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.
Hall of Records, Fribourg, 0145
Samuel and Marco did not wait for the Office of Records and Taxes in the morning. Using the skills they learned at their mother’s knee, the two men broke into the office. It didn’t take them long to find what Kasey had sent them there to find. Not ones to waste an opportunity, they looked for additional properties owned by Hines or his company. What they found were twenty-seven total blueprints.
Blueprints for warehouses, houses, factories and hospitals. Just about every type of structure under the sun. The vast holdings under Hines’ company were staggering.
Marco looked at his brother. “Tell me there has to be a way to stop this man, brother. One that doesn’t involve the old ways.”
“I doubt it, Marco. Just the amount of money to build this much, let alone control a company this vast, is staggering and it would make him extremely powerful man.” Samuel replied. “We might just need to let Aunt Maria and her Deputies do whatever they have to and end this man’s evil.”
Marco didn’t want to agree, but knew his brother was right. “I hate to say this, but you’re right. We both know that our Supervisors will be less than likely to issue the needed warrants for Hines’ arrest.”
“There’s that, and the fact that Hines has to have more than a few politicians in his pockets. For now, we just need to follow papa’s orders.” Taking the blueprints for the Medical Center and rolling them, Samuel nodded towards the door. “Come on. Let’s get out of here. We have a raid to plan.”
Reaching around to the small of his back, Marco DeMarco drew his family knife. “More than a raid Samuel. We have Justice or Vengeance to dispense.”
Seeing his brother’s blade Samuel DeMarco followed suit. “Justice or Vengeance. Only blood will answer for the crimes of Robert Hines.”
Romont, Switzerland 0200…
Rinaldo DeMarco Sr. and his son Rinaldo Jr. walked into the local Interpol Office with a purpose. Rinaldo flashed his badge at the first Inspector he saw. “Chief Inspector Rinaldo DeMarco, I need to speak with the station Chief Supervisory Inspector, Agent. Immediately.”
When the man didn’t move to take care of his request, Rinaldo let his anger flash. “I just gave you an order Agent.”
“You may be a SDI Agent DeMarco back in your home office, here; you’re just another shield number. You can take a seat and wait until our regular office hours. I’m not about to wake the Chief in the middle of the night.”
Rinaldo Jr. didn’t waste his time with words. He just grabbed the agent by the shirt and hauled him out of his chair. “You were given an order you chicken-shit, by a Chief Inspector for a taskforce, not just a Senior Detective Inspector.” Pulling the man away from his desk Rinaldo Jr. sat down in his chair. “Never mind, I’ll find your Chief’s number and make the call myself.”
As the local Agent climbed to his feet, Rinaldo Jr. did exactly what that. Rinaldo Sr. just looked over at the local agent when he went to stop his son. “I wouldn’t do that Agent. In fact, if I was you; I would find an empty desk and start filling out your resignation. Because if your Chief doesn’t demand it, I will.”
The snarl in Rinaldo’s voice left no doubt as to whether he was pissed or not. The young agent realized that he had way overstepped his authority. Rinaldo’s next words drove the point home. “I think I’ll contact Internal Affairs concerning the behavior of the agents in this office. Obviously, by the lack of motivation shown in making emergency contact with the station chief; means more than a few of you are corrupted. I wonder how many?”
To say that simple threat caused a change in the attitude of the agents on duty would be like comparing an elephant to a mouse. Rinaldo Jr. had not been playing either. He had contacted the Station Chief, and was now holding the receiver out so his father’s words could be heard by the Chief. When Rinaldo Sr. took the receiver from his son and placed it to his ear all he heard was the Station Chief.
“Identify yourself Agent, and be quick about it. No one accuses my staff of graft.”
“Chief Inspector Renaldo DeMarco of the Sant’ Agata di Militello Field Office, in Sicily, sir. I have need of an emergency deployment of your anti-terrorist assets.”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes Inspector DeMarco. Please wait in my office for me, sir.”
“Not a problem sir. I will hold judgement as to the professionalism of your staff until you and I can talk.”
“Thank you, Inspector. Until then.” The phone went dead and Rinaldo handed it back his son. He turned to the third shift staff and glared.
“Which way to the Chief’s office?” At his growled question, everyone in the office pointed the way. The two DeMarco men walked straight towards the office door and entered to await the Station Chief’s arrival. It was a long wait for the DeMarcos.
The man who entered twenty-five minutes later was slightly overweight with a pot-gut, greasy black thinning hair, and just under six-foot tall. Rinaldo and Rinaldo Jr. had been Interpol Officers long enough to know the type of man they were about to deal with. A died in the wool career, bureaucrat. Both father and son sighed at the same time.
“Alright, DeMarco. What’s all this horseshit about needing my Anti-terrorist team? And why should I even consider allowing you to use them? I want answers Inspector DeMarco, and I want them now.”
