After two years of heavy hard hitting make or break cases and a little arm twisting Maria as take her family to Sicily on vacation. Unknown to them or the OICA a deadly ghost from the past would rear its ugly bringing with it death and destruction.
by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.
Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.
Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.
Sant’ Agata di Militello, Sicily
Maria smiled as she watched her family playing in the surf of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Even that scallywag Hunter had come to be part of her family. The love shared among the four adults was clear for all to see. To Maria, Hunter was one of the two sons she never had. The first time the big man called her Mother Maria she had to stop herself from crying. That had been over three months ago, following their return from South Carolina.
Two months ago, had been the surprise visit and subsequent mission into a post-nuclear Hell called Dead Zone for U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence. Samantha and Annette required a few days to finally relax from that. It was then that Anna had the idea, for the whole family to visit the ancestral home of the DeMarco and Capizeo families. Three weeks later they were cleared to go.
Maria laughed at the antics of her granddaughters as they splashed and played in the warm summer waters of the Tyrrhenian. A mere week after returning to the island from South Carolina, the same specialist that had performed the surgeries on Lyssa, Kimberly, Tiffany, Shawna and Krystel had been flown in. Oddly enough, the same specialist had performed the surgery on Mindy. The teens recovered quickly and were able to frolic without worry.
This was truly a very relaxing vacation for all those involved. It had taken some work on the Command Staff of Ram’s Rock Island to get cover IDs for everyone, but the Black Badge Deputies were here. This was one vacation that Maria wanted to enjoy with her whole family. The one she had promised herself long ago, was now in front of her.
“Scusami, ma sei tu la signora Maria DeMarco?”
The voice from behind her was one that she had not heard in almost thirty years. Maria, pulled her sunglasses down and looked up over her shoulder.
“You know damned well who I am, Rinaldo.” Maria took her time as she stood up. This was one man she didn’t want to face sitting down.
The two faced each other in an antagonistic manner for a few seconds, then grabbed each other in a hug.
Rinaldo spoke first. “Damn it’s good to see Maria! How have you been sis?”
Maria laughed at her brother. “I have been well Rinaldo. May I know how it is that you know I am here?”
“Are you kidding?! Maria DeMarco shows up in Sant’ Agata di Militello, everyone knows. It doesn’t matter what name you use, the locals know, sister. Now, who are these six young people I have heard you’re traveling with? I know that one of them has to be my niece, Annette.” Rinaldo DeMarco set Maria down as he answered her questions and asked his own.
Maria knew that he was telling the truth. Of all the places in the world she and her family could go, this is one place that she would always be known to the locals. Seeing no way around it, Maria waved for Samantha, Annette, Bobby, Hunter, and the girls to come in.
“I will introduce them all to you in a moment Rinaldo. As it is, the two dark haired beauties are your nieces and the teenagers are my granddaughters. The men with them are your nieces’ husbands. So, no poaching of the girls.”
Rinaldo stared at Maria for a moment, then looked hard at the two dark haired women. The taller of the two he could tell right away was his niece Annette, but the petite woman had all the looks of a Capizeo. The two teenagers were as different as the two, adult woman. Rinaldo was many things but dumb wasn’t one of them.
“The petite one is Marko Capizeo’s daughter. There is no mistaking this Maria. We heard that they were all killed. How is it, that this girl is here with you now?” There was a note of worry in Rinaldo’s voice that Maria understood better than most. He did not want a war in his hometown.
“There is no need to worry Rinaldo. She is family and yes, she is the only survivor of that fateful night. She has been under my protection for the last fourteen years and is one of ours. Is there going to be a problem?”
“No, sis. It’s just that, if she is a Capizeo, then she is the last.” Maria had heard the stories. Rinaldo had just confirmed the truth of those stories. The Capizeo family had gone to war with the two families here in Sicily that had murdered Samantha’s family in the states. It was a war that no one won. Both sides had died to the last. “Tell me, do they dance?”
Maria just laughed at her brother’s joke. Like all DeMarcos, he referred to the art of assassination as dancing. As Maria laughed Sam and the others walked up the beach to them.
Annette was the first to recognize the man standing with her mother. “Uncle Rinaldo!”
Annette practically tackled the man with her hug. Samantha, Bobby, and Hunter hung back with Kasey and Kristine. Once Annette had stepped away from her uncle, Rinaldo stepped over and picked Sam up in a massive hug.
As he did so Rinaldo whispered into Sam’s ear. “Welcome home little one. Your secret is safe here.”
