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The Chrysalis Project Book 8: Ghost Moth 3 Domestic and Disturbance
Life in Belder is fairly quiet, a
small friendly town. But the
holidays don't bring out the
best in all.
WARNING: The Chrysalis Project may be hyper-violent for some readers!
Shawna stood out on the front walk admiring the lights. She had hired four high school boys to put up Christmas lights outside. Inside, she had set up an artificial tree and decorated it. She had been surprised that her holidays had been relatively quiet; minor incursions into various Intelligence agencies to maintain or upload O.I.C.A. identities. Sex scandals didn't warrant her attention and that seemed to be the current thing of late. Money and sex; politicos had their priorities, getting laid or paid. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same, according to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr back in 1849. The quote was still applicable it seemed and had been updated sometime back; 'Same shit, different day'.
The sound of a vehicle approaching caught her attention. A Belder Police SUV eased to a stop and the window powered down.
"That's nice!" Blake Jacobsen remarked and chuckled. "Can't really call it Dark House now."
Shawna smirked. "It's the holidays. I don't mind some festive sparkle. The boys did a great job."
"I'd like to say that I'm routine patrolling, but I can't. This is an official visit." Blackjack said.
Shawna arched an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
Blackjack nodded seriously. "Yeah. Tomorrow night your presence is requested to accompany myself and the kids on a rolling sweep of the town to ascertain the presence of homes decorated with lights in a holiday theme. After dinner out, of course."
"Dinner out. That sounds like a bribe of sorts there, Chief." Shawna frowned.
Blake kept a straight face. "At Angelique's."
"I guess even I have a price." Shawna remarked. "Done. But dessert better be included or it's your ass, guy."
Blake nodded. "No problem, just don't hit me."
He recalled having to respond to a purse-snatching incident on Black Friday. When he arrived, the perpetrator was writhing on the sidewalk in agony as Shawna stood over him, looking down in annoyance. Nicky Jacobsen was out shopping with her and recounted what happened.
"A lady screamed for her purse Daddy, and we saw him running this way. Miss Shawna nudged me to move then spun around and kicked him face-first into the wall. He bounced off the wall while she spun around the other way and kicked him again. He smacked his face on the fire hydrant then the sidewalk! He can't talk now!" Nicky gushed.
Hospital x-rays confirmed it, his jaw was broken on both sides, along with his nose and most of his teeth had been knocked out. That pretty much served as a deterrent for further holiday crimes of convenience. Nobody wanted to run afoul of the mysterious Shawna Daniels. Many whispered that she was a Fed of some type. Especially Priscilla Herrington.
She tried being her usual self, demanding attention and digging around into Shawna's business. Three hours later; her and the Mayor's credit cards and bank accounts were frozen, licenses were suspended, all household utilities and services turned off. The Mayor practically groveled at Shawna's feet for mercy, but she was having none of it. Many of the town expressed their own hostility at Priscilla's meddling and bullying, having been on the receiving end of it too.
The next morning Bradley Herrington filed for divorce, citing mental and emotional cruelty. Their sons demanding he have custody of them both. Judge Ed Reinhold took the hearing immediately and awarded the divorce. Bradley was granted custody of the boys, the house and one of the cars. Priscilla was awarded a modest alimony, visitation of the boys at their discretion and the other car. Brad and the boys returned home to all services mysteriously restored. Priscilla Herrington resumed her maiden name of Malloray and all but ran home to Wilmington, Delaware in shame. Two weeks later Bradley Herrington was seen in the company of the owner of the local florist shop owner and seemed to be hitting it off.
Danny Jacobsen had finally began to show interest in girls. During a talk with Shawna, he was horrified to hear her recommend he should take some kind of dance lessons. In desperation he went to his father.
Blake sighed. "I'm sorry son, but Shawna is right. Girls like dancing and boys that know how are real prizes to them. Dancing, flowers and movies that make them cry are very important to girls. Remember that movie The Crow? The guy said 'little things meant so much, I always thought they were trivial'. It's true, Danny. Girls are all about the little things. It's important to a girl that a boy they like pays close attention to them. New hairstyles and perfume. A new outfit. They do things like that to get a boy's attention and are happy when he notices. Even more when he likes it."
