Badasses Of the Multiverse: Book 6: “The Mexican, The Lawyer, And The Mechanic.”
Volume 2: “The Villains.”
Chapter 06: “Population: Badass”: Part Two: “Proper Planning And Preparation.”
By Paul Cousins.
Copyright Disclaimer: All copyrighted places, characters, items, and events, within the story, are held by their current owners. No profit is being made on this work of fiction.
Reality, Pedro and Lee's home reality. Date, Friday, during afternoon after the boomer attack. Place, the Police Station of De La Plata Podrido, Mexico. Time, twelve thirty PM, on the dot.
While it was still a partly cloudy day, as it was that morning. It had warmed up slightly, over the course of the day.
Inside the Police Station of Plata Podrido, Police Chief Pedro Del Soto was sitting in a chair, as he manning the emergency lines, in the communications room of of the police station. Most of his officers were out on patrol, in groups. Though, a few were still guarding those in the jail, or at the hospital.
Pedro did this so he could over see his officers, during the boomer attack, and direct support, where it was needed.
Fortunately, the boomer attack had ended over an hour and a half ago, in most places in the city. With Pedro now overseeing having his officers help the injured, and oversee clean up, by organizing those in town, whose professions were dealing with towing vehicles, salvage, or demolish and disposal.
Sitting in a chair, by Pedro, was Matthew McCormick. A lawyer, whom was also a long time friend of Pedro's. Matthew sat silently, as he watched Pedro do his job.
Pedro used his right index finger to push the talk button on the microphone, of the radio, in front of him, on the desk he was sitting out. He stated, in spanish, “Tell that tow-truck driver we are not paying twice his usual fee. We are paying his usual fee, per vehicle, and that is all.”
“Also, remind him that we both know that over the course the next week, he, and the other tow-truck drivers, stand to make small fortunes from both their usual jobs, and from salvaging cars parts, and scrap metal, from the objects they tow, that are written off.”
Pedro let go of the talk button.
A few seconds later, the police officer, on the other of the line, responded, in spanish, “Yes, sir.”
Pedro thought, 'While repairs to private property are not our responsibility, clearing, and keeping the streets clean is. And I know I am just about to blow this years annual budget, which the mainland gives us, on cleaning this city back up. But, I am going to also have to ask for more funds from them, for this year, to make up the difference.'
'They will bitch. They will whine about it. But, they will pay out the funds I request. Now, I just need to figure out what am I going to tell them?...'
'Telling them the truth would only get me fire, committed to an insane asylum, or worse...'
'So, what will I tell them...
'Ah, I know. I will just say that a drug cartel tried to take control of the island, but it didn't go well for them. Those on the mainland will accept my story, because they don't usual ask questions. Let alone send someone to take a look, out here.'
'Because they don't really give a damn about us. I keep a tight annual budget for this town. And I rarely ask anything from them, unless I have an important reason for doing so.'
'And as long as we don't effect their lives on the mainland, they could care less about us. Which is good for us. Because, I really don't want to have to explain what a boomer is, and where those mad machines really come from... That is a good song. Both the japanese and english versions.'
Pedro turned to Matthew, as he continued his thoughts, 'Now, to talk to someone I do want to talk too. And to thank him for his patience. I know it wasn't easy for him to just sit here, quietly listen, and wait for me to finish my business here.'
Pedro said, in a kind tone of voice, in english, “I appreciate your patience, Matthew.”
Matthew looked over at Pedro. He shrugged, as he replied, in english, “No problem. You have a job to do. And I have nowhere better to be.”
Pedro commented, “Well, at least the attack is over.”
Matthew requested, “True. And if it is not asking much. I could stand to get some lunch.”
Pedro responded, “Yea. So, can I. I think things are finally settling down. And I will call a couple of my high ranking officers, to come in, and take over for me.”
Matthew agreed, “That would be a good idea.”
Just then, Pedro's cellphone rang. Pedro pulled it, and saw the caller ID was unknown. He thought, 'I guess I spoke too soon.'
Pedro pressed the talk button on it, and held it to his left ear, as he answered, in spanish, “Hello.”
On the other end of the line, Pedro heard a female voice he recognized, calmly say, in english, “Hello Pedro.”
Pedro replied, in english, “Hi Zoe.” He thought, 'Well, there are worse women in this town to talk to. And Zoe has always been a professional when she has talked to me. So, I will give her the same consideration.'
Next, Pedro looked over at Matthew, and he suppressed a chuckled, as he saw Matthew roll his eyes, for a second, as the mention of Zoe's name. This was due to the fact that Zoe was the second in command for security, at Daiyu palace Casino. Matthew then looked back at Pedro.
Pedro asked, ““So, what is this about?” He thought, 'I highly doubt it is a social call. And there is too much going on for Chang to call us in, just yet, for a private meeting.'
Zoe stated, “Pedro, Chang wants you, and Matthew, with the others, to come to a meeting, held in his private theater, at the casino, at three PM sharp. We will be talking about the attack and possible reprisal.”
Pedro looked over at Matthew, as he replied, “We will be there, Zoe.” Pedro then hung up the phone and put it away.
Matthew asked, “What is it?”
Pedro said, “Chang is have a meeting about the attack, at three PM, today, in his private theater, in his casino. And we are going.”
Matthew replied, “Okay. Maybe if we attend the meeting, we will take some of the heat off us.”
Pedro said, “Exactly.”
Matthew inquired, “So, are we going to tell them about Gomez?”
Pedro pointed out, “We only suspect that Gomez is connected to what we have been dealing with, during our journey. We have no actually direct proof linking him. Just a few clues. Though, if it turns out that Gomez is behind this attack. And we are asked about it. We will tell them what we know.” He thought, 'Or, if the situation is important enough, I will just mention what we know. Though, timing is the key on such matters.'
Matthew agreed, “That is fine.”
Pedro requested, “Besides, I have a plan on going to the casino. Give me around thirty minutes. I need to call our friends, and arrange for us to meet at the casino parking lot, together. As a show of force, and all that.” He thought, 'I am sure you would like us to come to the casino, with some help.'
Matthew commented, “I like it.”
Pedro stated, “I thought you would. And then, I will get someone to relieve me. Then, we will go to lunch. That gives us around thirty minutes to have lunch, before we head to the casino early.” He thought, 'I will have everyone meet at two forty-five PM, in the right front part of the casino parking lot. That should be fine.'
Matthew responded, “Sounds great. Though, as you know, my spanish is not great. So, I really didn't understand much of what you, and your officers, were talking about, over you radios. So, what restaurants have currently reopened, so soon after the attack?”
Pedro mentioned, “Well, it has been reported that the Cuban restaurant is now open, again.”
Matthew said, “I can live with going there.”
Pedro replied, “Good. We will go there, then.”
Pedro thought, 'I will arrange for some of my boys to come back here to man the phones. And I will get one of the squad cars to go to lunch, and then to the casino.'
'Though, first, I need to call Fabiola, Hernan, and I guess, Roberta. So, we can come together. I am glad that Fabiola gave me her number and Roberta's number. Which I have written down, in a pocket. And I have Hernan's cellphone number memorized.'
'I will call Fabiola first. To test the waters. Then, I will call Hernan. With luck, Roberta will be with Hernan. And I will go from there.'
'I would not be surprised if Hernan and Roberta are together, right now. So, when I call Hernan, I will work from there. To see if Roberta is with him. Roberta may not be one of my favorite people. But, she will want to come, and she will be nice to me, as long as I am nice to her. Because, I am both a good friend of Hernan's, and I am now friend of Fabiola's.'
'Also, on other matters. Events around town have not been as bad as I expected they would be.
'Numbers of reported causalities have been extremely light. With mostly minor injuries. There have been a handful of deaths, but no where near what I expected there would be.'
'It is so nice that I have such a competent and armed populace.'
'And while I overheard some of my boys report, that the local firefighters had to take their firetrucks, to put out a few fires around town. Those the fires were all minor, and easily put out.'
'And like everyone else, in this town, the firefighters were armed. Though, only those not going into the burning buildings are armed. The heat from such fire can cause bullets to go off... I am glad they realized that before that happened to them.'
'Also, that reminds me. In a few minutes, will order some of my boys to take some off road vehicles, to hunt for any boomers that may be wondering the more deserted parts of the island.'
'Their blue armor is easy to spot at a distance. And the boomers are not trying to hide. And this should be taken care before night fall. Though, that should not be to difficult, at long as I get the ball rolling in a few minutes.'
'Still, I am beginning to wonder. This boomer attack was disorganized. There was no coordination between the boomers. They were just dumped here, to run amok.'
'No matter how you looked it, it was amateur hour for those boomers. All they had was numbers, and that was it. And that was nothing compared to what they faced.'
'The boomers were not really trying to kill people in mass, or burn the city down. They were only going for targets of opportunity.'
'This attack was clearly a distraction.'
'We were just lucky that this city is full of retired, professional killers and badasses, that are armed. And whom have no issues with defending themselves, and their loved ones.'
'Though, since this attack a distraction. What was the primary target? And who would waste hundreds of combat boomers on a distraction... Even Genom was not that wasteful?...'
'Though, if this was Gomez. And that supply depot was stumbled upon is any indication. This number of boomers, used against us is just a drop in the buckle for Gomez. His did have a lot of boomers at that supply depot that Matthew and I accidentally dropped into... And I suspect that was only one supply depot of many, for his organization... Now, that is a scary thought.'
'And if that is the case, Gomez, and his organization, could be behind the attack... If Gomez is the one running that organization. We really don't know.'
'But, the question is still, why commit such an attack, in the first place?... That is a good question. And I guess I will find out at the meeting at the casino.'
'Also, there is the issue of Matthew and I not mentioning Gomez, to the others, last night.'
'To be fair, we have no proof. And I feel it was right not telling the others about Gomez. It would not have stopped this attack. And it might have made things worse, by tipping off Gomez. With any spies he may have on the island. Thus causing Gomez to pay more attention, causing this attack to be even worse.'
'And we are weathering this attack very well. I doubt we could handled a worse attack. Such as from battle boomers, and air support.'
'Though, I am sure that River will be at the meeting. And with her there, Matthew and I may have to admit to what I know. Still, I doubt much will come of it. Also, if it is Gomez. By telling them what Matthew and I know. No matter who is controlling that organization. It will confirm that the organization, in question, is much bigger than they realize.'
'Those at the casino, Devil's Hotel, and Hotel Moscow, are too prideful not to respond to this attack with force. And I might as well help them. Since, I represent this town. And I agree, this attack does merit a response.'
'And that means that there will be the type confrontation I wanted to avoid. Even with everyone working together, I do not think we can take them in a direct fight. Though, with the number of dirty tricks masters that will likely be at that meeting. I don't think we will have to.'
'What is the phase Lee sometimes uses?... Ah, yes. Proper planning and preparation. And that is what the meeting is all about.'
'As such, I think I will bring my FAL with me. Along with several extra loaded magazines. I might need it. Either, by running into a stray boomer that might still be out on the streets, or if I have trouble at the casino, itself. At the very least, I want those there to know that I have more hardware than just my pistols.'
'And I don't know when Chang will want to leave. So, having the weapon and ammo on hand, cannot hurt. Also, I already have a bulletproof vest on, and I think I will get Matthew fitted for one of the spares we have, just in case. Barring a few exceptions. He may not care for guns, but I am at least going to get him to have some protection, when we head out.'
'Also, such an attack will likely be soon... And when this confrontation happens, Gomez, or whomever is behind this boomer attack, will not expect the reprisal so soon.'
Around the time Pedro got a phone call from Zoe, most of those inside the Devil's Hotel restaurant were relaxing, and enjoying the fact the battle was over.
The exceptions were the hotel staff, including Melanie, whom was doing her job as bartender.
An hour ago, the battle had been over for around twenty minutes, due to no more boomers having show up outside of the hotel. Though, Fabiola and Shenhua, the other teams Shenhua had placed around the hotel, were glad to patiently wait that hour, to make sure no other boomers were going to show up.
Still, both Shenhua and Fabiola were happy about this, because Fabiola was running low on ammo. And Shenhua was starting to feel a little tired. Especially, after all that fighting. Then falling out of a Federation runabout, into the sea. Then, swimming back to short. Running through the hotel, back to the front parking lot. To do some more fighting.
Even for a woman in peek physical condition, along with the super-soldier serum. All that exertion was pushing the limits of her endurance.
Though, at long as Shenhua got a chance to rest for an hour or so, she would quickly recover back to her full energy levels.
When both women were satisfied that the battle was over. They met up, and talked for a few minutes to both agree the battle was over. They then walked clockwise, around the hotel, together, the inform others that were defending building. The five Lagoon sisters, and the elemental trio. To let them know the battle was over.
Though, Shenhua did give the eight adult women some more orders, before they could join them, inside the restaurant.
Then, Fabiola and Shenhua walked inside the hotel, and headed for the restaurant, to inform those in the restaurant, that the battle was over.
When the two women entered the restaurant, they were happy to see that everyone inside was fine, and that the boomers had not made it into the restaurant.
Those in the restaurant were happy to hear the attack was over. And everyone that had their weapons out, put their weapons away. With Sawyer returning Lotton's spare pistol to her.
And as soon as the battle was confirmed to be over, the guests that had been defended, thanks those that defended them. Then, then left the restaurant. With the hotel staff had resuming their duties. While the defenders, and their loved ones, stayed.
As this reunion went on, in the restaurant, Melanie used the wireless bar phone to dial and emergency extension that gave the all clear recording for the hotel. Ringing the phones in all the offices, and guest suites, to alert everyone, that the attack was over, everything was fine, and they could go about their business. She then hung up the phone.
Like the first recording to stated for everyone to remain inside, the all clear recording played in a few different languages. First was spanish, then english, then in a series of other languages. With the message looping for a few minutes, before it automatically hung up.
Melanie then asked Shenhua and Fabiola, how much damage there was outside.
The two women answered that most of the damage were to the vehicles in the parking lot. With only superficial damage to the building, and parking lot.
Melanie commented that the hotel had insurance for damage to guest and workers property, that was damaged on the hotel grounds. So, they should be alright.
Shenhua just shrugged in response. While, Fabiola said she was happy to hear that, given she liked the hotel.
About fifteen minutes after Fabiola and Shenhua had returned to the restaurant, the five Lagoon sisters, and the elemental trio, had come by the restaurant to say they had followed Shenhua's orders, at the end of the battle. That they had checked out the various parts of the hotel. Including the elevators, and the stairwells. And they had found not signs that boomers had gotten passed them.
After everyone in the room had heard their report. Along with the eight women in question, requesting not to check the upper floors. It was generally agreed, by those defending the hotel, that since there was no sign of boomers entering the hotel, on the ground floor, there was no reason to guess that any boomers had made it up to the upper floors of the building.
Though, Melanie said have the staff check the security cameras, to make sure.
With those issues cleared up, the eight young adults then headed up to their suites, to get cleaned up, and put on a fresh sets of clothing. Then, they planned to play some poker, and rest upstairs, in their suites.
Though, before they left the restaurant, for their help, Melanie offered to give them free room service, for lunch. And the eight women took her up on her offer.
On the other hand, Fabiola, and the others that had guards the hotel, stayed downstairs, in the restaurant. And they did not go get cleaned up. This was because, they all knew, that though the battle was over, there was a good chance, that they were going to get a lot more dirtier before the day was over.
Also, the others in the restaurant could see that those that had protected them wanted to be left alone. So, they left them be, as they rested, and ate their lunch, which, for defending the hotel, was on the house.
Presently, the only guests currently inside the restaurant, were sitting together, at tables, near the back of the restaurant, by the stage, as they were finishing their lunch.
At one table, sat Shenhua, Lotton, and Sawyer, with their three toddlers, Wenqian, Thomas, and Ivy, in booster seats.
In a nearby table, sat Fabiola, Matt, Leigharch, Aeryn, Violin, along with Violin and Aeryn's toddler daughter, Gilina, whom was sitting in a booster seat.
Those in both tables talked to each other, as they ate their lunch.
The only other person in the room was Melanie, whom was behind the bar counter.
Just then, Fabiola's encrypted cellphone began to ring. She pulled it out, pressed the talk button, and held the phone to her left eat.
Those around her went quite, as only a few people knew Fabiola's cellphone number. And all of them would not call, unless it was important.
Fabiola said, in spanish, “Hello.”
On the other end of the light, Zoe responded, in english, “Hello Fabiola. How was your trip?”
Fabiola happily replied, in english, “Hi Zoe. It was great. So, why did you call?” She thought, 'There is no point in telling her what happened, right now. She likely has her own problems at the casino. And she does not have the time to get into such a conversation.'
Zoe answered, “Chang is having a meeting today, at three PM sharp, at his private theater, in the casino. The meeting will deal with discussions on the attack, and what we will do about. We would like for you to attend.”
Fabiola thought with relief, 'That invitation is a good sign. That means the battle is over there. They would not call otherwise. I think I will take them up on their offer. Clearly there is going to be some payback, and I want in. Also, I think I will help her out some.'
Fabiola stated, “Okay. I will be there. Also, I believe there are few others by me, that you might want to invite.”
Zoe inquired, “Such as?”
Fabiola answered, “Well, I am sitting by Violin, Aeryn, Shenhua, Sawyer, and Lotton. And I think even Melanie should come.
Fabiola thought, 'Zoe likely doesn't know who Matt and Leigharch are. Well, maybe Leigharch. Though, the series doesn't show him in a good light. So, I won't mention them to her. Though, I will bring them along, if they want to come. Given who I am, and my reputation, I doubt anyone will say anything about it.'
Across the room, Melanie has been paying attention to the conversation, with her enhanced hearing.
And she cracked a grin when her name was suggested as worthy of listing with the others.
On the phone, Zoe said, “Okay. Most of them I was going to call, anyway. Please, let them know what is going.”
Fabiola replied, “I will.”
Zoe said, “Thank you. And see you there.” She then hung up.
Fabiola disconnected her end of the line, and put up her cellphone.
Sawyer inquired, in english, “So, what was that about?”
Fabiola stated, “Zoe just called. It seems that Chang wants us all to go to a meeting he is holding, at three PM, this afternoon. In his private theater, at the casino. We will be talking about the attack, and what we are going to do, in response.”
Shenhua said, in english, “I can go along with that.”
Aeryn commented, in english, “So can I.”
Violin sighed, as she said, in english, “I might as well come, too.” She thought, 'Someone, who is not bloodthirsty, needs to attend. Or, they might go a little too far, in their plans and actions.'
Lotton stated, in english, “I have nothing better to do.”
Sawyer commented, “Neither do I.”
Lotton casually asked, “What about, Melanie?”
Violin cracked a mischievous grin, as she complimented, “Good question.”
Violin turned her head toward Melanie, whom was standing across the room, behind the bar counter. She shouted, “Did you hear all that, Melanie?!”
Across the room, from behind the bar counter, Melanie stood, as she turned to looked at Violin. She said, in english, in a calm tone of voice, that was still audible, from across the room, “Yes. I am thinking of going.”
Violin replied, in a more normal tone of voice, “Okay. Just checking”
Melanie just shook her head a few times, at Violin's foolishness, as she turned her attention back to the bar.
Violin look back at the members of group she was sitting beside.
Aeryn turned to Violin, as she sarcastically said, “A little louder, next time, dear.”
Violin let out a laugh
Leigharch requested, in english, “Fabiola, I didn't hear you mention my name, nor Matt's name. And I would like to come along.”
Matt commented. in english, “So would I.”
Fabiola stated, “That won't be a problem. I was hoping you would ask that. And I doubt anyone would argue with me for bringing you two along.”
Lotton agreed, “You got that right. Still, there is one problem for the rest of us.”
Aeryn inquired, “What is that?”
Lotton commented, “We are going to need someone to watch our children, while we attend the meeting. This is not a meeting that we should bring kids to.”
Violin, agreed, “That is a good point.”
Lotton stated, “Fortunately, we came prepared. We have a list of babysitters we can call on short notice. And I am sure they cane watch, Gilina, as well.”
Aeryn questioned, “How trustworthy are they?”
Lotton answered, “You know most of them. We have both used them, before. I was thinking of calling Hotel Moscow. I am sure that Balalaika, B, and Hotel Moscow, will be invited. But, Balalaika is not going to send everyone. And a few will be looking after, Dmitri and Alexandra.”
“A few bars of gold will go along way to those to convince them to look after our children, on short notice. And I am sure Balalaika would mind our children visiting their children.”
Violin commented, “She makes a good point there, honey.”
Aeryn thought about it for a few seconds. She then shrugged, as she replied, “Okay.”
Then, Fabiola's cellphone began ringing, again.
Violin playfully asked, “I wonder who it is, this time?
Fabiola answered the phone, and put it to her left ear. She said, in spanish, “Hello.”
On the other end of the line, Pedro said, in english, “Hello Fabiola.”
Fabiola thought, 'Pedro knows my native language is spanish. And so is his. He would only speak english for the benefit of someone with him. That means that likely Matthew is with him. While with Pedro and my help, Matthew's spanish is getting better. It still has a ways to go. Now, to find out who is with you, Pedro. And what you want to talk about.'
Fabiola inquired, in english, “It is good to hear from you. Is Matthew with you?”
Pedro answered, “Yes. And we are doing fine.”
Fabiola said, “Glad to hear it.”
Pedro inquired, “Is Matt and Leigharch with you.”
Fabiola looked over at Matt and Leigharch, both of whom noticed that green haired woman look at them.
Fabiola replied, “Yes.”
Pedro sincerely stated, “Okay. First, Matthew and I with to apologize, for ditching you three like that, last night.”
Fabiola said, “No problem. I can understand where you both were coming from, when you did that.”
Pedro responded, with a hint of relief in his tone of voice, “Good. Well, let them know that I apologize to them, as well. I really don't have time to talk to them, right now. So, I am just going to have to ask you to please tell them for me.”
Fabiola asked, “Okay. I will. Do you need anything else?”
Pedro questioned, “Yes. Has Zoe call you, yet?”
Fabiola replied, “Yes. She just did. I take it she invited you and Matthew, to Chang's meeting, as well?”
Pedro answered, “Yes. And I have a request for you, and anyone else you know that is invited.”
Fabiola questioned, “What is it?”
Pedro stated, “I don't want to walk into the casino, hat in hand. I want to walk in, while showing a sign of strength. I would like you and the others to come meet me in the right front corner of the casino parking lot, at two forty-five PM, and we walk in together, with our weapons draw.”
Fabiola commented, “That is a bold move.”
Pedro admitted, “Yes. It is. But, I figure any other way, and they will just continue to walk over Matthew and I.”
Fabiola conceded, “You might be right. I will help you. And I will see what the others say.”
Pedro said, “Thank you. And see you there.” Pedro then hung up
Fabiola disconnected her end and put away her phone.
Matt asked, “Was that Pedro? Or, Matthew?”
Leigharch commented, “Either way, the bloke calling, has some balls, to call us, after the stunt they pulled last night.”
Fabiola stated, “It was Pedro. Though, he said that Matthew was with him. And to be honest, Pedro and Matthew really didn't have a choice in that matter. If they had stated, Revy and the some of the others might have made them answer some questions, in unpleasant ways. And I am not sure I would have been able to stop them.”
Violin said, “I have to agree with Fabiola. Revy and most of the others here, would have had questions. And these types of questions, that alcohol does not mix well with. I am sure that both of them realize that.”
Sawyer commented, “I agree.”
Fabiola turned to Leigharch and Matt, as she mentioned, “Also, Pedro apologized to me. And he wanted me to inform you, that he and Matthew apologize to you both over last night.”
Leigharch casually replied, “Okay.”
Matt admitted, “That does help”
Sawyer pointed out, “Well, they are still in town. So, you can talk to them, later.”
Matt said, “There is that.”
Leigharch agreed, “True.”
Lotton inquired, “So, was that all Pedro wanted to speak to you about?”
Fabiola answered, “No. It seems that he and Matthew were also invited to the meeting. And he wanted me to ask you guys, if you will help him and Pedro.”
Violin asked, “What does he want?”
Fabiola stated, “He wants us all to meeting him and Matthew, at two forty-five PM, in the right front corner of the casino parking lot. And then for use to walk into the casino, together, with our weapons draw.”
Aeryn questioned, “So, he is showing strength in front of Chang and his subordinates?”
Fabiola replied, “I believe so.”
Shenhua cautioned, “That could be considered a sign of provocation.”
Fabiola conceded, “Possible. But, given we are invited, I don't think that will be the case.”
Aeryn asked, “So, are you going to do it?”
Fabiola answered, “Yes. And I was I hoping all of you would come, as well.”
Matt replied, “Sure.”
Leigharch rhetorically asked, “Why not?”
Violin stated, “Sorry.” She then looked over to her young daughter, Gilina, whom look up at Violin with a smile on her face. Violin continued, “We have to first make arrangements to find a babysitter.” Next, she looked back at Fabiola.
Lotton said, “So, do we. We cannot meet Pedro, with you.”
Aeryn commented, “Lotton, I think we will take you up your offer of finding a babysitter for Gilina.”
Lotton replied, “Okay.”
Sawyer turned to Fabiola, as she said, “If it was just me, I would come meet with Pedro. But, that is not the case.”
Fabiola looked over at Sawyer, as she responded, “That is okay. I understand. Though, are you still coming to the meeting?”
Shenhua stated, “Yes. But, we will get there on our own time. Thought, we won't be late.”
Fabiola replied, “That will be fine.”
Shenhua asked, “By the way, you used a lot of ammo in that fight. Are you close to being out?”
Fabiola answered, “No. I am not. Still, it might be best for get some more ammo for my weapons before I leave.” She thought, 'I will get some ammo from my suite, before we leave.'
Shenhua commented, “I think I need to replenish my throwing knives, as well.” She thought, 'Fortunately, I have some more knives in our suite.'
Fabiola agreed, “That would be a good idea, as well.”
Just then, across the room, Melanie was listening to the group's conversation, when the wireless bar phone began to ring.
Melanie answered it, as she said, in spanish, “Hello.'
On the other end of the line, Bao said, in english, “Melanie, it is Bao.”
Melanie switched to english, as she replied, “Hi Bao.”
At the mention of Bao's name, those on across the room, with enhanced hearing, stopped talking, as they turned to look at Melanie.
A few seconds later, the others in the group realized what their friends were doing, as they also turned to look at Melanie.
Melanie inquired, “So, everything okay on your end?”
Bao answered, “Yea. I was just calling to see how things were on your end.”
Melanie stated, “Well, the boomers did attack the hotel, but some our friends staying at the hotel stopped the boomers from coming inside.”
Bao happily said, “That's good.”
Melanie inquired, “So, how bad was the damage on your end?”
Bao answered, “Surprisingly. Nothing happen to me, nor the Rats Nest. The boomers never came near me. My bar is completely fine.”
Melanie responded, with surprise in her tone of voice, “You're kidding.”
Bao replied, “Nope. My bar is completely undamaged, for a change.”
Melanie said, “That is ironic.”
Bao commented, with a bit of amusement in her tone of voice, “I know.”
Melanie asked, “So, has Zoe called you, yet?”
Bao replied, “No.”
Melanie offered, “Chang is having a meeting at his private theater, in his casino, at three PM today. The meeting it about the attack. I was hoping you would join me in going over there together.”
Bao commented, “Sure. I will meet you at the front of the casino entrance at two-thirty. We don't want to be last one inside, with this crowd.”
Melanie said, “I agree. I will see you there.” She then walked over, and hung up the wireless bar phone. When she turned to look at the group, across the room, she noticed that they were looking back at her.
Lotton asked, “So, what did Bao want?”
Melanie answered, “She just called to make sure everything is fine on our end.”
Lotton said, “That is good. Is she alright?”
Melanie stated, “Yes. She is actually better than all right. You are not going to believe this. Bao said that the boomers never even came near the Rats Nest. Her bar is completely undamaged.”
The group could not believe what they were hearing.
There was a few seconds of silence, before Sawyer said, “Well, that is a change.”
Shenhua agreed, “I know. This is a rare turn of events. Bao's bar is usually the first place to get trashed in a battle like this.”
Violin commented, “So, Bao might have one of the only undamaged businesses in town.”
Melanie said, “That is what I believe, as well.”
Lotton theorized, “It is possible that those whom had the boomers attack this city, knew about Bao's bar, about the dangerous patrons she usually serves. And they programed their boomers to avoid the Rats Nest, at all cost.”
Melanie stated, “That is very possible, Lotton.”
Aeryn pointed out, “Let's just best happy we still have a place to have a drink and party.” She thought, 'Considering that you don't let us have such parties, in this bar, Melanie.'
Melanie agreed, “That is a good point.” She thought, 'And the parties you all have are not the types of parties I want in my bar. So, I will let my girlfriend handle those parties. Though, I do not mind helping Bao, when I can. Because sometimes, she needs the help. Now, to see if any of you want to order something else.'
Melanie inquired, “Now, do any of you want anything to eat?”
Violin commented, “I could go from some dessert.”
Sawyer said, “So could I.”
Along with Sawyer and Violin, a few other members of the group, whom had already finished their lunch. also asked for various types of deserts that the restaurant offered.
Melanie pulled out a pen and paper, as wrote down their orders. She then went to carry them out.
When the group was finished ordering their deserts, they went back to talking amongst themselves.
And after Melanie had fill out their orders, and carried them to the kitchen. She returned to the dinning room. And she went back to her bartending duties. With a waitress, whom was in the kitchen, being assigned to deliver the desserts, when they were ready.
Reality, unknown. Date, unknown. Place, Gomez's spacestation. Time, sometime in the afternoon, local time.
An hour has passed, for those that had returned, after pulling boomer mission at the island, Plata Podrido, Mexico. With said agents leaving the blue combat boomers to ravage the city.
Though, not all of those whom had returned had received a warm welcome.
Presently, inside Gomez's dark office, with the only light in the room being from a small lamp on his desk.
Gomez had heard what Bane has pulled, while in Plata Podrido, and he had brought with him, back to the spacestation.
Gomez was a tall, beefy, caucasian man, with short blond hair. He wore his usual green business suit, and dress shows. He also had on his sunglasses, over his eyes. Though, he was still able to see clearly, around him.
Gomez sat behind in his chair, behind his desk, as he looked at Cad Bane standing across, on the other side of his desk.
Gomez did not react well to this news had recently heard, about the person he was currently looking at.
Cad Bane looked down at Gomez, with no emotion showing on his face. While, Gomez has a scowl on his face.
While they looked at each other, Gomez was giving his alien, bounty hunter, badass subordinate, the chewing out of a lifetime.
Gomez yelled, “What the hell were you thinking?! Kidnapping Garcia Lovelace, along with that mother, and her three children?! I gave you orders not to interfere! So, why do you disobey my orders?! And specifically, why did you go after this group of people?!”
Bane thought, 'I admit it. I deserve this. And from what little I know of Gomez. He is only once of the few people, on this station, that I do not think I can take in a fight. Besides, he pays well. And only gets angry with good reason. So, I will take my lumps, and live with it. I guess, in this case, honesty is the best approach.'
'It is fortunate that Gomez is not known to kill his subordinates for not following his orders. Or, I would have escape this place, when he called me in here.'
Bane admitted, “From what I heard, the Lovelace family is now quite wealthy. And I was thinking of taking him hostage. To ransom him. Then, I saw the mother and children in the same car, with Garcia, and I decided to take them, as well. Also, I noticed a bearded man fighting boomers with Roberta. He was almost as good as her.”
Gomez growled, as he asked, “And why did you take the mother and her children?”
Bane answered, “For two reasons. First, I guessed the man was the husband of the mother, and father of the children. If I had his family. He would be less likely to shoot me, as I took Garcia. And Roberta would not risk harming Garcia.”
“Also, given they were together, I guessed they were all connected. And this was confirmed after we got back. I had a change to get a good look that woman, and Garcia. I noticed that the woman looked very close to Garcia. And given how the woman looks similar to Garcia. I believe they might even be reality counterparts.”
Gomez thought, with worry, 'If that is the case. That just made us an even big target.
I don't know who the man that Bane is referring to. But, if he was taking on boomers with Roberta. That means that the Bloodhound trusts him, and she believe he was skilled enough to handle the just. And from what it sounds like. Her trust was well placed'
'So, our trouble has only increased. And Bane clearly does not realize the hell he has unleashed on us.'
Gomez forced himself to calm down, as he continued his thought, 'Still, staying angry is not going to solve the problem. And killing Bane would be a bad idea. I might have to eventually trade him to Roberta, to get her, and her friends, to leave us alone.'
'Though, we did attack them. Plus, this kidnapping. So, just handing over Bane might not be enough. I am going to have to think on this one. Still...”
Gomez inquired, “Where are the prisoners?”
Bane said, “They are together, in a detention cell.”
Gomez asked, “Are they unharmed?”
Bane replied, “Yes.”
Gomez said, “Good. And there will be no ransom.”
Bane forced himself to remain silent.
Gomez stated, in a serious tone of voice, “I will figure out how to defuse this problem, later. Because we will be returning them, unharmed, later today. Though, for right now, they will be treated nicely in their cells. And I will not have them harmed. Also, I will figure out what to do with you, later.”
Bane gritted his teeth, as he said, “Yes sir.”
Gomez ordered, “You are to stay on the station. But, you are dismissed.”
Bane was silent, as he turned around, and walked out of the room. The double-doors to Gomez's office were several feet in front of his desk, down a few steps of stairs that the light from the lamp showed. The doors had sensors around it, that were set to make the doors automatically slide open, into the walls, for those exiting the room, when they approached the interior sides of the doors.
Though, there was a keypad and intercom box, by the doors, to the left. For anyone that wanted to come inside, they first either need the password to open the doors, or they had to contact Gomez inside, to let them in.
Gomez watched Bane leave his office, as he thought, 'I would not be this nice to him, if it wasn't for the fact he is good as his job. But, clearly his greed finally got the better of him. I will think of punishment for him. Though, one that will not prevent me from keeping him in my employment.'
'A few bounties hunting missions, in the more remote parts of the multiverse, might do the trick. Still, I need to do something, right now. Before things get worse.'
A few seconds later, after the office doors closed behind Bane, Gomez punched a button on the intercom, that was located on the surface of his desk. The button was keyed to alert the security section of his station. Where the detention cells were held.
Gomez stated, “This is Gomez.”
On the other end of the line, the person said, “What can I do for you, sir?”
Gomez ordered, “The people that Bane brought in. I want them treated nicely. Do not let any harm come to them.”
The person stated, “Yes sir. We will make sure they are fine.”
Gomez replied, “Good. Gomez out.” He then pushed a button to turn off the intercom.
As Gomez leaned back in his chair, he swiveled around to looked out into the stars, from the giant back window of his office.
Gomez thought, 'Now to clear up one matter immediate matter.'
Gomez looked over to the shadows of his office, to his right, as he said, “You can come out, now.”
Deadpool walked out from the shadows, and came to a stop near the right side of Gomez's desk.
Gomez thought, 'To have Wade Deadpool Wilson remain silent, is something to behold. And he did not saying anything, while I was chewing out, Bane. Meaning he is still pissed over what happened. I want to keep Wade as my agent. So, I need to be careful in how I handle this.'
Gomez said, “I want to thank you for alerting me to Bane's foolishness.”
Wade replied, “No problem.”
Gomez stated, “I hope this does not effect your job with us.”
Wade casually responded, “I am not leaving just yet. For three reasons. One, you already paid me for this month. Two, you are taking the first steps to defusing this mess with the maids. Keep in mind that Fabiola will likely be in the wings, as well.”
Gomez agreed, “Yes. I guess she would. And the third?”
Wade answered, “Three, is that this has been a good job for me, with decent pay, and nice benefits. So, I plan on sticking around. But, be warned. I am not going down with a sinking ship.”
Gomez replied, “I appreciate that.”
Deadpool cautioned, “Good. But, do not wait too long on this matter.”
Gomez said, “Don't worry. I have plenty of time.”
Deadpool was silent for a couple of seconds. He then responded, “You're call. Now, I am going to find Bane, and confront him, myself... If you don't have a problem with that.”
Gomez requested, “Just don't start a fight. We might need him at a bargaining chip with the Roberta.”
Wade replied, “My thoughts, exactly.”
Wade then turned, and walked out of the room, leaving Gomez to his thoughts.
Gomez turned his chair to face his desk, as he soon watched Wade reached the doors. With the doors sliding open for Wade. And then sliding closed, after Wade exited the room, into a wally.
With Gomez alone, he leaned back in his office chair, as he thought, 'Now, how am I going to get Roberta, that husband, and I guess Fabiola, to not attack us? It is possible. But, it is going to be pricy. I am going to have to think about this.'
'Also, where is Abrego? And why do I have the feeling that his disappearance is connected to this mess?...'
'Oh yea. The tracker that I installed on his armor, without telling him, stopped broadcasting, in the same town that Chang's group is in. The date stated that it was the night before the attack... That figures... Still, he clearly did not live long enough to tell anyone anything, because from reports by my agents. None of the locals were prepared, in advance, for the boomer attack.'
'Though, to be honest, I never did tell Abrego about that mission, and other missions. Just in case this very event happened to him.'
Gomez let out a deep breath, as he continued his thoughts, 'At least this mission's primary objective was accomplished. The crippling of the Atlantic Riders organization. With that thorn out of my way, I can move on with my agenda. Unimpeded by others.'
'Though, I will have to wait a day. Because of my ban on use of time dilation mechanics.'
'Just in case something comes up, before then.'
'Still, I will just send some spies to check to see if the Atlantic Riders are no more. But, that will have to wait. Along with dealing with this Lovelace mess, that Cad Bane just created for me.'
'I have a few appointments scheduled this afternoon. Including, David and Fox Xanatos. And chances are, they will bring Alex and Puck with them. While David and Fox have a questionable reputation. Though, no where near as bad as Cad Bane. I find Alex to be a good person, at heart.'
'And I admire Puck. He has so much power. And while he acts childish. Anyone who gets to know him can see that it is mostly an act to keep himself from being bored. And in truth, his inner personality is more like his Owen Burnett persona, what how he outwardly acts at Puck. With the Owen persona being about loyalty and personal responsibility.'
Gomez lips curled into a grin, as he continued his thoughts, while mild amusement, 'On that thought. If Puck ever got tired of working for the Xanatos family, I would offer him a job in a New York minute.'
'But, that is for later. I need to focus on the here and now.'
Gomez then continued his thoughts, on what he would be discussing with those he was planning on meeting that afternoon.
