Man hunt in the Heartland -chp1


Man hunt in the Heartland

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Sam and Bobby have gotten Kristine to safety and brought down the Law, Order and God party. Now they face a new challenge. Can they find the missing Wit-Sac files in time to stop their sale to the highest bidder?

by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.

Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.

Edited by my husband Paul, Honeysuckle, and djkuffman.

~o~O~o~

This is a work of fiction an any persons in this work are purely fictional.


Chapter 1

Three days had passed since Sam and Bobby had landed on Ram Rock Island; they had been thinking over what they wanted to do. Maria and the others had been using Lyssa’s home ballet studio to its full advantage. Maria had had Annette, Kasey, and Kristine in the studio for an average of eight hours a day. For some reason she was pushing the three to be their best from the second day they had been on the island. Sam wondered if it had something to do with the fact that the DeMarco family had a chance to come out of the cold.

The money and gold that was in the back of the F-350 was split between Kristine and the DeMarco’s. Lyssa had told Sam that she would get the gold taken care of for her. What Lyssa was going to do with it Sam had no clue. She and Bobby spent a good deal of their time on the range working with their individual weapons. Bobby did surprise Sam and the others with his skill with his sniper rifle. There was one place that both Sam and Bobby didn’t like, the islands Kill-house.

The Kill-house was something they weren't too keen on. Watching Tiffany, Shawna and Krystle go through there put them off of it. The three never left any hostiles deemed survivable. Watching them go through led by Lyssa with Rodrick and Pete was even worse. Kill-house became an understatement. There was nothing but pure military special operations annihilation in their training.
The two times that Bobby and Sam ran through the Kill-house Lyssa and the others found that they felt one too many survivors. However they understood the differences in training. That was until Sam and Bobby got pissed. The third time they went through the Kill-house both Sam and Bobby showed just how deadly they could be. For Sam it was a return to the training she had at her mother and fathers side. For Bobby it was going back to his days in the US Army as a Special Forces Ranger before becoming an MP. Only Lyssa and Rodrick could tell the difference in Bobby’s performance on the third run.

They all understood that there were certain areas that were off limits and stayed away from those areas. Other than that, the six of them had the run of the island. Sam and Annette had gotten into the practice of going for a Parkour run around the island in the mornings. There was one member of the island population that unsettled the new comers. While the girls weren’t too afraid of the big dog they did know Warlock was no pet. Only Bobby truly understood what the dog was, and after hearing the German commands he had pretty much put two and two together. In his time in the military Bobby had ran into more than a few tactical/patrol dogs. Bobby knew that Warlock was not to be messed with.

Around the fifth day are so Sam and the others met Lyssa and Rod’s twin babies. After seeing the baby boy and girl Sam went to the range. No one followed her they could all tell something was bothering her. Sam was on her fourth target and twelfth reload when Bobby found her. “Want to talk about it, Sam?”

“No, Bobby.” Sam never even turned around she just raised her rifle to her shoulder and started to blow holes in the new target. Bobby picked up the empty magazines and started to reload them. Whatever was bugging Sam Bobby knew she was doing her best to deal with it in a way that made sense to her. An hour and seven boxes of 5.56 rifle ammunition later Sam finally set her rifle down.

Bobby didn’t waste any time and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “You know I love you Bobby, but you have to understand that I can’t have children. You would be better off with a real woman who can give you children.”

“I call bullshit on that Sam. Listen there are hundreds, no thousands of naturally born women who can’t give birth to a child out there and that doesn’t make them any less of a woman. So what you can’t have a child of your own, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a mother. We just adopt one or more when we’re ready.”

“Bobby I know that you’ll want to have your own child to raise not someone else’s. I can’t and won’t stand in your way for a chance at happiness.”

“Is that why you have always turned me down?”

“Ever since you introduced me to your family Bobby I knew you were in love with me. Look, you can still go home Bobby, it’s not too late. I am the only one to have gone rogue. I am pretty sure that Lyssa can get you back in the states undetected.”

