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.
Security Office, Garret School for Exceptional Girls, Friendsville, Maryland 0715
The two-man team scout team worked their way through the heavy wooded area long the back-fence line of the school. Both men were dressed in ghillie suits to hide their appearance from outsiders. These men were pros and were on a mission to gather as much Intelligence on the school’s security before their attack. So far, the two men had found only two breeches in the camera coverage. Neither man wanted to tempt the approach for those breeches without heavy-firearms due to the bear dens. As much as they didn’t want to admit it the security officers for this school had done a very good job at placing the security cameras.
Almost every inch of the fence was covered with the bear dens being the only holes. As they came up out of the fourth streambed for the day they found a third black bear den. The taller of the two sighed as he looked down the streambed to see that it curved away from the fence. This would not be a problem, if not for the fact there was a bear den so close to the approach. With practiced care, the two men worked their way around the den before continuing their recon of the fence line.
Before long they found their approach on the far backside of the school. A deep, but dry streambed ran straight up to the fence. As the two men approached it they failed to see the wireless-motion-sensor activated hunting camera. A camera that had been specifically designed to fade into its surroundings. Just like the three that covered the bear dens. Of the thirty cameras that covered the outer edge of the schoolgrounds half were of this nature. Little did the two men know they had been watched for the past three hours as they worked their way around the fence-line.
Deputy Marshal Marshal Law sat back watching the two ghillie suited men working their way towards the fence. Over the years, Marshal had gotten a lot of grief over his name as a Deputy, going all the way back to the academy. Yet, that had never stopped him from doing his best and becoming one of the best Deputy Marshals in the service. For him this would be his favorite assignment of all time. One that had brought him home. When Dorothy Rose had asked for volunteers to be assigned to Garret County, Maryland; Marshal jumped to the front of the line. This was home for him. He had been raised in these mountains and had family in Law Enforcement here. Namely, his Uncles.
The door to the security office opened behind Marshal as his partner entered. “You wanted me to see something Marshal?”
“Yup, take a look at this Dale. Tell me what you see?” Marshal asked of the younger Deputy.
“It looks like your uncle was right, boss man. Those two are definitely not your ordinary hunters. Ex-military for sure. Those ghillie suits are a dead giveaway. If that’s not a BIG enough clue the H and K assault rifles are. Which way did they come in from boss?” the young Deputy had long ago learned to listen to his training officer, and his gut feelings.
“Route forty-two and that old hunting trail, Dale. What are you thinking?” Marshal had turned and looked over at his partner’s grinning face.
“Oh, I think I might go for a walk, stretch my legs a bit.” Dale told him as the shit-eating grin grew wider. “And if I get lucky, run in to some poachers that can be turned over to the Game Wardens.”
Marshal nodded. “You do that Dale. Just be careful. Those MR762A1’s pack more of a punch than our Glocks. I don’t want to have to call your mother.”
“I’ll keep my ass covered boss man. I’m in no big hurry to face off an angry redneck or pissed off bear.” Dale turned to go.
As Dale was walking out the security office Marshal called out to him. “Wear one of the button cams, Dale. I don’t want you out there without overwatch.”
The young Deputy stopped and put on one of the tiny cameras. Ten minutes later Marshal watched as Dale exited through the front gate, and brought up the young man’s camera feed. After a minute, the camera started to bounce around. It took Marshal a few seconds to realize his partner had started to jog along the road.
Marshal smiled to himself. “Good thinking Dale. Nice to see you’re finally thinking like the tracker I trained you to be.”
Route 42 0820
Dale Camden had dropped into the easy stride he used for marathons as he ran the length of the front wall. He soon rounded the first of several rises that ran the length of route 42 heading toward McHenry and Deep Creek Lake. When Marshal had first volunteered them for this assignment Dale was pissed. He wanted to chase down escapees and long-term fugitives, not babysit a bunch of kids.
Then he met the first of those girls. Everything changed after that. Now all he wanted to be, was a member of the Wit-Sec team to protect these kids. He knew that there were a lot of scumbags in the Wit-Sec program, and that most of the people in the program were not innocent bystanders that witnessed a crime. These kids though were not only innocent, they were also victims of horrible crimes. The idea of someone hurting these kids made Dale’s blood boil.
It didn’t take him long to reach the old hunting trail that ran off of route 42. With easy strides Dale turned up the trail and headed for where he hoped to find the scouts car, or SUV. It didn’t take him long to come across the dark green GMC Yukon. Looking around and seeing that he was alone Dale went to work.
Pulling out his pocket knife, Dale unscrewed the cap for the rear right tire. Depressing the valve stem, Dale let the air out of the tire until it was flat. After screwing the valve stem cape back on, he did the same to the right front tire. The whole operation took Dale less than fifteen minutes. Putting his knife away, Dale jogged back to the road, but not before memorizing and taking a picture the SUV’s plate number with his phone and sent it to Marshal.
