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.
Downtown, Richmond Virginia, 0745
Bobby and Sam pulled into the multi-level parking garage for the Federal Courthouse just ahead of Hunter and Annett. The two teams had returned to their hotel after the mess of last night’s abortive mission. All four Deputies grabbed some sleep before heading back this morning to try and locate the second team. This time though, they had better Intel thanks to the work of the Command team. They were not expecting the early morning video call from Maria.
The fact that they were in a campground ground outside of Richmond was an even bigger surprise. “Alright you four, what happened? You first Hunter.”
Hunter swallowed then decided to take the bull by the horns. “To be blunt Marshal, this was a true, by the numbers cluster-fuck, all the way down the line. Bad Intel, poor recon, and most of all Murphy at his finest. The only thing that didn't happen, was rain.”
“That's quite the statement. Take me through it, one step at a time.” Maria ordered.
“We broke down the number of locations for safe-houses first Marshal. We eliminated two outright due to their lack of escape routes, and security for outside leaks.” Sam told Maria.
Maria nodded her understanding. “By that, you mean the nosy neighbor factor. Okay, what about the last two?”
“Marshal, that is where things get a little confusing.” Annette started, and held up her hand to forestall Maria’s response to that. “Both sites were viable and met the needed parameters for good safe-houses.”
“I see. Go on.” Maria prompted.
“Yes ma’am. It was my decision to keep the team together as a single unit and hit only one of the two sites at a time. With the fluid nature, we felt that it would be safer this way. The main reason behind this was the number of outside players.” Bobby answered honestly.
Maria looked out at Bobby and could tell that he was being honest. Not that she blamed him or any member of the ground team. She wasn’t happy with the old families taking out the bounty and open contract on these outside hitters. “I take it that it was these outside players that threw the monkey wrench in your operations last night, Deputies?”
“Yes ma’am. In a major way.” Hunter answered. “One team took out one of our primary targets, then setup a trap for any other teams. We walked into that trap. We have been able to confirm that the secondary target was able to evade both detection and capture by outside players while setting a trap for one of those teams.”
As Maria took in this new information, Anna had the teens working hard and fast searching for the secondary team. They needed that Intel now.
Rinaldo smiled before asking his own question. “Deputies, would you happen to know the names of the one dead team?”
“Which one Inspector?” Annette asked.
“The one that was used as bait, Deputy.”
“Armand Casio, Fredrick Huss, and Benito Borelli, Inspector.” Annette answered. “Does this help in any way?”
“Si, it does, Deputy. This removes two of the three bombers, and one forger, from our list of suspects. It also removes one of the three trained snipers, leaving just Rossi and Calderone for any shots exceeding five hundred meters.”
“Not good enough, Inspector. We still have one too many snipers in play. Not to mention the fact that rest are all shooters.” Annette pointed out.
“Not so Deputy.” Anna interrupted them. “Only four of the men still out there prefer using firearms. The last two are real knife fighters. They like to be up close.”
Bobby picked up on this fact fast. “Wait. Miss, Anna, are you saying that we may have a team made up of a sniper and two close-in specialists?”
Maria looked over at Anna. “What do you have Anna?”
“I’ve been going over those files for the past two days and one thing has continued to stick out with these teams. They all have one bomber, one sniper, and one close-in expert. Now, when these two teams showed up here in Richmond I had Gemini run a program to shuffle the men around in such a way as to be able to send just three men on this job for the two judges. We all made the mistake of believing they would follow the set pattern of two sniper kills, and one bombing. What if this time instead of two sniper kills they send in the knife fighters?”
Hunter saw exactly where Anna was going with this. “Gemini, where do the judges park their personal cars?”
Kasey and Kristine didn’t even acknowledge his question just went to work hunting the net for that information. Anna, and Maria, smiled as the teens used the skills their mentor had already trained them in to hunt down the needed information. This was their way for hunting criminals. The way of the cyberwarfare specialist. To Rinaldo, watching the teens just ignore their parents was insulting at first. Then he saw what they were doing, and kept his mouth shut.
Kasey as usual was the first to speak. “Cabit’s Emporium Garage on South fourteenth street. It’s a four-story structure with an open building plan.”
“Both Judge Richard Harris and William Cantrail use the garage instead of the Courthouse parking. Harris has a place on the second floor, with Cantrail on the third. There are five elevators, one in each corner and one in the center. The garage is open to the public. With long term parking on the roof.” Kristine said as she gave them the needed structural and operational details.
“Gemini, are there any blind spots in the surveillance cameras?” Hunter asked.
