Maria DeMarco never thought that she would find trouble amongst her many businesses. After all they were the public face of where her money came from. She was after all a retired Prima Ballerina and like most such women she invested her money wisely. But trouble she did find and in the one place she would never have thought to look. One of the schools she loves and sponsors. Can the Black Badge Deputies ferret out the people behind the troubles before Gemini has to deal with Gym Class?
by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.
Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.
Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.
Five weeks later…
For the past few weeks Kasey and Kristine had been enjoying their time at AEGS. Over the past five weeks they had been able to get Kendra, Lisa, Alexi, and Marybeth to come out of their shells. The four former slaves were taking ballet and going out with other students to the mall, movies, even for ice-cream. Not only had the teenage members of the Black Badges been able to help the former slaves, they had managed to undo a good deal of the social damage done by the Lipizzan Girls.
The only downside had been Anna. The doctors had to operate a second time during her first week in the hospital to stop internal bleeding in her shoulder. The second emergency operation had resulted in another week in the hospital for Anna. The fact the old woman had to undergo a second operation worried both girls. They had come to see Anna as more than just a maid. Anna had become one of their role models of how a woman should be a lady. Their worry had been picked up by their school friends.
Friends that had gone out of their way to help the two ‘Spanish’ teens. Most of the girls just figured that Anna was the closest thing to a mother or grandmother the girls had. Maria would come by the school and take them to visit Anna on the weekends and after school. The school’s staff thought it was just Maria doing a favor for the teens' grandfather.
One of the more interesting developments was the return of the seven girls that had helped in the kidnapping attempt. Everyone knew right way that they were not the same people who had been arrested. Gone was the arrogant and haughty dispositions. None of the seven even tried to act like nothing had happened. In fact, when cornered and questioned about the tracking anklets, they all told the truth. They weren’t proud of the tracking anklets, but accepted them as part of their parole.
When the seven girls said that even the boys over at SRMA had the same conditions for parole, the rest of the student body backed off. It didn’t take long for the word to get back to the cadets about it either. The ones that had been in juvie didn’t hide their tracking bracelets after that either. The cadets held their head high and accepted their punishment with dignity and honor. When the fifteen students showed up at the local homeless shelter, they were greeted with cynicism.
It took the fifteen students a week to first prove they weren’t there to ridicule those who used the shelter. As the unfortunates came through, the students learned the stories of these people. They heard tales of lost jobs, home foreclosures and veterans who fell through the cracks. The ones that really hit the students the hardest were the runaway teens. Some of the stories that the runaways told the students made all rethink their place in life. They all wanted to do more.
During their days waiting for the trials to start the students at AEGS and SRMA began talking. Kasey and Kristine just smiled at the rumors that were running around the school. With the entire Varsity Dressage and Drill and Rifle teams suspended and disbanded there was no one to correct those rumors. Not even the fifteen who had returned from juvie were correcting the rumors. Not that it really mattered, as the rumors were all about the Gilroy’s and Henley’s.
When a few of the other students at AEGS tried to get Kasey or Kristine to tell them about what was going on, they kept their mouths shut. That or give them a song and dance about the judge telling them they couldn’t talk outside of the courtroom. Most of the girls bought the line about the judge telling Kasey and Kristine not to talk.
The ultimate surprise came when Sylvia Van Horn testified, against the Gilroy and Henley parents. The TV News crews were having a field day. Before, they had lain siege at the front gate of AEGS. Now they were camped out at the local jail. There was the Clinton News Network, FOX News, ABC, NBC, CBS, and every major main stream media news network waiting for a statement of some kind. With U.S. Federal ADA’s Roberta Ironsides and Daniel Hines working the four cases against the Henleys and Gilroys, no one was talking.
The number of charges that had been filed against the Henleys and Gilroys; thanks to Sylvia Van Horn, had set an all-time high. The two attorneys had gone after the Henley and Gilroy adults like a pair of pit-bulls fighting over a New York Strip steak, covered in gravy. The trials had gathered so much attention the U.S. District Court Judge hearing them slammed a ‘gag order’ on all participants. Not even the Defense Attorneys wanted to buck His Honorable Isaac Charles Parker the fourth. Like his ancestor this judge had no tolerance for people who violated his court orders or his courtroom. The last person who did that is doing a five-year stint.
