Justice or Vengeance -chp1

Justice or Vengeance


An old enemy has returned from the grave to shack the Marshals to their core. The mole has been found but at the cost of a friends life. The Deputies have always known the cost of being an Officer of the Law. But when one of their own has been targeted for assassination the gloves come off.

by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.

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

Edited by my husband Paul, Honeysuckle, and djkuffman.


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

Chapter 1

Sam, Annette and Maria came into the War Room under the main hangar. Inside they found everyone assembled. Hunter was looking around in speechless wonder. The Deputies had seen parts of the room during video conference. Seeing the whole thing in the here and now was another thing. Including the super array beyond a glass wall. Krystel, Kristine, Kasey and Kimberly were all operating terminals. Dannigan was talking quietly with Shawna.

An intercom interrupted with Eddie's voice. "C.I.C., Shawna's Lear is prepped and ready for launch."

"Thanks Eddie. I'll be up in a minute." Shawna replied using the intercom.

Dannigan nodded. "Use the DOJ credentials for Stacy Dartley. They list you working for the U.S.A.G. in internal investigations. The A.G.'s secretary's name is Brenda Golson and she's very familiar with Stacy's name and description."

"Yes Sir!" Shawna saluted and left.

Dannigan turned around. "Report!"

Kimberly answered first. "Earp, David; Deputy Marshal in charge of the Toledo Ohio field office. Multiple Gunshot wounds sustained from attempted assassination in the parking garage of the Toledo Federal building. Current location is St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center condition critical. Steve Marks, Deputy Marshal; deceased same location. Dale Wilson, Deputy Marshal; deceased same location. Deputy Wilson was in possession of a single M16A2 and auto-fire was reported. Preliminary indications point to a fire-fight between the Deputies. Krystel."

"Aye Ma'am! The parking structure has surveillance and I'll own it in twenty more seconds." Krystel stated.

Kimberly looked over to the two teens. "Kasey."

Kasey answered. "Pulling up all cellphone traffic for the three. Also searching for any burn phones. I've already found Deputy Earp's burn phone."

Kristine didn't wait for prompting. "All files for Deputies Marks and Wilson on screens two and three. Ma'am there is something hinky with a few of these files."

"I have the footage. There's audio as well. Main screen." Krystel announced.

"Go." Dannigan ordered.

Everyone in the room went silent; almost all were standing in front of the bank of screens, watching the large screen in the center. The looks of anger intensified on each of the deputies' faces as the events unfolded in front of them.

Finally Dannigan spoke when it was over. "Three prong. Shawna is our onsite Operator. Maria, you and your team take the front door of this. The Marshals are all yours. Kimberly; you have the shadows, you and Krystel find out how wide spread the poison is by going where Maria's team can't. Madison get me General Singleton. Dorothy Rose is going to need some individuals around her that are without doubt. I happen to know a certain NEMESIS that is itching to redeem himself. Get to it, we have business."

Madison held up a phone. Dannigan nodded for her to put it on speaker.

"General." Dannigan said by greeting.

Singleton groaned "I was having a productive day. What's on your mind Branton?"

"I need a body. Short-term and then you can have him back." Dannigan replied. "If he survives."

The Commanding General of Special Forces asked. "And you already know who. Go ahead Major."

"William Chandler formerly of the NEMESIS contingent. I hear he's down to second lieutenant and currently collecting brass off the range at Schoolhouse." Dannigan said. "His incentive is you'll give him to an A-team in Fifth group or he can resign his commission for an offer at NSA for field ops. I can make that happen if you don't want him."

Singleton laughed. "You mean you wouldn't take him on?"

"Sorry General, he couldn't handle it. This little assignment is a personal protection detail. He can do that. He might even get offered a job with the Principle. The Principle is Dorothy Rose, U.S. Marshal. All Chandler has to do is swing by DOJ and pick up his paperwork from the A.G.'s office." Dannigan stated after signaling Kimberly.

Kimberly nodded back.

"Ok Branton. Anything I need to know?" General Singleton asked.

"Inform Marshal Rose that Mister Doggerty made the arrangements. She thinks I'm with a congressional sub-committee and will comply." Dannigan said then signaled Madison to end the call.

Maria stepped closer to Dannigan and whispered. "What was all that about and why does a General Singleton sound familiar?"

