been part of the SOG team that took the man down. It didn’t take her long before she found the missing girls. “Well, hello there. So, you’re our cookie thieves.”
Reaching over Lisa keyed the mike to contact the rover. “Danny, I found our cookie monsters. They're going in the loading dock door now. Go round them up, please?”
The chuckling voice on the other end let Lisa know he was on the way. “Finally nabbed them red-handed did you Lisa?”
“Oh, shut up! I’ll pay up when we have them in the office.” Lisa grumbled.
All the Deputies had a running pool on who the cookie bandits were. Only Danny Morgan had placed his money on the four youngest students. Everyone else was betting that it was the older students raiding the kitchen for the youngest. The girls would have some action taken, but it would be carefully phrased and gentle. Likely they would be taught to make cookies and have to share them with their classmates. Even the idea of punishments had to be carefully imposed to keep the girls from reverting back to their former states.
Lisa returned to monitoring the exterior cameras. She knew that somewhere out there were some bad people wanting to do some bad things to these kids. She was going to be damned to ten kinds of hell before she let that happen. “They’ve suffered enough. So, come on you fuckers. Come and face your death like the dogs you are. Forget everything else, this'll be street-justice at its best.”
Nondescript office building somewhere around D.C. 1430;
Paul Dannigan was reading over the reports from Maria and the team on Ram’s Rock Island. “How in the hell did this get so far out of hand? Damn it! I thought I had better control over this shit!”
Madison heard her boss raising hell with himself and sighed. Getting up she fixed Paul a fresh cup of coffee and took it to him. “Sir, I hate to tell you this, but isn't this what the Deputies were talking about that one day.”
“What are you talking about Madison?”
“Sir, remember when Deputy Everbrite said that there are times that all a law enforcement officer can do is clean up the mess? This is one of those times. The best they can do is react right now. Give them time. They’ve only been in the field for twelve hours. They are also slightly handicapped. Their Command and Control is a thousand miles away in the basement of an island airport. It’s not like they have one of those mobile bus Command Centers that the other agencies have. Though I wonder if that would even help. We're not like them.”
Madison’s comment about a mobile Command Center got Paul to thinking. Half the Black Badges were always out of reach at some time during their operations. Namely the ground team. The fluid nature of their missions dictated this simple fact. Unlike the rest of the O.I.C.A., whose missions were totally in the dark, the Black Badges had to work both in shadows and in the light.
“Madison, you just may have something.” Opening a link to the TOC on Ram’s Rock Paul waited for Kimberly to pick up. He was not surprised to see most of the O.I.C.A. in the TOC when the connection was made. “Captain, has the Ground team made contact recently?”
“Negative, sir. As of last contact the Ground team was in transit to Richmond, Virginia. They should arrive sometime in the next few hours.”
Paul looked over at Maria. “Marshal, I have a question to ask.”
Maria looked back up at him in the screen. “Go ahead, Major. You know I’ll do my best to answer your questions.”
“I never doubt that Maria. Do you think that you, the Maid, and Gemini could better serve the Ground team in the field?”
“Major.” Lyssa called out. “Gemini is nowhere near ready for this type of mission. As for the Maid and the Marshal, they are no longer in their prime. This is not the mission for them.”
“Calm down Sergeant Major.” Paul snapped. “I know Gemini isn’t ready for full field operations. As for the Maid, I doubt that any doctor would sign off on her for something like this. The same goes for the Marshal. No, what I’m talking about is the Command team for the Black Badges operating out of a mobile command center. Do you think that you would be able to provide better support for the ground team?”
Maria looked up at Paul in surprise. She wasn’t the only one. Anna, Lyssa, Rodrick, Kimberly, and Krystel were just as surprised. This was something totally outside of all their experiences. For most the idea was nothing new, as most military units that operate in field environments had mobile TOCs. The fact that Federal Agencies, State Law Enforcement and large metropolitan cities were now using them was almost common place. Until now, the Head of the O.I.C.A. had never thought of something like this. Then again, the O.I.C.A. never real had the assets to work inside of CONUS in such manner until recently.
“Sir, just what are you talking about?” Kimberly asked.