At that moment, elsewhere on the spacestation, in a detention cell, Maria was sitting in the far left corner of the cell, opposite to the toilet, with sink mounted in the wall, above and behind the toilet, as part of the top of the toilet. There were toiletries by the toilet. And there the two beds set above each other, on the wall, to the right of toilet.
Maria's three young children where huddled around her, with Maria hugging all three of them, together. Her eldest son, Antonio. Her middle daughter, Carmela. And her youngest son, Ramon.
Garcia was sitting next to Maria and her children, to their right, with his back to the wall, opposite to the beds.
Garcia had his body and head turned towards the family, as he silently looked at them.
Garcia could tell by the looks on their faces that they were all terrified.
Garcia continued to look at the family, as he thought, with concern, 'We have only been here for maybe an hour. I am so glad they did not take my watch. So, we can at least tell time. Though, they did search us for weapons. Still, Maria and her children, have emotionally worked themselves to the point they are scared out of their minds. And while we are in a bad situation. Being scared like this will only make things worse for them.'
Garcia said, in a calm, supportive tone of voice, in spanish, “You need to try to calm down, and realize that we are going to be fine. I have been in worse situations than this, and I made it out okay.”
Maria, Antonio, Carmela, and Ramon, looked over at Garcia, as Antonio flatly questioned, in spanish, “Like what?”
Garcia answered, “When I was your age. I was kidnapped. And I was alone. And I did not have my mother, nor did I have any siblings. And I made it out okay.”
Maria thought, 'It is tempting to response to Garcia, by mentioning my own past. When, as a child, I was kidnapped, as well. But, I also lost my family then. Though, Hernan, Sans, and Isandro, did later rescue me.'
'But, that will not help matters. And I don't want my children to know about my own personal sorrows. Though, Garcia does have a point.'
'And I really do need to watch that Black Lagoon series all the way through. Even though I don't care for dark, depressing series like that.'
Garcia saw the Maria, and the children started to calm down. He thought, 'Good. I calming them down.'
Maria commented, in spanish, “You never did tell us about your past.”
Garcia stated, “I do not mind telling you. But, not here. This cell is probably wired?”
Ramon asked, in spanish, “Meaning?”
Garcia said, “Those who are holding us, are likely watching and listening to us, right now.”
Carmela inquired, with worry in her tone of voice, in spanish, “Even when we go to the bathroom?”
Garcia responded, “I hope not. But, if you have to go. Just use the toilet. And try not to think about that.”
Carmela sheepishly replied, “Okay.”
Maria said, “I wish they gave us a cell with plenty of beds.”
Garcia pointed out, “Be happy they haven't separated us.”
Maria gently hugged her children a little closer to her, as she replied, “Good point.”
Garcia volunteered, as he said, “If we are in here for a while. If necessary. I will sleep on the floor.”
Garcia thought, 'If this place was not likely wired. I would also offer to turn into my female form. To help Carmela be in such close quarters with me. The kids are going to find out, sometime, anyway. Though, when we are at the pool, back in my estate, when I went out in my female form, we just told them that I was their aunt. With us planning to tell them the truth, when they are older. And they can better understand the situation.'
'But, given this place is likely wired. While I am sure those that have captured us will not harm a mother in front of their children. If they were that evil, they would have already done so. Though, should they learn about my female form, they might decide to take me out of this cell, and rape me.'
Maria stated, “So, will I. Antonio will take the top bunk. Carmela and Ramon are small enough to share the bottom bunk. Though, let us hope this situation does not go that far.”
Garcia replied, “I agree.”
Ramon inquired, “So uncle, you are hoping for a rescue?”
Garcia commented, in a casual tone of voice, “Actually, I was hoping one of the superiors of the person whom took us realizes who we are, and they return us from where and when they took us. With use remaining unharmed.”
Maria pointed out, “They might know who you are. But, what about us?”
Garcia stated, “I will point out to them, your connection to me. And who your husband is. One look at both of us, together. Along with what I say to them. Should be enough to get them to let us all go.”
Maria replied, “I hope that happens.”
Garcia said, “So do I.”
Garcia thought, 'Though, I admit that it is a long shot. But, it is the only reason I can give them to have hope that we will soon be released. I did not mention that it took time for me to be freed from my hostage situation, that lead me, and Roberta, to Roanapur, Thailand, for the first time.'
Carmela asked, in a quiet tone of voice, “And if that doesn't happen?”
Garcia stated, “Then, keep in mind that Roberta is the best tracker I know of, in the multiverse. She will find us. And she, along with Fabiola, and your father, will rescue us.”
Garcia's lips curled into a wicked grin, as he continued, “And nothing in existence will stop them.”
Ten minute later, on another level of the spacestation, Wade Deadpool Wilson had been able to track down Cad Bane, to a hallway. He did so with the help of one of his old friends, whom was now the security consultant for the computer networks of the spacestation.
As Deadpool walked down the hallway, towards Cad Bane, he saw that Bane had his back turned to him, as the alien bounty hunter was walked away from him.
Wade also noticed that the hallway was empty, save for the two of them.
As Deadpool came within twenty feet of Cad Bane, he requested, “Bane. Hold up.”
Bane heard Wade, as he stopped. He turned around to face Deadpool. He asked, “Wade? What do you want?”
A few seconds later, Deadpool reached Bane. Then, without warning, Deadpool grabbed Bane by his shoulders, with both hands, he turned to the right, he slammed the alien bounty's back against the wall, and held Bane there.
Wade saw, from Bane's face, that he was more confused, than upset by Wade's actions.
Wade thought, 'Armed, or not. He knows he cannot take me in a fight. So, I am not worried.'
Bane demanded, “What is going on, Wade?!”
Wade calmly said, “You, and I, are going to talk about your little kidnapping today.”
Bane asked, “How do you know about that?”
Deadpool rhetorically pointed out, “Who do you think told Gomez?”
Bane accused, with rage in his tone of voice, “You did?”
Wade stated, in an even tone of voice, “Calm down, Bane. I am trying to save your life.”
Bane anger quickly turned to confusion, as he asked, “Huh?”
Wade let Bane good, as he took few steps back from Bane. He stated, “I watched you from a few buildings away, as you made that brazen kidnapping. And from what I saw of what you do, you clearly don't know the shit you just walked into.”
Bane inquired, “What do you mean?”
Wade responded, with seriousness in his town of voice, “Roberta is no joke. If she wanted to, she can take down a dozen of us, without a problem. Roberta's student, Fabiola, is almost as good as Roberta is. And that guy Roberta was with. Whom I am guessing is the father of that family you took, with Garcia. Looks like he could put up a decent challenge for either of us.”
Bane scoffed, “Really? Ha. I have faced Jedi masters before. Once, I faced two of the Jedi masters in battle, and escaped both of them.”
Wade pointed out, “I know which fight you are talking about. It happened on Nal Hutta. That was a running battle, with you being the prey. And you only barely escaped them. You did not stand your ground and fight them. You did not beat them. There is a big difference between fighting and running. And I know you know that.”
Wade continued, with his concern in his tone of voice, “Still, you need to learn something, I did, several years ago. In this line of work, we need to stick to our weight class. Let the gods fight the gods. Let the devils fight the devils. And let the badass cyborgs fight the badass cyborgs. If we don't follow this lesson, one day, we are going to get crushed by one of these beings.”
Bane stated, in a mocking manner, “And what happened to your, even gods can burn, comment?
Deadpool forced himself to remain calm, as he said, “When you have your back to the wall. It is nice to have options.” He thought, 'And the irony of you reminding me of making such a comment, in this situation, does not escape me.'
Wade went onto say, “Listen Bane. Like you, I have met people in combat whom were vastly more powerful, tougher, and even more skilled then me. Some I fought with. Some I fight against. And some I just ran away from. And I have no regrets in my decisions, in any of those cases.”
“Still, out of the top twenty people that I never want to face in combat. Roberta is right next to Darth Vader on that list. And I know both of them. I have personally met with both of them. Though, at the time, I was on good terms with them. I could even call Annie a friend. And I hope I still can, after this whole mess is over.”
Wade continued, in a more kinder tone of voice, “Also, I want you to know, that I sincerely hope you make it through this mess alive. But, after the stunt you pulled today. After you went directly against orders. In an attempt to satisfy your own greed. With you putting all of our lives in danger. I want you to know that our partnership is over.”
Wade then turned around to his right, and walked down the hallway, away from Bane.
Bane remained silent, as he watch his friend leave him behind.
Reality. Pedro, Hernan, and Lee's home reality. Date, Friday, the afternoon after the boomer attack on the city of Plata Podrido. Place, Plata Podrido Mexico. Time, twelve forty-one PM.
The it was still a partly partly cloudy outside, as Hernan drove Roberta, in San's car, to Burt's gunshop, from Daiyu Palace Casino.
Roberta was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car.
While the trip should have only taken around ten to fifteen minutes. The trip lasted over thirty minutes, with the longer duration due to them having to drive around wreckage, while they made their way to Burt's gunshop.
Finally, they made it to Burt's gunshop, with Hernan parking the car on the side of the two land road that was opposite to the front of Burt's gunshop. With Hernan's side of the car facing the front of Burt's building.
Hernan put the car in park, turned off the ignition, pulled the key, on the keyring, from the car, and pocketed the keyring.
Hernan turned to his right, towards Roberta, whom was in the front passenger side of the car. He said, in spanish, “Here we are. Burt's gunshop is only the other side of the road.”
Roberta commented, in spanish, “Thank you for taking me here. I just hope this man had the weapons we need.”
Hernan stated, “You're welcome. And Burt is the only person I can think of, outside of your friends, that might have the kind of destructive weapons we need.”
Both adults got out of the car.
While they got out of San's car, they both noticed there was no traffic on the road.
After they stood up, and closed the car doors, with Roberta standing on the sidewalk, and Hernan standing on the road, Roberta then looked over the car, across the street, at the small, nondescript, three story building.
Roberta inquired, “So, this guy will help us?”
Hernan looked over at Roberta, as he answered,“Yes. I know Burt through Pedro. Burt is a little rough around the edges. But, you will like him. And I am on good terms with him.”
Roberta turned to Hernan, as she inquired, “How skilled is he in firearms?”
Hernan responded, “Burt is a master gunsmith. And with Pedro and Paciano’s connections, Burt was given access to a lot of equipment and rare weapons and ammo. He likely has what we are looking for.”
“Also, he is an expert sharpshooter, explosives expert, and a master survivalist. I have no doubt he would survive world war three.”
Roberta cracked a smile, as she said, “Sounds like an interesting guy.”
Hernan commented, “Yea. He is. Though, just don't get into a detail on conversations dealing guns. Or, we will be here all day, talking to him. I have done that before, and not realize it, until after the fact. Also, use english. His spanish is not that great.”
Roberta replied, “Okay.” She then turned to look at the boomers bodies littering the street and sidewalks. She noticed all of the boomers had headshots. But, the holes were big in those headshots.
Roberta turned to Hernan, as she asked, “Did Burt take out all these boomers. Because, I am impressed.”
Hernan answered, “Burt likely took them out with his light-fifty, on his roof.”
Roberta commented, “He clearly has not lost his touch.”
Hernan said, “I know. Now, let's head inside.”
Roberta agreed, “Good idea.”
Roberta walked around the front of the car, to where Hernan was standing.
Then, after checking both ways, the two counterparts walked side by side, across the street, with Hernan to Roberta’s left.
As they walked, Hernan turned to Roberta, as he commented, “There is one thing I don't get. That I want to know.”
Roberta turned to him, as she asked, “And what is that?”
Hernan commented, “Where you got all your wonderful toys from? The Batman joke was nice. That didn't really answer my question.”
“Not counting the suitcase of death, and your Argentinian Sistema Colts, with drum magazines. You acquired, that custom umbrella shotgun, with the Italian Franchi SPAS twelve gauge shotgun, with the kevlar umbrella attached to the end of the barrel.”
“By the way, the kevlar cloth was a nice touch.”
Roberta happily replied, “Thank you.”
Hernan continued, “You're welcome. And along with those items. There is that M eighty-two A one american anti-material rifle, you had modified to have a grenade launcher attached under the barrel. Though, for this reality, that grenade launcher was base off a fictional model. The CAW forty millimeter grenade launcher.”
“And that is the short list.”
“Also, M eighty-two rifles are difficult to procure for private hands. I know. I looked. I am surprised you got those guys from Roanapur to obtain those items on short noticed, for you.”
By then, they reached the other side of the street, and they both came to a stop, standing in front of the door that directly let into the store front of Burt's gunshop.
Both adults turned to looked at each other, as Roberta stated, “Actually, the anti-material rifle, and grenade launcher, were already premade, and shipped, with the magazines, from South America to Thailand. And I just needed someone to handled the shipping on the Thailand ship, in getting it to me.”
“Though, while in Roanapur, I did have to procure the ammo for my weapons while in Roanapur.”
“The reason I did not ship the ammo because the customs officials dogs would smell the he gunpowder and explosive.
Though, before I shipped my large weapons and equipment, I took them apart and thoroughly cleaned them. After all, the weapons and equipment parts of just metal and plastic. When I was finished clearing the parts, there was nothing for the dogs to sniff for.”
“After which, I individually accounted for, and wrapped up in paper, each piece to my weapons. I even including a few extra of the small pieces, in case one of them got lost.”
“Then, I place the parts into the center of a packing crate, that that was halfway full of styrofoam popcorn and a random assortment of small to fist sized, plastic and metal, auto parts, I had around the Lovelace estate, that I could use. I then fill the crate up with more popcorn and auto parts.”
“After I had closed the crate, I had it immediately shipped to a pre-selected address in Thailand.”
“Due to the firearm and equipment being disassembled, and mixed with in a crate of random auto parts. An x-ray would only show the auto parts. And even if the crate was open, unless someone knew what they were looking for, they would only see the auto parts and not the weapon parts.”
“With the address and fake documents, they would believe that the crate was just full of a random assortment of foreign auto parts, going to an auto mechanic, on the eastern coast of Thailand, that worked on foreign cars, and needed to increase their inventory.”
“Though, the fake documents even stated that they were going to a mechanic in a town near Roanapur. Because I knew that anything going to Roanapur would likely be flagged. But, not something going near Roanapur.”
“And it all worked beautifully.”
Hernan complimented, with astonishment in his tone of voice, “That was brilliant of you. I know you could be devious. But, not this devious.”
Roberta replied, in a happy tone of voice, “Thank you.”
Hernan responded, in a more calm tone of voice, “Though, that only deepens the mystery. Not only did you get those rare weapons. But, for your student, you gave her a rare american grenade launcher, with a modified foldable stock. That China Lake forty by forty millimeter grenade launcher is likely as rare a weapon in your reality, as it is here, in this reality. And you also gave her two heavily modified shotguns, from South Africa. I noticed that she did not have to use the pump actions, on her shotguns, to reload her shells.”
Roberta warmly smiled towards Hernan, as she said, “That is very astute of you. By the way, those shotguns have an automatic function on them now. Though, Fabiola does prefer to use the single shot selection, on the selector switch, I had made into the weapon.”
“And this is not surprising, considering I taught her not to waste ammo. Still, to answer your question. Just because I left the revolution did not mean that I didn't still have friends in the revolution.”
“And my master's family does have their connections. And those lanthanites mines really did bring in some money for the Lovelace household.”
While Roberta's smile become slightly wider, her grin retained its warmth, as she continued, “And I didn't stop my collecting and modifying, of weapons, after that whole mess with the Grey Foxes.”
“And after that whole mess with Chang and his Tower, where I had my lost body parts replaced. Along with Fabiola and I gained plenty of gold, jewels, and other wealth, to use for my hobbies.”
Hernan shrugged, as he simply replied, “Oh, yea... I forgot.”
Roberta giggled a little in response.
Roberta asked, “So, what do you plan to replace my older, more powerful weapons with?”
Hernan commented, “Well, I was thinking on some upgrades. Which I know Burt has on hand. This is because, after some of his customers saw your in the Blood Trail arc, they hired him to work on these weapons. And he has them in stock.”
“To start with. Instead of the M eighty-two. We will go with the model that replaced it. The Barrett XM five hundred. It still uses the fifty caliber BGM ammo. Though, the weapon uses a bullpup, with the fire mechanism, and ammo magazine is housed in the stock, instead of in front and above of the trigger. Much like the M eighty-two A two. Unlike the A one and A three, which uses a more traditional housing for their firing mechanisms, and magazine, by being in front and above the trigger.”
“This allows less weight in front of the trigger, and in theory, it makes the weapon more accurate.”
“Also, the weapon has a muzzle brake, and a tactical rail on top, to allow flexibility in selection of scopes.”
Roberta commented, “Interesting. Having options in which scopes to use is nice. Though, I don't have much experience with bullpups. That is why I went with a light-fifty.”
Hernan stated, “Don't worry. There is not much difference in firing. The only difference is that the shells eject from the stock, above your arm, to your right. Because of this, you cannot use such a bullpup, left handed. Because the shells will eject in user's face, unless, the bolt and ejection port parts are swapped and reversed to eject the casings to the left side of the stock.”
“Though, some rifles with bullpups are designed to do that. Such, as the FAMAS. And if you need it, while it was not originally designed to do so, Burt can modify the bullpup of the XM five hundred for left handed use. He is that good at what he does.”
Roberta said, “No need. I am right-handed.”
Hernan responded, “Good. Now, for the grenade launcher we placed under the fore-end. Since the Craft Apple Works forty millimeter grenade launcher is a work of fiction here. We went with the russian made RG six forty millimeter grenade launcher. It fires six rounds. And the weapon works like a revolver pistol. It cycles through the ammo, instead of needing to be pump action, to chamber a round. Like some weapons of its type need to do.”
“And both weapons are detachable. So, if the XM is damaged, you can still detach the RG six for use.”
“And as I said. I know Burt has a few of these on hand. And these weapons have already been modified the way we need them. Along with the attachment equipment on the weapons, to put them together.”
Roberta said, with amusement in her tone of voice, “I find it slightly humorous that after you saw me using my weapons, in my Blood Trail arc, you had Burt make you these upgraded weapons, based on my weapons.”
Hernan shrugged, “Actually, Pedro and his brother, Paciano, requested, and hired Burt to do so. Burt accepted, because he consider it a challenge. Pedro and Paciano provided the weapons, ammo, and equipment. With Burt making the modifications.”
“Though, I got to practice with those weapons, as well. The weapons are not as heavy as I thought they would be. And the kick is not too bad. Though, I know better than to try fire that weapon, one handed, like you did.”
Roberta admitted, “Yes. In doing that, I bruised the muscles is my wrist, arm, shoulder, and chest.”
Hernan commented, “I thought as much. Also, these weapons, we are getting, have a dual night vision and heat vision, for their telescopic scopes. This combination allows the user to see clearly behind walls, and such. And not just basic heat profiles, but clearing defined shapes. With such a scope, you can tell what firearm the person is holding, on the other side of the wall.”
Roberta cracked a grin, as she said, with interest, and slight childlike excite, in her tone of voice, “Now that is a toy we can have some fun with.”
Hernan smirked, as he stated, “Oh yes. It is very fun to play with.”
Roberta commented, “We will have to sight these weapons, before we use them.”
Hernan countered, “We might not have the time. And the range we use on the fair side of the island. And it is the only area on the island we could find to safety test these weapons, with a range of over two thousand, two hundred meters. And on the more windy days, the sea breeze makes for good crosswind training, for target shooting.”
Roberta pulled her reality device, to show Hernan, as she commented, “We will make time. And all I need is five shots.” She then put away her reality device, into the pocket she had it in.
Hernan conceded, “That might work. But, something might go wrong. Let us see what Burt has to offer on the subject. And given, I know one of the spare weapons he has, I already sighted in for myself. We only need to work on your sights.”
Roberta said, “Okay. I can go along with that.”
Hernan turned to the door in front of them. Roberta noticed this, and she looked at the door, as well.
Hernan said, “This door needs a key. Which I have. Burt only gives out keys to those he trusts. And let me do the talking. He knows me.”
Roberta stated, “I don't mind you taking point on this.”
Hernan pulled out his personal key chain. He then found the key he wanted, insert it in the knob, and turned the knob.
Hernan then walked around Roberta, as he opened the door for her.
Roberta said, “Thank you.” She then walked inside.
Hernan then pulled out his key, and pocket it. Next, he walked inside, as he allowed the door to close on its own.
With both adults inside, Hernan came to stand beside Roberta, to her left side.
The yellow ceiling lighting allowed Roberta and Hernan to clearly see inside the room.
Roberta looked around, and she various types of weapons, ammo boxes, and other equipment, on shelves, both on the floor, and on the walls. And in displace cases that were set like selves.
Roberta thought, 'This place has a nice selection. I wish I knew about this place, sooner. Still, will be nice to have a place to shop, in town. Instead of heading elsewhere.'
Roberta then saw, behind a counter, on the far side of the room, a caucasian man in casual clothing. The man appeared to be in his later fifties, to early sixties. Though, he in great physical shape for his age. The man wore a white baseball cap, leather belt, olive pants, black military boots, a white t-shirt, with an open, olive colored jacket over the shirt. And from the slight bulge under the left side of his chest, under his jacket.
Burt looked at them, as he smiled. He said, in english, “Hi Hernan. I saw you from the roof. And I can down here, to meeting you. I am glad to see you are fine.”
Hernan and Roberta then started to walk over to Burt. As they walked, Hernan stated, in english “Hi Burt. It is good to see you, as well. I also see you are packing today.”
Burt commented, “Yea. After those monsters came. I have been a little on edge.”
By then, they came to a stop, in across the counter from Burt, as Hernan replied, “Haven't we all.”
Burt mentioned, “I know. I have my light-fifty out, on hand, also. I went through a small ammo box of fifties, from the roof, taking out all those bastards outside.”
Hernan said, “I am not surprised. We saw your handiwork, while we were coming inside.” He looked over at Roberta, then back to Burt, as he continued, “Now, let me introduce you to my friend, Roberta.”
Burt looked over at Roberta, as he stated, “Nice to meet you.”
Roberta replied, in english, “Likewise.”
Burt asked, “You won't happened to be Roberta of Black Lagoon?”
Roberta inquired, “How do you know?”
Burt coyly responded, “I have lead an interesting life... And I met some of your friends last week.”
Roberta mentioned, “Now that I think about it. I remember some of my friend mentioning you that to me, in passing. Though, they said only good things about you.”
Burt commented, “It is nice to have good word of mouth.” He turned to Hernan, as he questioned, “Now, that I looked at Roberta, in person. I have to admit, that Roberta also looks a little like you, Hernan. From your older family pictures. Do you know why?”
Hernan answered, “Believe it, or not. I am Roberta's counterpart for this reality.”
Burt burst out laughing, for a few seconds. As he calmed down, he stated, “That explains so much about you, Hernan. And let me guess. Maria is Garcia's counterpart?”
Roberta answered for Hernan, “That is correct. And you do seem familiar to me. Why is that?”
Burt said one word, “Nevada.”
Hernan saw Roberta's eyes go wide.
A second later, Roberta forced herself to calm down, as she made her eyes return to normal. She thought, 'No wonder he seems familiar. Back when I was working as a Hell Saber, at Chang's Tower. We were given a half an inch thick folder, about Burt Gummer. Including, pictures of him. I also recall seeing him in those the Tremors movies, that Garcia, Fabiola, and I, watched back at the Lovelace estate.'
Hernan then put two and two together, as he remember something from book two and three of Lee's stories. He looked at Burt, as he questioned, “You are the Burt Gummer from the Tremors movies and TV series?”
Burt answered, “That is what I have been told.”
Hernan thought, 'His name should have tipped me off, years ago. He only went by this first name. I knew something was off about him, even then. But, I could not place it. Though, that was when I was still naive about the reality traveling situation we are all now a part of of. Still...'
Hernan asked, with slight disbelief in his tone of voice, “How many reality travelers have been secretly living here for years?”
Burt responded, “I am not sure, myself. While Melvin... Well, Melanie, and I knew about each other, for years. We didn't now about any others.”
Hernan requested, “That figures. Still, can I have your autograph?”
Burt replied, “Later. And I really need to see those movies, and that TV series.”
Hernan commented, “Well, you might not enjoy them. Movie one included you ex-wife. And you blew up your home in movie three. And that is not counting the friends you lost.”
Burt sadly said, “Yea. But, I still need to see them.”
Roberta stated, “Be that as it may. Back in Nevada, you put my friends and I of through a lot of trouble.”
Burt casually responded, in a slightly happier tone of voice, “Hey. You came after me. I just kicked you asses, in self-defense.”
Roberta complimented, “That you did. Only a handful of people can make that claim. But, you are likely the only one that can make that claim, whom got away unharmed.”
Burt casually replied, “I appreciate that.” He then inquired, in a more serious tone of voice, “So, what is going on? You wouldn't come here, with her, unless something bad happened.”
Hernan answered, “During the attack, someone kidnapped Maria, the kids, and Garcia.”
Burt hid his emotions well, as he casually asked, with a hint of anger in his tone of voice, “And who is this suicidal fool?”
Hernan stated, “The man's name is Cad Bane. He, and a few boomers, were the ones that kidnapped, and teleported, them to another reality. And since he was with these boomers that attacked us, I am guessing he belongs to the organization that sent these boomers against us, this morning.”
Burt responded, “That is a good guess. So, who is Cad Bane?”
Hernan answered, “Star Wars, Clone Wars animated series. The long series. He was an alien bounty hunter. In skills, he is on par with Boda Fett. Only he more unscrupulous.”
Burt soberly commented, “This is bad.”
Hernan requested, “We know. And that is why we came to you for weapons. But, after what Roberta said. I would like your help?”
Burt stated, in a serious tone of voice, “You will have my help.”
Hernan replied, “Thank you.”
Burt asked, “You're welcome. So, what weapons do you come here for?”
Hernan answered, “To start with. We need two of your, XM five hundred-RG Six hybrid weapons. The one I use, if possible. And some extra magazines and ammunition for those weapons. Along with ammunition and magazines for older model nineteen eleven series pistols.”
Burt said, “That I can arrange. And I do know where I put your XM-RG hybrid, in this building. So that will not be a problem.”
Hernan replied, “Good.”
Burt looked over at, Roberta, as he questioned, “So, you going on another Blood Trail?”
Roberta said, “Something like that. Only we are taking a more saner approach.”
Burt replied, “That is comforting.”
Roberta offered, “Also, I am more than happy to compensate you for the weapons.”
Burt said, “Do not worry about paying me. Hernan, here, along with Maria. Are good friends of mine. And they have three wonderful kids, whom were also nice to me, at the cookouts we all went to.”
Roberta agreed, “You are correct, on that. And thank you.”
Burt inquired, “You're welcome. And no hard feelings over what happened in Nevada?”
Roberta replied, “I have none concerning that incident.”
Burt happily said, “Good. Because beating, and escaping, all you, reinvigorated me. And I found a new drive to live, and enjoy life.”
Roberta commented, in a relaxed tone of voice, “I am glad to hear it.” She thought, 'I am glad something good came out of that mission.'
Burt turned to Hernan, as he stated, “Hernan. As I said. I know which weapons are sighted for you.” He looked at Roberta, as he continued, “But Roberta, we are going to need to sight your rifle.” He thought, 'And I will be careful to not mix up the two rifles. Because, I don't want Hernan having to end up having to re-sight his rifle. Good thing, I put Hernan's rifle in another place, than that rifle's sisters.'
Roberta mentioned, “The problem is that time might be a factor on this.”
Burt responded, “Don't worry. I have that covered.”
Just then, before Roberta could ask Burt about his comment, her encrypted cellphone began to ring.
Roberta thought, 'That only people that know my number, would only call me if it was important. And I really do need to check on Fabiola. That might be her, right now.'
Roberta pulled it out, and held it to her ear. She said, “Hello.”
On the other end of the line, Zoe replied, “Hello Roberta.”
Roberta recognized Zoe's voice, as she thought, 'I guess not. Though, let's see what she wants.' She stated, “Hello Zoe.”
Zoe said, “Chang is holding a meeting, at his private theater in his casino, at three PM. It is dealing with this attack, and what we are going to do about it. We would like you to come.”
Roberta replied, “I will be there.”
Zoe inquired, “Also, is Hernan nearby?”
Roberta answered, “Yes.”
Zoe requested, “Please, tell him we would like for him to come, as well.”
Roberta replied, “I will.”
Zoe said, “Thank you.” She then hung up.
Roberta put her cellphone back into the pocket she had it in.
Hernan asked, “What did Zoe want?”
Roberta turned to Hernan, as she answered, “Chang is having a little get together, with our friends, over this attack, and what is going to be done about. And we both are invite.”
Hernan inquired, “When? And where?”
Roberta replied, “Three PM, at Chang's private theater, in his casino. And I know where that room is in the casino building.”
Hernan stated, “We will go early. To get the best seats.”
Roberta responded, “Good idea. And we will then learn what they know. Then, we will tell them all what happened to our loved ones. They will either help us, or not. Either way, we will know what they know. And we will be able to move forward with our plans to rescue our family.”
Hernan complimented, “I like the way you think.”
Roberta replied, “Thank you.” She then turned to Burt, as she requested, “Burt, I would also like for you to attend this meeting.”
Burt shrugged, as he said, “Sure. I would like to see how far your devious mind can go.”
Roberta requested, “I will take that as a compliment. Now, let's see that weapon.”
Burt said, “I will be back in a minute.”
Burt turned to his right, and walk over to an open door, behind the counter.
Hernan commented, “I am glad that went well.”
Roberta agreed, “So am I.”
A minute later, they watched as Burt walked back into the room, carrying a large, long, plastic case, with a handle in the middle, top of it.
Roberta noticed that Burt was carrying the case in just his left hand, with little effort shown.
When Burt reached them, he gently set the case, long ways, on top of corner, between them, with the latches facing Roberta and Hernan.
Roberta thought, 'He is stronger than he lets on.'
Burt then reached over the case, he unlatched the it, and pulled up the lid towards him.
As Roberta looked down at the weapon, Burt said, “This is the Beretta XM Five Hundred fifty caliber rifle, with an RG Six forty millimeter grenade launcher attachment. Both weapons are semi-automatics.”
Roberta saw the weapon was inside a Styrofoam style bedding on both sides of the case. With the weapon, itself laying on its right side, with the barrels of the weapon pointing to her left. She saw where the grenade launcher attached to the underside of the barrel of the rifle. And she noticed the muzzle brake at the end of the barrel, for better control of the recoil of the shots it fired. And she saw the advanced scope on top of the rifle, above the trigger, and grip, of the rifle.
Roberta also saw that the back of the stock, trigger, and grip, for the grenade launcher was set several inches further down from the trigger of the rifle. With the end of the top of grenade launcher being attach at the front underside of the fore-end. Right before the fore-end of the weapon ended, and long barrel continued. Though, the attachment look very secure.
Roberta realized, and she thought, 'The grenade launcher is is attached the rifle by the bipod attachment under the fore-end. Interesting. That is how I attached my M eighty-two to my grenade launcher, back in Roanapur. And it makes sense that Burt would do the same with his weapons. Now, what about this bullpup?...'
Roberta then looked over at the bullpup in the stock of the weapon, which was shown on the exposed, right surface of the stock. There was a magazine attached on the underside of the stock. She also noticed where the spend shell casing ejected from the stock.
Burt noticed where Roberta was looking, on the weapon. He mentioned, “This weapon is unloaded. Though, I have plenty of ammo, on hand, for both the rifle, and grenade launcher. Also, I will pull out Hernan's rifle in a minute. I don't want to get the two weapons confused.”
Hernan said, “I appreciate that.”
Burt replied, “No problem.”
Roberta looked up at Burt, as she asked, “What type of grenades does this weapon use? And how many rounds does the magazine, for this weapon, hold?”
Burt stated, “The grenade launcher holds six forty millimeter rounds for the grenade launcher. And the rifle magazine uses ten fifty caliber rounds. But, you aim it right, and you only need one shot.”
Roberta looked back down at the weapon, as she ran her right hand along the weapon. She said, “I agree.” She looked up at Burt, as she inquired, “So, who picked out the rifle and grenade launcher for this weapon? And was this grenade launcher selected?” She thought, 'I would like to know your thinking on the matter.'
Burt answered, “While my clients hired me for the job. I picked out the rifle and grenade launcher for the type of weapon they were requesting.”
Roberta thought, 'So, you are not mentioning your clients by name. I admire that.'
Burt went onto say, “While my selection for the rifle, is obvious. Given it is the replacement for the light-fifty. For the grenade launcher, I could have gotten some version of the Milkor Multiple Grenade Launchers. But, I picked the RG Six for a few of reasons. One, it is newer technology. And it is a little more heavy duty in design than most Milkors MGLs. The Russians like to build their weapons to last, and work under the most rugged conditions.”
Roberta said, “I can attest to that.”
Hernan commented, “So can I.”
Burt explained, “Yes. The Russians build quality weapons. And the may reason I used this weapon was due to another design difference between the Milkors and the RG Six.”
“When reloading the Milkor, the six round cylinder, and the top of the weapon, separate, and swing away from the trigger of the weapon. If a Milkor had been attached to this rifle barrel, then every time it needed to be reloaded, the trigger would have to be moved out of place, and then reattached. And doing so might throw the alignment off on the weapon, in comparison to the rest of the weapon.”
“While with the RG Six, the trigger, six chamber cylinder, and the top, remain in the same place. And it is the front plate to the rotating cylinder, the front half of the barrel, and front grip on the fore-end, that are the only parts that swings away, by a guide rod above the barrel, from rest of the weapon. And because the trigger, top, and cylinder, remain together, when reloading, there is less chance of alignment issues arising, between the rifle barrel and the grenade launcher.”
“As such, the RG Six is the better design.”
“Along with this, the top of the RG Six is a far more straighter, and more flat, than a Milkor. It is clear, when I looked at the weapon, that the people that designed it thought about using this weapon as a underbarrel launcher.”
“And the modifications I did to create an attachment piece that would work for the rifle and launcher were very minor. You can still even detach the launcher and attach a bipod under the rifle. Also, the sights on the launcher are still usable, when detached from the rifle.”
“Speaking of the sights for the launcher. The RG Six has front and rear sights, that are fold down. As with the RG six set before you. If you detach the RG Six from the XM, just flip up the sights. Also, the rear sights are ladder type, which I already set for a hundred and ten yards.”
“So, as you can see, all this made the RG Six easier to modify, and attach to the underside of the XM Five Hundred's fore-end. And do not let looks fool you. That attachment piece is secure, and it will not move, with the end of the barrels alined to each other.”
Roberta replied, with astonishment in her tone of voice, “I see.” She thought, 'This man knows his weapons. Hernan's faith in him is well placed.'
Burt mentioned, “Speaking of which. I will show you how to reload both parts of the weapon. Along with showing you how to detach, and reattach the weapons. It is not hard, and can be done quickly.”
Roberta said, “I look forward to learning from you.”
Burt smiled at Roberta, as he replied, “So do I.”
Just then, Hernan's cellphone to ring.
Roberta and Burt turned to look at Hernan.
Meanwhile, Hernan pulled the phone, and he saw the call ID.
Hernan then noticed that Roberta and Burt were looking at him. He comment, “It's Pedro.” He answered the phone, and he placed it to his right ear, as he said, in spanish, “Hi Pedro.”
Pedro said, in spanish, “Hello Hernan. How are you doing?”
Hernan coyly replied, “I could be better. How are you doing Pedro?”
Pedro answered, “The station was attacked. But, we are alright. I was calling because, I was wondering if Zoe has called you yet, with your invitation to Chang's meeting?”
Hernan stated, “We already got the call from Zoe. She called Roberta's cell number.”
Pedro inquired, “So, Roberta is with you?”
Hernan replied, “Yes.”
Pedro asked, “Good. Now, where are you?”
Hernan said, “At Burt's. Getting weapons.”
Pedro complimented, “Nice choice.”
Hernan replied, “Thank you.”
Pedro firmly asked, “Now, why are you getting weapons at Burt, in the first place?”
Hernan thought, 'Pedro is as sharp as ever.' He answered, in a sober tone of voice, “I never could fool you, Pedro. Maria, the kids, and Garcia, have been kidnapped by Cad Bane.”
Pedro said, “I am so sorry to hear that. I had a run in with Bane in the multiverse. He was partner with Deadpool.”
Hernan bitterly thought, 'Ouch. From what I know. Our lives just much more difficult. While Cad Bane is a handful. Deadpool could be very difficult for use to take down, and keep down.'
Pedro mentioned, “Though, there is some good news. And I think I can find him. Also, Wade has a strict, no killing kids, policy. So, there is that.”
Hernan said, with slight eagerness in his tone of voice, “True. And any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.”
Pedro stated, “Of course. I want you to know that not matter what Chang wants to do. My number one priority is to rescue your family.”
Hernan responded, “I know Pedro. And thank you.”
Pedro said, “You're welcome. Speaking of which, I would like you and Roberta to meet me at the right front corner of the casino parking lot at two forty-five, this afternoon. I would like you two to bring your weapons with you. I already called, Fabiola, and she is on board.
Hernan thought, 'It is interesting that you called Fabiola first. Then, again. You have been with her for a while. I doubt you are romantically together. Though, it is poetic that while Maria, our kids, and I, got to know Roberta and Garcia, you got to know Fabiola.'
Hernan stated, “Interesting. I will do it. And I think Roberta will do it also.”
Pedro requested, “Good. Can I speak to Burt.”
Hernan replied, “Hold on.” He then handed his phone to Burt.
Burt took it the phone and placed it to his right ear, as he inquired, “What do you need, old buddy?”
Pedro inquired, in english, “Has Hernan told you what is going on with his family?”
Burt stated, “Good. I want to help in any way possible.”
Pedro kindly said, “Good. And Burt, I want to thank you for any help you can give them, in Maria, the kids, and Garcia.”
Burt responded, “Don't worry. I care about them as much as you do.”
Pedro said, “I appreciate that. Can I speak to Roberta.”
Burt replied, “Sure.” He then handed the phone to Roberta.
Roberta took the phone, and held it to her right ear, as she inquired, in spanish, “Yes.”
Pedro said, in spanish, “Roberta. I will vouch for Burt. He is not only a master gunsmith. He is almost one of the most skilled marksmen and hand to hand fighters I know of. He might not be as good as you and Hernan. Due to his age. But, he is still close.”
Roberta calmly responded, “I already know who Burt is. And he said he would come with us, to rescue our family.” She thought, 'Though, it is nice of you to say such good things.'