“Yes sir, too many. There are the normal blind spots in the restrooms, of course. The next big one is between the third and second floor stairwell in the northeast corner. One, in the southwest corner stairwell between the second and first floor. And the last one is in the exit tunnel to the Courthouse.” Kasey read the list off to her parents and grandmother.
Kristine in the meantime was searching for the reasons behind the outages for those cameras. Lessons learned in South Carolina were being remembered.
“Sir, before you ask there are three work orders for repair of those cameras. They, along with five others, were damaged during a protest three weeks ago.” Kristine looked up from her workstation. “Sir, the odds of those cameras still being out for this long is way too high to be coincidence.”
All six adults chuckled at the teens very blunt statement.
Hunter put her at ease with his smile. “Kristine, I doubt that even Lyssa believes in such a thing as coincidence.”
"If we feel it, then it is and already too late." Kasey and Kristine chorused.
“You did good girls. Is there a possible sniper position? One that would be good for two shots, maybe three, before compromise.” Sam asked them.
Kasey saw where Sam was going with her question. “Yes ma’am. We know what to look for now. The lower floors all have a chain-link fence between the floors, but the long-term parking on the roof is wide open. The use of a van or pickup with a hard-top cover would be needed though. The upper wall is just over four feet tall. Perfect for concealment while providing ample points to fire from.”
“Damn. That gives us four points from which the team can strike. Still, it’s better than what we been dealt so far.” Hunter pointed out.
Maria smiled. “No need to worry Ground team. This time there will be more than just yourselves handling this. The Inspector along with myself will meet you on the first floor of the garage. Anna, you will stay here and oversee the safety of Gemini. Rinaldo, we have a date with some old friends of yours. Command, out.”
That was an hour ago and now the ground team were looking for their boss. Both teams drove slowly through the garage working their way upward. Sam was the first to spot the truck that Maria and Rinaldo were using. The Ford F-150 4x4 was dark blue with black chrome trim. Bobby pulled into the parking spot across for them, while Hunter and Annette in the bigger F-350 parked two spaces further down. Both hunter/killer teams got out and walked over to where Maria was waiting.
“Marshal.” Hunter greeted her only to receive a frown from Maria. Then he smiled and pulled her into a hug. “Good to see you here, Mom.”
“You too, Hunter.” Maria returned the big man’s hug and then started to hug the rest of her family in greeting. Rinaldo just chuckled at seeing the sight of a U.S. Marshal greeting her team as if they were a mafia crew. Then it hit Rinaldo. Maria, Annette and Samantha may have stepped away from the life, but they would always be mafia. As such, this would be the way they greeted each other. The spike of jealousy over what his sister had was ruthlessly crushed. She had lost enough in her life, and he was not about to disparage the way Maria ran her team.
“Okay, how do we want to play this, children?” Maria asked them. At their blank looks Maria sighed. “We have three possible areas for the contracts to be carried out. Who takes what?”
Hunter smiled at the older DeMarco knowing full well she already had a plan. “We have two CQC experts and two sniper experts, Marshal. I say Deputies DeMarco and Justice take the stairwell, while Deputy Everbrite and myself handle the rooftop sniper’s nest. This places you and the Inspector as backup for either team.”
Maria smiled at the big man and nodded her head. “Then that is what we’ll do. Remember, these men are under Lethal Finding. Do not take any chances with your safety. You see them, shoot them. Everybody goes home, as you say Robert. Understood?”
“YES MA’AM.” The four deputies said at the same time. It wasn’t like they needed to be reminded about the danger they faced. It still felt good to know that Maria cared about their safety, especially for Hunter.
“And Deputies, make sure to mark your kills. I want no doubt as to who took out this team of outsiders.” All four deputies understood what Maria meant and nodded their heads. They had become used to Maria wanting to leave behind a message.
The four deputies each headed for their assigned areas. Rinaldo stood watching as each deputy armed themselves with their different side arms. When he saw the knives that the team carried he noticed their construction. Reaching behind his back, Rinaldo pulled out his own family knife. Then looked over at Maria in question.
“Yes, Rinaldo they all CARRY a DeMarco blade. Only three were forged in the family’s forge. The rest were forged by my sons-in-law. That is why there are nine new DeMarco blades in the world. Before you ask, Samantha still carries the Capizeo blade. My granddaughters each have their own and are just as deadly as we were at that age with a blade. It is also why my team all have more than one blade with them. For the boys, it is a second knife that carries their demons. For the girls, they are family blades that carries each family’s traditions. I have a feeling that those blades will be used today.” Maria never took her eyes off of her family as they geared up and headed off to stop the assassination team.