"Singleton is the Commanding General of Army Special Forces. Chandler was a NEMESIS Operator. Basically he was trained to work alone and deliver a tactical nuke to a point where it does the most damage to the enemy. Rose needs protection that is without doubt. Chandler is still on active duty and therefore will not be compromised." Dannigan explained.

Maria nodded. "I'll buy that. What is 'collecting brass off the range at the schoolhouse' mean?"

"Oh that. Chandler has been on permanent stand-down. He's been running the range for The Unit down at Ft. Bragg. Delta Force to civilians. The 'Schoolhouse' is an area set aside for them to train away from everyone else. He freelanced and it went south on him. He's a good Operator, just was outclassed. This he can handle though." Dannigan said.

Maria sighed. "Do you know who outclassed him?"

Dannigan pointed across the room to Lyssa.

"Oh. I should have guessed." Maria shook her head.

Dannigan patted her shoulder. "Sorry Maria. That's all I can tell you about it."

Maria waved him off. "Yes yes. You and your classified cloak and dagger lunacy. Have your secrets."

"I don't impose classifications outside my agency. I just maintain them." Dannigan said then waved Kimberly over. "Authorize Krystel for a deep dive when the girls are done. They're not ready to see that kind of operation. Maria keeps the girls' schedule as is. You can sneak back and see after they are down for the night."

Maria turned to where Bobby and Hunter were studying the case files of Wilson and Marks. Hunter was the first one to point out the problem with the case file numbers. "Girls can you pull up the actual case files for Wilson for us?"

Kristine was quickly typing away to bring up the files for Hunter and the other adults. "Sir that’s where it gets strange. Each file that has a juvenile prefix has another sealed file that is being held at an off site server."

"What do you see girls?" Asked Bobby, having already found what was bugging Hunter.

It was Kasey who figured it out first. "Those prefix codes! They don't match up with the original charges. Most of those codes are for terrorist activities or murder in the first degree."

"What else?" Hunter prompted.

"We don't know sir." Kristine answered for the teens. "You and Uncle Hunter had only started going over the coding system this morning."

"Robert would you or Hunter please be so kind as to explain for those of us who do not have a law enforcement background?" Maria asked with some heat.

"Madam Maria as you know, Bobby and I were teaching the girls about how law enforcement setup their case file numbers this morning." Hunter began telling them all. "What Kasey and Kristine have found may be the one piece of information that can break this whole case wide open. You remember how Kristine found those files on the LOG server about their slave trading. One of the problems we were having after you all took off was figuring out where they were getting the teens."

Maria sighed. "Alright Hunter I can see that as being a problem as my granddaughter did kind of destroy that server. However what does that have to do with those case file codes?"

"Madam Maria a simple change in those codes and you go from being a shoplifter to worldwide wanted terrorist. Change a few more and you never see the inside of a courtroom. You just disappear off the face of the earth with no one the wiser." Hunter explained. "All of those files have had their original codes changed in such a way as to make those kids disappear. What I want to know is; how many juvie files have been changed in that same manner?"

When Kristine heard this she began to dive deeper into the Marshal case file data base. The more she dug the more case files she found that had been altered. Now that she knew what to look for it was almost too easy. Kasey seeing what her kid sister was doing, quickly stepped in to cover her dive into the Marshal Data base. Once again the two girls seemed to become one as they attacked the Marshals' server.

Krystel smiled as her two protégés went after the information their team would need. She knew that later after the girls left she would be doing her own deep dive, but it was not time for them to see that part of her war. She smiled even wider as the two girls expanded their search to include FBI, Homeland, DOJ, and the local PDs' of major cities all along the east coast. Within moments the two girls had a list of over one hundred names and case files. Kristine put the list up on screen four after highlighting the case file number.

"Holy SHIT! Just how fucking bad is this shit?" Hunter asked what no one else wanted to.

"Hunter we've known for the past few months that the LOG party had their hooks into a number of law enforcement agencies. Hell, we ran into a pair of DOJ buttheads in Denver trying to get ahold of the Masterson files through a satellite office." Sam told him outright.

"Okay let's look at this from a strategic point of view. What would these people need to pull this off? There is no way for this many people to just disappear without some kind of deep support. For starters; who would you need to on the inside to make those changes?" Dannigan asked the Deputies.

Kristine was the first one to speak up. "Sir, as much as I hate to say this I know who that would be."

"Go ahead Kristine. I am not going to be mad at you just tell us who you think would be their rat in the woodshed? Continue." Dannigan prompted.

