Maria DeMarco never thought that she would find trouble amongst her many businesses. After all they were the public face of where her money came from. She was after all a retired Prima Ballerina and like most such women she invested her money wisely. But trouble she did find and in the one place she would never have thought to look. One of the schools she loves and sponsors. Can the Black Badge Deputies ferret out the people behind the troubles before Gemini has to deal with Gym Class?
by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.
Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.
Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.
Twin Pines Mall Akin South Carolina: just after 1pm…
Kasey and Kristine had been walking through the mall for the past hour. They had spotted the Lipizzan Girls fifteen minutes after they entered the mall. They knew that the team was there to follow them. They had also spotted the two members of the Drill and Rifle team. As they walked into one of the stores, the girls passed Sam. Kasey smiled and in Spanish said. “Four horses and two gun bunnies.”
Sam took the statement and looked around causally. She quickly spotted the girls' tail. Staying with Spanish Sam smiled at her daughters. “Nicely done girls, but did you count the two horses’ asses on the far side of the mall?”
“Oh, we spotted them but they are not part of the Lipizzan Girls. Minor players, but still possible lookouts for the rest of the Hostiles.” Kristine’s smile never reached her eyes. Switching over to English. “Have a good day Mrs. Everbrite.”
Both girls waved and walked away. Sam continued into the mall. Using her earwig, contacted Anna and Annette. “Got eight fleas on the northern concourse.”
Anna was the first in her reply. “Have four fleas and one slug on the southwest concourse.”
“Only two fleas on the southeastern, but nine slugs.” Annette told them both.
Sam didn't like the idea of there being ten known criminals walking the mall. The more unknowns that came into play, the more uneasy she felt. Pulling out her cell, Sam contacted Bobby and Hunter. Sam didn’t bother with saying hello when Bobby answered. “Bobby, how soon will you guys be clear?”
“May be thirty minutes, why?”
“We got several of employees of the Henleys and Gilroys trailing both Annette, myself and the girls.” Sam knew that the guys needed this Intel now.
“How many have you girls clocked?” Bobby asked.
“Ten so far. Bobby, I don’t like where this is going. The Henleys and Gilroys have enough muscle here to pull off the snatch before we could do anything.” Sam had summed up the situation faster than Bobby or the others could. This was her greatest skill. The ability to asses a situation and give real-time possible scenarios. That skill had saved her ass more than once as a fugitive hunter.
“Damn it! We knew that Henley girl had a hard-on for Gemini, but nothing like this. Okay, drop back but keep an eye on the girls. We’ll be there as fast as we can. Hang in there Sam, stick with the plan.” Bobby told his wife.
“Love you too Bobby. I’ll pass on the changes to Annette and Anna.” Sam hung up and continued to watch the girls as she dropped back. As she did so, she was brought up short by three men in work clothes. “Excuse me gentlemen.”
“You need to come with us.” One of the men said. Sam looked the man over and could see the prison tattoos. She immediately recognized the gang tats for what they were. They marked the man as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. “Our boss wants a word with you.”
“And if I don’t?” Sam asked bluntly. She knew the answer before Ugly gave it.
“You can come along peacefully or you can get dragged. The choice is yours.” Ugly grinned at Sam menacingly.
“Yah, you can be all lady-like or you can be a whore that gets a beating.” The smallest of the three said. Sam knew this one was a member of MS13. Looking at the third member Sam tagged him for a member of the Vandals. In short, all three were hardcore mercenaries for some of the most violent gangs in America.
“You know that there are security cameras all over this place right, gentlemen?”
“We’re not too worried about that, bitch. Now, do we do this the easy way or the hard way?” Ugly had taken over as the leader.
“Very well, we’ll do this the easy way.” Sam knew she had to play for time. Waving her hand for Ugly to lead the way Sam smiled. “After you ugly.”
“Watch your mouth, bitch.” The big man snarled. “Our boss, didn’t say anything about you being able to talk.”
Sam just smiled at the man. “Then let’s not keep your boss waiting. Besides, I want to get back to my shopping.”
On the southeastern concourse, Annette was having her own problems with part of the local talent. As with Sam, she was stopped by three former prison gang members. Like Sam, she too played along with the three men. Of the three team members in over-watch, only Anna was left in play. The last four thugs had walked right past her. Using her age and mild-mannered appearance to her advantage, Anna maneuvered herself to cover the teens.