Rinaldo just stood up and glared at the petty bureaucrat. “Unlike you Station Chief, I have never spent a day behind a fucking desk. Now, I don’t care one fucking bit about how you run your office, but I need that team and I need them here now.”
“Not without answers, first. I have to answer to more than a few people around here. Especially whenever I call out the anti-terrorist team.”
Rinaldo sighed as he understood what the problem was. “Station Chief Inspector Winter, the only ‘people’ you have to answer to is me. I am in charge of a taskforce that needs those assets to complete our investigation. Now call them in.”
“I still need to know who you are going after? And where the raid is going to be? I just can’t call all a thirty-man strike team without knowing the answers to those questions. At least give me that.” Demanded Inspector Winter.
Rinaldo knew that the man was in the right. “Our investigation has led us to a courier company by the name of Euro-Trans. The charges are as follows: White Slavery, Human Smuggling, Illegal Narcotics Manufacturing and Smuggling, Illegal Arms Smuggling. I could continue the list of charges, but I take it you get that you get the gist. Now, are you going to issue those orders?”
Station Chief Winter may have earned his way up through the ranks as desk jockey, but he was known for his crisis management abilities. Striding from his office, Winter began to shout orders. “Gunthur, call Muller and the rest of his team. Tell them this is a full terrorist response. No restrictions.”
With that first order the Romont Interpol office came to life. “Klaus get that dead-beat son of a lowlife tax collector, Ernst, out of his mushroom infested office. I want the blueprints for Euro-Trans’s office on my desk in fifty minutes. If that fat little fuck gives you any shit, arrest his ass for Impeding an Investigation. Gunthur, also contact Captain Friedman over at Fire and Rescue. I want at least four ambulances ready for casualties.”
Rinaldo and Rinaldo Jr. stood off to one side as the men and women of the night shift showed that they too were professionals. “He at least has a professional staff, papa. The question is can he pull in the needed resources in time for the raid. Without tipping off our target.”
“I believe that he can and his people will surprise us both son.” Rinaldo said before looking over at his middle son. “The question you should be asking though: is not whether the target will be tipped off, but has he already been tipped off.”
Rinaldo asked. “How do you figure that papa?”
“Remember what your second cousins told us before we separated.” Rinaldo gave his son a harsh look. “Our target may very well have bolted already. All that we can do is carry out OUR orders and shut down that courier. Your brothers have the Research Center to handle, and your sister must try her best to keep up with your cousins. Because if she cannot, your aunt will leave her behind.”
“Please, papa, you must be joking. Angelic can keep up with those American cowboys.” Rinaldo Jr. smirked.
“I will not say this again, Rinaldo.” Rinaldo Sr. snarled in his son’s face. “Do not disrespect your aunt or her family, again. I have seen them in action. They are what you, your brothers, and thank the good Lord sister, will never be. The true descendants of the DeMarco and Capizeo families. Robert Hines is on borrowed time. The real concern is; exactly how much does he have?”
Rinaldo Jr. looked into the eyes of his father. For one of the few times in his young life Rinaldo Jr. saw fear in his father’s eyes. Not for what they were about to do, but for his American relatives. If they could strike fear into this hardened man like this, then they truly were not ones to be crossed. Suddenly a thought crossed his mind. ‘Could the stories of his aunt really be true?’
Before Rinaldo Jr. could voice his question the Station Chief turned to him and his father. “Chief Inspector DeMarco, when do you wish to assault Euro-Trans?”
“I would like to hit the office just before zero four hundred. Is this going to be a problem, Chief Inspector Winter?” Rinaldo asked of the man with more respect.
Winter looked skeptical. “I would prefer a little more time to plan, but I can see that time is of the essence. May I know what has you pushing for such a tight timeline?”
“We believe that there is a shipment of kidnapped teenagers there at this time.” Rinaldo had to think fast to give Winter a reason for the timeline. “I do have to wonder why you have changed your view for deploying your team?”
“Euro-Trans has been on my radar for the past four years for illegal activities. Only most of them have been for much lower crimes. Mostly smuggling of one type or the other. Nothing like you have just described. Until now, I haven’t enough proof to go in with a strike team. Before you ask; I do know that there are several known felons that are employed by Euro-Trans. They say they are 'giving former prisoners a fighting chance at turning their lives around'. What brought them to my attention was the number of ‘former smugglers’ they had hired.”
Both DeMarco men could hear the air quotes in the station chief’s voice. He knew that Euro-Trans was dirty, but just didn’t have the evidence that would allow him to devote the resources to a full investigation. They had just become the man’s answer to a problem thorn in his side, and he was going to use them. Just as they were using him to remove one of Hines’ assets.
“I wish we could give you more time, sir.” Rinaldo Sr. told the man truthfully. Handing over the flash-drive that Kasey had prepared for them Rinaldo smiled. “But what we can give you; is the evidence to rip the heart out that company.”