"It has to be someone with the local IT crew. Anybody in that department could make the changes to the file codes with no one being the wiser, just like Hunter said. In fact that same person could not only change the file codes but issue a transfer order all in a matter of minutes. That is where I believe we need to start looking. Um, Sir." Kristine told the man she knew only as the Major.

"Very good Kristine. You and your sister are really starting to get the hang of all this cyber warfare stuff." Maria was smiling at her two granddaughters. "Now Kasey, what did you learn while covering your sister as she dove those systems?"

"Si Nonnina. At present there are only five local police departments that we need to investigate. They are New York, Boston, Charleston South Carolina, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C. That is all five. There are also two offices that are Federal agencies. Those two are the Toledo and Columbus offices for US Department of Justice and Covert Homeland Affairs." The four deputies looked at Kasey in shock.

"Are you sure child?" asked Maria.

"Si Nonnina. I am positive about that information. The first is the offices of Deputy Director of Security John Samuels for DOJ. The other is the office for Sub-Director Dan Mitchel for the Office of Covert Homeland Affairs. Between those two offices they control something called the Strategic Prison and Rehabilitation program. Whatever that is?" Kasey stated.

"Um, I know Mr. Samuels." When everyone looked at Kristine she blushed. "He used to have dinner with my sperm donor before he was arrested. The guy is a real big wig in the LOG party. He was the one that my father always answered to at the Columbus Party Office."

"Thank you Kristine, though I would prefer you had put that another way. At least now we know who one of our targets is." Turning to the ground team for her contingent Maria squared her shoulders. "Pack your bags boys and girls. You're going to war. And this time; we end it. Kimberly, how soon can you have travel arrangements made for the Deputy Marshal Ground team?"

"No earlier than tomorrow morning Madam Maria." Kimberly told her.

"Good have the C-130 ready for them please. Hunter, Robert; get the truck ready for load out. Samantha, Annette; you girls take care of the weapons and make sure they are in perfect working order. I do not want there to be any malfunctions. Kasey, Kristine; you two are to dig up all you can on those two Federal Offices and their Directors. Leave no stone unturned girls. For the last few months we have been reacting to these people after they have shown their hand. I am done with reacting; it is past time to be proactive in our duties."

"Ria, what are you thinking?" Dannigan asked of the old woman.

"Paul; for the past twelve years first I, then my daughter, hunted for the people responsible of the deaths of our Family. This is a matter of vendetta and honor now. The fools of the LOG party started this mess twelve years ago when they had Sam's family killed. She got only part of her vengeance. Annette spent the next twelve years going after the evidence to help take down the LOG party. Now, after all this time we have proof of there being more snakes in the wood pile." Maria said angrily.

"That may be true Ria. However, YOU do not have the authority to take the actions that you’re suggesting." Dannigan pointed out.

"This is one time that I don't need to worry about having authority or legality. Those idiots ordered the death of two high ranking Law Enforcement Officers. All I need is the evidence and every LEO for three thousand miles will do the rest for me. It will not be vengeance Paul it will be justice." Maria knew what she was talking about now. Even Paul knew what she was getting at.

There would be no trial for these men. No slick Harvard Lawyer was going to get them off on a technicality. They would never see the inside of a jail cell. The only justice they would see would be at the muzzle of a gun or tip of a knife. If Maria had her way; it would be at the point of a knife.

"It's going to be more than that Madam Maria." Maria looked over at Hunter as did everyone else in the room. "When this goes down; whoever is the arresting officer, will become judge, jury AND executioner."

Maria stepped over to the grim Deputy. "No Hunter. Your job is to make sure that WE are the ones to handle this. Under no circumstances are the four of you to allow outside units handle the take down. Do I make myself CLEAR on this matter?"

Maria received a round of yes ma’am’s from the deputies before they left to take care of their duties. Maria turned back to Dannigan. "Paul I don't want to hear one word. Like I said last night; you may run this band of merry misfits, but those are MY people, MY family. David Earp was more than just an advisor to me. I respect the man and the way he did business. He was always the consummate Professional. If he didn't have such a damnable over-developed sense of right and wrong, he would have made one hell of a criminal. Now either get me the needed warrants to take these people down or get out of my way."

"Ria, I always knew you would make one hell of an Ops-Boss. Alright; I'll get you what your team needs." Looking over at Madison. "Madison please take care of the needed paperwork. Remember that the Deputies have to operate in the light. They may go dark, but I want them covered just in case."