Pulling out her cell phone Anna called Maria. “Madam Maria, both Swans have been forced out of play by known employees of the Gilroys and Henleys.”
Maria replied hotly. “Shit, I am on my way now Anna. Have they spotted you yet?”
“No, and I am sure that they are only here for the Swans.” Anna answered.
“Why?” Maria asked.
“They appear to be the local muscle for the Hostiles. The four that passed me all had prison gang tattoos and were dressed in work clothing.” Anna quickly explained. “If I had to wager, I would say they are here to intimidate the Swans. They very well could be the ones behind the threats and vandalism of the teachers over at the schools.”
Maria acknowledged. “Very well then, Anna. Let the Swans handle the thugs, stay on Gemini. They are YOUR main responsibility. I’ll be there shortly.”
Anna could hear Maria changing her clothes in the background. “Should I contact Stalking horse and Rumrunner?”
“No, I’ll take care of that once I am rolling.” There was a pause then Maria came back. “Anna, whatever happens next, KEEP Gemini in your sight.”
“Si, Donna Maria.” Anna just hung up her phone and went back to watching Kasey and Kristine giving their tails fits. “Very good, girls. Don’t make it easy for them, but not too hard. You want them to herd you into what they believe is a trap. Do not worry my little doves. YOUR grandmother Donna Maria ‘the Dove’ DeMarco is on her way. And may the good Lord above have mercy on the souls of those who would dare to harm you.”
The temporary home of Maria DeMarco…
Maria had already dressed in black skinny jeans, a light blue camisole, and boot socks earlier that morning. When Anna had called her with the news that Sam and Annette were out of play because of local thugs, Maria quickly finished dressing. The long sleeve dark navy blue turtle neck sweater offset her eyes and black hair. Her knee-high dyed black Italian leather riding boots gave her just enough heel and style to be inconspicuous. To the very day person, she looked like just another lady rider just leaving the stables for the day.
The weapons harness would be well hidden by her bolero jacket of black Italian leather. The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact .40 S&W, along with two extra magazines, went into the custom made Galco VHS Shoulder System. Maria, placed her family knife between her shoulder blades in the sheath that had been made into the VHS rigging. Much like the others on Ram’s Rock Island, Maria had her weapons harness made especially for her, but long before most of them were born and in leather.
The same could be said for the bolero jacket she now pulled on. Inside the front left side was a place for two more magazines and five more knives. In the right side, Maria placed the same. Between the two sides of her jacket Maria had four, twelve round magazines and ten throwing knives. Maria, placed one last item inside her jacket, a highly illegal silencer.
Maria grabbed her purse and keys as she headed for the garage in the backyard. Opening the garage door Maria let her eyes fall on a car out of her past. During the night, Maria had Anna drive her over to Augusta, Georgia to a self-storage center. The last time anyone had seen this car; it was wanted in connection to the death of a used car salesman twenty-nine years ago. Maria, smiled as she ran her hand across the fender of the big black nineteen-seventy-two Dodge Challenger.
“Time to go to work old friend.” Sliding behind the wheel of the muscle-car Maria’s joy at driving this classic car was tempered by her worry for her granddaughters. “I’m coming my doves, and Hell is following.”
Even though no one was there to hear her, Maria's use of Italian would have gotten the attention of her team. The roar of the Challenger’s engine was one of pure power. Power that Maria would have no qualms about using. However, it was with great restraint that Maria drove out of her drive and onto the street. As much as she wanted to unleash the power of the 340 cu in V-8, with Holley four-barrel carb, Maria knew that this was not the time for that power to be shown.
Outside of the Twin Pines Mall…
Sam smiled as Annette and her ‘escort’ of thugs arrived. “So sister dear, I see that have found your own group of ‘admirers’.” The fact that Sam was using Italian pissed off Ugly.
“What the fuck did you just say cunt?” Ugly snarled. “And what did I tell you about talking?” the man started to rear back punch Samantha.
“I would not do THAT, Ugly. In fact, I would say that we have been more than accommodating with you. Now, please explain why you have so rudely interrupted our shopping?” Annette commanded.
