Interpol Heartburn -chp 4


Interpol Heartburn

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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.

~o~O~o~

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


Chapter 4

Home of Renaldo DeMarco…

Rinaldo had spent the entire day going over what his great-nieces had found. The more he read, the more he wanted to first resurrect and then skin his former Captain alive. All of this had the ear-markings of that man’s corruption still haunting his old police station. That was until he found the one file that made him back up and review each file a second time. It was there that he found the one clue he had been missing, and knew that his sister would also miss.

Reaching into his top desk drawer, Rinaldo pulled out the card that Robert Everbrite had given him. Turning the card over and over in his hand Rinaldo continued to stare at the plain card with only a phone number on it. Renaldo knew that this was not your normal business card shared between Law Enforcement. He had heard over his years on the job about the ‘cowboys’ in American Law Enforcement. Just like everyone else had. That all Americans were 'shoot first-ask questions later' type when it came to Law Enforcement. He had learned since coming to Interpol that was not the case. That Americans took the civil rights of suspects very seriously. Then there were the rumors of a U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Agency that tackled the cases no one wanted. That went after those who were supposedly above the law. Men and women who went anywhere, anytime and never let a suspect walk away free.

If what those two very powerfully built young men had hinted to him was true. Then his sister was the leader for one such team. His sister was the Marshal for the American Black Badge Deputy team. A team that was made up of her family, much like the DeMarco and Capizeo hit squads of old. And here in his hand was all the proof he needed to confirm it. All he needed to do was call this phone number. The more he studied that number the more he didn’t want to use it here in his own home.

Making up his mind Renaldo called out to his wife. “Clarice, I need to go back to the office for a while.”

Her response was that of a longtime cop’s wife. “Should I hold diner?”

“No, love. I don’t how long I’ll be. Love you.” Rinaldo called as he was heading for the door.

“Okay, love you to. Be careful, and wear your damned vest this time.” Just like always, Clarice DeMarco felt she needed to remind her husband to wear his ballistic vest. In the back of her mind was always the memory of that terrible day ten years ago. The day that her husband was almost killed by a terrorist gunman in the plaza.

Rinaldo just laughed as he walked out the door to his car. The ride back to his office took him just over fifteen minutes. As he sat down at his desk Rinaldo pulled out the business card that his niece’s husband had given him. Once dialing the number written there Rinaldo sat to wait for the ever-present voice prompted directory. So, you can imagine his surprise when he was answered by a human after only one ring with not only his name but rank.

“Good evening, Chief Inspector DeMarco. We were expecting your phone call much earlier today. We take it that you have found something that Marshal DeMarco needs to be made aware of?” The voice on the other end of the line was familiar to Renaldo, but he couldn’t place it at the moment.

“Yes, it seems that three of my escapees were all at one time employees of Canterbury Industries. A company that is owned by your countryman Robert Hines.”

“Do you believe these men are acting on his orders Inspector?”

“Very much so. As for corroborating evidence, I have nothing physical, only the statements of fellow prisoners.”

“Are those prisoners’ statements reliable sir?” The voice that had been cordial now turned hard and cold.

Rinaldo now knew who he was talking to just by their tone, and was very glad that he was not in the same room with the woman. He should as he had heard her angry voice many times when he was younger. “They are as reliable as any other ratfink looking to get better treatment while serving a triple life sentence trying to avoid extradition to the States and a needle in the arm.”

“Have you contacted your Detective Chief Superintendent, or Senior Detective Chief Superintendent about this yet Inspector?”

“No. As it stands, the only people who know of this information are myself and you.” Rinaldo didn’t know the rank of the person was talking to, but had a good idea they had more than enough pull to make his life hell.

“Thank you for your digression in this matter, sir. Go home and pack for a trip to the States, Inspector DeMarco. You should be receiving a phone call from either of your superiors later tonight. Arrivederci, Ispettore DeMarco." The connection went dead in Rinaldo’s ear.

Rinaldo leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling tiles with a small smile. “So, my dear Anna. You’re still working for my beloved sister. I wonder if your knife is still as sharp as when we were children. Knowing you; it most likely is.” Sighing heavily Renaldo shutdown his computer and secured his hard copy files. “I guess I better get home, pack my bags, and try to get some sleep. I have a feeling that I am about to see my dear sister’s family in action. Up close and personal. Something I believe I don’t want to be on the receiving end of.”

Miami International Airport:

Rodrick watched as the Black Badges walked into the baggage claim area. He could tell that the teens had a much healthier sun kissed glow to them. He, like Lyssa and the other adults on the island, had been a little worried about their mental state after they returned from South Carolina. He could tell that the trip to Sicily had done wonders for the whole team. Rodrick stood back waiting for them to secure their bags before approaching. He could already tell that the Deputies were in a heightened state of alert.