Once he was back on the road Dale headed for the school’s front gate. As he reached the gate Dale stopped at the gatehouse. “Dave, call the Game Warden. We got some poachers out on the old hunting trail. Get ‘em off the property.”
“Sure, Dale. Anything else?” the Deputy on duty at the gate asked.
“Yeah, let the boss know he can make a call now.” Dale smiled.
“Done.” As Dale started to jog towards the school Dave Conley called out. “Oh yeah, Dale, you really need to get up to the dining hall. Them cookie monsters made up six dozen peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies for the staff.”
Dale waved back. "On it."
Security Office, Garret School for Exceptional Girls 0920
Marshal Law answered the gatehouse’s page. “Go.”
“Boss, Dale just passed through. He said you’re clear to make a call.”
“Thanks, Dave.” Marshal disconnected and picked up the phone. After dialing first the Highway Patrol Office, then the Sheriff’s Office for a conference call. His Uncle Billy, was the first to answer. “Elsie.”
“Hold on Uncle Billy. I’m waiting for Uncle Joey to pick up too.” A few seconds later, the other line was answered. “Uncle Joey, I got Uncle Billy on the line as well. You know that discussion we had the other night?”
“What you got Marshal?” Bill Elise asked first.
“A pair of scumbags snooping around MY school. One of my boys disabled their SUV out on the old hunting trail just off route forty-two. They should be calling for a tow in about fifteen to twenty minutes.”
“Thanks, Marshal. We got this son. You keep your boys and girls out of this.” Joe Elise ordered his nephew.
Marshal answered. “Yes, sir. We'll stay clear. Has anyone else twigged to us being family on your ends?”
“Nope, you’re good kid. Has your boss twigged to the family connect?” Bill asked.
“Negative, Uncle Bill. So, far I have been able to keep that under wraps. Thank the Gods of Admin fuck-ups that mom married outside of the family business.” All three of the men laughed at standing family joke.
The fact that the only girl of the Elise family had married a man name Justice Law was well known. What wasn’t known was the fact that Justice Law was an FBI agent. Marshal had gone to West Virginia University to study law and then on to the Academy to become a U.S. Deputy Marshal.
Joe Elise remarked. “Well, let’s keep them in the dark a little longer.”
“How, we going to do that uncle Joey?” Marshal asked.
“Let’s have Jake Cummins takeover with DNR run those old boys down. That way he can call in your Uncle Bill as backup when he finds the poaching violations. We keep everything at local level and the Feds never knows what happened.” Joe Elise could be a cold and mean son-of-bitch at times. Usually when a case involves kids.
“Bear attacks are at an all-time record HIGH this year, Uncle Joey. Why, I have five dens within the outer property boundary. We even have those fancy Wireless hunting cameras covering them for security reasons. We got cameras going all the way out to the old hunting trail that runs the length of the back forty property line. Those are out there just to cover the odd hunter or poacher.” The older men chuckled at Marshal’s comment.
They had heard about their older brother’s statement at the local Walmart. For the three Appalachian mountain-men, whatever happened to these outsiders was justice. The fact that most of that justice would come at the hands of one family, never entered their minds as being similar to what the Sicilian Crime Families once did. The similarities between the two cultures at times was eerie.
“Make sure you got people you can trust on those monitors Marshal.” Bill Elise ordered his nephew.
Marshall assured him. “Already taken care of uncle Bill, me. We’re keeping the K-nines inside the fence line. Any leads on where their hold up?”
“Stacy, over at Riely Reality rented one of the old fishing cabins along the Youghiogheny River. We’re going to hit them just after sundown. We got this covered. We may not be a big fancy Federal Agency, but we backwoods hunters know the area. Now you be a good boy, and get back to work. Watch over them young 'uns.” Joe Elise ordered.
“Have a good time, and be safe, Uncles.” Marshal hung up the phone not waiting for them to reply. He knew that shortly a world of hurt was coming down on the mercs. Marshal whispered into the empty air of the security office. “I hope you fuck heads had a good dinner. It's your last.”
DNR Officers, Garrett County, Oakland, MD 1030
Game Warden Jake Cummins and his long-time partner Bill Oswald parked their trucks at the end of the hunting trail. The call from Sheriff Elise had been a little vague, but Jake had learned as a rookie to listen to the older Officer. The fact that Bill Oswald was towing a bear trap was just one of those times. With the new private school having numerous bear sightings, they had needed to relocate a few of them.
Leaving his truck at the trailhead, Jake joined Bill in his. It didn’t take them long to find the disabled SUV and the two men in hunting camouflage. “Bill why do I have the feeling these two knuckleheads don’t have hunting licenses.”