“What is with these two cunts?” Shorty asked of Ugly. “I say we just do these bitches and say fuck it. The Henleys ain’t paying us enough to put up with this kind of bullshit.” Ugly punched Shorty instead of Samantha.
“YOU STUPID FUCKING SPICK! Now we don’t have any choice. They know we work for the Henleys now, thanks to you.” Turning back to Sam, Ugly just shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry about this. We were just supposed to scare you two into leaving town. Now, we got to kill you.”
Sam and Annette took-in the alleyway where they stood. They both noticed the security camera and Sam pointed this out. “Well, you’ll have to take us somewhere else to do that Ugly.”
The big man chuckled. “Nope, no need to go anywhere.” He pointed up at the camera. “That piece of shit don’t work. Hasn’t worked in months.”
“Let me guess; every time the repair order gets put in, it somehow manages to get lost in the paperwork shuffle?” Annette asked the man.
“You know for an arrogant stuck-up bitch, you ain’t stupid. Too bad your brains aren’t going to help you now.” As Ugly went to punch Annette the two assassins turned deputies showed their real colors and struck.
The six convicts may have been hardened by years behind bars, but they were nowhere near ready to face the Swans as they lived up to their heritage. Since their return from Bobby’s home both women had been carrying three knives when out, during training and even when just shopping. The first was forged in the manner of the DeMarco blades with a total of seven metals. The second blade was forged by Bobby, at his home forge, with eight. And the last was their Capizeo family blade with nine different metals.
The two women became the six thugs' greatest fear in seconds. Annette slashed the throat of her first antagonist before he even knew what was happening. Her second target had even less time than his friend to react before Annette plunged her second knife deep into his heart. The last man that had just enough time to pull the Bowie hunting knife at the small of his back. Not that it did him any good. Annette brought both of her blades across his stomach in a dual slicing motion. The attack gutted the man like a corn-fed deer. As he dropped his knife to try and hold in his bowels, Annette drove her family blade into his right ear and into his brain stem. He died the way he lived, violently.
Sam hadn’t wasted any time either in dealing with her unwanted escorts. Ugly never saw the blade that ended his life. Sam had come at him with an upward thrust that drove her Family knife into his brain. Even as Ugly was falling, Sam had pulled her knife out and thrust her DeMarco blade into the chest of Shorty, piercing his heart, killing him instantly. Her last opponent barely had time to pull the concealed pistol at his waist. With an upward slash, Sam almost severed his right hand from his right wrist. With a straight thrust Sam pierced the man diaphragm and left lung. His scream was cut off before it was even born. As Sam withdrew her knife, she let the man fall to his knees. With the certainty of a true Capizeo, Sam ended the man’s life by slitting his throat from ear to ear.
The two women looked at each other as they caught their breath. Sam was the first to speak. “We need to get rid of these bodies fast, sis.”
“Let’s use what they were going to use for us.” Annette pointed to the trash compactor at the end of the alleyway. There on the front in bold letters was a warning to keep all non-paper or recyclable materials out of the compactor. “We should be able to get their bodies in there with little or no problem. Hell, that bad boy even has a pit-opening for easy loading. Just be careful of the blood. We don’t have replacement clothes with us.”
Sam smiled over at Annette then pulled out her cell phone. “Got a better idea.” Sam waited a few seconds for the other end to be answered. When it was, she put her phone into speaker mod. “Command, White Swan here.”
“Go ahead White Swan. How can we help you?” Kimberly asked.
Sam wasted no time. “Command I need you to bounce a nine-one-one call for me.”
“Hold on White Swan. Why are we bouncing a nine-one-one call?” Kimberly asked.
“We ran into a few of the local muscle talent. They thought they could scare us into leaving town. When that didn’t go the way they wanted, they figured a gangbang would get rid of us. Now, we have six bodies that are littering the back alleyway of the Twin Pines Mall.”
“Okay, now why are we bouncing the nine-one-one call?” Kimberly was confused at this point. She thought that the Swans should be getting rid of the bodies by now. “Shouldn’t you ladies be trying to get rid of the bodies?”
“Not this time, Command. We need the bodies FOUND. Trust me on this. Oh, and make sure that the security company for this mall gets told about the dead security camera in the alleyway. It seems that it has been down for a few months now. The paperwork has been getting lost in the shuffle.”