“Do not worry about that, Inspector DeMarco. I may not have been in the field for many years now, but I do remember that investigations like this can be fluid in nature, and time sensitive. My men know their jobs.” The pride in his strike team was evident as Winter talked about them. AS he handed the flash-drive over to his night-time cyber-expert Winter never looked away. “They will be in place by your timeline. I do have to wonder at how you came by this evidence though?”
“That is a gift from our friends in America Inspector Winter.” At the man’s confused look Rinaldo chuckled. “Let’s just say that our cowboy friends have a much looser interpretation of their cybercrimes warrants at times.”
All three men chuckled at Rinaldo Sr.’s off colored joke about a U.S. Law Enforcement agency braking the law to gather evidence. Not that they themselves hadn’t done so in the past. The biggest deference was the U.S. agencies had the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, better known as the PATRIOT ACT, of 2001. To say Interpol would sometimes hand off a problem investigation to the U.S. D.O.J. for that reason alone would not be a great exaggeration.
As the data followed across the cybercrime-tech’s monitor he turned to look up at Rinaldo. “Well, the next time you talk to your Americanish friends offer them a fucking job with us. And DON’T spare the budget when you do. Whoever they are, they’re well worth three times our normal payrate.”
Rinaldo gave the man a sly smile. “Young man, if I could get that person to work with us on just one out of ten cases, I would. As it is, let’s just say they are hard to contact at the best of times.”
Only Rinaldo Jr. understood what his father was getting at and chuckled. The fact that there was no way in hell his aunt would ever let her granddaughters go to work for his father or Interpol just yet, tickled his funny bone. Working for her is one thing, but someone else. Not happening.
Forest Green Medical Research Center, Fribourg 0430
The sixty-four black clad figures moved in teams of eight men each through the early morning darkness to surround the center. Each team was from the local Bundeskriminalpolizei. Unlike most Polizei though, these men were trained to be part of the Groupe d'intervention de la police cantonale fribourgeoise or GRIF, Fribourg’s SWAT unit. Marco and Samuel were part of the teams. The local Interpol Chief had insisted they go in with the teams.
As they hadn’t taken the same vows their sister had, they were armed for lethal response. As they had discussed the situation with the Station Chief earlier they could tell the woman wasn’t happy with what she was hearing. They both knew that the moment they confirmed what their American cousins speculated, she would throw away the book and look the other way as more than a few of those security guards ‘fell down’. A lot, on their way to lockup.
Unlike their father and brother, when they asked to speak to the Station Chief, the duty desk agent called her immediately. By zero-two-thirty Station Chief Silvia Van Woert was giving orders to her night-shift staff. By zero-three-hundred her whole strike team was in place and a plan was fast forming. By the time to roll-out for the Research center came, Samuel and Marco were extremely impressed. The one thing they had not counted on was being ordered to partake in the actual raid.
There were only two problems the two brothers had with the orders concerning the staff for the center. Van Woert didn’t mix her words or her intentions for the teams. As far as the security staff for the center was concerned, they were all terrorists and to be shot on sight. The second was Van Woert’s order for the medical staff were far more lenient. They were to be taken into custody and held for trial, but only if they did not resist. If the medical staff should resist, then all bets were off.
The problem that both Samuel and Marco had with those orders was simple. In their eyes both medical and security should have been marked with shoot on sight orders. Even after showing Van Woert the evidence their American cousins had provided them of Illegal Medical Experimentation by the medical staff, it hadn’t been enough to change the woman’s mind on the orders. They knew that Van Woert would most likely let the criminal minds of the Medical Staff work out a deal for themselves. In exchange for their medical knowledge or some other horseshit excuse. Just as certain Nazi scientist were given at the end of World War Two.
And just as it was with them, it wouldn’t matter in the long run though. Not to the brothers, nor to their family. Samuel and Marco had already decided to collect the names and pictures of the medical staff. In the dark of a moonless night, the Right Hand of Lady Justice would come for them. Each and every one of them. That was one of the strongest Tenants of the Creed. Once a Contract had been accepted, the Contract must be fulfilled. The moment Van Woert placed Samuel and Marco on the strike teams; a Contract had been issued and accepted. For the DeMarco brothers, that was all that mattered.
Samuel and Marco doubled checked their weapons out of trained habit. Each brother looked at the other and nodded their head. When the go order came, they would carry out their orders. As the clock slowly approached the designated time, the teams moved into final positions. At precisely thirty minutes after four o’clock in the morning, Van Woert came over the radio. “All teams move in.”
The speed at which the eight-man teams moved was enough to catch the security crew a sleep at the switch. Within fifteen minutes the entire center had been taken. The few security officers that were roaming the grounds had been taken out with sniper fire, limiting the chances of early detection. Both Samuel and Marco were impressed by the professionalism of the GRIF teams.