‘They must have slept on the flight.’ He thought.

Maria led them over to him after they had their bags. “Rodrick, is the connecting flight for our ground team ready?”

“Yes ma’am.” Looking over at Bobby. “Sergeant, your trucks and equipment are waiting you all over at the cargo terminal. Here are your needed passes.”

Bobby took the cargo terminal passes from Rodrick and handed them out to the ground team. “Are the trucks stocked and fueled?”

“Fully stocked with your counter-ops load out, but only partially fueled. Flight safety, you know the drill.” Rodrick explained.

“Understandable. Get our family home safe Rodrick. Before you take-off you need to let the Marshal make contact with the TOC. We have new intel pertinent to the operation. She’ll fill you in as you get them over to the private terminal.” Bobby gave a hug to both teens and then Maria. “I’ll make sure that we all come home mom. Don’t worry about that.”

“Do not make promises that you cannot keep Robert, but try your damnedest anyway.” Maria whispered in his ear then pushed him away to hug Sam and Annette. When Hunter’s turn came, she didn’t even think twice and pulled the big man into a hug. “Take care of our family, my son.”

“Sure, thing mom Maria. They’ll have to go through me first, before they get to the girls.” Hunter turned and hugged the teens and joined the rest of the team as they headed for the cargo terminals.

Maria, Kasey and Kristine watched as the adults disappeared into the gathering crowd.

Maria turned to Rodrick. “Once we’re in the air I need a direct line to Command, Rodrick. We have more in play here than we thought.”

“You just made the understatement of the year, Madam Maria. According to Miss Anna, we have one political assassination team that is targeting judges that are currently sitting cases that involve former slave owners from that mess with LOG and VI. If what you have found has bearing on this Lyssa feels we’ll need the whole O.I.C.A. in on this op.” Rodrick’s body language let Maria know that Anna had been filling them in on the perspective of a criminal mastermind at work.

“It’s far worse than we first believed. Gemini One found the shipping schedule for the cargo ship Pure Profit. That ship made two one-hour port-calls before heading out into the Atlantic. It is our belief that the two other teams made landfall in Morocco and Spain before flying out earlier today.”

“Fuck me, sideways. Are you telling me that we could have all three teams in play within the next twelve hours?” Rodrick was more than shocked at hearing this. In his experience terrorist cells didn’t deviate from their set plans. Then he saw the look Maria was giving him. “Sorry about the language, Madam Maria.”

“You’re forgiven Rodrick, this one time you have cause. No, I’m saying that they can already be here and scouting their first targets. Remember Captain, these are not your typical terrorists. These are all professional assassins for hire. We cannot afford to treat them as political radicals or religious fanatics. These men work solely for profit, nothing more.” Maria smiled over at the young man who had capture the heart of her good friend and fellow retired Prima Lyssa Kordenay-Mason.

“Are we still making the stop at Cayman?” Rodrick asked.

“Yes, the bank manager will have been informed of my late arrival and will be waiting for me. No, I will not need Over-watch for this. This is one time where too many people will draw far too much unwanted attention. Besides, I will only be but a few minutes. A half hour at most.”

“No problem Madam Maria. By the way, Anna has been a massive help with the operation already. She has been able to break down our tangos in to possible teams and provide us with possible targets.” Rodrick looked over at the second oldest woman on the island. “Has she always been that focused on her targets?”

“Who do you think I learned from? Anna Fonticello may be getting on in years Rodrick, but don’t let that silver hair fool you. She is still as deadly as the first time I met her. When it comes to profiling a mark, there is none better. That woman will find every last detail of their life and use the most minuscule quirk to kill them. I remember one time, Anna used one marks love of chess to use a poison to kill her. She had a bad habit of kissing her queen for luck before starting every match.”

“Damn! You mean to tell me that Anna used a contact poison to take her out?”

“Yes, she did. The poor mark had the most embarrassing and loud public orgasm before expiring. If I remember right, she had a very wet one at that.” Maria giggled at the expressions on Rodrick’s and her granddaughters' faces. “The poison she used is known as the Black Kiss of Death. It fills the mark with an intense sense of sexual release as it overloads the brains pleasure centers. Right before it shuts every automatic system down over the next five minutes.”

“HOLY SHIT! Talk about using a weakness to crush an enemy. How many times has Miss Anna done something like?” Rodrick with real respect.