Rinaldo was still feeling surprise. “My God, Maria! I know that you, being a Marshal, would be deadly to the criminal underworld, but your whole family as Deputies is something not even the Gods should have to face. Now you tell me that they ALL dance. No Organization would even think of operating without your approval, if they were to know.”
“AND THAT, is exactly why no one must even know we exist.” Maria sighed and looked over at her brother. “I have done all that I can to bring my family into the light and keep it there Rinaldo. Do not make me regret calling you in. OUR family has far too many sins to pay for, for you to endanger that.”
“Do not worry, Maria. I may have joined the Carabinieri back home at mama’s request, but I have not forgotten our roots. Once a DeMarco, always a DeMarco. Famiglia al primo posto, sempre, famiglia fino alla morte.” Rinaldo finished with the family motto of family first, family always, family until death. “Come sister, we have our own job to do. Where do you think the knife will setup?”
“If anywhere, he will be on the first floor somewhere by the elevators. And Rinaldo.” At his sister’s pause, Chief Inspector Rinaldo Demarco looked over at his sister. “No one walks away without bleeding.”
“Sì, mia cara sorella. Vuole lasciare un messaggio, Donna DeMarco?” Rinaldo smiled at his sister as he asked the one question that would have more impact than a nuke.
“Oh yes, dear brother. I want to leave a message to every hitter out there to back off of OUR contract.” Maria answered as she pulled out the two dove feathers from inside of her stylish ladies' sport jacket.
Annette stood waiting on the landing between the second and third floor of the stairwell. She knew that her target would soon be entering the stairwell and had picked the perfect spot to confront the man. She smiled as the elderly couple walked pass and nodded her head to them with a charming smile. So far, they had been the only ones to come down or up the stairs and it was starting to make her antsy. Then she heard the sounds of a man’s heavy footfalls coming up the stairs. With each step, Annette knew that this was her target. The sound of expensive Italian leather sole shoes set the man apart from the rest of the people in the building.
So when the dapper appearing gentleman walked around from the second floor landing, it was no surprise to her. She also knew the man from the files she and the others had spent the last few days studying. He may have grown a beard and mustache, but it did little to hide the bulbous nose and green eyes. Leaving the white tulip in the banister, Annette walked down the stairs past the man, before pulling her suppressed forty-five from under her jacket.
She knew the man would see the flower before long and that was when she would kill him. As she passed the man, Annette smiled coyly at him and batted her lashes then turn her head slightly away. Yes, she knew she was flirting shamelessly with the man she was about to kill, but it would be enough to distract him until he gained the next landing and saw her signature.
That was all Annette needed to hear. She turned and fired three times. All three rounds hit, found vital organs and were kill shots. The hypershock HTX 230 grain slugs did the job of killing the man with ease. Two tore through his lungs and one through his head. Annette cleaned up her spent shell casings before double checking that the man was dead. At the distance she fired, all three rounds ripped through the man’s body and buried themselves in the wall. Pulling out her knife, Annette retrieved the bullets from the cinder block walls. The work she had done with Shawna had given her an insight into counter-forensics that she was now putting to use. She almost wanted to kick herself for never bothering with the simple step before.
With the kill-site cleaned up, Annette headed up to the fourth-floor roof top exit. She figured that Bobby and Hunter would need help with the sniper’s nest. Annette wasn’t worried about Sam being able to handle her target, not in the confines of a stairwell. This was Sam’s specialty.
Southwest corner Stairwell…
Sam had just gotten to the stairwell as Judge Harris entered the second floor of the garage. Sam knew she had to move fast. Quickly scanning the parking area she didn’t see her target and thanked the Gods of Luck. Moving to the stairwell, Sam drew her forty-five and dropped her hand down behind her right leg. She knew that the hitter had to be in the stairwell as there was an out of order sign on the elevator call buttons. To most people this wouldn’t mean much, but to Sam, it meant the hitter was already in the stairwell waiting.
As she passed the elevator, she pulled the sign down with her left hand and tucked it into her jacket pocket. Pushing open the stairwell door, Sam scanned the stairs quickly. It was the mingling smells of Italian made Atkinson's Sandalwood Bar Soap and Acca Kappa White Moss AfterShave Splash that grabbed her attention. She knew the man was on the landing above her. Keeping her pistol hidden Sam let the door slowly close behind her and headed up the stairs. With each step Sam let out that part of her that allowed her to kill without remorse. Gone was Samantha Justice and in her place was Stephany Capizeo.