Pedro stated, “Good. If you are going after Bane. You will need his help. Because Deadpool is with Bane.”
Roberta said, “Thank you for the information.” She thought, 'While Bane doesn't worry me. Deadpool is going to be difficult. Maybe we can bribe him. Or, convince him to let our family go. If is possible. He has been known to do both of those actions before.'
Pedro politely requested, “Please hand the phone back to Hernan.”
Roberta did not reply, as she handed the phone back to Hernan.
Hernan placed his phone to his right ear, as he said, “Yes.”
Pedro stated, “Hernan. I want you to know that we are going to get you family back.”
Hernan soberly replied, “I hope so.”
Pedro said, “And I will see you all at all the casino, in a few hours.”
Hernan commented, “See you, there.”
Hernan then hung up his cellphone, and put it away.
Hernan looked at both Roberta and Burt, as he said, in english, “Pedro just said that he is going to help us get our family back. Also, he had a run in with Bane, and Deadpool. So, we might have a lead.”
Roberta replied, in english, “Good. Pedro may not be the best fighter. But, he is a good friend to have.”
Hernan responded, “You don't know the half of it.”
Burt mentioned, “We could spend all day telling you how resourceful Pedro has been, at his job, over the years.”
Hernan pointed out, “But, we don't have the time. Also, Pedro wanted us to meet him at the right front side of the parking lot, at two forty-five. And he wants us to bring our weapons.”
Burt inquired, “Presenting the colors, as it were?”
Hernan replied, “I guess it would be something like that.”
Roberta commented, “I wouldn't mind.”
Burt said, “Neither would I.”
Hernan said, “Good. By the way, Fabiola is going to be there.”
Roberta replied, “That is interesting.” She thought, 'That Pedro got her to agree. Though, they are likely now friends. And reminds me, I do need to call her.'
Burt asked, “So, who is Deadpool?”
Roberta answered, “An unkillable badass mercenary that refuses to shut up. He is insane, but he is as good a shot as any of us.”
Burt responded, “I will keep that in mind. And it sounds like you will need the weapons.”
Roberta replied, “Oh, we will.” She thought. 'Now, to call on a friend.'
Roberta requested, “Boys, please give me a moment.”
Both Burt, and Hernan, remained silently, as Roberta pulled out her cellphone, and dialed Fabiola's number.
The phone rang a couple of times. Then Fabiola picked up, ans said, in spanish, “Hello.”
Roberta replied, in spanish, “Hello Fabiola.”
Fabiola responded, “Hello Roberta.”
Roberta inquired, “I just called to see how you were doing?”
Fabiola answered, “I am fine. Though, the hotel was attacked earlier. Fortunately, no casualties for us.”
Roberta replied, “That is good.”
Fabiola asked, “So, how are things on your end?”
Roberta sadly said, “Not good. Garcia and the Pena family have been kidnapped.”
Fabiola replied, with worry in her tone of voice, “Oh no.”
Roberta mentioned, “Though, Hernan is with me. We are going to get them back. And Pedro said he would help us.”
Fabiola said, “I talked to Pedro. But, he did not mention that.”
Roberta commented, “He talked to you first. Then us. We just told him.”
Fabiola responded, “Oh. Of course. Are you coming to that meeting at Chang's casino?”
Roberta answered, “Yes. Did Zoe call you, as well?”
Fabiola replied, “Yes.”
Roberta said, “We will see each other there.”
Fabiola questioned, “Okay. So, where are you now?”
Roberta answered, “We are with one of Hernan's friends. His name is Burt.”
Fabiola commented, “Pedro has mentioned him, in passing. He is a master gunsmith and weapons dealer.”
Roberta thought, 'Fabiola wasn't here when the others learned of who Burt really is.' She said, “Yes. You might know him. His full name is Burt Gummer.”
Fabiola recognized the name. She questioned, with slight disbelief in her tone of voice, “You're kidding? Him?”
Roberta replied, “Yes. Him.”
Fabiola stated, “I am tempted to ask directions, on where you are at? That man was known to have some very nice toys. Almost as nice as ours.”
Roberta looked at the large rifle and grenade launcher in front of her, as she responded, “I know. His toys are nice. Still, there is no need to come. You know that I share. And I will show you my new toys when we meet at the casino.”
Fabiola said, “I look forward to it.”
Roberta commented, “We will talk, later. See you.”
Fabiola replied, “You too.”
Roberta then hung up her phone, and put it away.
Burt asked, “What was that was that about?”
Roberta looked at both men, as she answered, in english, “I am just checking with Fabiola. She is doing okay. Though, the hotel was attacked. But, they are fine, now.”
Hernan replied, “Good.”
Burt commented, “That is comforting to know.”
Roberta requested, “Burt. If it is not too much trouble. Could I see your light-fifty?”
Burt replied, “Sure. Just give me a minute.”
Burt walked out of the room, and through an open door, that was behind the counter, to the left of Hernan and Roberta.
Several seconds later, he brought back his M eighty-two A one rifle, with him holding it by it's fore-end, with his right hand.
Burt then walked over to stand across from Roberta and Hernan. Next, with his right hand, held the rifle by it's forearm, with the barrel pointed upwards. So, Roberta and Hernan could see the weapon.
They saw that there was a magazine in the weapon.
Burt held the weapon like this, as he stated, “This is my light-fifty. This is the weapon I used against those monsters outside. I have had this since I lived in Nevada. It uses a ten round magazine. And not to worry. There is not a round in the chamber, at the moment. “
Burt then set the weapon on the floor, by the bottom of the stock, with the weapon leaning the barrel against the wall, to where it would stay in place. Next, Burt turned back to look at Roberta and Hernan.
Roberta looked over at the light-fifty, as she mentally reflected, 'So, that is the same M eighty-two A one that was mentioned in Lee's stories, and in that series Burt was in. That makes sense. And though I will not admit it out loud. From that battle in Nevada, when we tried to catch Burt, for Chang. He showed better skill with his light fifty, than I did with mine.'
Roberta looked up at Burt, a she said, “Thank you.”
Burt replied, “Not problem.”
Roberta continued to look at Burt, as she placed her hands on the XM Five Hundred-RG Six weapons, that was in front of her. She calmly requested, “Burt. I need to sight this weapon in. But, Hernan states we might not have the time.”
Burt casually said, “Not to worry. I know a short cut to shooting range. It will only take twenty minutes to get there.”
Hernan inquired, “How?”
Burt answered, “It requires a little off road adventuring.”
Hernan pointed out, “We have a car. Not a black, four-wheel drive, pickup truck, like you have. And it is San's car.”
Burt offered, “Oh. Well, the solution is simple enough. We will take my truck. Besides, to get there, it is only a couple of street curbs, a few hills, and one or two sand dunes.”
Roberta stated, “Okay. That is solves that problem.”
Hernan commented, “Still, we could use some lunch.”
Burt stated, “I can help with that, as well. While your sight your weapons, I will go get us some lunch. First, we will get all our weapons together. Along with the ammo. I will even bring a couple of spotter scopes.”
Roberta commented, “Good idea. I believe all of us know how to use them.”
Hernan said, “I know how to use them.”
Burt mentioned, “As do I. And I will even bring my light-fifty.”
Hernan pointed out, “We don't have time for a competition.”
Burt replied, “I know. But, we might not be coming back here, before the meeting.”
Roberta said, “Good point. Though, we will do the target competition another time.” She thought, 'And I would really like to do that. I think he might better challenge at long range marksmanship than Balalaika, or Revy. Still, I am hungry as well. And I would like Burt's thought's on that, as well.'
Burt stated, “I will look forward to it.”
Roberta inquired, “So, what restaurants are currently open?”
Burt stated, “About twenty minutes ago, I checked on what was going on, from my roof. And I saw that a cuban restaurant, nearby, that is currently open. Their food is okay. They even have a drive through. Though, I suggest I drop you off at the range. Then, head over there to the restaurant, get your orders. Just in case they have problems preparing your meals.”
“I don't want either of you to be held up by something as asinine as that. Then, I will come back, with lunch.”
“By the time I get back, you should have your weapon sighted. And Hernan here will have tested out his weapon, as well.”
“Then, you will both eat. After you are both finished, we will head to the casino. I figure we will get to the casino just in time to meet Pedro. Though, if we end up running a little behind. You both can eat in my truck. I don't mind that. And my truck has plenty of large coasters, for holding drinks in.”
Roberta said, “I can go for some cuban food.”
Hernan commented, “I wouldn't mind eating some of their food, as well.”
Burt said, “Okay. It will take us about ten minutes to get everything together, and into my truck. It has a full backseat. With the cabin being able to hold up to four full grown adults without a problem. Also, it will take about two minutes to check you out on your new rifle, Roberta.”
“In the meantime, you guys can decide what you want from there. I will even pay for your meals. My treat.”
Both Roberta and Hernan warmly smiled at Burt, for his offer towards them.
Roberta replied, “Thanks.”
Hernan said, “I appreciate it, Burt.”
Burt commented, “Not problem. Now, let me go get your rifle, Hernan.”
Burt turned and headed in back, to get Hernan's rifle, as all three of them then began to get ready to go the range they used, on the island.
At the Last Resorted Diner, all the boomers surrounding the diner had been dead for almost two hours. And those people inside had miraculously remained unharmed, as the diner staff, and a few bikers, had defended them from the rampaging boomers.
The few people that had ran into the diner, during the beginning of the attack, had left about an hour and a half ago. A couple of these people had parked their cars in the diner parking lot, and then fled inside. Their cars were damaged, by gunfire coming from within the diner, at the boomers trying to get inside the restaurant. But, the car owners found that their vehicles still ran, and they drove they away from the diner. This left only a few vehicles behind.
Though, the Lowe family, and their friends, had remained. This included Lori's six biker friends, whom were members of the Atlantic Riders.
And while they were not being attacked, they had out their weapons, as three of their biker friends, had walked out, to check around the building, for a third time, in the last hour.
The three bikers were Evelyn, Tommy, and Denise.
While the other three bikers remained inside, with the others. Those bikers being
Cynthia, Kyle and Wyatt.
They decided who would go, and who would remain, from taking turns. The last time they had to go out on patrol, it was Cynthia, Kyle and Wyatt's turn to do so.
The other seven people inside the building were Lori, Ed, Stan, Lewis, Rico, Leona, and Irene. With those that were armed, in the room. Which were Lori, Ed, Rico, Cynthia, Kyle, and Wyatt. Still having their various types of pistols, in their hands. Though, they all pointed their weapons away from those inside the room.
All ten people in the room, were just standing around. They were either talking amongst themselves, or surveying the damage to the diner.
Evelyn, Tommy, and Denise coming into the building, through the large hole that used to be the doors of the main entrance of the diner.
The windows of the diner were even more damaged than the front doors. As there was more glass from the windows, on the floor, tables, and chairs, around the inside of the outer walls, than in the window frames on the three outside walls of dining and cooking area of the restaurant.
Evelyn, Tommy, and Denise were carrying their phaser pistols, in their hands, with the weapons pointed down were.
Evelyn, Tommy, and Denise came to a stop, near what was left of the counter in the center of the room. The the counter top and paneling being mostly destroyed. With parts of the counter showing the plates of steel inside it.
A second later, everyone in the room noticed them, as they went quite, and turn towards the three bikers.
The first person to speak was Lori, whom inquired, “So, any boomers left?”
Wyatt answered, “No. We just checked the perimeter for a third time, in a row. There are no living boomers in sight of here. Also, I don't know if you checked. But, your back door is in one piece. The boomers didn't try to come in that way.”
Lori commented, “Yea. It is good they did not try to flank us.”
Wyatt went on to say, “I agree. And everyone around here seems to be gone, or inside the buildings around here.”
Leona stated, “That is an obvious reaction to take.”
Lori ignored Leona, as she turned to Evelyn, Tommy, and Denise. She said, in a kind tone of voice, “Good. And thank you for your help.”
Evelyn replied, “You're welcome.”
Denise said, “We don't mind helping friends out.”
Lori holstered her revolver, in a concealed holster on her our right thigh. Which she reached from a hidden slit in her skirt. When she was finished, she looked around the room, as she casually stated, “Well, boys and girls. I am going to say this attack is over.”
Evelyn holstered her phaser pistol, as she said, “I agree.” She looked at Cynthia, whom look back at her.
Cynthia turned to the other bikers, as she ordered, “Okay, riders. Put away your weapons.” She then put away her phaser pistol.
The six bikers put away their phaser pistols, as Rico and Ed holster their semi-automatic pistols in their concealed holsters, in their clothing.
A few seconds later, Stan groaned, as he looked at the broken glass on the floor. He commented, in a disappointed tone of voice, “What a mess?”
Ed agreed, “Yes. We have a lot to clean up.”
Denise mentioned, “Well, there is some good news. It seems the back of your store seems undamaged. And so is that small propane tank you have in back.”
Lori commented, “That is good. And thanks for checking.” She thought, 'I will still check the propane tank, and back side of the diner, later.'
Denise replied, “You're welcome.”
Ed said, “Still, we those to clean up those boomers that are outside, and the few that are inside.”
Lewis turned to Ed, as he said, “Mom. We are not going to pick up those boomers, outside. We will get the few inside. But, not the ones outside.”
Stan looked over at Ed, as well. He stated, “Lewis is right, mom. We will take care of throwing out those inside. But, while we are fairly strong, those things are heavy. Also, we have nothing to haul them with. Nor, a place to take them too. To add to that, there has got to be fifty dead boomers outside.”
Rico commented, “Actually, there are thirty-eight, in our parking lot.”
Everyone turned to Rico. She noticed this. She shrugged, as she casually said, “I counted.”
Lori turned back to Lewis, as she pointed out, “Well sons, no one is asking either of you to do so. We will have call a savage company, and pay them to send some people to come by, to pick up the dead boomers.”
Cynthia asked, “Is it wise to allow such technology to fall into the hands of the locals of this reality?”
Kyle commented, “Yea. Our group has a kind of a prime directive thing going, against sharing of dangerous technology. And this those boomers are clearly dangerous technology.”
Ed stated, “Well, we don't. Also, I doubt we could do much about it. We have been here for two years. Likely, most of the locals have put two and two together. They are just quite about it. To that end, I am sure the attack on this diner is likely not an isolated event. They might be hundreds of dead boomers. And we have no way to account for them all. Let alone retrieve them.”
Lewis mentioned, “Fortunately, the technology these boomers have is only a few decades more advanced then the technology in this world. Most of the tech in them is already being researched here. It would not be that big of a tech jump for the locals.”
Stan stated, “Honestly. The computer hardware and internet of the BGC OVA reality, circa twenty thirty-five, is less advanced than here.”
Lori inquired, “And how would you know?”
Stan answered, “One day, a few years ago, I decided I wanted to look around, at the various technologies of the places we have been.”
Lori requested, “Okay. But, next time, tell us, before you do it.”
Stan responded, “I will. Also, some boomers can jerk after death, like people. So, they can still be dangerous.”
Lori said, “We will warn the salvage company we use. And we will call the police, to tell them that some of the boomers around our diner have moved after death. That should explain how we know.”
Stan agreed, “I can go along with that.”
Lewis replied, “So can I.”
Leona turned to look at Lewis, and Stan, as she inquired, “So, boys. Now, that you have talked yourselves out of some work, what are you going to be doing tonight?”
Stan answered, “I have nothing planned.”
Lewis turned to Irene, as he commented, “I was hoping to have some fun with my girlfriend.”
Irene looked at Lewis, as she replied, “I'm ready when you are.”
Ed stated, “Hold your horses. We still have a lot of clean to do inside the diner.”
Rico pointed, “We also have to catalog the damage to the cars outside. And take pictures of the damage.”
Irene looked over at the others, as she asked, “How are you going to explain the bullet holes in the cars? Considering the boomers, thankfully, did not have guns?”
Lori answered, “We will tell Pedro the truth. I heard he was back in town. And we will have him figure out a decent cover story for the insurance companies. He has experience with doing such events. Though, this attack might be pushing it. Even for him.”
Irene questioned, “Isn't Pedro the local police chief?”
Lori said, “Yes. But, he has be very fair to us.”
Irene replied, “Okay.”
Lori commented, “Still, we might have to wait a couple of days to talk to Pedro about that.”
Ed agreed, “Yea. If here is any indication. He is going to be very busy for a long while.”
Lewis said, “Still, we need to do something for the customers that had their cars damaged. To show we do care.”
Stan suggested, “When we have this restaurant back up and running, we could also offer some discounts, and few meals for the owners of the cars we damaged.”
Lori looked over at Stan, as she said, “Nice idea. But, they might take it as being a cheap insult.”
Stan replied, “Okay.”
Lori looked over at Evelyn, as she questioned, “By the way, how are your vehicles?”
Evelyn turned to Lori, as she answered, “A few scratches, but otherwise, undamaged.”
Wyatt commented, “As you can guess. Our vehicles are custom made, armor plated, and designed to take a lot more punishment than from the ammo you fired at them.”
Denise mentioned, “And the armor is phaser resistant.”
Lori responded, “Well, that is good. Do you need money for repairs? Or, at least for new paint jobs?””
Cynthia said, “No. Actually, we have the equipment to repair our bikes, on our ship, in the cargo hull we use to store them in. Though, most of us think that a few scratches gives our vehicles some character.”
The other bikers nodded, as Tommy said, “Yea.”
Lori replied, “Okay. Whatever makes you happy.”
Stan looked over at his parents, as he inquired, “Ah... Not to sound like a pessimist. But, do you think our home is still standing?”
Ed turned to Stan, as she flatly stated, “It better be, or there will be hell to pay.”
Rico said, “We will all check on our homes, later. If there is a problem, we will bunk in the others home, until new we can get a new place to live. Or, have the old one repaired.”
Ed turned to Rico, as she complimented, “That is a good idea.”
Just then the wireless phone hooked to the base, on the back wall, to the left of the stove, started to ring.
Everyone turned towards the ringing phone.
Tommy let out a laugh. He then said, “This place is trash, but the phone line still works.”
Ed commented, “Well, we remodeled this place to last.”
Lori said, “I'll get it.”
Lori then walked over and picked up the phone.
Everyone remained silent, as Lori held the phone to her right ear. She greeted, in english, “Hello.”
On the other end, Zoe said, “Hello Bob.”
Lori replied, “Hi Zoe.”
Zoe casually said, in a slightly tired tone of voice, “Chang is having a meeting in his private theater, in the casino. It is a three PM. We will be talking about the attack, and possible reprisal plans. We would prefer if you and your family could come.”
Lori thought, 'It sounds like she has rehearsed that statement a few times. Or, she has just repeated so many times, that she is sick of it. Either way, I better not waste her time further.'
Lori said, “We will be there.”
Zoe replied, “Thank you.” She then hung up on Lori.
Lori put the phone in her hand, back on its base. She then turned to look at the others.
Ed asked, “What did Zoe want?”
Lori answered, “Chang is having a meeting at three PM, at the casino, about the attack. He would like us to join them.”
Ed commented, “It figures they would do this. Though, I didn't expect them to do this, so soon.”
Stan said, “I might as well go with you.”
Lewis stated, “I will come, as well.”
Lori comment looked over at Ed, as she asked, “Are you sure it is wise to bring our sons?”
Ed looked at Lori, as she stated, “I taught them too well. They are the only ones that can keep up with me, when we are using computers.”
Lori shrugged, as she agreed, “True.”
Lewis and Stan both cracked grins at their parents' compliment of them.
Meanwhile, Leona thought, 'If this meeting is what I think it is going to be about, then Irene and I need to, as well. No matter how risky it will be to us.'
Leona stated, “Irene and myself, need to go, as well.”
Irene realized why Leona was requesting they both go to Chang's meeting. She requested, with slight desperation in her tone of voice, “I want to go to.”
Lori turned to the two sister, as she said, “Fine with me.”
Ed commented, “You to can go.”
Leona replied, “Thank you.”
Irene said, “We will be on our best behavior.”
Ed stated, “I am sure you will.”
Lori turned to her biker friends, as she offered, “You can come to this meeting, also. I doubt anyone will argue with us, about it.” She thought, 'That is, if they don't want to upset three of the most skill genius computer hackers on the planet.'
Cynthia choose her worded carefully, as she responded, “Sorry. But, no. Now Lori, don't get me wrong. I like your family. And I like your friends, here, in this diner. But, we don't want to have anything to do with you other friends in town.”
Rico thought, 'I cannot really judge her for that. I sometimes feel the same way about the others.'
Kyle stated, “Yea. If half the things we have heard of what the other people you know, have done, are true. Then, we don't want to have anything to do with them.”
Stan inquired, “But, you guys went to the casino, yesterday?”
Cynthia said, “No. The six of us have not been to the casino. Nor, do we have any interest in going there. On the other hand, Durban and some of the others did go there. After we finished visiting here, we rode around this town a little bit. Then, we headed back to the ship, to get some rest.”
Denise stated, “No offense intended. But, we know that most of your friends, outside this room, can be bloodthirsty, vicious animals. And we don't want to be possible accessories to their actions.”
Lori replied, “I won't argue with you on those points.” She mentally added, 'Because there is some truth in your statements.'
Lewis asked, “But, what about the attack, early? I am sure your group would like to take part in a little payback.”
Tommy responded, “While it is very likely we will take part in some sort of reprisal on our enemies that did this. We will do so in our own time, and place.”
Wyatt said, “And in our own way.”
Evelyn commented, “The Atlantic Riders believe that revenge is a suckers game.”
Lori thought, 'It was David Xanatos that coined that phrase. And I think it is best we don't mention to you that we heard that the Xanatos family visited the casino, a few nights before you came to town.'
Evelyn continued, “And any reprisal we do, will be calculated, for maximum effect, with minimum risk to us.”
Cynthia said, “Though, this does not mean we will try to stop you from you own acts of reprisal. You will either accomplish your goals, and do our job for us. Or, you will fail, with no loss to us. Though, we sincerely do hope you succeed.”
Lori thought, 'Well, they understand the concept of the Xanatos Gambit.' She complimented, “Okay. We will respect your wishes. Still, that is a good point of view to take, on all your parts.”
Evelyn replied, in a kind tone of voice, “Thank you.”
Tommy commented, “Besides. I expect our group to call us in, at any time.”
Just then, the encrypted radio on Cynthia’s belt came alive, with a female voice, asking, in english, “Cynthia, are you there?”
Tommy commented, “See what I mean.”
Everyone became quiet, as Cynthia unhooked her radio from belt. She used the talk button on it, as she said, “Sally, I am here.”
On the other end, Sally responded, with relief in her tone of voice, “Good. Who is with you?”
Cynthia answered, “Evelyn, Tommy, Denise, Kyle, and Wyatt.”
Lori thought, 'My friends might have not told the others where they have been going, and who they met. As a way to protect myself, my family, and my immediate friends.'
Sally inquired, “Are all of you okay?”
Cynthia stated, “Yes. What do you need?”
Sally ordered, “You are all to return to the ship, immediately. We were under attack earlier. But, we defeated the attackers. There were no deaths on our side. But, we have some injured. And we need all hands on deck, to help with repairs. Also, we found that the communication systems are slight damaged. To maintain our encrypted communications, we have to individually contact everyone. It is taking time.”
Cynthia replied, “I see.” She thought, 'That I why it took them so long to contact us.' She continued, “We will be there in about twenty to thirty minutes.”
Sally replied, “That is fine. Sally out.”
Cynthia then hooked her radio back to her belt. She then turned to her bikers friends, as she ordered, “Okay, guys. We are needed elsewhere. Time go.”
None of the other bikers replied, as they turned, and started walking towards the front exit.
Cynthia turned to the Lori, as she stated, “Lori, we will see your, your family and friends, here, tomorrow, at noon. We will meet here, and go lunch somewhere else.”
Lori responded, “Cynthia, that will be fine. Unless we have a change of plans, we will see you here.”
Cynthia replied, “That will be fine.” She then turned and joined her biker friends, as all six Atlantic Riders then walked out of the front entrance of the diner.
Those seven adults that were still inside the diner, watched as the bikers walked over to their vehicles, got on them, started them up, and left the parking lot, for their ship.
The seven remained adults then turned to look at each other, as Lewis pointed out, “I don't like pointing this out. But, someone is going to have to stay behind, while we go to the meeting.” He thought, 'And maybe elsewhere, later.'
Rico volunteered, “I will stay. While the rest of you go to the meeting. And I am more than happy to stay here.” She thought, 'I don't want to get mix up in some crazy adventure. And I am sure I would be roped into it, if I went. And there is a good chance the Lowe family will volunteer to go. With them doing the roping. With me being a guard, as they do whatever hacking computer job they have planned.'
Stan said, “Thanks for taking one for the team, Rico.”
Rico responded, “No problem. And if what I think is going to be discussed at the meeting. I am with the others on this. I really don't want to be a part of it.”
Ed stated, “We understand. Still, we have to go.”
Irene commented, “We will take our car, and follow you to the casino. When the meeting is over, Leona and I, will come back here, to stay with Rico, and help her.”
Ed turned to Irene and Leona, as she stated, “Thank you, girls.”
Rico looked over at the two sisters, as she said, “I appreciate the help.”
Leona commented, “No problem. Though, we do have two requests.”
Ed inquired, “Which are?”
Leona stated, “Our parents, might be involve with the same group as those that sent the boomers. We don't want our family, nor ourselves, to be blamed for this.”
After Leona's statement, everyone's attention turned to Leona and Irene.
Ed said, in a firm tone of voice, “We believe you. And we won't let anything happen to you.”
Lewis turned to the sisters, as he stated, “Trust us. They know better than to cross us.”
Stan mentioned, “Some of them even like us more than Revy and Chang. And if it came down to a fight, over protecting you. They would side with us.” He thought, 'On this issue. I believe Annie would side with us. Maybe even River. And because those two can use their powers to verify Leona and Irene were not involved with the attack. Along, with those two having enough pull to keep everyone in line. Either one of them could defuse the situation, before it becomes a problem. And I will just have to keep that in mind.'
Rico agreed, “That's true.”
Irene replied, in a grateful tone of voice, “Thank you.”
Leona went onto say, “Also, our parents didn't tell us much about the organization they have been doing freelance work for. They only said the organization paid them well. That they had a lot of boomers. And they had reality traveling gear.”
“But, I believe that this organization was the once that is behind this attack. Also, we both realize you are all going to counterattack this organization. With the meeting we are going to being the planning stage of that attack. And we want them to spare our family, and our parents, the Knight Sabers.”
Lori commented, “As long as the Knight Sabers were not part of the attack. And if they are confronted, that they are willing to surrender. I think they will honor your request.”
Leona said, “Thank you.” She thought, 'That is about a good a response as I am going to get, until the subject is broached during the meeting. And I am really not looking forward to that discussion, at the casino.'
Lori warmly replied, “It will be okay...” She then stated, in a slightly more serious tone of voice, “Still, we have over an hour and a half before we have to leave. And we might as well start the clean up, right now.”
There were a few groans from the younger members of their group.
Lori continued, “Now. Now. It won't be that bad. First, I figure, we need to turn off the stove, and other appliances, until we check the wiring, water and gas pipes, for any damage. Though, I think the heater and gas pipes are fine.”
Ed pointed out, “We are going to lose all our refrigerated and frozen food.”
Lori responded, “It cannot be helped. Better to play it safe, and lose the food, and not have the building burn down. ”
Ed agreed, “Good point.”
Lori stated, “We will throw all the food later. Speaking of which, we need to turn off the gas and water, as well, to our appliances. I don't smell anything. But, we still need to be safe on that matter, as well. Also, that hydrant hit the wall pretty hard. A broken water line can cause a lot of hidden damage over time.”
“After we do those things, we also need to nail some plywood paneling up on the broken windows. Also, we will nail a heavy cloth drape I have on the doorway. And we will put out a sigh out from that states, closed for repairs.”
“The tools, gloves, a stack of quarter inch plywood set against the wall, heavy cloth drapes, and other items, are in the back of storage room. Though, I always figured it would be a car would take out one of our windows. Still, I made sure to prepare for multiple windows. In case of a hurricane.”
Ed complimented, “Sounds like a plan.”
Lori replied, “Thanks.”
Rico mentioned, “I also have some ideas on how we can continue our business, while we have the diner. Though, I want to wait a day or two, before I make the phones calls, on this matter.”
Ed said, “Whatever it is, I trust your judgment, Rico. And after the meeting, we will talk to Chang about these damages. Both the diner, and the other property that was damaged. We will ask for his help in paying for them.”
Rico complimented, “That is a good idea.” She thought, 'And with both your personality. And Lori's personality. Leaning on Chang, to get him to do what you want, should not be a problem. Also, with you both being good friends with River and Lee, Chang will have no choice but to give into your requests.'
Lori ordered, “Okay. Let us get this party started.”
The seven adults then all headed for the storage room, on the left side of the building. When the reached the storage room, they retrieved the brooms, tools, nails, plywood, and other items, they needed, to begin to clean up, and repair the diner.
When the reached the back, Lori turned off the electrical system, from the main breaker on the electrical panel box. She then stepped outside, in back, to check the moderately small propane tank they had. And the tank was not damaged. Still, she turned the gas off going into the diner. Also, she check the outside of the back of the dinner, and she found that Denise was right. That the backside of the diner was undamaged.
Lori thought, 'At least, that is one less thing that needs repairing. Now, to help oversee, and help out, with repairs.'
Lori then returned inside, to help supervise, and aid with repairs to her family's diner.
As the hours passed, the invited guests came into the casino, they had to go through the gaming floor to get to the Chang's private theater, in the casino. And the customers in the gaming floor, and the restaurant, began to realize that something was up. And that it was likely connected to the attack by the robotic monsters that had attacked the casino, earlier that morning. Though, all the customers knew better than to ask about such matters.
So, the guests continued about their days of fun and leisure, as some of them gambled away their hopes and dreams for the future on the gaming floor's gambling tables.
At two forty-two PM, eighteen minutes before Chang's meeting was schedules to start, besides the valets, the only people outside the front of Daiyu Palace Casino, under the awning, on the sidewalk were Revy, Rock, Dutch, Janet, and Benny. Whom all stood near each other, as they talked amongst themselves.
A few hours ago, during the boomer battle that morning, which some of them had helped defend the casino. While the others were in one of the saferooms downstairs.
When the battle was over, and the clean up begun, the five of them had reunited, and excused themselves, to go have lunch at the casino restaurant.
While they were having lunch, together, as the casino restaurant, soon joined them Zoe and Wash. Unfortunately, a little while later, Mal had walked in and told them about the meeting at the private theater, in the casino, at three PM.
And Mal informed the five Lagoon parents that Chang gave orders that their daughters were not welcome, nor were their Akira, Ranma, and Nodoka's three daughters welcome. Though, Chang did request that Akira, Ranma, and Natsuru come.
The Lagoon parents agreed with Chang's request. As they knew what the meeting was lead to, and they did not their children to be involved. Nor, did they want the elemental trio, involved. Because they felt it was too dangerous for Kristina, Rebecca, Yukio, Molly, Sarah, Mikoto, Nodoka, and Yurika.
Rock especially supported the idea of their children not coming to the meeting. She even volunteer to call Akira, in a little while, about the meeting, and request that their three children not attend the casino meeting.
Mal thanked Rock for her help.
Then, to the mild disappointment of those present, Mal ordered Zoe to help with calling their friends, to inform of them of the meeting.
Though, Wash excused himself, as well. So, he could be with his wife, Zoe.
Zoe and Wash then left the restaurant, with the five Lagoon parents continued to have their lunch. And Mal having a peaceful conversation with them.
When they were finished with lunch five Lagoon adults decided to stick around the casino that afternoon, until after the meeting was over.
Though, they did call their daughters, about twenty minutes ago, for a very heated teleconference call on their cellphones.
Then, Rock used her cellphone to call Akira's cellphone. With Rock informing Ranma, Natsuru, about the meeting, and Chang' request. And Akira agreed with the Lagoon parents sentiments, that their three children, Nodoka, Mikoto, and Yurika, should not come to the meeting. With Akira stating she would inform her daughters to not come to the meeting.
Rock then called their five daughters, to contact them to stay at the Devil's Hotel, and not come to the casino meeting. The five daughters were not happy with the news, but they respected their parents' wishes.
Later on, Rock, Revy, Janet, Dutch, and Benny went outside, with Revy, when the redhead stated she wanted to have a smoke, but in the outside air. It had become a rarity for Revy to smoke a cigarette. Though, she did light one up, from time to time.
So, all five of them headed out, to stand under the awning, outside the front entrance of the casino.
Revy had finished her cigarette a minute ago. When she was finished, she put out her cigarette, and discarded it.
Still, the five of them used Revy's smoking as an excuse to remain outside, in front of the casino, on the sidewalk, under the awning, so they could greet their friends, as they headed into the casino.
Just then, several black suburbans pulled up, in a rows, in both lands under the awning.
The five Lagoon parents turned the vehicles, as Benny asked, “Is that who I think it is?”
They then saw women, in casual clothing walking out. All of them had jackets, or coats that hid their concealed weapons.
Janet joke, “Yep. It is the local amazon brigade.”
No one laughed as Janet' joke, as Rock cautioned, “Careful. Their hearing is just as good as ours.”
Then, they noticed that most of the women that got out, immediately headed into the building. Though, they saw one of the women walk over to the back of door, of a vehicle that was parking right be sidewalk of the awning. The woman in question opened the door, on the right side of the vehicle, which was facing the Lagoon parents. She then stepped out of the way.
From the SUV in question, B stepped out of the vehicle. She was dress in her usual casual clothing. She took a look around, then turned back inside the car, as she said, in russian, “All clear.” She then stepped away from the door.
A second later, Balalaika stepped out of the vehicle, through the same doorway. She wore her red dress.
As soon as B and Balalaika walked clear of the door, the woman whom opened the door closed it, and she then headed inside the casino.
Dutch wondered out loud, “Should we ask those two to come over here.”
Revy said, in an excite manner, “Good idea.” She then stated, in a loud tone of voice, “Hey. Sis! B! Over here.”
As Balalaika and B turned to look at the Lagoon parents, Dutch placed her right hand over her face, while she groaned. She mentally berated herself, 'After spending decades with Revy. I should have known better than to give that woman any immediate ideas... Well, what is done, is done.'
Dutch lowed her right hand down, as she looked over at Balalaika and B, whom were both now walking towards them.
Balalaika and B walked over to the five adult parents, as their subordinates headed inside.
The only members of Hotel Moscow that were not heading inside, were the subordinates that were designated as drivers. Whom, a few seconds later, after the doors of their vehicles were closed, drove their vehicles out of from under the awning. With them heading to the parking lot to park their cars.
Though, the driver would stay there and guard their vehicles, until their comrades were ready to leave.
Meanwhile, under awning, on the sidewalk in front of main entrance to the casino, B and Balalaika came to a stop, by the five Lagoon adults.
B inquired, in english, “So, where are your daughters at? I would guess they would not want to miss this meeting.”
Benny stated, “They are not coming. We did not want them to be a part of what is likely to come.” She thought, 'And I doubt Janet, Dutch, and I, will be part of the coming attack. Though, I am not fully sure, concerning Dutch.'
Janet said, “While they were not happy with our request. They understood.”
Balalaika commented, in english, “It does pay to raised well behaved children.”
Dutch agreed, “That is does.”
Balalaika said, “I just hope our children are as well behaved when they come of age.”
Dutch stated, “Thank you. And I have no doubt about that will happen.”
B commented, “Well, I am not surprised you did not allow them to come. Though, what about their three friends? Yurika, Mikoto, and Nodoka? Are they coming? For that matter, I am sure Akira, Ranma, and Natsuru, have been invited to the meeting. Are they presently here?”
Janet said, “Akira, Ranma, and Natsuru, already arrived, and they are inside. Also, they told us that they called their daughters, and told them not to come. And the three sisters are going to honor their parents request.”
Benny mentioned, “From what those three told us. Their daughter's reactions were about the same as our children's reactions.”
B said, “That is understandable.”
Dutch inquired, “Speaking of which, where are your children at?”
B answered, “With some trusted subordinates, on our ship.”
Dutch replied, “Of course.”
B went onto say, “They are even spending some time with Thomas, Ivy, Wenqian, and Gilina. With all of them being safely watched, So, their parents can attend this meeting.”
Dutch said, “So, they are are all in one place. Good.”
Janet thought, 'It is getting close to the time for the meeting.' She suggested, “As much as I am enjoying this conversation. I think we need to head inside, before it gets to be too late.”
Rock looked at her watch. She then back to the group, as she commented, “It is two forty-four. We have sixteen minutes. We're good.”
Benny stated, “Honestly, I agree with my wife. We need to head inside.”
B commented, “Yes. Punctuality is always good.” She turned to Balalaika, as she stated, “I will be heading inside.”
Balalaika turned to B, as she replied, “That will be fine.”
Dutch said, “I think I will go in as well. To make sure we get some good seats.”
Revy requested, “Reserve some seats for us.”
Dutch replied, “We will.”
Benny asked, “So, all three of you are going to stay outside?”
Rock answered, “I would like to see who else shows up.” She thought, 'Depending on who they are, I might want to talk to them, before the meeting.'
Balalaika casually said, “I am in no rush to go inside.” She thought, 'Chang knows better than to start his little meeting without me. In addition, B and my women will already have a seat ready for myself, in one of the back rows. A wise ruler stands to the back of a presentation, not at the front.'
Revy commented, in an offhanded manner, “I might have another smoke.”
Benny replied, “Okay.” She then looked around the group, as she said, “Well, girls. Let's head inside.”
Benny, Janet, Dutch, and B, then headed to the casino front entrance, and inside the building.
Balalaika, Revy and Rock talked as their four friends walked inside.
As soon as the three women lost sight of their friends, they turned back to look at each other.
Balalaika commented, “Well Rock, I have noticed you were mostly quiet during our little conversation.”
Rock said, “I had nothing really to say.”
Balalaika stated, “It is good you finally learned when not to say something. Unless you have too.”
Rock replied, “It does make things easier in one's life.
Balalaika agreed, “That it does.”
Revy inquired, “So, sis. What is your assessment of the situation?”
Balalaika responded, in a grim tone of voice, “I am not sure who caused this. But, whomever is responsible is going to pay dearly.”
Revy agreed, in a little excited tone of voice, “Yea. They really stirred up a hornets nest here.” Her voice became more calmer, as she continued, “So, is everyone okay are on your end?”
Balalaika said, in a more calmly tone of voice, “Surprisingly, yes. My women are all fine. And the population of the city clearly hid their potential. In our dealings with them, I will have to make a note not to push these people too far.”