“Oh, more than once. Anna always had a penchant for striking at her marks greatest weakness or most often greatest enjoyment to get the job done. Her real specialty though are a pair of lovely little twelve-inch blade stilettos that she keeps on her to this day. If I’m not mistaken they are a family heirloom passed down to her from her mother, grandmother and great grandmother. You would do well to remember Rodrick, that the Anna was at one time the second most wanted assassin in all the world.” Maria smirked as they exited the private terminal to board the Lear.

“Who was the first?” Rodrick asked as he helped Maria and the teens aboard the plane.

Maria just gave the young operator a sly smile before taking her seat leaving Rodrick with the eternal question to answer. Why is it that a woman never gives a straight answer to any damned question.

Forty-five minutes later, Little Cayman Island…

Rodrick set the Lear down as if on a feather. No sooner had the luxury plane rolled to a stop than the ground crews were chocking the tires and lowering the door. Maria looked at the teens. “Stay here with Rodrick and follow his orders girls. I should only be an hour at the most.”

As Maria was exiting the plane she whispered to Rodrick. “If I’m not back in an hour take off. Do not come looking for me. No matter what; the safety of the girls is your first priority.”

“Maria, are you expecting trouble?” Rodrick was many things, but he was first and foremost a seasoned Operator. He could tell by Maria’s actions that she did not fully trust whomever she was going to meet.

“No, Rodrick, I’m not. But to quote a rather favorite movie. I trust the man, just not the devil inside him. It has been a long-time since I dealt with Jose Mandela. Back in the day he was a trustworthy man, now I don’t know any more.” Maria walked down the steps not giving Rodrick a chance to question her further.

Somewhere out there in the night she had a meeting to attend. She knew that Jose would double cross her if given half a chance. If he was paid enough to do it. Considering what was currently in motion, Maria wouldn’t put it past whomever was behind this to have done just that. The cabs at the terminal were few at this late hour and Maria was happy to be able to get one. As they drove through the streets Maria smiled at the lack of tourists this time of the night and year. In a way, it would make the meeting easier and harder at the same time.

It would be easier as there would be less likely of a chance that someone would witness the meeting. Harder, if Jose was going to double cross her. Because there would be less likely a chance of there being witnesses. As the cab pulled to a stop at the park she had set for the late-night meeting Maria DeMarco let her mind go to that place where she could kill without feeling. Exiting the cab, Maria double checked that her knives were ready and her sidearm was in easy reach. She had done this before leaving the Lear, but like all professionals she double checked anyway. As Maria walked into the park her eyes took in everything around her.

She may have been getting on in her years, but she was still the premier assassin. It would take someone like Lyssa or her proteges to kill Maria DeMarco in a fight. No hired gun or street thug would ever take her by surprise. That didn’t mean Maria DeMarco wouldn’t take the needed precautions to insure her safety.

As Maria stepped into the fountain area she knew exactly how many were there. “Jose, you only brought three? Please, do not insult my skills. Show yourself and let us conclude our business.”

A man in an impeccable Armani suit, stepped out from behind the large fountain of mermaids playing laughing. “A pleasure as always Donna Maria. I see that you spotted my sons rather easily. Might I know what gave them away?”

Maria, just smiled at the man before pulling her sidearm and aiming at where the three young men stood. “Their aftershave is overpowering their body spray. Next time hide both and they might be able to sneak up on a rooky cop.”

Jose Mandela laughed as he waved for his sons to step into the light thrown off by the street lamps. Once they were under the light Maria almost laughed at what she saw. The oldest had to be the same age as Kasey, while the youngest was Mindy’s age. All three boys were the opposites of her grandchildren.

Maria put her sidearm away and walked over to Jose. “They are fine looking boys, Jose. They take after their father. You must be very proud of them. Are they enrolled at Saint Michael’s?”

“Yes, they are. And yes, I am.” Jose held up a thick folder. “I believe this is why you have come all this way. Mister Mallory said to tell you that, there is no charge for this information, just the usual bank fees.”

Maria took the folder and looked inside. “I was not excepting there to be this much. Are you sure that Mallory is waiving his fee?”

“Very much so. He said something about foreign hitters breaking the old treaties. It seems that the actions of these men has angered a great many of the old families. They want them stopped by any means necessary. Legal or otherwise. I was also informed that there a million-dollar price tag on each of their heads.” Jose started to walk away, but stopped. “Madam DeMarco, I know it is none of my business, but there have been rumors. That you are in truth a full U.S. Marshal. A Marshal that is in charge of a mythological team of deputies known as The Black Badges. Also, that this team is made up of your very own daughter, a niece and their very nasty husbands.”