As she reached the landing between the two floors, she spotted her target. Unlike Annette, Sam didn’t bother to flirt or be subtle in her approach. She fired from the hip. Three hypershock HXT 230 grain wad-cutter slugs slammed into the man at over 600 feet per second. Just like with Annette’s target, Sam’s was dead before the second round hit him. The first round tore its way through the man’s forehead, while the other two shredded his heart.
With the speed born from practice Sam cleaned up her brass, then stepped around the dead man. There she pulled out her knife and recovered the bullets from the cinder block wall. The last thing Sam did was to drop of small pink charm on top of the dead man’s chest. A pair of pink ballet slippers no bigger than an inch or so, made from plastic available at any Walmart or dance store, sometimes even in the novelty machines for a mere quarter.
With her kill-site cleaned up and secure Sam headed for the roof. She knew that Bobby and Hunter needed help with the sniper’s nest take down. As she exited the stairwell she checked the elevator floor indicator. It was on the second floor and heading down. Sam smiled and went to go find the guys.
Long term Parking, Roof top…
Bobby and Hunter split up the moment they cleared the elevator to the long-term parking. Each man knew what they were looking for and where to find it. Hunter spotted the out of place van first and signaled Bobby. The two men moved across the parking lot using the cars and trucks as cover. They knew that the man inside was armed and dangerous. Once they were over to the far wall parking both men moved to the wall and behind the cars parked there. Moving along the wall from two different directions. Bobby came from the east and Hunter from the west.
As both men approached the white telephone company van, they saw the back-window open. Once the window was open, the barrel of a high-powered hunting rifle slowly exited the rear of the van. Both men stopped dead in their tracks. Bobby and Hunter both knew what they were looking at, the moment they saw that barrel. The distinctive barrel design of the Russian Dragunov 1972 SVD Sniper rifle left no doubt, that this was the van they were looking for.
Hunter reached under his jacket and pulled out the flash bang, only to have Bobby shake his head no. At the look of confusion on Hunter’s face, Bobby held up a white smoke canister. Hunter wanted to bust out laughing and nodded his head before holding up three fingers. Bobby smiled and pulled the pin, then released the arming spoon. Hunter counted down the fingers on his left hand. Just as he was about to reach one; Bobby tossed the tear gas through the rear window as it started smoking.
“What the HELL?!” Came the scream from inside the van just before the rear door opened. As the coughing and gagging sniper staggered out, Hunter fired twice. The two forty-five hypershock rounds hit within one inch of each other. The man’s heart was turned into so much shredded meat. Unlike with the girls, there would be no chance of recovering the bullets as they continued on into the parking area, to be lost among the many bullet holes. The brass though was quickly recovered by Hunter. The two men stood up straight and walked away from the crime scene, but not before leaving behind two playing cards tucked under the wiper blade on the windshield of the van.
Hours later when the bodies would be found, the police officers that would investigate the scene would find those two cards. With the second confirmed kill by the Jokers; their legend would be set. With the confirmation of the Tulip, Dove, and Ballerina as being at the same crime scene the word would spread like wildfire through the underworld. Legendary million-dollar per contract killers were now working together and hunting the terrorists that attacked and killed judges.
Maria and Rinaldo walked through the ground floor parking area with the ease of long time, highly trained, and skilled killers. Rinaldo slipped back into his early training in life. Like all DeMarcos, Rinaldo had trained in the ways of the assassin. Just as his sisters and brothers, Rinaldo was highly trained in the art. It was this training that had made him one of the best Investigators there was for Interpol. And for the first time he was using that training the way it was meant to be used.
Maria knew what was going through her brother’s mind as they hunted the man she knew would be here. It didn’t take the two trained assassins long to find their target. The fact that the four-man team were still getting ready to carry out the contract was obvious to the trained eye. Maria reached inside her jacket, seeing this Rinaldo just smiled and followed her lead. The two Demarco family members walked straight up to Jack Holms. Maria felt that it she might be able to talk the man into backing out and some fun at the same time.
“Johnathan, I would have a word with you.” Maria called out.
Johnathan aka Jake the knife Holms felt his blood turn to ice and turned white as a sheet hearing Maria’s voice. He turned slowly around, hoping that he wasn’t going to see Maria 'the Dove' DeMarco. The fact that the Dove was here was not something he wanted. If she had REALLY come out of retirement and was working this contract, then shit had just gone sideways for him. As his eyes fell on Maria DeMarco first, he didn’t quite place the man beside her. That was until he noticed the man’s face and its resemblance to Maria’s. The thought of 'oh shit not two DeMarcos' ran through his head. This was beyond what he had even considered facing.
