Interpol Heartburn -chp 7

Interpol Heartburn


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.


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

Chapter 7

M&M Industry, Arlington, Virginia 2130

Paul and Rinaldo smiled as Maria, Anna, and the teens walked through the doors of M and M Inc. They could tell that the flight had been an easy one. Rinaldo looked over at the man and woman with Maria. He spotted the military baring of the two quickly and knew that these people were not to be played with. Paul stepped up to Maria first, giving her a hug and kiss before turning to the teens. The hugs and pecks on the check did not go unnoticed by the Interpol Chief Investigator. When it was his turn he gave the same greeting only kept things more to what an uncle would give. Smiling, he stepped back and watched as the young woman and man saluted Paul with military precision.

Paul was quick to return the salutes before turning back to Maria. “Alright Maria, this is your show. Any idea of where those teams will strike next?”

“Thanks to what Gemini has been able to piece together, the next target will be in Richmond tomorrow morning. We have a thirteen hour window. If they keep to the M.O. that has already been set. We’re looking at two sniper attacks in the morning on the following judges.” Maria handed over two target profile folders. “Anna was able to work up primary target profiles for possible targets. We believe that judges Richard Harris, and William Cantrail will be the next in line. The third target is still up in the air as we still have too many targets.”

Rinaldo smiled over at his older sister. “Always looking two steps away Maria, and missing the key point in front of you.”

“What does that mean?” Maria asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Ria, the targets are unimportant. The result is. Think about it, sister. These teams are all targeting Judges trying to get the Marshals and every other U.S. Federal Law Enforcement agency jumping at shadows. Didn’t you and Anna pull something like this thirty years ago?” Rinaldo asked with a smirk.

“No. We never went after judges, young man. Now, certain Carabinieri, that was a different story.” Anna corrected the younger DeMarco with a sly smile. “Now, what are you doing here Rinaldo? Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

“I’m right where I should be, Anna. Just as you are. As for why I am here, that is at your invitation. I was surprised that Maria’s husband brought me here though. Can someone please explain why we are at an automobile repair shop?”

“Rinaldo, we’re here because it has everything we need to make the needed modifications to the newest vehicle for my team.” Maria answered with a knowing smirk. “Besides, we needed a place to meet without a surveillance system I cannot control. Here, there are no inconvenient cameras.”

Paul, Krystel, Eddie and Rinaldo gave Maria funny looks as Anna and the girls started to giggle. It was Rinaldo who picked up on the unsaid first circumstances of the garage first. “PLEASE tell me, THIS is not Joey Pescaterro’s old place?”

Maria just smiled her old sly smile. Then nodded her head. Paul, Eddie, and Krystel gave the Interpol Inspector confused looks. Anna seeing this stepped in to help the other members of the OICA understand. “Joseph 'Joey' Pescaterro ran the largest auto theft and chop-shop on the east coast until going legitimate fourteen years ago.”

“WAIT! Are you telling me this is THAT Joey Pescaterro’s old pace?” Paul asked before breaking out in full blown belly laugh with Rinaldo right behind him.

Krystel and Eddie both looked over at Anna. Krystel gave the older woman a quizzical look. “Miss Anna, could you maybe give the rest of us a little more informative? Just for those of us with no Law Enforcement backgrounds.”

“Joseph Joey Pescaterro was at one time the biggest supplier of black market high-end luxury cars to, well let’s just say less than honest individuals. He was also one of the BEST mechanics for street modifications. That man could take a standard four door sedan and turn it into anything from a bootlegger special to straight up getaway car. Why I remember this one little number he did for Maria a few years ago. It was a seventy-one Mustang Mach-One with Cobra Super Jet 429 cubic inch engine with 780cfm Holley 4-barrel carburetors, in a Candy Cherry red. The work that Joey did on that car was unbelievable. It had enough power that Richard wanted to take it out on the track at Daytona for a spin.”

“um… Mrs. Anna, are you talking about Richard Petty?” Eddie asked.

“Yes, I believe that was the man’s last name. Or was it Childress, I’m not sure which. Anyway, he is quite the gentleman. For a stockcar racer, that is.” Anna smirked at the look of pure jealousy on Eddie’s face. “The Madam has made a great many friends over the years. In more than just the theater. Why the wall in her studio office in Toledo is covered with pictures of more sports stars and actors than mobsters.”

Paul just chuckled at the looks of surprise on his people's faces. He had always known about Maria’s wall of fame. “You have to remember that Maria DeMarco was a Prima Ballerina for far longer than Lyssa, before she retired from the stage.” The sound of a truck’s airhorn drew everyone’s attention to the gate. “Ah, I see that my delivery teams' timing is better than I expected.”

A second horn sounded and Dannigan smirked. "Mine is right on time."