Sam returned the hug and whispered back. “Thank you, Uncle Rinaldo. It is nice to have my family back.”
Once she was on the ground with Annette, Rinaldo stepped over to Bobby and Hunter holding out his hand. “I see my nieces have good taste in men. Gentlemen, I am Rinaldo DeMarco. It is a pleasure to meet you both.”
Bobby was the first to shake his hand. “Robert Everbrite, sir. The pleasure is mine.”
“Hunter Taugh, sir.” Hunter grabbed Rinaldo’s hand firmly.
Rinaldo looked at the two men with curiosity, then a smile. “Welcome to my country, Deputies. It is an honor to have you here.” The entire Black Badge team stood stock still at hearing this. Rinaldo, quickly took in their shock at having their identities exposed by him. “Oh. Sorry, please forgive me. Do not worry, you are all safe here. Let me reintroduce myself. Chief Inspector Rinaldo DeMarco; for Interpol.”
Hearing Rinaldo’s title all seven members of the Black Badge Deputies broke out laughing. Maria had to put things into perspective for Rinaldo. “Sweet Mother of God! A DeMarco; as an Officer of the Law!”
This of course got Samantha, Annette, Kasey, and Kristine laughing all the harder. Even Rinaldo had to join in with the laughter as he understood the joke better than most. After all, the DeMarco family had been one of the biggest crime families for over four hundred years. The fact that he was a Chief Inspector for Interpol, was just icing on the cake.
Once Maria had calmed down, she smiled up at her brother. “Rinaldo, I believe that we all need to reintroduce ourselves.” Grabbing her purse off the sand Maria pulled out her credentials and showed them to her brother. “Marshal Maria DeMarco, at your service, Inspector. My daughters and their husbands, are my Deputies.”
“Holy Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. An entire family of law enforcement officers?! No wonder no one could find you, sis. You have been hiding in plain sight the entire time! How in the world did you get involved with the U.S. Marshals?” Rinaldo couldn’t believe his ears.
“Excuse me, Inspector, but none of that is open for discussion.” Hunter told Rinaldo in a harsh tone. One that Rinaldo understood all too well.
These Deputies may be here on vacation, but they would protect their covers. If they had to kill to do that; they would. Rinaldo knew this and had no doubt in his mind that his sister wouldn’t stand in the way of them doing their duty. Hell, she would most likely help. Or at the least, supervise. Rinaldo just nodded his head that he understood. Looking at Kasey and then Kristine he smiled.
“And who are these two lovelies? Future Prima’s maybe? No, I see the fire in their eyes already, you two will be following in the footsteps of your parents.” Rinaldo titled his head to the side. “And maybe a little more I think. I have no doubt that you girls shall make your parents proud.”
“Rinaldo, let me introduce your grandnieces, Kasey Maria and Kristine Maria.” Maria had placed her hands on the shoulders of the two teens to calm their nerves. “Girls, this is your great uncle Rinaldo.” Maria whispered in their ears. “Give him a nice Sicilian hello girls. He is very ticklish, have fun.”
That small bit of encouragement was all the teens needed to let their mischief sides out. Giggling they slide up on each side of Rinaldo and reached up on tiptoes to plant kisses on each check.
“Hello uncle, do you have something sweet hidden somewhere, for us?” Kasey smirked just before the two girls started to tickle the man. The sudden tickle attack caught Rinaldo off guard.
It wasn’t long before the teens had their great uncle down on the beach laughing. Rinaldo threw his hands up in an act of surrender. “I surrender, already, I surrender.” Both teens backed off and smiled as Rinaldo sat up and looked at Maria. “They are your grandchildren Maria. They have your mischievous side in spades.”
“Thank you, Rinaldo. I do my best to teach them how to get information from suspects without leaving marks.” Maria just smirked. “I call it, Fun Time Interrogation techniques.”
“Mom, how many times have I told you? The Supreme Court has ruled the use of whips, chains, ball gags, and feathers in an Interrogation, as being cruel and unusual punishment. You have to stop teaching the girls those techniques.” Sam complained.
“Yes, mama. We really don’t need another call from their principal complaining about the girls and the way they get bullies to confess. I thought that football player was going to sue over them supergluing his thighs together.” Rinaldo laughed when he hears Annette’s complaint.
Rinaldo looked at up the gathered family. He could see the love of the four parents for the teenage girls, and their love for their parents. “You have done well for yourself, sister dear. What are your plans for dinner this evening?”
“I had planned on taking everyone to our old place. Why?” Maria wondered what her brother was up to.