“Wrong, Samantha, neither of you can go home.” Both spun to look at the mysterious woman that basically ran the island. The one that everyone on it seemed to answer to. Lyssa Kordenay-Mason. Neither had seen nor heard her approach. The woman moved more silently than a ghost. So much so that her manner was disturbing.

“As much as I would love for you two to be able to go home, that is no longer possible. I do not have time to explain the reason behind this right now. There is something that I need to leave and take care of, but I will explain everything when I get back. For now though I think the two of you need time to really get to know each other.” Before either Bobby or Sam could ask what she meant, Lyssa walked away.

Left to themselves Bobby took Sam’s hand and lead her toward the beach. They never noticed the C-130 taking off as they embraced each other in their mutual love for the first time. With Sam’s weapons forgotten about they made love to each other for the first time as the waves of the Caribbean waters lapped at their feet. Later that night Sam and Bobby would return to Lyssa and Rod’s house under the stars of the Caribbean night sky as true lovers. Over the next few days the two would, slowly at first, but with great passion, affirm their love for each other.

******

Federal Building, Toledo, Ohio the office of David Earp, early morning…

For the last five weeks David Earp and Dorothy Rose had been doing a real house cleaning, in not only the Marshals, but more than thirty different law enforcement departments all across the nation at all levels. Every agency from your local PD and sheriff’s deputies to members of every branch of the Federal law Enforcement agencies that included the FBI and Homeland Security. Then there was all the Law, Order and God Party arrests. David sat behind his desk reading the reports concerning the arrests of the LOG party leadership.

As he read over the names of the people arrested in what would become known as the greatest political take down in centuries, David felt his bile rising. Twenty seven senators, eighteen congressman, nine state governors, eleven federal and state judges, the list just went on and on. Almost a full tenth of the country’s leading politicians were now either under arrest or under investigation. Then there was the mess with Lamont and Wesley.

Between that mess and the fall out of the LOG arrests things were getting interesting. The sad part was most of the LOG suspects will either end up in Club Fed or a slap on the wrists with the only really punishment being the end of their political careers. Then there was the report from the Denver office. Someone had killed a witness in the Wit-Sac program along with their handler.

The truly strange part about the killing was the witness had been in the program for so long that there was no one left to pay the bounty. The report went on to say that the witness was one of the stolen files. That was a real sore spot with him and his boss Dorothy Rose. No matter where they looked they couldn’t identify who had stolen those files. With his two best Trackers off the grid and most likely with new identities he had no one to track down the thief.

The only bright spot in his dreary morning was the sudden appearance of over several billion dollars in a secure account in the names of the Carstairs victims. There was enough money in those accounts to set them all up with new identities and lives. David had his suspicions on where that money had come from but no way to prove them. He knew that somewhere out there a young computer genius was behind this act of generosity. His thoughts were interrupted by his sectary.

“Excuse me sir, but ADA Ironsides is here to see you.”

“Thank you Kathy, go ahead and send her in.”

“Yes, sir. By the way she is not alone. Marshal Rose and a Mister Doggerty from the Department of Justice are with her, sir.”

“Thanks for the heads up Kathy. After you show them in, close the outer door and take an early lunch, make sure it’s for three hours.”

Kathy didn’t understand why her boss wanted her out of the office but knew it had to do with the man from DC. “Um yes sir. I’ll be back around two, but if you need me sooner I’ll have my cell phone with me.”

Dorothy Rose led the two guests into David’s office. “David I know that you had hoped you won’t be seeing me so soon, but we have a real problem. I assume you have read the report from Denver?”

“Just got done reading it, Dorothy. I take it by the presence of Robbie and Mister Doggerty this has something to do with the stolen Wit-Sec files?”

"It sure does David. Mr. Doggerty here is the lead investigator for the Congressional sub-committee of internal security. He's in charge of the investigations into the LOG and Lamont cases. It seems that the two of them are connected. The problem is we need a pair of Deputies to investigate who have no clear connection to either one," Dorothy said after they all sat down.

"You lost me, Dorothy. I don't how that makes any sense. How does the blown Wit-Sec case tie into the other two?" David asked confused.