Two flat-bed tow trucks rolled around to the backside of the garage building, followed by a van. On the back of them were the two Earth Roamers. Krystel, Kasey and Kristine could already tell that one of them would need major bodywork. It's front end was totally gone. The hood, bumper, grill, radiator, engine and both fenders were missing. The second one looked as if it had just rolled off the factory floor. Maria looked over at Paul. “Why do we have both here and what's that van for? OH!”

Shawna climbed out of the driver's side of the van. "Hi folks! Krystel, I got everything you wanted. Major, I assembled the weapons load-outs as well and have them. Good to go."

“Because we’re going to need both of those monsters to get your ALOC up and running. The first one has an intact interior that we can use to outfit the second one. The second one is intact mechanically, but well, lacks an interior. By that I mean it needs everything from a steering wheel, to carpet. The DEA and ATF didn’t do you all any favors. When they searched the Roamer they truly gutted the thing. They didn’t even leave the carpeting.” Paul explained. “This way we can use the guts of one to repair the other saving time. Shawna picked up all the electronic hardware.”

Eddie smiled hearing this. “I got this Sir. If what Madam Maria said is true, then this shop will have everything I need to get one of those bad boys running in five hours. Six at the most.”

Krystel smiled. “Between Gemini, Shawna and myself, we can have the electronics setup and connected to Command in almost half that time. IF there are the right tools and supplies here.”

“Oh, I can guarantee that everything you need is here Krystel.” Maria said smiling. “If anything, Joey was a perfectionist. When he went legit, he turned his chop-shop into a high-end custom modification auto-shop and dealership. There was nothing his men couldn’t do or build on to a car, van, truck and RV.”

“That is true. Joseph was a true perfectionist. It was a sad day when he passed away. He had made so much progress in turning his life and those of so many other young men and women around. I wish he was here with us now. We could really have used his help on this project.” Anna sighed.

“What about electronics?” Kasey asked. "Those take a while to install. Don't they?"

Krystel patted the back of the van. "Not as long as you think. This is all military-grade, so it's modular. This cluster is from the NSA, but from its recieving warehouse. They just got it all in. That means it hasn't had the backdoors installed and uploaded. That means they can't get into it and monitor or shut it down remotely."

"They could do that?" Anna asked.

Shawna nodded. "Before the services get hardware, the NSA gets it and installs components or software so that it can be monitored or if compromised, shut down. All this is unmodified. The question is, does this place have the equipment to do this kind of outfitting?"

“Not to worry, he did more than just civilian modification work. His was one of the very first designs to be used a mobile command post. His daughters still build them from time to time for custom orders.” Maria assured her.

“Miss Anna, what happened to Mr. Pescaterro?” Kristine asked.

“He died of heart failure, child. Unfortunately, he was only forty-one.” Anna answered the teen.

“Who’s been running the shop then?” Krystel asked, concerned over security.

“His two daughters took over for him. Missy and Maryanne Pescaterro. No need to worry about those girls keeping their mouths shut. They have more secrets than Paulo and the NSA combined. Also, they’ll be able to help Eddie with the needed modifications. Both are top-shelf mechanics.” Maria answered with a sly smile on her face.

Eddie whistled and then smiled. “Damn. No wonder you said to meet here. I know those names. Two of Indy’s top design engineers. I may not be a big race fan, but I do love a well built and designed piece of machinery.”

“Good to hear Eddie. Now we need to get inside and get to work. The clock is ticking people. And from the look of things, we don’t have much time.” Paul ordered.

Richmond Virginia 2330

Bobby pulled over at the first hotel he could find that had a vacancy. He knew just as did the others they needed a break. He also knew that they needed to contact Command. Bobby and Hunter grabbed the bags while the girls went inside to take care of getting them a room. The drive had taken a toll on them all. While it wasn’t terribly long, distance wise. The traffic had been horrid.

All four of the adults were running on fumes. Once they were in their room Annette setup her laptop. After a few minutes, she made contact with Ram’s Rock Island. “Command, we’ve reached Richmond. Any updates?”

Kimberly’s face stared out at them and smiled. “Got good news and bad news. Dealer's choice as to which you want to hear first.”

“Why chose? Who’s on first?” Bobby quipped.

“The Madam, along with the Maid and Gemini, touched down in D.C. two hours ago.” Kimberly had no sooner got that out than all four parents went into overdrive. Kimberly let them get the shock and surprise out of their systems before she continued. “Are you all done bitching at me yet?”

“Go ahead Kim, but there better be a DAMNED good reason for our daughters being off that island. I don’t care what Mama says.” Annette put all their feelings into words.