Maria laughed at this. She knew that she had to throw Jose off this track. Then she thought about something. “You know I never thought you would be one to listen to such outlandish rumors. I will give you one piece of advice. Quash those rumors, and quash them now. The people that I am working with do not like outsiders sticking their noses into our business. People who do, tend to disappear like smoke in the wind. Leaving behind nothing but ash in a deep, smoking crater.”

With that being said Maria turned and walked away. Jose watched in terror as the woman that killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille faded into the night like a ghost. His oldest son stood next to him. “Was she really here, papa?”

“There are stories about that woman, Samuel. Stories that say Maria DeMarco made a pact. A pact that left her without a soul. Made her more or less than human.”

“Who did she make this pact with, to become so dangerous?” His youngest son asked.

“The Devil himself, Peter. The Devil himself.” Jose could understand the fear in the voices of his sons. He felt that same fear when dealing with Maria the Dove DeMarco. The last Donna of the DeMarco Crime family. The most dangerous family of assassins only ever surpassed by one family, the Capizeos.

Ram’s Rock Island:

Maria kept the folder to herself for more than one reason. She had spent the short flight back to Ram’s Rock reading through the information that Mallory had provided. There was list after list of cars, weapons, safe houses, but most importantly possible targets. Rodrick had started to get worried when Maria returned to the plane. He would not admit to anyone that he had come to view the old woman with respect as both an operator, and Criminologist Mastermind.

Once the plane was parked Maria led the way down to the Command Center. Kristine and Kasey were hot on her heels with their laptops. Greetings were short and to the point, even though they were still heartfelt. Lyssa, looked at the teens and smiled before asking them how they enjoyed their time in Sicily.

“Until twenty-eight hours ago, it was once of the best vacations ever.” Kristine gushed. While Kasey was more reserved with her answer.

“We had so much fun, and the food was fantastic. Not to mention, the shopping. I hope we get a chance to go back one day.” Kasey told the former Prima. “I want to see one of the theaters where Nonnina danced in her prime.”

“I’m sure you girls will get the chance, but now you need to put on your game faces. I hope you all got some sleep on the plane flight.” Lyssa told them. “Because we got a real SNAFU on our hands. The Major is waiting for an update if you have one.”

“We have more than an update. We have confirmation of possible targets and lists of available assets.” Maria handed over the folder to Kimberly. “Please scan this into the case files Kimberly.”

“Where did this intel come from Madam Maria? Is the source reliable?” Kimberly asked bluntly. This was one time she that she had to question the older woman’s intelligence gathering network as the threat was a terrorist one.

“It is reliable Kimberly. If the man who provided it, even thought about crossing Madam Maria, knows that his days would be numbered by the span of your fingers and you would not get past the second finger.” Anna said as she entered the Command Center with a tray of coffee cups. As she handed out the cups Anna looked over at Kimberly. “I highly doubt that even Ronald Mallory would be stupid enough to cross one of his most feared customers.”

Lyssa just looked over and nodded her head. She had heard of the information broker in her travels, but never had the chance to meet the man. “Kimberly, Krystel, if that intel came from Ronald Mallory it’s good as gold. That man’s reputation proceeds him, the way Madam Maria’s or mine does in the world of ballet. He's a high echelon info-broker.”

“Damn! If he is that good why haven’t we tapped him already?” Krystel said from her position behind where Kasey and Kristine where getting their laptops setup at their normal stations. Krystel never took her eyes off her two protégées has they worked.

“He runs a restricted service. If my guess is right, he only deals with Dons and Donnas. Isn’t that correct, Donna Maria DeMarco?” Rodrick asked.

“Si, Ronald would not deal with anyone not a Boss. The only exception would be for revenge of the death of a Boss.” Maria let her mirth show in her choice of words. She knew that she had an asset that only she could bring to bear. “He is not one to be used for ordinary contracts though. Only something of this magnitude should he or his network ever be contacted. The man is not your ordinary information broker. He deals with the darkest of the criminal underworld, and his prices show it. I got lucky this time in that these men have angered more than a few Bosses. Enough that our ground team will have competition in capturing or killing them.”

“Santa Maria e Giuseppe. Ti prego, dimmi che i boss syndicate non hanno tolto bounties su questi uomini, Maria?” Anna asked with some real fear for the younger members of the Black Badge team. She knew the kind of competition they would be facing. None of it was good for them.

“Si, Anna. That is exactly what I am saying.” Maria answered as the first page of lists appeared on the main screen.

Before she could begin her briefing of what she had gathered from Ronald, Lyssa stopped her with a question. “Maria, why would the syndicate Bosses place a bounty on a terrorist group? To the outsider, one would think that they would want certain judges out of the way. That they would leave these tangos to the Feds to take care of while they reaped benefits created by the chaos.”