“Ah, Maria, how nice to see you again. What has it been? Ten, fifteen years?” Jake needed to stall for time.
He knew that his crew were nowhere near good enough to take on one DeMarco, let alone two or more. The look on Maria’s face ended his ploy.
Maria decided to play along, but let her displeasure show. “It has been sixteen, Johnathan and you know it. Now, what do you think you’re doing working MY contract?”
“It’s an open contract Maria.” Jake started only to be stopped by the silenced barrel of Maria’s forty-five being jammed in his mouth.
“It is not an open contract, Johnathan. Do not assume so again.” Maria thumbed the hammer back on her pistol and waited three LONG seconds before removing it from Jake’s mouth. “Now, answer my question before I blow your damned head off just for having bad manners alone.”
The three men with Jake could not believe the speed with which the old woman had pulled her pistol, but the old man had stopped them all with his own speed draw. Two pistols, with hammers cocked, pointed at their heads. All three men could tell they were way out-classed by the two older hitters.
“Damn it, Dove. I got no choice in this matter! Dooly called in my marker.” Johnathan swore.
The minute Maria heard this, she sighed. She knew that there was no way that Jake Holms could really back out. The same could be said for the three men with him.
“Alright, Johnathan. I’m going to give you a piece of free advice. Head for Charleston, South Carolina and don’t stop until you get there. Spend the next ten days staking out the safe houses there and stay way south of the Mason-Dixon line. If Dooly bitches, inform him that he’s fucking with MY contract. He doesn’t like the way you carry out a contract; then he can clear your marker and you go home.” Maria said flatly.
The more Jake heard the more he liked. Someone else was going to take out the target, and his marker was cleared. That he didn’t have to go head-to-head with Maria DeMarco and her family was a bonus in his mind. “What about the bunnies here? You going to let me at least get a shot at them?”
Maria looked smug. “Already taken care of Johnathan. Do you wish to join them?”
“If you’re here Maria, who took care of the bunnies?” Jake didn’t know what to think. If Maria was here, then her family was here as well. But where were they?
“The Tulip, the Ballerina AND the Jokers. They have completed this part of the contract, Johnathan. Do you really want to try us ALL?” The smirk on Maria’s face was more than enough warning for Johnathan Holms to forget his question.
“Nope. This place is all yours, along with the CONTRACT. Me and my team are ghosts, Maria. Anything we can do for you before I drop our asses off the earth?”
“Spread the word, Johnathan. This is the only warning I’m giving. Cross my team on a contract at your own peril. We do not tolerate competition or fools. Am I understood?”
“Maria, you couldn’t be clearer if you used a billboard to send it.” Johnathan aka Jake the Knife Holms turned to his team. “Load up guys we’re out of here.”
"You see brother? I can be reasonable, after all." Maria remarked.
Rinaldo played along, commenting sarcastically. "Oh si, sister. You are the true spirit of compassion and benevolence."
Maria and Rinaldo stepped back out of the way as the hitters replaced their weapons in the cars and loaded up. Within minutes. Jake the knife Holms and his team were gone.
Maria turned to Rinaldo. “That went better than I expected.”
When Rinaldo heard this, he finally broke out laughing. What Maria had just done was, without a doubt, brilliant. Instead of killing off the competition here, Maria used it to spread the word that this contract was not open and only her family was going to collect. This was one time a scared shitless competitor was better than a dead one.
“Shall we rejoin the children, brother?” Maria asked smugly.
“By all means, sister, by all means.” Rinaldo was still laughing as they took the elevator up to the second floor.
Across the street in the courthouse Judges Harris, Cantrail, and Billings would go through the rest of their lives never knowing just how close they came to be being dead that day.
When Maria and Rinaldo entered the elevator they were greeted by the four younger members of the team. As they rode the elevator up to the second floor Maria could tell that all four had been successful in their assigned tasks. “Did you sign your work children? I want no mistake in who removed that trash.”
“All signed and sealed, Mother. All that needs to be done, is the delivery. Hunter figures our delivery boys should be here in about thirty minutes or so.” Sam answered for them. Maria and Annette could tell by the icy tone of Samantha’s voice that it was Stephany Capizeo who had come to kill this day. “All that needs to be done now is for Gemini to clean the security video footage.”
The elevator stopped and Maria led her team out. As she cleared the elevator Maria pulled out her cellphone and hit speed-dial. The call was answered before the first ring stopped by Kasey. “Gemini two here, Bravo-Bravo-Actual.”
“Gemini, have you secured the cameras and their storage server?” Maria asked.