Balalaika mentally lamented, 'It is always the quiet ones that can be the most surprising. Though, I never thought I would one day apply that to the people of an entire town. But, this proves that there are still some things in life that can surprise me. And what is life, without surprises.'
Revy replied, with a bit of astonishment in her tone of voice, “Yea... You can say that. From what we have heard, the locals clearly kicked some serious ass, today.”
Balalaika asked, “So, how about yourselves?”
Revy began, “Well, we're fine...” Then, Revy saw someone in the corner of her eye, leading towards the parking lot. She turned her head to get a better look.
Balalaika turned her head to see who Revy was looking at. When she saw who it was, her lips curled into a wicked smile, as she said, “Well, this is certainly amusing.”
Rock turned her head, and when she saw who it was, she commented, “Well, you don't see that every day.”
Near the right side of the awing, in the parking lot, Balalaika and Revy watched as eight adults walked towards them, in a single row, shoulder to shoulder, walked towards them.
The men of the group had five o'clock shadows on their faces, and the women had strands of hair coming out of their otherwise well groomed ponytails.
In the middle of the group was Pedro, whom was carrying his FN FAL L Two A One rifle. He leaned the rifle over the front of his right shoulder, as he held it in place.
To Pedro's left was Matthew, then Hernan, and Roberta. Both Hernan and Roberta were carrying their XM Five Hundred-GR-Six weapons, with the barrel pointing upwards, and behind them, as they leaned their weapons on their right shoulders, as they held their weapons in place.
To Pedro's right was Matt Bluestone, Burt Gummer, Leigharch, and Fabiola. Burt had his M eighty-two A one light fifty resting on his right shoulder, as he held his weapon in place.
And Fabiola had her China Lake Grenade Launcher in its holster, strapped to her back. With the stock of the weapon being seen stick out behind, from between her left shoulder and her neck. She also had a bandoleer of grenade rounds, strapped across her chest, from her right shoulder to her lower left side. She had her shoulder holsters on, with her Beretta seventy-sixes in them.
And Fabiola had a gunbelt around her waist, with ammo pouches carrying extra magazines for her MAG-Seven shotguns, and a sheathed combat knife, on the back left side of the belt. And in both her hands were her MAG-Seven shotguns, with her trigger fingers on the trigger guards, as she pointed the barrels of her weapons at the pavement.
As they came closer, Revy casually asked, “While do those guys remind me of William Holden and the Wild Bunch?”
Balalaika shrugged, as she answered, “Well, they certainly have the demeanor for the part.”
The three women then saw the eight adults look towards them. And the eight adults change direction, towards Balalaika, Rock, and Revy.
Several seconds later, as Revy and Balalaika silently watched as the eight adults came to a stop, ten feet from Balalaika and Revy, Balalaika commented, “You guys are all looking a little...” Her lips curls into a slight grin, as she remember a comment she made years ago, as she continued, “Rough.”
Pedro casually replied, “It has been a long day for us.”
Balalaika casually replied, “I'll bet.”
Rock turned to Fabiola, as she asked, “Everything going alright?”
Fabiola looked at Rock, as she coyly stated, “We have had a few problems, but we plan to get their straighten out, very soon.”
Burt overheard their conversation, as he thought, 'We don't need a discussion about the kidnapping right now.' He stated, “Come on, let's go. We are burning daylight.”
Balalaika, Revy, Rock, turned to look at Burt, as Balalaika casually asked, “And you are?”
Burt turned to Balalaika. He smirked, as he responded, “I'm the one that kicked your asses, way back in Nevada.”
Balalaika replied, in a confused manner, “Huh?...”
Pedro commented, “Careful now. That is no baseless boast.”
It took a moment for Revy to remember that event, from so long ago. As she remembered, she blurted out, “You're that guy we went after, that got away from the boomers, us, and Hotel Moscow. Gee, no wonder Roberta brought her with you.”
Roberta grinned, as she giggled a little at Revy's comment.
Burt said, “The name is, Burt Gummer. Retired monster hunter. Semi-retired survivalist. And master gunsmith.”
Balalaika look over at Burt, as she thought, 'So, this is the man that Chang and I talked about, a few days ago.' She spoke up, “Ah... Mister Gummer. It is nice to put a name with a face... And you were one of our gunsmiths back in Roanapur.”
Burt responded, “Yes. Surprisingly, I found that to be one of the more pleasant times of my life.”
Balalaika's smile turned a little warmer, as she said, in a happier tone of voice, “That is wonderful to hear.” She then looked over at the weapons that Roberta and Hernan were carrying. Next, she turned back to look at Burt, as she calmly asked, “Are those your weapons, over there?”
Burt stated, “Yes, ma'am.”
Balalaika turned back to look at Burt, as she commented, “I believe I may have to purchase a few of those weapons, from you, in the near future.”
Burt complimented, “Hotel Moscow has always been a valued customer to me. You pay well, do honor your agreements, and you respect fine weapons.”
Balalaika said, “Thank you.”
Burt commented, “We will talk after this current mess is cleared up.”
Balalaika agreed, “Most certainly.” Balalaika then looked at those around her, as she stated, “I believe we have kept Chang waiting long enough. Let us head inside.”
While none of the others verbally replied, some of them nodded once, or shrugged, in agreement.
Balalaika, Rock, and Revy, then turned and walked towards the front entrances, with Pedro and the other seven adults following behind them.
Just as they entered the lobby, they noticed that except for the clerks and the tellers, at their counters.
Balalaika thought, with slight amusement, 'I do admire the intelligence of the guests that come here. They seem to know when to avoid a situation.'
Balalaika then saw Chang approaching them, from the other side of the room.
Balalaika noticed that Chang was looking at her. She thought, 'Speak of the Devil.'
And she noticed some security guards at entrance to the hallway, that lead to the gaming floor.
Balalaika thought, 'I wonder why they are there.'
Revy and Rock turned to Balalaika, as Revy said, “We will see you at the meeting, sis.”
Rock stated, “Good luck.”
Balalaika commented, “I wouldn't worry. This meeting won't start without it's host.”
Revy let out a laugh. She then replied, “True. See you there.”
Rock commented, “Talk to you later.”
Balalaika then came to a stop, as Revy and Rock continued walking with the others, towards the private theater in the back of the casino.
Balalaika watched Chang come towards her.
The group parted around Chang. Though, none of them said a word to Chang.
Balalaika thought, 'Saying nothing can be a response in of itself. Though, they likely are just in a hurry.'
Chang soon came to a stop a few feet from her.
Balalaika inquired, “So, Chang. What do you need that cannot wait for the meeting?”
Chang answered, “You and I, need to have a word, before the meeting.”
Balalaika replied, “Of course.”
Balalaika then looked passed Chang, as she noticed that security guards stopping Pedro, and his group. Though, the guards let Revy and Rock to pass by.
Balalaika looked back at Chang, as she questioned, “What is going on up there?
Chang turned around, and saw what Balalaika was commenting on. He turned back to look at her, as he answered, “My security team is just requesting that they check in their weapons. They can retrieve them when they leave.”
Chang thought, 'And I must say, I am impressed with the hardware, and people that Pedro was about to pull together. When he came into this meeting. Not bad. Not bad at all. This just shows there is a very good reason why he has remained Police Chief of this apparently badass city, for years.'
Balalaika replied, “A fair request.” She thought, 'Also, this explains why they stopped Roberta and Fabiola. But, not Revy. On occasion, Revy has been seen in this casino, with her pistols on her person. And Rock occasionally keeps that sonic shotgun hidden. I am sure she has it hidden on her person, right now. Though, neither of them will cause a problems with their weapons, in this casino. But, those large rifles could create some discussion among the guests here. Still...'
Balalaika casually asked, “Do I need to do the same?
Chang stated, “No. I just do not want the customers to see a large group for people carrying ordnance through the gaming floor. It would be bad for business.”
Balalaika agreed, “Yes. It would be.” She thought, 'I am glad I did not have my women come in with their weapons in hand. Though, they do have concealed pistols on their persons... Now, to get to the heart of the matter.'
Balalaika questioned, “What did you want to talk to me about?”
Chang said, “We both know how the meeting with the others is going to turn out. And we both know you are going to do something about those that attacked us. Whether we work together, or not.”
Balalaika asked, “And you want us to work together?”
Chang mentioned, “Of course. Since the attack I have obtained information on who attacked us.”
Balalaika guessed, “The little alien girl was in on it?”
Chang thought, 'She is as sharp as ever.' Chang answered, “Yes. And Annie got her friend to talk. She has a lot of information. Though, Annie requests that we spare her friend.”
Balalaika commented, in a casual manner, “I have no interest in small fries.” She though, 'Nor, in upsetting Annie.'
Chang commented, “I am sure Annie and Ahsoka will be happy to hear that.”
Balalaika flatly said, “Now, get to the point, while I am still listening.”
Chang stated, “This will be my plan. We play it my way. Which will not involve massacres, unless necessary. In exchange, I will share my information.”
Balalaika asked, “And why should I?”
Chang answered, “Because those that are behind this, have deep pockets, and vast resources. If we don't do this carefully, they will crush us. As such, I have plan. The risk is acceptable, for people like us. And the potential for my plan to benefit us, is great.”
Balalaika questioned, “And what role will my women and myself be taking in this play? It had better not be as cannon fodder.”
Chang stated, “They won't be. This will be a hit and run strike. With the option of immediate escape, for all those involved.”
Balalaika thought over Chang's offer for a couple of seconds. She then said, “Alright Chang. You have a deal.”
By then, Balalaika saw behind Chang, that the others had checked in their weapons, and had moved onto the private theater.
Balalaika thought, 'I will give Chang credit. His subordinate are swift in their jobs.'
Chang suggested, “Now, let us talk over a few of the minor details, that the others don't need to hear.”
Balalaika cracked a grin, as she thought, 'Chang is as smooth as ever.' She playfully replied, “With pleasure. Babe.”
Chang let out a laughed, as he thought, 'I have reached the point where, when I here Balalaika call me that, I feel nostalgic.'
A few seconds later, after Chang calmed, he turned around, as he and Balalaika began walking, together, side by side, with Chang to Balalaika's right side.
They continued to talk, as they walked deeper into the casino.
A few minutes ago, in the main security room, Jayne was sitting in a chair, as he was finally able to look up George Benedict, at one of the computer workstations in the room.
A few hours ago, just as he was about to look up the man's name, Zoe called him on his cellphone, and she corralled him into helping her call everyone they knew.
Though, none of them had asked him to come to the meeting, which he found personally insulting. But, Jayne remained silent on the matter, and did his job.
And just when he was finished helping Zoe finish making phone calls, Mal had stopped by to order him to check Chang's private theater for electronic bugs, and other dangers, including possible hidden explosives.
So, after making the phone calls, Jayne headed to Chang's private theater, with a few security subordinates, to search the entire room for electronic bugs and explosives, with their equipment.
The security sweep took him, and his small team, over an hour of searching for bugs, and explosives. This was because Jayne was many things. But, he liked to be thorough in his job.
When they have finished searching everything. From the chairs, to the electronics, to the walls themselves, and found no bugs, nor explosives. Jayne declared the room clean, and he told his subordinates to put up the equipment they used, and for them to resume their usual duties.
They left the theater room, just as those invited started to show up, and sit down.
On the other hand, Jayne headed back to the main security room to look up information on the man, George Benedict.
It was two forty-five PM, by the time that Jayne made it back to the security room.
Jayne sat in a chair, at one of the computer workstations that faced the wall of video monitors in the room. With the monitors showing live, silent feeds from various locations in and around the casino.
Though, the reason Chang did not want to put microphones on his cameras, was that he did not want to risk someone from the outside, to use such microphones to wiretap the casino. And when Chang did eventually inform his security staff, for his reasons, Jayne, Mal, and Zoe, had agreed with Chang on that matter.
Though, Jayne was okay, either way. Because it was Chang's casino, and as such, it was his call.
Jayne typed in his log in password and name into the computer. As soon as the computer accepted his information, and logged him into his account, he began his search.
While Jayne typed the name, George Benedict, into the internal search security engine of the casino, he thought, with concern, 'Time is getting short. And I know if I am going to do this. I need to do it now, before the meeting. Or, we might forget about this man. And my gut tells me that we do not want to forget this man.'
By then, Jayne had finished typing the name. He continued this thoughts, 'Now, who are you, George Benedict?'
The computer databanks did not pull up any information on the name.
Jayne thought, 'Okay. So, you haven't been to the casino before. Nor, have we ever heard of you. That doesn't mean you are not dangerous towards us. Let's see what the internets has to say about you.
Jayne then typed the name into an internet search engine. While there were a few George Benedicts list on the internet. Jayne was about to quickly put the name with the face he saw. As soon as he did, he found, page after page, of George Benedict, the man, and his journalistic articles and photographs.
Jayne looked at this information, as he thought, with worry, 'Oh... This is not good. Not good at all... And he has been here for the last few days, without us knowing. And I thought the boomer attack this morning was a threat. This man could destroyed us. Still, we need to handle this carefully... I need to talk to Chang, before the meeting. This cannot wait. Now, where is he?'
Jayne looked at the video feeds, and he quickly spotted Chang, as a man, in his usual black business suit and coat. He thought, 'It looks the bossman is heading for the front lobby. He has got to come back the same way he went, to get to his private theater. I can still catch him, and talk to him, before the meeting, if I hurry.'
'Though, I better go around, and head near the private theater. That way, if Chang decides to turn back, and head to the private theater, before I get to the front lobby, I likely won't miss him.'
Jayne then noticed one of the outside video feeds of the right front part of the parking lot, showing Pedro, and his badass group, walking up to the front of the casino.
Jayne was impressed, as he thought, 'Damn! Pedro can really pull together a group, when he wants to. ' Then, he noticed a video feed that should just outside the front entrance of the casino, under the large awning.' He continued his thoughts, 'And oh, there is Balalaika and Hotel Moscow. With everyone coming, I am glad I am not on anyone's shit list.'
'Now, to get to Chang, before it is too late.'
Jayne then logged off of his account on the computer he was using, got up from the chair he was in, and he headed out of the security room, for the hallway that was by the left side of the Chang's private theater.
Less than two minutes later, as Jayne exited in a back doorway, and into the large carpeted hallway that to the left of Chang's private film theater.
The location was the same hallway that left to back elevator bay, and the tiger inclosure, across from each other.
Only the back of the Chang's film theater was about fifty meters closer to the front of the casino.
And on the matter of the tiger. She was still healthy, and Chang made sure she was well treated. With plenty of food, large cat toys and activities, to keep her occupied.
Jayne saw that there were still a few people around, that were invited to the meeting, whom had not yet gone into the private theater. The people were talking amongst each other.
Just then, as Jayne was about to head to the front lobby, he saw Inara approaching him.
Jayne thought, 'I guess she was invited, too. Though, she had been nice to me. So, I better see what she wants.' He stopped walking, to let her reach him.
Inara came to a stop in front of Jayne, she leaned up, on her tip toes, as she whispered into Jayne's left ear, “How is your family doing? Are they all right?”
Jayne looked around at the people nearby, as he thought, 'At least she is respecting my privacy on this matter. Still, I need to be careful about how I answer her question. I don't want anyone else to know my family is here, in town. And some of the people here have enhanced hearing.'
Inara then leaned away from Jayne, and lowered the backs of her feet, down onto the ground.
Jayne looked at Inara, as he coyly answered, “I called them periodically, during the attack, and afterward. They are doing fine, right now.” He then leaned down, and whispered into Inara's right ear, “The boomers never reached my family's home, on that remote part of the island. And all my family was at home, when it happened. So, they're good.”
After Jayne leaned back up, he Inara looked him in his face, with a smile on her lips.
Inara happily replied, “Good. Also, it looks like this meeting is about to start. And it seems it will be on time.”
While Jayne did not show any reaction on the outside. He mentally grumbled, 'Yea. Everyone was asked to come, but me... And well, the Lagoon daughters, and the trio sisters. But, they were not invited for different reasons than me. I believe they just forgot about me. Though, there is not point in taking it out on Inara. It is not her fault.'
Jayne commented, “Chang likes to be punctual.”
Irene agreed, “True.”
Jayne thought, 'I need to see Chang, now. But, if I tell Inara that, she will ask why. With her being the type to get answers from people, just by asking. And I do not want to risk anyone overhearing the name, George Benedict. Nor, who he is. Because, I need to see Chang first, before that George is more widely known in this crowd. Both for George's sake, and our sake. So, I will have to be careful about what I say.'
Jayne slyly said, “Now, if you will please excuse me, Inara. I have to go do something before the meeting.”
Inara replied, ““Sure. And I will see you there.”
Jayne sadly thought, 'If I am allowed to be there.' He then turned and started making his way through the crowd, and towards the front lobby of the casino.
A minute later, Jayne was walking down the hallway, towards the front lobby, when saw Chang walking in his direction.
Also, Jayne notice that Balalaika was walking beside Chang, to Chang's left side, as the two of them were having what seemed to be a pleasant conversation.
While, Jayne approached them, he thought, with mild annoyance, 'It figures that, of all people, Balalaika would be with him. Though, I need to talk to Chang, alone, right now. Before the meeting.'
While Jayne got closer, he saw both Chang and Balalaika look at him, as they stopped talking amongst themselves.
By then, Jayne was about twelve feet from them, as he thought, 'Well, I got their attention, and I interrupted whatever they were talking about. So, I better just go through with this. Before I make a fool out of myself, in front of two of the most well connected, and dangerous people on this island.”
Jayne kept walked, as he looked at Chang and Balalaika. He said, with a bit of urgency in his tone of voice, “Boss, I need to speak to you now. It is important.” He then came to a stop, about ten feet in front of the two adults.
A few seconds later, Chang and Balalaika came a stop six feet from Jayne.
Chang stated, “This had better be important, Jayne. I have an urgent meeting, in a few minutes.”
Jayne carefully chose his words, as he responded, “I realize that, sir. Though, I have information about someone that you need to know about, right now.”
Chang asked, “Is this about the attack this morning?”
Jayne answered, “Not directly sir. Though, if this problem is not addressed soon, it could be more damaging to us, than the attack.”
Balalaika raised an eyebrow, in interest, as she calmly suggested, “You might as well listen to him, Chang. He is clearly the type that would not interrupt us, unless it is important.”
Jayne turned Balalaika, as he kindly said, “Thank you. Though, this is a private issue, that I need to speak to Chang, alone.” He thought, 'Beside, I don't want George killed, over this, just yet.'
Balalaika just chuckled lightly, as Jayne saw her give him a stern from in her eyes. She then replied, “Do not worry about me.” She turned to Chang, as she said, “I will see you at the meeting, Chang.”
Balalaika next looked in front of her, as she walked around Jayne, to Jayne's right, as she made her way towards the nearest entrance to the private theater.
The closest private theater entrance, from them, was about a hundred feet down the hallway, from them. With Chang's private projector theater being located, just after the hallway, branched to another hallway to the right. With the hallways making a large rectangular around the private theater's walls, to allow plenty of entrances and exits, around the room.
Also, the Chang's private theater was much smaller than the stage theater in the casino. Which was located on the interior, right side of the building. With the stage theater being located near the guest gym, and guest indoor, heated pool. With the guest gym being closer to the front. And the guest pool being on the right front corner of the casino building.
Chang looked over at Balalaika walking away from them. He then looked over at Jayne, as he sternly warned, “Jayne. You should know that very few people have ever asked Balalaika to leave like that, and live. Just be happy she is not going to kill you, because you are one of my more competent subordinates. And both, she and I, know that you would not do this, unless it is really important.”
Jayne gulped. He then responded, “Thank you, sir. And you will appreciate why I wished to leave her out of our conversation, in a few seconds.” He thought, 'And with the sharp hearing of some of the people here, including Balalaika. I need to do this quietly.'
Jayne took a few steps close. He came to a stop, a foot from Chang. He leaned over and began to whisper into Chang's ear, “I have found out there is man name George Benedict, whom has been staying at in a small motel in town. From what I have seen, he is a renowned journalist, and photographer, dealing with gritty stories, with photos taking on the ground. From war stories, to stories on the drug cartels.”
“And from the pictures, he clearly knows how to do stakeouts, very well.”
“The only reason he would be here would be to do a story on us. Complete with photographs of us, your casino, and I guess the Devil's hotel.”
“He has been here for the last week, without any of us realizing it. I saw him leave right after the boomer attacks ended. The first thing that tipped me off was expensive camera he had handing by a strap, form his neck, as he ran from his motel room, to his car, with his luggage in hand. He dumped his stuff into his car, and immediate left town without checking out of the motel.”
“From there, I check the motel registry with the room number. I found out Mister Benedict name. And a few minutes ago, I finally have a chance to do a back ground check on him.”
“I believe if we don't deal with him now, he could be real trouble for us. Though, I am not sure how to deal with him.”
Jayne then leaned back up, and took a couple of steps back from Chang.
Jayne saw slight surprised in Chang's eyes. Though, only for a few seconds, before Chang forced himself to calm down.
Chang questioned, with slight disbelief in his tone of voice, “He has been here all this time.”
Jayne answered, “From what I can gather, he has been here almost a week. And he left in a rush. Right after the boomer attack.”
Chang said, “That figures. And he did this all right under our noses.”
Jayne commented, “Yes. From what I have read, he seems to be good at that.”
Chang inquired, “When did you learn about him?”
Jayne said, “Not a lot. I just did the background check on him, a few minutes ago. And given this meeting. I figured I needed to get to you, before you had this meeting.” He thought, with a bit of bitterness, 'Which I am not invited to.'
Chang responded, “You are right to come to this to my attention. This is important. Still, why did you want to not mention this to Balalaika?”
Jayne responded, “I don't want your friends to know. Just yet. Because, I don't think he needs to die, just because he is a journalist that we suspect may know what is going on. At least not until we know what he knows. Also, if he is killed, it might raise red flags, and create more problems for us.”
Chang complimented, “Those are good points. I will handle this, after the current crisis. He might actually be useful to us.”
Jayne said, “That is a possibility. You have done more with less.”
Chang happily stated, “That is true. Now, come on. You have more than earned you right to go to this meeting.”
Jayne smiled, as he happily replied, “Thank you, sir.” He happily thought, 'I guess I will be attending after all.'
Jayne then turned around, while he walked beside Chang, to Chang's right, as they headed for Chang's private theater.
A few minutes later, it was three PM sharp, as everyone invited, and a few whom were not, were already seated among the rows of seats in the theater.
Though, at the request of their hosts, no one was seated in the first two front rows.
This was because Chang, whom was standing in the front of the theater, wanted a little distance between those in front, including himself, and those seat, in case things became heated.
But, there was six exceptions, Inara, Simon, Kaylee, Jetta, Spike, and Faye, were sitting in the front row, near the left side of the theater.
While it was rare for both pit bosses to be gone from the casino. It was not unheard of. And the casino staff could handle things while they were gone.
The room was fairly large, for its type. With several seats, per row. With the floor slowly raised, at step, going back, with each row of seating.
Along with the seated being heavily cushion armchairs, the seats were covered in black leather. The chairs were not attached to each other, nor to the floor. The chairs could recline, and given enough space between rows to do so. And all the chairs were positioned to face the theater screen.
Also, the theater had nice, flat, red, carpeted floors. With a large projector screen in the front wall of the room, electronic speakers on the top sides of the walls, and the electronic projector being mounted high up, on in the back wall of the room.
The florescent yellow ceiling lights in the theater were turned on, but the lights were not bright enough to hurt the eyes of those inside the room.
Those that were present, were grouped in a semi-orderly manner.
Of those that were present. Pedro, Matthew, Burt, Matt, Leigharch, Fabiola, Hernan, and Roberta, sat close to each other, near the front rows of the theater. Though, they did not set in the first two front rows to the theater.
Right behind Pedro's group, sat Lori, Ed, Stan, Lewis, Irene, and Leona.
Behind the Lowe family, sat Ranma, Akira, Natsuru, Bao, Melanie, Eda, Yolanda, Aeryn, and Violin.
A few rows behind Ranma's group, in the middle rows, sat Revy, Rock, Janet, Benny, Dutch, Lotton, Sawyer, Shenhua.
Near the back rows sat the members of Hotel Moscow whom were present.
Though, Balalaika sat in the middle of the row in front of her subordinates, save for B, whom sat to her right.
And Arcee was in motorcycle mode, on one of the left outer lane of the theater.
The Lagoon sisters, Rebecca, Yukio, Kristina, Sarah, Molly, nor the element trio, Yurika, Nodoka, Mikoto, were present at the meetings. As their parents had ordered them not to come.
None of the hosts said anything about a few uninvited guest showing up. Because, they were either brought by friends, or they were friends that were overlooked, though likely should have been invited in the first place.
Also, Chang was not the only person standing at the front of the theater.
At the front of the theater, beyond the seats, on the floor, stood near the middle, to the left part of the room. From their right to left, was Chang, Lee, and River. And all three of them faced those that were seated.
Meanwhile, Mal, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, were station around the doors. As soon as they triple checked that everyone they invited was inside. Along with a few others. And that it was three PM sharp.
They began walking around, as they locked all the doors to the room. They did this by twisting the bolt locks on the doors, instead of using the keycards, on the bottom knot locks of the doors.
Though, not only they did not lock the door, up front, to Chang's right, but the door was open, as well. As per Chang's orders.
They locked the doors so that there was no chance that a foolish casino guest might wonder in, and overheard something the guest shouldn't know.
When, Mal, Zoe, Wash, and Jayne, were finished locking the door, they walked over and sat in the front row, to set next to their friends. With Zoe and Wash sitting beside each other.
In his seat, near the front, Matt Bluestone remained silent, as he looked around. He then looked at Chang, as he immediately recognized him. He thought, 'So, that is what Chang looks like, as a man, in real life. He is not that bad looking. Actually, he is quite handsome.'
Matt then saw River, whom was standing near Chang, looked over, and directly at him.
Matt realized, as he continued his thoughts, 'And River is reading my thoughts. That figures.'
River just smiled at him.
In her seat, near with one of the middle rows of the theater, Shenhua, Sawyer, and Lotton sat together.
Lotton was on the left, with Sawyer in the middle, and Shenhua on the right.
Lotton noticed two women sitting down, a few rows, to her right. Those women being Bao and Melanie. With Melanie to Bao's left side.
Lotton turned to them, as she said, “Hi guys.”
Bao and Melanie turned around to see Lotton. Bao casually said, “Oh, hi Lotton. Glad to see you are still fine.”
Lotton replied, “Yea. We are all fine.”
Melanie inquired, “I never did ask. Though, I wonder, with everyone here, who is watching your kids? Is it the Lagoon kids, and Akira's kids?”
Lotton answered, “No. From what I was told, those eight women were upset enough about not being allowed to come. There was no need to add to the misery, by saddling them with babysitting duty. Those watching our kids, and Gilina, are some of your former comrades, whom stayed behind on their ship.” Lotton moved her head slightly to the back, and her left side, indicating those behind her.
Melanie immediately understood, as she thought, 'Hotel Moscow. They will be safe with them.' She replied, “Oh. I understand.”
Lotton replied, “Good.”
Sawyer turned to Lotton, then to Melanie and Bao, then to Lotton. She stated, “As much I would love for you to catch up, the meeting is about to start.”
Lotton, Bao, and Melanie stopped talking. With those three women, and Sawyer, turned to look at Chang, at the front of the theater.
A few seconds later, at the front of the theater, Chang stated, in a slightly elevated tone of voice, “Ladies, gentleman, and whomever. If we could all quiet down, we can begin this meeting.”
Over the course of the next several seconds, everyone in the room stopped their discussions, as they began turning their attention to Chang, at the front of the theater, between them, and the large screen.
Meanwhile, Lotton thought, 'He isn't using the speakers. Likely because it would be over the top, and that he does not want to take any chances of this conversation being recorded, nor monitored. Considering we are planning to attack someone, with access to wiretapping technology and personnel, this is a very wise move on his part.'
At that moment, on the front floor, between the theater screen, and the crowd, stood Chang, by his two lovers, as he surveyed the crowd, whom all just went silent, as they looked at him.
Chang thought, 'It looks like everyone I invited came. Along with a few additions I don't mind. And now I guess it is time to get this meeting started. And pool our information together. Including the information Ahsoka provided, in exchange for me giving her sanctuary here, at the casino. And I think it was a fair trade. Though, Annie wants to spring the information on everyone.'
Chang said, in a slightly calmer tone of voice, “Thank you, everyone.” He then turned to the door to his right, which was open, as he requested, “Okay, bring her in.”
The crowd then saw as Ahsoka and Annie walked into the room, with Annie gently shutting the door, and locking the door behind them.
Those in attendance saw that Ahsoka did not have her two lightsabers attached to her belt.
Though, they did see that Annie had her lightsaber attached to the right side of her belt.
The two women came to a stop a few feet inside, with Annie walking around Ahsoka, to stand between Ahsoka and River, as she, and Ahsoka turned to face the crowd.
The crowd saw that Annie had a calm expression on her face, while Ahsoka rightfully looked a little worried.
Chang turned to faced the crowd, as he said, “As some of you likely know, this is Ahsoka Tano. Annie's former student. She was also part of the attack. She has agreed to help us, in exchange for leniency. And not to worry. Annie and Arcee already checked her for electronic bugs, and psychic connections. She is clean.”
Chang turned to face Ahsoka, as he asked, “I guess the first question is why your group attack us?”
Ahsoka looked at Chang, the around the crowd, as she answered, “You were not the targets. You were the bait. The targets were Professor Durban, and his Atlantic Riders. The organization I was with heard that you were all here. And the manager of the organization decided to trick Durban, and his group, into coming here, by indirectly informing them about you being at this reality, place, and time.”
As Ahsoka spoke, Pedro thought, 'Durban... Oh, from book two. I wondered what happened to him and Data. And if Durban is here. So, is Data. And it sounds like they bought friends. It is cool that those two are in town, with their friends. Though, I just better leave them alone. Still, from what Ahsoka has been hinting at, the Atlantic Riders were fighting the those that sent these boomers to the island. They must have upset their enemies, for them to send this many boomers after them.'
Ahsoka continued, “Given Durban and his crew are big fans of human entertainment and culture, of this time period, they could not help but come here. And the manager centered his plans around them coming. Once he knew the time and place they came, he could spring his trap. And his trap worked beautifully.”
Chang looked at Ahsoka, as he thought, 'That does explain a lot. Though, finding out we are just the bait, is going to anger a lot of people here. Still, let's find a way to keep them happy.' Chang pointed out, “Actually, you targets will be fine, and so will their ship. And so will this city, and the people of this city.”
Ahsoka inquired, “How? We sent hundreds of boomers here. I am surprised this place is still standing, with this many survivors.”
Chang said, “I will let our resident expert on this city, explain.” He the turned to look at Pedro.
Pedro noticed Chang was look at him. He said, “Thank you, Chang.” He turned to Ahsoka, as he continued, “Ahsoka. Can I call you, Ahsoka?”
Ahsoka turned to Pedro, as she replied, “That is fine.”
Pedro stated, “Good. Well, Ahsoka. I am Pedro Del Soto. The Police Chief for this city. What you and your allies did not know about this town. Nor, some of the people here, until this morning. Is that when the badasses of this world decide to retire and go into hiding. Many of them usually end up here, to live a quiet life, and start families.”
Chang thought, 'So, Hernan is not an exception to the rule, on the people of this city. Hernan is an example of the rule, when it comes to being a badass in this city. We were wrong about this town. This town is not like Roanapur. Plata Podrido is the opposite of Roanapur. Roanapur's true shadow archetype. Where badasses came to Roanapur to get a job and make a name for themselves. Badasses come to Plata Podrido to retire, and start families. I guess, to some degree that would include us, as well.'
Pedro continued, “This is a red town.”
Pedro saw Lee snort, and Hernan let out a laugh. Though, the other people in the room clearly did not get the joke.
Pedro realized this, as he went onto say, “Red standing for. Retired and extremely dangerous. I was making a joke that about a comic that was made into some really good movies, starring, Bruce Willis, and a number of other stars. Anyway, as such, my job is not so much to protect this place from the world. But, to protect the world for those here, by keeping outsiders from stir things up here. Which your forces have done.”
“Though, it seems that the people of the town also give me the leeway to take care of things, when outsiders to come and cause trouble. If not, you would see the locals in this city, on the march, looking for retribution.”
Benny commented, “Given the number of dead boomers littering the streets. That would be a terrifying sight thing to see.”
Pedro heard Benny, as he kept looking at Ahsoka. He stated, “Yes. And while there were a few casualties. Your boomers suffered a major rout, with all known boomers being destroyed. With only a minor numbers of casualties on our side. Though, your forces did cause a lot of property damage. Which we will mostly recover from, within a few months.”
Ahsoka face was a mix of concern, and worry, as she replied, “Oh.”
Chang turned to the crowd, as he commented, “Yes. And after such a display. I think everyone here needs to go a little easier on the locals, from not all.” He thought, 'Which most of you already do.'
Chang saw a number of those in the crowd nod, while Pedro just looked Chang, while smiling like the cat that ate the canary.
Chang thought, 'I will give you this one, Pedro. You earned it. Now, to find out who was foolish enough to use us, of all people, as unknowing pawns in someone else's game.'
Chang turned to Ahsoka, as he asked, ““Next question. Who is this manager? Who is in charge of the group you worked for?”
Ahsoka turned to Chang, as she answered, “A human named, Gomez.”
The name rang a bell for Lee, as she turned to Ahsoka. She inquired, “Does this Gomez have short blond hair, fair skin, big beefy physical build, and he wears a green business suit?”
Ahsoka looked over at Lee, as she replied, “Yes. That is him.”
Lee turned to face the crowd. She had an embarrassed look on her face, as she sheepishly said, “I'm sorry guys. My mistake.”
In the crowd, Revy deadpanned, “Story of your life, Lee.”
No one laughed at Revy's comment.
Ahsoka asked, “What is she sorry for?”
River turned to Ahsoka, as she replied, “Long story.”
A number of the people among the crowd groaned at River's response.
Sawyer requested, “Hey. Let us know how Ahsoka reacts, when she is shown the truth.”
Annie turned to Sawyer, as she stated, “Later, after this is over.”
Chang looked over at Sawyer, as he said, “Yes. Annie is correct. We need Ahsoka sane, for right now.”
Ahsoka quietly asked, “What could be more disturbing than finding I am a creation of humans on a backwater planet?”
Annie turned to Ahsoka, as she calmly answered, “Plenty.”
Chang quickly said, “Be that as it may. We all knew Gomez was in the background, and we should have done a little more leg work on that loose end. But, now we can. And just so you know. Gomez has physical abilities likely on par with Birdy, Violin's mother. So, if you come with us, and you encounter him, be careful. Now, moving on.”
Chang looked over at Ahsoka, as he inquired, “So, what is the command structure of Gomez's organization?”
Ahsoka admitted, “I am not sure how Gomez's organization is structured. He never let his subordinates know about the entire structure of his organization.”
Chang complimented, “That is very intelligent move on his part.”
Ahsoka went onto say, “I agree. But, I do know the basics. I know that Fox and David Xanatos are Gomez's collective right hand. They mainly help him with the finances of the organization, along with procuring technology and resources. Though, they do not handle all of that. Gomez subcontracts of lot of that to other companies, and groups.”
“Fox and David Xanatos also handle missions that requite a delicate balance of intelligence, negotiating skills, and fighting skills. But, he only sparingly uses the Xanatos couple, in this capacity. And from the rumors I have heard. They have done remarkably well on their missions.”
“Though, that does not mean that their teenage son, Alex, and their servant Puck, have not shown up, with Fox and David, from time to time.”
Chang thought, 'I got to give Gomez credit. Why settle for just one magnificent badass, when he can have an entire family, to enforce his will. If I had the time, I could use the subcontract angle to get into Gomez's base and deal with them all. But, most of those here want revenge, right now. And I have to come up with a plan that will work, and not get any of us killed.'
Ahsoka continued, “Though, Gomez uses the mercenaries known as the Knight Sabers, for his more important, combat oriented missions. But, Gomez does have his boomers for large scale operations. Like you saw today.”
Chang thought. 'That is likely why the Knight Sabers showed up at Mars Dome, out of the blue. And they have all been playing us ever since then.' He said, “That does answer a few questions I had about the Knight Sabers.”
Nearby, River thought, 'That might have been why I could not read their thoughts on Lagoon Island. They were likely there, not only for revenge, but to test out Gomez's anti-telepathic technology on me. Which David and Fox later use against me. And they got away with it... That is pretty skillful on their part.'
In one of the middle rows of the theater, Dutch stated, “So, Gomez has the Knight Sabers working for him. And we invited those women into our home.”
Rock guessed, “They were likely working for Gomez, on a mission to spy on us, when we met them in Mars Dome, all the way to Lagoon island.”
Janet pointed out, “You paid all that gold to people that were being paid to spy on us.”
Rock admitted, “Yea. They had good payday, there.”
Chang overheard them, as he stated, “Yes. Well, paying them to leave us alone, might have still been the proper course to take.”
Rock turned to Chang, as she said, “Oh. I agree with you on that.”
Revy commented, “Well, either way, I still want a rematch with the brown haired bitch.”
Janet stated, “Yea. She soundly beat you during that match on the island.”
Revy turned to Janet, and she growled at Janet, for a few seconds.
Janet quickly said, “Okay. Sorry.”
Revy heard her, as she quit growling at Janet
Dutch said, “Well, it looks like you just may get your wish, Revy.”
Revy became more visibly relaxed, as she replied, “And I look forward to it.”
Dutch thought, 'I think it is best we don't mention that your bullets are going to have problems against her powersuit.'
Nearby, Violin turned to Rock, as she asked, “So, why did no one go after Gomez, like we did Scorpius? I thought we agreed that you and Revy, would handle it, Rock. Because you are good at negotiating, while Revy is good at violence.”
Rock turned to Violin, as she answered, “Revy and I, did take the job. But, we never could find a trace of him, nor his organization.”
Revy grumbled, “Not one damn lead, in over a month of searching.”
Benny pointed out, “Besides which. If we found him, what would we do. He has a powerful organization, and he can go toe to toe with Violin here in the super powers department.”
Janet said, “Also, he wasn't stirring up any trouble. And he had left us alone. We are not going to start a fight unless we have to.”
Revy commented, “Well, it looks like he has picked a fight with us.”
Rock responded, “Maybe so. And given what the K.S. know. I believe, at some point, that Gomez has also learned about Lee, and her stories.”