"I'll make sure everything gets taken care of Sir." Madison told the man she worked for.

"Paul can you answer a question for me?" Maria asked him.

Dannigan nodded. "Sure, if I can."

"What EXACTLY in the hell is a Strategic Prison?" Maria asked.

"That is something I would like to know myself, Ria." Dannigan replied then whispered. "Ask me again later."

Later that night:

Maria walked into the War Room. It was much quieter. Lyssa and Tiffany were working in the area with white boards. Madison sat at a terminal. A door never seen before opened and Kimberly came out.

"She's under," Kimberly reported to Dannigan.

Dannigan waved Maria to follow. They went inside the room. Inside now, Maria's jaw dropped in shock. Krystel sat naked in a special chair. To the side were bags suspended running to a manifold that led to an intravenous line in Krystel's arm. There were other tubes as well and Maria didn't need a degree in biology to know what they were.

"Where is she," Dannigan asked.

Kimberly answered, "She's down, but still with us."

Dannigan spoke directly to Krystel, "answers or forty-eight hours. Go to war."

They heard the music playing on her headset increase in volume and codes on the screens began to scroll faster and separate many times. Kimberly backed them out and closed the door.

"My God," Maria said then crossed herself. "That seems; inhuman!"

Dannigan's look was unwavering, "This is the world of deep dive CyberOps. Krystel is one of twenty operatives currently in U.S. forces that are allowed to work like that. This would be Kristine's fate if she weren't with us. Or worse. If LOG had gotten their hands on her she wouldn't have survived a month. They would have worked her to death if not killed her outright. Krystel understands completely what she is doing. The dangers involved are real. No one outside this room right now is to know about it."

Maria nodded then said, "I would very much like to never see that again."

Dannigan nodded then went over to Madison.

Maria looked to Kimberly, "How could she do that to herself?"

Kimberly's eyes were like steel, "Lives are on the line. We all make sacrifices. This is what we do Maria. So others aren't forced to. Just one more battlefield in the war. A war that will be won by our side. No matter what. Goodnight Maria."

Maria started to go but stopped when Kimberly said just loud enough for her to hear, "While you're praying to God. Ask him to make sure Lyssa or Tiffany isn't needed to deploy."

Maria looked over to the two Operators and noted their blank expressions. In her heart she knew if those two left the island, devastation would follow in their wake. "It is not to God that I will be praying this night." At the blank look on Kimberly's face Maria explained. "My prayers will be going to Saint Alecia."

"Excuse me Maria, but who is that?" asked Lyssa from behind her.

"The patron Saint of Fools and Cavalry. I am surprised that you didn't know that Lyssa. After all she is also considered the patron Saint for the Airborne as well." Maria had a sly smile on her face at the surprised looks on the hardened operators' faces. "I will see you girls in the morning. I'll make sure to keep my granddaughters away from the TOC unless that door is closed. I know that Kristine is like Krystel in that she too, is a diver, but she is in NO way ready to see THAT. Paul may I see you up top as they say?"

Dannigan nodded.

"Don't worry Maria. We'll make sure that the door to that room is closed while the girls are in the TOC. Have a good night's sleep and don't worry about us. This is what we do." Kimberly said to Maria's departing back. Once she was out of the TOC Kimberly turned to the Major. "Sir, earlier you basically gave the Marshals a blank check to take out anyone involved in the assassination of Earp. Why?"

"Lieutenant, let me be blunt. If I had not given in on their demands they would have gone off the reservation. What I want you to think about is this. Right now we have one Special Forces Ranger, one Airborne Ranger, and two of the highest trained assassins in the world all on the same team. We have the records for Sergeants Everbrite and Taugh. We know how and what they were trained in. They are known assets each. Those two young ladies have been raised in a tradition where killing was second nature. Yes one became a US Deputy Marshal, but don't let that fool you. When push comes to shove Samantha Justice falls back on her earlier training. That woman is ten types of death and destruction. And let me point something out to all of you here. She is no angel, when she goes there its Samantha Capizeo who actually comes out to play. Annette DeMarco made her bones at seventeen. No, those two are our lose cannons. They will not react the way one of us will."

"How's that sir? What I mean is why they won't react the same as one of us?" asked Madison.

"They'll take out the whole operation without giving shit-one about who knows they did it. DeMarco and Capizeo are both old world family mob. To them this is very much a matter of honor. You don't just order the assassination of one of their own without first having a sit-down. To do so is to declare war. Something the mob looks down on and only as a last resort. The difference is they don't take prisoners and the bodies never get found." Lyssa told her from where she was standing.