“With the fluid nature of your operations, it was felt that the Marshal and Gemini would better serve you all if they operated from an ALOC.” When Bobby and Hunter heard this they both calmed down immediately. “Before you ask Samantha and Annette, an ALOC is an Alternate Location Operations Center.”

“You mean like the mobile command centers that are being used by the bigger cities, State and Federal agencies?” Annette asked.

“Not that big, or that obvious, but yes. Gemini found something that can be driven by Gemini two, the Maid or anyone else in the Bravo element. Iron Dolphin is with them now, to help setup the electronics suite, while Eddie takes care of the body modifications. Before you ask, the Madam slapped down a shit ton of safety measures before agreeing to this.” Kimberly went on to list everything that Maria had demanded put in place to protect the teenage members of the team. The more the Deputies heard the more they all relaxed. “At last update, the completion time was set for some time this morning. It seems the Madam has a full body and modification shop in her business inventory somewhere in Arlington.”

Annette just giggled when she heard where the work was being done. “Joey Pescaterro’s old place. Yeah, they would have everything they would need there and then some.”

Sam heard this and broke out laughing. She knew exactly whose old shop they were using. And the reputation behind that shop. “Command, you better contact the Command team for a new ETA. If they’re using Joey’s old place they should just about be done with any body or engine by now.”

“Okay now that we’ve had the bad news. What's the good news?” Hunter decided they needed to get back on topic.

“That was the good news, Rumrunner. THE bad news is, there is a bounty on the three teams. The Maid confirmed this an hour ago. At last report the price is over three million per head.” Kimberly told them honestly.

“Oh shit!” Both Sam and Annette exclaimed. At the strange looks from Bobby and Hunter, Sam explained. “The old families have put out an open contract for these people. We got competition and not in the good way.”

“How bad can this get for us girls?” Hunter asked.

“Depends on how many teams have taken the contract.” Annette answered then looked at Kimberly. “Any idea or are we operating in the dark on that?”

“Well that might be good news, depends. The Maid has been able to confirm there are currently six independent teams hunting the tangos. Does that help Black Swan?”

“Yes, and no. Was the Maid able to get the names for those subcontractors?”

“Yes, stand-by.” A few seconds later a file popped up on the screen.

It was a list of names. All four Deputies knew the names. Only two worried them. The others were not even in their class.

“You’re right, Command. This is both good news and bad. Any idea of how large a head start we got?” Bobby asked.

“All we know for positive is that they have been contracted.” Kimberly stated.

“Damn. This is not good guys. If Ice Pick Thomas and Two-Toes Hanne have their teams on this we need to move fast.” Annette told everyone. “Those monkey nuts will use explosives just to drive the point home they did the job. The rest will only use shooters for something like this.”

“Shit that ain’t good. Do you think the Madam knows this?” Lyssa asked from behind Kimberly.

Sam replied. “You can bet your ass she does. Any leads on the location of the tango safe houses?”

“We’re still working on that Stalking Horse. We’ve got it down to four. I know that doesn’t help much, but it's what we have, so far. Still working.” Kimberly didn’t like the fact that she was working with a handicap.

“Send us what you got and we’ll see what we can do from here.” Bobby told her.

“It’s on the way now, Stalking Horse. Good luck and happy hunting.” Kimberly signed off after sending the needed information on the four safe houses.

Bobby and Hunter quickly took two while Sam and Annette took the other two. Within the hour they had eliminated two of the houses as not being viable targets. The main reason for this was their locations and possible escape routes. Both of the eliminated houses only had one escape route each down blind allies. With these two eliminated, it left the team with only the downtown houses. The problem was one was near Richmond College and one in Bon Air.

“Okay, Samantha, Annette; you’re our experts on the criminal mind. Which one do we hit first?” Hunter asked.

“I hate to say this, but we’ll only get one chance at this. These people don’t like working together, so they’ll be spilt up between the two houses.” Annette pointed out first. Then she brought up the next problem. “The other bite in our ass is, we don’t have enough people to cover both houses at the same time.”

“How do you figure that Annette?” Hunter asked.

“Hunter, we are facing six highly trained individuals. Men that are trained assassins and are deadly as hell when cornered. We go in with less than our full four-man team, we’ll end up with dead bodies on our end. As it is, just going in with four is going to be dicey.” Annette had already seen the problem that no one else had. They were outnumbered by two to one in this assignment.

“She’s right Hunter. We need to stick together on this operation. I suggest we hit one house and take the team that is there, first. They won’t have both teams in the same safe house. They’ll remain as independent as possible. That’s how these types of hit teams work. It cuts down on their risk of exposure by a nosey neighbor.” Sam explained. Then put her finger on the house near the college. “This is the one we hit first. It’s a single-story ranch, with front and backdoors in sight of each other. One team through the back, while the other clears the front.”

“How do we want to do the teams?” Bobby asked, Sam.