"I think I can explain this part, Marshal Rose," Doggerty said before setting down a file in front of David.
Dorothy nodded.

Doggerty explained, "A few days ago the ICE of one of the DOJ servers was cracked by an outside source. The Black Hat left a trail leading back to a coffee shop in Denver. By the time your fellow law enforcement officers realized they had been hacked the CRACKER was long gone. We were able to identify the compromised records though. At present there are seventy four high profile witnesses that have had their new ID's compromised. Every last one of them has a million dollar or more black-bounty."

David's eyes narrowed. This man wasn't a regular congressional snipe. He spoke LEO and Intelligence too fluently, but not like a street cop turned Fed. The man reeked of prior military. So much so, that David took an almost instant dislike to the man. David had worked with a few Intel types during his time in the Corps and this guy had all the markers.

"Any leads on who the Black Hat hacker is?" David asked.

Doggerty replied, "Just a screen name. The hacker goes by the handle 'Free fall'. Until recently they were in the private employ of the LOG party; we know that much. As to whether they are male, female or even what race we have no clue. Everything we have been able to dig up on this person from LOG records leads back to a black hole. Whoever this person is they are good."

“Okay, so we have no idea of who we’re looking for, great just great. So tell me what you want Mr. Doggerty?”

“David do you remember that conversation we had in the car a few days ago?” Robbie asked him.

“Are you talking about that off the books operation?”

“Yes.”

“I take it Robbie you want to use my two deputies to go after the hacker, along with a certain witness?”

“That is exactly what we’re proposing Deputy Earp.” Doggerty put in.

“I wasn’t talking to you, Doggerty. Now shut up before I have your ass thrown out. I don’t care if you are from the DOJ or appointed by Congress. If you think I am just going to dump two of my deputies out there with no backup you’re fucking nuts.” Turning to Robbie. “Consular you have ten minutes to lay out your plan. If, and this is a big ‘if’, I like what I hear I’ll give you the go ahead to use my deputies.”

“Wrong, David. This is going to happen whether you like it or not. Now before you go chewing my head off understand they are my deputies as well. I don’t like it, but this may be the only way to get the job done.” the fact that Dorothy was even thinking of going black with an operation like this had David’s undivided attention. “Don’t worry; Sam and Bobby will have backup but it is not going to come only from inside the law enforcement community. Everything will be off the books but Sam and Bobby won’t be on their own. I am sending Hunter and Bat to help.”

“What about the legal side of the house Dorothy? How we going to cover that?”

"The team has been authorized Lethal Action for any persons involved in the crimes resulting from the theft of those files,"
Doggerty stated bluntly, "Each and every person involved is considered terrorists and traitors by the US government, Deputy. There will be no trials for these people. A full Lethal Finding has been issued. A Liquidation Mandate is in effect for these people." The man's frankness blew David away.

“Now wait one damn minute here. My deputies are not assassins for anybody!” David exclaimed. “Just who the hell do you think you are, Doggerty?”

“David, this is nothing that the Marshals haven’t done in the past. On more than one occasion a warrant was issued as dead or alive, preferably dead.” Dorothy said with sadness in her voice. “This is one time I hate my job, but it has to be this way. We can’t
let someone offer up our witnesses to the highest bidder. Then there is the fact that a good number of LOG party leadership members are still at large. If they get theirs hands on those files they can possibly black mail our legal system into lower sentences or even releasing already arrested members.”

“Okay Dorothy I get it already.” Looking over at Doggerty. “If one of my people get hurt or killed cleaning up this mess Doggerty you better make sure that no one can find you. Because if that happens you better pray it’s me that finds you.”

Doggerty sat casually, "Are you threating me, Earp?"