“Understood White Swan. I still don’t understand why we’re bouncing a nine-one-one call for you, though.” Kimberly repeated.
“By the time we get back to Gemini, the LEO’s will be converging on the scene and we’ll be elsewhere. Remember this has to be an anonymous tip. The call centers record all cellphone numbers regardless of where they come from ever since nine-elven.” When Sam outlined her worries, Krystel picked up on where she was going first.
“Dolphin here White Swan. Don’t worry about the call, I’ll take care of it from here. You and Black Swan get the hell out of there. Get back in there and cover Gemini. I have them being herded toward one of the exits by a bunch of unfriendlies and Anna has her hands full just trying to keep them insight. I have them on the mall's surveillance feed now, but the moment they exit, things get sketchy at best.” Krystel informed them.
“Copy that. Out” Sam just hung up her phone and looked at her sister. “All, taken care of sis. Without that video feed, the local LOE’s will never know who did this. Right now, we need to get back into over-watch on Gemini.”
Outside Twin Pines Mall…
Maria had found a parking space close to the entrance near the food court and headed inside. As she entered she spotted something that set her nerves on end. A group of five cadets from SRMA were sitting at one of the food court tables. Only these cadets weren’t part of the Drill and Rifle teams. Not when two of them were females and the three young men all had gang tattoos. The only reason Maria even knew they were cadets was by their uniforms. Deciding to take a chance Maria wandered close enough to over hear their conversation.
“I’m telling you, those fuck buddies of Gilroy's are here somewhere, and they’re up to something.” One of the girls said quietly.
“Look Lisa, I know you are tight with Candice here, but how can you be so sure she heard them correctly?” the oldest of the cadets asked.
The other female cadet began to sign in a very pissed off manner. Maria had learned ASL years earlier so she could talk with one of her cousin's children, so she knew what the girl was saying. The fact that the girl started off by saying she learned to pay attention as a slave in ways that the boy wouldn’t understand, grabbed Maria’s attention. It also explained why the girl was using sign. She was a rescued slave from the Styx.
When the girl stopped signing the boy looked over at Lisa. “Um… okay Lisa care to translate?”
Lisa glared angrily. “Good grief Mike! I know that you’re planning on going into the Marines after you graduate, but damn it, this is a skill ANYONE could use.”
Maria interrupted. “Excuse me young lady, but that is no way to talk to someone who is your superior rank. I do understand where you’re coming from though.” Maria looked over at the young man in question. “And cadet Sergeant, your Corporal is correct. Failure to learn something just because you THINK it has no place on the battlefield, is foolishness in the extreme. Trust this old woman, young man. I know former military officers and NCO’s better than most. Why, I am even married to one. Now, Candice has told you that she knows what she heard and for you to pull your head out of your ass. Personally, I find such language unlady-like, but I can see her point of view. Also, have you thought about using your phone with the text to voice app?”
The teenage girl looked up at Maria in pure surprise. The past few months she had been relying solely on ASL and translators to get her thoughts out. Quickly taking out her cell phone, Candice looked for the text-to-voice. When she found it, her fingers began to fly. Once done, she hit play. The computerized voice of Siri came out in clear tones. “Thank you, ma’am. I never thought of using this app. Can I give you a hug?”
Maria just smiled and nodded her head yes. Candice got up, walked around the table and gave Maria a hug. When the girl let go, there were tears in her eyes. Maria just smiled at her and caressed the girl’s cheek. “No tears now, Candice. You and your friends go have fun now. As for me, I need to be about my business.”
The cadets all stood up and started to leave. But each one stopped to give Maria a hug before walking away with the cadet Sergeant smiling at Maria. “Thank you, ma’am for giving Candice back some kind of a voice. We’ve been trying to get her to come out of her shell for weeks now. I know you understood what she said at the beginning of her chewing me out. I’ve learned enough ASL to know she said something about her time as a slave. Please keep that to yourself?”
“You care for her as more than just a friend, don’t you Sergeant? You wish she would return your feelings, don’t you? Take some advice in this matter. Give her time, she is still coming to terms with what was done to her. As for me telling the world about her past, you have nothing to fear. I do wonder; where her parents are. Don’t they care about their child?”