The first big surprise came at the beginning of Sylvia Van Horn’s trial. None of the Henley’s could believe that she had plead guilty and turned State’s Evidence in return for a full life sentence. Not only against her own family, but the Gilroys as well. For the first five-days Sylvia laid out every dirty back room deal, con, hustle and outright theft that the two families had backed or ordered for the last twenty years. She even admitted to being the one who gave the order for the kidnapping of Justina and Angeles Carmen. Van Horn even gave the names for the families’ local criminal contractors.
The most shocking event during her testimony came towards the end. Sylvia Van Horn threw her brother and sister-in-law to the wolves. She had done this in response to Malcom Henley’s attempt to place the blame for the kidnapping and planned murders solely at the feet of the children. Just as Sylvia had predicted; Malcom had tried to throw his own children under the bus. The more that came out about how the two fathers were acting, the harder Robbie Ironsides and Daniel Hanes were having at keeping things under wraps.
When the day came for Kasey and Kristine to testify against the Henleys and Gilroys. Roberta Ironsides almost fainted then understood why she had been called in. They were escorted by Samantha, Annette and Mrs. Scarlet. The two teens were excited and more than a little nervous at going to court. Fortunately, Ironsides and Hanes were able to get their testimony heard in closed court. When the Defense Attorneys for the Henleys and Gilroys asked to cross-examine Kasey and Kristine, Robbie shut them down. When the Defense Attorneys tried to object, the judge overruled them. Stating that Kasey and Kristine were protected by the Vienna Convention and the Diplomatic Accords.
When the time came for the fifteen students from AEGS and SRMA to give their statements in court, they buried all eight of the Henley and Gilroy children. Where Sylvia Van Horn had gone after the adults, the students rolled hard and heavy on the children. The amount of damage those fifteen students did to the Defense team’s strategy was staggering. By the end of the fourth deposition, the Defense team changed the pleas of the Henley and Gilroy children to guilty and no contest.
The judge hearing the case against the Henley and Gilroy children showed only the slightest of mercy. Just as Robbie predicted, the Henley and Gilroy children gave their depositions from a hospital room or bed via webcam. It was for this reason alone that the judge showed mercy. Seven of the eight were split up and sent to different Correctional Boarding Schools across the nation, ordered to wear tracking anklets and placed in loco-parentis to the schools they were being sent to until their eighteenth birthday. Adaline Henley though was tried and subsequently convicted as an adult.
Adaline would finish off her education like the others, but instead of being released at eighteen on probation Adaline would spend the next five years in prison. As the ring leader for the kidnapping and next generation for the Henley-Gilroy dynasty her sentence was the harshest. Fifteen to twenty-five, with seven of that to be spent in some form of confinement. Yes, two of those years would be in a CBS, but the CBS in question was Saint Alexander’s Military Academy. Adaline was the only Henley or Gilroy to be sent there. The other five girls would be spent to CBS’s in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, while the boys would be sent to schools in Alaska, Washington, and Montana.
On Thursday of the fifth week, Maria walked into AEGS just before lunch. On her arm was Paul Dannigan, again, in his guise of Colonel Rolando Carmen. The school security had hired more officers and increased the number of patrols thanks to the news media coverage for the trials. As Paul was checked in, he surveyed the area and was impressed. There was one change in the routine this time. Maria was allowed to act as Paul’s escort. The two elder members of the OICA went straight to the dining hall looking for their granddaughters.
Kasey spotted their grandparents first. Grabbing Kristine’s wrist Kasey dragged her sister across the hall before Kristine spotted their grandparents. After that, both girls almost ran toward them. They grabbed their grandfather in a hug before giving one to Maria. Then they were wrapping Paul in another hug. They had not seen him in four weeks.
Paul smiled at the two teens. “I take it that you have missed me girls. Have you been behaving yourselves?”
“Sí, abuelo nos hemos estado comportando.” At the slight frown on Paul’s face Kasey smiled. “Sorry, grandpa. I know, English.”
Kristine just giggled only to have Maria give her a thoughtful frown. Kristine quickly stopped her giggling. “Sorry, Madam Maria.”
“That is alright Angeles. I understand what it means to be able to laugh at an older sibling’s mistakes.” Maria gave Kasey a smile. “As for your use of Spanish Justina, I can understand. Your grandfather has come down to see how you’re doing and take you both out to lunch.”
The two teens caught the double meaning behind Maria’s words, but acted like they only meant time with their grandfather. A half hour later the four of them were pulling into the parking lot of Billy’s Big Pizza Barn. Paul held the door open for Maria and the girls as they entered the pizza parlor. The hostess wasted no time in setting them. After handing out menus, the hostess left them to decide.