As everyone in the room was paying attention to the Lagoon family's conversation.
Nearby, Natsuru decided to speak up, as she theorized, “It does all fit. And Gomez might have even learned of the stories before we did. And he arranged our daughters to find them.”
Benny commented, “Now that is a scary thought.”
Rock said, “That would mean he could have been pulling our strings for a very long time.”
Akira pointed out, “Lee did mention him early, in Book One, of her stories. So, he has been a part of this from the very beginning.”
Ranma mentioned, “I remember reading that. And when this whole mess started, He did call off those tanks and helicopters, in Atlanta. And he could have been keeping tabs on us, ever since then.”
Rock stated, “Even worse, he was one of the people I spoke to, in that meeting, at the nightclub, in Aspen. When I reunited with Akira. I practically told Gomez about the multiverse. And he has likely been shadowing our footsteps, ever since then.”
Dutch said, “Live and learn.”
Nearby, Lotton was listening to the conversation. She stated, “Yes. We know Gomez has both the intelligence and cunning to be able to keep the Knight Sabers and Xanatos family on an extended retainer. Such a man would be good at working from the shadows. And he likely realizes this.”
Aeryn commented, “That also raises another point. If we go after him. We are going to likely confront both the Knight Sabers and Xanatos family. I have personally seen the Knights Sabers in action. They are formidable. I am sure the Xanatos family is just as dangerous. And that is not counting any other enemies we face. Including his army of boomers.”
Rock stated, “We are going to need an army to go through them”
In the back of the room, Balalaika cracked a grin, as she stated, “I can give you an army for the boomers. The others are going to have to be dealt with separately.”
Revy thought, 'I was wondering when she was going to chime in.' She turned around to look at Balalaika. She replied, “Cool, sis. Thanks.” She then looked back towards the front.
While sitting a few rows closer to the front of the room, from Revy, Stan stated, “Actually, we might be able to just hack their computers, and shut down the boomers.”
Revy turned to Stan, as she flatly commented, “Way to be a killjoy.”
Balalaika commented, “Actually, if they shutdown the boomers. That means there is a greater chance we will face that Knight Sabers. And that brown haired bitch you are so looking forward to fighting again.”
Revy shrugged, as she replied, “That's true.”
In the front of the room, Chang overheard the conversation, as he thought, 'Balalaika still knows how to play Revy like a fiddle.'
While standing near Chang, River just giggled a little at Chang's thoughts.'
A few rows closer to the front of the theater, Irene whisper into Leona's left ear, “Should we tell them now.”
Leona whispered into Irene's right ear, “No. Let the information set in, and give them a chance to calm down. Though, do not worry. We will get our chance to say our peace, before this meeting is over.”
At the front of his theater, Chang noticed Irene and Leona talking to each other. Though, they were whispering so softly, that even with his enhanced hear, he could not hear them.
Chang continued to look at the two sisters, as he thought, 'I do not recognize those two. Though, they are with the Lowe, so I guess it is alright for them to be here. Still, I wonder what they are whispering about. I guess I will ask River about it, later.'
River softly commented, “You likely won't have to wait that long.”
Chang heard River, as he thought, 'Good. Now, back to the matter at hand.' He turned to Ahsoka, as he inquired, “Now, who else is at the top of this food chain?”
As Chang spoke, everyone else in the room quieted down.
Ahsoka stated, “Organizational logistics, and personnel, are overseen by a woman named, Nechla Geeze. While Fox and David are Gomez's right hand. Nechla is Gomez's left hand. With Nechla handling the internal matters of Gomez's organization, for him.”
Lee immediately recognized the name, as she thought, 'Please, don't be who I think it is.' She asked, “Can this Nechla change genders?”
Ahsoka replied, “I heard a rumor that she can do so, at will.”
Lee just groaned, as she realized she was responsible for another loose end. She thought, 'I admit it. My story was not as neatly tied up at the end, as I thought it was. Though, if she can change at will. Then, Birdy's Federation not only found a treatment for that virus, to the point it would no longer be contiguous. Like I hinted it would. But, they can use their medical resources to allow those infected by the virus to control their change at will. Which is not surprising, given what Birdy and Tsutomu could do that in the Birdy Decode series.'
River turned to Lee, as she commented, “True. And that does sound like the same Nechla. And I am willing to bet she is in it for revenge.”
Lee looked at River, as she agreed, “Yea. And I am surprised she is not personally gunning for me.” She turned to the crowd again, as she said, “Sorry, again guys.”
A number those crowd her Lee. And they again groaned, as they looked towards Lee.
Ahsoka looked over at Lee, as she thought, 'Lee clearly thinks she did something wrong. I wonder what. Though, I believe Annie will tell me, later. Still, there is something I can tell her, right now.'
Ahsoka stated, “Well, if you believe you are at fault for something. You can thank, Gomez, for no one coming after you. He has a no personal vendetta order for his personnel. And he ordered his subordinates to leave you alone. None of us know why. But, it is a standing order.”
Lee looked at Ahsoka, as she responded, “That is nice. And Annie will likely tell you why, later. But, I don't think that is going to save him from this crew.”
Lee and Ahsoka turned to the crowd. Ahsoka saw the looks on the faces of the crowd, as she sense their emotional states through the force. Ahsoka thought, 'I believe that Lee is correct on this matter. My best hope is for Annie to at least keep them from coming after me.'
River heard Ahsoka's thoughts. She looked over at Ahsoka, as she thought, 'Not to worry. I and others, will make sure that Chang is about to keep his promise to Annie, concerning you.'
River kindly requested, “Ahsoka, please continue.”
Ahsoka did as she was requested to do, as she stated, “For research, Gomez has two main people overseeing those sections of his organization. The research sections are divided up into two sections. One is for biological research. The other is for technological and cybernetics research.”
“And though I have not met these people. I do know that the person in charge of the biological research is a man named, Anton Sevarius. The person in charge of technological and cybernetic research is a mechanical being known as Jhiaxus. Also, it is well known in the organization that both of them are good friends, and they like to help each other with their research.”
Chang said, “Jhiaxus, was a given.” He mentally reflected, 'Lee even wrote that scene of Jhiaxus, and her kids, meeting Gomez. But, Sevarius.'
Chang went onto say, “And while the Xanatos family working for Gomez concerns me. Having Anton on the staff, and working together with Jhiaxus scares even me.”
Chang looked around to the crowd, as he continued, “For those who don't know, Anton is a mad scientist who enjoys turning people into monsters. And he is also fairly skilled at cloning people, and performing other forms of genetic manipulation.”
Chang saw a few of the people among the crowd develop troubled expressions at the news about Anton. Chang thought, 'At least, they are taking this seriously... And now I have to tell them about Jhiaxus.'
Chang stated, “And Jhiaxus is a cybertronian.... They same species as Arcee. Actually, Jhiaxus, and her children, look similar to Arcee, except for different armor colors. And like Anton is towards human. Jhiaxus also liked to experiment on other cybertronians. And Arcee was one of Jhiaxus' victims.”
On the left side of the room, those near Arcee, noticed that she had started growling.
Revy turned Arcee, as she commented, “Oh come on, Arcee. You already had your revenge on... Her.”
Arcee stopped growling, as she conceded, “I know. But, I don't like thinking about that monster.”
Revy replied, “Fair enough.” She then turned to face the front of the room.
Lee commented, “I wouldn't worry too much about those two. Chances are, both of them, along with their staff, will bugout at the first sign of trouble.” She mentally reflected, 'Including, Jhiaxus' taking her children with her.'
Chang agreed, “True. And due to how unpredictable those two are. I do not want anyone going after them. If we are lucky, they will escape on their own, and we won't have to deal with them. Also, Anton and Jhiaxus seem to only be critically dangerous, if they find someone to fund their research. Without Gomez, and his organization, they won't be that much of a problem.”
Lee replied, “That seems to be the case.”
From his seat, Pedro thought, 'I guess now is the best time to mention this.'
Pedro spoke up, “Before we go on, I need to state something.”
Chang turned to Pedro, as he said, “Go ahead, Pedro.”
Pedro said, “On our little journey, Matthew and I accidentally landed on a large supply depot on an alien world. The depot had crates of weapons from all over the multiverse. From Earth Force of Babylon Five, to crates with the Imperial seal from Star Wars.”
“This depot stretched for kilometers. In the distance there was a hanger so large, that a full sized white Imperial Star Destroyed was parked completely inside it. And there hundreds, if not thousands of boomers there. Battle boomers guarding the place, and combat boomers loading and off loading cargo from that Star Destroyer.”
“We barely got out of there, alive.”
“Still, even though it was a large depot, after thinking about it. Given there were only boomers there, we think it was an auxiliary depot, of some organization that had access to reality traveling technology.”
Chang thought, 'Okay. Gomez's organization might be larger than I anticipated. That means there is only one plan I know of that might work against him. But, that is for later in this meeting. And I still have questions for Pedro.'
Chang asked, “And that is why Abrego was after you, in the black powersuit? And it was Gomez who sent him after you?”
Pedro answered, “I believe so. He started chasing us, soon after. And someone had to give him that technology. And it certainly wasn't you.”
Chang replied, “You are correct. I know better.”
Pedro commented, “Anyone that knows about that man, should know better. I am surprised that Gomez would give him that kind of technology.”
Chang said, “I wonder that myself. Still, Abrego would have insight into us, that few would.”
Pedro agreed, “True. He would know a lot of things about you and your friends here, that were not covered in the series.”
Chang responded, “Yes. That would make sense. Though, when did you realize it was Gomez that was behind you being hunted?”
Pedro stated, “We did not suspect it was Gomez that was behind all this, until we had a run in with Cad Bane and Deadpool. On that matter, the two of them seem to be working together. And given, we last heard that Cad Bane is working for Gomez. It is safe to assume that Deadpool is working for Gomez, as well.”
Chang thought, 'This is not good. I know we should have gone after that lunatic. The problem was I really wasn't sure what we would do with him, if we ever did find him. Still...' He inquired, “Why didn't you tell us about all this, sooner?”
Pedro responded, “Because we had no direct proof. And we just got back here last night. There was no time to even arrange a meeting with you. Let alone discuss this.”
Chang conceded, “Okay. That is fair enough. And thank you for the information.”
Pedro replied, “You're welcome.”
Matthew inquired, “By the way, what happened to Abrego?”
Chang answered, “He been taken care of.”
Matthew did not respond to Chang's comment, as he thought, 'I have a feeling that I don't want to know.'
Chang looked over at Ahsoka, as he requested, “Now, Ahsoka. What else can you tell us about the Gomez's staff?"
Ahsoka said, “Baring the boomers, which act as Gomez's army. The rest of the personnel are just subordinates that are doing their jobs. From technicians doing maintenance on his spacestation. To his spies. And Gomez pays well for those that work for him. We also get some decent benefits, as well.”
Chang said, “That is very wise of him.” He thought, 'I use the same tactic. And, along with being polite to my subordinates, such tactics tend to work, to keep people loyal.'
Ahsoka mentioned, “Though, I never got to know most of those that were Gomez's agents. Though, I do know a few of them.”
Chang inquired, “Such as?”
Ahsoka answered, “There is a nice woman there, whom I occasionally chatted with. Her name is Furlow.”
The mention of the name, Furlow, caught the attention of both Violin, and Aeryn. But, before either of the two women could respond, Revy quickly asked, “Did you said, “Furlow?”
Ahsoka looked in Revy's direction, as she said, “Yes.”
Revy requested, “Describe this woman?” She thought, 'If I describe the woman I met, to her. She could just lie, and say she knows her, or not. But, if she describe her. There is less chance of her lying to me.'
Ahsoka stated, “She was a middle-aged, heavy set woman, with tanned skin, and blond hair. And she liked to were pantsuits.”
Revy thought, 'That's her.' She said, “I met this woman, a week ago.”
Chang asked, “You did?”
Revy answered, “Yes. She wanted me to spy on some people. She made me a tempting offer. But, I declined her offer.” She thought, 'Though, it wasn't easy.'
Aeryn looked at Violin, as she inquired, “Could it be, her?”
Violin turned to Aeryn, as she pointed out, “She did have access to working wormhole technology. And we never hear from her, again.”
Revy turned to the couple, as she questioned, “Who are two talking about?”
Violin turned to Revy, as she smirked. She answered, “Just a greedy fool that likely got in over her head. And it sounds like the same woman whom you met.”
Revy questioned, “So, she is from your home reality?”
Violin replied, “Yea. Specifically, the Farscape reality.”
Change commented, “Revy was probably part of their plan a, against Professor Durban. Since Revy turned them down, they went with their plan b.”
Everyone turned their attention back to Chang.
Revy asked, “Plan b, for what? How were they going to use me?”
River answered, “You said they were trying to make you spy on someone. One of the oldest tricks in the book. They need someone whom knew the layout of the area, and the players involved, so they can maximize their attack. Along with making the baited information more attractive to the Atlantic Riders.”
Melanie asked, “Speaking of people. What about Ahsoka's friend, Barbossa? I haven't seen him since the attack?”
Ahsoka answered, “Yes. He is one of Gomez's agents.
Shenhua stated, “During the battle, I caught Barbossa trying to escape. He beat me, and escaped, anyway.”
Revy commented, “Well, someone is going to have to deal with Barbossa.”
Shenhua said, in a cold tone of voice, “I will personally deal with Barbossa.”
Revy turned to her friend, Shenhua, as she replied, “Good luck.”
Rock turned to Shenhua, as she replied, in an even tone of voice, “Thank you.”
Revy inquired, “Are you sure you can handle Barbossa, given your special connection?”
Shenhua coldly answered, “I always preferred my uniqueness.”
Meanwhile, River giggle at how Revy and Shenhua were tiptoeing around the spiritual connection between Shenhua and Barbossa.
Shenhua heard River. She turned to River, as she hissed, “One word about this, and I slit your throat.”
River immediately looked at Shenhua, as she went silent, and simply nodded twice towards Shenhua.
Everyone noticed this exchanged, but given Shenhua apparent mood, no one dared question Shenhua about the matter.
Mal looked at Ahsoka, as he inquired, “Speaking of people. Were those two that robbed the casino, a few mornings ago, connected to you organization?”
Ahsoka answered, “Not that I know of.”
Lee stated, “Those two are strictly freelancers. They would know better than to get into bed with organizations like Gomez's group. Unless they had no other choice. Which I doubt is the case here. All evidence points to those two were just stealing from the casino for some quick wealth. As it were. They were clearly not part of Gomez's plans.”
Zoe commented, “Still, even if they are not part of Gomez's group, something needs to be done about those two.”
Chang stated, “We have plans already in place, to deal with them, later.” He thought, 'After we deal with Gomez and his group. When we return from our vacation, seeing our family, in my kingdom, in the feudal reality.'
Mal offered, “Let me now if you need some help.”
Chang replied, “I will.” He turned to Ahsoka, as he inquired, “Now, Ahsoka. You mentioned that Gomez has a spacestation? Is that the headquarters for his organization?”
Ahsoka turned to Chang, as she replied, “Yes. I believe so.”
Chang asked, “What type of spacestation is it? It not the Death Star, is it?” He continued in a more serious tone of voice, “And no, I am not joking.”
Ahsoka said, “Thankfully, no. That is not the case.”
Chang inquired, “Okay. That is a relief. Now please, tell us about where Gomez's headquarters is located in the multiverse? And, what is his headquarters is like?”
Ahsoka commented, “Well, you were close. Gomez basically found a ruined hull of Super-Star Destroyer, and he refurbished it into his organization's headquarters. Surprisingly, it is a very nice base of operations. I have been on Star Destroyers, that were practically brand new. And they were not as nice as that place.”
Chang responded, “That is not that bad an idea. Plenty of space to work from. The ship design is decently laid out, as long as the artificial gravity is still works.”
Ahsoka said, “The artificial gravity systems on the spacestation still function. And it is at Earth standard.”
Chang responded, “Nice. But, where would he find one of those ships at?”
Annie commented, “You would be surprised how many partly destroyed Super-Star Destroyers there are.”
Chang stated, “All we want to know about is this Super-Star Destroyer.” He thought, 'For now.'
Kaylee inquired, “What are the capabilities of this warship?”
Ahsoka turned to Kaylee, as she answered, “The ship is not hyperspace worthy. Nor, its firepower not anywhere near what it once was. From what I understand, it has about a quarter of the weapons that a standard Star Destroyer has. Also, Gomez only had a handful of starfighters for the ship... And by the way, sorry the garage.”
Kaylee coyly replied, “We will talk about it, later.” She thought, 'Though, if Annie can forgive you. I guess I can, in time.'
River smiled at reading Kaylee's thoughts.
Zoe asked, “Then, what does that ship do for defense?”
Ahsoka stated, “While the ship could not handle a major space battle, alone. It does have some Star Destroyers patrolling around it.” She turned to Chang, as she continued, “That I believe he got from you, Chang.”
Chang groaned, as he said, “Of course.” He thought, 'I knew I should have checked one what happened to my star destroyers.'
Leigharch commented, “What? Gomez, could not afford to have a super-laser installed on his ship?”
Ahsoka looked over at Leigharch, as she stated, “Gomez prefer to be discreet, and pragmatic. He would rather have an army at his command, than build a single super-laser that may not work half the time.”
Leigharch conceded, “Good point.”
Matt said, “That only makes him more dangerous.” He thought, 'I am starting to understand how the Xanatos family is willing to work for him.'
Ahsoka responded, “Exactly.” She turned to Chang, as she continued, “And the spacestation does have a reality device to transport to other time, place, and reality. But, I know that draws a lot of energy. And it takes about a day to charge, before it can be used. So it won't matter.”
Chang replied, “Still, that is nice to know.”
Rock inquired, “What about anti-reality jumping technology?' She thought, 'Like Chang's tower had, and the updated version that Scorpius used?'
Ahsoka said, “Not that I know of.”
Chang commented, “I wouldn't worry. If he had the technology. He likely lifted what I was using, in the past. And the modern reality devices we have are designed to workaround such defenses.” He thought, 'And we were going to need a few of them, for what I have planned.'
Rock thought, 'Interesting.' She replied, “That is nice to know.”
Natsuru asked, “Where is this spacestation, and fleet, located? Place? Time? Reality? And is the fleet automated by boomers, and such? Or, do the Star Destroyer have people in them? And what over the Super-Star Destroy spacestation? Do people liver there, besides Gomez and his supervisors?”
Chang thought, with mild amusement, 'Leave it to Natsuru to come up with a thorough set of questions. It must be her police training.'
Ahsoka turned to Natsuru, as she stated, “First, the fleet is automated. But, the fleet is hardwired so that the fleet cannot be used to fire on the station. Now, as to where, the spacestation, and fleet, are. They are located Lagrangian point three of Earth. In same orbit that Earth has around the Sol star, Only, at any given time, they are opposite to Earth, on the other side of the Sol.”
“The reality they are located in is Chang's home reality. The time is about a few decades after Chang here was defeated in his tower.”
Roberta thought, 'That is around the time Garcia, Fabiola, and I, are living in. When we stay in our home reality. Along with the Lagoon family, and Shenhua, Sawyer, and Lotton's family, living in our home reality, around that time period. Though, I doubt Gomez's organization exists in the exact time as us. I wonder if what we are going to do is our past? In our present? Or, in our future? On second thought. I have more important matters to worry about, like helping Hernan get our family back?'
Chang thought, 'So, they are in our home reality. That is makes things easier, in locating them. And on Lagrangian point three. That is perfect. We won't have to worry about any wreckage, or ships, harming my home Earth. And we now have a time and place to work with.'
Benny asked, “So, is that date likely parallel with the time we return to, when we go to our home reality?”
Ahsoka replied, “I wouldn't know. I do not know what date you go to visit that reality.”
River turned to Benny, as she said, “Benny, she is right. There would be no way for her to know. Though personally, I would say, to answer you question. Yes. More or less.”
Benny replied, “Point taken. And thank you.”
Chang complimented, “I have to hand it to Gomez. He really knows how to set up a secret base. The location would keep the locals from seeing them. Because it is on the other side of the sun. Also, that is just mostly empty space. It would be difficult to find a spacestation there. Even a spacestation as large as a Super-Star Destroyer. Which is pretty much the size of a small city.”
Dutch inquired, “So, why are they operating from our home reality?”
Chang answered, “As for them being in our home reality. That is likely because that is where he found much of the technology he is using, Including the Star Destroyers that he has acquired from me. And no, I don't mind him having my old toys. I could think of worse hands they could end up in.”
Chang thought, 'From what I can gather, from what Ahsoka and Pedro said. Chang is using my Star Destroyers to guard his headquarters, and as freighters to ferry cargo across the multiverse. And I am fine with him doing that.'
Annie commented, “I agree.”
Janet stated, “Still, that is a fairly long time, sense we defeated you, Chang.”
Chang went onto say, “As for the time. The date is likely because of the natural passing of time between when he first found the technology, and Star Destroyers, to present day, for him.”
Ahsoka said, “I believe you are correct. Gomez has a rule against using time dilation mechanics. Because he does not want things to become to confusing.”
Chang thought, with happiness, 'All the better for us.'
Ahsoka continued, “Also, he once told me, in person, that he picked the location, because he did not expert someone to go out that far, to find him, to retaliate against him.”
Balalaika commented, in a casual tone of voice, “Then, Gomez clearly does not know us well very well.”
There was some light laughter through the room, for the next few seconds.
As the laughter died down, Balalaika stated, “It is apparent that we are going to need to divide up into teams, and take on this situation, as best we can.”
Chang looked across the room, at Balalaika, as he stated, “Agreed.” He thought, with happiness, 'That is what I was going to suggest in the first place. But, having a war veteran like you, Balalaika, suggest it, would only add weight to the suggestion. Especially, among the members of Hotel Moscow.'
Balalaika asked, “So, what is the plan?”
Chang stated, “A decapitation strike. We take out their leadership. These guys clearly have a lot of resources. The attack today, proved that. We cannot just go toe to toe with them, and expect to win. But, there is a window of opportunity for this plan to work. They will not expect a counterattack so soon. Especially, from a group they clearly dismissed.”
Rock thought, 'So, you are taking a page from my playbook, Chang. Nice.'
Balalaika replied, “I agree.”
Chang said, “And due to the secrecy that Ahsoka here told us about. With no individual subgroups knowing what the other subgroups are doing. Save for the leadership, itself. Chances are, once their leaders are dead, the rest of their organization will fall apart.”
Balalaika commented, “And we can deal with the pieces, at our leisure. With us choosing if the subgroups of that organization present themselves as either as an asset, or a liability, to us. And we will deal with them accordingly.”
Chang replied, “My thoughts, exactly. Some of those in that organization will be a problem. Some will head into the shadows. And some of them might prove useful to us.”
Balalaika pointed out, “True. Still, this mission will take teamwork, planning, and timing, to pull off.”
Chang responded, “Yes. And we already have a working plan. With the details being finalized, later. And as for the teams we will need.” He then looked around the crowd, as he continued, “I have some ideas for our teams, right in front of us.”
Revy questioned, “So, are you going to draft us, Chang?”
Chang answered, “No. This mission is completely voluntary.” He thought, 'It is not like I can get any of you to do anything you are not willing to do, in the first place. So, I might as well ask. And hope for the best.'
Revy responded, “Good. Because, I still want in.”
Chang said, “I was hoping you would say that.” He thought, 'Now, to organize the teams. And assign them their missions. This should be fun.' He inquired, “Who is coming?”
Revy joked, “More like who isn't coming.”
Lotton stated, “I am not going.” She looked to her right, at Sawyer, and Shenhua, whom were both looking at her. Lotton continued, “At least one of us should stay, just in case the worst happens. So, our children are not orphaned.”
Shenhua said, “I understand.”
Sawyer commented, “You are right. Someone should stay. And you are the logical choice.”
Benny said, “Well, it goes without saying that Janet and I are not coming.”
Janet agreed, “Yes. We are not going.”
Chang stated, “I understand. We won't think any less of either of you.”
Benny replied, “Thank you.”
Dutch commented, “Well, I am not going either. There are enough people here who want to come. I am just not one of them.” She thought, 'Besides. Invading a fortress full of badasses and killer robots is not my idea of a good time.'
River had to force herself let out a laugh, at Dutch's thoughts.
Chang responded, “That is fine. Actually, I would prefer to you to stay here because you one of the most level headed people present. And you are one of the few individuals I know of that almost all our friends will listen too.”
Dutch replied, “I appreciate that.”
Chang requested, “Though Dutch, I do request. That if we cannot make it back here in a timely manner. I want you to play peacemaker for any problems that will arise in our absence.”
Chang thought, 'I am not going to have a slip up, like when we went after Matthew and Pedro. That is why I will be putting plans in place. Like what I am asking of Dutch. Before we leave.'
Dutch stated, “I can do that.”
Chang replied, “Thank you.”
Chang noticed Rock was silent. He thought, 'Good. She is no responding. So, she is still thinking about coming. And I want her to come along.'
Chang said, “Now, that is settled. I guess we shall continue the meeting. Though Rock, I do not consider your silence to be volunteering. If you hear me mention your name, and you don't want to come. Or, if you have other plans. Please, speak up, so I can adjust our plans.”
“Now, onto the plan. The plan will have seven teams.”
Revy interrupted, “I think I heard this one before. This is not going to be another fiasco, like in Basilan.”
Chang pointed out, “I hope not. And that mission would have go off without a hitch, if Rock here had not gone all, deer caught in highlights, on you.”
Rock sheepishly admitted, “True. But, I have gotten better.”
Chang responded, “Yes. You have. Now, as I was saying. This plan will have seven teams. The membership will be composed of at mostly those that are skilled in combat. Though, there will be at least one person in each group with negotiating skills. And there is some redundancy in this plan. So if things mess up, we can still pull this off.”
“Each of the teams will have their own roles. These roles may overlap to some degree. Though, the first team will have their own role that they will have to pull off. Because, none of the other teams can.”
“First, as with any attack. The beginning move it to make the enemy blind, deaf, and dumb, to our actions.”
Chang looked over at the Lowe family, as he continued, “Ed, Lori, Stan, Lewis, that is where you come in.”
Ed calmly inquired, “What do you have in mind?”
Chang answered, “You, and your two sons, will teleport to one of the secondary data hubs in the spacestation. From there, you will hack the computers networks of the spacestation, while Lori stands guard.”
“I will need you to shutdown as many of the systems, while keeping live support, artificial gravity, and the escape systems on. If things go to hell, we might need to use their own escape pods, or shuttles, to escape. So, we also need you to leave the outside hatches to where they can be used, while we are there.”
“The systems I need shut down. In order of priorities. First, is the alarm system. Then camera and microphones. Communications is next. Then, shut down the boomers. After that, shut down the star destroyers outside, and the weapons defenses on the spacestation, itself,”
“Finally. Once we accomplish the mission. Send out a ship wide alert to evacuate, with a two hour timer set to shut down the ship. While I want Gomez's head on the proverbial silver platter. I don't mind letting the rank and file people escape.”
Chang thought, 'Besides. If we trap the entire crew. Then, they could become unpredictable. And make things difficult, as we leave, ourselves.'
Ed stated, “I think we can handle that.”
Stan commented, “We should be able too.”
Lewis pointed out, “And if things do get too hot to handle, we can just teleport out of there.”
Lori said, “You guys can focus on the computers. I will let you know if it gets too hot to stay.”
Chang questioned, “How much time will you need, before we can head over there, as well?”
Ed said, “I would say give us three or four minutes, then come over.”
Chang thought, with mild delight, 'That is a quicker timetable than I expected. Though...' He commented, “We will give you five minutes.”
Ed replied, “That will be fine.”
Stan pointed out. “Hold it. If Gomez is this skilled. He will have his own computer experts manning the networks.”
Ed agreed, “My son is right. We may run into some resistance.”
Chang asked, “Do you think you will need more time?”
Ed answered, “No. Any more time, and if we trip the alarms, the entire station's personnel would be on top of us. With the station security ready for you, before you even get there.”
Chang stated, “Okay. Well, any help you can give us, will be good.”
Ed said, “Thanks for being understanding.”
Lewis inquired, “If security on that spacestation is that tight, are there any on board defense lasers? Or, other deadly traps, on the station? Like there are in the Dark Forces video games.”
Annie could not help but giggle a little. She noticed Ahsoka looking at her. She quickly forced herself to calm down. She turned to Ahsoka, as she said, “I will tell you, later. Just answer the question.”
Ahsoka turned to Lewis, as she stated, “No. Gomez prefers anonymity, over such tactics. From what I understand, he believe such weapons could be used against his forces. Therefore, he did not have them installed. All the security is composed of is locked doors, and cameras. But, his forces there include the several types of groups. Including lots of boomers. He might have a silent alarm. But, I am not sure. Though, I do know that he doesn't have an open alarm, because he doesn't want to tip off any intruders.”
Lewis thought, 'Okay. Gomez clearly understands the double-edged sword of such security.' He said, “That is very well thought out on his part.”
Chang stated, “True. Now, moving on. The roles of the next three teams will be to take on, or taking out, targets of opportunity.”
“We will be going after everyone from Gomez, Nechla, to Barbossa, Cad Bane, the Xanatos family, and Deadpool. Though, except for Gomez, cutting a deal with the target is an option.”
“We want to take down this organization by any means. And in some cases, negotiation might be your best tool for the situation.”
“Do not forget that some of the individuals are a different power class than most of us. Gomez and Nechla are in Violin’s category. If you find them. Do not hesitate to take them down with the biggest guns you have available. You will likely not get a second chance.”
“Deadpool is unkillable, and his stamina is an insane as he is. Trying to outlast that man in a fight will not work. So, trying to talk him down might be best.”
“And when it comes to the Xanatos family. Keep in mind that Puck and Alex are high level magical users. And David and Fox are about as badass at melee combat and firearms, and any of you here. Also, I know David is an expert at powerarmor combat. With his exo-suit, he could likely take Violin, Roberta, Arcee or maybe even Annie, in a fight. So, use your best judgment when dealing with that family.”
“The others I leave to your discretion.”
“Now, the first of these three teams, will be comprised of River, Lee, and myself. We would not ask any of you to do something that we are not prepared to do ourselves.”
Revy commented, “Well, you are going to need more than twenty-twos, and throwing knives to take down boomers.”
Lee stated, “Don't worry, we have some toys of our own. And we know how to use them.”
River let out a laugh. She then commented, “Yes. And our toys are as cool as yours.”
Revy replied, “We'll see.”
Chang could not help but crack a grin, at hearing the comments from his two lovers. He said, “Yes. We do. Now, the next team will be Rock, Sawyer, Shenhua, Revy, Eda and Yolanda. With Rock leading. If Rock doesn't want to. Then, Yolanda will lead.”
Eda stated, “I don't mind coming.”
Yolanda commented, “That will be fine with me.” She turned to Rock, whom was looking back at her.” She complimented, “Rock has a good head on her shoulder. And I do not mind being lead by her.”
Rock continued to look at Yolanda, as she said, “I appreciate that vote of confidence.”
Yolanda replied, “You're welcome.”
Shenhua commented, “I would prefer to go after Barbossa alone.” Shenhua thought, 'So, I can take my time in killing him.'
Eda turned to Shenhua, as she asked, “Do you not want some help? You track record with him is not that great.”
Shenhua turned to Eda, as she snapped, “Barbossa is mine. I will go after him, alone.”
Eda quickly replied, “Okay.” She thought, 'I wonder what her problem is?' She turned back to look at Chang.
Chang said, “That will be fine, Shenhua. Though, to start with, you will be coming with River, Lee, and I.”
Shenhua looked over at Chang, as she replied, “I can live with that.”
Rock turned to Balalaika, as she said, “In all honesty. In this mission. I would prefer to go with Hotel Moscow.”
Balalaika looked at Rock. She shrugged, as she said, “If we are requested to come, I would be more than happy to have you accompanying us.”
Rock replied, “Thank you.”
Chang commented, “Don't worry, Balalaika. I will get to you, and your subordinates, in a minute.”
Revy turned to Balalaika, as she requested, “I would like to come with sis and her, army, as well.”
Balalaika looked at Revy, as she said, “Revy, your guns are always welcome with us.”
Revy replied, “Thanks.”
Sawyer turned around, to face Balalaika, as she requested, “Since Shenhua is going her own way, alone. And Lotton is not coming. I would like to join you, Balalaika.”
Balalaika looked at Sawyer, as she casually stated, “Sure. We might need someone to get through the doors, and help clean up.”
Sawyer thought, 'If I am going to be with her, I have to do what she says. And my fighting style does not go well as an individual fighter. I know that. So, I just need to bite my lip, and live with it.' She said, “That will be fine.”
Chang stated, “The more the merrier. I guess we will be working with six teams.” He thought, 'And that is the beauty of redundancy.'
River cracked a grin as Chang's thought.
Chang continued, “Okay. The next team, is going to be Aeryn, Violin, Annie, Arcee, along with Eda and Yolanda. Violin is in charge. With Yolanda being second in command. Any problems with that.”
Aeryn commented, “I don't mind.”
Arcee said, “I can live with it.”
Eda stated, “Of course. This is the type of group I could enjoy running with.”
Yolanda said, “I have no problems with Violin being the team leader.” She thought, 'And if there are problems. Chang named me second in command. And I am sure I can get us out of any mess that Violin gets us into.'
Annie requested, “As long as we don't give involved in any crazy plans created by her. I am fine with her leading.”
Violin turned to Annie, as she said, “I will try my best not to have to get us into any crazy situations that will require such plans.”
Annie looked over at Violin, as she commented, “Oh. We are going to get into those situations. With this group. That is a given.”
A few of the people among the crowd chuckled a little.
Violin replied, “Sad. But, true.” She turned to Chang, as she suggested, “Speaking of which. Would you like me to call Scorpius. I am sure she would be more than willing to lead us some peacekeepers squads. Or, even some of her ships. A peacekeeper command carrier is around the same size as a Super-Star Destroyer. And their firepower and energy shields, are probably comparable, as well.”
Chang flatly stated, “No. I do not want to owe that woman any favors.”
Violin commented, “I fully understand.”
Pedro thought, 'Trying to ask Scorpius for help wouldn't have worked anyway. Scorpius has been kind of busy, lately.'
River turned Pedro, as she ordered, “Pedro. Tell them what you now, about Scorpius.”
Everyone in the room, turned to look at Pedro.
Meanwhile, Matt just shook his head a few times, while Matthew groaned a little bit.
Chang inquired, “Tell us about what?” He thought, 'I sincerely hope that, during their journey, Pedro the others did not meet Scorpius, for their sakes. I won't wish being on that woman's radar on anyone.'
Pedro looked at River, as he thought. 'Damn it. River. I was hoping you would not read my mind on that. Or, at least have the sense not to mention that.'
River stated, “This is too important not to mention.”
Pedro looked around the room, as he said, “Okay. During our little trek through the multiverse. We ended up in Star Wars reality, where the empire was run by Thrawn.”
That commented caught Annie's attention, though only River notice dAnnie's reaction.
Pedro continued, “And we saw a news holovid about Thrawn. It seems that Thrawn and Scorpius are dating. Also, Scorpius' young daughter, Rylani, looks healthy. I don't know who her daughter's father is.”
Pedro turned Rock, as he continued, “By the way, Rock. We also met Boba Fett. And he wanted for us to say, hi, to you, from him.”
Rock turned to Pedro, as she asked, “That is nice. How is he doing?”
Pedro replied, “He is doing fine”
Rock said, “Thanks for letting me know.” She thought, 'I think I will check in on Boba, after this current mess is resolved.'
Pedro stated, “You're welcome.”
Chang thought, 'Good. It was just a holovid. They did not meet Scorpius. Nor, Thrawn. In person.'
Violin thought, 'I might as well answer the next logical question.' Violin mentioned, “Rylani is a clone of how Scorpius is, now.” She thought, 'It is good that Rylani is doing fine. And Aeryn and I found it touching that Scorpy named her daughter, after her own mother.'
Chang thought, 'I know from Lee and River that Scorpius had a daughter. Though, I wonder how Scorpius and Thrawn ended up dating?' Chang said, “I see... I wonder how this current relationship happened?”
Everyone turned to look at Lee.
Lee noticed this, as she stated, “I don't know how that all happened. I didn't even have any plans for Star Wars reality. So, I don't even know how Thrawn came to be in charge. Let alone him ending up dating Scorpius.”
Annie admitted, “It is not her fault. It is mine. That is my home reality. I overthrew Palpatine and put Thrawn in charge, so my family could have a life that did not involve being in hiding, being on the run, nor dealing with government politics. Thrawn was the only person with the abilities to run the galaxy, that I knew would honor my requests.”
Chang turned to Annie, as he said, “We will talk about this, later. Though, I believe most of us can sympathize with you on what you did in your home reality.”
Chang thought, 'Though, I believe being informed of altering the political course of an entire galaxy warrants being informed about. When is comes to being your employer.'
Annie responded, “Thank you. Though, I have no clue had Thrawn and Scorpius ended up dating.”
Chang stated, “Oh. That is simple. In all the multiverse. Scorpius studied Earth pop-culture of the turn of the second millennium. She would have found out about Thrawn. And she likely came to believe that Thrawn would be as close to her equal as she could possibly find. And after Thrawn got to know Scorpius. He would likely came to feel the same way about Scorpius. Still, that is a problem for another time.”
Chang thought, 'Though, let's hope that does not develop into a problem. Those two together, with their empires working hand in hand, would be a handful for just about anyone, in the multiverse.'
'Fortunately, those two are type not to start a war without very good reasons.'
River quietly said, “We hope.'
Chang heard River, as he thought, with concern, 'Yes, River. We hope.'
Chang turned back to look at the crowd, as he stated, “Now, the next team is going be lead by Pedro. And I guess that your team will be Roberta, Fabiola, Hernan, Burt, Matt, Matthew, and Leigharch.”
Pedro said, “Well Chang, are you are mostly correct. I am not planning on Matthew coming. And I am not sure about Leigharch. I cannot think of a role for him in this type of mission.”
Leigharch commented, “I admit. I am on the fence.”
Matthew turned to Pedro, as he flatly said, “I'm going.”
Pedro looked at Matthew, as he stated, in a serious tone of voice, “Matthew, you are a non-combatant. I am not intentionally allowing you to go into a warzone.”
Matthew replied, “I have other uses.”
Pedro questioned, “Such as?”
Matthew coyly answered, “Remember how you came by that reality device?”
Pedro conceded, “Point taken.”