“Hunter/Killer teams. Sam and you through one door, with Hunter and me taking the other. This way we’ll have one assassin with a soldier.” Annette spoke up before Sam could say otherwise.

“Sounds good. All firearms are to be suppressed. Knives only if possible, but do not put yourselves at risk. We know who we’re dealing with. Everyone comes home.” Bobby felt he needed to state the obvious. They were there to kill not apprehend.

Across town at another motel:

Ice Pick Thomas looked at four of the six-man team he had assembled for this job. He knew they were all some of the best, but he didn’t want to tell them about the DeMarcos being on this contract already. If he did that, he knew that he would lose them all. If it wasn’t for his damned marker to Anthony Soto he would have said to hell with the contact himself. He had already crossed paths with the Tulip once before and came out the loser. He even admitted that he was lucky to come out alive. The woman scared the crap out of him. “Damn you Soto. Once this is done, you’re done, you wet-back mother fucker.”

“What was that Ice Pick?” one of the team asked.

“Nothing, Johnny. Are the charges ready?”

“Yup. Four one pounders of C-four. Should make for a nice Fourth of July fireworks show. I even mixed in a little Willie Pete to make sure things burn nicely.” The explosives expert grinned up at Thomas.

“Good. We go in the minute that the others get back. I want to be long gone before anyone else shows up.” Thomas knew that somewhere out there was at least eight more hit teams.

Each one with a different signature. He wanted to make sure that his boys got paid, so he was using explosives. The knock at the door stopped everything else in the room. Thomas went to the door and looked through the peephole.

Seeing his two-man recon team Thomas opened the door. “Get in here before someone sees you.”

Once the two men were inside Thomas waited for them to tell him what they had found. “Boss, you’re not going to like this. We got heavy competition in town. Two-Toes Hanne, Jack the knife Holms, and William Bonny-Boy Bouts, are all in town. We nabbed one of Holms’ boys for a little talk. Want to tell us why the DeMarcos on this?”

“What are you talking about? The DeMarcos aren’t anywhere near this contract.” Thomas knew that he was close to losing his hold on the group.

“Bullshit! Look Thomas, if you want to go head-to-head with the Dove and her family be my fucking guest, but leave me out of it. I want to live to at least reach middle age, man. Those crazy bitches don’t take kindly to contractors sticking their noses in their business. Now, are they or are they not on this contract?” The second demanded and loud enough that the rest of the team knew he wasn’t joking.

Thomas tried to calm them. “Look guys, it’s only a rumor. Now, tell me what you found out about that safe house. That is what I sent you out for in the first place.”

Scout one just looked him in the eyes. “It’s a two-story Victorian in the Historical area of Bon Air. Plenty of access roads, and backyards, to get to the target.”

“What else can you tell me? Are they even there?” This was something Thomas really needed to know. If he screwed up now, he’d never get clear of his marker.

“There’s someone there, boss. Couldn’t really tell if it was our targets. To be honest, we spent more time dealing with the other teams’ scouts.” The first scout told Thomas.

What he didn’t tell him was that he and his partner had already decided to bail at the first sign of trouble. That first sign had already come. Ice Pick Thomas was worried about the rumor being true.

“How many teams’ had scouts on the same house?” Thomas asked.

“Five. The three we told you about and two no-name wannabe's. The wannabe's are all out to gain a name and the bounty. No real threat to our operations.” Scout two told Thomas. They noticed the smile that came to the man’s face.

“Perfect. We strike tonight. The others will all wait for morning to go after the marks. Two-Toes, Bonny-Boy, and the Knife are all shooters first. We go in as soon as Johnny has the charges ready.”

“We can go now boss. Four one pound charges of C-four with Willie-Pete will drop something like that like a house of cards.” The young man said with the pride of a professional. He picked one of the charges. “We could do the job with just one of these babies, but I know you want to scare off the competition.”

Thomas nodded. “Good thinking. Now, get packed up and let’s get this over with. I want to get the second team over by the campus before anyone else finds out about them.”

“We blasting them as well? Because if we are, I need to make some surprises.” Johnny pointed out, with a hopeful smile.

“No. We hit them with guns alone.” Ice Pick tells his team.

“Hey boss, why don’t Slappy and me head on over to our secondary target? That way by the time you guys get there we can have the site scouted and be able to cover in case something goes sideways and they run.” The First scout asked Thomas.

Ice Pick Thomas thought about what the man suggested and nodded head. “GO. And keep your damned heads down until we get there. I don’t want our second set of rabbits to slip the trap before I am ready for it to be sprung.”

The two scouts just nodded their heads and left the room. Once outside the motel, they headed for the car they had been using.

As they drove away the first asked the obvious question. “We bugging out?”