Once they were alone Paul got down to business. He opened the discussion by using Italian. “Okay deputies, report.”
Smiling, Kasey started off, as she had a better idea of what Paul was there for. “As it stands right now, Sir, the bully problem has been curbed. That may change though at the beginning of next semester. That’s when the suspended students will be returning. The situation will be dictated by Mrs. Scarlet’s response to their return.”
“I can see that, Deputy DeMarco. What are your thoughts Deputy Justice?” Dannigan asked.
“Sir, I agree with Deputy DeMarco. Even if we stay until next semester, we will not have much more of an effect. As it stands now, the seven girls that are already back are making our continued presence unnecessary. They have either turned in or reported suspected hazing and bullying twice.” Kristine had a slightly better grasp on the current situation among the seven former Lipizzan Girls.
“What of your four friends?” Paul had been looking into the medical updates on the four former slaves from their doctors. “Kendra, Lisa, Alexi and Marybeth.”
Both Kasey and Kristine smiled hearing this, but it was Kasey who answered. “They are making headway. They no longer fear to stand up for themselves. In the past five weeks, they have begun to go out with other friends to the normal teenage hangouts. One of the factors in this is their ballet training with Miss Cathy and the few classes they have had with us and the Madam. Each has taken to using text-to-voice software for speech. As it stands now, each has been able to download individual voices. In short sir, they have been able to find their own voices again.”
“Those are not the only factors at play here, Sir. The second and last chance girls have also started standing up for themselves. More than a few of them have turned their backs on their former street gangs. Here, they have had a chance to form true sisterhoods. Those sisterhoods are not going to just fade away into the night either. In most ways, these new sisterhoods are the closest thing to a family these girls have. To them, family means a lot more than anything else to these girls.” As Kristine laid out her reasons, Paul could see where the two teens were going.
“So, you do not believe that the returning students will have a chance at re-establishing their former places in the hierarchy of the school’s student body? By that I mean, can they take over where the Gilroy and Henleys left off.” Paul figured he needed to clarify his question.
“No Sir. By the time, they return there will be far too much opposition to their old tactics. The only ones that will stand a chance are the four we sent to the nurse’s office shortly after we arrived. Even then, their chances will be extremely slim. Their biggest opposition will come from the second and last chance girls. Just as Kristine said, they won’t stand for someone screwing with their family.” Kasey told their grandparents.
Maria and Paul sat back looking at their granddaughters. Each was lost in their own thoughts as they went over the information the teens had just given them.
Maria was the first to speak. “Are you two sure that the bully problem is now under control? I only ask, as your time at AEGS is coming to an end.”
“Your Nonnina is correct girls. As it is, you have been undercover for far longer than we estimated for. To be honest, the fact that you have been under for so long, it has begun to worry your parents. Quite simply, you haven't been trained for deep-cover operations.” Paul was telling the truth about their parents’ worry. Not to mention his own.
“Yes, sir. I understand. My Uncle Bat and father told me about the dangers of staying under for too long.” Kristine's disgust and hatred of her father could be heard in her voice. “Uncle Bat always warned me of the possibilities of going rogue for undercover agents. He called it 'going native'.”
“Um… I don’t really understand sir, but I’ll follow orders. What will be our exfiltration route?” Kasey really didn’t understand the worry about them being undercover for so long. Kasey knew that she would have to talk with Kristine about their grandparents’ and parents’ worry.
“Standard, transfer of schools. You’ll be notified in the morning of your transfer by Mrs. Scarlet. On Monday, you will be met by Agent Sara Denton in the school’s main office. Be sure to have your luggage with you. From there, you will be taken to the airport in Columbia. Once there you will retrace your insertion route. Going out the way you came in. This will ensure that your cover will remain intact. Speaking of which, have any of the students twigged to the fact that you two have far more training than just your ballet?” That was one worry Paul had.
“No Sir. We’ve kept to the story of us being raised like most military brats whenever someone has questioned us about being able to fight. The only ones to question our training has been Miss Cathy Boatwright. Even then, she only wanted to know who was our Dance Mistress and Prima.” Kasey explained for the two senior members of the OICA.
It took Maria a second before her own worry over this question showed on her face. Thankfully Paul just chuckled. “No need to worry Ria. The girls' cover is safe. Only Scarlet was able to tweak their Mistress and Prima. She gave me her word to take their secret to the grave. Scarlet went so far as to shut down Cathy’s questioning.”