“Nope. Just stating facts. I know for a fact that one of the witnesses in Samantha Justice’s care right now is your worst fucking nightmare. Take it from me, Maria DeMarco will not stop until you’re either dead or she is.” David got up from his desk and started for the door to show them out. Looking over at Robbie. “Remember Robbie there is an old Sicilian proverb about double crossing someone. It goes like this. ‘The blade of vengeance cuts both ways. One way for justice the other for revenge. Be careful when you pull it.’ the last time I looked Sam and the DeMarco’s were Sicilians. They live by the old world codes. Now get out of my office and go do whatever you plan on doing.”

Dorothy lamented, "David; this is the only way."

“Keep telling yourself that Dorothy; just remember what Sam did when we first meet that girl twelve years ago. As you do I want you to understand that you’re about to turn a force of nature lose with a kill or be killed mandate.”

“Trust me David I know that. Why do you think I am sending Bat and Hunter to back up her and Bobby? I of all people know what that woman is capable of when she turns lose.” Dorothy led Robbie and Doggerty out of David’s office.

After they were gone and he was alone David went over to his office files cabinet. Opening the top draw he grabbed the hidden burner phone. Leaving the building he walked down the street to his favorite coffee shop. After placing his order David walked to a back corner table. Pulling out the burner he quickly sent two text messages. One he knew would go a voice mail holding system, the other would go straight to the burner phone that Bat carried. When his coffee arrived he sat back and thought about what was about to happen with his deputies. It didn’t leave him with a warm fuzzy feeling.

***********

The office of Roberta Ironsides……

Robbie and the man everyone was calling Mr. Doggerty walked into her office in silence. Once inside Robbie turned to her real boss. “I wish we didn’t have to do this Major. Is there any other way to do this?”

“I’m afraid not, Robbie. I would prefer to have the O.I.C.A. handle this, but they have way too much on their plate as it is right now. As it stands there is a full team just sitting around in the sun and swimming on the beach that is perfect for this.”

“Damn it, Major. Two of those people on that so called team are minors. Teenagers for god’s sake. One is just turned thirteen and the other is barely sixteen. How can you be so damn cold about this? They’re kids and civilians not some soldiers you can order about.”

“Wrong, Robbie, all three of the DeMarco’s are criminals. Oh they may not have records, but we both know that those women are no angels. As for the Masterson girl lets be blunt here. She is on the top of the most wanted list for hackers. Those four women can start repaying their debts to society.” Major Dannigan turned to leave Robbie’s office. “I know you don’t like it Roberta, but there are times when to preserve our way of life we have to do things we hate. I’ll make all the arrangements. You and your office will be in the clear on this, along with the Marshals. The only people to be involved will be the six people on Ram Rock and the two deputies that Earp is going to have meet up with them.”

“How do you know he’ll even send the other two deputies?”

“I would place short odds that he has already sent word to all four deputies by now about what is about to happen. Have a good day Robbie and remember if anyone asks I’m just some pencil pusher from DC.” With that the man known to Robbie only as her contact in the OICA walked out of her office.

"Damn you, Major! And all your cloak and dagger business too! Dad why did you ever have to be in military intelligence with that man?"

**********

In a private boat club on Lake Eire, Cleveland Ohio…

Bat and Hunter were walking down the dock toward the forty foot cabin cruiser ‘Far and Away’ when Bat’s burner phone signaled an incoming text. It had been over five weeks since their boss David Earp had given Bat the phone with clear instructions to keep it with them at all times. This was the first time they had ever heard anything from the phone. Bat pulled it and opened the text message screen.

‘Baby sister and friends in deep shit. Return to home plate soonest. Full blackout in effect.’ Was all that the message read. Bat showed hunter the text saying. “Hunter it looks like our goof off time is over. If this message means what I think it does Sammy and Bobby are going to need some backup fast.”

“You know something Bat. I have had this feeling that our friend over in the DA’s office has something to do with all this and the Ghost plane from that night.”

“I figure you’re right there partner. Come on let’s get going. No use in wasting any more time on these ‘leads’. I figure we can give Sam and Bobby a little more lead time and get some for ourselves if we turn these over to the boys in IA.”

“Sounds good to me. Let the rat fuckers earn their keep for a change.” Hunter had on more than one occasion voiced his displeasure with Internal Affairs. The two men headed back the way they came when they were stopped by two of the Cleveland police department patrol officers. “Hi guys can we help you with anything?” Hunter asked them.