“Like the job has Terminex coming in and we’re the roaches. If I had known the Dove and her family was on this contract, I wouldn’t have touched it in the first place.” The second scout answers.

“No shit! If having the Dove out there somewhere isn’t bad enough, that guy of Two Toes was talkin’ straight, she’s hunting with the Nightingale and her daughter, the Tulip. That’s enough for me to want to get the fuck out a here.”

The first scout pulled to a stop at the traffic light before he looked over at his partner. “You forgot one thing Slappy. They’re working with the LAST Capizeo. Just the fucking thought of a Capizeo out there hunting the same target is enough to get me off this job. You heard about what happened in the old Country, didn’t you?”

“Oh yeah. I didn’t forget about that little fact brother. I was fucking praying that it wasn’t true. I mean four families wiped out to the last man. All before they got the last of the old country Capizeo’s. If there REALLY is a last Capizeo, I suggest we don’t stop until we cross the city limits of Toronto.” The second scout answered with all honesty and fear.

“You know something. That has to be the best damned plan I heard all day.” The first scout answered back before driving through the light and into the night.

The light blue four door hatchback sedan would not be seen in the United States again.

Five blocks from Richmond College. 0245:

Bobby and Hunter had changed into their black tactical BDU’s while the girls used the bed of the F-350 to change into the boots, gloves, weapons harness and form-fitted battle suits issued to them by OICA. With the skill born from practice the four deputies applied their facial camouflage. Once done, they each pulled out the M-5 Sabers that had become their primary weapons for tactical situations.

Hunter looked at the other three grim faced. “We know the plan. We know the target area. We know the basic layout of the target. Any possible problems?”

“Location of tangos inside. Is our first.” Annette point out.

“Actual number of tangos.” Sam said, then went on to explain. “They may not normally work together, but this is not NORMAL circumstances.”

“Point taken. What are the odds the two teams using the same safe house?” Bobby asked.

Both Sam and Annette looked at each other. It was Annette that answered after Sam waved for her to do so. “About a twenty percent chance Bobby. That ain’t the problem though. No, the problem is, they might have changed team members around. I wouldn’t put it past them to do that. The teams may be made up of experts in each field, but they are all interchangeable.”

“Okay, the situation on tangos may be fluid. Doesn’t change how we crack this nut or our orders. This is pure elimination of all tangos.” Hunter told them all.

“No. We need one for questioning. Then we get rid of him.” Annette told him, then explained. “We got too many unknowns at play here. As Lyssa and the others would say we need Hard Intel, and we need it bad.”

“She’s right bro. Still, nobody takes any chances trying to take one alive. Remember rule one, people.” Bobby told them. Then smiled as they all sounded off with rule one. “Everybody goes home.”

With five blocks to cover the team quickly broke down into their hunter/killer teams and headed for the safe house. They used backyards, culverts and a streambed that ran behind and between the houses. As they approached the house, Hunter and Annette headed for the backdoor. It took Bobby and Sam a few more minutes to get into position around the front of the house.

Bobby keyed his mike. “Ground One, set.”

Hunter’s reply was almost immediate. “Ground Two, set.”

Bobby signaled for Sam to pick the lock. On the other side of the house, Hunter did the same for Annette. The two assassin trained Deputies picked the door locks then nodded their heads that they were ready to enter.

Both men said at the same time. “Go.”

Both teams enter the house on soft and light feet. All four were surprised that the hit team didn’t have a look-out or alarm system in place. This set Sam and Annette on edge. They both stopped their partner at the doors.

Annette keyed her mike first. “White Swan, do you have eyes on guard?”

“Negative, Black Swan. Does this feel like a setup to you?” Sam asked back.

Bobby replied. “White, you just said what I was thinking. The question is why, and for who?”

“We got bigger problems Swans.” Hunter came over the radio. “Everyone inside and take up positions. We got company in bound.”

“Negative. Fall back through the front door, now.” Bobby called out.

Taking the order as the warning it was, Hunter and Annette headed for the front of the house to where Bobby and Sam were. Before they could reach the front door though the Deputies came under fire, from the rear of the house. As one, the team turned and returned fire as Bobby and Sam covered the second half of the team. The firefight was short and vicious. Unlike the five men that came through the back door, the Deputies picked their targets and dropped them with precision placed shots. The Deputies also had one other advantage, body armor that stopped the other teams’ shots.

Once the shooting stopped, both Sam and Annette checked their assailants. “Annette, is this who I think it is?”

Annette walked over and took a look at the man at Sam’s feet. “It sure as fuck is. Damn, I heard he got out of the game five years ago. This also explains why those two over there are here. It’s Mike Corley and David Leery.”

“Okay girls, just who is that and why is he so important?” Bobby asked.