They had both been trained in the traditions of their family and had trained with the Special Weapons And Tactics teams of their home offices. These men were just as good as their home office teams, and showed it. In the world of SWAT teams it is said that the benchmark was set by the Los Anglos California teams. As they were the first to form in 1967. With only the German GSG-9 coming in second; forming in April 17, 1973 in response to the Munich massacre of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany. Both brothers felt that these teams could readily give those two elite units a run for their money.
Once the center was secure, Samuel and Marco were called back to the Mobile Command Center. As they walked back towards the MCC Samuel and Marco did a body count in their heads. The number they came up with was short.
“Samuel, I have a feeling that more than a few of those doctors and nurses are missing. You don’t think that Van Woert has already started to squirrel them away?”
Samuel just nodded his head yes. “I do. I won’t put it past her to have ties to our friend Hines. How should we handle this?”
Marco thought about what his brother just said then smiled, as he patted his pen. “I do believe that the ‘good’ station chief is about to have a heart attack.”
Samuel didn't have to ask what Marco was planning. He, like all DeMarcos, knew the art of assassination by poisoning. And like all DeMarcos, carried a special pen with them, that with a twist of the top would dispense a very powerful neural toxin. One that would give its victim all the signs of a heart attack.
“Make sure we have the needed evidence before you strike, brother.” Was all Samuel said as they neared the MCC. “I will say this much for her Strike teams. They are extremely professional. I know that more than a few of them had to stop themselves from just killing the medical staff on duty when they saw those poor souls over in building three. I do know that once they saw them, they had no more doubts about killing the security personnel on sight.”
“I’ll agree with you on that brother. What I want to know is why has our ‘good’ Station Chief called us back to the MCC.” Marco said as they neared the big vehicle.
He did not have to wait long as Van Woert came out when they were less than ten meters from the MCC. Meeting them half way Van Woert stopped them both where they were with one question. The anger in her voice was clear. “Did you know?”
Samuel looked at her in confusion. “Did we know what, Inspector?”
“About the slave factory. The experiments that were going on there. What those MONSTERS were doing in there?” Van Woert rattled off in rapid fire succession.
Both brothers finally understood what was being asked of them. “Yes, and no, Inspector Van Woert. We knew about illegal medical experiments being performed, but not on who or what they were for. We did tell you that there was some type of illegal medical activity going on here.” Samuel answered.
“So, you knew nothing about those… rooms?” Van Woert shuddered at the thought of the slave training floors and cells.
Marco decided to answer this one. “Yes, ma’am. We knew they were there, but not what they were for. If we did, we would have informed you and your people.”
Van Woert gave the two brothers a hard look before sighing. “I forgive you gentlemen. I should not have taken out my anger on you. It’s just that…”
When Van Woert fell silent, Samuel finished the sentence for her. “You have never seen the true depravity of the human race like that, have you ma’am? You wanted to lash out at someone and we were the ones to bring you this problem. So you came at us. No need to apologize ma’am. My brother and I work the White Slavery desks for both of our home offices. We have become numb to sights such as these. As we deal with them all too often.”
Van Woert gave the two brothers a sad look then schooled her features. “Gentlemen, earlier I did you a grave disservice. I took your age and youthful looks then used that to base my opinion of your investigative skills on that alone. Please, allow me to assure you that there will be no deals for those monsters. I swear to you, here and now, that I will do all in my power; none of them will ever again see the light of the outside world.”
“Inspector, we all know that some will cut a deal to get a lighter sentence or off totally. Just give us their pictures and names, Inspector. We’re DeMarcos. We’ll insure that Justice comes for them. In one form or another.” Samuel gave her a sly smile then placed his finger next to his nose.
Station Chief Inspector Silvia Van Woert may not have been raised in the ways of the mob, but she knew when she was dealing with someone who had. She had heard the stories about the DeMarcos going legit and becoming members of Law Enforcement just as all Interpol agents had. Yet, no one had ever been able to prove that they were part of the Sicilian mob. Now, she had the proof from one of them, if only by a casual gesture of assurance. Silvia felt like she was making a deal with the Devil himself and nodded firmly. “Done.”
Later that morning Samuel and Marco left Fribourg Field Office with a briefcase filled with files on all those who had been members of the medical staff at Forest Green Medical Research Center. They knew who would be best at tracking these people if they should get out or cut a deal. Then, they would finish what was started here this morning, in the way that DeMarcos always did; Death.
Euro-Trans main office Fribourg 0430…
Rinaldo Sr. had been forced by the Station Chief to stay back with in the MCC. As the Station Chief pointed out, they were not young men any more. That being part of a Strike team during a raid was a young man’s game. This did not stop Rinaldo Jr. from joining the Strike team.