"Even Marines, Dad?" Danny asked.
Blake nodded firmly. "Especially Marines. We're the best. Because of your Mom, I learned how to dance."
Danny noticed he confided that last part uneasily. "Really?"
"Yeah. You weren't born yet and I was stationed in San Diego. The yearly Marine Corps' Ball. I had a Colonel and he was big on image for his command, professionally and personally. Colonel Cavanaugh said all the time, 'A Marine is the epitome of American Military Excellence; Dedicated, Educated and Cultured. From the time he or she wakes until sleep claims them, do everything to the best ability. Put forth all of yourself into your service, to country and family'. He personally saw to it that all of us knew how to at least waltz and our dress uniforms were immaculate. Your Mom was so happy. It was better than prom." Blake confessed.
Daniel Jacobsen was astounded. "Wow, Dad!"
"Come on, son." Blake stood up. "I'll take you myself. We'll enroll you down at the dance school."
Danny looked in shock. "Dad, the guys'll be all over me! They'll make fun of me!"
"The girls'll will be all over you more, wanting to date you and not them. You'll have your pick, they won't. Girls like boys that get good grades, know how to dance and can name their favorite flowers without reading a sign. Besides, I hear dancing helps athletes with balance and coordination." Blake replied.
Danny shook his head. "No way am I wearing tights and stuff, Dad."
"You don't. I don't mean ballet. I mean ballroom. Like on tv." Blake informed him. "You can wear jeans or slacks."
That settled the argument and they went. Twice per week, Danny had an hour long dance lesson. Nicky had been signed up as well and learned as his partner. Eventually the two were switched with two others that were of their ages and the pairings were even better.
Shawna sat in the passenger seat, while the kids sat in the back of Blake's personal SUV as they drove around. He was even out of uniform, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. Casually they meandered the streets looking at the various homes with lights. Finally they went to the town square for the city's tree lighting. The Mayor made a very brief speech and turned to a local girl-scout who happily pushed the button, turning on the tree lights. An hour later it started to snow again so people made their way home.
At Shawna's house, the four drank hot chocolate in the living room as a fire blazed away in the fireplace.
Blake stood up, reached into his pocket to withdraw a small box then went down on one knee in front of her.
"Shawna, we've spent quite a bit of time together. I enjoy your company, as do the kids. I admire you and look forward to seeing you everyday. I would like, very much, to have you in our lives and be part of yours. Would you marry me?" Blake asked and opened the box to reveal an engagement ring.
Shawna smiled then looked over to the kids. "Do you approve?"
Danny simply nodded, while Nicky smiled and answered. "Yes Ma'am!"
"Then yes, I will." Shawna replied to Blake and held out her left hand.
After slipping the ring on her finger they kissed. Shawna invited them to move in with her, as her house was much bigger than Blake's father-in-law's house. The next weekend they moved in with her. On Monday morning, Blake received an email from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General(four stars) Robert Neller. His presence was requested to report in person to a location in Washington. No reply necessary.
Blake pulled in and parked at a very plain looking office building and went inside. It didn't appear to be military at all and rode the elevator up. When he got off and inquired with a receptionist, he was directed to an office.
"Good morning, Chief Jacobsen." The secretary greeted. "Go right in."
Blake nodded. "Thank you."
He knocked anyway and entered the office.
A formidable man, sitting behind a desk, looked up. "Come in and have a seat."
Blake sat down. "Excuse my confusion, Sir, I was told by Commandant Neller to report here."
"Yes. I'm Paul Dannigan. Shawna works for me." Dannigan stated. "She informed me of your proposal. Congratulations."
Blake nodded. "Thank you, Sir. Is that why I'm here?"
"Correct. I won't waste time, Jacobsen. I do approve of the relationship, but there are some things you need to know." Dannigan said.
"I'm listening." Blake replied.
Dannigan began. "I'm aware that you know that her real name is Shawna Davies and the Daniels name is her official cover. I won't tell you the name of this agency, but I will say that much of her work is classified. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No, Sir. I understand Need-To-Know. I'm fairly certain now, that you know my history." Blake said.