Mike Lynwood had never met a woman of Maria’s age before, so he was a little surprised. Here was a woman who was old enough to be his grandmother that was open minded. So, when she asked about Candice’s parents he sadly sighed.
“They don’t want anything to do with her, Ma’am. They blame her for what was done to her on that ship. They’re really big Holy-Rollers, if you know what I mean?”
“Sadly, young man, I do. I lost contact with one of my daughters for a time. It is a small hope, but one of her parents may come back into her life given enough time. All, I can say is have faith and give her time.” Maria patted the young man on his shoulder and left to find her granddaughters.
As the old woman walked away, Mike Lynwood watched her closely. There was something about this woman that made him think about his own grandmother in Orangeburg. “I think I might need to make a phone call home tonight. I just hope that granny doesn’t kill me, for bringing home a Chinese girl.”
Maria hadn’t realized the impact she had on the cadets as she walked the concourse looking for her granddaughters. She spotted Annette and Sam first. They were both moving at a rapid pace towards her.
When they were less than ten feet away, Sam asked what was on their minds. “Madam Maria, what are you doing here?”
“Back-up for the back-up. You didn’t really think I would just sit back while my granddaughters were playing bait, did you?” Maria gave them both a smirk. “Now, tell me what have you two been up to and where are MY granddaughters?”
“Sorry mama, but we don’t know where the girls are. Before you lose your temper, understand, we were dealing with the thugs that have been terrorizing the teachers. They caught us here in the mall.” Annette explained.
“Where are they now?” Maria knew that there was a reason the girls were being vague. It had to do with those thugs.
At the sounds of sirens Sam smiled. “Being cleaned up by the local LEO’s, in about, now. We left them in the back alley-way the mall uses for trash pickup.”
“What about video surveillance?” Maria asked quickly.
“None. Verified by Command. The camera in the alley-way has been down for months.” Annette answered. Then she had a thoughtful look on her face. “What do you want to bet; that camera went down shortly after or before the first threats against the teachers at AEGS?”
Maria didn’t wait and pulled out her phone. Once it was in secure mode, she contacted Kimberly at Command. “Command, have you gone over the records for that camera in the alley yet?”
Kimberly answered. “Just completed it, Madam. That camera hasn’t reported anything in five months.”
“Thank you, Command. You just confirmed a suspicion of Black Swan. While I have you on the line, can you direct us to Gemini’s location?” Maria asked.
There was a pause on the line, then Kimberly came back. “Madam, why are you in the target area?”
“I will go where I am needed Command. Now, get me that location.” Maria snapped.
“Roger that Madam.” Kimberly chuckled. The fact that Maria would even go out on an operation like this was way out of the ordinary and proof that they were done playing around. “They are at the far end of the southwestern concourse. Anna has eyes on them as we speak, but they’re surrounded by a group of girls from their school. Looks like they're stalling, without looking like it.”
“Damn. Thank you Command, we’re moving now. Try to keep an eye on them for as long as possible. We should be able to cover them in three minutes.” Maria led the deputies towards the southwestern concourse at a brisk pace.
As much as she wanted to get to her granddaughters, she couldn’t risk drawing attention to herself or her daughters. This was part of the operation. She may not like it, but she had to let things play out.
The three of them had just reached the near end of the concourse when Anna contacted them over their earwigs. “Where are you girls?”
“Right behind you Anna.” Annette said quietly.
“Thank the Lord. You’re alright. How far back are you?” Anna asked.
Sam replied. “We’re all at the end of the concourse. Why?”
“Good. Head for your truck. Gemini is trying to avoid a confrontation here in the mall. The Hostiles have given them a choice. Either they face them downtown in the old Riverwalk area or they will have to fight them here, in the open. Gemini went with the first option, to keep down the chances for YouTube and other unwanted videos getting out. I believe the Hostiles wanted them to do exactly that. They wanted Gemini to try them in the mall.”
“Tell her we’re heading for our cars now, dear.” Maria ordered.
“We’re on our way to our cars now. Stay with them Anna.” Annette said as the three women all turned to leave.
Anna replied. “Don’t worry about me. Just be aware, that the Madam is on her way.”
“She’s already here. We’ll outfit her with an earwig, once we’re clear. Talk to you later.” Sam answered Anna.
“Good thing you girls brought those extras. Any word on Stalking horse and Rumrunner?” Anna asked over the earwig.