The three eight-man teams were position at just before zero-four-thirty in the morning. At exactly the same time that Samuel and Marco were helping with the raid on FGMRC, Rinaldo Jr. was going through the chain-link fence of the depot. Just as with the teams at the medical center these teams were highly trained professionals. Rinaldo Jr. knew he would be safe working with them as they finally started taking people into custody.
The first to be taken down were the outer security guards. These men were also taken out by sniper fire. The next were the drivers that were near the trucks. These men and few women were arrested and placed in handcuffs. Once the exterior of the building was secure, the teams moved inside hard and fast. While the building was only three stories tall, it was still quite large covering close to six acres.
The ground floor was mostly storage, processing and loading of cargo. It was the second floor that would be the hardest to clear, as it was mostly individual offices. Unlike most courier companies, Euro-Trans went with a traditional layout over the more popular open floor plan. The last and top floor was divided into small bed rooms, with communal bathrooms at each end. In short, the top floor was a hostel or Guesthouse for the drivers staying overnight.
If it had not been for the work of the local office, the Strike Teams would have walked into a firefight from the start. While Rinaldo Sr. did not have the skills of his great nieces to draw on he did have those of a very competent young man and woman in the Fribourg Office. It was the work of these two young minds that had saved a lot of lives that early morning. Of the forty Guesthouse rooms twenty-six were occupied with drivers stopped for the night.
By the end of the raid; a total of forty-nine people were in handcuffs, with only four dead security guards. Those had been taken down by the teams’ snipers. Rinaldo Jr. was sure that more than a few of the drivers were going to be returning to prison. The clear number and style of prison tattoos on some of the men, left no doubt where they had done time. In a few cases, also the reasons for that prison time. The number one reason for most of them was smuggling. The schooner ship tattoos were a universal sign among prisoners from Europe for smuggling. So far, Rinaldo Jr. had spotted nineteen of those tattoos in one form or another, and was still counting.
Inside the MCC Rinaldo Sr. turned to Winter. “I must say, sir, when your team rolls out to handle a problem. They really do you and your Station proud. I watched the mission clock from start to finish. Just over the allotted time frame, I am greatly impressed. I do wonder why they held back though?”
“The reason for that is simple.” Pointing over at the feeds coming from the Strike Team’s body cams. “Do you see those crates? The markings on them?”
Rinaldo Sr. took a long hard look at the monitors. “Si. What is so important about them, sir? What has your team so jumpy about them?”
“Those crates are ALL military munitions. Polish, Slovakian, Russian, just about every Eastern Block nation there is.” Then Winter keyed his mike. “Hans, pan your camera left three crates and hold.”
After giving the order, one of the body cameras slowly traversed to the left over three crates then came to a stop on a stack of six. The writing on the side of the crates was Cyrillic. “BUT it is those crates, that have my men so jumpy as you put it. Those are Mark Nine thermonuclear tactical suitcase bombs. Relics left over from the cold war, my friend, and about as stable as those turbulent times.”
That was all Rinaldo Sr. needed to hear to understand the nervousness of the men in the Strike Team. There was nothing tactical about nuclear weapons to begin with. It didn't matter how low yield they were supposed to be, nukes killed everybody for a few miles. Add in the fact that those weapons are unstable, you get a real mixture for a total catastrophic fuck-up waiting to happen. Rinaldo gulped hard then tried started to work his jaw to make spit for his suddenly dry mouth.
“I would suggest that we contact the Army immediately, Inspector Winter. Because I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to glow in the dark or become a shadow on the wall.” Rinaldo’s eyes never left the monitor that showed the nukes.
“THAT call has already been placed, Inspector DeMarco. I take it that you did not know those were in there?” Chief Winter asked.
“IF I had known those were there I would have told you.” Rinaldo snapped. “I sent my SON in there with your team, so don’t get pissed at me. None of us know that those were in there until your people got in there.”
“Sorry, Inspector. I did not mean to sound callous or to accuse you of withholding information. I doubt that you would send your son into a potential nuclear waste zone. Much less, a possible one.” Winter sighed then looked over at the monitor. “I knew that this company was filthy to the core, but just not how bad. The idea that they have been smuggling stolen nuclear weapons is beyond anything I had imagined. I could have seen the normal drugs, guns, and money, but nukes are totally different and terrifying other story.”
“THAT, sir, is an understatement.” Rinaldo still hadn’t taken his eyes over the monitor that showed the crates. “What I want to know is; where in the nine hells did they get their hands on those?”
This time it was Winter who sighed. “I know where they got them. Or I should say I know how they most likely got a hold of them.”
“Start talking, Winter.” Rinaldo growled.