“This is one, William Bouts, a.k.a. Bonny-Boy Bouts. Retired Hitter for the O’Brian Mob. I bet the other two are Steve Meeks and Dale Hicks.” Sam told Bobby and Hunter.

“Not taking that bet, Sam. The tats give them both away. Look.” Annette held up the bare right arms of both men. The twin lightning bolt behind a four-leaf clover left no doubt as to the men belonging to the Irish mob family. “What I don’t understand is where is the team we came after?”

“Sweep the house.” Hunter ordered. The team spilt up and went over each room of the house from top to bottom. The answer to where the second team was found in the basement. All three bodies were laid out. Each with a bullet hole in the back of the head. “Damn. They were killed execution style.”

“This also explains why our friends upstairs attacked us.” Sam said as she looked at the bodies of the dead assassination team. At Bobby and Hunter’s looks of confusion Annette explained.

“They’re trying to take out the competition. Us and anyone else who is out there looking to collect the bounties.” Annette sighed then started cussing in Italian. Thankfully Bobby and Hunter had been learning Italian. “Stupid sorry sons-of-bitches, ass-licking, butt-fucking, moronic buddy fuckers.”

“Bobby, I would say that our dear wife is more than a little pissed off. Not that I blame her one bit. If we've got to deal with these other teams trying to take out the competition, then we got a real fucking problem. Any ideas on how to get the dogs off our asses?” Hunter wanted to know.

Sam and Annette both smiled. Unlike the guys they had each brought something along for just this reason. Bobby looked over at Hunter with a shiver at the looks on their wives faces. “Brother mine, I don’t think we want to know the answer to that.”

Both Sam and Annette just giggled and shook their heads as they each pulled something from inside their tactical harnesses. In Annette’s hand was a small white tulip. Sam held a small pink charm in the shape of ballet slippers. It took Bobby and Hunter a few seconds to realize what those two items meant. Both men whistled at the same time and smiled. “Hang those where everyone and their fucking brother can find them. We want the message to get out. And get out fast.”

“Here, put these where they can be found with those.” Hunter said and handed them two playing cards from his lucky card deck.

The girls took Bobby’s order to heart and headed back upstairs to do just that. Once that was taken care of, the team of Deputies quickly exited the house and the surrounding area. As they were crossing the bridge towards the second safe house, an explosion ripped through the night and lit up the sky. Both trucks pulled over on to a side street well away from the explosion area. Both teams got together before going further. Annette was the first to question what happened. “Do you think that blast was our next target?”

“Yeah, I would say that it was. We already know that we have competition trying to pick up that bounty.” Hunter looked towards where they were heading then at the others. “Let’s lose the war paint, then head that way. Badges out people. I have a feeling that by the time we get there the place will be swarming with First Responders, Firefighters, and LEO’s. We go in using our SOG creds. If the LEO’s ask, we’re here to there to serve a ‘no-knock’ warrant.”

A half hour later, the two trucks pulled up to a scene out of an action/drama movie, featuring Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg. After parking out of the way, the four Deputies walked toward the police-line.

Flashing their badges to the officer that stopped them Hunter took charge. “Evening Officer. Can you point us to who is in charge here?”

“That depends Deputy. Want to tell me why you’re here in the first place?” The Patrolman asked

“No problem officer. We got a tip on a pair of runners are holed-up in a house on this block.” Hunter pointed at where the house was on fire. “Please tell me that isn’t one-nine-seven?”

The officer cringed before nodding his head. “It is. Hold on and I’ll go get the Detective in charge, Deputies.”

“Before you do that, do the firefighters know if anyone was inside?” Sam asked him.

“They don’t know anything as of yet, Deputy. The Fire Chief and his companies have been doing their best to get that fire under control with no luck.” After answering Sam’s question, he walked over to where a group of men in suits were talking. A moment later he returned with a man in his mid-thirties.

“Lieutenant Detective Moore, Deputies. What can I do for you?” The man held out his hand first to Hunter.

Hunter shook his hand. “Taugh, Everbrite, Justice and DeMarco. SOG Fugitive Recovery, Lieutenant Moore. What can you tell us about what happened here?”

“No much, Deputy Taugh. We’ve just started our investigation. Officer Kelly says that you’re hunting some fugitives. That you received a tip of some kind. You wouldn’t happen to have a warrant that I can see?” Hunter and the others could tell the man wasn’t happy with them being there.

Sam smiled and handed over the piece of paper with the needed information. The fact that it was as fake as the day was long would never come up as it had the needed signatures and stamps. Even to a trained Officer, the warrant looked real. As Moore was looking over the warrant Sam smirked. “Lieutenant, I hope you can tell us that our suspect was not in that house.”