Dannigan nodded. "I knew all about you right after you met her. I liked what I saw. Good Marine, better man. Shawna has no family of her own anymore, all her connections are professional and social. Have you any questions?"
"Sir, she confided that she is a post-operative transgender woman. I had no idea otherwise, but it makes no difference to me personally. Just clarifying that." Blake stated.
Dannigan gave a look of approval. "Glad you feel that way. She had asked about confiding that to you. I gave my approval. As I said; good Marine, better man. For the public, I will be referred to as her uncle. Only you are to know my real position. Later on, your children can be made aware of the truth. Acceptable?"
Blake nodded. "Yes Sir. I do have one question. Those teens that were in Belder, were you behind that?"
"I was. They were housed there until a better facility was available. They have all been relocated and the scrutiny is back down to your level. Your diligent duty is commended, but can't be made public. A grant is being made to your department as a quiet thanks." Dannigan answered.
Blake accepted that. "Much appreciated. I know now, I should be addressing you by a rank. May I know it?"
"Major, since you asked. Army. As to what exactly I do; let's just say that I handle resolutions." Dannigan replied then handed him a card.
Blake saw only a toll-free number on the card. No name, organization or even insignia. "I take it, this number only works once?"
"Correct. And only from a number in your name or Shawna's landline. Do I need to state the obvious?" Dannigan asked.
Blake shook his head. "No, Major. Only in the event of her injury and she can not contact you on her own."
"That and you, yourself, are vulnerable. Your children will be watched over by us. Your father-in-law as well, if need be." Dannigan said flatly.
Blake was surprised at that. "I'm a bit shocked to hear that. Thank you, Major."
"I take care of my own. You, by extension, are now one. Madison is my secretary and one of my subordinates is named Kimberly. You may not get me directly, but they can see to your needs. Any questions?" Dannigan asked.
Blake nodded. "One, Major. Will you be attending our wedding?"
"I will. Somebody has to walk her down the aisle." Dannigan smirked.
Blake stood up to leave and suddenly noticed a portrait of a ballerina on the wall. "Is that Lyssa Kordenay?"
"Yes it is. You like ballet?" Dannigan asked.
Blake replied. "My daughter does. Lyssa Kordenay is her idol."
"Shawna is acquainted with her, so don't be surprised if she wants to invite her as well. Maybe you could have it be a surprise for her." Dannigan remarked.
Blake smiled. "Nicky would be over moon at that. I'll keep it under my hat. Good day, Major. Thank you for seeing me."
Christmas was a week away and things were quiet. It was now common knowledge around town that Blake and Shawna were engaged. The date of the ceremony would be in April and held locally. As neither were religious, it would be held in the local garden with the reception at the nearby AmVets Hall. Blake sat in the kitchen of Shawna's house having lunch on Monday, the kids were in school and not due to be off until Friday since Christmas day was on the following Monday.
"Chief! Are you available? Emergency!" His radio announced.
Blake keyed his mic. "I'm here. What's the problem?"
"Reports of shots fired at 827 Hickory!" The Dispatcher said frantically.
"On my way!" Blake was now worried as he got up and said to himself. "Howard Matthews! That crazy asshole!"
"What's his story?" Shawna asked.
Blake answered angrily. "He's our local nut. Anti-authority, doomsday, paranoid and armed. Word is, he may have modified weapons."
Shawna bolted up. "I'm going with you!"
She grabbed her pistol belt from her study, along with a leather jacket and black duffel on the way out.
"You need a vest." Blake pointed out.
Shawna shrugged into the jacket. "This has a ballistic rating. Let's go. You lead, I'm your back-up."
Blake nodded as they got into his patrol unit. "Thanks."
With lights and siren, it took them minutes to get to the location. Two other units were already there with officers crouched behind the front ends for cover. At the end of the street Blake had cut the siren and came in quietly.
"What's the story, Mark?" Blake asked.
Mark Hempner gave an aggravated look. "That dumb-ass, Howard, shot the guy on the porch through the damn door! We can't even get to him to see if he's alive or not!"