“Jake, if there is one thing I know; it's hunting apparel. The duds those two are wearing are close to thousand bucks a piece. They ain’t no normal hunters.” Bill had seen more hunting apparel than most Wardens due to the fact he sidelined for Gander Mountain, Dick’s Sporting, and a few other national chain hunting and fishing supplies. Then Bill spotted the ghillie suits. “THOSE are over two grand apiece.”
Bill pulled to a stop twenty-feet back, Jake noticed the DC plates on the truck. “Shit. We got a pair of DC Cowboys, here Bill. What do ya think? Embassy brass or regular Capitol Hill trash?”
“Seven will get fifteen, Embassy shitheads. The boots are a dead giveaway.” Jake pointed to the German Paratrooper boots. “Those are over two-fifty in a good Surplus store, three-fifty at the Cav Store. I have a feeling we’re dealing with Embassy guards up here looking to do a little hunting, partner.”
The two men saw the Game Wardens and walked over to them. One of them asked with a Bavarian accent. "Guten Tag, Offiziere. Wie können wir Service sein?"
“Do either of you gentlemen speak English?” Steve asked.
“Ja. I apologize for meinen Freund. He forgets, not all Amerikaner Deutsch speak.” The second man answered with a heavy Berlin accent.
“No problem sir. Care to explain why you and your friend are walking through private property in hunting attire?” Steve asked.
“Ja, we were placing Wald Jagd Kameras. Ist dies gegen das Gesetz?” The Berliner asked.
“At this time of year, yes. It is always against the law to hunt on private property without the owner’s permission. Which I am sure, that you do not have.” Jake snapped. He may not speak German, but he knew from the sound of the German’s tone he was asking if placing game cameras on private property is illegal.
“Dies ist Liguster Eigenschaft?” The Berliner asked.
“Papers, now.” Jake ordered. Of all the people he hated the most, of the DC crowd, it was Embassy Staffers. With the Guards being at the top of that list, just under the Ambassador, and their family.
Both men reached into their back pockets. Steve and Jake never had a chance as the full-metal jacketed rounds tore through their bodies. The mercenaries worked quickly to hide the bodies and clean up the crime scene. One took care of the bodies, the other repaired their truck tires. With the bodies disposed of and the two trucks pulled further down the hunting trail, they returned to their cabin. Both knew that the operation had been compromised by their actions. They didn’t really have a choice, as neither man had Diplomatic Credentials. Something that the two Game Wardens would have spotted right away.
Fishing Cabin on the Youghiogheny River just after Sunset 2115
As they entered the cabin, Claus Engal went straight to Richard Mallard. “Richard, we have a problem.”
The English gentlemen looked up from the map he was studying. “What happened?”
“We were stopped by two of those Amerikanischen Wildhütern after our scout. We had to eliminate them or they would blow our cover. We got rid of the bodies and stashed the trucks. That is only just first problem.” Claus explained.
“Damn Fog of War, nothing to be done about it now.” Richard sighed. “How long before you think those bodies will be found?”
“Maybe four to six hours. The only good thing is, we were able to cover our tracks. The bad part is, that school only has four approachable access points. Each one with a damned bear den far too close for my tastes. They also have K-nines working the fence line. Each approach is through a stream bed with ankle to hip deep water. With the evening rains, our approach is going to be less than comfortable. The school’s gate is one of those new high security impact resistance ones. The type we place in front of our Embassies with the drop-down reinforcement rods. The guard house for the gate is no normal gatehouse. Ich spreche über einen Bunker aus dem Krieg Stil hier mein Freund. That is only what I could see from the road as we passed. The front fence line is a real pain in the ass Berlin-style wall.”
“Damn. I knew this job was too good to be true. That bitch lied her ass off to us. Is there any way to approach that school safely, without going through the front?” Richard asked as he looked over the map.
“Just one. It does have a bed to deal with, but the stream bed is…” Claus began.
The German merc never got to finish his debriefing as three flash-bang grenades smashed through the windows of the cabin. Two seconds later all three went off at the same time. The six mercenaries were rendered deaf and blind by the detonations. The ten Sheriff's Deputies and five State Troopers came at the mercs from the front and back at the same time. The mercs were good, but they weren’t paid to die in no-win situations. As the old mercenary saying goes, ‘you have to be alive to be paid.’ They surrendered without a fight, figuring at the worst they would face would be a pissed off judge.
That would have happened, if not for one thing. Well two things really, Claus and his partner’s personal sidearms. Taking the pistols of the two Germans, one of Bill Elise’s deputies walked over to him with barely controlled rage. “Sheriff, these are the weapons that killed Jake and Steve.”
“You sure about that, Jimmy?” Bill Elsie asked.