“The old treaties, Lyssa.” At the confused looks the other members of the OICA gave her, Maria sighed. “I think that you all need to sit in on some of the classes with Gemini. During the nineteen twenty’s and thirty’s, the Mafia here in America and back in Sicily had a sit-down. The old world agreed to stay out of the U.S. while the U.S. agreed to stay out of the old world. Treaties and boundaries were set. Along with stipulations for crossing those boundaries. It was also agreed that no Family Hitters may operate in the territory of another Family without express consent. Whoever sent these hitters to the U.S. broke that treaty agreement. The U.S. syndicate Bosses don’t need this type of heat and I can assure you they never gave the consent. To do that would have required a sit-down of all current Dons and Donnas. I never received my invitation and if I checked with the others, they would say the same.”

“You mean to tell me, that just because you weren’t invited there was no sit-down?” Kimberly asked with some sarcasm. “No offence Madam Maria, but I find that hard to believe. After all you have been retired for what, twelve to fifteen years now?”

Anna almost snapped Kimberly’s head off, but reined in her anger. She had to remember that these young people were military, not Cosa Nostra. “She may have been retired form taking contracts, Mrs. Kimberly, but she is still a Donna. Why would you think otherwise?”

That simple explanation from Anna got all of their attention.

“Anna. They are outsiders to our way as we are to theirs. Kimberly, please remember that one does not simply stop being La Cosa Nostra when they become too old to do work. We just move into ‘management’ positions. If we get that old. Ours' is not an easy life or most often a long one. Only the very good and extremely lucky get to be our age.” Maria said while pointing at herself and Anna.

All of the Operators looked at Anna and Maria in a new light. For the first time, they all realized that the two oldest residents of Ram’s Rock Island were both extremely good and lucky. The fact that these two old women had not only succeeded in their chosen field, a field populated mostly by men, they had been some of the best there ever was or will be. Only Lyssa knew the extent of the two women’s success, or just how truly deadly they were.

“Maria, of all the criminal organizations, are there any who do not abide by those treaties?” Lyssa asked out of curiosity.

“Yes. The South American and Mexican Cartels, Lyssa. Also the Haitian and Jamaicans. They care for nothing more than their profits. The Russians, Japanese, Chinese and European criminal organizations all abide by the treaties.” Maria’s explanation was interrupted by Krystel as she pointed to the main screen.

“I have the list of targets scanned and on the main screen.” As the list of targets scrolled up the screen Kimberly began to count. When the number past twenty and continued to climb she looked over at Lyssa.

“We do not have the manpower to cover this. We’re good, the Black Badges are good, but there is no way in hell we can protect this many people, and still hunt down those terrorists. Any ideas?” Lyssa asked.

"Not even if we took individual deployments could we cover this." Kimberly remarked.

Anna just chuckled. “Mrs. Kimberly, we do not have to protect them. That is what we have Marshal Dorothy Rose and her Deputies for.”

“Thank you for reminding us of her Anna. I had forgotten that we can call on a much larger force and still keep them in the dark. Kasey, Kristine, setup a packet for the good Marshal. Only send the lists for possible targets and assets. No need to give her a full banquet, just a snack. You understand?” Maria ordered the teens.

“Si, Nonnina. We understand. Just enough to get her appetite wet and getting her looking at the judges on the list enough to put larger details in place.” Kasey answered for the teens as Kristine was already working up the needed information packet.

“Maria, this one file here. Have you taken time to read it?” Lyssa held up a smaller folder. One that only had four pages in it.

“Not yet, Lyssa. Why? What’s so important in it?”

“This folder has a list of assets and safe houses in McHenry, Maryland. Isn’t that where the Major setup that school for the former slaves? The one to help them get their lives back together?” Lyssa’s questions drew a shocked breath from both Anna and Maria. “I take that as a yes. Krystel. Alert the location, message as follows. Alert: code Gloria.”

That got the attention of all the military side. Code Gloria: the phrase used for imminent attack, assume war-footing. It was taken from the popular war-movie The Siege of Firebase Gloria, based loosely on the events of the Tet Offensive during Vietnam.

Oakland, Maryland, 0845

Old man Elise watched as a bus-van from the new private girls' school pulled into the parking lot of Walmart. He smiled as the twelve teenage girls exited the bus. They were all wearing their school uniform, and smiles. He, like a lot of the residents of Garret County, Maryland had come to like the silent girls of the new Garret School for Exceptional Girls. Everyone in the county had quickly learned that most of these girls were mute and more than a few had psychological problems. Elise’s eyes were drawn to the four German Shepherd service dogs that exited the van next.