“Why don’t you all come by my place and let Clarice cook for you all. I will call before we do anything, but I know she would love to see you again Maria. It has been what; thirty years or so?”
Maria looked at her family and saw that they were all hoping for the home cooked meal. “We’ll be there Rinaldo, but only one condition. You call Clarice here in front of me. There is no way in Hell, that I am just going to drop in on your wife unannounced. That woman would gut me and you.”
Rinaldo just laughed, but nodded his head yes. A short phone conversation later with his wife Clarice, Maria and the Black Badge Deputies were set for dinner that night. Maria promised to bring the wines.
The Home of Rinaldo DeMarco
At just short of six that evening, Maria walked up the pathway to Rinaldo and Clarice’s house. The younger members of the team were scanning their surroundings as they passed through the gate to the DeMarco home. Even Annette found new security measures from what she and her mother had at their homes. It was Kristine though that spotted the hidden cameras, while Kasey found the disguised motion sensors.
Both girls smiled at each other as they knew that as good as the security was, they could get through it unnoticed. As this thought crossed their minds Samantha put a pin in the balloon. “For everyone camera, motion, heat, and vibration sensor you see, there are two that you don’t girls. Remember the first rule for very contract.”
The teens groaned, but answered their mom Samantha. “Know who your target is first. Then know everything you can about him.”
Maria didn’t even look back at her granddaughters as she heard this. “I am glad to hear that you have been paying attention in your classes with Anna. Now, start using that education, before you get yourselves killed.”
Maria’s very blunt reminder that they were in a foreign country hit home for both teen members of the Black Badge Deputies. The fact that they may be with their parents, but they were still not as safe as they are on Ram’s Rock. “Yes, Nonnina, we will remember.”
Rinaldo had been watching them as the small family walked up the pathway. While he may not always be on the same side as most of the DeMarco family, he will never turn his back on one. The fact that his younger sister Maria had come home was a surprise. Thankfully there had been many changes over the years since Maria left. Enough that it was no longer dangerous for a DeMarco to step away from the old ways. DeMarco’s were no longer feared here in the old country because they were assassins, but because they were Enforcers of the law.
“Rin, has Maria and her family arrived yet?” Rinaldo turned at the sound of his wife’s voice. Clarice had been over the moon with joy since hearing Maria’s voice over the phone. It was not surprising to him, as they had been friends since the time they could walk.
“They are just now walking up the pathway love. As usual, Maria is being fashionably late.” Rinaldo had moved to open the door as he was talking to his wife, so when he opened the door, it was to see Maria standing there glaring. “I swear that woman will be late to her own funeral.”
“Not only will I be late, dear brother, but I intend have company. Starting with your sorry ass.” The ages’ old joke got brother and sister laughing. Maria handed Rinaldo a bag with four bottles of wine then pushed him towards the kitchen. “You can get out of my way now. Girls! Kitchen!”
Rinaldo just chuckled as Maria, Samantha, Annette, and the two teenagers pushed past him. Bobby and Hunter both smiled at the older DeMarco. “I see that you two have been on the receiving end of Maria’s less than pleasant ways at times.”
Hunter started to chuckle before Bobby did, but they were soon joined by Rinaldo. After dropping the wine off in the dining room, the three men moved over to the living room. There Rinaldo fixed the three of them drinks, while they waited for dinner to be served. During the wait, Rinaldo traded crime stories with his U.S. Counterparts. Hunter and Bobby made sure to avoid the more recent operations of their team.
When Rinaldo asked about Maria being a Marshal, both Bobby and Hunter explained that he had to talk to her. This was not the answer he was hoping for. When he asked about Sam or Annette, he got a very blunt answer to back off. When Rinaldo asked about the teens, Hunter had to stop Bobby from pulling his knife.
Hunter decided to turn the questioning around on Rinaldo. Bobby saw where his partner was going and just let Hunter do his thing with a smile. “Inspector care to tell us how a DeMarco, still in the old country, was able to become a Chief Inspector for Interpol?”
Rinaldo chuckled at this very blunt confession of his family’s reputation. “The answer to that, Deputy Taugh, is not a simple one. I think the best way to explain how this all came about, is to start with my sister. After she left Sicily behind for the stage, our father became a drunken fool. It was his own drunken mistakes that allowed the Carabinieri to arrest him and his fellow mafia. Those arrests helped take down more than just the Old Guard, but allowed a lot of the sons and daughters to walk away from the life. For those like myself and Maria, most of us, turned freelance and left Sicily. The few of us that stayed, we looked to using our skills to repay our family sins. So; when it came time for me to leave home, mama told me to join the Carabinieri.”