Lyssa looked at the doorway where her old friend had just gone through. "Madam Maria is out for blood and a pound of flesh. We may leave a smoking crater when we get done, but that woman is going to rip the heart out of this organization and do it in broad daylight."

"Why do you say that Lyssa?" Madison asked her directly.

"This is a matter of HONOR for her. She truly liked and respected David Earp. He may die tonight, but Wilson threatened his family too. If for no other reason; Maria is going to find his bosses and have either Samantha or Annette kill them and make a spectacle of it."

"Damn! And I thought you were the only one to be cold-hearted enough to go after someone like that." Madison shook her head then looked back quickly. "Wait! I didn't mean that the way it sounded!"

"Madison, we are Operators, we know the deal. Maria, Sam and Annette are hired assassins. They don't have a moral code but they do have a sense of honor that runs very deep. Bobby and Hunter are soldiers who can kill and not give it a second thought when they have to. Those three on the other hand generally don't care who they have to kill. However I will say this about them. They don't take jobs that involve kids, vets, or innocent bystanders." Paul told Madison then went up top.

Maria stood outside the hangar doors.

"I'm surprised you waited." Dannigan remarked.

Maria sighed. "I have to know Paul. What is a Strategic Prison?"

"Remember Camp Delta down in Gitmo?" Dannigan asked.

The former Prima and Assassin nodded. "Yes. I've heard of it. That was where the government kept Al Queda prisoners."

"Very good. That was the public face of that. There were others that weren’t known publicly. They were called Black-Sites and that was where operational Intel was extracted. That program hasn't gone away; it just got shuffled around and renamed. Apparently it’s been done again and that's what it’s being called. D.O.J. and Homeland aren't supposed to have any part of it though. N.S.A. does domestic and the C.I.A. still has the international side. Somebody high up got this approved and it stinks to high hell." Dannigan said.

"Corruption," Maria growled.

Dannigan patted her shoulder. "Get some sleep Ria. There's a lot to do."

The rest of the night the operational command team of O.I.C.A. went about the business of information gathering. Paul Dannigan watched as his team went about doing what they did better than anyone else. He knew that the one person in this crew who would deliver the most important information would be Krystel.


St Vincent Mercy Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio:

Doctor James Saint walked out of the operating theater. To most people it would seem as if he had not just spent the last fifteen hours in surgery. Looking at the gathered Deputies James knew that the man he had been working on was important. When one of them started to walk toward him, James just ignored the man.

It took him a few moments to find who he was looking for. With a heavy heart Doctor James Saint walked over to the woman and young boy with her. He always hated this part of his job. When one of the Deputies grabbed his arm James damned near took his head off. "Let go of me right fucking now, Deputy." James hissed out through clenched teeth. "Do it now before I have your fucking badge, asshole!"

When Deputy Mike Frost heard the anger in the surgeon's voice he knew the answer to his question. Letting go Mike left the doctor to his business. Mike had something else he needed to do that was more important. Pulling out his cell phone Mike headed for the nearest entrance. Hitting the speed on his phone Mike waited for it to connect.

While Deputy Mike Frost was waiting for his connection James Saint approached Elaine and Ashley Earp. "Excuse me Mrs. Earp." James waited for her to acknowledge him. "Ma'am please understand that the damage to your husband was just too great. By the time the EMT's got him here your husband had lost way too much blood. Even if they had been able to get him here in time to stop the blood loss, I doubt that I would have been able to save him. One of the bullets had punctured his right lung and one had nicked his heart. It was miraculous that he lasted as long as he did. He must have had a will of pure cast iron to live that long with his injuries. We did everything in our power to save your husband, ma'am. We just weren't good or lucky enough to save him. I truly am sorry."

Elaine started crying the moment that Saint told her that David was gone. Ashley pulled his mother into his arms and just held her as she broke down and cried. Unlike his mother though Ashely wanted answers and more. Looking over at the doctor the teenager fought to control his rage. "Tell me something doctor. Is there any way that my father could have survived the attack?"

When the doctor started to hand the boy the normal response of bullshit the boy gave him a look. The look said 'don't fucking lie'. Saint just shook his head no. He knew that this young man was going to be out for vengeance. If the U.S. Marshals didn’t get that revenge then he would and no force on earth or in heaven would stop the boy.