“Id please.” Was all the older of the two said.

“Sure no problem.” Bat told the man as he and Hunter pulled out their shields and creds. “Deputies Masterson and Taugh out of the Toledo office.”

“Thank you, deputy Masterson. We received a call about two strange men walking up and down the docks looking over the boats here. I take it that those two men were you and your partner here?”

“Yup most likely it was. We’re up here following a lead on a fugitive. The report said they have access to several large boats capable of making an ocean crossing.”

“Can you tell us who this fugitive is? We might be able to give you a hand in finding the boat that you’re looking for.”

“It would be one Preston Carstairs and his wife.” Bat said with a smile.

“Shit! They’re headed this way! Why the hell weren’t we notified about this?” demanded the young officer.”

“Don’t ask me officer Daily. We sent out the BOLO’s five weeks ago. Since then me and my partner here have been checking every private boat and yacht club on Lake Erie for any boats belonging to the Carstairs or the LOG party.”

“No shit guys I think we’ve walked down so many docks, boat ramps, and docking slips that I have webbed feet now.” Hunter joked with the two Police officers.

“Well if you’re looking for boats belonging to the LOG party you’re in the wrong marina. The one you want is over on the far side of town. It’s called the Grover Yacht club. That’s where all the big money puts their boats.” The older officer said with a small smile.

“Thanks for the lead Officer Hightower. We’ll head over there now. You guys have a good day and stay safe out there.” as Bobby and Hunter walked away they looked at each other and then back at the two LOE’s. Sure as shit both men had headed down the dock toward the ‘Far and Away’. Half way there the two pulled out their service weapons and started scanning the cruiser. “Just as I thought they would do. Well screw them. Let them waste all day going over that boat and find nothing. It would serve them right for trying to be glory hogs.”

“You know something, Bat. One of these days you’re going to do something like that and the LEO’s really will catch a bad guy.”

“I know what you’re saying Hunter, and when the time comes I’ll let the locals take all the glory because they will have earned it. Come let’s get going. I figure we have about a two to three hour drive back to home plate.”

“Sounds about right we should reach Toledo right around rush hour. Why don’t you call David before we leave Cleveland though? He may need us to head somewhere else other than home plate.”

“Just head for home plate Hunter, I have a feeling that we won’t be there long.”

Five hours later Bat’s words would prove to be prophetic. The two men only had time to head back to their homes and grab enough clothes for ten days. The two of them were packed and on their way to Denver, Colorado. For Hunter going off the grid was no problem. Bat gave his wife a hug and a kiss. Something that he did whenever he knew he might not be seeing her for a long time. For some reason he had the feeling he wasn’t going to be seeing her for a very long time.

**********

Practice Range, Ram Rock Island…

Sam’s undercover burner phone buzzed in her hip, pocket letting her know that she had a text message waiting for her in her undercover voice mail. Putting her forty five in its holster Sam reached into her back pants pocket. Opening the phone she pulled up the voice mail and entered her pin number. Seeing that the message was from David Sam opened the text message. “Shit! Bobby we got a problem!”

After holstering his weapon Bobby step over to read the message. His own reaction to the text matched Sam’s. “Son of a bitch! What the hell has happened since we have been gone?”

“I don’t know Bobby, but I figure we’ll be finding out in the next few hours.” Like Bat, Sam’s words would prove to be just as prophetic. When Kimberly called them all to one of the class rooms Sam and Bobby knew that their time on the island had come to an end. After they all took their seats Kimberly began the briefing. “First off I want Maria, Annette, Kasey and Kristine to know that this is all voluntary and you don’t have to partake in what I am about to propose.”

They all just nodded their heads yes in understanding. “You have all seen that what goes on here at Ram Rock Island and Ram Air Charters is not your normal everyday charter plane operation. As you may have already guessed we are also a highly secret Intelligence operation. You have already come across us in your investigation into the LOG party. Yes, we are the OICA and you have all basically been dropped into the shark tank wearing chum vests. Now you have several choices you can make. The first of which is you can join our team and become operatives like Tiffany, Shawna and Krystle.”