“Roger that Actual. Standing by to scrub and dump now. Just waiting for the go-order.”
“Once the ground team has cleared the area Gemini. After that, twenty-four hours total wipe.” Maria ordered.
“Copy that Actual. Twenty-four-hour sweep and wipe, once Ground team is clear. Suggest regroup at ALOC for Intel update and debrief.”
“Copy that Gemini two. See you in an hour. Actual, out.” Maria hung up and put away her phone. “Let’s get out of here people. Follow me back to the ALOC. And Samantha, I would prefer that you lose the attitude by the time we get there.”
“Yes, Mama.” Was all Sam said as she and Annette headed for their truck. Bobby and Hunter said nothing as they walked over to the F-350.
Rinaldo was at a loss for words at the change in Sam’s attitude. Once he and Maria were alone in their truck, he asked Maria about the change. “That was NOT my niece out there Maria. What the hell happened to her?”
Maria sighed as she started the engine and backed out of the parking space. Once she was clear and heading for the exit Maria explained. “Samantha, was the one to avenge her family’s deaths Rinaldo. No one knows exactly how many bodies she piled up before she made it to the Marshals or how long she had been on the run, exactly. What I do know is, she used every last ounce of her training to survive. Ever since then, she has used that training to take down every type of scumbag escapee there is. She may go by the name Samantha Justice now, but fourteen years ago; she was Joseph Capizeo, the only son of Mary and Marko Capizeo. He was also known as Stephany Capizeo, to a very select few. That was who you were just dealing with.”
When Rinaldo finally learned that Samantha was in truth his supposedly dead nephew he was astonished at first. Then he thought about the rumors from more than a decade ago. How one Capizeo had escaped that fate filled night, to wreak unholy vengeance on the mob family that had killed their family.
KOA Campground just north of Richmond 0630…
The black and blue Earth Roamer fit-in with the other RV campers in the drive-through lots. Anna had pulled up to the gate of the campground just before sunrise. When the gate-guard asked for identification, Anna flashed the new Deputy Marshal badge. “U.S. Deputy Marshal, we need to use one of your RV camp sites for a few days.”
“Pull over to the camp store Deputy.” The guard pointed to the building just off to the side of the entrance two hundred feet from the roadway. Kasey and Kristine stayed with the RV as Anna got out to talk with the guard and night manager. Once Anna was inside, Kasey handed Kristine her personal sidearm. The two teens weren’t going to be stuck again with having to handle a problem with just non-lethal means. The mission in South Carolina had cured them of any romantic ideas along those lines. Their parents may not agree, but they would ask forgiveness later.
Anna came back out after maybe fifteen minutes with a map of the campground and a site reservation. Once she was again behind the wheel, the teens placed their sidearms back in the gun-locker.
Anna saw this and smiled. “Girls, your grandmother has authorized you to carry your weapons. Please, breakout your holsters and secure your weapons. Until I tell you otherwise, you go nowhere without them.”
Hearing this Kasey handed Kristine her holster and grabbed her own along with the weapons. As the girls were slipping their holsters on Anna drove to their camp site. Once there Anna had to smile. The site couldn’t have been more perfect. They were at the end of the road with easy access to the restrooms, and near to the rear exit of the campground. The other thing that worked for them, was they were the only ones that far out and right next to a Network node. Not that it was needed, the ALOC had its own secure satellite uplink.
That had been just over an hour and a half ago and the teens were working their magic with computers. Maria had given the care of her granddaughters to Anna and she wasn’t about to let down her Donna. As the teens worked to ensure their parents security Anna ensured theirs. The old woman wasn’t restricted to carrying only the weapons of an Embassy Bodyguard this time. This time, she had access to a full arsenal and she had no problems breaking it out.
A prime example of this was her M1912 World War I trench combat or trench shotgun. The 12-gauge pump shotgun was a family heirloom handed down from her father. The six-round tubular magazine was loaded with triple-aught buckshot. Anna placed the shotgun next to her seat in the driver’s compartment. Next up, was her pride and joy. A M1928A1 Thomson submachinegun that once belonged to Joey ‘Irish’ Kelly, legendary hitter for Al Capone. This she broke down and cleaned first, before reassembling, and loading the heavy hitter. The fifty-round magazine would make short work of anyone stupid enough to try hurting the teens. The last precaution Anna took was placing a double-barrel 12-guage sawed-off Mossberg shotgun next to the living area door.