"Olivia next door said the guy was going door-to-door for the Salvation Army shelter. I called and confirmed it. His name is Clarence Gilyard, moved here six months ago." Bryan Kirkland added. "I tried to go up to the porch, fucker shot at me! I even announced who I was, by name!"
Blake swore then reached into the patrol unit and got on the loudspeaker. "Howard! This is Chief Blake Jacobsen!"
That was all Blake could announce. The house occupant let loose with auto-fire from an assault rifle, making them all take cover.
"SON OF A BITCH!" Blake swore from behind the vehicle.
Shawna joined them, crouching down. "AR-15. You want my help?"
After another stream of bullets hitting the vehicle Blake nodded. "YES!"
Shawna reached into the bag and pulled two smoke grenades. She pulled the pin and threw them, one by one, into the yard. Dark blue smoke began to block the front of the house. More auto-fire erupted. The four were already moving though. They were coming in at angles to avoid direct fire. Shawna located the window being used to shoot from and pitched in a flash-bang. She had counted down her throw and it went off just inside the window. The gunner held down the trigger spraying wildly.
Bryan checked the man on the porch and called out. "Dead!"
Blake was kicking in the door then took cover. "Leave him there. We deal with this asshole first!"
Shawna peeked around then led the way in, her HK USPs at the ready. Shawna took the right wall of the foyer and Blake on the left. Mark was behind Blake and Bryan was behind Shawna. Shawna waved Bryan back a few paces. She reached a doorway and held position. Mark's foot scattered some empty shell-casings on the hard floor. Immediately shots came through the right wall into the left. Bryan dove back out of the line, Mark and Blake both yelled and went to the floor. Shawna spun in and fired both pistols, getting a scream of pain.
The gunner dropped to one knee and swung his rifle toward her, only to be shot into each shoulder, causing the rifle to be dropped. He swore at her and tried to pick the rifle back up.
"Check on Blake and Mark!" Shawna ordered Bryan as she advanced on the middle-aged man and shoved him to the floor with her boot. "DOWN!"
"I'M A SOVEREIGN CITIZEN! GET OFF MY LAND!" Matthews bellowed.
Shawna holstered her left pistol and began pulling handguns off him. "You murdered an unarmed man over nothing and attempted to murder three local police officers and Federal Agent! That 'sovereign citizen' crap won't save your ass! BLAKE? MARK?"
Blake came in. "I'm ok. In my vest. Mark got a crease across his left thigh, but not serious. Paramedics on the way."
"I'LL KILL ALL YOU BASTARDS AND THAT BITCH TOO! SOVEREIGN TERRITORY! YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY!" Howard swore.
Blake fell to the urge and kicked him in the shoulder, getting a scream. "DUMB-FUCK! You have the right remain silent! Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court! You have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford one, one will be appointed! Understand your rights?"
"FUCK YOU!" Matthews spat.
Blake growled. "You're under arrest for murder and attempted murder of three police officers and a Federal Agent!"
Matthews continued to spew obscenities and threats, even tried to fight as the paramedics worked on him. Finally they sedated him to get him under control.
Blake waved off being checked out. "See to Mark first."
"He's being taken to the hospital, Chief." The paramedic replied.
Blake nodded. "I took one to the vest. It hit my plate, so I'm good. Shawna?"
"I'm clean. I have to get another jacket though." Shawna remarked.
Blake sighed. "Send me a bill."
"Forget it. No big deal." Shawna replied.
"Chief? Coroner's here." Bryan called out from the front door. "Crime scene techs too."
The house was processed. It took over three hours to find all the guns and secure them, numbering over a hundred and thousands or rounds of ammunition. There were over twenty assault rifles, all illegally modified to fully-automatic. Three more were in the process of conversion. There were several pipe-bomb IEDs as well. The local news' crews had a field day. Shawna slipped away unnoticed, driving Mark's patrol unit back to the station and went home, arriving just in time for the kids to come in from school. Both became alarmed when they heard about the events.
"It's ok. I had your Dad's back. We're both fine." Shawna reassured them.
That calmed Daniel down some, but Nicky was still clingy to her and reluctantly let go to do her homework. Dinner that night was subdued.
"Big excitement." Kimberly commented over the video conference the next morning.