“Some years ago; a man came to my attention. One that not only owns this company, but a very private medical center in Fribourg. At first, I thought he was just another rich American trying to escape their over-taxed country. The very first thing this man bought, was the old hospital and the surrounding grounds. He said he wanted to give back to the people. You know; be a real humanitarian. Shortly thereafter, I started to hear stories about all kind of construction going on up there. I tried my connections within the Hall of Records, but all they would tell me was that this American was building new facilities on the grounds. This all happened about six years ago. Then, about two and half years ago, this American buys an old estate just outside of Lausanne and moves in. Ever since then, I have seen mercenaries in the local beerhalls. I knew these men worked for the man, but other than that, I had nothing else to go on. You and I both know that a lot of the rich hire mercenaries as security guards.”
Rinaldo asked Winter the one question that had been burning in his mind since he had begun his tale. “Would this man’s name happen to be Robert Hines?”
“Ja. That is exactly who I am talking about. Why?” Winter asked.
Rinaldo looked at him squarely. “Because the information that I gave you earlier; came from the American U.S. Marshals' Fugitive Retrieval Taskforce. Hines is a wanted man in his homeland. One with a dead or alive price on his head.”
“Mein Gott! Du musst scherzen?” Winter could not believe what Rinaldo had just told him. He had heard of the Americans offering bounties for fugitives and terrorists in the past, but never for someone like Robert Hines. “Would the Americans really kill a man without a trial?”
Rinaldo looked over at Winter with hard cold eyes. “You have not worked with many Americans, have you Winter? Not only would they place that kind of warrant out for a criminal, but do so with pride. The days of their Wild West may be gone, but the justice from that time is still a part of the culture. We have all heard stories about the ‘cowboy’ Americans and their 'shoot first, ask questions later' attitude. Well I’m here to tell you that not all those stories are tall tales. I know you have heard the stories of American bounty hunters tracking down a fugitive even in other countries. I wouldn’t put it past, or place money on a bet, that there are such people here now. All hunting Robert Hines.”
Station Chief Inspector Winter could only whisper in shock at his counterpart’s blunt admission. “Surely the American Government would not actually send their people into another Sovereign nation to kill a criminal?”
“Not only would they do that, but they even have special U.S. Deputy Marshals whose only duty is to carry out those warrants. I myself used to scoff at the rumored 'Shoot on Sight' warrant stories.” When Winter heard this he almost pissed his pants. Even here in Switzerland the legend of the Black Badge Marshals and their deputies was well known. Rinaldo kept his face blank and voice flat. “Si, my friend the stories are true. The Black Badges are indeed real.”
Rinaldo’s last six words hung in the air of the MCC like the blade of a guillotine waiting to fall. He not only had the MCC staff’s attention, but it was undivided. “And they come for those that believe themselves above the law.”
Hines’ Estate 0145…
Angelic DeMarco stood back to one side and watched as the four American Blackhawk helicopters came in for landing. The first one had not even touched down before the American Special Forces A-team was disgorging. She watched as they fanned out to surround the landing zone as the other three were still landing. Looking over at the three Deputies who had stayed behind, Angelic felt there was something off about them. It might have been the fact they had yet to remove their face camouflage. She watched the one woman who seemed to be the leader, approach one of the American soldiers and talk then another. The second began giving orders that were immediately put into action as she walked back.
Stepping over to the one her aunt had addressed as Butterfly. “Excuse me Deputy, but may I know why you haven’t um… well…”
Lyssa chuckled. “You want to know why we haven’t removed our camouflage.” Angelic blushed and then nodded her head. “All three of us do nothing but undercover and classified work. The only persons that know what we really look like are the Marshal, her deputies and the boss. I'm sure you can understand Sister Magdalena.”
“I certainly do Deputy. Sometimes the need for secrecy to protect, is greater than the need for praise.” Angelic knew all too well what the deputy was talking about.
Lyssa looked at the young nun schooling her features. “I take it that you’re not happy with the Marshal’s order for you to stay here. Care to explain why Sister?”
Angelic sighed, then looked down at her feet. “My vows prevent me from taking a life, deputy. Even in the protection of another. The Marshal may be my aunt, but she will not endanger a member of her team and family by placing my vows to that test. I am trained more in the ways of the thief deputy, not the assassin. I took after my mother’s family in those traditions. I use those skills to reclaim stolen historical artworks and antiquities.”
“I would like to know how it is that a DeMarco or Capizeo would even join the clergy.” Lyssa asked. “I do know a little about your families’ rather colorful background, Sister.”
“We have always had family within the Church, Deputy.” Angelic giggled at the look of confusion that crossed Lyssa’s face. “Our two families have never forced one of us to follow the Way of the Assassin. There has always been three options for us. The clergy, the thief and the assassin.”
Tiffany who had been standing not too far away overheard this and became curious. Here was a source on the DeMarco and Capizeo families that she and the others had never before had access to. “Um… Sister, could you answer a question for me?”
“If I can, Deputy. I’ll be glad to.” Angelic nodded.
“Earlier, your aunt placed her granddaughters in sniper over-watch. Did she really expect them to handle taking a life like that?” Tiffany was still curious with what Maria had done.