While Anna worked and watched-over them Kasey and Kristine were scouring the net to insure there was no video evidence of their parents’ work. Seizing the server for the garage security network had been easy enough. Wiping the amount of security footage was taking time. Neither girl wanted to let some scumbag get away because they wiped the whole system. Then Kasey hit on the idea of a blackout wipe for two hours. This would wipe the two hours of video before, during and after their parents’ activities. While Kasey was doing this, Kristine was digging through the cellphone records for the dead assassination team that Annette and Sam had recovered.
The two teens knew that their parents were counting on them to give them the needed intel for where they were to go next. They were also counting on the girls to hide them from the prying eyes of the outside world. As hard as the teens worked, they were still too late. The reports of a sniper and drive-by attack in Pittsburg had already reached the news stations. This was Anna’s other job. She was the one to keep track of what the TV News Stations were reporting.
“SHIT! Hurry children! Find the men that did this.” Anna said.
“We’re working on it Miss Anna.” Kasey said from her position. “We’ve got their cellphones and can track them now. Give us a few more minutes and we’ll be able to listen in on their conversations.”
Anna wanted to snap at the seventeen-year-old, but bit her tongue. The girls were doing their best under the circumstances. They had done more for this operation than either their parents or grandparents would ever guess. The only people that knew this MORE than Anna were their teachers Krystel and Kimberly. Anna, had sat in on more than one of the girls’ lessons with thoe very intelligent young women. The hardest lesson the two teens had learned, was when to ask for help. They had learned this lesson in South Carolina and had taken it to heart.
Both girls looked at each other in confusion for a few seconds then turned to Anna. “Miss Anna, we need your help with something.” Kristine said.
Anna went over to them. "What is the matter girls?”
“We’ve intercepted a phone call between the sniper and the drive-by crew, but the language is one we’re not familiar with.” Kristine answered.
“Patch it through to my headset Kristine.” A few clicks of the keys and Anna was listening to the conversation. Even Anna was having a hard time figuring out the language. “Girls, contact Control, now.”
Kasey didn’t think twice and contacted the TOC. Kristine had been recording the phone call from the moment she intercepted it and was glad when she realized neither she or Kasey could translate.
When the screen opened to show Lyssa, Anna wasted no time. “Prima Lyssa we have a problem that we hope you can help us with.”
“What do you have Miss Anna?” Lyssa asked.
“A recorded conversation in a language that none of us know. We’re hoping that you can translate for us.” Anna was honest as she and the teens were at a dead-end.
Lyssa gave Anna a strange look. “Anna, this has to be a first. A language that none of you know? Are you sure?”
“Very much so. It is not one of the Eastern or Western European languages. If it was one of those I would have it covered. No, this is one outside of my comfort zone.” Anna admitted
“Patch it through Gemini.” Rodrick commanded.
“Here’s the recording Skipper.” Kasey put the recording on speaker so everyone could hear what was being said. It took Kimberly, Lyssa, and Rodrick more than half the conversation before Rodrick clicked to the language.
“Shit. No wonder you girls are having a problem. That’s Somali with a Maay dialect. I doubt that even your fathers could have picked up on that. As much as I hate to say this, but you’re going to need to run this through the translator program. Where did you pick this up at?” Rodrick asked in amazement.
“We used the cellphone numbers off the phones recovered at the last two engagements to setup a trap for calls between the last team, Skipper.” Kristine answered.
Lyssa smiled at the teens. “Now, that is thinking outside the box, Gemini. I’m sure your Instructor will be proud to hear of this one.”
While Kristine had been explaining what she had done, Kasey had been running the recording through the translator program. The more she heard the more her confusion grow. “Sergeant Major, Captains, what’s a thermobaric bomb?”
Every last adult turned white at the last two words of Kasey’s question. The very idea of a Thermobaric bomb going off in a civilian target was truly terrifying.
Lyssa didn’t even mince her words. “Those are nothing to mess around with. Why do you want to know Kasey?”
“The first team that has been in operation from the start is talking about using one to kill four judges at once. There’s some big charity event in Washington DC at the Smithsonian. Something for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.” Kasey answered Lyssa.
Anna placed her hands on the shoulders of the two teens as she corrected Kasey’s misconception. “Kasey, Kristine, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is not part of the Smithsonian Institute. Their mission to ensure that we never forget that terrible act and time in our history. That is not their only mission though. Not by a longshot. Since 1999, the USHMM has also provided public service professionals, including law enforcement officers, military personnel, civil servants, and federal judges with ethics lessons based in Holocaust history. In partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, more than 21,000 law enforcement officers from worldwide and local law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and local police departments have been trained to act in a professional and democratic manner. This upcoming charity event is going to have more than just those judges.”