Bobby and Hunter both started to chuckle at this. “I take it that you two gentlemen have heard a similar story?” Bobby and Hunter just nodded their heads yes at Rinaldo’s question. “As you can see I have made good on my mother’s dream of the DeMarcos finally stepping into the light.”
“In more ways than one, sir. So, how did you go from the Carabinieri to Interpol? I mean, that is a big jump sir.” Hunter gave Rinaldo his due.
“It was a smuggling investigation Deputy. Well, I should say it started off as a smuggling investigation, that ramped up to so much more.” Rinaldo’s face took on a hard look as he thought about the case that made his career and destroyed another’s. “My move to Interpol was more of a need than a want Deputy Taugh.”
Bobby and Hunter looked at each other and nodded. They had seen the signs in their host’s face. Bobby coughed. “We both know what it means to have a rat in the department, sir. The U.S. Marshals are supposed to be the best of the best and all that horseshit. We’re supposed to be the real Untouchables. The truth of the matter is, we have been dealing with a large amount of corruption in our own service here lately.”
“Our team had one case that sent seven Chief Inspectors, three Department Heads, and a Chief Deputy behind bars. Believe us sir, we know and understand. Just don’t ever give up the fight.” Hunter’s words had the desired effect.
“Ah, yes. I have heard of some stories. Thank you, Deputies. Yes, that case did involve a corrupt member of the Carabinieri upper ranks. To be truthful it was my Captain. The man was covering for a known weapons, stolen art, and drug smuggler. Needless to say, things became a little uncomfortable for me in the Carabinieri after that.” Rinaldo chuckled. “It might have something to do with the captain dying in his jail cell, before his trial.”
“Damn. That is just rough. I take it that your fellow Carabinieri blamed you for his death?” Bobby questioned. To which Rinaldo just nodded yes. “I can see why you jumped at the chance to work with Interpol.”
“No joke partner. I have had the chance to work with Interpol in the past, sir. I have always found your organization to be highly respected and extremely professional. Should you ever need our help with a case in the U.S. we’ll do what we can for you.” Hunter put in.
“Thank you, Deputies. But, I do not believe in using family ties when handling cases. The idea of nepotism is one that I wish to avoid.” Rinaldo knew what the deputies had offered and knew he could not accept. “Besides, I doubt that your Marshal would allow you to just drop everything to come running to help an outsider.”
“That is where you are wrong Rinaldo. Our team are not your ordinary Deputies. We handle the cases no one else will or can. No one is above Justice in our eyes, Rinaldo, no one. When we go after a criminal or criminal organization, they either end up behind bars. Or in the grave.” Rinaldo was floored by the very blunt words of his sister.
As he looked at her, he could still see the trained assassin, but there was more. Playing a gamble Rinaldo smiled at her. “I see you are just as formidable as a Marshal as you are a Donna, Maria.”
“Siamo sempre stati e saranno sempre La Cosa Nostra, Rinaldo. Why should we change just because we have picked up the badge? Now, put all talk of work to the side. It is time for dinner.” Maria’s simple order had the three men chuckling as they joined the women in the dining room.
Over dinner, Rinaldo and Clarice spent the time catching up with their extended family. Kasey and Kristine were amazed by the stories their great uncle told them about Maria in her younger years. Maria would fire back, with stories of Rinaldo and Clarice. As the night wore on, the adults noticed that the teens were beginning to show the signs of a long day.
The teens waved off their parents wanting to take them back to the hotel. Saying that they were good for a little while longer. Bobby, and the others gave in to their request to stay a little longer. This was not to be however. The knock at Rinaldo’s front door brought unwelcome visitors.
Opening the door Rinaldo DeMarco found two Carabinieri Officers waiting for him. “How can I help you Officers?”
“Chief Inspector DeMarco, we’re sorry for interrupting your dinner, but there has been an incident at Casa Circondariale di Modica.” The ranking officer told him bluntly. “We’ve had a major escape; nine of the most wanted, sir.”
“WHAT?! How did this happen?! I want that place locked down, and locked down now!” the Black Badge Deputies could tell by the sound of Rinaldo’s voice that something major had just happened.
“The warden has had Circondariale in full lockdown since yesterday morning, sir. As for how it happened, they are still trying to figure that out.” The officer stopped when he saw that Rinaldo had guests. “Sir, I believe that it would be better for us to continue this conversation in your home office.”