Matthew stated, “Pedro. I have been with you since we started this journey. And I want to be with you, when we reach the end of it. So, I am going.”
Pedro relented, “Okay. You can come.”
Matthew replied, “Thank you.”
Chang said, “By the way, when this is over. I want my reality device back.”
Matthew and Pedro looked over at Chang, as they groaned for a few seconds.
Pedro then thought, 'Now, to drop the bombshell.' He stood up, which caught everyone's attention.
River quietly said, “Oh no.”
Chang and Lee both overheard River, as turned to look at her.
Chang thought, 'Someone standing up during a meeting like this, is never good.'
River quietly said, “This is going to be bad news.”
Chang thought, 'I hate bad news.'
River softly agree, “I do, as well.”
Pedro stated, “There is one problem, Chang. We are going to have to decline your mission. We have our own mission.” He turned to Hernan and Roberta, as he continued, “Though, I will let my friends Hernan and Roberta explain.” Pedro then sat back down.
Chang thought, with worry, 'Its look we are going to finally find out why Roberta and Hernan visited the casino, earlier, to look for weapons.'
River quietly said, “Yep.”
Roberta looked at Chang, as she calmly said, “Chang, I have a question, Ahsoka.”
Everyone went silent, as Chang said, “Go ahead. Ask her.”
Roberta looked over at Ahsoka, as she calmly asked, “Do you know where they hold prisoners on that spacestation.”
Chang grim thought, 'For her to ask that question, is not good.'
Ahsoka calmly answered, “Yes. I know where the detention block is in the spacestation. Though, as far as I know, there are only prisoners there. So, why do you ask?”
Roberta's voice dripped with sarcasm, as she casually said, “Because your foolish allies have decided to kidnap Garcia, and Hernan's lovely family.”
Among the crowd, there were several quiet mutterings of curses, in various languages, as Janet commented, “Oh hell. They're all dead men walking.”
Hernan stated, “Not necessarily. Just point us in the direction of our loved ones, and we only promise to spill a little blood. Though, Cad Bane is the one responsible for this kidnapping. We want him dead. It doesn't have to be by our hands. Just as long as he is killed by someone, during this mission.”
Chang realized the movie quote Hernan was saying, as he thought, 'Pedro must shown Hernan the movie, Black Dynamite. Because he is paraphrasing the quote from the main character. Still, this is a good sign. If Hernan has a sense of humor, he is less bloodthirsty, and Roberta seems calm for the moment.'
'And Cad Bane is working with Deadpool. So, while he likely doesn't have a clue as to who the Pena family are. He must have known about the Lovelace family, beforehand. So, he is a fool for wanting to piss off the maids like this. Still, I need to mitigated the situation.'
Chang stated, “Done. Cad Bane is now on the kill list. Also, we will work out a rescue mission.”
Pedro spoke up, “Actually, the rescue is my team's mission. And we are almost ready. We have most of our problems covered, before we came to the meeting. Now, we just need to know when and where to go?”
Chang looked at Pedro, as he flatly asked, “That will be at the end of the meeting. Though, I have to ask, can you reign them in?”
Pedro responded, “I can steer them in the directions they need to go.”
Hernan lightly chuckled. He noticed Roberta looking at him. He quietly said, “I will tell you later.”
Roberta and Hernan then looked back at Chang, as they sat back down.
Chang stated, “Good enough.” He looked at Ahsoka, then back at Pedro, as he continued, “We will have the information you need by the time we are ready to go.”
Pedro replied, “That is all I ask.”
Rock then inquired, “While, Ahsoka is good for information. Where you able to get any information from Abrego?”
Chang slyly answered, “No. He passed out last night, and he has yet to wake up. Though, he is still alive.” He thought, 'I am glad I explain things with River, Lee, Annie, Spike, Mal, and Zoe, earlier today, before the attack. So, they did not find out on their own. And they seem to be fine with the brainwashing I am doing to Abrego.'
Rock realized what Chang was alluding to, as she calmly replied, “I understand.”
Chang stated, “Now, to our next team. Akira, Natsuru, and Ranma, I want you to find wherever the magic, and mystical research section of Gomez's base is.”
Ranma questioned, “Are you sure he has one?”
Chang responded, “Absolutely. Gomez has delved into researching, and collecting everything else. It makes sense he would hire someone to research magic, throughout the multiverse, as well.”
“Still, as to who that is. I don't have a clue. Though, given Gomez's track record for subordinates. He likely hired someone, that while may not be completely sane, is at least competent enough not to something too foolish.”
Natsuru commented, “Yes. At least we have that going for us. Still, this could be dangerous.”
Chang responded, “I know. That is why I am asking you three to do it. Among us, you three have the most experience in dealing with magic.”
Akira conceded, “You have a point there.”
Ranma stated, “But, none of us are really magical users.”
Chang said, “I realize that. But, you are all I got.” He thought, 'I really need to hire. Or, befriend. a magical user, sometime. And River, you don't count. I need someone with a life time of experience. And I am sure that Lee and I both don't want to risk losing you to darker aspects of using magic.'
River quietly said, “Fine. I understand.”
Chang thought, 'Good.' He went onto say. “Guys, I am not asking you to fight anything. I am asking you to find that section of the ship. Learn what is there. And then use your best judgment for the situation. If the place is too dangerous. Escape. And report back to me. And I will decide where to go from there.”
Natsuru stated, “If we meet any Lovecraftian monsters, we are running away.”
Ranma said, “Even I am not foolish enough to take on such monsters.”
Chang responded, “I fully understand. But, this is another area of Gomez's operation that we need to know what Gomez is up to. I don't want it to turn out his research team has summoned, and is holding prisoner an ancient being, that will come back to haunt us, in the future. Better to deal with this now. While we can. Than, later.”
Akira stated, “Okay. We'll do it.”
Chang replied, “Thank you.”
Akira inquired, “Ahsoka, do you know about this magical section of Gomez's organization? Anything might be of help.”
Ahsoka answered, “I apologize. But, I have only heard rumors of such a section existing. I am not even sure if it is real. That is why I did not mention it, earlier.”
Akira replied, “Okay. I understand.”
Ranma then quietly whispered, in a sarcastic tone of voice, “Thanks for volunteering us.”
Akira softly countered, “You think they should get all the glory?”
Natsuru quietly said, “It is okay. We will do fine.”
Ranma softly replied, “Okay.”
Chang looked over at Balalaika, as he said, in a calm, straightforward manner, “And finally, last but not least, Hotel Moscow. Balalaika, I sincerely request Hotel Moscow's help in this endeavor.”
Balalaika grinned, as she thought, with amusement, 'Oh. Chang still knows how to play to the crowd. Well, so do I.'
Balalaika calmly said, “The members of Hotel Moscow are more than willing to be a part of this reprisal.”
Chang replied, “Thank you.” He thought, 'I knew I could count on you.'
Balalaika casually asked, “So, what will our mission be?”
Chang commented, “There is still the issue of dealing with the Knight Sabers. If they are present. That is eight highly trained women in powersuits. With any number of motoslaves, and boomers, with them. You are the only group I have, that I know can can take them down.”
Balalaika stated, “We will do it.” She thought, 'The Knight Sabers will present a worthy challenge to Hotel Moscow. And am ambush approach might be best. Though, I will have to wait until they get to an open area in the ship. They would have the advantage in close quarters combat, over us.'
Chang responded, “Thank you. Also, keep in mind that the Knight Sabers are mercenaries. They are in it for the money. As bloodthirsty as you can get. It may be better to negotiate with them.”
Balalaika replied, “I will keep that mind.”
Chang commented, “And if the Knight Sabers are not present. I would prefer that you assist the other groups in their missions.”
Balalaika replied, “It would be our pleasure.”
Lewis inquired, “Given the number of teams, in play, during this missions. Along with hacking the computers on that ship. And with our family in the computer network, we will already have a layout of the ship and where everyone is. I know my family is going to be the mission control for everyone else. But, we don't what kind of communications electronics will be used this time?”
Chang mentally conceded. 'I am not sure myself. Though, I still have time to correct this oversight.' He dodged the question, as he said, “You are correct. During and after your family finishes hacking into the computer network. Your family will be coordinating with the other teams, on their missions. If that is okay?”
Ed answered, “We can handle double duty.”
Chang replied, “Good.”
Fabiola pointed out, “We cannot just use our radios. Not even Hotel Moscow's radios. Because, back in Mars Dome, the Knight Sabers showed they were already able to break the encryption on those handset radios.”
Chang thought, 'She is right. We cannot use our radios. The Knight Sabers already hacked our radios once. So, now that I think about it. That is not an option. Nor, can we use our cellphones. While our cellphones are encrypted and got through the casino networks, before they reach the greater global communications systems of this world. They can still, in theory, be hacks. That is why, when I renovated this theater I had it shielded from outside signals, in case someone tried to tap our cellphones, or plant electronic bugs.'
'So, I can call emergency meeting, if I needed to. Like our current situation, right now.'
'The only reason I had Jayne sweep this place for bugs is that the bugs we did find might use frequencies I cannot properly shield this room for.'
B commented, “We have that handled. And the Knight Sabers, nor their allies, will be able to hack our communications, this time.”
Chang asked, “Good. I leave that to you.”
Matt asked, “Do you enough equipment for everyone?”
B answered, “Yes. We will have enough to handle everyone.”
Roberta requested, “We would also use some help with finding our family, Cad Bane
Ed stated, “You shall have it.”
Irene and Leona turned to look at each other. Leona quietly said, “Now.”
Both sisters stood up, and as they looked around the room.
Chang inquired, “What can I do for you two ladies?”
Leona stated, “My name is Leona. This is my sister, Irene. We came to this island a little over a week ago, were we took job at the Last Resort Diner. The Lowe family, and their friends have been very kind to us.”
The members of the Lowe family all smile at Leona's compliment of them.
Lori thought, 'I will say this. Their parents did teach them their manners.'
Revy grumbled, “Get to the point? Already?
Benny turned to Revy, as she flatly stated, “Revy, let them talk.”
Benny reaction caught Revy by surprise. Revy turned to look at Benny and she saw a stern look on Benny's face. Which was very rare for Benny. As such, Revy not response.
Both Benny and Revy turned back to Leona and Irene, as Benny relaxed her face.
Leona took a deep breath, and let it out. She continued, “Our parents are the Knight Sabers. To be exact. Leon is my mother. And Linna is Irene's mother.”
Save for the Lowe family, and River, Leona's revelation took everyone else by surprised.
Chang thought, 'I will give Lori, Ed, and Rico, credit. They certainly know how to keep a secret. Still, this could be bad for everyone involved.'
Lee thought, 'Oh. I hope Lori and the others didn't tell them about me.'
Leona mentioned, “We have been informed of who Lee and Chang are, in relation to us.”
Lee and Chang groaned.
Leona continued, “We have no feelings, either way, on the matter, about them.”
Lee and Chang both let out a sigh of relief.
Irene stated, “We have a request. And it seems. As paradoxical the situation is. That you of all people. Whom are the reason for getting our family into this situation. You are also the only ones that get our parents out of this mess. From listening to this meeting. It is clear that Gomez has gone too far. And our parents don't realize it.”
Irene thought, 'We hope. Though, our parents have a very stern sense of ethics. So, they likely do not know about this attack. Or, they would have quit Gomez's service.'
Irene continued, “We want you to find a way to spare lives of the Knights Sabers, and force them to cut ties with Gomez's organization. Though, we don't want you to take this as meaning you should cripple, or maim them.”
Leona said, “Also, from the information we have managed to gather, our parents were not involved in this attack. So, there is no point in attacking them.”
Balalaika calmly stated, “Unless they are in our way.”
Leona turned to Balalaika as she replied, “We hope that is not the case.” She turned back to look at Chang and Lee.
Chang thought, 'So, these sisters are two children of the Knight Sabers. And they need our help to save their parents. How did we end up in such a ludicrous situation? And how did they end up in this city?'
'I will have to talk to Ed and Lori about this, later. Still, I don't want these two sisters to know I am the same Chang from back then. And Lee and I were the ones that caused their parents so much trouble. That could cause problems down the line between myself and the Lowe family.'
'Still, there is one way I can help them, right now.'
Chang commented, “Leona is correct. I checked. And as far as I know, the Knight Sabers were not part of the attack this morning.”
Janet pointed out, “But, you didn't know about Cad Bane, nor that kidnapping, until just now.”
Chang shrugged, as he conceded, “Point taken.”
Leona said, “Our parents would abhor what Gomez did today.” She mentally reflected, 'Well, maybe not Aunty Madigan. But, the others would hate what happened here, today.”
Shenhua accused, “Perhaps. Or, on the other hand. Maybe you both are spies. You could have been part of this attack. And you are spying for Gomez, right now.”
The two sisters seemed taken aback from Shenhua's accusation.
River looked over at Shenhua, as she snapped, “Enough! They are not spies. During the meeting, I have reading their minds. They had no part in the attack. In truth, they were caught off guard by the attack. Just as much as we were. Annie will back me up, on this.”
Annie stated, “I sense no deception from them. Nor, anyone in this room.”
Chang thought, 'That is good to know. Between River and Annie, I doubt a hidden spy would last long here.'
River quietly said, “You probably right.”
Ahsoka mentioned, “And I don't know these women.” She thought, 'Though, I never really got to know the Knight Sabers. Those mercenaries just rubbed me the wrong way.'
Shenhua immediately leaned back in her seat, as she looked at River. She thought, 'Maybe I pushed her a little to far with that threat.' She saw River give her a dangerous smile. She continued her thoughts, 'Yes. I did.'
Irene and Leona turned towards the left, front part of the theater, towards River, Annie, and Ahsoka, as Irene kindly said, “Thank you.”
The two sisters turned around to face Balalaika and the members of Hotel Moscow, as Irene continued, “And except for their jobs. We know our parents. The best way we can figure for you to do this is to ambush them, and force them to negotiate. Also, mention us. That may help.”
Balalaika looked at Irene and Leona, as she casually said, “I could care less if they live, or die. So, we will see” She thought, 'Though, showing the Knight Saber mercy, might be helpful in Hotel Moscow's relationship with the Lowe family. And that little family of geniuses has come in handy, from time to time.'
'When my new headquarters is complete, I am going to need to hire someone to install and test out the electronic security systems in, and around, the building. And I would prefer it to be them.'
B mentioned, “Well, with Rock present, there is a chance we can convince them to surrender.”
From the conversation the crowd was having, the sisters realized who Rock was. The two sisters turned to look at Rock, with expressions and eyes that begged for her help.
Rock looked at the sisters, as she saw their expressions. She said, “I will try my best.”
Chang stated, “We make not promises. But, we will offer them the option of surrender, for their lives, and freedom. We will have to just see how things pan out.”
River commented, in a comforting tone of voice, “Given they were not part of the attack, this morning. If they play it smart, they will be fine.”
Lewis look over at the two sisters, as he said, “Relax. Hotel Moscow is the only group I know of to get Revy and Roberta here to stop fighting each other, while they were in the full throws of their bloodlust.”
Revy admitted., “At the time, we really were that bad off.”
Roberta replied, “I know.”
Lewis went onto say, “If Hotel Moscow wants you dead. You are dead. If Hotel Moscow wants you alive. Then, you get to live. There is no in between.”
Balalaika complimented, “An astute observation.”
Irene turned to Lewis, as she replied, “Okay.” She and Leona looked at each other. A second later, they both sat back down in their chairs, next to each other. With Leona being to Irene's right. And Lewis right beside Irene, to her left.
Chang said, “Now, that is settled. Violin. If by some fluke that Hotel Moscow is not able to take out the Knight Sabers. I will need your team to deal with them.”
Violin stated, “I'll try. I am not sure my team will be able to handle them.”
Chang responded, “Do what you can. And if it is a losing battle. Just retreat.”
Violin replied, “That is what I will do.”
B calmly inquired, “As much as I admire the planning of this attack. We also need to be concerned with the homefront, while we are gone.”
B turned to Dutch, as she continued, “While Dutch would be a good peacemaker.”
B looked at Chang, as she went onto say, “We still need to do something about defense. It does matter if we are gone five minutes, or five days. There is always the possibility that Gomez will anticipate us leaving. And then attack here, again.”
“Or, we lose, and those here, on the island. have to deal with the counterattack. Do you have any contingency plans for such situations?”
Mal comments, “That is why my team, and I, are staying.” He though, 'Besides, I am happy Chang did not ask my crew and I, to be a part of this insane mission.'
Mal noticed River looking at him.
Mal casually though, 'Have fun, River. Though, I feel a boomer is as dangerous as a reaver, in its own way. As such, it is best to avoid such dangers. And you have to admit that most of our friends and family agree with me, over you, Chang, and Lee, on this matter.'
River shrugged, in response.
Jayne rhetorically said, “You think that Chang would leave this place unguarded?”
Zoe mentioned, “We have plenty of weapons and personnel to protect the casino. And those of this town can clearly take care of themselves.”
Wash said, “As we speak. We are already having our staff monitoring the situation around the city.”
Jetta stated, “Go have your fun. We will be here, we when you get back.”
Spike commented, “Yea. And we likely be fine.”
Faye offered, “We will even pay the first round of drinks. In exchanged for you telling us what happened, on your missions.
Revy said, “You have a deal.”
B replied, “Okay. I just wanted to check.”
Chang said, “We will have the party. After we get back. Now Balalaika, you might find more use for Revy and Sawyer, than you realize. Because I have something for both them. Along with Roberta and Shenhua.”
Balalaika inquired, with slight intrigue in her tone of voice, “What do you mean?”
Chang stated, “A few months ago.” He thought, 'For here.' He continued, “Mostly out of boredom. I decided to break out some old technology, I had on hand. From one of my old, hidden cashes. One of these pieces of technology was the hardsuit-softsuit technology. After some funding and work during that time, I rebuilt Revy, Roberta, Shenhua, and Sawyer's hardsuits. The weapons, equipments, hardsuits and softsuits are all ready to go.”
Chang thought, 'Plus, I had a few upgrades added for some of them.'
Chang noticed that his comments had caught the attention of everyone there. And from the looks on their faces, they were happy with the news.
Chang thought, 'Everyone loves to learn about new toys.'
Revy smirked, as she commented “Just like old times. The Hell Sabers ride again.”
Arcee said, “I hope so.”
B inquired, “Do you have any other hardsuits on hand?
Chang answered, “Unfortunately, no. Those four were the only ones that I had the measurements on hand for. So, I decided to build them, first. Though, am planning to expand, and make more suits, for the more people, here. It is just that we ran out of time.”
Chang mentally reflected, 'Fortunately, the super-soldier serum, has allowed a number of us to keep our figures. While the rest just exercise and eat right to maintain their figures. Though, I wonder what colors River would pick for her hardsuit? And that is not including Lee and myself.'
River could not help but giggle little at Chang's thoughts.
Chang noticed this, as he continued his happily thought, 'Laugh it up, River. I don't mind.'
Chang thought made River feel happy.
B responded, “Things happen. Still, this sounds productive. We will have to discuss the later.”
Chang replied, “I look forward to that discussion.”
B looked over at Balalaika, to see the blond haired woman smiling at her. And Balalaika nodded once in agreement with her statements
As B turned back to look at Chang, she thought, 'Yes. Hotel Moscow could certainly use some of the hardsuits. And more than a few motoslaves, with weaponry and equipment. We do have the funds. And we have begun looking into ways to upgrade and replace our technology and weapons. With newer designs, that are battle tested. Which hardsuit and motoslave technology would fall under.'
'And from Balalaika's reaction to my statements, I believe she supports my statements.'
Sitting a few rows down from B, Dutch thought, 'Well, this will help level the playing field between Revy and Priss. I am not sure how I feel about that. Considering, I really don't want Revy to go into such a potentially destructive fight. Still, there is no way I can stop her. Once she has made up her mind to do something, she is going to do it.'
Revy asked, “I do have a question concerning measurements. Even though I don't have the largest rack here. When I got pregnant, and had my kid, my breasts went up a cup. Is my softsuit, and hardsuit, still going to fit me?” She thought, 'And I am glad my pregnancy, with Rebecca, did up my breast size by a cup.'
Sawyer said, “The same thing happened to me.”
Shenhua shrugged, as she commented, “Myself, as well.”
Meanwhile, Roberta thought, 'I already have large breasts. And though I someday plan to have children. I don't want my breasts to be any larger. If that does happen, I may have to talk Rock for advice on getting a breast reduction.'
River overheard Roberta's thoughts, as she mentally reflected, 'If that does happen. That might be a good idea.'
Chang stated, “Fortunately, the softsuits and harsuits are designed to allow a little give on your figures. So, that should not be a problem.”
Chang thought, 'Though, with some of us being gender benders. I might look into the expandable types of powerarmor. Like the type of exo-suit that Bruce Banner occasionally wore. With the exo-suit being a fully inclosed pwersuit for him, but the suit expanding into segmented plate armor for his hulk form. That way, an accidental sneeze wouldn't hurt us.'
River quietly said, “That would be a wise idea.”
Shenhua commented, “Well, either way, I will not be needing my hardsuit.” She mentally reflected, 'I want to prove to Barbossa that I am the better swordsman, between us.'
Revy looked over at Shenhua, as she asked, “You're not?”
Shenhua turned to Revy, as she answered, “No. I am not. I have my reasons.” She thought, 'Like my honor as a swordsman.'
Revy replied, “Fine. Have it your way.”
Chang casually said, “Yes. It is you're choice.”
Roberta stated, “I will also have to decline on your offer for a hardsuit. We don't have time to take them out and field test it. And I do not believe in taking a weapon out into the battlefield without first testing it.”
Balalaika complimented, “That is a good approach to take. And it was a fair question to ask if the suits have been tested?”
Chang stated, “The suits have already been tested, and they should work fine.”
Roberta commented, “Should work. Not will work.”
Revy said, “I don't know about these two. But, I will take mine.” She thought, 'And then I can really kick Priss' ass, without worrying.'
Sawyer commented, “So will I.” She thought, 'I will be more useful than just opening doors. And it is likely a few of the members of Hotel Moscow will be a bit envious that I have a powersuit, and they don't.'
Revy questioned, “Still, what about some motoslaves?” She mentally reflected, 'They make for nice backup, in field.'
Chang answered, “I just finished completely and testing the hardsuits a month ago. And the research teams I have working on them are currently in the process of building the motoslaves. Though, none of them are ready.”
Revy shrugged, as she replied, “Oh well. I am just happy to have my hardsuit back.”
Benny inquired, “So, when were you going to tell us about these new toys?”
Chang answered, “After I had the motoslaves finished. And I was just going to tell you all during a party, on a holiday. But, given how long it has taken to complete the building of this equipment. I just wasn't sure which date I would be using.”
Benny replied, “Fair enough.”
Chang let out a deep breath. He then requested, “Now, for the question I have been dreading to ask. But, needs to be answered. Who is going to handle Gomez? We cannot let him escape. If he does, he will come after us with everything he has. And none of us will survive.”
“Still, when it comes to killing him, it certainly won't be me, River, nor Lee. I can only think of a handful of people here that can take him. But, I cannot express how dangerous Gomez is. And Nechla is, for that matter.”
Violin flatly stated, “Don't look at me. My mother mentioned fighting him a couple of times, over the years. With either her on the losing side, or it was a draw. She stated that he was just as strong as she was. Though, not a fast. But, only by a hair. And he was a skilled fighter. And I am nowhere as good as my mom at hand to hand combat.”
Aeryn said, “We can fix that.”
Ranma offered, “I'll help.”
Violin flatly replied, “Later.”
Janet inquired, “What about last night's fight?”
Violin answered, “That was me having fun. And Abrego was in no position to fight back. Gomez on the other hand will fight back.”
Chang stated, “Okay. I am not going to force you to do anything you don't want to do. Ranma, Natsuru, Akira. I think you could take him in a fight.”
Ranma said, “We can take him. But, we are also the only ones here that can handle the magical angle of this mission. So, we will accept that as possible secondary mission. And it depends on how our primary mission pans out.”
Ranma thought, 'Though, I really don't like killing people. And neither does Natsuru, nor Akira. Not that we incapable of doing so. It is just at we find killing to be distasteful.'
Chang responded, “I can live with that. Balalaika, feel like going against him? After you deal with the Knight Sabers.”
Balalaika stated, “Anything, that I would use against him would be long range, and likely wreck that spacestation.”
Chang replied, “I see. How about you, Pedro?”
Pedro answered, “I don't have a gun big enough to handle that guy. And I really don't want to within a kilometer of when that fight goes down.”
Chang said, “Understood, That still brings us to the problem of who will take care of Gomez. I don't think Ranma, Akira, and Natsuru will have the time.”
Roberta stated, “I will do it.”
Hernan commented, “So, will I.”
Roberta turned to Hernan, as she stated, “This is going to be a major fight. We both could wind up dead.”
Hernan looked over Roberta, as he calmly said, “That prospect has never stopped us before.”
Roberta replied, “Good point.”
Chang commented, “Well, between you two. And the hardware I saw you walked in with. I think it is safe to say you have a good chance of taking out Gomez.” He thought, 'I certainly wouldn't want those two after me.'
Both Roberta and Hernan turned to look at Chang.
Roberta requested, “But, should we do this. We will need someone to take out Bane for us.”
Chang said, “Fine. We will make arrangements on that.” He thought, 'Looks like we are back to seven teams. But, no in the arrangement I had planned. Though, this can still work.'
Nearby, River quietly said, “It should.”
Hernan turned Pedro, as he inquired, “Pedro, I am trusting you to save my family. Still, are you good on rescuing my family, without us?
Pedro looked over at Hernan, as he casually said, “Between Matthew's lockpicking skills. Matt's killer robot fighting experience. Burt's monster hunting experience. Fabiola's all around asskicking experience. Plus, the Lowe family providing assistance. I think we be fine.”
Matthew, Matt, Burt, and Fabiola, smiled at Pedro's compliments of them.
Leigharch noticed he was not mentioned, though he did not complain.
Hernan replied, “Good.”
Hernan and Pedro then looked back towards the front of the theater.
Chang stated, “Now, that the mission itself is settled. Those that will be a part of this attack, will be meeting back here, as the casino, at six PM sharp. We will meet in the back garage of the casino. We will go over the final mission briefing then.” He thought, 'After I have all the information in hand. And I have completed this plan.'
Kaylee looked over at Annie and Ahsoka, as she pointed out, “That could be a problem. The garage is currently a mess, due to the battle that took place in it, a few hours ago.”
Ahsoka and Annie noticed Kaylee was talking about them.
Ahsoka had the decency to have the look of embarrassment on her face. While Annie just shrugged in response.
Kaylee looked back at Chang.
Chang responded, “I will give you plenty of help to get the garage cleaned up enough to go into, by six. You will just be supervising. No heavy lifting, for you.”
Kaylee casually replied, “That's more like it.”
Chang requested, “Also, start compiling a list of what was we need to replace. And what we can repair.”
Kaylee stated, “Sure. It will take a few of days to complete both jobs.”
Chang replied, “Take your time. There is no rush.”
Kaylee said, “Thank you.”
Inara inquired, in a calm, eloquent tone of voice, “So, why are you choosing the next meeting place to be the garage?”
Chang calmly answered, “Because the back garage is one of the most private places in the casino. Where we can gather with our weapons, and equipment, with little chance to be disturbed. On such matter, as this. I feel the garage is even more private than this room. Because everyone can walk in from the back, without any of the casino guests being any wiser to what is truly going on.”
Balalaika said, “I agree with Chang. We need to meet in the garage.”
No one dared disagreed with either of them.
Chang stated, “Park on the left back side of the parking lot, after five thirty, this afternoon. Because, at five thirty, I will station a guard, at the side door, of the garage. Just let guard know who you are, and she will let you in.”
Balalaika agreed, “That should work nicely.”
Simon stated, “While it has not yet been mentioned. My medical bays will be prepped and ready for mass causalities, from five PM today. An hour before you leave. To seven PM Sunday. Two days and an hour after you are scheduled to leave. If you are hurt. Just teleport in into my medical ward, on the ground floor, between those times.”
“As such, before you leave, this evening. Make sure you find out where my medical facilities are. So, you know where it is. Or, to refresh your memory. For those that don't know. My medical ward is on the right back part of the casino, when facing the front entrance.”
“My personnel will be on alert until either everyone is accounted for. Or, the fifty hours is up.”
Simon thought, 'Though, we will have rotating shifts.'
Lee looked over at Simon, as she kindly said, “Thank you. We may need that.”
Chang thought, 'Okay. I admit, I overlooked that part of our plan. But, this is why I employ competent people, instead of yes-men.'
Chang inquired, “Thank you, Simon. Now, that we have laid out our plan. Does anyone have any questions they would like to ask, before I adjourn the meeting for this afternoon.”
Burt said, “I have a question, dealing with weapons.”
Chang replied, “Go ahead.”
Burt inquired, “You clearly had more experience with whom we are about to face. What types of weapons should we bring?”
Chang answered, “Except for the blademasters, here. I would suggest firearms using armor piercing rounds for the boomers, and super-powered beings. And less super-powered beings, as well.”
There was some chuckling among the crowd.
Chang continued, “The more powerful the weapon, the better. You should do fine with the weapons you brought into the casino.”
Burt questioned, “Just checking. Though, what about grenades?”
Chang said, “Unless it a direct hit, from a grenade launcher. Grenades don't do much against boomers. Those blue and brown robotic monsters we will be facing.”
Burt responded, “Okay. I will keep that in mind. I am just glad to know my rifle can handle the situation.” He thought, 'Though, I might bring a few grenades, and other toys, with me, as well.'
Pedro looked over at Burt, as he lips curled into a mischievous grin, as he had a idea to have some fun with his friend.
Pedro commented, “Honestly Burt. I thought you would prefer to bring a belt fed weapon, preferably full auto, with armor-piercing weapons, on type this mission.”
Pedro thought, 'I loved that scene, in Tremors Two.'
There was some mild giggling from the crowd, as some of them understood the reference to Pedro's joke.
Burt turned to Pedro, as he asked, “No. That would be too heavy. This mission requires mobility and punching power.” He then continued, with slight annoyance in his tone of voice, “And why is everyone giggling at your comment?”
Pedro responded, “Do you remember that time in Mexico, in your home reality, where the shriekers had you and your friends trapped? And you tore into the others about being denied, critical, need to know information. With you stating you should have brought full automatic weapons. Preferably belt fed?”
Burt replied, “Yea.”
Pedro stated, “That was shown towards the end of the Tremors Two film.”
Burt hesitantly said, “Oh. I will have to watch those movies, and series, some time.”
Pedro replied, “That might be a good idea. But, be careful when you do. Doing such things can play with a person's head.”
Burt stated, “I am always careful.”
Chang looked over at Shenhua, as he offered, “Speaking of which. Shenhua, are you sure you don't want some lightsabers, in this coming battle. Killing a boomer is a lot harder to do with bladed weapons, than lightsabers. If you don't have access to your old lightsabers. I have a couple already in your hardsuit, that I can pull out.”
Shenhua declined, as she said, “No thank you. I can handle boomers with my blades. Though, I am only interested in Barbossa. Besides, I like a challenge.” She thought, 'Besides. If I was going to use a pair of lightsabers. I would use my own. But, they are stored, back in my home reality, in a box, in my bedroom closest, on my yacht, back home. And I don't feel like digging them out.'
River forced herself to suppress a giggle at Shenhua's thoughts.
Fabiola turned to Matt, as she said, “By the way, Matt. Thanks again, for your help.”
Matt turned to Fabiola, as he stated, “You're welcome. Though, you and the others did the leg work. I was just on guard duty.”
Fabiola commented, “I realize that. But still, I have seen you when you fight. You are good.” She thought, 'Just not as good as us. But, close.'
Matt stated, “Thank you. And I appreciated you all letting me come on this attack. I have some experience with dealing with killer robots. And I should be able to help some.”
Fabiola commented, in english, “I know. And after this is over, we will get you back home.”
Matt responded, “I am not in that much of a rush. I can stick around here for a few days. To a week, or two. Though, I am going to need a weapon for this battle. I don't think my pistol is going to cut.”
Burt offered, “You can come with us, back to my gunshop. Where we will find you something that you can use.”
Matt turned to Burt, as he replied, “I appreciate that.”
The group then turned back to look at the front of the theater.
Ed inquired, “So, Ahsoka. There has been one question that hasn't been asked. What is the name of the organization you are with?”
Ahsoka looked over at Ed, as she answered, “Our group really doesn't have a name. Even Gomez's spacestation does not have a name. And I don't know what the ship was called before he acquired it. This is because it is harder to create and maintain a record of something that does not have a name.”
Ed replied, “I won't argue that point.”
Ahsoka went onto say, “Though, some of those in our group nicked name our organization, Interzone Unlimited. And the ship is nicked, The Interzone.”
Ed remarked, “That is surprisingly a very appropriate name, and very Naked Lunch of them.”
There was some mind laughter from some of those in the crowd.
Lori sat next to Ed. As she finished chuckling, as she thought, 'I have rubbed off on my wife, way too much.'
As everyone calmed down, Ahsoka turned to Annie, as she quietly asked, “What joke am I missing?”
Annie turned to Ahsoka, as she answered, “Snips, we will to save the mindscrews for after all this is over. But, to answer your question, involves both a book and a movie that are both very strange. Even for us.”
Ahsoka replied, “Okay.”
Annie and Ahsoka than turned back to face the crowd in front of them.
Shenhua asked, “So, Annie. What is going to happen to your friend here, when this is over? She did attack you. And she was of part of this battle against us.”
Stan pointed out, “Also, turning a force using alien loose on this world could be problematic for everyone involved.”
Annie looked over at Ahsoka, and she saw that her former student had a concerned look on her face.
Annie then turned back to face the crowd. She looked around the room, she commented, “Those are all valid points. She only attacked me. No one else. And considering how forthcoming she has been with information stated in this meeting. I want to be responsible for her.”
A thought occurred to Annie mentally reflected, 'And you may know more than we realize even now. That I need to talk to you, right after the meeting. Still, there is another matter that needs to be addressed. That has been overlooked.”
Annie stated, in a very forceful tone of voice, “And Ahsoka has agreed to behave while I am gone. And I can sense through the force she is being honest with me.”
No one dared disagreed with Annie, on her comment.
Annie continued, in a more normal, slightly happier tone of voice, “So, Ahsoka going to stay at the casino, here. With me. Where I will watch over her. And when she goes out in public, she will just wear clothing and a hood, to hide what she looks like.”
Annie thought, 'The cloak and hood seems to be working so far.'
Ahsoka emotionally relaxed, as she quietly said, “I can live with that.”
After Annie overheard her friend's comment, and she sensed Ahsoka emotionally relax, her lips curled into a happy grin.
Shenhua said, “Fair enough. As long as you keep an eye on her, and she covers herself up, I don't have a problem with her being here.”
Chang stated, “I don't think anyone would object to Annie's plans for her friend.” There was silence among the crowd for a few seconds. Chang then said, “Good. Now, moving on. Does anyone else have anything to ask. Or, even say. That we may have no covered.”
Chang thought, 'After, I forgot to talk about medical options for those that are possibly injured. Though, Simon covered for me. I want to make sure we do not miss anything else.'
No one said a word, for a few seconds.
Chang mentally reflected, 'I guess no one truly does have anything else to say at this meeting.'
Chang said, “Okay. I guess we are at least ending this meeting on a few happy notes. For those that coming along on this mission. I will see you in a few hours, in the casino garage. At six. For the rest, stay safe. And if something comes up, and you cannot make this mission. Don't be afraid to contact me, or one of my subordinates, to let us know.”
“As I said, this mission is voluntary. If there is a problem. Just contact us, so we can adjust our plans accordingly. This meeting is now over. Give Mal, and his team a few seconds to unlock the doors. Then, everyone please file out, in an orderly manner.”
Mal, Zoe, Wash, and Jayne got up. They then split up, as they walked over to the doors in the room, unlocking and opening them.
As soon as everyone saw that the security team was finish, the crowd began to get up from their seats, and calmly file out of the room. Or, in Arcee's case, slowly roll out of the room.
After everyone had filed out of the room, the security staff, closed the doors behind them. And then, along with the other employees that were present, they went to resume their usual duties. Save for Spike, whom head up a few stories, to be with her daughter, Violin.
Meanwhile, many of those stood in the hallway, as they talked amongst themselves. Before those that would be going on the attack, prepared for battle.
Ahsoka and Annie were the first to exit out of the theater, from the right front entrance of the room, and into a large main hallway, on the left side of Chang's private film theater.
Ahsoka was the first to exit the room. Then, Annie walked out of the room.
Once they were both out of sight of those in the theater, Annie walked up to be beside Ahsoka, to Ahsoka's left side.
Annie then used her right hand to firmly, though not tightly, grip Ahsoka's left upper arm.
After which, Annie quickly dragged Ahsoka across the main hallway, to into a women's restroom. Which was right beside a men's restroom.
Once inside, Annie let go of Ahsoka, as she locked the bolt to the door.
Annie turned around, to face Ahsoka, as she apologized, “Sorry, for that, Snips. But, I need to speak to you, right now. Before anyone else came out, and likely disturbed us.”
Ahsoka said, “You didn't hurt me. I'll be fine.”
Annie replied, “Good.”
Ahsoka inquired, “So, why did you bring me in here? I have already told you everything I know.”
Annie answered, “Yes. I know. Though, I realized in that meeting there are some things you know that you don't realize that you know.
Ahsoka responded, in an annoyed tone of voice, “Don't go all, mysterious Jedi Master, on me. We all hated that, when Master Yoda did it.”
Annie groaned, “I know.” She then replied, in a normal tone of voice, “And I wasn't planning too.”
Ahsoka questioned, “So, what do you think I know, that I did not realize before?”
Annie answered, “You know the layout of Gomez's spacestation.”
Ahsoka said, “Annie. Just so you know. Even though I know a very basic layout, that is still a very big ship.”
Annie flatly stated, “I know. As Vader, I oversaw the design team for that type of ship. While my counterpart commanded one of those ships.”
Ahsoka remembered some scenes from the Star Wars movies, as she sheepishly replied, “Oh yea.” She then continued. in a more serious tone of voice, “Still, that ship has been wrecked once, and remodeled once, or twice, afterward.”
Annie pointed out, “But, you were there after it was remodeled. So, you know all the important places, and people, are on that ship.”
Ahsoka said, “I guess so.”
Annie stated, “Good. Now, we are going to talk at Arcee about this. And when we are finished, we are going to contact Chang.”