“What do you mean, Anna?” Rodrick asked her.
Anna sighed before answering the rogue that had captured the heart of a Prima. “As you would say, Master Rodrick. It will be a target rich environment. There will be representatives from every branch of Law Enforcement there. Many of whom will be high ranking members. I’m talking about Directors.”
“Oh, fuck me in a dark alley! Now I see what is so important about that charity and the use of a thermobaric bomb. Gemini, how soon till you regroup with the ground team and Bravo-Bravo-Actual?” Lyssa asked.
Kasey and Kristine checked the clock and then turned to Anna. “We should regroup in another twenty minutes Prima. I take it that they need to know about this bomb sooner not later. Would you mind explaining what a thermobaric bomb does? So I can better explain it to the Madam and Swans.”
“In Africa FA-bombs became widely used. Fuel-Air bombs. They make a hell of a mess and are no joke. Well, in Afghanistan the insurgents utilized caves for cover. Thermobaric bombs are a more effective FA-bomb. They kill by concussive force and suck out all the air. What makes them so effective is that they are made to work in confined space. A cave or a concrete building enhances its killing capability." Lyssa explained.
"If these people set on off in the Museum it would kill everyone through sheer concussive force alone. In simple words, it'll shred every man and woman in that place.” Kimberly said. "Deploy?"
Lyssa shook her head no, with Rodrick backing her up. “Not our time yet. We need to let the Black Badges do their job until ordered in. Even then I have a feeling we’ll be under them for this op.”
“You have got to be joking?” Kimberly asked.
“This is their specialty. Yes, I know we’re all trained in counter-terror ops, but this is mainly law enforcement. Only Shawna knows what needs to be done, on our side. It's their show until they or the Major says otherwise. We have confidence in the team Anna. Relay that as well.” Rodrick told both sides.
“Thank you for that Captain. We’ll keep you up to date on our progress. ALOC, out.” Anna signaled for Kasey to cut the connection. Once they were alone again Anna looked out the windshield. “Okay, girls. we need to be ready to brief your parents, grandmother and great uncle when they get here. Do you think you can be ready in fifteen minutes?”
The teens looked at each other and smiled nodding their heads. Anna left them to do their work and stepped outside to get some fresh air. Standing outside, Anna reached into her windbreaker’s left pocket pulling out a pack of cigarettes. For the first time in years Anna lit up a cigarette.
"Any other would be lunging at the reins to be included. Lyssa and Rodrick have such confidence though that we will not need them. Where does it come from? I will have to ask about that when we return to the island." Anna said to herself.
After smoking the cigarette Anna crushed it out on the sole of her shoe. Looking up at the cloudy morning sky Anna breathed in heavily and sighed.
Anna pulled back her left shirtsleeve and looked down at the small faded tattoo there. “I thought I left all this back in the old country. Whoever you are, say your prayers. Because once this mess is cleaned up, I am coming for you. No matter where you are. I suggest you start counting you days, and praying for a quick death.”
Ram's Rock Island, the TOC...
Dannigan came up on the screen. "Update."
Kimberly replied. "Two teams intercepted and liquidated. One team still in play, prepping for major offensive."
"Status?" The big Spook asked.
Kimberly answered. "Ground team rendesvousing with ALOC and will proceed to the strike zone. No request for additional personnel at present."
Dannigan thought about that. "Will they need it?"
Lyssa answered this time. "Possible, but not definite. Suggest tasking upgrades. GhostMoth-stand-by, no-notice. Myself, Rod, Pete and Krystel- Black Bayonet. Tiffany- Blue Bayonet, three hour recall."
"Acceptable. Kimberly upgrade all status now. Anything else?" Dannigan asked.
Rodrick replied. "As soon as Krystel gets back, we need to get her onto finding the asshole that set all this in motion."
"Make THAT happen." Dannigan agreed. "Is that it?"
"I have a side-gripe." Rodrick said and at Dannigan's nod, continued with a smirk. "No more vehicles for the Marshals. The ALOC makes number five. I'm running out of space to keep them."
Dannigan laughed. "Fair point. I'll let them know. I was going to sit on this, but I guess I should get it out of the way. Lyssa, I got a notice that you are due anytime to get with Colonel Raines. Who is he and what does he want? I can only guess as to how he knew to contact me."
"Raines is part of the DemonWraith platoon. He evaluates us. He finally found me. You won't like it. If he says I have to be pulled from the field, even you'll have to obey. He's got that kind of pull Major. Nobody argues and wins with him." Lyssa said flatly.
"After this operation then." Dannigan replied then closed out the window.
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