“Yes, sir. Both are nine-millimeter, VP Tactical H and K's, boss. Just like what was on that video footage we got from those hunting cameras.” James Heartly was standing next to the two Germans as he said this. Right before he punched the taller of the two in the kidneys.
As the big German started to buckle at the knees, James punched him again at the base of the skull. The rabbit punch was hard enough to put the man down for the count. As Claus hit the floor, his partner tried to fight back, but was too late. James’ partner Mike shoved his M-4’s rifle butt into the small of the man’s back him before he knew what hit him.
“Enough, boys. We need to leave something for Mrs. Dotty.” Joe Elise ordered.
“Yes, sir. Just give us ten minutes with these fuckers for what they did to Jake and Steve. They deserve that much.” One of the Troopers said.
“No, Darin.” Joe Elise said.
“But, Sir. They killed TWO OF OUR OWN! They don’t deserve to sit in a nice comfy prison cell for the rest of their lives. You and the Sheriff, go have coffee down at Mrs. Dotty’s and leave these fucks to us.” The Trooper almost pleaded.
“Nope, not happening Darin. Besides, Mrs. Doty is on her way here.” Joe Elise looked over at the one Englishman. “Buddy, your scouts royally fucked up when they killed them two Game Wardens. One of them was Dorothy Garret’s grandson.”
Richard looked over at the State Trooper. “How bad are we talking here? Life or the needle? We can deal. No profit in dying for no reason, mate.”
“Son, you’re going to wish we turned you over to our brother. Your happy asses are going to be lucky to see the bottom of the mine shaft be the time the Garret family gets done with you all.” Bill Elise told Richard bluntly.
“Wait a minute here Governor, we have rights by your laws. You just can’t hand us over to some vigilante mob.” Richard was thinking fast. He had heard stories of American vigilante mobs and how they treated suspected criminals.
“Sonny boy, that would be true in any other part of the States, but not here in Western by-God Maryland. Not for what you all done. You’re lucky that we’re even talking to you right now. Folks up this way still live by the feud. What you all done today is enough for the Garrets to go to war over. You ain’t in of the regular States, limey boy. This is the part where the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s got they start.” Bill Elise informed the men.
When the mercs heard this, they knew they were in deep shit. The idea of their families being targets was not part of their contract or world. Families were supposed to be off-limits, but this man was talking about that not being the case. Richard knew he had to do something for his men. That and stall for time.
“Now wait a minute here. Your Game Wardens drew down on my men first. Speaking of that, how the hell did you all find us? What gave us away? We look like the rest of the D.C. crowd.” Richard knew they had covered their tracks by showing up as a group of lawyers out of DC.
Joe Elise smiled at Richard before answering. “Buddy boy, even the D.C. dipshits leave their suits behind when they come up here. That was your first mistake. Make that, Second. Your First was coming here. Sure, we get them up here, but they TRY to blend in with the locals. That means jeans and t-shirts. As for how we knew it was you all. Well, you see, them girls up at that fancy new school just LOVE to watch their local wildlife channel. That school has over forty hunting cameras spread out in them woods. They’re all those fancy new high-tech ones that connect over a Wi-Fi signal. The staff up there put out enough repeaters in the trees to cover an area three times what they got.”
Everyone in the room started chuckling at hearing this. The Deputies, and State Troopers knew that it was a bald-faced lie. The only people that knew about the hunting cameras were the security staff up at the school. Joe Elise just went with it. “Those girls reported a pair of poachers on the school property to their security staff. By the way, they are awfully pissed off at which ever one of you that disturbed that Fisher's den. There are only a handful in this area. THAT, makes those animals a protected species.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of an elderly woman with a cane. “Joseph, William. Are these the men responsible for killing my grandson?”
“Yes, ma’am, Mrs. Dotty. Your clan outside?” Joe Elise asked.
“Yep. You and your boys can go on now. We’ll handle the rest from here.” Dotty Garret ordered the two police officers.
“Hold on here people. We were just hired-guns. We have rights according to your own laws. This is not the USSR where you’re guilty until proven innocent. I want my lawyer and to see a Judge.” The Frenchman snapped.
“You HAD those rights, frog. Now, all’s ya’ got is the right to an unmarked grave.” Dotty Garret answered back coldly. “Ya’ll kilt ma’ grandson for no reason but doin’ his job. Ricky Lee, gat these foreigners’ outta my sight.”
A man about the same age as Bill and Joe Elise walked through the cabin door, followed by six men in their twenties. All were carrying shotguns and hemp rope. With the ease of born of long years of hunting, the six-man mercenary team was hogtied with the rope. After returning the handcuffs to the police officers, the Garret family men picked up the mercs and carried them out. Only Dotty Garret remained to talk with the Elise family.
“We’re sorry that you had to get involved Mrs. Dotty. We were trying to keep this in house.” Joe told the old woman.