“None so far, but we’ll inform them of the change in plans. How are Gemini handling the confrontation?” Annette asked.
“Like the pros they are. You can be proud of your girls. Now hurry, before they leave the parking lot and are out of sight.” Anna signed off while Sam, Annette, and Maria hurried from the temple to consumerism.
Maria reached her car first, due to the fact that she had parked closer. Sam and Annette got in behind her as she started the engine. With reflexes born of years of driving at high speeds, Maria maneuvered her car to where the deputies had parked their truck. Sam was the first out and returned with an earwig for Maria.
“We’ll be able to communicate with each other now without using our phones now, Mama. Please, don’t try to handle this on your own?” The love Sam felt for Maria had grown over the past year. She had always looked on Maria DeMarco as a second mother going all the way back to her early childhood. The last months had raised the love to new levels. So much so that Maria was now more like her own mother.
Maria sighed as she smiled at Sam and caressed her cheek. “Mia cara Samantha amorevole del sudore. You have always been such a loving child. I will not put you through that horror again. Nor allow someone to harm a hair on your child’s head. Now hurry Samantha, our youngest members need our help.”
Sam smiled at Maria one last time and jumped into the driver’s side of the F-150. Annette was already on the phone to Bobby and Hunter. Seeing this, Maria put her Challenger in gear and headed for the Riverfront area of the downtown area. When she first started looking at property in the area, this was one area she paid close attention to. She knew that there wasn’t any CCT cameras or other surveillance cameras in the area. Only the ones covering stores or ATM’s.
As the thought of ATM’s and store security cameras crossed her mind, Maria had an idea. Pulling out her cellphone at the next red light Maria contacted Command. “Kimberly, can Krystel tap into the security feeds for the ATM’s and stores in and around the Riverfront Walk shopping area?”
Maria could hear typing in the background and smiled as Kimberly replied. “Give us a few minutes and we should have most of the feeds in that area. What's the latest?”
“Gemini has been called out, just as we thought they would be. Per Anna, it went down almost like we wrote a script for it. That’s where we are.” Maria almost chuckled at the scene as Anna described it to her and the Swans.
“Okay, Madam, I have a total of seven ATM’s and forty-six in store security cameras in that area. Sorry, but that is all there is. There's no satellite I can commandeer yet. If Gemini pass any of them, I’ll let you know.” Krystel felt she had let Maria down.
“You have done your best, Krystel. That is all any of us can ever do. And your best is far and away better than anyone else that I know of in this area. Now all we can do, is hope that Gemini pass one of those few cameras.” Maria signed off and concentrated on her driving.
Maria arrived before the others did, by ten minutes. Looking around the area; she spotted Kasey and Kristine once again, being herded toward an area out of sight. Only this time it was by six very large young men. Maria could tell by their age and haircuts that these boys were the trouble-makers from SRMA.
Maria had been so locked on her granddaughters and the SRMA cadets, that she almost missed the Lipizzan Girls blocking their escape route. Now that she had the earwig, Maria let the others know what was happening. “All teams, report in and hold where you are. It looks like the snatch is going down now.”
“Copy that Madam. Stalking horse and Rumrunner at Riverwalk; north end, heading south.” Bobby answered quickly.
“Swans; the south end, heading north. Should pass your position in five mikes.” Annette called out.
“Negative Swans. Pull over, park and hold your position.” Maria ordered again. Maria could tell that her daughters wanted to stop the kidnapping before it started. Unfortunately, they needed for the kidnapping to happen.
Maria turned her attention back to where her granddaughters should be. She had no sooner scanned the area for the girls, Anna contacted her by the earwig. “Madam, I have them coming into view behind the bakery. They are in the company of six cadets and eight Lipizzan Girls. That is all I can see at this time. There are three passenger-type bus vans in the alley-way behind the bakery.”
“Do not close in Anna. Stay back and let the pros take over.” Bobby said over the earwig.
“I know HOW to run an observation and recon Stalking horse.” Anna snapped. “I was doing this type of work before you were born, youngster.” Samantha and Annette giggled at Anna’s correction of Bobby. “Silence you two! You girls know better. I should know, as I help train the two of you.” This time it was Bobby and Hunter who chuckled at Anna’s rebuke.