Shawna rolled her eyes. "Just another nut-job, Kim. How's things down there?"
"We had our own drama after everybody got back from Europe. The bunch Lyssa used to be with, came down. It didn't go well, but nothing to worry about." Kimberly stated.
That got Shawna's attention. "THOSE guys? What's the story on that?"
"In-person only. You coming down for the holidays or staying up there?" Kimberly asked.
Shawna smiled. "Up here. With my fiance and the kids."
"Jacobsen?" Kimberly asked excitedly.
Shawna was still smiling. "I had them move in with me. It's official. You're all invited and the Major is giving me away, as my 'uncle'."
Shawna gave her the date and Kimberly made note of it. "All that can, will be there!"
"Where?" Krystel asked, coming into view.
Shawna grinned. "My wedding. Maid of Honor!"
"FOR REAL?" Krystel exclaimed and got a nod. "OF COURSE! What about Tiffany?"
"I'll tell her tomorrow, but she may not be able to come. You know Lyssa, she'll come, but would rather one of you two be honored." Shawna answered.
Lyssa came into view. "That's right. Congratulations, Shawna. I'm glad you have somebody. He's the local police chief, right?"
"Yeah. Blake Jacobsen, former-Marine, two kids. His little girl adores you." Shawna informed her.
Krystel laughed. "You could give her a set of dance-wear from your new signature line as a present."
"You have a line?" Shawna asked in surprise.
Lyssa rolled her eyes. "Yeah. I signed the papers yesterday. Too good of a deal to pass up. Quality is top-grade. Repetto is doing it. They're in Paris and I already wear their designs anyway."
"That's cool though." Shawna commented then looked serious. "Wait. What does that mean for you though?"
Lyssa sighed. "I'm coming out of the field. Unless it's hardcore, Tiffany is up. This is choice, mine."
Shawna sat back. "Wow. Never thought I'd hear you say that. I mean, not unless you really got worked."
"The twins are getting to the stage that they need me more, personally. I'm not fully done, but it's a good idea for Tiffany to take over more operations. She's been ready, time for her to take the lead." Lyssa said without reservation.
"Oh. Hey, where's the fun-bunch?" Shawna asked.
Kimberly answered. "Fort Belvoire. The kids are taking tests for school and the adults are shopping in D.C. minus Bobby and Hunter. They're with the girls. Mindy is in Freeport, at school."
"Freeport?" Shawna asked.
"Kasey and Kristine are finished with actual school. They're taking the tests for their diplomas. Mindy is safe to go to a real school now. She needs to socialize." Kimberly said.
Shawna nodded. "Yeah. She does. Kasey and Kristine going off on missions leaves her alone. She does need to be with kids her own age. Is she ok?"
"She's getting straight-A's and made the girls' soccer team. We even enrolled her at a ballet studio there. She loves it, but still enjoys lessons with Maria or Lyssa every morning before school." Kimberly said proudly.
Shawna smiled. "I'm glad. She deserves a normal childhood. Or at least, as close as can be."
"She's happy. That's the best we can hope for." Lyssa said.
Shawna sighed. "Yeah. Well, that's all for me. Unless you have something?"
Kimberly checked then shook her head. "No. Other than flight time, you're clear until the Major gives you something."
"I'll get some Saturday. I need to log some rotor time. The Major got a seized Bell for me. I'll take the kids for a ride while I log time. Out." Shawna said.
Kimberly nodded. "Out."
The conference closed and Shawna went for a fresh coffee. The rest of the week went routine; Friday on the range at Andrews and Saturday she logged flight time with the helicopter. Danny and Nicky enjoyed the ride.
Sunday was Christmas eve. After the kids finally went to sleep, Shawna opened the hidden door for under the stairs and brought the presents out with Blake. The basement was in two sections and the main access was a door in the hallway between the kitchen and living room. A smaller access was under the stairs, but that was concealed and locked as the section held weapons and other mission supplies. Not even Blake knew that was there.
They sat in front of the fireplace for a little while afterward.
"Shawna, do you want to use a surrogate to have a child of your own?" Blake asked.