Maria thought about the practice a few weeks ago, and the few classes she had led over the last few weeks. It took her a few moments to see where they had made the mistakes. She also knew that the girls were safe.
As she sat there a thought occurred to her. “Paul, do you believe that Lyssa would be willing to spend a few days at the school?”
Paul had to think about Maria’s question. It had never occurred to Paul that Lyssa would consider such a request. He knew about the times Lyssa helped at the Bolshoi and her training of Tiffany Davereaux. He also knew about the problem Lyssa had when she tried to help train Mindy. That wasn't the main problem.
Dannigan chose his words carefully. “Um… Ria, my dear, that might not be a good idea.”
"Oh. Yes. She is rather an intensive Dance Mistress." Maria remarked.
The big Spook shook his head. "Not what I mean. Lyssa is known for her favors."
Maria's face lit up with comprehension. Even though Scarlett now knew that Lyssa had a hand in the girls' training, the exact nature was not known. This would be seen as a favor, and the big question would be who owed it her. The only answer would have to be Scarlett.
Maria winced, but still laughed. "Scarlett would not like being in Lyssa's debt. You have a point."
Kasey and Kristine both started to giggle at this. They remembered the time that Lyssa was their Instructor for the day. Only Mindy had been spared the Prima’s wrath when the teens had not performed up to their best. Lyssa Kordenay-Mason may be one of the few living Primas but she had a heavy hand at times when it came to instruction and training. The only American to ever earn praise from Madam Olga 'Iron Doll' Polova, Mistress of the Moscow Bolshoi Academy. They also knew of the tales of her favorite currency, favors. Within an hour of phone calls, Lyssa could shut down almost every production performing. Likewise, the majority of the fashion houses would fulfill almost any request she made.
The two adults started to chuckle along with the teens. After a few minutes the four regained control. Before they could continue with the debriefing their waitress showed up to take their order. Naturally the teenagers wanted their favorite pizza. A large deep dish meat lover’s pizza with extra cheese and a side order of chicken wings.
When Maria gave the girls a dirty look, they both quickly ordered salads to go with their dinner. Paul just chuckled and ordered two Italian medley diners with salads and ice tea. Maria just smiled and thanked the waitress handing the woman her menu. Once they were alone, Paul got back to business.
“Okay, now that you have done as much as you can for the girls at AEGS, is there anything more that can be done over at SRMA?”
“Sir, that is in the hands of Stalking horse and Rumrunner’s new platoon. We have been able to gather Intel from the sisters of a few cadets in that platoon. As it stands, the cadets of that platoon are making it hard for any bully to gain a foothold. Not even the usual hazing has been happening. With the new incoming teachers set to take over for Stalking Horse and Rumrunner, the platoon won’t be discontinued.” Kasey told her grandparents.
“Sir, we hope that you and the Madam are not going to let the DOD put an end to that program. We know that it is outside of a normal training program for students, but it is doing a lot of good. We’ve seen a few of those cadets off campus. Their whole world view is different.” Kristine, felt she needed to argue for the continuation of the program.
“No need to worry about the program being ended girls. I have spoken to both Colonel Boatwright and Mrs. Scarlet. That program has already received the needed federal funding to continue until the academy feels the need to end the program.” Paul smiled at his granddaughters.
“Thank you, sir. We’ve seen the good that program is doing. More than a few of those cadets are really turning their lives around. All thanks to that program. Most of those kids in that platoon are second chancers.” Kasey may have expressed their gratitude over the continuation of the program, but both girls were glad it wasn’t going to end.
They were interrupted by the return of the waitress with their drinks and salads. Maria ended the discussion until later. Just like back on the island, Maria made sure that the house rules were followed. The ‘no business talk over dinner’ rule was enforced. With discussion of the mission off the table, they talked about the teens classes.
Maria and Paul could tell that Kasey and Kristine were enjoying their time at the school. They could also tell that the two teens were getting homesick. Maria reached under the table and squeezed Paul’s hand. Paul just gave her a slight nod and smile. The two grandparents could already see the first signs of the girls being undercover for too long. They were going to pull the teens weather they liked it or not.
After dinner Maria and Paul took the girls to see a movie before returning them to the school. After dropping off their granddaughters, the two OICA Heads went back to Maria’s home for a night of love and passion. The next morning Maria and Paul headed over to Aiken Regional Medical Center.