There was something about the dogs and the way they took in the surrounding area before allowing their charges to head for the Walmart. Like a lot of greeters hired by Wally world, Daniel Elise was a veteran. He may be sixty-eighty now, but when he was nineteen and an MP in Vietnam, his partner was a K-9. A big Belgian Shepherd named Booker. He also noticed, like all retired cops, that the two adults that accompanied the girls had the air of Law Enforcement about them. This wasn’t the first time Elise had picked up on these minor details. In fact, he had spotted them among all of the adults and dogs that accompanied the girls. He just knew that these were all former or current cops and their K9 partners.

“Morning ladies, having a good day?” He asked of the teens as the entered store. They all just nodded their heads yes, while one of them stopped and typed on her phone. The computer-generated voice answered when the girl hit enter.

“Yes, thank you, Mister Elise. Any good sales?”

“Well young lady, we’re having some really good sales over the next few days. What with the fourth of July coming up and all. Best run along now. Your friends are getting ahead of you.” Elise just smiled as she gave him a smile and curtsied before running off to catch up to her friends.

Elise sighed. “I hope whoever hurt you little lady is burning in hell, and praying for ice-water.”

Deputy Marshal Jacob Moore was assigned that day as the girls’ escort over heard the old man’s comment as he walked pass. “Trust me, sir. Wherever they are, they are praying for more than ice-water.”

“Sonny; from what I’ve seen, and a few others around here, those young ladies up at your school are fine examples of what young ladies should be. If you’re who I think you are, pass word up the chain. Bring them pigs that’s hurt them girls here, and let us handle them. No need to waste good tax-payer money on trials. We got’s plenty of abandoned coalmines, shafts, and wells arounds here. No to mention the occasional black bear, bobcat or lynx to give rid of pesky-assed trespassers.”

Moore had to keep from laughing at the very blunt attitude of the old man. Then again, this was western Maryland. A place where the hillbilly way of life was still going strong and with no end in sight. These people up here didn’t put on airs or thought they were better than anyone else. Moore had even thought about retiring up here once he reached his twenty-five-year mark. He always found it funny that on the first day of hunting season the local schools closed for the day. It wasn’t until this assignment that he realized that hunting and fishing was done more by the locals to help feed their families through the year. He had no doubt that the people of Garret County Maryland would indeed carry out the old man’s threat.

Moore just chuckled as he walked away. “You have yourself a good day, Mister Elsie. Beau, allons.”

Elise watched the German Shepherd that was with the young man trot along to catch up to the teenagers. Elise waited for a few more minutes then headed over to the security office for the store. Once inside he picked up the phone and placed a phone call. It didn’t take long for the other end to pick up. “Sheriff Elise.”

“Billy, you know those young 'uns we’s was talking about the other day?”

“Yep.”

“Well, you’s right about’s them, an’s they dawgs. Somethin’s going on up at that new school with them young’uns. Let’s your Deputies know, that they watch over that school and them girls, but they doesn’t go onta schoolgrounds unless they’s hear gunfire or alarms. Understand bo?”

“You’s sure abouts that bo?”

“Yep. All the way around.”

“Okay, I’ll takes cares of my deputies. Make sure that Joey knows to keep his damned State Troopers in line as well.”

“Don’t worry about our baby brother. I’ll make sure he knows where to stand. Get ahold of Baron and gives him the low down on what we talked about.”

“Not a problem, I’m on my way to see him now. I need a search warrant signed for the Douglas place out on Trap Run Road.” The Sheriff chuckled. “You know I love having a brother as a sitting judge at times. It really cuts through the bullshit.”

“Damn it, Billy. I spent twenty years as Sheriff for this county, and Baron has been a judge longer. We don’t need you screwing with our clean record. You make sure that warrant is on the up and up. Or so help me, I’ll tan your hide with a knotted plow line.”

“Don’t worry Danny. This is one time that the warrant is just a formality. I got the Game Wardens doing the hard work. My Deputies are only going in as backup. You know those reports we’ve been hearing about poachers. Well those poachers are the Douglas boys. Got video evidence and everything. It’s a closed case, for the Game Wardens. We’re just picking them up and holding them tell they face the judge in Cumberland or Hagerstown.”

“Damn. You got that much on those boys? Well, don’t let me keep you. You have fun and be safe damn it. You know how those Douglas boys love their guns.” Elsie hung up the phone and looked over at the monitors. “I don’t know what all happened to you girls out there, but none of you’ll have to worry about getting hurt again. At least not here in Garrett county.”

A private residence outside Lausanne, Switzerland;

Perry Handready looked up at Robert Hines as he stormed into the office. Whatever had happened to anger the man, Perry hoped it wasn’t something he had done. His hopes were dashed with the first words out of Hines’ mouth. “I want to know where that recovery team is that my ex-wife hired, now.”