“Nonsense, Joseph. They were the ones to bring this ugliness to OUR county. Those girls are good girls. How many times I have to remind you two, we look after our own up here?”
“We know Mrs. Dotty, but we had to try. Those girls are under the protection of our nephew, Marshal. Him and a few of his friends, if you catch the meaning?” Bill said with a crooked smile.
“Well then, you be sure to tell Marshal to bring them down to my diner for lunch now and then. They need to be out and about more. Them girls too. I'll be teachin' 'em they ain't got nothin' be scared of with Garrets 'round.” The old Lady turned and walked out the door.
Bill turned to his younger brother. “You know something Joe. I almost feel sorry for those six dumbasses.”
“I don’t. It would have been one thing if they had just let Jake and Billy do their jobs. They would have handed out tickets for placing unregistered cameras on private land and probably made 'em go back and get 'em. But they went and killed a Garret. WE don’t even try that clan. They brought this whole mess down on their heads themselves.” Joe told his brother without any feeling. The man had gone cold as the mountain slopes in February.
KOA Campground just north of Richmond 1045…
Kasey, Kristine, and Anna smiled as the three Ford© Pickup trucks pulled into the campsite next to them. They were surprised that their family were running behind.
Bobby explained after he hugged them all. “Some fool piled it in on the two-ninety-five and the ninety-five interchange. Backed traffic up for more than fifteen miles.”
Kasey just hugged the big man again. “Don’t worry papa Bobby. We had you all on the tracking program. Our really BIG problem is this charity event tomorrow night at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kristine, was able to get ahold of the guest list for it. At present, It's a zoo, almost every one of the International and National Law Enforcement agency heads are going to be there.”
“Also, in attendance will be more than half the U.S. Supreme Court Judges, and just about every alphabet Director there. With the exception of the Central Institute of Assholes and a few other 'we don't exist' people. There was a reference to someone called the Lord Justice.” Kristine told them reading off of her clipboard.
“Oh shit! Has it been two years already? This is not good. Not good at all.” Hunter breathed out before looking over at Samantha and Bobby. They just sat there looking at Hunter with the same looks of surprise.
“Okay, you three; what is so damned important that it happens every two years?” Annette asked acidly.
“The International Justice Convention is what we’re talking about. For the next two weeks, almost every National Police Force and their Judicial System will be represented. It is like the G-twenty meeting, only with cops, lawyers and judges.” Hunter explained. “It also only happens every two years.”
“The USHMM hosts a charity event at the beginning of every Convention to remind EVERYONE of the reason behind our laws. The Nazis used the laws to subjugate the Jews in Europe, and it is our jobs to ensure that never happens again.” Sam explained the reason for the charity.
Bobby looked around the picnic table. “The main events won’t start until four days from now, but there will be more than just Law Enforcement at that charity. Every Senator and Congressman that has run on a law and order campaign platform will be there as well. They’ll be there just to show they’re trying to keep their promises to their voters.”
Maria looked over at Rinaldo who nodded his head 'yes' to the unasked question. “Yes, Ria. My own Supervisor will be there as well. He's more than likely already here.”
“This just gets better and better, people. IF, Interpol’s Secretary General is going to be there, we need to stop these people tonight.” Maria told the team.
“Um… Nonnina, that is not our biggest worry.” Kasey said quietly.
“And just what is our biggest worry child?” Maria asked kindly.
“They’re planning on using a thermobaric bomb at the event.” Kasey answered, only to receive two very shocked expressions from her fathers, and blanks ones from her grandmother and mothers. Maria looked over at the stunned expressions of her sons-in-law, and knew this was bad.
Bobby’s question confirmed this. “Are you sure, Gemini Two? No doubt? Absolutely, dead-fucking sure?”
Kristine swallowed hard nodding her head. “Yes, Sir. We have verbal confirmation by intercepted communication. The communique was in Somali with a Maay dialect, but it was confirmed by Command.”
“We’re not mad, Gemini One. Just shocked that these people would go to such lengths. Good work on intercepting that call. I take it you used the confiscated cell phones to get that intel?” Hunter said putting the teens at ease.
“Yes, Sir. Actually, we had to use the translator program to figure out that much of their plan. We've also been able to track down their safe house location. We’re still working on how they plan to deliver the bomb.” Kasey told the adult team members.
“This is one-time you girls don’t have the needed background or education yet.” Annette told them. “To be honest none of us really do. This type of assassination is more along the order of an IRA attack.”
“In that you would be correct, Annette.” Anna said. Then smiled. “BUT, you are wrong that we lack the background for this type of attack. Of us all, I, your mother and your husbands, do have the needed background.”
“You’re wrong there Anna. Neither Hunter nor I have that type of background. Sure, we know the type of explosive they want to use, sure. Get it pass that level of security is another matter and horse of a different color.” Bobby remarked.