As the two adults exited the elevator they heard a very familiar voice, raised in anger. Both stopped and looked at each other before rolling their eyes. Even at the end of the hallway, they could tell that Anna was being her normal charming self.
“I do not care where he is! You get that lazy excuse for a doctor to sign my release forms before noon! I will be released by noon. Either I will walk out of here with that damned paper or you can spend the next fifty years trying to bill me!” Anna snarled.
Paul just chuckled as Maria sighed. “It seems love, that your lovely maid, is feeling up to her usual self.”
“There are times Paul that you have a gift for understatement. This is one time though that you have FAILED to grasp the just how pissed our dear Anna really is. I swear by all that is holy, that woman hates hospitals more than my son-in-law. We better get in there before Anna guts that poor nurse with her fingernails.” Maria was almost running down the hallway as she headed for Anna’s room with Paul hot on her heels.
As they entered the room they found Anna fighting to get dressed. With her left arm in a sling and unable to use her left-hand Anna was having a hard time. When Anna saw Paul and Maria she just looked at Paul. “Well? Just don’t stand there, give me a hand.”
Paul quickly moved to help the half-naked woman get dressed. Maria just chuckled at this and moved to help them both. As for the young nurse who had been seeing to Anna’s health care, she left the room to go find Anna’s doctor. The nurse could tell that Anna hadn’t been joking.
Paul and Maria had just finished getting Anna ready to leave when the doctor walked in. “Now see here!”
That was as far as he got in his rebuke of Anna leaving the hospital. “NO! You see here. I am leaving this morning with or without your approval. Now, do you give me a formal release and I pay the bill. Or, do I walk out the door and let you spend the next fifty years trying to find someone to pay that bill? Oh and I highly doubt that the Spanish Government will be willing to just pay your bill without justification. Namely, me turning in my hospital bill. So, the choice is yours.”
Twenty minutes later, an unhappy Anna was being pushed out the front doors of Aiken Regional Medical Centers by Paul in a wheelchair. The old woman didn’t want the chair, but bowed to Maria’s assurance that it was only until they had her in the car. Thirty minutes later they were pulling in front of the SCT headquarters. As they entered, the receptionist on duty greeted them with a smile and asked Maria if they needed coffee and tea.
After retiring to Maria’s office, Anna took one of the seats. Paul and Maria gave the older woman looks of worry at the pained expression on her face. Seeing their looks of worry, Anna waved her good hand.
“Do not worry Madam, I’ll be back to work in a few days. I am only stiff from lack of exercise.” Anna sighed and looked down at her arm and shoulder. “I should never have let that boy so close. I must finally be getting too old for the game.”
Both Paul and Maria chuckled at Anna’s complaint. They may be a more than a few years younger than Anna, but they understood where she was coming from. Paul knew that Espionage was a young person’s game, just as Maria knew that assassination was. All three knew that time was the great equalizer in life. None of the three were getting any younger.
As they waited for Paul’s coffee along with Maria and Anna’s tea to be served, Maria’s desk top chimed. Maria unlocked her desk top and opened her email. There at the top was a message from Scarlet. Opening it up Maria began to read it aloud for Paul and Anna.
‘I have just been informed that both my school and Charles’ will be receiving twelve new students this evening, between ten and eleven pm. Please, be advised that we have not yet received their transcripts. The ONLY information that I or Charles have on these students is their arrival time and their sponsors. Please advise us, as your agency is covering tuition for all twelve.’
“Paulo, what do you know about this? Is the DOJ placing more of those unfortunates from the slave ships within the schools?” Before he could answer the receptionist arrived with the coffee and tea service. After serving the tea and coffee the young woman left the adult members to their conversation.
“I won’t lie Maria. Yes, the Department of Justice is placing more of those young men and women in the Boatwright schools. I didn’t make any decisions on this matter until I was sure that the security for the schools was returned to normal. We really don’t have many choices for these kids. The ones that were rescued on the west coast are being sent to the Hallowell Academy in San Diego. Once again, we are forced to face the lack of resources for handling something like this.” When Paul finished he just sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
Anna looked up at her old friend and employer. “Donna Maria, I believe that I have a solution to the security concerns for both schools. Call the Commission and let them handle the problem.”
“Anna, are you suggesting that the Mafia take on the security for the schools?” Paul asked in confusion.
When Maria heard what Anna was proposing, she had to fight to keep her composure. It was prefect in one of the simplest ways. Maria just had to use her old contacts for something very, very, good. “Anna that is brilliant. Why in the world didn’t I think about that?”