They went quiet at Anna’s next update though. “Hostiles have forced Gemini into one of the vans. They’re playing their part as bait, perfectly. Madam, am I go for blocking?”
“Negative, Anna. Stand down and pull back. We need them to lead us to something that will connect them to our primary Hostiles.” Maria ordered.
“They’re pulling out now. Gemini is in the third van. A Ford E two-fifty, light blue, plate number: Hotel, George, One, Nine, Seven, Five. Looks like one of the vans the schools use for transporting students to competitions. Hold on, I just got a look at the side. Yes, the vans are all from the Savanah River Military Academy.” As Anna reported the vans and their location, Maria had moved down the side alley-way to verify her findings. She got there in time to see the three vans make a right-hand turn.
“Stalking horse, take the next left and pick up the tail. Swans; go up two lights, turn right and cut across to Rosewood then fall-in on Team two’s tail. Anna, pull around to the Riverfront and park. I’ll pick you up and we’ll rejoin Teams One and Two at Fourth and Hoosier.” Maria received a round of ‘yes ma’am’ from the deputies and a ‘si Donna’ from Anna.
Maria had to contain her chuckle at her old friend’s reply. No matter what happens, Maria will always be the Donna for the DeMarco Crime Family. No amount of cajoling, pleading or ordering, will ever change that fact. After all, Anna had been Maria’s Consigliere since before Annette was born.
It didn’t take long before Anna was parking next to Maria’s Challenger. The two women were quickly on their way to catch up to the rest of the team. When Bobby called out that he needed to hand off the tail, Sam was quick to pick it up. By the time they were ready to hand off again, Maria was in position to take up the tail. As Maria and Anna drove, Maria recognized landmarks.
“Team Two, turn left on the next cross then the next right. Drive for seven miles then take the first right after the railroad tracks.” Maria knew that her directions would take Bobby and Hunter around to the far backside of the Gilroy property. A thirty-five-acre horse farm on the outskirts of town.
Maria had taken to reading the land survey reports for both the Henleys and Gilroys. She taken this precaution the day it became apparent that her granddaughters could be put at risk. Maria, knew every detail of both estates and their surrounding out-buildings. Like the true Mafia Donna that she was, Maria planned a hostile rescue the way she planned an assassination. Down to the last detail, minute by minute. It was something she admired in the other half of the organization she now belonged to. Only this time; she planned not only a rescue, but the total elimination of a criminal family. Only the children would be spared when Maria reaped her vengeance.
Maria’s anger had been growing over the past two days. These two families had at first threatened something she had come to love, the two schools financially. Then they started to threaten the students of those schools. Next came the threats against the teachers. The last straw though, was the intentional endangerment of children placed in protective custody. Children that her family had risked all, to save and free from slavery and depravity. Then just a few days ago, someone in one of these two families had sent men to attack her granddaughters. Now, that same person had DARED to kidnap her granddaughters. Maria had wiped out ENTIRE organizations for far less.
To say her anger was barely under control, would be a massive understatement. It was not the refined Mafia Donna Maria DeMarco who tracked the kidnappers, but one of the most wanted assassins in the world, even today; the Dove of Death. By the time this mission was over, there would be Hell to pay, and the Dove was going to be Charon’s paymaster. Just as Maria expected to happen, the three vans split up at the gates to the Gilroy’s horse farm. Only one went through the gates, while the other two continued going straight.
“They are acting like the amateurs they are, my Donna.” Anna said from her seat.
“I would expect them to act no other way, Anna. I would wager that the two vans with the other children are, even now, returning to their schools. Can you tell to which school they are heading?”
“Yes. They are heading for your friends’ schools. Both vans have AEGS and SRMA stenciled on the doors. From what I observed, most of the young men and ladies weren’t in favor of kidnapping your granddaughters.” Anna pointed out.
“Are you sure of this?” Maria asked quickly.
“Si, Donna Maria. There was almost a fight between the ones in the last van and the ones that returned to the other two vans. There was a good deal of dissention among the group over what was happening. You could tell that most did not want anything to do with what the Gilroy or Henley children were doing.” The more Anna talked about what she saw the more Maria liked it.