“Master Robert, please, do not sell your or your erstwhile partner in crime short. At least not with me. Now, the Prima has explained how these thermobaric bombs work. How big would the bomb have to be? What would be the easiest way to get one inside of the gala area?” Anna posed to them.
Bobby got a faraway look in his eyes. A look that Hunter knew all too well. Then Bobby answered Anna’s question, but the look never left his eyes. “A five-pound thermobaric bomb would cover an area of about ten to twelve thousand square feet. In an USHMM the effect would be amplified ten to fifteen-fold. Nobody would survive the blast. If they did, they would be wishing they hadn’t and begging not to. It's worse than Napalm.”
“As for delivery; they could do it in more than one way. They could use an airborn system, like say a drone or remote-control model airplane. All they have to do is crash through one of the upper windows and boom. No more gala. The easiest way though might be through the catering service. They normally have a big cake or something like that at these events. It wouldn’t take much to hollow out an area inside of the cake layers for the bomb. Put a twelve to twenty-four hour timer on it and it could be put in place at the caterer’s shop and delivered. Just set the timer and you get the same result. Boom, no more gala, and a ton of dead bodies.” Hunter went through the most probable situations.
When Maria heard this, she smiled. “Kasey, Kristine. Can you find out who is catering the event in case we fail to spot them at their safe house?”
The teens smiled and handed over the needed information. “Miss Anna said you might need this. So, we went ahead and hacked the server for the information. They’re using some place from out of town. They’re called Sweet Treats and Confections. They’re some kind of teen start-up based on the model of one in someplace called Grovetown. The only difference is Sweet Treats started up with three girls and one boy about a year after the one in Grovetown. From what we read, it's pretty cool.”
“Sounds good. Like a place I would frequent or at least have to drag Annette out of daily. Are they respected?” Maria asked.
“Very much so, Nonnina. Why?” Kristine asked of her grandmother.
“Because, child, if they are respected then our targets will stay away from them. IT cuts down their points of access. Also, since they are so new, they will be taking greater care in their works. This leaves them with far fewer options. Meaning we have a better chance of stopping them beforehand. This is a good thing in truth. Now, you said you had a lead on their safe house.” Maria gave her granddaughters a small sly smile.
“Yes, ma’am. We have also found out who OWNS all the safe houses they have been using.” Kasey answered, then smiled. She knew her grandmother was going to allow her and Kristine to show off in front of their great uncle. “Kris, you found the owner. It’s your show.”
Kristine glared at her older sister first, then smiled over at the adults. “The owner of the property is Canterbury Medical Industries. Which is owed by one, Robert Hines. He is the sole owner of Canterbury Medical Industries. CMI is, for the most part, a medical research company in Central Europe; specializing in gene therapy, pain therapy, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. Those are just the operations on the books. I have not yet been able to find anything of a criminal nature. At least not on a computer sever. If Hines has records of his illegal activities they have to be on a stand-alone system or eyes-only hardcopy kept at his personal residence. Oh, and he happens to be the meat puppet from the LOG Party we’ve been looking for.”
Kristine could have knocked her parents over with a feather at this point. So, she decided to go in for the kill. “We also have confirmation of his location at a private residence outside Lausanne, Switzerland. Nicely outside Lausanne.”
Rinaldo smiled as the two teenage deputies briefed the adults. He could see why Maria was so proud of her granddaughters. They truly were part of the team, and a very valuable part. They making Rinaldo rethink his attitude on cybercrimes officers. Interpol may not be what is depicted in TV shows, and movies: But they were still a Law Enforcement agency that could use the kind of expertise that the teens had already showed him. ‘Maybe I need to talk with our Human Resources department. There might be gems such as my two grandnieces hiding in our schools.’ Ran through Rinaldo’s head, then stopped.
“Excuse me, but did you say Richard Hines is our suspect behind all of this?” Rinaldo asked quickly once he came to his senses after the shock Kristine delivered. “The billionaire and philanthropist Richard Hines?”
Kasey looked over at her great uncle. “Yes, sir. He's our Uber-Tango. Muy Grande bad-guy.”
“You girls must be mistaken. The man gives millions to medical charities. In the past two years, he has personally seen that sixteen children have received much needed medical treatment. You must be mistaken. I suggest that you go back and double check your research children.” Rinaldo told them, smug in the knowledge that he was correct about the man who done so much for the poorer parts of Europe.
Bobby and Sam grabbed Kristine, while Hunter and Annette grabbed Kasey. All four parents, grandparent and guardian knew that the teens were pissed off. Not that they didn’t have reason to be. Rinaldo saw the quick reactions of all four parents and got the very distinct impression he made a mistake. Looking over at his very pissed off sister and Anna, he confirmed that impression. If not, Anna’s next few words sure as hell did.