Ahsoka asked, with curiosity evident in her tone of voice, “What do you have in mind?”
Annie stated, “It is not widely known, here, but Arcee has a lot of abilities besides involve violence. Like some cybertronians, she can create, solid light projections. This projections can even talk, move things, and can be used to communicate with, over distances. They can actually, see, hear, and feel what their solid projection. Though, even I am not sure how all that works.”
“The reason for creating holomatter avatars is so that cybertronians can use these avatars to look like, and interact with, the local sentient populations.”
Annie thought, 'And I was there went Lee showed Arcee the updates to her own reality. And some of the comics were funny. Like from Rodimus' Lost Light crew going to an alien bar, and they used their holomatter avatars. I admit Whirl's little girl avatar was both disturbing and funny.'
'And Arcee laughed for almost a whole day when she learned, that in her future, that Megatron willingly became an Autobot. And that Optimus Prime allowed it. Along with Prime giving Megatron command, well co-captain, of the Lost Light. Proving that Prime is crazier than her.'
'She told me, that should Prime ever again chew her out, and accuse her of being crazy. She was going to mention that, to shut him. And that might work.'
'Also, when she found about what happened to Megatron becoming an Autobot, she muttered something someone owing her credits on a million year old bet. She even found out what was going to happen to her, in her future. Allowing her to make adjustments, accordingly. Without creating a paradox. By knowing what is shown, and what is not shown.'
'Hmm... Maybe that was why she was asking me about her changing her armor colors, a few days ago. I will have to talk to her about that, later.'
'Also, that reminds me. I need to stop by that reality, and say hi to Megatron sometime. Maybe visit him in Arcee's past, when I last saw him. Where I will say that the next time I see him will be after the war. And then I will drop in on the Lost Light, unannounced...'
'No... I don't want to get shot. I will just appear in a shuttle, by the Lost Light, and contact them first. It will be fun watching Megatron trying to explain my presence to the crew of the Lost Light, and his connection to me. The look on his face, on the command deck of the Lost Light, in front of everyone else on the bridge, when he sees me, will be priceless. So, I will have to record the event.'
'Still, I will never and pressurized space suit for visit. And I am not going to wear stormtrooper. My son was right. I cannot see in those helmets. Maybe I will have Chang build me a hardsuit, that is fitted for space. I won't mind, as long as the armor is not black, nor similar, in any way, to my previous black suit.'
Annie attention was brought back to the present, as Ahsoka inquired, “Like the mobile holo-emitters from Star Trek?”
Annie replied, “Yes. Though, it is odd that you would know that.”
Ahsoka cracked a grin, as she commented, “Compared to what? I have seen the Star Trek series, and movies. I have even been to those realities. Most of those times and realities are pretty nice to visit.”
Annie mentioned, “I know. I will have to take you to planet, Risa, sometime.”
Ahsoka responded, “Been there, already. It is a great place to go on a vacation.”
Annie happily agreed, “Yes it is.”
Ahsoka asked, “So, what do you have in mind?”
Annie stated, “We get with Arcee, and we help her create a three dimensional holographic map, to show the others, when we meet back up, in a few hours.”
Annie thought, 'I guess I got a little sidetracked there. Still, between my knowledge of the basic designs of the ship, and your knowledge of where the Interzone personnel is located on that ship. It won't take us long to help Arcee build a map for everyone here to use.'
'That way everyone will teleport near their target. Though, we will have to teleport a ways from the targets. Or, in Hotel Moscow's case. Figure out some good ambush points.'
Ahsoka complimented, “That is a good idea. I will help.”
Annie replied, “I thought you would. Now, let's go find, Arcee, and a place we can work on this in private.”
As Annie turned around and unlocked the door, Ahsoka asked, “By the way, that little holomatter avatar trick must be fun at parties?”
Annie answered, “Oh, it is. During the few times Arcee used that trick, it has been fun for everyone there.”
Ahsoka inquired, “What does her avatar look like?”
Annie turned to look at Ahsoka, as she answered, “She has a few different avatars. And most of them are very different from one another. Though, as we do this, you can ask her to show you. I am sure she won't mind.”
Ahsoka inquired, “Okay. Also, in our home reality, I heard a rumor that Thrawn had jedi help in taking Palpatine down. I am guessing from what you said at the meeting, that it was not just you that helped him?”
Annie stated, “Yea. It wasn't just me. But, also a few others help. Including, my family.”
Ahsoka requested, “Sometime, I hope you tell me what happen during those events.”
Annie said, “I will, Snips. But, not today.” She then turned around, to face the door to the main hallway, as she opened it.
Next, Annie walked out of the women's restroom, followed by Ahsoka. With the spring on the top of the door causing door to close by itself.
No one in the hallway dared to bother the two women. And they quickly found Arcee, with the three of them then finding a quiet place to work on the holographic map.
And ironically, the place the three women found, for some privacy, was the back of the employee gym, where the padded mats were on the floor. And people came to do various types of sparring.
When they reached the gym, there was no one there, because the employee staff where either busy, or resting.
When they made it to the back of the gym, Arcee turned into her robot mode. She then sat down on the mats. With the three of them beginning their work on the three dimensional holographic map.
And anyone that came into the employee gym, took one look at Arcee, Annie and Ahsoka, with them realizing they needed to leave immediately. Which they did, without question.
Five minutes later, many of those that filed out of the private theater, stayed in the main hallway to the right of the room, as the talked in groups, amongst themselves.
In the main hallway, was Lotton had walked up to Fabiola, while Fabiola was heading towards Roberta and Hernan.
As approached Fabiola, he said, “Hey, Fabiola.”
Fabiola stopped, and turned to Leigharch. She asked, “What do you need, Leigharch?”
By then, Leigharch had come to a stop. He said, “I need a ride back to the hotel.”
Fabiola replied, “Sure. I will was planning to head back to the hotel, anyway. But first, I want to talk to Roberta and Hernan.”
Leigharch looked around, and he noticed Lotton standing by herself. He thought, 'Now, is the best time, as any, to speak with her.'
Leigharch turned back to Fabiola, as he said, “No problem. I got someone talk to, also.”
Fabiola stated, “Okay. I meet you outside, where we parked our cars at, out front.”
Leigharch replied, “I will see you there.”
The two adults then split up. With Fabiola heading to talk to Roberta and Hernan. While, Leigharch walk over to Lotton, whom was alone, in the crowd.
As Leigharch walked up to stand by Lotton, he asked, “You got a minute.”
Lotton turned to Leigharch, as she responded, “Sure. You're Leigharch? Right?”
Leigharch replied, “Yea. And I believe you are Lotton?” He thought, 'And you look a lot different than in the Black Lagoon series. Though, you dress the same way, and you have the same hair style. So, it was not hard to figure out who you are.'
Lotton said, “Yes. I am. Given we know the same people. It is funny that we never formally met each other, beforehand. In Roanapur.”
Leigharch commented, “Yes. I kind of when overboard, right between you showed up.”
Lotton mentioned, “Yes. I believe we had met, we would have likely been good friends.”
Leigharch offered, “Yes. From what I have learned of you. I believe that would have been possible. But, that is in the past. And we can always start that friendship, right now.”
Lotton happily commented, “I agree. And you know, once you get to know her, Shenhua can be a nice woman. When she wants to be.”
Leigharch responded, “I know. While I was not the right frame of mind at the time. I do remember Shenhua visiting me in the nuthouse.”
Lotton replied, “You will have to tell me about that sometime.”
Leigharch said, “Perhaps I will.”
Lotton commented, “Also, Sawyer is a pretty nice woman, once you get to know her.”
Leigharch stated, “I will give her a chance. But, I didn't have much to do with the Cleaner... I mean Sawyer.”
Lotton replied, “It's okay. Just don't call that to her face.”
Leigharch said, “Okay. Anyway, I certainly didn't eat any food from Sawyer's processing plant. Which was her cover for her real job, in that town. It didn't take a genius to know there was a strong possibility of long pork in that meat.”
Lotton asked, “I realized that, at the time, as well. So, how did you keep Shenhua in line?”
Leigharch answered, “I used a simply concept. Anything she breaks, she pays for. Including, any medical bills I may receive.”
Lotton questioned, “She wasn't responsible for you ending up being committed.”
Leigharch casually responded, “Not directly. And I don't blame her for what happened. So, how do you handle them?”
Lotton crack a lecherous grin, as she replied, “I used intimate tactics.”
Leigharch flatly said, “I don't want to know.”
Lotton let out a laugh. She then inquired, “So, have you decided to go on that mission? Or, stay on the island? It is clear you were on the fence during that meeting.”
Leigharch answered, “I have decided not to go. But, I need to speak to Pedro about it.”
Lotton asked, “I understand. So, where will you be?”
Leigharch said, “At the hotel. I don't have any any wheels of my own. So, I am pretty much stuck for the moment. Bumping rides.”
Lotton offered, “Well, if the others are late coming back. I may organize a poker game, later, for those staying. You are invited, if you want in.”
Leigharch commented, “I don't really have any money on me, either.”
Lotton stated, “Good point. We will just pay for chips. Not money.”
Leigharch happily said, “Okay. I'm in.”
Lotton replied, “Glad to hear it.”
Leigharch questioned, “So, you are sure those going, can handle this mission?”
Lotton answered, in a firm, supportive tone of voice, “Yes. We have all been in tougher scrapes than this.”
Leigharch replied, “I suppose so.”
Lotton inquired, “Leigharch, have you put any though about your future. On what you are going to do, after this current mess is over?”
Leigharch stated, “No, Lotton. I am just taking my life, one day at a time.”
Lotton complimented, “That is a good approach to take.”
Leigharch replied, “Thanks.”
Just then, Sawyer, and Shenhua walked up to them.
Sawyer said, “We are ready to head back to the hotel.”
Shenhua turned to Leigharch, as she inquired, “So, are you going on the mission with us?”
Leigharch answered, “No. I will be staying.”
Shenhua responded, “That is fine. I would have prefer you stay here, anyway.”
Leigharch said, “Thank you, Shenhua. For your concern.”
Shenhua smiled, as she questioned, “You're welcome. Do you need a ride back to the hotel?”
Leigharch answered, “I need to speak to Pedro, first. Then, I will hitch a ride with Fabiola, back to the hotel.”
Shenhua replied, “Okay. See you there.”
Leigharch said, “See you later, Shenhua.” He turned to Lotton and Sawyer, “You both, as well. Lotton. Sawyer.”
Sawyer replied, “You too, Leigharch.”
Lotton said, “Be careful.”
Leigharch replied, “I will.”
Lotton, Shenhua, and Sawyer, headed towards the front of the casino, and to the parking lot, were their car was parking. As Leigharch turned and headed over to Pedro and Matthew, to talk to them.
Across the hallway from Leigharch, Pedro and Matthew were talking. Then, they noticed Leigharch walking up to them.
As Leigharch came to a stop by the two other men, Pedro inquired, “What can we do for you, Leigharch?”
Leigharch said, “Pedro. Matthew. I want apologize. But, I am not coming with you. I maybe crazy. Hell, I know I am crazy. But, I am not crazy enough to storm a spacestation full of killer robots, and other deadly horrors.”
Pedro replied, “Don't worry about it. I fully understand.”
Matthew joked, “Is the sanest thing you've said all day.”
The three men chuckled a little.
Then, Leigharch replied, “Thank you.”
Pedro commented, “Anyway, I don't believe you staying is that bad an idea.”
Leigharch stated, “Hey. I am the driver. I know when it is time to bail. It is part of the job. I am the guy, waiting around the corner of the back of the building, in the car, at the driver's seat, with the engine running. As I wait to see if the fools inside, that hired me, and are robbing the bank, get the money, and escape, before the cops show up. If the cops show up, I'm gone like dust in the wind, while they are either arrested, or killed. Then, it is off to the next job for me.”
“But, if they do make it out of the bank, before the cops show up, and no one is shooting at them. I pick them up, we escape. Either way, I am paid in advance. And when I am done, I move on to the next job. Though, I did have escrow account. So, should one of my clients have killed me. They would not have lived long, afterward.”
Pedro commented, “Interesting.” He thought, 'After spending so much time with him. In his own way, Leigharch here, is as sharp, and dangerous, as the rest of the cast of Black Lagoon.”
Leigharch went onto say, “Yes. It is. Now, what I am trying to tell you, is that I would advise both of you, against going on this mission. But then, I understand that you are going to help your friend, Hernan, rescue his family. And I respect that.”
Pedro said, “Thank you.”
Matthew replied, “I'm glad you understand.”
Leigharch said, “Well, good luck. That is all I can give you.”
Matthew inquired, “So where are you going?”
Leigharch answered, “Well, since I don't have enough money to enjoy the gambling here, I am going back to the Devil's Hotel. I already spoke to Fabiola, and she is going to take me back over there. She said she needed to retrieve a few items from the hotel. Before you guys left.”
“Maybe, I will catch a movie at the theater in the hotel, and then get something to eat. The Fabiola and Roberta arranged that my stay, and the what I buy in the hotel, goes on their tab. Though, I am not going to abuse that privilege. Especially, from those two women.”
Matthew commented, “It would be a very wise to avoid doing that.”
Leigharch stated, “I know. Besides, I always prefer gambling with me life behind a steering wheel, than beside a roulette table.”
Matthew said, “Have fun.”
Leigharch commented, “I would say, you too. But, I know better.” He then turned Pedro, as he inquired, “By the way, Pedro. Since you are the police chief here. Do you think I could do some high-speed driving on this island, without worrying about your men chasing me? Because, I am craving some speed. And I am not talking about the drug. Though, that's good, too.”
Pedro flatly responded, “No. And just to inform you. My boys, and I, don't tolerate people using drugs while driving.”
Leigharch offered, “Fair enough. Then, how about I offer to teach your officers the finer points of high-speed driving, for a fair price? You know I am good enough to do that.”
Pedro thought about Leigharch's offer for a few seconds. Pedro mentally reflected, 'If I say, no. He will likely do something stupid. And I know he is good. So, I might as well make that work for us.'
Pedro said, “We will talk about it, when we get back.”
Leigharch responded, “Good. I hope to see you both, then.” He thought, 'I think I will join Fabiola, and find out what she and those with her, are talking about.'
Leigharch then turned from the two men, as he casually walked away from them, and toward Fabiola.
Leigharch then noticed that Fabiola was talking to Roberta, Hernan, Burt, and Matt.
Leigharch thought, 'Cool. I will see what Matt thinks about the meeting, as well.'
Meanwhile, Matthew and Pedro watched Leigharch walk away from them, they saw he was heading in the direction of where Fabiola, Roberta, Hernan, Matt, and Burt, were standing.
Matthew commented, “There goes the looniest man I know.”
Pedro agreed, “True. It is too bad that he is not the looniest person we know.”
Matthew turned back to Pedro, as he responded, “You got that right. Though, it really says something about our own sanity, or lack there of, when we are willing to go someplace that a lunatic refuses to go.”
Pedro shrugged, as he looked over at Matthew. he replied, “Nah. A man has got to know his limitations. And Leigharch knows he limitations.”
Matthew questioned, “A Dirty Harry quote?”
Pedro answered, “Yes. The exact film is, Magnum Force. At the very end of the movie. There are literally dozens of really good lines that the Dirty Harry character says, throughout his movies series. And everyone seems to only use that, you got to ask yourself, quote, to the point it is now cliche.”
Matthew asked, “I see your point. So, what now? We have a little time to burn, before we head into hell.”
Pedro answered, “We do what the rest of those going, are doing. We get ready for battle.” He thought, 'And I need to pick up my rifle, on the way out of here. Still, I will bring it with me, on this attack. I may need it.'
Just then, Pedro noticed, Leigharch and Fabiola, both leave the rest of the group they were talking to. With them heading for the front entrance.
Pedro thought, 'I guess Fabiola wants to get an easier start on getting ready. After she picks up her weapons from the front check in desk, I am sure she has her weapons back in her suite, at the Devil's Hotel.'
Pedro then saw Hernan also left the group, he walked over to Pedro and Matthew, whom were nearby, as he headed towards Pedro and Matthew.
Pedro thought, 'I wonder what Hernan wants?'
As Hernan came to a stop, he said, “We are heading back to Burt's gunshop to get a few more items. Do you want to come with us?”
Pedro stated, “We will meet you there.”
Hernan said, “Good. Anyway, Matt is coming with us.”
Pedro commented, “Okay. And don't forget to get your weapons on the way out.” He mentally added, 'While I have to pick up by rifle on the way out, as well. They let me keep my pistols. Though, since I am the police chief. I could have pulled rank and kept my weapons. But, it just want not proper, given the circumstances of this meeting.'
Hernan replied, “We won't.”
Pedro thought, 'I wonder.' He asked, “Is Fabiola and Leigharch heading over to Burt's, as well?”
Hernan answered, “No. They are heading over to the Devil's Hotel. Is that a problem?”
Pedro mentally reflected, 'Just as I thought.' He replied, “No. That is fine.”
Hernan stated, “Okay. See you there.”
Pedro and Matthew then watched Hernan turn away from them. Hernan then walk across the hallway, to where Roberta, Burt, and Matt were. The four adults then headed towards front entrance to the casino.
Pedro and Matthew looked back at each other.
Matthew said, “I guess we are going to Burt's now.”
Pedro turned to Matthew, as he stated, “Yea. But, it is a pretty good place.”
Matthew replied, “Okay. Let's head over there.”
The two men then turned and headed for the front entrance to the casino, as well.
Pedro collected his FN FAL rifle, while the others also collected their weapon, from the front desk. Which they had no problems in doing so. Then, they left the casino.
A little further down the hallway, from the others, and closer to the game room, and front lobby, Dutch, Benny, Janet, Rock, and Revy, were talking amongst themselves.
Dutch said, “Revy. I hope there is no hard feeling about me staying behind.”
Revy casually replied, “Nah. I understand.”
Dutch happily replied, “Good.” She thought, 'Because, while I am sure Rock understands. I was a little worried that you won't understand. I am glad I was wrong.'
Revy commented, “Still, I wonder if Rock and me didn't get the longer end of the stick in this deal. Considering we won't have to deal with our children, back at the hotel.”
Dutch admitted, “I am not really sure about that one, myself.”
Rock suggested, “Well, let's see what happens.”
Dutch said, in a supportive manner, “Good idea.”
Revy agreed, “Yea. That's a good idea.”
Benny cautioned, “Just be careful, you two. This is going to be one of your more dangerous missions.”
Revy looked over at Benny, as she cracked a grin. She commented, “That you know about.”
Before Benny could commented, Rock said, “We will try our best to be careful.”
Benny replied, “Thank you.” She thought, 'I don't want to know. I just don't want to know.'
Revy stated, “And don't worry, Benny. I will keep Rock and myself, safe. That is why we are planning on staying with Balalaika.”
Benny questioned, “So, you were planning on joining Balalaika and Hotel Moscow, before the meeting?”
Rock answered, “Yes.”
Revy replied, “Of course.”
Benny asked, “So, when did you plan this?”
Revy commented, in a casual tone of voice, “When we went to the ladies room together.”
Benny hesitantly said, “Okay.”
Rock remained silent. As Revy let out a laugh.
Janet commented, “And here I thought that the reason why you wanted to go with Hotel Moscow was because, that chances are, they will be in the thick of things.”
Revy admitted, “That too.”
Janet said, “Well, either way, good luck.”
Revy replied, “Thank you.”
Dutch asked, “So, what are your plans, Rock?”
Rock responded, “We are going back with you, to the hotel. So, we still got some time to talk to you and the children. Though, if things go pear shaped, it is up to you and the girls, and their three friends, to come rescue us.”
Benny commented, in an impressed tone of voice, “I knew there was reasons you didn't want the girls to come. Beside you agreeing with Chang that they should not come for their own wellbeing.”
Rock rhetorically stated, “What? You think I wouldn't have a plan b? Just like Chang did?”
In respond, the others just smiled at Rock.
Dutch thought, 'Leave it to Rock, to have a secret plan b.'
A few seconds later, Bao and Melanie walked up to the Lagoon parents, with the five adults turned to see the two bartenders approach them.
As they came to a stop, in front of the Lagoon parents, Bao stood to Melanie's right side.
Benny casually asked, “So, how are you two doing?”
Bao replied, “Fine. And thanks for asking.”
Melanie commented, in a happy tone of voice, “I couldn't be better. Though, I am happy I am not going this mission.”
Benny replied, with relief in her tone of voice, “So am I.”
Revy questioned, “So, where are you two going to be doing for the rest of the day?”
Bao said, “I closed up my bar, before I left. And I am going back to the hotel, with Melanie.”
Melanie gently put her right arm over Bao's shoulders. She stated, “And when we get back to the hotel, I will get someone else to man the bar. There is already someone there, I convinced to sub in for me, while I am at this meeting. So, it won't be a problem. And we are then both going to take the day off, together.” She gently let go of Bao.
Bao and Melanie looked at each other. Melanie warmly smiled, as she continued, “It will be fun.”
Bao returned Melanie's warm smile, as she agreed, “Yes. It will.”
Revy playfully teased, “Go get a room.”
Bao commented, “That is tempting. But, not here.”
Melanie and Bao, then look at the group, as Melanie went on to say, “Though, we will be sticking around the hotel. Considering it is one of the few places that is currently in one piece.”
Janet commented, “That is true.”
Dutch inquired, “I thought you both would be working today. I mean, besides the hotel, and the casino here. The Rats Nests is one of the few places with little or no damage. I would think that both of you could have record days, today, in sales and tips.”
Bao answered, “Nah. The type of customers I would get today, I have no interest in having. Let them drown their sorrows somewhere else. It is depressing to hear one sob story after another. And I have had enough of that to last a lifetime.”
Melanie agreed, “I feel that same way.”
Dutch conceded, “Okay. You have a point there.”
Janet asked, “So, what are you two planning on doing, once you get to the hotel?”
Bao said, “Go to the theater in there, and catch a movie of our choice.”
Melanie stated, “Before I left for this meeting. I already talked to the projectionist. He said, that after we got back, he would be more than happy to allow us to pick the next movie there.”
Janet inquired, “So, have you two already picked out the movie you are going to watch?”
Melanie said, “No. But, we are open to suggestions.”
Janet replied, “Nice.”
Benny asked, “And after the movie. Then, what?”
Melanie answered, “Maybe play a few rounds of pool in the game room. Afterward, get some supper in the hotel.” She looked over at Bao, as she continued, “And then, head back home, and have some more intimate fun there.”
Bao looked at Melanie, as she said, “Sounds like a plan.”
Melanie and Bao the turned back towards the other adults.
Dutch commented, “Well, I could go for a movie.”
Janet said, “So could I.”
Benny agreed, “Me too.”
Rock said, “Sorry. We can't go. After we talk to the kids. We have to get ready for the mission.”
Revy commented, in a slightly disappointed tone of voice, “Yea... we do.”
Bao replied, “That is okay. We understand.”
Melanie offered, “We will do this again, sometime later. And you both can come then.”
Rock said, “Thank you.”
Revy replied, “Okay.”
Dutch stated, “Well, come on, guys. Let's go.”
The seven adults then heading towards the front entrance, and to the Lagoon family's Red GTO Pontiac, and Bao's blue Chevrolet Camaro SS. Both of which were parked right outside the casino front entrance, in the casino parking lot.
Nearby, Stan, and Lewis had escorted Irene and Leona out of the casino, and to their car. To make sure no one tried to do anything stupid against the two sisters, because their parents worked for Gomez.
Irene and Leona had gotten into their car, with Leona driver. The two women then headed back to the Last Resort Diner.
Once Stan and Lewis saw the two sisters drive down the street, the two brothers headed for their parents car, which was parked nearby. There they would wait for their parents to come out of the casino, to join them.
Besides which, both of the Lowe siblings did not want to be present for the meeting their parents were able to have with the owner of the casino.
Back inside the casino, in the large hallway, left of Chang's private film theater, Lori and Ed walked up to Chang, Lee, and River.
As the happily married couple approached the trio of lovers, Chang, River, and Lee, turned to face them.
As Lori and Ed came to a stop in front of three person group, Chang asked, “What can I do for you two?”
Lori said, “We have a minor request. Our diner was wrecked during the battle. And we are looking for some financial help, in compensation for what has happened.”
Chang replied, “I see.” He thought, 'I know where this is going.'
River did not respond to Chang's thoughts.
Ed stated, “Due to the fact that Lee is indirectly responsible for the boomer attack. Given, she wrote it so Gomez would have access to those boomers and reality technology. And that repairs are going to be a bit expensive for our diner. Including, lost revenue, appliances, and food. And damage to a few of our customers' vehicles. It is going to be a bit costly for us.”
Lori commented, “We have a lot of funds. But, not a lot of it in currency, here.”
Lee questioned, with concern in her tone of voice, “Was anyone harmed, at the diner?”
Ed responded, “Fortunately, no. And we are not that upset with you, Lee. We were just wondering if you would be willing to help cover our expenses. Repairs. Supplies. Items. Restocking of food. Lost wages, and revenue. And help to pay for the repairs to the vehicles that were damaged in our parking lot.”
“Also, a boomer ripped off a fire hydrant, near us, and tossed into the diner. So, we may have to pay for repairs, including the water that came out of that water main. Though, the locals were able to get the water shut off on it, without turning off the water, for the area.
Chang replied, “That is good.”
Lori stated, “Yes. It is. And like Ed said. We are not upset with you. But, we could use some help.”
River asked, “While we are glad you are not that upset. I would think that you guys would have insurance for such damages?”
Lori countered, “We do. Though, I am not sure how I should explain to that insurance company, how our diner was trashed by killer machines from another reality.”
River conceded, “That is a good point.”
Chang stated, “I will pay for any injures. For all the repairs to both the diner and the vehicles. Within reason. For replacement of items, and food. And the equivalent of a month's revenue for the diner.”
Chang thought, 'It is not worth arguing. And doing this will keep them off our backs. And we are going to need them in the coming battle. Plus, it is the right thing to do.'
Chang glanced over at River, to see her smiling at him, after reading his thoughts. He mentally added, “You're welcome, River.' He then looked back towards Lori and Ed.
Lori said, “Thank you.” She thought, 'We will use some of the money to pay Rico, the boys, along with Leona and Irene, for a few weeks. Until we get everything repaired. Hell, they can help with repairs if they want. But, I want to keep Irene here, at least. Considering, Lewis and her are interested in each other.'
River kept herself from smiling wider, as she overheard Lori's thoughts. She mentally reflected, 'So, Lewis finally found a girlfriend. Nice. Though, I would not want to be near them, when both sets of their parents meet for the first time.'
Ed responded, “We appreciate it. See you in a few hours.”
Chang replied, “You too.”
Ed and Lori then turned and walked towards the front entrance to the casino, to reunited with their two adult children, Stan and Lewis. While also making sure there were no problems with Irene and Leona leaving the casino.
Lee turned to Chang and River, as she said, “Sorry, about that.”
Chang and River turned to Lee, as Chang calmly stated, “Don't worry about it. It is in the past.”
River commented, comforting tone of voice, “Yes. We will be fine. But now, we have to prepare.”
Lee replied, “Agreed. And thanks.”
The three lovers then headed to the back elevator bay, to take them to the express elevator to the penthouse, where they could get ready for battle.
A few minutes later, Chang, River, and Lee, reached their penthouse apartment. They immediately headed for the bedroom they shared.
As River and Lee heading for their personal walk-in closets, in their bedroom, as Chang headed into his own personal walk-in closet.
The two closets were on opposite sides of the bed, with the doors set by the sides of the headboard, across from the door to the hallway. When standing at the foot of the bed, facing the headboard, the door to the patio outside was the left of the bed. And the door to the master bathroom being to the right of the bed.
Chang's closet was to the right of the bed, by the door to he master bathroom. While River and Lee's closet was to the left of the bed, near the sliding glass door to the patio and outdoor, heated, pool.
Chang first turned on the lights to his closet. Then, he walked into closet, on the other side of the bed.
Chang then walked to a safe in his closet, that was placed in the wall, at his chest level. The safe has a fingerprint scanner, making it was the only type of safe that River could not easily break into, by reading his mind. As having a combination lock would be impossible to hide from a telepath. And if Chang had used a key lock, he was sure that eventually, River would find the key, and secretly have it duplicated.
And while Chang loved his to lovers for their deviousness. That did not mean that he did not take measure to protect his own privacy. At least when it came to some of his personal effects.
Though, River and Lee respected Chang privacy, in what he kept in his safe.
Among other things in his safe, including some personal items, he pulled out his two AMT hardballer longslide semi-automatic pistols. The pistols were based on the M Nineteen Eleven pistol, only they had extended barrels. And like the nineteen eleven's they used seven round magazines, which fired forty-five ACP caliber bullets.
Chang's hardballer pistols were blued black, to protect them from rust.
The reasons he kept these pistols in his closet safe was because he did not feel safe keeping his weapons all in one place, in his apartment. And he convinced River and Lee, to do the same. Which was to keep the weapons they prefer, in their closet safes.
The pistols were unloaded, and without magazines in them. He picked up both pistols and gently set them on a chair next to him. Next, he pulled out a few magazines from the safe. He check to make sure the magazines were the ones loaded with armor-piercing rounds, instead of hollow point bullets.
Next, he set the six magazines and set gently them onto the chair.
After which, Chang took off his coat, and placed it on the chair.
Chang then reached into the safe and pulled out a shoulder holster, with a holster on each side. And two magazine slots, under each holster. He put on the holster, a placed spare magazines in their four slots.
Chang then picked up one of the pistols, and one of the other magazines, and he loaded the magazine, pulled back the slide, to chamber a round, and set the hammer safety on. Next, he place that loaded pistol into his right shoulder holster, without the holster strap clipped over the back of the grip of the pistol.
After which, Chang did the same with the other pistol. Loading the weapon, pulling back the slide chamber a round, switch on the hammer safety, and placing that pistol into his left shoulder holster, while leaving the holster strap not buttoned.
Chang put back on his coat.
Then, Chang closed his safe, and locked it.
Next, Chang turned around, and headed elsewhere in his apartment. To the gun safe in the apartment, where he would get find more magazines, and gunbelt with magazine pouches, for both his hardballer pistols, and his seventy-sixes. He would put on the ammo pouches, then load the forty-five magazines with armor-piercing ammo he had in the safe, while using twenty-two hollowpoints for the seventy-six magazines.
Chang then place the magazines in ammo pouches, without getting the two types of magazines confused. He would do this by placing the forty-five magazines on the sides of his waist, while placing the twenty-two magazines near the back of his waist, where his seventy-six pistols were holstered.
After loading everything, he put on his gunbelt, and holsters his pistols, under his coat.
When Chang was finished, he walked out of the closet, turned off the lights, and sat on the bed, as he waited for River and Lee to finish retrieving their personal weapons.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, River and Lee were inside their large, walk-in closet they shared. They had turned on the lights, as they entered their closet. Next, they heading into their walk-in closest. River walked in first, then Lee.
After both of them were inside, they headed to their personal safes, which were on opposite sides of the room.
The safes were similar to the safe that Chang had in his closet.
On one side of the closet, River opened her safe, she pulled out personal weapons, ammo, and equipment.
The two firearms she used were two heavily modified Russian PP Nineteen Bizon sub-machine gun.
The Bizon SMG is a unique sub-machine gun developed in Russia in the mid nineteen nineties. Those that develop the weapon, including a few weapons designers that worked on the Dragunov SVD rifle. The sniper rifle that Balalaika preferred to use.
The Bizon SMG role was to be close range weapon, for law enforcement, and counter-terrorism groups.
What made the Bizon unique was the magazine was placed on the underside of the barrel, as a parallel angel with the barrel. Instead of the standard perpendicular angle for ammo magazines.
And the magazine was a long, cylinder, helical magazine, that as the bullet were feed into the chamber, they turned direction.
When the magazine was attached, it make the Bizon look like a small shotgun, with an underside ammo tube that was the same length. Though, the Bizon fired bullets, and not shotgun shells.
The Bizon fired nine by eighteen millimeter rounds. Both the Makarov and Parabellum types of nine millimeter ammunition.
The effective firing range for the weapon depended on the ammo. For the Makarov ammo, it was a hundred meters. For the Parabellum, it was two hundred meters.
What originally attracted River to the Bizon SMG was that each magazine could hold up to sixty-four rounds, without the bulky look of a sixty round magazine sticking out of the bottom of the firearm.
Though, while the cylinder magazine could hold up to six-forty nine millimeter Makarov bullets. The magazine could only hold up to fifty-three nine millimeter Parabellum bullets.
The select fire options of the weapon were in this order, the safety-disabled selection, auto, and semi-automatic fire.
The Bizon also had AK style iron sights, loops for straps, and the option of a foldable stock, that folder to the left side of the weapon.
Over the year, there have been three version of the Bizon SMG made. The designations were, Bizon One, Bizon Two, and Bizon Three. Though, the Bizon Two is the more popular, with several different variations of the weapon.
The made difference between the Bizon models was the Bizon two had iron sights like the AK iron sights. While the Bizon three had flip up sights. With the barrels of both the Bizon Two and Three have having flash suppressors, with the option of putting sound suppressors on the end of the weapons.
River's Bizon SMGs were based on the Bizon Two O Three, which used nine millimeter Makarov bullets, and had a suppressor barrel built into the weapon.
The modifications to River's Bizon SMGs were extensive.
First, she had several of her magazines reduces in half, with the spring system reduces as well. Thus, only hold thirty-two nine millimeter Makarov bullet. She also a small hole place in each magazine that showed it had reach the maximum thirty-two rounds. While, the original Bizon SMGs magazines only showed holes for four bullets, twenty-four bullets, forty-four bullets, and sixty-four bullets.
River also had the barrels reduced in half, to be flush at the end with the back of the reduced magazines.
This both reduced, and centralized, the weight of the weapon, making it easier to wield one-handed. And making it more like an oversized pistol, than a sub-machine gun.
Also, like the Bizon Two O Three SMG, River's Bizon SMGs had built in barrel suppressors, thought, River's Bizon SMGs used updated suppressor technology, allowing the barrels to be shorter, while still being able to suppress the sub-sonic rounds the weapons fired.
And due to the barrel length being reduce, the iron sights River's Bizon SMGs were move. The back sights were moved back, from top center of the weapon, where the upper part of the gun met the barrel, to where the back sights were right above the grip. And the front sights were move to the end of the shortened barrel.
The change in location of the sights, and the removal of the stock, made the River's Bizon SMGs look, and function, more like pistols.
Though, River did keep the small loops on left side of her Bizon SMGs, for the option of attaching straps to her weapons.
Also, both of River's Bizon SMGs were blued black, for an anti-rust, and wear, coating.
After River had pulled out her unloaded sub-machine guns. She start pulled out her gunbelt, that had two large hip holsters, one on each side of her waist, where her Bizon SMGs would be holsters.
There were also ammo pouches around the back of River's gunbelt, for her spare reduced thirty-two magazines.
Also, River's gun belt had to sheathed bowie knives in scabbards. With a knife placed ina scabbard, behind each of the holsters.
From her safe, River then started pulling out magazines for her weapons, that were already loaded. Each magazine was labeled as containing either hollowpoint bullets, or armor-piercing bullets.
Unfortunately, the armor-piercing ammo would make a crack, as they break the sound barrier, thus the bullets would negate the sound suppression of the suppressor barrels. Though, that was a small price to pay when there was a high chance of them fighting boomers.
Most of the magazines that River pulled out of her safe were loaded with armor-piercing ammo. She put these magazines in the front and side pouches of her gunbelt.
Though, she did pulled a few magazines loaded with hollowpoint bullets, and placed them in the pouches that were on the back of her gunbelt. She did wanted these hollowpoint bullets, just in case she was going against more softer targets.
When River was finished with loading the pouches, she stood up, and put on the gunbelt. Next, she picked up one of her Bizon SMGs, and pulled out anther magazine loaded with armor-piercing ammo. She then slid it into the attachment on the sub-machine guns she had in her hands.
River then carefully loaded a round into the chamber, set the selector switch to semi-automatic, and holstered her weapon in her right hip holsters.
Next, she did the same thing with her other sub-machine gun. And she carefully holstered that weapon into her left hip holster.
The reason she did not have the safety on, was due to her wanting to be able to quick draw and fire her weapons, at a moments notice, if she needed to do so.
When River was finished, she closed her safe.
Across the room, Lee was getting ready, as well. She also opened her safe. And the first things she pulled out were her bandoleer that had her throwing knives in loops in the front, and her collapsed staff in a holster in the back of her bandoleer.
Next, she pulled out something with a little more punch than her staff and knives.
Lee pulled out her updated Mac Ten automatic sub-machine gun.
Lee's Mac Ten fired forty-five ACP caliber bullets. The same time of bullets that nineteen eleven semi-automatic pistols use.
Lee's Mac Ten still worked just like the original Mac Ten, though it used newer, much lighter materials. Also, the with an updated upper part of the firearm, the firearm could not have scopes attached to the top of it.
Though, Lee chose not to use a scope on her weapon, and instead she used the weapons iron sights.
Also, the update changed the weapon's charging handle, from the top of the weapon, to the left side of the weapon. While the shell casings still ejected from the right side. Also, unlike the older model, which the charging handle was just a round knob, the end of the new charging handle was a shallow curved, flat hook that was shaped for a finger, which made it much easier to pull back the charging handle.
Also, the update lengthened the barrel, to allow accuracy at a long range. Though, the barrel was still threaded at the end, to attach either a sound suppressor, or a flash suppressor.
Though, another change was that, instead of the automatic selection firing a thousand rounds a minute. This Mac Ten fired only seven hundred and fifty, for better control when firing, while using the automatic figure.
The collapsed about stock was slid into the back of the weapon, with the end of the stock folded up top of the weapon. And the weapon still had hoops on the front and back of the left side of the upper part of the gun, for a strap.
Lee then pulled out her sound suppressor to her Mac Ten. Her suppressor was updated, and much more quieter, than the original Mac Ten suppressor.
Next, Lee screwed suppressor to the threaded part of the barrel. When she was finished, she set her Mac Ten down.
Lee then pulled out her gunbelt, with long pouches to hold her thirty round ammo clips.
Lee started pulling out long, straight shaped, labeled, loaded thirty round magazines for her Mac Ten. And like River she pulled out mostly magazines loaded with armor-piercing rounds. Though, just in case, she also pulled out few magazines loaded with hollow-points bullets.
Lee then stuffed the pouches with magazines, with her putting magazines filled with hollow-point bullets on the back of her gunbelt, like River did.