“Because you are a Donna. Security is the concern of your Underboss or Consiglieri. We are the ones that take of security.” Anna just smirked at Paul and took a drink of her tea.
“Okay ladies. What am I missing here?” Paul questioned with some heat.
“Paulo, what is the number one reason no one ever breaks into one of my many houses?” It took Paul a few seconds to see where Maria was going.
“Because every low-level street thug knows who owns them. And to be truthful here, nobody in their right mind wants to have the mob on their ass for breaking into a mob owned house.” As Paul was laying out the number one reason it was like a light bulb came on over his head. “Aw shit. I get it now.”
Maria just smiled and picked up her desk phone. A few minutes later she was being answered. In a voice that dripped honey sweat Maria greeted the person on the other end. “Anthony, I have been having a security problem at two of my private investments. I was wondering if you could inform the rest of the Commission that AEGS and SRMA are OWNED by me.”
Paul didn’t know exactly who Maria was talking to, but had a good idea that there would be no more attacks against the two schools. In fact, he was willing to take bets that anyone going after the schools would never be heard from again. Maria’s next words confirmed this.
“Thank you, Anthony. I have far too much invested in those schools for some low-level associate to ruin all my hard work. You know how I get we people get stupid. Make sure it never happens again. Ciao.” Maria sat back and smiled.
Anna started to laugh at Maria’s antics on the phone after the first few seconds. “Well played my Donna, well played. I always knew that if you ever truly wished to take over the Families nothing would have stopped you. I take it that Anthony has taken over for his father?”
“Excuse me, but just do I even want to know who you were talking to Maria?” Paul groaned.
“Paul, this is one of those times that I am the ONE that must ENFORCE OpSec. Besides, it would not do for you to know ALL my old contacts. Especially those with less than legal affairs.” Maria’s sickly sweat voice let Paul know to leave the matter alone.
“One of these days, dear. We are really going to have to sit down and talk about your past. There just one too many holes for my liking.” Paul grumbled then smiled as Maria just smirked.
“HA! The pot calling the kettle black! What can you tell me about the incoming students?” Maria asked changing the topic.
“As you know they are all survivors of the Slave ships. Unlike the ones already enrolled, these children needed more time to adjust to their new lives.” Paul sighed heavily and looked down at his coffee. “The biggest problem that these kids have been facing is the psychological conditioning they were put through and PTSD. I wish there was another option for these kids. Most of them have been rejected by their parents. I know it’s wrong, but we can’t force the parents to take the kids back. The DA’s that originally prosecuted these kids want them to serve out their original time. To be honest love, everyone still trying to sort out the mess from the LOG Party and Vassago. The last report Shawna gave me, more than four hundred slaves have been recovered worldwide. Some have been temporarily housed on Army bases.”
Maria held up her hand and Paul stopped. “Paul, is there anything that the Government can do for these kids?”
“To be honest, no. The biggest problem is that no one has ever had to deal with such a massive problem like this before. No one agency has the resources to handle everything they need. The second biggest problem has been the parents of these kids as I said before. More than seventy percent of the parents have turned their backs on those kids. After that, we have more than a few DA’s still trying to pull the ‘hard on crime’ card. I place this on the fact it is an election year. A good number of those DA’s are looking at reelection.”
Anna looked over at Maria. “There is that old college campus outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, Donna Maria. It has more than enough dorms to handle the students. If I am not mistaken the college was set up for a total of nine hundred students living on campus. Plenty of buildings to use for classrooms and administration. Then there is that whole medical building. Why is it not being used?”
Paul looked over at Maria. “Ria, what is Anna talking about?”
“One of the properties that I was looking at a few years ago, is a closed down private college in the mountains of western Maryland. It is in Garret county. It closed its doors during the seventy’s, due to political pressure. At the time, I didn’t see a need for reopening the school. Now though, I just might look back into acquiring that property.”
“Not this time, Ria. This time a few Senators and Congressmen are going to do their jobs. That, or fill out their unemployment requests.” Paul growled out.
Here he had been looking for a secure location to help these kids, and one had been right there in Maryland, within driving distance of DC. What really eat at his crawl was Maria had found the answer and was willing to foot the bill for everything out of her pocket.
Two hours later and several phone calls to said Congressman and Senators the funding was found for the school. Another two hours later construction and cleaning crews were found to repair and clean up the school buildings. Lunch had been ordered in for the three adults as they worked. Paul was amazed at how Maria and Anna had been able to work deals with the construction companies to get the work started on the school. They on the other hand were amazed at Paul’s ability to get Congressmen and Senators to dance to his tune.