“Rinaldo Carmen DeMarco, you will apologize to your great nieces this very moment or I will 'administer the life-altering ass-beating' as I've heard it called.” Everyone at the table could hear the ice in Anna’s voice. Only one person had ever heard this tone in Anna’s voice before, and Maria wasn’t going to get her old friend’s way this time. “THESE two ‘little girls’ know more about computers and their secrets than we’ll ever understand or dream of. IF THEY SAY THAT THIS RICHARD HINES IS BEHIND ALL THIS; THEN HE IS.”
Maria agreed. "They may do things we would rather they didn't. Go into places they shouldn't. But one thing they haven't been, is incorrect in their information. I'm certain by now, their intelligence has been confirmed not once, but twice, by their instructors."
The fierceness of Anna’s reaction pulled Rinaldo up short. He may know the public face of Richard Hines, but if what the teens were saying was true, then he had a real problem on his hands. One that he would need this very team of U.S. Marshals to handle. He knew that Hines was an American and a billionaire. Someone that could bring in the finest lawyers to provide legal defense. Then there was the fact that he had made one of the biggest mistakes. He pissed off Anna the Nightingale Fonticello in a very bad way. He had questioned and insulted the word of her wards.
Standing up, Rinaldo bowed slowly to the teens, with his hand over his heart. “Please forgive me Deputies Justice and DeMarco. I meant no disrespect. I should not have questioned your work or your word.”
Both Kasey and Kristine were still pissed, but accepted the apology. Kasey took over for her sister, as she knew Kristine still hadn’t gotten her temper under control and took her hand. “We are Gemini, the twin Dieties. As Gemini One, pointed out, Richard Hines is our main suspect behind the attacks here in the U.S. We also have evidence that he was also the one to organize the arrests and escapes of the three teams.”
“Excuse me again, Deputy. Might I know how you were able to track this information down?” Rinaldo really wanted to know this. He had been one of the main Investigators for more than half of the original arrests.
“Once we had hard intel that Hines was the one providing safe houses, cars and the needed target intel; it didn’t take us long to find the needed links in the arrests for our tangos. As for how we came by the information that was the hard part. He has been using the services of a Monsieur Perry Handready, ressortissant Français, a known fixer and information broker. Handready has also been known to provide information security and storage for enough money, Ispettore DeMarco.” Kristine said with a smile that did not reach her eyes. Every adult could tell that the youngest Black Badge Deputy was still pissed at the Interpol agent.
Anna just sighed, as did Maria. In their minds, they were just happy that Kristine at least was trying to remain professional with Rinaldo. Between the two of them, they knew the tempers of the younger members of the Black Badges better than their parents did. The main reason for this is the fact that Maria and Anna spent more time around the teenagers than their parents. First as two of their school teachers, then as two of their less than normal instructors. Over the last two years Anna, and Maria had learned the small individual tweaks in the teenagers’ personalities.
Maria and Anna were well aware of these tweaks in the girls and were used to them. Maria gave her youngest granddaughter a look that Kristine knew a little too well. It was MADAM Maria that she was dealing with now, not her grandmother. “Kristine Marie, you will behave yourself or spend a few hours with ME and the Prima when we get home in the studio at the bar. Perhaps even morning exercises with her as well.”
“SI, Madam Maria.” Kristine dropped her head. She knew that she was pushing her luck with her great uncle Rinaldo, but he had started in her mind. Still she apologized to her great uncle. “Sorry, Ispettore DeMarco.”
“No need to apologize, child. I started the confrontation in the first place. I can tell that you and your sister are extraordinary Cybercrime Investigators. I am just not used to having such extremely young team members.” Then Rinaldo chuckled at his own admission. “I think the youngest Interpol Officer I have ever worked with is in their mid-twenties. So, please forgive me any future infractions.”
The two teens looked at each other, then leaned in close and held a whispered conversation. When both girls nodded their heads, they broke and looked at Rinaldo. Since Kristine was still pissed she laid out their proposal. “We’ll forgive you, but it’ll cost you.”
Rinaldo knew a setup when he heard one and just grinned. “HOW much?”
“Two large peperoni, mushroom, and sausage pizzas, with extra cheese.” Kasey answered, only to have their family breakout laughing. Once again, the two girls had been able to prove that they were still a pair of American teenagers.
Maria sighed then looked up at the sky with a desperate expression. “Santa Maria! Why oh why, must they always want that godless creation? We go out of our way to feed them good, wholesome, Sicilian cooking. And what do they want? Pizza. Pizza from some American fast-food chain store no less! Beato Signore, dove sono andato così male?”
The two teens began to giggle, as did their parents.
Maria gave Annette a tired look. "I swear, this is your father's doing, just to get the better of me for his amusement."