Dannigan explained. “I’m talking about an ALOC for the Black Badges than can be deployed into an urban environment. One that wouldn’t attract attention, but could supply up to date, live Intel, while allowing the Marshal to better control her team. One, that would provide Gemini a place to work from in the field and remain safe. Yet, could be linked to the TOC there on Ram’s Rock. Something that wouldn’t be out of place in an RV park or campground, yet could also be seen in an urban area.”
"ALOC?" Anna asked.
Kimberly nodded. "Alternate Location Operations Center. ALOC. Most field units have that. The TOC is the primary and the ALOC is the secondary. Now that it's being discussed, it's not a bad idea. It could be deployed anywhere, at anytime, to support missions."
The more they talked about the idea of a mobile operation center the more Kasey understood what her grandfather wanted. And knew where to get the vehicle they would need.
“Sir, I believe that I have an idea of what would fit the needed parameters and where to get one. It would also be something that can be driven by myself or any other member of the Command team.” With a few clicks on her keyboard Kasey put the needed website on the main screen. “This is the Earth Roamer XV-lts. I believe that with a little modification it would serve all of our purposes.”
“What are the specs on that Gemini two?” Paul was liking what he was seeing. He wasn’t the only one either. Lyssa, Rodrick and the other members of the O.I.C.A. were looking at the very powerful RV in the light of a mobile Command Center.
“Sir, the base chassis is a Ford F-550 four-wheel drive, turbo diesel. Comes with a ninety gallon diesel fuel tank. Has room for an additional ninety gallons of fresh water. Basic range is nine hundred miles. Twelve hundred watts of solar power, with a twelve-thousand-watt hour battery bank. The interior has multiple lay-outs able to sleep anywhere from four to six people. This gives us plenty of room for modification to set one up as a mobile command center.” The only time Kasey cringed was when she got to the price. “Sir, the base price for dealer-lot purchase is over four hundred-thousand-dollars. Custom orders go over the half million-dollar mark and upwards, depending on your requests.”
“Don’t worry about that Gemini two. We have the funds for something like. Tell me, can one of those be purchased without the interior finished?” Rodrick asked her.
“Give me a minute to find out, sir. I only started looking for the needed vehicle when the Major brought up the idea. And stated the needed specs.” Kasey had no sooner finished answering Rodrick’s question than Kristine smiled.
“Sir, I’ve been online with the Seizures Data Base for the U.S. Marshals. There are currently two of these up for auction at the Federal Impound Yard in Arlington. One of which is listed as needing full replacement of interior. According to the Data Base it was seized during a drug bust on Interstate ninety-five by the DEA and ATF.” Kristine looked over at Maria and asked. “Does that mean they stripped the insides out of thing?”
All of the adults just laughed at the teen's question while nodding their heads yes. At the look of embarrassment on Kristine’s face, Maria moved to reassure her granddaughter. “We’re not laughing at you dear, just the irony that our friends in DEA and AFT have just solved half of our problem is all.”
“Captain, arrange for covering credentials for the Maid. I want the whole Black Badge Command Team in the air in sixty mikes headed for D.C. No need to arrange for pickup. I’ll meet them personally. Gemini, I hope you girls are ready to do some fast shopping and work. Krystel, give them a list of what they’ll need to set that beast up for usage as an ALOC.” As Paul started giving out orders Maria coughed into her hand to gain his attention. “Yes, Marshal. You have something to say?”
“You are damned right I do. For starters, I haven’t given permission yet for Gemini to leave the island. Secondly; if, and this is a big damned if, I give that permission. The girls go nowhere unarmed. No matter which of those beasts we choose, it will have a full arms locker on-board. Carl or Peter can help the girls with the needed setup of this, what did you call it, ALAC?”
The military side of the house corrected her quickly. “ALOC.”
“Yes, ALOC. Anyway, one of them can help setup this ALOC while Anna and I catch up with Rinaldo in D.C. at Ronald Reagan. That or rescue him from the Deputies that are currently hounding him. Kasey will need a valid driver’s license for Maryland as it will allow her to drive that beast anywhere in the U.S. We won’t need to tap anymore resources outside of those in M and M Industries for transportation and the work needed to be done on the ALOC. M and M has a full auto-body and engine workshop. We can use the Arlington headquarters and motor-pol. Lastly, that ALOC goes nowhere without a panic button and full GPS tracking. I’m not going to put OUR granddaughters in harm’s way if I can avoid it.” The look on Maria’s face let Paul know that her conditions were non-negotiable.