Even DARPA had been brought onboard along with Medical services and Psychological Operations for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Maria asked about that. The explanation was simple. These were the most severe cases of Post Traumatic Stress since the Vietnam Conflict. By the time, they were ready to go home for the weekend, most of the initial problems had been worked out.
The old college was now owned by a shell company of D.O.D. and would be operated by a selected group veterans. Veterans who were all certified teachers. The whole project would take weeks to sort out, but the wheels were rolling. For Paul, it was a matter of security. For Maria, it was just another form of penance for the DeMarco family.
At just after six pm Paul and Maria took Anna home to Maria’s temporary house. After a quick dinner, Paul and Maria left Anna to rest, and headed for AEGS just after nine-thirty pm. On the way, Maria called the deputies to have them met up at the school. As they pulled into the school's parking lot they were greeted by Charles, Scarlet and their Chief Security Officer.
Colonel Boatwright stepped over to hold Maria’s door. “I understand that we have you to thank for the new students, Marshal DeMarco. I must say that I would never have thought of you as a full Marshal.”
“No Charles, I am nothing more than a concerned citizen and part owner of the two schools.” Maria gave Charles a smirk.
“I see, I was mistaken, Madam Maria.” Charles turned to shake hands with Paul. “Colonel, I take it that you’re here to welcome your granddaughters’ new classmates?”
“In a way, Colonel. Unfortunately, I will be dis-enrolling my granddaughters on Monday. I have received orders from my government to return home, before being transferred to SHAPE command in Casteau, Belgium. I promised their parents that they would never be more than a short hop from me. So, while I am in Belgium, they will be at home.” Paul had already seeded the needed information for Kasey and Kristine’s sudden change in schools.
“I’m sorry to be losing them, Colonel. Have the girls been informed?” Scarlett truly was sad at Kasey and Kristine’s impending departure.
“Yes, I informed them of my orders this afternoon. I wish that I could leave them here, but my government is only willing to pay for their schooling in my current theater of operations.” Paul explained to Scarlett.
“Oh, I understand Colonel. I have a good number of students here that are in a similar situation. I am just surprised at the short stay. Aren’t most Diplomatic tours longer than this?” Scarlett questioned.
“Normally the answer would be yes. I just received orders that I would be putting on my first Star with this assignment.” Paul left the rest unsaid as Charles grabbed his right hand.
“Congratulations, General. Has the promotion been long in coming?” Charles understood the military way of life better than Scarlett.
Paul chuckled as he shook Charles hand. “Yes, Colonel it has been a long time in coming. To be honest I never thought I would ever put on my star.”
The four adults were interrupted by the sound of a diesel engine. As one they all looked toward the front gate as a midnight blue Peterbilt pulled through. Only Paul and Charles could tell that this was no ordinary tractor trailer. The powerful truck came to a stop and a woman wearing leather looking pants and jacket almost match to the truck climbed down. The automatic pistol in a quick draw holster was quick to spot.
"Charles and Scarlett Boatwright." The woman said to the group.
Charles led his wife over. "That would be us. Miss?"
"ArVee." ArVee said then told them. "I need to verify who you are, Sir."
Charles nodded and retrieved his military ID from his wallet. "Of course."
"Verified. This way Colonel." ArVee indicated to the couple.
They walked to back of the trailer. Locks were released and the doors opened. A light inside showed a module of two racks of seats lining the walls.
A man in full tactical gear dropped down. "Smooth ride ArVee. Thanks."
"No sweat, Deputy. Bring them out." ArVee said then handed Charles a clipboard. "Your charges, sign please."
The Deputies inside helped down the girls. Each one had a suitcase, a manila envelope and a look of fear.
Scarlett remembered when the others had come and took charge. "Girls? Please look here. I'm Scarlett Boatwright. This is my husband, colonel Charles Boatwright. Welcome. There is no need to be afraid. From now on, things will be better for you. My husband and I, along with our staff, are going to help you. Not just educate you, we'll help you claim your new lives."
She went over and hugged each one. More than one, were tempted to hang onto her.
One of the Deputies spoke to the Colonel. "Colonel Boatwright? Three new Deputies are being assigned to the area, Sir. All the girls have met them and have emergency contact information. Those Deputies will arrive in two days. They'll visit you both then, Sir. Until then, if you have any problems, contact Marshal Dorothy Rose."