Looking over at Maria. “The only one who we will not take is Madam Maria only because of your age Maria. I am sorry but this is a young person’s game. What this means for Kasey and Kristine is they will receive all the training they need to survive in this world. It will include a full education equal to that of most Ivy League college prep schools. The next option is we set you up on your own with totally new id’s however you will be on your own. If you step across the line and break the law again you will be receiving a visit from someone like us.”

Kimberly let the threat hang there in the air as she looked at each of the DeMarco’s and Kristine. As much as she respected the older two women as dancers and assassins she knows that if they didn’t retire she would have to carry out the Liquidation order. Once she was certain that Maria and Annette understood where they stood Kimberly gave them the third option and the one she hoped they would take.

“Now the third option has to do with the Marshals and hunting down fugitives inside the US that have been placed under a Lethal Finding. There is also the odd Dead or Alive warrant issued that has to be carried out. So what will it be ladies?”

“Miss Kimberly may I ask why Kasey and me have been left out on most of this?” Kristine asked her.

“Kristine you and Kasey have not been left out. If you go with the first or third option you will receive all the training and medical treatments needed to become the girls in your hearts. For Madam Maria she will have students to teach in both the ways of her family traditions and in her first love, ballet. While Sam, Annette, and Bobby will be doing the leg work you and Kasey will be doing the technical support work. I am very impressed with your hacking skills. If you take the first of third options I will become your mentor in the world of cyber warfare and one of yours and Kasey’s teachers.”

Kimberly let Kasey, Kristine, Maria and Annette think over their options and turned to look at Sam and Bobby. “Unfortunately, deputies you do not have a choice in this matter. It seems that there is a situation that needs your particular skills. I have also been informed that this will be a totally off the books operation.”

“I knew we shouldn’t have made those reservations in Nassau.” Bobby quipped. “Just how bad is it, Kimberly?”

“In short, Bobby, it is a true, by the numbers, total cluster fuck of epic proportions. One that is so bad that a full Lethal Finding has been issued to handle the problem. At this very moment ‘Dead or Alive’ warrants are being issued for everyone involved with the situation. To be clear deputies there will be no arrests and no trails for the suspects. Like I said this is totally off the books and in the dark.”

“I take it that Bobby and I are expendable?” Sam asked Kimberly.

“No you're not expendable; you will have creds and shields for every Federal Law Enforcement agency. Your covers will be whatever they need to be to get the job done. The DOJ and Marshals are doing their best to keep this from getting out.”

“How much of this mess goes back to the LOG party members that are still on the run and that piece of shit Lamont?”

“It is a little more complicated than that Sam. It seems that a few days ago the ICE of one of the DOJ servers was cracked by an outside source. The Black Hat left a trail leading back to a coffee shop in Denver. By the time your fellow law enforcement officers realized they had been hacked the CRACKER was long gone. They have since then been able to identify the compromised records. According to the latest report, at present there are seventy four high profile witnesses that have had their new ID's compromised. Every last one of them has a million dollar or more black-bounty."

“Who’s our backup?” Bobby asked, already knowing that he and Sam were going to be heading for Denver.

“That would be deputies Masterson and Taugh.” At the looks on Sam and Bobby’s faces Kimberly had a feeling they knew them.
“I take it that they are friends?”
“You could say that Kimberly. How soon before we leave?” Sam asked her. Before Kimberly could say anything Annette spoke out.

“If you think you’re going to leave my ass here while you go hunting down dangerous criminals on your own Samantha you have lost your mind.” Annette looked up a Kimberly. “I take it that option three is a chance for my family to redeem ourselves Kimberly?”

“Yes it is, Annette. It’s there for both you and your mother along with Kristine and Kasey. It seems that even though you were able to help with taking down the LOG party and exposing them for the criminals they are, there are more than a few who feel your family has to make amends.” Kimberly told her.