The giggles from Kasey and Kristine got Rinaldo’s attention. “I am rather curious now. I take it that the girls’ school is short on fast-food and pizza delivery options?”
Bobby just chuckled. “You could say that, sir. Let’s just say that the girls’ school is more than a little off the beaten path, and leave it at that. Shall we?”
Rinaldo understood the unsaid threat and smiled. He would leave the question of where his great nieces went to school alone. It didn’t matter where they went only that they received a good education. To Rinaldo they seemed to be getting one of, if not the best.
“Can we get back on topic here, people? We still need a plan for hitting that safe house. Also we have an unknown force getting ready to hit the Garret School yet to deal with. Those children have suffered enough. I won’t have them going through any more trauma if I can help it.” Maria accreted.
“The Marshal is correct. Gemini you said you had a location for their current safe house?” Samantha asked the teens.
Kasey laid the printouts for the safe house out on the table. “Thank our good old fashion bureaucratic system in the Planning Commission Office. We were able to pull the blue prints for the safe house off their server. Canterbury Medical Industries filed a building permit for a four-unit warehouse apartment building three years ago. According to the Tax Assessors Office, the building has remained empty since its completion. The only occupants have been short-term residents working for CMI. The ground floor has one unit, plus the parking for the other four units. There are three exits from the parking area, plus two emergency exits from the ground floor unit. The upper four units all have two emergency exits as well.”
As the adults looked over the blueprints Bobby and Hunter spotted something. “Gemini, is there a roof access?”
“Yes, Sir. There are five to be exact. One for each of the upper floor units and one for the ground floor. The ground floor’s roof access is centermost on the rooftop. These accesses are all locked by City Codes.” Kristine answered Hunter.
“Fire or Police, Gemini One?” Bobby asked her.
“Both. Is that helpful?” Kristine asked in return.
“In more ways than one, kiddo. If they’re locked by a Police Order then we can use our master combination to open them. That gives us an easy way in. That is, if the access opens into the apartment.” Sam told her daughter.
“Yes, ma’am. All rooftop accesses are connected to the individual apartments. According to the blueprints, each apartment has its own rooftop patio area.” Kristine answered her mother’s unspoken question.
“Do the upper units’ emergency exits open onto the roof?” Annette asked of the girls. She could already see where Sam was going with her question.
“Yes, ma’am. Once again, this is to code, but this time it is a Fire Safety Code.” Kasey had been looking over her notes as Annette asked them the questions. “It’s the same reason for the access stairwells for each apartment. To allow Fire and Rescue fast sure access to the roof, if needed.”
Maria looked over at her granddaughters with pride, then glanced at Anna. The grin hidden by her hand let Maria know who had helped the teenagers plan this briefing. Maria just nodded her head to Anna slightly to let her know she approved. Rinaldo sat there in stunned amazement. The professionalism of this team of American Deputy Marshals surpassed anything he had ever seen. There was an air of military precision, law enforcement flexibility, and family tradition about their planning. This was proven when Bobby started laying out their assignments.
“Op-Order. Swans, you got the rooftop. Rumrunner, the secondary emergency exit. Madam, we need you covering the garage exit. I have the primary emergency exit. Gemini, track down any security and surveillance system had crush it. Maid, you know your assignment. Entrance will be cutter blast, followed by flash-bang. Standard sweep and clear. Remember, these fuck sticks are under a Lethal Finding. No survivors. Any questions or possible problems?”
Rinaldo cleared his throat. “Where do you want me?”
Bobby turned to Rinaldo with a harsh and unflinching look. “Out of the fucking way. You’re an unknown, and we don’t have time to rehearse or cover your ass if things go sideways. Sorry, but the only people I TRUST to go through a door with are the ones I NAMED, Inspector DeMarco. You may be the Marshal's brother, but this is HER team. IF she wants to overrule me ONLY she can.” Bobby looked at the Maria and softened his looked. “Rule number one, mom.”
“Understood, Robert.” Maria looked over at her brother with the same harshness that Bobby had. “My sons have taught me something I have come to admire. Rule number one Rinaldo: EVERYBODY comes home.”
Rinaldo nodded. "Well put, Sister. I will not argue that. I would like to observe if that is possible."
"It is Uncle." Kasey said then smiled.
Kristine shared the same smile. "We have Assault cameras. You can watch it all real-time with us."
"Palo's hand, no doubt." Maria remarked.
Kasey and Kristine shook their heads, smiling and answered in unison. "Mrs. Kimberly!"
"I swear, were it not for Mindy; that woman would practically live in that cave, the way she watches over everything." Maria relented, trying not to sound too approving.
Anna smiled to her oldest friend. "And that is what makes her such a great mother to that child."
Maria looked around. "Well, let us go see about something to eat and then get ready for the task ahead."
-----To be continued -----
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.