Moore sighed and handed the paper back. “You got lucky Deputies. That place has been empty for the last four months. It’s a rental property for Canterbury Industries. They use it for their company officers when they’re in town. So I doubt that your runners are here. Not unless they’re White Collar Crime scumbags.”

Annette’s sighed grabbed the Detective’s attention. “Don’t tell me that you’re after a bunch of White Collar criminals. Not equipped like that you’re not.”

“Lieutenant Moore, the men we’re after are to be considered armed and extremely dangerous. They are wanted for escaping a Federal Prison. They all have Life or multi-decade sentences reaching over a hundred years apiece. They killed two guards during their escape. One, with a pair of pantyhose. Now, do you want to question the reasons behind the tac-loadout?” Annette asked.

The Detective gulped hearing about the guards. Then blinked his eyes. “They used a pair of pantyhose to kill a guard? How?”

“One of them is a cross-dresser. Really a she-male. Made a lot of friends in prison. The Warden was one of those progressive types that felt political correctness was more important than security.” Sam decided to get in on Annette’s fun with the Detective. “The Warden felt that our runner would be more inclined to rehabilitation, if he was ALLOWED to express his feminine side more.”

“DAMNED political correctness is getting out of hand. How many escapees are you looking for? Maybe we can help?” Moore wanted to help now.

“Six here in Richmond. Before you ask, we had to move fast on this tip. That’s the only reason we didn’t contact your bosses. We’ve got a second location on a possible safe house for them. Any chance you can get a SWAT Team over there to hit the place?” Hunter asked quickly, seeing a way to put the spot light on the other safe house and pulled away from their team’s investigation.

“Give me look at the warrant. I can have a full house on the place by the time you get there.” Moore smiled as Sam handed over the other fake warrant.

A half hour later the other house was hit by a SWAT Team with the Deputies waiting outside for the word to go in. As they searched the house the SWAT team first found the bodies on the first floor. This was quickly followed up by the ones in the basement. When the SWAT team Lieutenant came out he informed Hunter and the others what they had found. “I don’t know what those runners of yours did, but I think you all need to see this. It’s like a slaughter house in there. Eight bodies in total.”

“Oh shit. This is not good.” Hunter said as he led the others inside to view their handy work. “Sam, Annette, you’re our experts on organized crime here. What do you think happened?”

“This was a hit pure and simple.” Annette said with a straight face as she pointed to the tulip, and ballet slipper charm. Then she looked over at the two playing cards. “Oh yeah this was a hit, big time. We got the Tulip, Ballerina, and the Jokers working here.”

“Excuse me, Deputy, but who the hell are they?” The SWAT Lieutenant asked.

“Four of the most wanted and mysterious hitters in the world. That’s who.” Sam tried not to smile as she answered. “No one has ever seen their faces or knows their real names. All anyone knows is their signatures. Hell, we don’t even know what sex they really are.”

“Why haven’t I heard of these people before?” the Lieutenant asked.

“Unless you’ve worked Organized Crime, I doubt you would. These people are known, but unknown at the same time. Even the Hitters we have behind bars won’t talk about these four Hitters. They are real Ghosts in the machine.” Hunter told the man.

Bobby had to hide the smirk behind his hand, but couldn’t pass up getting in on the fun. “The last man that talked about the Jokers was found dead, in his cell. It took three days to figure out how the man died. The autopsy report stated it was shellfish poisoning. The problem was the prison didn't serve any shellfish. Yet, next to the body were found the Big and Little Jokers.”

“Wait. They got into a secure prison, killed a man, then just vanished like a puff of smoke?” The lieutenant asked.

When the Deputies didn’t reply he got the hint. The problem was he got the wrong hint. He would leave there that night and spread the word amongst his fellow officers about assassins known only as the Jokers.

“The only problem we got here is only three of these are our runners. We still have six more to find.” Detective Moore walked in as Sam said this. “Detective Moore, if you want, you can have this bust.”

Moore caught the underlying meaning behind Sam’s words and smiled. “Sure, you guys weren’t here. I also got some news on that other location. It was empty. Not even a mouse. The kicker though is there were four bodies in the backyard. Form the looks of it the concussion of the explosion killed them. From what the Fire Chief was telling me the house was rigged to blow if someone forced their way in. Are any of your runners an expert with explosives?”

“Just one, Detective. If he is still out there, we need to get moving. The man is a multi-lifer. Remember that mine explosion that killed those twelve miners in southern West Virginia a few years ago?” Moore had to think about it, but then remembered the incident and nodded. “He was the demolitions expert for the mine.”

“Go. I’ll take care of the paperwork and insure you’re covered Deputies. Good hunting.” Moore waved them out and turned back to the SWAT Lieutenant. “Steve, whatever happens, those four deputies don’t get mentioned anywhere in your reports.”