When Lee was finished, she put on the gunbelt.
Next, Lee pulled out a strap for her Mac Ten. She picked up her Mac Ten and attached the end clips of her strap to the hoops on her weapons.
After which, she put the strap on, to where the top of the strap when on the left side of her neck, across her torso, to where it hung under her right arm.
With that done, Lee reached into her safe, and pulled out one more magazine, loaded with armor-piercing bullets, from her safe. She slid that magazine into the bottom of the grip of her Mac Ten. Though, she did not chamber a round into her weapon. And the safety to the weapon was turned off.
Lee then set select fire of the weapon to semi-automatic.
She then closed her safe.
Lee turned to look at River. She asked, “Are you done?”
River turned to face Lee. She answered, “Yes. You?”
Lee replied, “Yes.”
River suggested, “Let's check Chang.”
Lee said, “Okay.”
River and Lee then walked out of the room, while turned off the closet lights behind them.
They soon found Chang sitting on the bed. Chang saw them, and stood up. With the three of them then heading out of the bedroom, and towards the living room of their apartment.
After they reached the living room, and they sat down in the conformable furniture there, as they talked about what they were going to do, when the reached the spacestation. This included what tactics and fighting techniques to use, for various situations they may find themselves in, during their mission.
A little while later, on the north side of the island, those that had attended Chang's meeting began to return to the Devil's Hotel.
Everyone gathered in the front lobby for a few minutes. Then, they went there separate ways.
Bao, Melanie, Dutch, Janet, and Benny headed to the hotel theater, to watch a movie of their choosing.
Meanwhile, Lotton and Leigharch headed game room, to play a few rounds of pool, and possibly darts, on the dart board, hanging on a wall, there.
Though, Lotton and Leigharch did try to invite others to their game. Unfortunately, the others declined. But, Fabiola did give Lotton the keys to her car, after Shenhua had offered to take her with Sawyer, to the meeting. So, Lotton would have a car. With Lotton be able to pick up her kids, and Gilina. Along with being able to give Leigharch a lift.
Though, Fabiola made Lotton promise not to let Leigharch have the keys to her car. Which Leigharch found more funny than insulting.
Also, given that Shenhua, Sawyer, Aeryn, and Violin, were going on the mission. Lotton called the members of Hotel Moscow, that were watching her children, along with Gilina, Alexandra, and Dmitri, on the Maria Zeleska. And given these members were staying behind, she made arrangements with them to watch her kids, and Gilina, for the night. That she would come pick up her kids, and if need be, Gilina, in the morning.
Lotton made sure to inform Shenhua, Sawyer, Aeryn, and Violin, of the change in plans, for their children. None of the others disagreed with what she did, because they all knew that even if they come out of the battle unharmed, they were still going to need some time to mentally decompress from the battle. And as such, they did not need the stress of looking after young children for that night.
Also, Violin and Aeryn had left Lotton with instructions on what to do about Gilina, if they did not come back. And for how Lotton could contact Little D, their adult son, and Yuuichi, Violin's adult younger brother. So, they could help raise Gilina, if worse came to worse.
Lotton promise she would make sure Gilina got to Little D and Yuuichi, unharmed. And Aeryn and Violin belied her promise.
With everything else settled, Fabiola, Akira, Natsuru, Ranma, Violin, Aeryn, Shenhua, Sawyer, Rock, and Revy, headed up stairs to their various suites, to get ready for battle.
As Fabiola entered the suite she shared with Roberta, she closed the hallway door, behind her. With the door knob lock automatically locking behind her.
Fabiola then turned on the ceiling lights to the two bed suite. With the curtains, to the outside balcony being closed.
Once Fabiola could see, she took off all her weapons and equipment. Next, she checked to make sure all her weapons, and equipment, were in working order. She then loaded her weapons.
She did not have to load her spare shotgun and pistol magazines, because after the boomer attack was over, she had going to her suite and reloaded the magazines, with armor-piercing shotgun shells, for the five rounds shotgun magazines. And hollowpoint twenty-two caliber bullets for her ten round pistol magazines.
With her pistols magazines going into slots in her shoulder holsters, and her shotgun magazines going onto her ammo pouches on her gunbelt.
Though, she also reloaded a couple with buckshot. With the magazines loaded with buckshot being located on the back pouches of her gunbelt.
She had also reloaded her bandoleers with forty millimeter grenades, for her grenade launcher.
When she was finished, she took offer her cloths, and took a shower.
After the shower, Fabiola dried off her bodies and hair. With her long hair taking a little while to do so.
When she was dry, and her long hair was back in a ponytail, she changed into a black sports bra and a pair of black boyshorts.
Then, she pulled out her black and white maids outfit, and her two gambler's rigs. She put the gambler's rigs on undersides of her forearms. Then, she put on her maid's uniform.
Though, she did not wear her bonnet, nor her black maids shoes. Instead, she pulled out some black laceless cowgirl boots. Which she slipped her feet into. With zipper on each boot being on located on the interior side.
One Fabiola zipped up her boats, she tied her white apron around the front on waist. With her tying the strings to her apron around her lower back.
With her clothing on, Fabiola placed her her reality and miscellaneous items, pockets that were hidden in the folds of her long black skirt.
She then put her weapons back on, as she had them before she got undressed. Starting with her gunbelt, with ammo pouches, and sheathed combat knife.
Next, she put on her shoulder holsters. When her shoulder holsters were firmly on her, she put in her two loaded, semi-automatic, Beretta seventy-six pistols into the holsters.
After which, she then strapped her empty China Lake Grenade Launcher holster to her back, with the hole for the weapon being located between her left shoulder and neck.
And then, she put on her bandoleer full of grenade rounds, which was strapped across her chest, from her right shoulder to her lower left side.
She then placed her loaded, pump-action China Lake grenade launcher into its holsters.
And finally, she unhooked the straps from her two loaded Techno Arms MAG-Seven shotguns. Then, one at a time, she carefully hooked one of her shotguns to one of her gambler's rigs, and sled the weapon up one of her sleeves.
After which, Fabiola the made some minor adjustments to her clothing, weapons, and equipment, she walked into the bathroom. With the light inside the room still being on. And she looked at the full length mirror of herself.
Fabiola mentally admitted, 'I kind of look like Roberta, decades ago. During the time she was half mad from grief, and lack of sleep. When she took on the Grey Foxes in the poppy fields of Indochina.'
'Though, I hope I have better luck in this battle, than Roberta did in her battle, at that point in her life.'
Fabiola looked at the wall clock, and it stated, four fifty-five PM.
Fabiola thought, 'Now, what am I going to do. I have an hour to kill. Maybe I will take Leigharch and Lotton's offer for a few rounds of pool. If they are still playing. And then, I will get an early supper.'
Fabiola then turned walked up to the door to the hallway.
Fabiola opened the door, and turned off the lights of her suites. As she entered the hallway, she shut the door behind her. With the door knob automatically locking, as it closed against the doorway.
Fabiola then headed downstairs, to the hotel game room. With her intent being to pass the time until she had to leave for the mission.
Meanwhile, when Ranma, Natsuru, and, Akira, entered their suite, they got cleaned up, and changed their clothing.
Ranma wore her red chinese clothing. With her red hair in a ponytail.
Next, Ranma pulled out her golden magical bracers, and she placed them on her bare forearms. While, Akira retrieved her gunbelt, some speedloaders, and her two colt, three fifty-seven magnum top-break, peacemaker, six round, revolvers.
Akira allow her long blond hair to remain loose.
Akira changed into her yellow and brown cowgirl outfit, yellow front button up tank top, and yellow denim short-shorts, brown leather belt around her shorts, brown leather low heel cowgirl boots, brown skintight leather gloves, a yellow cowgirl hat, and her sunglasses over her eyes.
Next, Akira put on her gunbelt, with holsters on both sides of her waist. She then loaded revolver and speedloaders with armor-piercing rounds And she loaded some armor-piercing bullets into the loops of her gunbelt. When she was finished, she holstered her pistols, and put her speed loaders into some pockets in his clothing.
Next, Akira pulled out her two Russian model eighteen twenty-seven pioneer short sword, which also worked as long knives. The knives were sheathed in their scabbard, with straps on attached to the scabbards. She attached the scabbards, with the knives inside them, on her back, in a crisscross fashion, as she tied the straps across her chest, and large breasts. The hilts of the knifes were pointed, in a diagonal angle, towards her two shoulders.
As this went on, Natsuru used her powers to turn her clothing into her white and black seifuku. Even though she was an adult, her seifuku had automatically adjusted to fit her. And her seifuku looked good with her short blue hair.
When the three lovers were finished getting ready, they decided to walked over to the table in their suite. Sit in the chairs, around the table.
They broke out a deck of cards, and some playing chips, that they had in their room. Then, they played a few hands of poker, to pass the time, before they needed to returned to the casino, for their mission.
When Violin and Aeryn reached their suite, they checked their pulse pistols, and then holstered them on their side holsters.
Next, Aeryn pulled out a large weapon that she masterfully hid in her room, that no one expected her to have on hand.
After they were ready, they headed down to the hotel restaurant and bar, to get something to eat, and quietly relax, as they mentally prepared themselves for the upcoming battle.
In another location, in the Devil's Hotel, when Rock and Revy entered their suite, they got ready, as they talked about what they should bring.
Then, they soon decided to do something unexpected. When they were finished getting ready, they made love for the next hour. After which, they got cleaned up, and headed out to get some supper, and then to the casino.
Shenhua and Sawyer entered one of their large suites. With another large suite, attached by interior door between the two suites. The second suite provided more space for their family.
After they shut the door to their suite, Shenhua took the opportunity to take a shower and changing her clothing to, among other things, a spare red qipao, and white jacket, she had. With her wearing the same red flat soled slippers, equipment, and weapons, she had on before.
Shenhua also checked the replacement cords she had retrieve between the battle and the meeting. And she found the cords to be fine.
Meanwhile, Sawyer pulled out her chainsaw and she checked its make sure it would work. Just in case Chang did not come through with his offer of a hardsuit for her.
When they were finished, they headed down to the hotel theater, to watch the movie their friends had selected. Which they found was a good choice in films. After that, they had some supper, at the hotel restaurant, before they headed back to the casino.
Across town, at the harbor, on the cargo ship, the Maria Zeleska, Balalaika, B, and a number of their subordinates, in Hotel Moscow. Though, not all of them. Prepared for battle.
Among other things, the put on their combat fatigues, bodyarmor, and helmets.
Then, they pulled out their more powerful weapons, ammo, and explosives. This included, AK seventy-four automatic rifles, sniper rifles. Such as Balalaika, with her Dragunov sniper rifle. Hand held grenades, plastic explosives, primer cord, detonators. remotes, a few shoulder mounted rocket propelled grenades, plenty of armor-piercing ammo, ammo magazines for their weapons.
They also had plenty of reality devices, and military grade first aid kits.
Then, B retrieved the communications equipment they were going to use.
When they were done, Balalaika and B spent some time with their children, Alexandra, and Dmitri. Along with, Gilina, Ivy, Wenqian, Thomas, whom were being babysat with their children, by some of their most trusted and friendly members of Hotel Moscow.
As this went on, the other members of Hotel Moscow, which were going on the mission, spent the time they had, before battle, in the various ways they preferred.
In another part of town, Irene and Leona returned, in their car, to the Last Resort Diner, to keep Rico company,
The sisters informed Rico of what went on at Chang's meeting, with Rico relieved she had decided to not go.
Then, they helped Rico finish cleaning up, what they could not complete before the meeting.
After they finished sweeping up last bits of glass and trash inside the diner was had already been cleaned up. They began to sweep up the last of the broken windows, from right the outside the diner.
Fortunately, with Rico's enhanced strength, from the super-soldier serum, she had not problems in lift the plywood boards. With the sisters using nailguns to nail the boards to the outside walls. Though, she wore gloves, to keep from getting splinters.
Next, they draped some plastic sheets, they hung the down on the interior side of the doorway, on what was left of the front entrance. And finally, when they were ready to leave, they locked the back door, boarded up the front entrance, for the day. With Rico using a marker to write, on a front outside wooden panel, on the left side of the front entrance, which stated, “Closed for repairs.”
After which, they headed out, in their two cars, to get some supper.
Meanwhile, that afternoon, elsewhere on the island, all four of the Lowe family members headed home, in the same car.
When the Lowe family got home, they found that not only was their home still standing, but the boomers did not even attack the neighborhood that they lived in.
After they entered their home. They got cleaned up, and changed their clothing.
Then, they prepared. Ed retrieve some nine millimeter armor-piercing ammo for her SIG-Sauer P Elite pistol and spare magazines, she had on her.
Lori retrieved some armor-piercing forty-five ACP rounds for her speedloaders and revolver.
Both the couple also retrieved their reality devices.
Stan and Lewis retrieved their pistols Which were both Col XSE semi-automatic pistols. These pistols were update M nineteen eleven pistols. Though, the magazines of the pistols used eight rounds, instead of the standard seven round magazines that the old nineteen eleven pistols models used. Also, both pistols were blued black.
Each brother left the chamber of their pistol, empty, with an eight round magazine in the pistol.
The siblings also retrieve their shoulder holsters, with the holster being on the left side of their bodies, for right-handed shooting. And there were two slots on the right side of the holsters, for spare magazines.
After retrieving some armor-piercing forty-five ACP ammo, and extra magazines, they loaded their magazines, pistols. Then, they places their pistols and spare magazines into their shoulder holsters.
Lewis and Stan felt they did not need any more ammo, that from three magazines, because if they got in such a tight situation to need more ammo. They would just use their reality devices to escape the spacestation.
The two brothers them pulled out their reality devices, and put them into their pockets.
With that done, they started pulling together their other equipment, into a gym bag that the family nicknamed their bag of dirty tricks.
Nearby the Lowe family home, Yolanda and Eda went to their home, and they retrieved their weapons and equipment.
At Burt's gunshop, Pedro and Matthew, reunited Matt, Burt, Hernan, and Roberta.
Once all six adults were inside. They started preparing for war.
This including gunbelts with ammo pouches, for the loading magazines for their pistols, and high-powered rifles. With plenty of armor-piercing rounds for their rifles, and hollowpoint rounds for their pistols. Also, Burt provide combat knives for Hernan, Roberta, and himself. With Roberta requesting two sheathed combat knives for herself.
The adults put on some body armor, that Burt had provide.
Also, Burt provided two bandoleers with loops that were fill of grenade rounds, for Hernan and Roberta grenade launchers. Hernan and Roberta thanked Burt. Then, they both put the bandoleers across their chests, from their upper right shoulder, to the lower left side of their waists.
In addition, they retrieved some plastic explosives, and equipment to use the explosives, from Burt. With Burt saying that he had been saving those items for a special occasion. With him considering it to be a good day to use such items.
Though, the others had requested that he have a weapon on hand. Matthew continued to decline on having weapon.
Though, concerning Matt. Given the experience and knowledge of those present, concerning firearms and combat. Matt asked for help in choosing more high-powered weapon than his Smith & Wesson model five nine four six, semi-automatic pistol. With everyone else being happy to give advise on the matter.
Eventually, they decided, due to the heavy weapons, and shotguns their group was already going to use, that Matt needed a middle of the road weapon, that was good for long range, but was not very heavy to carry. And they chose to give Matt an M four carbine automatic rifle to use.
The M four carbine had a collapsible stock, and held a thirty five point five six by four five millimeter rounds magazine. Burt also included a nice scope for the rifle.
Though, due to Matt not being trained to use in the use of the underbarrel grenade launcher, that could be attached to the carbine, they decided not to attach that weapon to Matt's carbine.
Once Matt said he liked the carbine, Burt then retrieved some armor-piercing ammo, extra magazines, and gunbelt with ammo pouches for the carbine ammo.
Matt also set his carbine to semi-automatic, with the safety on.
Soon after they were ready for battle.
Though, given the others did not want Matt to use an unproven weapon, they decided to use the time they had, before having to returned to the casino as six PM, to go the firing range, and allow Matt to practice with his new M four carbine.
In addition, once Matt was finished at the range. They would use their time wisely, by then getting some supper.
They loaded up their weapons and equipment would be placed, and secured, to the bed of Burt's pickup truck. Matt would then go with Burt, Hernan, and Roberta, to the firing range. Given Burt's truck had a full back seat, having four adults in the truck was not a problem. And Burt would use his truck to take a shortcut to the firing range.
Meanwhile, Pedro and Matthew would take Pedro's squad car, and go to the cuban restaurant that was still open. Where they would retrieve supper for everyone, and bring it to them, on the firing range.
Though, they would have to take the long way around to the firing range, given they are driving a car, and they could not go off-road. But, Pedro knew better than to speed on the roads to the firing range. Especially, with all the debris and dead boomer bodies still on the road.
By the time Pedro and Matthew were expected to reach the firing range, Matt would have already been checked out on his M four carbine.
And after they had eaten supper, they would head over to the casino, arriving there before six PM.
With their plan set, they implemented it.
They placed and secured all their weapons and equipment they were going to use, in the bed of Burt's truck.
Burt then locked up his gunshop, and the group split up, in two vehicles, to do the jobs they were tasked to do.
It was six PM, and in the back garage of the Daiyu Palace Casino, and the groups that had volunteered for the counterattack on Gomez, had arrive, with their weapons and equipment.
Most of those that come had entered through a metal outside door, to the garage, that had been opened for them, by a security guard, that Chang had assigned there, for a few hours, for the meeting head in the garage. So, those invited would not have had to carry their weapons through the casino and prevent alerting the guests in the building.
Also, the doors the garage, from the interior back hallway, were locked.
While the inside of the back garage was still a mess, the teams that Chang had assign to Kaylee had done a marvelous job of creating enough room for everyone to stand up, without being shoulder to shoulder. There was some room for everyone to have their personal space.
When everyone that was part of the attack was present and accounted for, Chang had the garage door they had used shut.
Those attending were Chang, River, Lee, Annie, Violin, Aeryn, Sawyer, Shenhua, Yolanda, Eda, Rock, Revy, Fabiola, Roberta, Hernan, Burt, Pedro, Matthew, Matt, Lori, Ed, Stan, Lewis, Balalaika, B, several other members of Hotel Moscow, and Arcee, whom was in robot mode.
And some of the groups had already segregated from each other.
The members of Hotel Moscow were in one part of the cleared section.
And Chang, River, Lee, Annie and Arcee were in another part of the cleared section.
Though, the rest of those present were scattered in one group.
Just the garage door was closed, by a remote from Arcee communications system.
A few moments later, Revy, whom did not have on her pistols, nor shoulder holsters, turned to the members of Hotel Moscow, as she complimented, “Damn girls. You look ready for battle. I mean, you are completely loaded out for war.”
A few of the members of Hotel Moscow smiled towards Revy.
Balalaika calmly, “Thank you, Revy. For your compliment.”
Balalaika turned to Rock to see that Rock was wearing Revy's shoulder holsters, with Revy's two Beretta ninety-two FS semi-automatic pistols, in the holsters. Though, given that Rock, as a woman, was a little shorter and smaller than Revy, the holsters were a little big for her. Still, she wore the holsters and pistols well.
Balalaika playfully joked, “Now Rock. I see you finally decided to use some weapons, besides that little toy shotgun of yours.”
Rock replied, “No. We are just thinking ahead.”
Revy stated, “I cannot wear my cutlasses in my hardsuit. So, Rock will have them. In case my hardsuit gets trashed, I have my cutlasses nearby. She also had a few extra magazines for my cutlasses.”
Chang complimented, “That is some clever thinking on your parts.”
Balalaika agreed, “Yes. It is.”
Rock said, “Thank you.”
Revy replied, “Thanks, Chang.”
Chang turned to look at member of Hotel Moscow in front of him. He complimented, “Balalaika. I have to agree with Revy. You, and your women, are really dressed to kill today. I like it.”
Balalaika calmly replied, “Why thank you, Chang.”
Roberta, whom was holding her XM five hundred rifle, with RG Six grenade launcher, turned to Aeryn, as she commented, “Aeryn, I thought I was bringing a big weapons. But, I see you have me beat. I admit it. I am envious.”
Aeryn held her peacekeeper pulse burster in both her hands, as she pointed the weapon at the ground. She happily responded, “I appreciate the compliment, Roberta.”
Roberta asked, “Where did you keep that weapon at? On Moya?”
Aeryn answered, “No. I kept it in my hotel suite.”
Roberta replied, “I am impressed.” She thought, 'I don't know how she could hide something that big in her suite. I will have to ask her how she did it, later. Now, I need to kill Gomez, and rescue my family.'
Aeryn smiled, as she said, “”Thank you.”
Akira looked over at B, whom was holding a small box in her right hand. She asked, “B, what is in the box?”
B turned to Akira, as she answered, “We will get to that in a minute. But, you will like it.”
Pedro looked down at the gym bag at Stan was carrying. He asked, “So, what is in the bag.”
Stan looked over at Pedro, as he smiled wickedly. He answered, “Our bag of dirty tricks.”
Pedro replied, “Sounds nice.” He thought, 'I am so happy that I am friends with the Lowe family. They would make for dangerous enemies. In some ways, more dangerous than most of those here.'
Chang looked around the room, as he thought, 'Since I see everyone is here. I guess I better get this party started.' He stated, “Now, that everyone is here. Let us begin the final mission briefing.”
Everyone quieted, as they turned to look at Chang.
Though, before Chang could continued, Revy spoke up, as she all, but demanded, “First, where are our hardsuits?”
Chang thought, with mild annoyance, 'I sometimes forget how much of a child Revy came be when presented with new toys.'
River giggled a little at Chang's thoughts.
Chang pointed his right hands towards a tarp, by some wreckage. He said, “While, I was going to mentioned that later in the meeting. Your hardsuits are over there, under the tarp. They are the same colors as before.” He then dropped his hand back to his side.
Revy did not respond, as she looked over and saw a the tarp, covering something, right in front of a pile of debris. She then walks towards the tarp.
Sawyer, whom had her chainsaw strapped to her back, turned to the tarps, then Chang, as she said, “Thank you.” She then turned and walked over to the tarp, as well.
Chang thought, 'At least one of them is grateful.'
Revy and walked over to stand in front of the black tarp. As soon as Sawyer joined her, Revy pulled back the tarp to reveal their hear suits.
To Revy's right was Sawyer's black hardsuit, and to her left was her red hardsuit.
Revy immediately recognized the railguns and knuckle-bombers on on her gauntlets. She thought, 'Good. They are the same.'
Then, Revy noticed that the chests of the hardsuits were open, with the helmets placed inside the chest cavities, with the pink softsuit folded, and set on top of the helmets.
Revy turned to Sawyer, as she said, “Come on. Let's get changed. I am really itching to try this think out.”
Sawyer agreed, “So am I.” She took off her chainsaw, and set it on the floor. Then, she and Revy walked over to the hardsuits, picked up their specific softsuits, and walked around a partly destroyed car, for privacy.
They both quickly stripped down, and piled their clothing on top of the car. They then stepped into their softsuits, and clipped them closed, on the back.
As this went on, they others stayed quiet, as they waited for the two women to finish.
Next, Revy and Sawyer walked back out, to their hardsuits. The picked up and set their helmets to the side. They then stepped into their hardsuits and pulled them together. When the sides of each suit came together, each suit automatically sealing themselves.
After that, both women picked up their helmets, and locked them over their heads.
Sawyer next picked up her chainsaw and slung the sling of the chainsaw across her back, from her left shoulder, to her right lower side.
As both women walked back to join the group, Lee commented, “Somehow that chainsaw just goes with Sawyer's hardsuit.”
River said, “I know.” She thought, 'Revy was so caught up with getting into the hardsuit, she undressed in the presence of others, without a second thought. While Sawyer just didn't care.'
As Revy and Sawyer came to a stop, Roberta asked, “So, is everything booting up fine?”
Revy answered, though her helmets speakers, “The HUD is working fine. Everything is in the reading in the green.”
Sawyer commented, though her helmet speakers. “Same here.”
Chang stated, “Good. And Sawyer. So you know. We added some upgrades you hardsuit weaponry a bit. Along with your two blades that pop out the top of your gauntlets, on the outer sides of your wrists we added an automatic sub-machine gun, with select fire, to each of your gauntlets, on the underside of your wrists.”
Revy commented, “Damn. I won't be the only dual wielding gunslinger in this fight.”
Revy noticed Chang, as she realized her mistake. She continued, “Oh.. Sorry, Chang.”
Akira and River declined to comment, out of personal manners and tact.
Chang ignored Revy's oversight, as he said, “As I was saying. Your sub-machine fires armor-piercing forty-five ACP rounds. Each gun has two hundred rounds each, in your forearm armor. I suggest you set both guns to three round burst. And used these weapons sparingly.”
Sawyer admitted, “I will take that under advisement. Though, I am not that great with guns.”
Chang commented, “Well, the sub-machine guns are linked to the targeting system of you heads up display. And they are linked together. So, that should help some.”
Sawyer agreed, “It should.”
Chang said, “And don't worry about you clothing. It will be here, when you get back.”
Sawyer replied, “Thank you.”
Chang stated, “You're welcome.” He then looked around the room, as he said, “Now, I have something for the team leaders here. And a few others.”
Chang turned around and picked up a box, off of a partly damaged tool box. He handed it to Lee, whom walked around, and handed it to five of the seven the team leaders.
Those five leaders being, Roberta, Pedro, Akira, Violin, Balalaika. Lee also handed some more of the items to various members of Hotel Moscow.
Chang then turned around and picked up something from the tool back, and he handed it to Ed, whom was near him. He said, “Here is yours.”
Ed took the device, though she remained silent.
Meanwhile, Pedro looked at the item he was handed, and he realized that it was a reality device. He then handed his reality device to Fabiola.
Chang stated, “Given our plan has a very strict time table. We need to be in the proper place and reality at the proper minute. We already got a temporal and reality lock one where the outbound teleports went. And they are set into the reality devices on exactly when we are heading out. So, when you teleport, just think of the location, and reality. The time is already set.”
“That is why I gave Ed a separate reality device, since her group will be going earlier. By about eight minutes, to give you time to get there. And we handed a few extra devices to Hotel Moscow, given their large group size. Also, this is a one off. On the second use, back home, just think of the time place, and reality you want to go to.”
Ed inquired, “What time are they set to sent us?”
Chang answered, “Around five hours after they left, their time. We want to give them a chance to get conformable. So, they don't expect that attack.”
Violin commented, “So, soon. But, not too soon.”
Chang said, “Exactly.” He turned to Roberta and Hernan, as he continued, “We know where the detention section is. This gives them time for your family to be moved their. We do not want to attack when we cannot account for where your family is located.”
Roberta replied, “I understand.”
Hernan stated, “I agree with the logic of waiting a few hours.”
Chang said, “Good.” He then looked around the crowd, as he went onto say. “And if you get lost, you can ask the Lowe family for assistant.”
Natsuru inquired, “And how we will do that?”
Balalaika commented, “Now that the question has been asked. We have something from everyone.”
Stan commented, “I like gifts.”
Lewis was standing beside Stan, as he groaned in embarrassment.
B then held up the box in her right hand, and she opened it. She then walked around the room, and handed out ear pieces from the box, to everyone there, except for the members of Hotel Moscow, whom pulled their ear pieces out of their pockets, and put them on their right ears.
B bypassed Revy, Sawyer, and the members of Hotel Moscow, as she handed out the items.
As B finished handing out the items, she asked, “Does anyone need an ear piece?
No one responded, except for Revy, whom commented, “We might.”
B responded, “Do not worry Revy and Sawyer, one of the upgrades to your hardsuits were to have this technology installed in your helmets.
Sawyer said, “Interesting. So, Chang knew about these items.”
Chang stated, “Yes. I was just waiting for the right time to tell you all about them.”
Akira asked, “So, how do these things work?”
B answered, “These are basically highly encrypted radios, with some interest figures. To talk to someone, you just think about them, and if they have an ear piece on, you can talk to them. If you want to cut the connection, just think of disconnecting. You can literally choose to talk to one specific person, or group, to everyone with an ear piece.”
“And while these items will not work across time and realities. It will work across lightyears, on the same plane of space.”
“You put them over your right ear, between the top of the ear, and your head. Do not worry, they will stay there on their own.”
“Given this is a very advance technology. I doubt Gomez, nor the Knight Sabers had seen this. Let alone broken the encryption on it.”
Ranma looked the small, curved piece of plastic, in her hands, as she questioned, “Where did you find these things at?”
Balalaika commented, “We would rather not say.”
Ranma knew better than to question further on the matter. She replied, “Okay.” She then put the ear piece in her hands on her top of her right ear, between her head and her ear.
Everyone else with an ear piece did the same.
A moment later, Balalaika thought of contacting everyone. She then calmly said, “Testing.”
And everyone else heard a stereo effect of Balalaika real voice, and her voice from the ear pieces. Or, in Revy and Sawyer's cases, they heard Balalaika voice speak in unison, at the same time, from their helmet speakers.
Balalaika thought of breaking the connection. She then commented, “From your expressions, I am guessing the devices worked for everyone.”
Akira turned to B, as she commented, “Well, you are right, B. I do like them.”
B smiled towards Akira.
Chang said, “Now, that we have our communications issues settled. Let's move on to exact locations we are going to be teleporting too. The locations you will be telporting to are a very hundred meters. Then, with the help of the Lowe family, you will reach you target, through the paths of least resistance.”
Balalaika commented, “That could work.”
Ed agreed, “Yes. And we would be more than happy to do our part.”
Ranma commented, “I don't know. A few hundred meters is kind of far.”
B stated, “Better than dropping into a potentially heavily guarded area.”
Chang stated, “Yes. Now, for the location itself. It is in the Black Lagoon reality that many of us come from. Just think of where exactly where on the ship you want to go, and it will take you there. With the time already preset.”
Matt inquired, “Not to ask a dumb question. But, what happens if this does not work? I don't want to end up in hard vacuum.”
Chang commented, “Since you are new at this. You probably don't know, but we long since solved the teleport into hard vacuum, heights, and solid objects problems.”
Matt replied, “Good.”
Matthew asked, “So, how do you know the location you were able to track them to is the location is Gomez's spacestation?”
Chang answered, “Because that was were Garcia and the Pena family were sent. So, it is either there. With the reality being our home reality. And the place Lagrangian point three. Where Ahsoka said they would be. And if they are no on the ship, the devices will not work to send up there, at all.”
Matthew agreed, “Good point.”
Roberta commented, “I can live with that.”
Hernan stated, “So can I. And if Garcia and the Pena family are not one the ship, we will just teleport back here, and use the signal as a starting point. And at least we will have a trail to follow them on.”
Ed offered, “I will pull any records they have on them. If they are not there. We will find them.”
Hernan turned to Ed, as he said, “Thanks.”
Chang mentioned, “And if that is the case, I instructed Mal to help you with finding them. Mal and our friend of the Serenity, spent decades as bounty hunter. So, we would be able to find them. Still, I don't think it is the case, because the location we tracked them to is where Gomez is suppose to be.”
Hernan complimented, “Okay. You are making a good case for yourself, on the matter.”
Chang replied, “I know. Now, for the map. This afternoon, with the help and Annie and Ahsoka, Arcee has created a holographic, three dimensional map, to show where everyone will teleport to, and how to get their targets.”
Revy commented, “Well, I am glad we didn't kill that bitch then. Though, she needs...” Suddenly, Revy found herself unable to breath, as she was slightly chocking.
Annie calmly said, “Mind your manners.”
Revy then found she could breathe. She turned to Annie, as she warned, “Force choke me ever again, and you will be breathing through your ass.”
Annie smirked, as Revy, as she dared, “I would like to see you try.”
Balalaika stated, in a motherly manner that was reserved for children, “Now. Now. Save it for the enemy.”
Fabiola turned to Annie, as she stated, “Annie, you are better than this.”
Annie looked at Fabiola. She then relaxed her posture, as she said, “Fine.”
Rock inquired, “Speaking of Ahsoka, where is she right now?”
Annie turned to Rock, as she answered, “Snips is in my apartment. She has agreed to stay in my apartment, until I return, or until morning. When alternate arrangements having already been made. In case I do not return. Of which, I have informed her and a few others of my wishes and arrangements on the matter.”
Rock questioned, “Okay. Though, I am not sure it is wise to leave her alone?”
Annie responded, “As I said at the meeting. I trust her. Though, as a precaution. To help keep her in my apartment, she can order room service, on my tap. And she can watch TV. But, she cannot use the internet from my apartment computer.”
Rock said, “That sounds better.”
Annie stated, “I am glad you feel that way.” She thought, 'Still, if I don't return Ahsoka will be staying in the casino, for the time being, with Mal making me a few promises on that matter. He promised to make sure no one would antagonize her, nor attack her.'
'If I am gone for more than a month. Mal promised to give half my wealth to her. Not all it, in case I do return. And to help her find a time, place, and reality, in the multiverse, where she can happily live with her newfound wealth.'
'And I am not worried. As Security Chief here, everyone knows not to cross Mal. And he will honor his word. So, even if things go bad for me, Ahsoka will be fine.'
'So, what do you think of my plan, River?'
Annie turned to see River looking at her.
From the connection, the two women could create, through Annie's empathic abilities, and River passive telepathy. With River, whom had been reading Annie's thoughts.
River telepathically replied, 'It is a good plan, Annie. I could not think of a better one, myself.'
Annie telepathically replied, 'Thank you.'
Chang requested, “Arcee, the map.”
Suddenly a large, a purple colored, holographic map of the interior of a super-star destroyer, appeared above them, near the ceiling.
Chang commented, “We will start in the sequence of the order we worked on, earlier.”
Arcee replied, “With pleasure.”
Suddenly blue and red dots appeared in the holographic ship, with a yellow line connection them.
Chang explained, “The blue dot is where you teleport into. The red dot is the target, or our best guess of where the target is. The yellow line is the best path we can figure, we between where you arrive, and where we think the target is. If these path are blocked, or heavily defend. The Lowe family can find you an alternate route. If the target is not there. The Lowe family will help you find the target. Or, inform you that they are not on the ship.”
Lee joked, “So, follow the yellow brick road.”
Everyone but Chang and Lee laughed.
Chang just look at her.
Lee turned to Chang, as she casually said, “What? Everyone was thinking it?”
Chang just turned back to look towards the crowd, as he waited until everyone calmed down.
A few seconds later, as the last of those in the room calmed down, Chang stated, “As I was saying. In this case. This path is very short. The arrive and target locations are practically on top of each other. Because this path is for the Lowe family, to reach a data hub that Ahsoka knows is unguarded. Next one, Arcee.”
The locations for the blue and red dots changed, as did the line connecting them. With the blue dot in the center of the ship.
Chang said, “My team is starting here, in the center of the ship. And we will be heading to where the guest quarters of the Xanatos family are. Though, when we face them, we are first going to try to negotiate with them. But, either way, once we are done with them, we will look for Barbossa, Cad Bane, and targets of opportunity. Next one, Arcee.”
Arcee changed the dots and line, again. To where the arrive and target points were on the bottom of the ship.
Chang continued, “Violin's team will teleport here, and follow this path. That will take you through the cargo bays and warehouse sections. You are to look for targets of opportunity. Next one.”
The dots and path locations changed again. With the arrival destination being near the outer left side of the ship, with the line going further back, and deeper, into the ship.
Chang stated, “Pedro, this is the path we guess will be the easiest for you to get to the detention block in the ship. There seems to be only one functioning brig in this ship. So, at least, there is that. Chang it, Arcee.”
Arcee changed the dots and path, to being in a high, in the upper center of the ship.
Chang said, “Roberta, Hernan, this will lead you to Gomez's office. Given the time of day, locally, that we will be dropping by, he should be there. If not, the Lowe family can look up where the private quarters are that Gomez uses.” He mentally reflected, 'Because Ahsoka does not know where those quarters are.'
Chang requested, “Next one.”
There was a blue dot near the bottom of the ship, near the front, with a yellow line that went further to the front of the ship, to a section near the very front tip of the super-star destroyer.
Chang said, “Akira. Natsuru. Ranma. This is where you will be teleporting to. From what Ahsoka can guess. This is most likely where a magical research section would be. Because that is one of the most highly restricted places on the ship, even for Gomez's agents.”
Akira stated, “I agree. Gomez would want a restricted area, that was away from the rest of the ship, to study magic from. And if something went wrong, they could blow that section from the rest of the ship, and still be able to repair the rest of the ship, with little problem.”
Annie commented, “That is one of the reasons we believe that any magical research would located in that area of the ship.”
Natsuru inquired, “How heavily guarded it that area?”
Chang commented, “From what I understand. That area has no guards. Only sensors to check to make sure that no one without permission, goes to the area. But, the Lowe family will take care of those sensors. So, you will be find, concerning that problem.”
Ranma stated, “That is a tip off there is magic involved. Because one does not want any non-magically using people, even boomers, near an area, in case some of the magic gets loose. In a similar manner to a nuclear reaction leaking radiation.”
Chang stated, “That is a good point. Still, if you find nothing, teleport to Violin's starting point, and retrace her route. And offer assistance to her team, or any other team, that requests it.”
Akira replied, “Got it.”
Chang requested, “And the final one, Arcee.”
Arcee moved the dots and path around. Only this time there were a few red dots, with a few paths. And there was one green dot that was connected by a yellow path to the blue dot.
Chang stated, “Balalaika. The green dot is where the Knight Sabers private quarters are. But, the red dots are where we think there are some good ambush points at. Eventually, they are going to know that we are there. And Gomez will call on the Knight Sabers to help. So, it might be best to let them come to you. With the Lowe family telling you where they are heading. And where the best place to set up an ambush point at.”
Balalaika commented, “I see. Thank you for allowing me some options.”
Chang asked, “You're welcome. Are there any questions?”
No one answer from several seconds.
Chang said, “Good. Separate into your groups. Ed, your family goes first. Then, my team. Then, Violin's team. Then, Pedro's team. Then, Roberta and Hernan. And finally, Hotel Moscow. Now, let's go kick some ass.”
There was no cheering from Chang's last comment. Because, for them, this was just another job. Though, one that needed doing.
Arcee collapsed the hologram, and everyone divided up into their groups, and separate from the other groups. S, their reality jumps would not accidentally take members of the other groups with them.
A few seconds later, the Lowe family used the reality device that Chang had given them, to teleport to Gomez's base, first. Then, Chang's group teleported seconds. And the other groups began to teleport in the order that Chang had given them.
Soon, there was no one left in the room. And the battle against Gomez and his Interzone organization had begun.
To be continued.
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