“Ria, if you hadn’t demanded those conditions I would have. I am making one change. I’m sending Krystle with Carl and Gemini to help setup that rig. Time is short and they need all the help they can get.” Paul breathed out then gave his next command. “Boots and saddles, people. We got a shit storm on our hands and we need to get ahead of it. I’ll see you all in five hours, Ria.”
With that he shut down the connection. Turning to look out his window Paul knew he needed to take care of one more problem. picking up the phone he placed a call to the office of Dorothy Rose. When the phone was answered he didn’t waste time. “Rose this is Doggerty. Have your Deputies picked up an Interpol Chief Inspector at RGI?”
“I remember you, sir. As for my Deputies meeting a Chief Inspector from Interpol that is none of your concern.”
“Wrong Marshal. He was invited in by my Office. I’ll be by to pick him up in two hours. You are not to question or detain that man for any reason. Understood?” When he didn’t get an immediate response, Paul snarled. “This is where you say, 'yes sir, we’ll have him waiting outside when you pull in' Marshal.”
Dorothy want to scream at the top of her lungs, but knew that it would do no good. “Fine, Doggerty. He’ll be there. Can you answer one question for me?”
“That depends.” Paul knew what she wanted to know.
“Are they doing okay? And don’t tell me you don’t know who I’m talking about.”
Paul sighed. He had read Samantha’s jacket and knew of her background with Dorothy Rose. The woman had been like a sister to Samantha in a time when Samantha needed one the most. “They’re all doing good, Dorothy. In fine form and spirits. They’re all still working for the angels. Only now they’re going where you can't after those you can’t touch.”
“Thank you, sir. Do me a favor. Let them that they can always come home.”
Paul knew that wasn’t a possibility anymore for the Black Badge Deputies. He didn’t feel that Dorothy Rose needed to know that. “Sure. Marshal, I have to say that they’re some of the finest officers I have ever met. There's plenty to do, so get on it Marshal. There's no time to waste.”
“You too, Doggerty.” Was the last thing Paul heard before the line went dead. Paul knew that he had just upset the applecart in Arlington, but that was the nature of the beast. It wasn't his job to play nice with any other agencies. In fact, the less he interacted with them, the better.
“I hope like hell this crazy ass idea works out. If it does, then we just made the Deputies that much more useful and far deadlier. The question is will they get the damned thing up and running in time?”
U.S. Marshals Headquarters, Arlington, Virginia 1645
Rinaldo DeMarco had been met at Ronald Reagan International Airport by two very beautiful U.S. Deputy Marshals. When he first exited the plane, and passed through Customs he expected to be met by his sister Maria. He was not expecting to be brought straight to the Headquarters of the U.S. Marshals. He definitely wasn’t expecting the blunt Supervisory Deputy that started to demand what he had on the escapees. Nor was he expecting to basically be blamed for the attacks here in the United States by those very escapees.
Then just as the man was starting to really push his luck with Rinaldo, a woman stepped in the interview room stopping everything. The one good thing about this whole morning had been that no one had seen fit to check his suitcases. If they had someone might have found the hidden compartment. Like all DeMarcos, Rinaldo never traveled without his personal weapons. He maybe an officer of the law now, but he was still trained in the traditions of his family. Now he sat in the main lobby of that august building waiting for someone to meet with him from a different agency.
When the very nondescript gentlemen walked up to him in the lobby, Rinaldo at first didn’t recognize the man. It wasn’t until he got a good look at the gentlemen that a faded memory from long ago of a young U.S. Army Officer returned. Then Rinaldo started to place certain features on the face of his niece Annette. When he held out his hand Rinaldo was smiling. “Good to see a familiar face among strangers.”
“Welcome to the U.S. I believe I’m your ride to meet with your sister, Rinaldo.” Paul smirked. “Come on let’s get you out of here. Ria and the rest of her command team should be touching down in a few hours. I believe she said something about M and M Industries.”
“The nearest is here in Arlington. Over in the industrial area.” Rinaldo answered before asking his own question. “Tell me something, have you made an honest woman of my sister yet?”
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