“Sure, Rob. I got no problem with that. I know what those SOG teams go through.” Steve Marks watched as the Deputies climbed into their trucks and pulled out. “I will say this much. I wish we had a few female officers like those two Deputies. Did you see those catsuits they were wearing? DAMN. If I could get Mary to wear something like that, we would have no problems getting her preggers.”

“I hear you brother, I hear you. Come on, we got two scenes to clean up and secure.” With that the two Richmond police officers turned back to their duties to their city and its citizens.

M&M Industries, Arlington, Virginia 0245:

Shawna, Eddie, Krystel, Kasey and Kristine looked at each other as they stepped away from the Earth Roamer. Each had a different experience while working on the big truck. For the girls, it was one they would never forget. Between them and Krystel, they had built the work stations, Network, uplink and connected to power. Krystel had spent her time, with Shawna's help, building the mobile array that would be their main source of computing power in the field. It had also been her job to ensure the connection back to ONYSSIUS on Ram’s Rock Island. Shawna's main focus was the fail-safes and weapons' locker.

For Eddie, the work had been one of both love and pain. The first being the problems of having to disassemble and take parts from the totaled-out Roamer. Then fitting them to the one to be used. While he had been doing the deconstruction on the parts truck, the Pescaterro girls had been working on the inside of the ALOC. It wasn’t until he got his first look inside did he realize what they were doing. The two women were armoring the inside of the Roamer. The floor to ceiling gun-safe at the rear of the camper section would hold all of the weapons, plus three of the SAWs and the ammo for the Ground team.

The Pescaterros had gone the extra mile by replacing ALL the glass with bullet-proof glass laminate. It was as if the two women had something to prove to Maria. The fact they had reinforced the front end with armor plating was not discussed. The big surprise came when they started working on the diesel engine. Not even Eddie and the girls realized what they were doing until they stepped out of the camper area. The massive 6.7L V8 Turbo Diesel had been fitted with a super-charger to boost the power for emergencies. The Pescaterros had shown their engineering expertise.

Maria, Paul, Anna and Rinaldo walked out when they heard the sounds of work stop coming from the shop area. Maria walked over to the two young women that had helped the team.

She handed a piece of paper to Missy then hugged the young woman. “Missy, Maryann. That is my half of the shop. Thank you for all you did tonight.”

Missy Pescaterro returned the hug and handed back the paper. “Mrs. DeMarco, daddy would have wanted us to help you tonight. You don’t owe us anything. You saved this shop when daddy went legit and came close to bankruptcy. He could have gone back to his old ways, but you made sure that he didn’t have to. Because of what you did, he was able to help so many others turn their lives around. Even ours. If it hadn’t been for your help with our college tuition, we would never have graduated.”

Maryann pulled the woman who had saved their father’s dream into a tight hug next. “If you need any kind of vehicle modification, just bring it here. We owe you and your family WAY too much Mrs. DeMarco. Daddy told us this place is always open to you and you don’t wait. That will never change.”

“Girls, please. You’re embarrassing me. Now, I want you to take this.” Maria tried to insist, only to have the two girls cross their arms and shake their heads 'no'.

“We did this as a thank you for all you’ve done for our family, Mrs. DeMarco. Thanks to you, daddy’s dream of helping trouble kids turn their lives around is still going strong.” Maryann told her with a sad smile.

“We have something else starting next week thanks to all that you’ve done for us. We got with Wounded Warriors and are hiring vets with a mechanical MOS.” Missy told her with pride. “We’re going to be opening five more shops across the NorthEast. All managed and run by vets.”

Paul heard this and took the paper out of Maria’s hand then tore it up. Pulling out his wallet, Paul removed a business card. “Call this number after the fourth, talk to General Heath Cornel. He’s the man in charge of training operations at Fort Lee. He will be able to help you with making the needed contacts.”

“Who should we say if he asks us who told us to call him?” Missy asked.

“Lieutenant Colonel Bartlett from Fort Benning. Mention a bar called The Coachman Inn. He'll remember and help you.” Paul said with a sly smile. The two daughters of a former mobster caught the reference and wisely dropped the matter, then turned and left shop. “Now, there goes two very smart young ladies.”

Rinaldo smirk. “What do you expect, my friend? They are after all, good Sicilian girls. Their papa would be proud.”

Maria on the other hand had something more interesting on her mind. "A lieutenant Colonel Bartlett? Sounds interesting."

"Can we get a story, Grandpa?" Kasey giggled, as did Kristine.

Dannigan shook his head and chuckled. "A better idea would be to ask Lyssa and Rodrick about Morrocco. That's where they met the first time."

Both teens blinked then looked at each other and started laughing. Neither had ever heard the story of how their two teachers had actually met, but were now very curious.


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