Rinaldo looked over his shoulder at Maria and her Deputies. “The Marshal and her Deputies understand the need for discretion officers.”
“Sir, why is there a U.S. Marshal and Deputies in your home?” The younger officer asked bluntly.
“That is really none of your business Officer, but they are my family from the States here on vacation. Now, as I said you can continue, they won’t be spreading what they hear. You can start, by explaining why I am just now hearing about the escape.”
“Yes, sir. The escape was not reported to the outlying districts until just a few hours ago. The warden had hoped to have all the escaped prisoners recovered within twenty-four hours.” As the senior officer explained to Rinaldo what had happened and while Maria looked over at her team. It was the looks on Kasey’s and Kristine’s faces that got her attention the most. The teens knew something.
“Very well, I can understand this. Any word on who all escaped other than they are in our top ten most wanted?”
“Yes, sir. Here are the files on the escapees.” The officer handed over nine very thick files. “As you can see sir, it is a real rogues’ gallery.”
As much as Maria and the others wanted to see those files they knew they had to wait. Wait until either Rinaldo asked for their help or the Carabinieri to leave. Until then, all they could do is listen in.
“Thank you, officers. I’ll head for my office once I have seen to my guests. Goodnight.” Rinaldo showed the two men out, then turned back to Maria. “Alright sis, I saw that look between you and your Deputies. What do you know about this escape?”
Maria looked over at Samantha and waved for her to answer. “We’ve heard rumors for the past few months of a breakout in one of the Supermax prisons stateside. Nothing about something over here. The truth is that most of those rumors were written off as just that rumors. Sorry Uncle Rinaldo, this is one time that you and your people know more than we do.”
“Thank you, Samantha. I fear that your vacation is going to be cut short Maria. As much as I would love for you to stay longer, I cannot have U.S. Deputy Marshals in the country right now.” Rinaldo figured that it would be best to remind his sister that she was on vacation in HIS country.
“Rinaldo, you know that I am not about to just get on a plane and fly off, leaving you to handle something that my team specialize in, on your own. I’ll have you know for a fact that I have four of the finest Trackers in the Service on my team. Allow us to help you with this?” Maria knew what Rinaldo was trying to do and how to get around it.
“Sorry, Ria, this is one time that you’re going to have to do as I ask.” Rinaldo held up the nine file folders. “I know every one of these men. None of them are Cosa Nostra, and all lack honor.”
“A bunch of scumbags then. I take it that you helped put them all behind bars, Rinaldo?” Maria asked slyly.
“Yes, Maria. I put them all behind bars. Most of them are nothing more than animals. The only one that I am really worried about is Aldo Rossi. Of the nine that escaped; he is the only serial killer in the bunch.” Everyone could hear the worry in Rinaldo’s voice.
“Excuse me, Inspector, but what is his victimology?” Hunter knew something was up with this one escapee. “Why has this one serial killer got you upset? I mean, he can’t be the only one in Sicily.”
“He’s not Deputy Taugh. As for his choice in victims, that is the worry. This man only hunts tourists.” Rinaldo stopped, then looking at Kasey and Kristine. “Caucasian females, between the ages of thirteen to nineteen. Black hair, with blue or green eyes.”
Kasey and Kristine looked at each other then at their parents. “Your daughters are Aldo Rossi’s preferred victims, Deputies. Until, I can get that man back behind bars please use extra caution.” Rinaldo didn’t even want to think about what would happen if something happened to Maria’s granddaughters. She may be wearing a badge, but she was still a DeMarco.
“Very well Rinaldo, we’ll be on the first flight out that we can secure.” Maria did understand why Rinaldo wanted them to go home. She was about to tell Rinaldo that her granddaughters most likely knew something. “We’ll head back to our hotel and start getting ready to fly out.”
“Thank you for indulging me, Maria. Now, if you folks will forgive me, I need to head into my office.” Rinaldo hugged Maria, then the girls and shook the men’s hands, before kissing Clarice on the cheek. They all watched as Rinaldo left. The three seasoned Deputies knew the massive task he faced, in hunting down one escapee with a twenty-four lead, let alone nine harden prisoners with more than twenty-four-hour head start.
Maria gave Clarice a hug. “He’ll be fine Clarice. Rinaldo knows what he is doing. He also has others that go after these people.”
“That is not the problem Maria. I’m not worried about him, but one of his witnesses. He did not say it, but I know that one man that escaped is Rinaldo’s greatest nightmare. Before they caught him last time, Rossi killed twenty-three tourists over a two-year period. His last victim survived, but only just. The girl is an American and was here on vacation. Rossi swore that he would get revenge.” Clarice’s explanation gave Maria and the others more information than she thought.