“Excusez-moi, Monsieur Hines, but that contract is between your wife and I. I don’t know what contract with your ex-wife you are talking about.” Perry felt he had to bide for time if he was going to survive.

“Wrong you, fucking Frog. Sharon is on her way to be processed as we speak. Now, tell me what I want to know, or I drop your son’s ass into one of our new processing tanks and sell his ass to some raghead, as a bitch.” Hines knew that Handready would do anything to protect his family. The fact that Hines was the biggest shark in the pool right now made his threat very possible.

Perry knew this was no toothless threat. “Monsieur Hines, all I did was arrange for your ex-wife to meet with several mercenaries. It was up to her who she hired. She paid me five thousand Euros to arrange the meetings. She said that she would arrange for the rest herself.”

“Fine. I’ll let that go. How did she figure out where those slaves were being held? She had to come to you for that. How much did she pay, and how many possible locations? I want everything you gave her, now.” Hines left the threat to Handready’s family unsaid.

“The how was easy. These were all underage juvenile criminals. Therefore, they needed to complete their educations. The best way to protect them would be to place them in a private school somewhere in the U.S. As all American schools must be accredited and that accreditation must be registered with the U.S. Education Council. The easiest way was to look for any new private schools.” Handready could tell that Hines was calming down. The more he gave on what his ex-wife asked for, the more he felt that Hines would leave his family alone. “She paid me another two thousand Euros for this information. There are only seven new schools that would fit the needs of the American Law Enforcement Authorities. I was able to confirm the one school is owned by a private investor, but all the students have new names.”

“How new are we talking about here?”

“None of these ‘girls’ have been alive for more than a year. None have any real kind of backstory. No primary school pictures, records, nothing before last year.” Perry smiled up a Robert. “Whoever setup their new identities did a terrible job.”

“I see. I take it that your ‘organization’ could have done better?” Hines was a little pissed at the implied insult of his fellow countrymen.

Perry saw the trap his words had set, and changed tactics. “On a scale such as that no. I doubt anyone could have done better. It would take years to build a backstory for that many people all at once. Not even the Nazis were able to do it. Back when there were no computers and security cameras.”

Hines had to give Handready props for pointing out the obvious. “That is true. So, it was the lack of backstories for so many students at this school that alerted you to it being the most likely place for the lost slaves?”

“Oui. Très bien alors. N’importe quel autre endroit serait impossible.”

“English, you arrogant French fuck stick.” Hines snared.

“Oui. Very much so. Any other place would be impossible.” Handready could barely contain his anger over the insulting manner of Hines. He really wanted to kill Hines. But with the very real threat to his family by this man and his organization, Perry knew that he would have to bide his time.

“Alright, let me see if I have this all correct Perry.” Hines said with a smile. “My ex-wife pays you to setup meetings with a number of mercenaries. Then she pays you a thousand Euros for this. Next she has you go looking for where the lost slaves from the VI mess, and pays you another two thousand Euros. You did both of these, without one question as to why she wanted it did done. You didn’t bother keep track of the people she hired. You didn’t bother to contact me, when she asked about those slaves. Slaves that could bring a lot of heat on my operations. Then you tell me that not only do you not have any idea of where those mercenaries are, but you have no way of contacting. Have I missed anything?”

“No, Monsieur Hines.” For some reason Handready got the sinking feeling that he was about to die.

“Handready, I gave you my word that you would not be killed if you came here and answered my questions. I also gave you my word that you would be allowed to return home alive. I will keep my word on both matters. Now, I’m giving you just twenty-four hours to find those mercs, and get them to contact me. If I don’t have that information by this time tomorrow. You, your family, even your household staff are all fucking dead. Do you understand this? Now get your ass out of my house.”

Perry Handready had no doubt that if he didn’t get that information for Hines the man would carry out the threat. He had to find out where those mercs were and fast. After that, he was getting his family out of France, and Western Europe.

Office of Dorothy Rose, US Marshals, 0815…

Dorothy had stayed in her office last night. After the flash warning she got about the breakout in Sicily Dorothy didn’t feel like going home. As it was she had called in every off-duty Deputy she could plus the ones on vacation. She needed manpower and she needed it now. The biggest need she had was for Trackers. She had already received requests from Interpol, Scot Land Yard, Sicily, and a few other countries. The problem was she just didn’t have the Trackers to send. As it was she needed those same Deputies here. IN the last twenty-four hours two Federal Courthouses had be bombed. Killing more than fifty civilians, twenty-two officers of the court, five judges, and destroying more than two hundred lives with life altering injuries.