“This is a good thing, Anna. If the Lipizzan Girls and the Drill and Rifle teams are breaking away from the Gilroys and Henleys, then the girls have a fighting chance of breaking up the bullies, in one school at least. As for SRMA; Bobby and Hunter’s group now has a better chance at success.”
“It also means that we do not have to do what you are planning, Donna Maria.” Anna was not surprised when Maria looked over at her in shock. “I knew the moment you left the house in THIS car, that you were set on killing all those involved. I have seen you like this only one other time in all our years, Maria. Please, turn away from this path you have set your feet upon. We can still take them down, without you having to bury both families.”
Maria knew that Anna was right and had once again let her emotions get in the way of her professionalism. “This case is hitting to close to home Anna. I am losing my objectivity and reasoning, letting my emotions run wild. This is not like me. This is twice, in as many days, that my emotions have come close to ruling me.”
“It’s understandable, Donna Maria. You have never had to face the thought of someone hurting your family. Across the world, every Organization knows that to hurt a DeMarco in anything, but self-defense is a declaration of war. A war that not even the Russians would win. The problem We have been facing here, is that we have been dealing with AMATEURS. We cannot handle this as we would a war between Mafiosi Familia’s. Why, we cannot even look at this as we would war between two rival la Cosa Nostra clans.” Anna Knew that she had calmed down her friend.
Maria sighed and took a deep breath then relaxed. It took Maria a few seconds to organize her thoughts, but Anna was on top of the situation giving orders to the two teams. Sam and Annette had followed the two vans heading back to the schools. On the other side of the Gilroy horse farm, Bobby and Hunter had found a spot to observe the barn and stable areas, while being concealed. Maria drove on past the main gate to the Gilroy farm for another two miles before taking the next left. Before long Maria spotted the boys F-350 pickup.
Gilroy estate main stables…
Kasey and Kristine had to fight to keep their smiles hidden. Everything had gone just as their grandmother said it would. They were confronted in the mall by half the Varsity Dressage team or Lipizzan Girls. Once they had accepted the challenge to a fight away from the school and in a place of their choosing, Kasey and Kristine knew the trap had been set. They just had to walk into it. The one thing they weren’t expecting, was the appearance of the Drill and Rifle team members.
When Kasey and Kristine had first accepted the challenge for a fight, they thought it would be against the Lipizzan Girls. When they were confronted by the Cadets of SRMA, the girls knew that something else was going on. They were quickly proven correct, when three of the boys’ coats flashed the semi-automatic pistols. They also noticed that five of the Varsity Dressage Team were arguing with Adaline, Chantel and Alexis. They weren’t the only ones either. Several members of the Drill and Rifle team were having a massive bitch fit with the Henley brothers, and the Gilroy boy. This was playing into their hands.
“Sis, you seeing what I’m seeing?” Kristine asked of Kasey in a guarded manner.
“Oh yes, little sister. I’m seeing what you’re seeing.” There was a worried tone to Kasey’s voice. A tone that Kristine had heard before.
Kristine asked. “What do you think is going on?”
“I figure that the other cadets and Lipizzan Girls have just figured out that the Henleys and Gilroys are to leave them hanging.” Kasey never took her eyes off the two groups. “My guess is, one of them finally put two and two together and came up with the National fucking budget.”
“IN other words, someone figured out that the Henleys and Gilroys need dead bodies to make their scam work.” Kristine sighed. “And seeing as we got a good look at ALL their faces. We were just nominated to be the organ donors.”
“Yup, that is about the way I see it, sis. The question will be; how long we can stall before the Cavalry arrives?” Kasey, like Kristine, knew that their parents were out there somewhere getting ready to storm the place. Seeing a fist fight breaking out between the boys gave Kasey an idea. “And I think I know how to buy us and the Alpha team time. Just play along when they come to get us out of the van. Before you ask, I’m going to sow a little more dissent among our enemies.”
Kristine just smiled at her older sister. Over that past months, Kristine had found that while she could turn just about any computer out there into her bitch, Kasey could twist just about anyone around in circles. Oh, between the two of them, the girls were deadlier than ALL Hell in the cyberwarfare world, but they were vastly different in the real world. Kristine was slowly catching up to Kasey, but she still had a long way to go.
Looking out the wind-shield Kasey smiled. “Smile, we’re about to be the next contestant on: the Price is Wrong!”
----- to be continued -----
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