“Not only would my aunt expect them to take a life, but to do so without regret. She is the Lithium Flower and Hemlock Rose for our families. If she believes that her granddaughters are ready, then they are ready. It is part of the Creed.”
“Excuse me, Sister, but that is the second time someone has said something about a Creed. Just exactly what is this Creed?” Tiffany asked bluntly.
“There are five tenants in our Family Creed. This Creed governs how a Contract is handled. Whether or not a Contract is taken. Who may issue a contract. Why a contract may be taken. The reasons behind contracts. Most importantly though, is the first and strongest tenant of the Creed. Once a Contract had been accepted, the Contract must be fulfilled. It has been a tradition that the next generation always take the newest contract, but only if the current Mistress or Master declares them ready. To prove their skills and right to claim the title Assassin of the Moonless Wraith Guild they must carry out the contract successfully. If they fail, they either die trying or are banished from the families. That is why there have always been the three options: clergy, thief or assassin.”
Tiffany looked at the nun in puzzlement. “Wow. Hardcore. I take it that the practice is still on going?”
“Like I said Deputy. The Clergy, a thief or assassin. Only now, is there a fourth choice for those in my family and the Capizeos. Law Enforcement. The funny thing about that fourth option is, we are returning to our roots.” Angelic slyly smiled while saying this last part.
“How’s that?” Rodrick who had walked up wanted to know.
“The original reason behind our Family Guild was to bring Justice to those who were abused by the those in power. We did not work just for the rich or powerful. We handed out Justice to those who truly believed themselves above the Law. Most of the time that Justice was handed out in the cold darkness of a moonless night. It was said that my ancestors moved as they were Wraiths made from the shadows of a moonless night. That was how our Guild got its name.” The conviction in Angelic’s voice made Tiffany rethink what she knew about the woman of the Black Badges.
"Cool." Tiffany grinned.
Lyssa just smiled slyly and nodded her head. “I always knew that Maria was sugar-coating her explanations for some of the girls training. She’s been preparing them for their first kill faster than any of us realized.”
“I doubt that Deputy. The Lithium Flower or Hemlock Rose would never push a student to prepare them for a contract. This is also part of the Creed. No Master or Mistress may send an untrained initiate on a contract. To do so would be a violation of the highest order to our family honor.” Angelic said.
“So, family honor is that high among your families?” Tiffany asked.
“Deputy let me put this in simple terms.” It was not Angelic who spoke now, but Sister Magdalena. “I joined the Church for two reasons. The first is simple, I always wanted to be a nun. The second reason is, I know that I cannot take a life. That is why I am a thief.”
Rodrick and Lyssa chuckled at the young nun’s bluntness. Lyssa nodded to her protege. “Never try to out fox a DeMarco, Sierra Delta. Their minds just don’t work the way ours do.”
“Okay already, I get it.” Tiffany looked at Angelic and smiled. “Come on Sister Magdalena, let's go find what we can in the house.”
Angelic was confused. “Why would you want me to join you Deputy?”
“We have a thief with us. Who would better at finding hidden treasure?” Tiffany snarked, bringing a laugh from the others.
As they went inside the Green Berets were busy taking care of the three slaves. Before the Alpha strike team had even reached the top floor of the steps, the Med-Evac helo was lifting off. In one hour that helicopter would be setting down at Rammstein Airbase, in Germany. Where an old C-9 Nightingale medical transport sat waiting under contract to the U.S. Marshal service.
Lyssa looked up and down the hallway then said coldly. "Tear it apart. Walls, floors, ceilings. Even the furniture. If there is something here, retrieve it. Documents, electronics, currencies and any other high value items. Clock's ticking and we got business."
Angelic watched for a moment as they began shredding anything within sight. Then they began punching holes in the walls and tearing them away.
Angelic shook her head. "This is a hung-over wrecking crew on Monday morning!"
From top to bottom they worked. Virtually no square inch was untouched. Angelic couldn't believe the damage, until she remembered the main fact. Robert Hines, would not be around to care or complain. The unstated fact that the man was still breathing, was being taken almost personally. If it weren't for the matter of every time they found something of value there was no celebration, Angelic would have sworn it was personal.
"SAFE!" Lyssa called out.
The others rushed into the study.
Rodrick looked it over. "Det-cord or Semtex?"
"Maybe a certain Nun can pop it for us?" Lyssa nodded to Angelic. "Want to give it the first shot?"
Angelic smiled. "Certainly! So, kind in asking as well."
Tiffany laughed. "Then he's all yours, Sister! Convert him from his sinful ways."
Even Angelic had to roll her eyes, but did laugh as she went to work. Once she started working though it was a totally deferent person. One that even Lyssa knew was a professional in their element. As she worked Angelic talked to herself and caressed the safe as if it was her long-lost lover. Lyssa, Rodrick, and Tiffany almost laughed at the young nun’s antics.