Ashley nodded. "Thank you doctor. Where can I pick up my father's personal effects?"

"I'll have a nurse bring them to your mother in a while. I think that the other deputies need to go through them first." Doctor Saint informed him.

Ashely leaned over and hissed at the man. "I don't care what they fucking want. I asked you where I can pick up my father's personal effects. Now where can I do that?"

"If you can get one of the deputies to take care of your mother for a few minutes I'll take you there myself." James said quietly.

Ashely waved to one of his father's deputies. A man he had met once before and knew could be trusted. "Deputy Hardaway can you look after my mom for a few moments?"

"Sure Ashely go do what you need to. I'll look after your mom for you." leaning over to whisper in Ashely's ear. "Grab his house keys and burner phone only. Leave everything else. I’ll stall Frost for fifteen minutes. Now get moving." Standing back up Hardaway nodded at Ashely. "Go on son and take care of your business."

Ashely passed his mother to the man that had worked for his dad Ashely got up and followed Doctor Saint. Once out of sight Saint showed him where his father's effects were. Ashely knew what Hardaway was telling him to do. Reaching into the box that held his father's things grabbed the Burner phone and keys to the office at the house. Before turning away Ashely took out his father's wallet with his badge and shield.

Ashely wanted to take the wallet then and there but knew that if he did, questions would be asked. Questions he didn't want to answer and questions that he knew his father didn’t want asked. Placing his father's credentials back into the box Ashely turned away and headed back out to his mother. He had what he needed in his pocket, that was all that mattered. Someone had paid for his father's death. "Don't worry Dad. One way or another; whoever ordered this is going to pay."

Once back out with his mother they were stopped by Deputy Frost as they were heading for the exit. "Mrs. Earp I need to ask you a few questions before you leave."

"Frost, I don't care if you are IA. If you don't walk the fuck away, I will personally file a complaint with your boss." Growled Hardaway from over by the doorway.

"Piss off Hardaway! You can't touch me. I am in my rights to question his wife and you fucking know it." Frost had made one mistake in his little speech. He failed to take in the fact that David Earp was one of the most respected Deputies in the Service. He never saw the fist that punched out his lights. Standing behind his unconscious form stood another Deputy cracking his knuckles.

"Shit Strom. Did you have to have all the fun!" complained another deputy. The gathered deputies all laughed at the man's complaint. "Elaine we're all sorry for your loss. David is going to be missed. He was one of the best damned bosses to work for. Please let us know if any of those rat-fuckers in Internal Affairs come sniffing around. We all know that David is as clean and straight as they come. If they do, we'll be having a little talk with them."

Elaine smiled at all the gathered deputies. "Thank you all. Yes, David had a right to be proud of you all. He always told me that there were no finer Deputies in the Marshals. I just wish that Sam, Bobby, Hunter, and Bat could be here."

"Mrs. Earp, I know that I am one of your husband's newer deputies but I know that if those four deputies could be here they would be. He was constantly holding them up as examples for the rest of us." said a very young and still wet behind the ears deputy that Elaine had only met in passing on one of her trips to David's office.

"McFeeters is telling you the truth Elaine. He may still be green, but he hasn't been in the field long enough to get jaded." Hardaway smiled at his trainee. "We'll come by later to check up on you and Ashely. Now go home and get some rest. We'll deal with the rat squad when they show up. We'll make sure they don't try and make this out to be anything other than what it is."

"Thank you Dale, but I don't want you all getting into trouble with IA. Just let them come and ask their questions. We have nothing to hide." Elaine knew that her husband was clean in all of this.

"Wrong Elaina. Those rat-fuckers are already looking for something they can use to destroy David's good name. We both know he pissed off more than one politician over the years. Look; just let us handle this and don't worry about anything other than taking care of Ashley and yourself. When I leave here I'm calling Dorothy to let her know that Hopewell is sniffing around like a bitch in heat." Elaine heard the distaste for the head of Internal Affairs in Dale Hardaway's voice.

Elaine had been the wife of a deputy for more than fifteen years and knew when not to ask questions. Seeing that this was one of those times she let the subject drop. Taking Ashley by the hand she headed outside and to her car. There was nothing left for her to do here at the hospital. As the two approached her car Elaine began to break down crying again. Ashley just got his mother into her seat and took her keys.