"Thank you Deputy. That answers a question that had been on my mind." Charles nodded.
ArVee reclaimed her clipboard. "All done?"
"Looks like." The Deputy said then looked to the girls. "Good luck girls. You shouldn't need us anymore. Follow your protocols, learn as much as you can. And try to find some FUN. Take care. Let's go ArVee."
The Deputies climbed back into the trailer and took their seats. ArVee secured the doors and returned to the cab. A moment later, the big truck rolled out. One by one, the girls handed over the manila folders to Scarlett or Charles. Maria and Paul stood off to one side as the girls were led inside the main building.
“Ria, I have a feeling that those kids are going to be just fine.” Dannigan said.
Maria hugged Paul and sighed. “Yes, dear, I believe you’re right. Come on, we need let the team know about the new girls.”
Just after midnight Paul and Maria returned to Maria’s temporary home. The next morning, they along with Anna sat down with the adult members of the Black Badge Deputies. They spent the next two days going over the files of the new students. As they read through the files neither Bobby or Hunter could foresee any problems with the Deputies that were assigned to be the handlers for the new students. Annette did question why there was only three deputies for so many.
“Sis, this is one time were few is better. These three Deputies are going to be undercover for a long time. They are looking at six to eight month rotations as the girls’ handlers. With only three Deputies they can be changed out easier and on a more regular basis.” Sam explained for Annette.
Paul did bring up the status of the bully situation at SRMA. “Sergeants, as you know, we had a briefing from Gemini on Friday. According to, them the bully situation is under control at both schools. Would you agree?”
Both Bobby and Hunter nodded their heads as Bobby answered. “Major, we do agree with their assessment. To be honest, there is nothing more that we or they can do. Our replacements are in place now at both schools. I can honestly say that it is time to exfiltrate.”
“Thank you, Sergeant Everbrite. Deputies DeMarco and Justice, do you agree on the assessment that Gemini have given for your school?” Dannigan asked.
Sam smiled and Annette answered. “Major, there is nothing more they can do at this time. In fact, Sir, we also believe it is time to go home.”
“Very well, Deputies. Gemini, will be pulled tomorrow morning. Your extraction will happen tomorrow evening. Once Gemini is clear, you’re to clear out and head for Shaw AFB to meet up with the C-17. They’ll be waiting for you, so no need for the flashers. This is a Cold Extract Deputies. Please keep it that way?” Dannigan remarked pointedly.
This last statement was directed towards Samantha. Bobby, Hunter and Annette laughed at the innocent look Samantha tried to pull off at Paul’s comment on her lead foot. Maria and Anna just chuckled, while Paul gave her a stern look.
“Anna will be flying out with Gemini. They will meet you all back on Ram’s Rock Island later tomorrow. Ghost Moth will be providing cover until they are clear.” Standing up from the table, Paul smiled at the gathered Black Badge team. “Marshal, Deputies, you’ve all done a fine job here. I hope that we won’t have THIS type of mission again.”
The four Deputies all looked up at Paul, but it was Samantha who put their feelings into words. “Sir, as much as we would love for that to happen, we won’t get our hopes up. The sad reality is; schools like this are always going to be a target. Either for major criminal organizations or for terrorist activities. It’s one of the reasons these types of schools have such heavy security surrounding them.”
Paul took that in and frowned. “I see. To be honest Deputies, I never thought of boarding schools as being such soft targets for both political and criminal reasons. Any idea of how these schools can be better protected?”
“Major, the only way to do that is to turn every school in CONUS into a fortified bunker. It is a sad commentary as to the state of our country, Sir. The drug dealers and lords know that schoolkids are easy pickings. It doesn’t matter where they are. All we can do is leave their protection to the local PD’s and pray. This is one time, that there is no clear-cut military or Law Enforcement answer to the problem.” Hunter explained.
“In that case, I hope you never have to go in again at any school. Dismissed Deputies, return to base and get some down time. Hopefully, it will be a while before I have to send you out to handle a mess.” Paul gave them all a salute then held out his hand to Maria. “Care to join the Madam and I for a drink?”
As one the adult members of the Black Badge Deputies headed for Maria’s living room. Once there, Paul handed out bottles of beer for the men while Maria got wine for the women. Once everyone had a drink in hand, Paul stood in the center of the room.
Holding up his beer Paul called out. “To those who walk the thin blue wall, every day.”
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.