The knock followed by the opening of her office door was greeted by a face Dorothy really wanted to see right now, Supervisory Deputy William, Billy, Chandler. The only faces that would have made her day even better belonged to three of her other Deputies that have disappeared into a blackhole so dark that no one knew where they were.

“You sent for me Boss?” Billy asked Dorothy lightly. As if was he had no idea of how bad the situation really was. If he did, he wouldn’t have been in such a good mood.

“I sure as fuck did, Billy. I take it that you have heard about the bombings?” Bill just turned grim and nodded his head. “Well, that is just the tip of this SNAFU. I got an email at oh-dark-fucking-stupid. Take a look at what it contains.”

Dorothy spun her monitor around so William could read the email. The former NEMESIS operator just whistled as he read the list of targets. He looked up at the origin addie and shook his head. “You can forget trying to track that email Marshal. All that’ll get you is heartburn and a headache. That address will dump you into the middle of Lake Michigan if you go looking for a physical address for that MAC addie. As for the Intel, you can take it to the bank.”

“Thank you, William. You just confirmed what I already felt, but needed confirmed. What I need right now, is some tactical perspective. We have forty-two targets ranging the full length of the eastern seaboard. Not to mention the additional nineteen targets in the midwestern area. Our problem is all of these judges have made rulings that have pissed off every left-right-center nutcase you can think of. I’m talking about everyone from the tinfoil-hat crew to Black Panthers to the KKK. Just who do we go after?”

“WE don’t go after anyone, boss.” Holding up his hand to stop Dorothy’s rebuttal Billy continued. “We were sent that list of possible targets. It’s our job to provide the protection those judges’ need. Someone else is going after the tangos.”

Dorothy looked up at William with thought filled eyes. “You’re still trying to prove we got a Black Badge team out there working, aren’t you?”

William Chandler sighed. Dorothy had ordered him to drop his investigation into the reports of U.S. Deputy Marshals taking matters into their own hands. That was three months ago. Now, he had another chance at proving those rumors true. “Look, Dorothy, I know you told me to drop it, but I know you don’t like Deputies going off the reservation. Whoever these people are, they have a whole support network that is better than anything I have ever seen. Better the NES, DOD, and NSA combined. Before you ask, yes I know that these people very well could be the ones that burned me back when I was a NEMESIS operator.”

“Okay, Billy. Understand though, that I think I know who is tracking these people. In fact, I hope like hell that they are. Because if they are, then there is no place on earth they can hide, and no where they can run.”

William watched as Dorothy got up from her desk and went to her office coffee pot. After refilling her cup Dorothy walked over and stood behind her desk looking out her office window. “William, out there somewhere, right now, Death is coming for some very bad men. You know why I pulled you off your investigation into the rumors of the Black Badges working again?”

“I wondered why at first, Boss. Then I talked to Ashley Earp while he worked as an Intern over the summer. That kid has a lot of potential and he knows a lot about the Black Badges. Most importantly, why they were first formed.”

“Oh, the stories about the Black Badges are true William. The Black Badges and their identities have been a closely guarded secret since the first Black Star was handed out. Not all of those Deputies started out as lawmen. A fine example of that was Doctor John Henry Holliday. A hired gun-hand if there ever was one. Yet, that man rode with one of the most famous U.S. Deputy Marshals in history; Wyatt Earp.”

Billy nodded. “Okay Dorothy, I can see that, but what does that have to do with the Black Badges that are out there right now?”

“It’s been close to two years now William, but it all goes back to the take down of the LOG Party. That whole case revolved around the evidence brought to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office by the child of one of my Deputies. I assigned my best two trackers to protect that child, at first. When they needed backup, I sent the next two in that line. My top four trackers were protecting that child, along with the one of the deadliest families of assassins, by the time that case closed.” Dorothy never looked away from the window. “Only two of those deputies ever showed back up after the arrests went down. Now, I only know where one of them are, and he is the oldest. You want to know why I pulled you, I’ll tell you. I don’t need to know who is operating of the reservation, I already know.”

“Okay, Dorothy, will you please tell me who these people are and why you’re not bringing them in?” William didn’t like the idea of there being Deputies out there taking the law into their own hands. Let alone working with known assassins.

“Samantha Justice, Robert Everbrite, Hunter Taugh, Annette DeMarco, Maria DeMarco. Those are the five members of the Black Badge Deputies working today. No, you may not go after them William. In fact, you’re to forget I ever mentioned their names. If what you said earlier is true, then they’re the ones we want going after the terrorists. And may the gods have mercy on their souls.” Dorothy said firmly.

----- to be continued -----

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