“Fine! I’ll do it. Besides this way I might get a chance at getting Sam and Bobby in the sack at the same time.” Annette had not been subtle in her attempts of getting the two deputies in the sack for a roll in the hay. Everyone was laughing as Bobby turned a very bright shade of red and Sam gave her longtime friend and one time lover the evil eye.

“Very well then Annette I’ll put your name down as accepting the deal for you and your family. Now, as much as I would love to spend time going over this file with you all, I need to go take care of the travel arrangements. You are all night HALO jump certified, right? Just kidding,” Kimberly winked and left the room Bobby and Sam both turned to Annette.

“Annette, you don’t have to do this. They can’t just go back on their agreement. You and Mama Maria were promised a new life for that evidence against the LOG. You kept up your end of the deal, let me and Bobby get ahold of David before you go doing something you’ll regret later on.” Pleaded Sam.

“Samantha! Enough! Annette has made her choice and we shall live with it just as she will. Yes I know that we were promised the Wit-Sec program, but in a way this is better. The DeMarco family has for too long operated outside of the law. It is time we repay the debt we owe society. Now I will leave you three to sort out your travel arrangements. Kasey, Kristine, we still have some day light so back to the studio.” Madam Maria DeMarco, one time Prima and Mistress of assassination had spoken and both teens new better than to argue.

Once the three adults who would be leaving the island were alone they got down to the business of how they were going to find a nameless and faceless criminal. It was Annette who came up with their first clue after an hour of brainstorming. “Damn it! We all know who to get on this hackers trail.”

“Annette, I love you like a sister but if you don’t start making sense I am going to pull you over my lap and paddle you!”

“Samantha we have the number one most wanted hacker sitting on the side lines. Why aren’t we using her skills?”

“Annette, I am with Sam on this, just what or who the hell are you talking about?” Bobby grumbled at her as Sam looked at Annette like she had grown a second head.

“Look you two are some of the Marshal’s top Trackers right? You won’t let someone tell you how to hunt a suspect right? So why are we telling a hacker not to track down a hacker? I mean if you want to catch a thief you use a thief.”

Sam was caught on before Bobby did and said at the same time as Annette. “Kristine.” When Bobby heard who they were talking about he too realized the mistake they were making.

“Well what are we waiting for? Let’s get her happy ass behind a computer screen while we go pack for our trip. Next topic do we take the SUV or the F-350? They both have advantages and disadvantages.”

Both women looked at each other before looking back at Bobby. “We’ll take the F-350 Bobby along with the Ducati. If we need a second undercover vehicle we can unload it and have two or more sets of eyes on our prey.”

“Okay, I can see that, but if anyone does the bike thing it’ll be me. I am not going to let the two of you put yourselves in unnecessary danger understood?” both women just looked at Bobby and smirked. They both knew this argument wasn’t over yet, not by a long shot.

After getting Kristine in front of a computer under the watchful eye of Kimberly the three hunters went to pack. It took them just over two hours to get everything they would need packed and loaded in the pickup truck. They all headed back inside to see if or what Kristine had found. To their surprise Kristine had a lead for them as they entered to office area.

“Hey moms, I’m pretty sure I know who you’re looking for. For starters the person you're looking for is male, and his real handle is the White King. That bull shit of Free Fall pulling off this hack is just that. Grade A, USDA, Bull shit.”

“Um… for those of us who are not computer geniuses please explain how you came to that conclusion, but with words that normal people understand?” Bobby complained to the teenage girl.

Giggling at Bobby Kristine opened a new window on the computer screen. There on the screen was the picture of a forty seven year old science professor from Southern California University. Looking back over her shoulder. “Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce Professor Robert Haze, a.k.a. Free Fall to the hacker community. Born nineteen sixty three on August the twelfth, died two thousand and six on May the fourth of lung cancer. To be blunt whoever started this hunt had no idea of who they were trying to hunt down. It’s no wonder the Denver PD or whoever was sent after the Cracker didn’t find anything. I would bet you a thousand to one that the hack didn’t even start at the coffee shop.”