Ashely may not have his driver's license yet, but he knew how to drive. Getting behind the wheel Ashely started the engine put the car into drive and headed for home. At age fourteen, Ashely Earp was the youngest of all the Earp children for their generation. And just like all the others of his generation; he knew how to handle a car. His seven older cousins had taught him how drive.

When your teachers are all Highway Patrol Officers, with three of them being High Speed Pursuit trained, made Ashely very good at driving. It also made him very aware of his surroundings. He spotted the tail five minutes into the drive towards home.

Like most law officers his dad had an emergency radio installed in all the family cars. Reaching over he grabbed the mike and turned on the radio. "Calling any HP this net, Over."

"Who is this? Over." a voice asked.

"Hotel Papa, this is an officer friendly call. Over." Ashley replied.

The voice demanded. "Either identify yourself or get off the net. Over!"

Sighing Ashely gave in to the request knowing he was going to catch hell for it later. "Hotel Papa, this is Gunslinger three. Over."

Within a few seconds Ashely was talking to the Patrol Sergeant. "Go ahead Gunslinger; you got the Hotel Papa Sierra Papa. Over."

"Sierra Papa, I have an unknown tailing me at this time. They are in a 1988 gray four door Ford POS Crown Vic with Ohio plates Four-niner-seven- Victor-Foxtrot-Whiskey. Over"

The senior patrolman acknowledged. "Okay Gunslinger three, what is you twenty? Over."

"Just passing the North Side mall heading for the I-280. Over." Ashley said quickly.

"Copy Gunslinger. Keep heading for the 280. Do not alter. Let them come to us. Once you're on the 280 put the pedal to the metal. Time for a little rat race. Do you think you can handle that? Over." The Highway patrolman asked

"I copy loud and clear Sierra Papa. Take the 280 and the race is on. Start your five by five count down. Over." Ashley grinned.

Ashely put the mike back in its holder. He wanted both hands free for what he was about to do. The Ford Police Interceptor that was tailing him and his mother had more than enough power to keep up with his mother's Mustang Shelby GT500. As Ashely pulled onto the I-280 he dropped the transmission into a lower gear and floored the accelerator.

The 2014 muscle car leaped at the challenge of its driver. Ashely's sudden move woke his mother from her emotional burnout slumber. Elaina grabbed the 'Oh Shit' bar next to her head as her son began to weave in and out of traffic. Elaina knew that her nephews and nieces had been teaching her son to drive. Now she knew just how well they had trained her son. With the power of the Shelby GT500's massive 5.8 L supercharged V8 engine to work with she knew her son had the tools to get the job done. There were not too many cars out there that could match the Mustang in both power and handling.

Tensely Elaine asked. "Care to tell me why you have decided to piss off the Highway Patrol so soon after your father passed away?"

"We got a tail mama. I already called for an officer friendly. I am only doing what they told me to do." Ashley replied slipping between an RV and an eighteen-wheeler.

"If that is the case Ashely dear, then I suggest you down shift to four at the next bend and punch it." Elaine tried to say calmly.

The teen kept his eyes on the road. "Mama they want me to keep them in sight."

"And I don't care honey. Just do as I tell you." Elaina opened the glove box and pulled out a Smith and Wesson 10 millimeter pistol. After checking the magazine she chambered a round. "Once we get to the Highlands off-ramp I want to you feint towards then swing wide. I take it that Crown Vic is our tail?"

"Yes ma'am. I tagged them shortly after leaving the hospital. That is not a standard brown wrapper. The Marshals fazed those out ten years ago so I know it is not one of dad's." Ashley answered.

Elaina checked the safety of the pistol. "Good. That means we know that someone is out to finish what they started with your father. Can you drift?"

"Mama you know who has been teaching me to drive right?" Ashely joked. "Trust me I know how to drift. Lisa made sure that I know how. She loves Tanner Foust."

"Thank the LORD for small favors and a big crush. I would have been worried if it was Wynona who had been training you. I swear I have no idea how that girl ever got into the Academy with her driving record." Both Earp’s laughed about the fact that Wynona Earp had the worst driving record of all Ashely's cousins, but yet was one of the finest Highway Patrol Officers in the state of Ohio. "Now when I tell you I need you to pull a 360 drift. Make sure to time it right honey. I will only get one shot at this and I want to make it count."

Ashely smiled at his mother. He knew that she was a crack shot with her personal weapon. All he had to do was make sure to give her the needed opening to use it. Whoever was following them was about to have a very bad day. Drifting around an eighteen-wheeler Ashely smiled as he saw the two Highway cruisers up ahead.