It would be later that night back at their hotel room Kasey and Kristine were corralled by their parents. Maria was the first to ask what they knew. “Okay girls, what was with that look at Rinaldo’s House?”
Kasey looked at her grandmother. “Just before we left Ram’s Rock, Miss Krystel had us monitoring the chatter between certain criminal organizations. There was some uptick concerning a major breakout, but we couldn’t find any leads as to which prison.”
Kristine picked up where her sister left off. “When we couldn’t find anything concerning the prisons in the States. Miss Krystel had us look at the overseas prisons. Again, we hit a brick wall. Then about two days before we left, there was another upswing in chatter about a prison break. Everything we found, pointed to a breakout at Killian Supermax in Oregon.”
“Was there anything that pointed to a breakout overseas, girls?” Annette asked them lightly.
Both teens answered at the same time. “No ma’am.”
“Was there any reason for you girls to suspect that the breakout might occur at an overseas prison?” Bobby saw where Annette was going.
Again, the teens answered in unison. “No, sir.”
Hunter was next. “Did you have any reason to send out a warning to the overseas prisons?”
“We sent warnings to all the Supermax prisons at home, but none to the overseas prisons, sir.” Kasey answered.
Sam was the last one to question the girls. “So, you followed your intel and gave warning to those you should. Yet you still feel responsible for a situation outside of your control?”
Both girls nodded their heads yes. Maria, stepped over and gave them both a hug. “No my dears. You’ve done nothing wrong. This is one of the hardest lessons in life. There are just some things that are out of your control and you must accept that harsh truth. You can do everything correctly, and people will still get hurt.”
“Your grandmother is correct girls. You found the chatter, sent out the needed warnings to those you would be responsible for. Everything you did was within acceptable precautions. That is one of the hardest things that all Law Enforcement Officers must do. Too often we are forced to sit back and wait for something to happen when we know something is wrong.” Hunter’s words of encouragement brought a smile to the teens’ faces.
“We understand Uncle Hunter. It’s just that we should have paid more attention to the chatter concerning an overseas prison. The problem was there just wasn’t enough to go off of.” Kasey may have had her spirit lifted, but she was still pissed at not seeing the signs of the escape.
Hunter could tell that Kasey was still pissed and place a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Kasey, you girls did good. In this game, there are times, that is all you get.”
“Yes sir, I just wish we could have done more.” Kasey confessed.
“Trust me, Kasey. We all understand how you feel on this one. Now, is there anything else you can give us on this breakout?” Hunter asked
“Not at this time Uncle Hunter, but you give me and Kristine a few hours and we should have more information for you all.” Kasey smiled at the man who had become the closest thing to an uncle for the teens.
“Then get to it Deputies. Your superiors need Intel that only you two can get ahold of.” Hunter smiled as Kasey and Kristine broke out in smiles and then their laptops. After a few minutes both teens had all seven laptops set up in their standard portable array configuration.
Using her half of the array Kristine started her dive on the Interpol Server Farm. Kasey, being the one to monitor her sister, used her half to contact Operations back on Ram’s Rock. Kasey also knew that if anything went wrong that she would have to be the one to save her little sister. Unlike her parents and grandmother, Kasey had received training from Kimberly and Krystel on what to look for in a Driver. And when it came to Divers, Kristine was fast becoming one of the best with only a handful of others and their teacher Krystel being better.
Even as the screen opened for the Operations Center, Kasey never let her attention drift from her duties as Over-watch for her sister.
“What’s can we do for you Marshal?” Krystle asked from the screen.
“Operations we have a situation. One that we need guidance on.” Maria’s words sit in motion a series of actions by the residents of Ram’s Rock Island. The first of which was Krystel securing the connection between the Operations Center and the Black Badge Deputy Marshals.
“We’re secure Marshal. Do we need Command brought in?” Krystel asked
“Yes Krystel, we do. This situation has the makings for an International Incident. One that could will spill over to the States.” Maria’s words grabbed the attention of Lyssa and Rodrick as they entered the Operations Center at a run.
“What happened Maria?” Lyssa asked without preamble.
“Prison break at Casa Circondariale di Modica.” Maria looked over at Kristine and Kasey. “Gemini should have the names and photos for the escapees shortly, Lyssa. What we do know, is that these men are the real scum of the earth. There is a total of nine suspects.”