Shawna didn't hesitate. "Nope. I didn't even bother with saving anything to do that."
Blake looked surprised. "You didn't? Why not?"
"Both my parents had congenital conditions. I carry it. I won't suffer from it, but I would pass it on. They both died young. Dad, while I was in high school. Mom went five years later, while I was in the service. I beat the bullet, but only slightly. I'll gamble with my own life, but never somebody that can't choose on their own. No kids from me. I'm more than happy to help you finish raising yours, that's enough for me." Shawna said with no sadness at all, it was the actual truth.
Shortly thereafter, they went to bed. Several hours later, Shawna awoke, to hear footsteps going down the stairs and smiled.
"Kids are up." Shawna said.
Blake groaned. "Already?"
Shawna laughed gently. "You think they'd sleep in today?"
"WOW!" Could be heard downstairs.
Shawna laughed as Blake grunted. "No way in Hell."
They both got up, Shawna put on a satin robe over her gown while Blake simply pulled on lounge pants and t-shirt. They went downstairs to find Danny and Nicky already separating the presents into piles. The kids then tore into the gifts. Both were thrilled while the holiday haul. After all the gifts were unwrapped, Shawna beckoned Nicky over and held up a slim, square gift.
Nicky unwrapped it and saw a blank DVD in a clear case. "What is it?"
"Something very special. On Christmas eve, in Moscow, there is a one-time production of The Nutcracker. Only the very elite can go. The tickets are extremely expensive and only the best perform." Shawna told her.
Nicky looked at the disc. "Wow! How'd you get it? Who danced?"
"I have a friend. As a favor to me, I got this. You're going to be VERY surprised." Shawna smiled.
Nicky held it out. "Can we watch it now?"
"Breakfast first, ballet after." Shawna answered.
Nicky pouted. "Ok."
After breakfast Nicky loaded the DVD and sat between Blake and Shawna. When the Sugar Plum Fairy appeared, it took a couple of minutes then Nicky pointed to the television.
"THAT'S TIFFANY! SHE'S NEW!" Nicky exclaimed.
Shawna chuckled. "Her name is Tiffany Davareaux. They call her 'Cold Shadow' Tiffany. She's been training at Bolshoi."
Nicky grabbed the remote, backed the video to the start of her dance then sat on the floor to watch closely.
"So this is something really hard to get?" Blake asked quietly.
Shawna nodded. "Five grand per ticket. This was a BIG favor. Only twenty people outside Moscow have seen this. Not even the U.S. Ambassador went to the theater."
Nicky clapped and pointed. "KATYA!"
"You made her really happy." Blake commented.
After it ended, Nicky was still smiling. "That was so great! I just wish I could have seen Lyssa dance the Nutcracker."
"She didn't perform this year. Maybe next year she will." Shawna answered.
Nicky sighed. "She had babies so that cuts down her shows. It's probably hard to travel with babies."
"True. I'm sure you'll get to see her dance though." Shawna encouraged.
Shawna's cellphone rang and she laughed at the display number then answered.
" Hello there, super-star. Your ears must have been burning." Shawna greeted in Russian.
Tiffany asked. "You must have just got through watching it."
"Yes, we did. It was fantastic." Shawna complimented.
Blake looked over. "Your source in Moscow?"
Shawna nodded, putting the phone on speaker and beckoned Nicky then held out the phone. "Nicky, say 'thank you'."
"Thank you for the video!" Nicky repeated.
A feminine voice came back. "You're very welcome Nicky. My first time dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy, but not my last!"
Nicky's jaw dropped and she looked at Shawna in pure shock. "Th-that's Tiffany? Really, really her?"
Tiffany affirmed. "That's right. What did you think of it?"
Nicky gushed her praise for what seemed like several minutes until she ran out of breath.
"Glad you enjoyed it. Shawna, you owe me BIG. Merry Christmas!" Tiffany signed off.
Blake asked. "So just how do you know her?"
"Met a couple of years back. We talked a bit." Shawna said airily.
The rest of the holiday week went quietly. New Year's Eve they all sat along the waterfront with most of the town to watch the fireworks. Blake and Shawna kissed as the first shell lit up the sky at the stroke of midnight.
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