"Mama, I don't think you're going to need that. Look up ahead. Isn't that Uncle Robby and Wynona sitting there?" Ashley asked

Even Elaina had to smile at seeing two of her family coming to their rescue. The assholes behind them were truly about to have a bad, bad, bad day. Then the strangest thing happened. The eighteen-wheeler behind then dimmed his headlights twice then slowed down dramatically. Its stacks roared with a loud growling sound.

"What the? Floor it Ashely. It is time to quit playing with our food." Elaine ordered.

Ashely just stomped the accelerator to the floor and opened up the massive engine to its full power. There is a reason Elaina had wanted the Mustang. There were very few cars that could match the Mustang Shelby GT 500. Most of which were made overseas. Even then they were few and far between.

Ashely sped past his uncle and cousin at just over 160 mph. By the time their tail got around the big truck and reached the two state troopers Ashely had over a mile and half lead on them. There was no way for them to catch up to their escaping quarry.

Robby and Wynona Earp had heard the call for an officer friendly made by Ashely. It had taken the two of them only a few minutes to get into position to cover their family. When they saw the Ford Crown Vic fitting Ashely's description they knew they had their prey. It didn't take them long to box in the older car. Suddenly the big black eighteen wheeler took the outer position, preventing it from going around. And it didn't take much to force them off the road with the big truck's help. Wynona exited her patrol car with her pistol drawn while her Uncle exited his car with the issued shotgun.

The resulting gun fight was caught by the dash cam videos. As the three men in the Crown Vic exited their car they did so with guns drawn and firing at the two state troopers. Neither Wynona nor Robby Earp were going to be the first Earp’s to go down without a fight. The two of them dropped their opponents with well-placed shots. The truck then pulled away with two blasts of its air horn. A big black Western Star with no markings other than a number: 000045.

"Shouldn't we have stopped him from leaving," Wynona asked.

Robby gave her a puzzled look, "who?"

"That truck," She replied pointing down the road.

Robby still feigned ignorance, "what truck?"

Wynona sighed. That message was pretty obvious. There was no truck.

After a quick search of the three men it was discovered that they were all wanted men. Each had an arrest record longer than a mile. One was a known serial rapist, while the other two specialized in kidnapping. All three were known sadists who enjoyed torturing and disfiguring their victims. What really got Wynona and Robby's attention though were the three Government Issue Gluck pistols. Robby Earp retrieved a camera and began taking pictures.

Wynona held one up in her gloved hand, "Uncle Robby do these look like what I think they are?"

The elder Earp frowned. "In more ways than one Wynona. Those puppies are G.I. in every way that you can think about. Call your aunt Dorothy and let her know what we found. I have a feeling that something bad is going down here."

"Yes sir. Should I tell her about what we found here?" Wynona asked.

Robby thought about it for a minute. "Use your private line and stay off the grid as much as possible. I have a feeling that we are about to have serious company with real bad attitudes."

Wynona Earp was the confused one now. "Who are you talking about Uncle Rob?"

"There have been rumors for decades about a special branch of the Marshals. Black list teams that do the jobs no one else wants. They go after the real shit bags, the really dangerous suspects. The last time one of those teams heard to be in operation was sixty years ago. Maybe even more recently." Robert Earp mused.

"Wait; you're talking about the BLACK BADGE Deputies Uncle David told us kids about. You have got to be kidding Uncle Rob. Everybody knows that is just cop urban legend. Just like Pop Rocks and Coke." Wynona insisted.

Robby shook his head. "They're not an urban legend Wynona. That mess out in Colorado last week has all the markings of their type of work."

"Oh damn! If that is who were dealing with why the hell are we even getting involved?" Wynona asked.

"Because whoever is going after Elaina and Ashley have stepped over the line. You, me, your cousins, and Uncle David knowingly place our lives on the line. Our family members don't. They are off-limits and everyone knows it. You go after family you get what you deserve." The senior Earp and Patrolman stated flatly.

Wynona slowly nodded. "Right. So I call Aunt Dorothy and let her know what is going on. Then after that we cover for whoever she sends to handle the problem."

"You got it in one kiddo. Like the old saying goes. I looked and saw a pale horse, and its riders name was Death. And Hell followed him." Robby said and continued taking pictures.

As she placed her call, a Learjet with priority clearance was touching down at the airport.

To be continued.

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