Kasey and Kristine were lost to the conversation been the adults. Once Kasey had secured the connection with Operations she dropped into the mindset that she used for Cyber Warfare. In seconds, the two teens were once again showing why they were classified as the only Gemini Deity Operator in the world.
Samantha looked down at the faces of the girls and frowned. She could see that the girls were trying to keep their concentration on the task at hand. Knowing that both girls worked better with music Samantha grabbed their earbuds and IPod. After placing the earbuds in the girls’ ears she cued up their music and let them fall away into the world of cyberspace.
“Deputy did you just give Gemini their dance music?” Krystel asked.
“Yes Krystel, I did. They’re doing their best right now to find the needed Intel and set up a packet for you as we speak. I figure it would be best if they can shut us out right now. Is that a problem, Krystel?” Sam asked her bluntly.
“Nope. I’m just surprised that they didn’t have them in already. I’m amazed at the amount of data they have already compiled. Do you have any idea of how far the two of them have gone in the Interpol Sever?” Krystel really was surprised at how much the girls had gathered.
In the world of cyberspace Kasey and Kristine went full tilt at last. Between the two girls’ attack, the ICE for the Interpol server cracked like it was paper thin. In mere seconds Kristine found the names and files for the escaped prisoners. Kasey was right behind her in finding the names of known associates, places of interest and countries of origin.
On the other side of the European continent at the headquarters for Interpol, the cybercrimes division watch officer was losing what little was left of his mind. Never before had he faced such a massive attack on their database. Everything he tried to fend off the attack, resulted in failure. Even after placing his whole team on the attack, they were failing to stop, let alone track where the attack was coming from. It was as if the entire team was chasing a Ghost in the Machine. When the attack suddenly just stopped for no reason, the watch officer breathed a deep sigh of relief. It would be several days before the full damage of the attack would be known.
Kasey was the first to come out of her trance reaching over and stopping her music. “Operations, stand by for packet delivery. All suspects listed along with known associates, crimes and countries of origins.”
Kristine never took her eyes off her screens. “Commencing tracking of suspects by facial recognition.”
“Full scan of ATM, Security, and Traffic cameras along all possible escape paths. Ignore Airports, Train stations and Bus Terminals.” Was all Kasey said as she put actions to her words.
All five of the adults in the room with them, and the ones in Operations were stunned by the teens’ words. All save one, Krystel. She could see that her apprentices were putting all of their training to use and just smiled. Even as she opened the packet for the others, Krystel opened the backdoor to their laptops. She was surprised when Maria corrected the limits that Kasey and Kristine had set.
“No girls. Include those as well. We’re working from a twenty-four hour handicap. Also include the shipping port cameras as well. We need to compensate for the time lag. Remember, we’re pursuing professional criminals. They will have new identities by now and looking to leave this country fast as possible. The only one that will try staying in Sicily is Aldo Rossi. The other eight are outsiders. They stand to greater chance at being recaptured if they stay here. Rossi can blend in with the locals.” Maria had once again shown her expertise in the criminal mind.
Both teens just nodded their heads, while Kasey put her music back on. Maria, smiled at her granddaughters. ‘They have come so far in such a short time. Paulo, you were so right to have them train with Krystel. The day they leave the nest for good they will be like no other operator.’
“Maria, I have the Major on the line. Connecting now.” Kimberly called out.
“Ciao mia colomba. Come va la vostra vacanza?” Maria blushed at the greeting from Paul Dannigan.
“Paulo, we do not have time for this. Did Kimberly not tell you that we have a situation?”
Hearing the tone in Maria’s Voice Paul knew that there was a real problem. “Report.”
“Sir, we’re still working out the details, but it seems that there was a prison break at Casa Circondariale di Modica in Sicily.” Lyssa said from her place behind Kimberly in the Operations center. “Sir, this is a bad one. Myself and Rodrick have gone over the names we already have and five of them are known terrorists. The other four are also on the International most wanted list. Sir, this is a real shit storm waiting to happen. When it hits, there is no telling how far it will spread.”
The big Spook asked. “Marshal, how did you come by this information?”
Maria, knew what Paul was getting at, and smiled. “Let us just say it was a family connection that got us this Intel, Major.”
“I see. So how are Rinaldo and Clarice?” Dannigan chuckled.
“They are in fine health. I was a little surprised Rinaldo joined the Carabinieri though. I never thought I would live to see the day that a DeMarco would join the Carabinieri of all things.” Maria’s comment brought about a round of laughter from those gathered.
“No worse than a DeMarco or Capizeo being a U.S. Deputy Marshal, mama.” Annette chuckled behind her.