“Hold up here, short round. Are you trying to tell me that we’re not chasing who they said we are?” Bobby was shaking his head at Kristine’s pure skills and innocence over what she can make computers do.

“Yup, that is exactly what I am saying. The White King used a well-known computer hacker as his cover. You see Free Fall was known for breaking some of the hardest security systems out there. Only he did it as a legal profession after retiring from So Cal. There are a lot of private companies that pay people to try and hack their systems. That was where the good professor made the most of his money and his name as a hacker.”

“Okay, but why didn’t the boys and girls in wherever figure this out?” Annette asked Kristine.

“Oh that’s simple. The White King went out of his way to hide the truth about the good professor. The only reason I know about him is because of my friend over at Ohio State, Professor Kathrine Koll. She had me do a paper about him a year ago. She wanted me to know the difference between being a Hacker and a Cracker.”

“Excuse me Kristine, but did you say that you were tutored by Professor Kathrine Koll?” Kimberly asked the teen with some surprise.

“Yes ma’am. She was even in my support group back in Columbus. Why?”

“Oh it’s nothing. I was just surprised that you would know her is all. Please go on with your briefing for your team.”

“Yes ma’am. As I was saying the person you’re looking for is the White King. In the computer community his is known as the worst bully out there. He has been known to crash someone’s pc just for laughs. What tipped me off to who the real cracker was is the way they signed their code. Only the White King would use the binary signature of ‘Better to reign in Hell than serve in heaven.’ The White King is also a pure psychopath and doesn’t care who he hurts.”

“Do you have a physical description, picture, or a name to go with the handle Kristine?” Bobby really wanted to know and hoped she did.

“It’s all printing out now in the other room, Bobby. I figured you would want something like that. His real name is William C. Hurtz and no he isn’t related to the Hurtz car family. However you’re not going to find him in Denver. The man hates any town with a pro sports team. When you get there start looking for him in Aspen. The one thing he likes more than computers is skiing. He is a notorious horn dog and your best chance of finding him will be on the bunny slopes. Oh and one other thing. Now please understand this is only rumor, but the few people who have met the man say he never goes anywhere without a world war one trench knife. They say he has been known to use it for self-protection.”

“Deputies here are your cover ids and extra credentials with badges. Lonestar has your pickup load and is waiting to take off when you’re ready.” Kimberly was smiling as she had an identical packet to Annette. “Welcome to the US Marshal Service, Miss DeMarco. You will find your real credentials and badge in this envelop along with the cover ids.”

“Wait a minute! Did you just welcome me into the US Marshals?”

“I sure did Deputy DeMarco.” Kimberly just smile and left the room leaving behind three people laughing their asses off and one very confused ex-assassin. Only Bobby and Sam knew how this could have happened.

“Damn it! Samantha, don’t laugh at me. How am I going to explain this to mama?”

“Annette, all I can say is hide that from her until we’re either airborne or landing in Denver. Right now we need to go meet our pilot and get our asses to Denver. Thanks for the heads up Kristine about heading for Aspen but we have no way of notifying Hunter and your uncle Bat.” When Kristine giggled all three adults just looked at her and waited for the punch line. “I already sent them a text to meet you in Aspen. They should be there in two days at most. Uncle Bat said they were going to do the driving in shifts and stop only for gas and food.”

“That figures. I swear that man is going to give himself a heart attack. Alright let’s get going. I figure we should reach the Aspen airport in ten to twelve hours.” Bobby comment before turning to Annette. “And Annette don’t tell your mama about that package.”

“Tell me about what package, Robert?” no one heard Maria walk into the room. Everyone turned to look at her standing there in the doorway. “I asked you a question young man. Just what is my daughter supposed to keep from me?”

“Um… mama they made me a Deputy Marshal.” Annette said from behind Samantha. When Maria heard this she made the sign of the cross and looked at the celling. “I agreed we should atone for our sins, but we'll never live this down. Why oh Lord have you done this thing to my family?”

--------- To be continued-------

*All LKM characters use with the permission of Snowfall.*



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