“Glenreader three-thousand, with electronic-key-pad and mechanically controlled lock. Twenty-four, three-inch lock pins. Each pin six-inches long. Door thickness, nine-inches. Walls of triple layer construction, consisting of two layers of concrete sandwiched between three layers of inch think High carbon steal. Fire rated for twelve hours. Built in place by Glen and Reader Safes of New Jersey. Self-contained air supply. Doubles as panic room.” With a spin of the safes locking wheel there was a loud thud, followed by Angelic smiling as she stepped back.
"My friends, salvation is at hand!" Angelic announced and pulled the door open.
Lyssa stepped inside the massive safe then dug into and started tossing currency aside as she searched. "Money. Money. Money. Bearer Bonds. Money. AH! PAY DIRT!"
Lyssa pulled out several folders and began leafing through them. "Such a big hurry Robert. Shame shame. You left us some real goodies!"
Tiffany had been digging around inside as well and held up several passports. "Genuine U.S. passports. Some Swiss and Latvian too. OH, HELLO! Cyprus and the UAE too. Naughty naughty. These are new. Only eight months old and no stamps."
Rodrick held out the rucksack. "Bag them. Money going to those kids?"
"Yeah. It's the least we could do. Won't do Asshole any good where he's going. It's ALL inclusive." Lyssa said with cruel humor.
Tiffany picked up a packet of Bearer Bonds. "What about the bonds?"
"How many?" Rodrick asked.
Tiffany leafed through them. "Million Euros each, a shitload."
"Keep one. Give us one. Two for the Sister's Order and the rest goes to the recovery piggybank. Give her a bundle of notes too." Lyssa replied, still looking through the files.
"Um, you do know we take vows?" Angelic reminded.
Rodrick handed her a bundle of Euros. "What's that saying; He helps those who help themselves?"
"Yeah. And Murphy loves to fuck with an optimist." Tiffany said passing the Bonds over.
Lyssa continued to read. "Take it sister. Use that bad stuff to do some good things. Besides, you still have expenses. This is where you be smart and say 'of course, I know good ways to put this to use'. Oh yeah! Confirmed Kill!"
"What did you find?" Tiffany asked.
Lyssa pulled two files and held them up. "Just the security details, for ALL of his places. And all his BANKING information!"
Angelic's jaw dropped in shock. the man could be stripped completely of his entire fortune, save whatever he has stashed away physically and worse, now completely vulnerable no matter where he hid. "It is as if God himself has given his blessing."
Lyssa secured the intelligence and waved them out. "You get what you get. Some times it sucks rocks, other times it's all champagne and roses. We're done. Let's go, we got places to go and things to do. This isn't over, we got business."
The Army helicopters has long since gone. Angelic was confused as they led her behind the house to the cliffs. Lyssa handed her a harness and helped her into it. She then watched as they began putting on strange packs. Then she noticed they were not backpacks. No backpack had straps running between the legs. These were harnesses. Harnesses for parachutes.
"Scusami. What is happening?" Angelic asked.
Lyssa waved her closer. "Huh?"
"What are you doing?" Angelic asked.
Lyssa snapped the last clip and snugged her straps then turned her around and clipped onto Angelic's harness. "Oh. We're leaving. You can go with me."
"What?" Angelic asked then screamed.
Lyssa had grabbed her and kicked off backwards. Plummeting toward the bottom, over six hundred feet below. Lyssa got them turned over and pulled the chute free.
Angelic screamed with her eyes closed. "DIO AIUTO, CHE È CRAZIA!" God help me, she is crazy!
The canopy filled and they slowed to drift down. Angelic dared to look and groaned as Lyssa worked the risers to bring them down next to the vehicles.
"NICE!" Tiffany laughed as they landed.
Rodrick looked over. "How'd it go?"
"I think she ruptured my eardrum." Lyssa griped, rubbing her ear.
Angelic yelled. "You could have killed us! I may not fear meeting God, but that doesn't mean I want to speed up the appointment!"
Lyssa laughed. "sister, you were in no danger. All our chutes can carry two on a BASE jump. We brought them specifically because of that. Just in case. You did good for a first time. Want to go up and do it again?"
Angelic knelt, clasped her hands, and looked upward. "Per favore Dio, ho imparato la mia lezione di vanità. Salva da questa donna folle!"
"What's that?" Rodrick asked.
Lyssa shrugged. "She wants God to save her from a crazy woman. Says she learned her lesson about vanity, whatever that means."
"Hang it up honey. We had parachutes, you are saved." Tiffany chuckled as she walked by to her own SUV. "Meet you at the plane."
Rodrick finished loading up and opened the back passenger door. "Let's go, sister. We're not done yet."
"Heavenly Father, watch over me. These people are insane and I have no idea what they will do next!" Angelic said then crossed herself and got in.
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