“Hush child. Deputies are a noble profession. We are not ordinary police officers, not like the Carabinieri.” Maria sniffed airily. This not only got the Black Badge Deputies laughing, but the Operations Center as well. Even Paul had to laugh at Maria’s comment.
“Are any of these a direct threat to your team Marshal?” Lyssa asked once everyone calmed down.
Before Maria could answer Bobby jumped in. “Yes, Sergeant-Major. One, Aldo Rossi, is a known serial killer. Gemini one and two both fit his victim profile. Before we go further, are we cleared for protective actions?”
When Paul heard this he knew that Bobby and the other Deputies knew more than they were letting on. “I take it that you believe this Rossi will target Gemini, Sergeant? Is that your concern?”
“Yes, sir. All I have is a gut feeling on this.” Bobby nodded grimly.
“I you feel it, then it is and already too late.” Lyssa’s comment on Bobby’s gut feeling let everyone know what she felt.
That was all Paul needed to hear to make up his mind. He answered with one word. “Cleared.”
As one, the four adult members of the Deputies moved to their luggage. In the bottoms of each bag was a concealed compartment. One that would show up in x-ray scans as an empty pocket of space, but in reality, was a weapons storage area. One that held more than enough firepower for each member of the team. Bobby and Hunter went to get the teens’ bags and their weapons. Maria never moved, she just smiled as her family prepared for a fight. One that would leave a killer dying in the street.
“Thank you, Major. I will ensure that Rinaldo knows and understands. As it is, we need to secure a flight out for my team in the morning. It seems that the local Interpol chief has requested that we leave no later than tomorrow afternoon. As much as I hate to run from this, we do have to abide by their requests. We are outside of our jurisdiction after all.” Maria knew that it was for the best. They had not been invited into the investigation and this one was way outside of their jurisdiction.
“I’ll have the reservations waiting for your team at the airport, Marshal. I’ll make sure they’re under your aliases.” Kimberly told her.
“Thank you, Kimberly. I believe this is for the.” Maria was interrupted by a whoop from Kasey.
“I got you, you son-of-bitch.” Kasey pulled her earbuds out and turned to face the frowning face of her grandmother. Blushing Kasey was quick to apologize. “Sorry Nonnina.”
“I will forgive you Kasey, on the condition that there is reason for your outburst.” Maria said firmly
“Yes, ma’am. We’ve been able to track six of the escapees to a ship in Granelli, Marshal. Unfortunately, that is the good news. The bad news is; it left port this morning bound for South America, with a stop in Miami Florida. Kristine is still tracking Rossi.” Kasey could tell by the look in her grandmother’s eyes that she had redeemed herself.
“You're forgiven child.” Maria looked back at the screen. “Kimberly, do you think that you can track that ship?”
“No problem. Major do you think that we can get the Coast Guard to perform a stop and search on these grounds?” Kimberly felt she needed to get approval for turning the case over to the Coasties.
Dannigan nodded. “I’ll make the needed calls, Captain. This is one time that they can earn their pay for a change.”
“Sir, I have a lead on the last three suspects.” Kristine had come up from her dive while Maria was talking with Paul. “They boarded a plane this morning under the following names Ricardo Rodrigues, Samuel Jones, and Markus Farnell. Sir, that plane landed in New York five hours ago. They have already cleared customs, sir. Sorry.”
“Damn. As for your apology Gemini, forget it. This is one time that our so-called allies fucked the pooch. Maria, any idea of how nine known terrorists got their hands on clear passports in such a short time?” Dannigan asked.
Maria nodded. “I have a few Paul, but I will need to handle this on my own. No, I take that back. Samantha and Annette can escort me on this one.” Maria knew exactly who had given these men those passports and where to find the woman. “We’ll leave once we sign off. Kimberly, make those reservations for later in the evening. Robert, Hunter; you’re to look after Gemini. Girls let’s go. While we’re gone, see if you can pick up the trail of those three that made it to the U.S. Gemini. Coordinate with Operations as much as possible children. We have too narrow of a window in this matter. Those are nine dangerous fugitives that need to be put down or behind bars.”
The whole Black Badge Team smiled as Maria gave them their orders. Bobby and Hunter knew that they stuck out as Americans. So, they weren’t upset about being stuck with protecting the teens. Kasey and Kristine weren’t upset at being stuck with trying to track the escapees. They knew they weren’t ready for an operation like this.
Paul could tell that Maria had things well in hand. All he had to do was give the command. “Good hunting, Marshal. Go to war.”
----- to be continued -----
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