After two years of heavy hard hitting make or break cases and a little arm twisting Maria takes her family to Sicily on vacation. Unknown to them or the OICA a deadly ghost from the past would rear its ugly head 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.
Bethesda, Maryland, just north of Washington D.C. 0330
The three tactical trucks parked two blocks down the street from the target building. The safe house was in the ground floor apartment. Maria had made two changes to the plan before they left. Burn kits were to be used over the cutter-blast system. The cutter-blast was a wall or door breaching system that used high-speed det-cord along the outer edge of a square frame, usually styrofoam, and also known as a Slam 'n Go. It was designed to punch holes in doors and walls for forced entry. Instead, the team would use small packets of thermite to cut through the door locks for entry.
This way was safer and quieter than blowing a gaping hole and alerting their targets. The second change was no flashbangs. The main reason behind this was the presence of a possible thermobaric bomb. Once she understood the destructive power of the weapons Maria vetoed the flashbangs. Maria, had two motives behind this. The first, opportunity. Once the mission was over she would have her lawyers seize the building for back-taxes. Maria had Gemini double check with the city and county to ensure that the taxes were up to date. They weren’t. The second reason for Maria was simple. Maria didn’t want to die in an unplanned explosion.
Samantha and Annette had already headed for the rooftop through the far north-east corner stairwell. Bobby and Hunter had taken up positions at the ground floor entrances and were waiting the girls' signal. All that was left was for Maria to move into position inside the garage to cover the garage entrance. While not as fast as the younger members of the team, Maria had far more experience. This was what she brought to the team. They were the brawn, she was the brains.
Leaving her truck, Maria pulled on a long trench coat. The coat had been specially made for her over twenty-seven years ago. It was lightweight, dark in color, and best of all; lined with ballistic cloth. While it was nowhere near as stylish as the form-fitted combat suits the girls wore, it still provided her with a great deal of protection. It was old school, but still worked. When Kimberly first offered her one of the tactical suits Maria just smiled and turned it down saying. “I’m a little too old for something like that, but thank you anyway, dear. I’ll just stick to what works best for an old woman like myself. I’ll leave the stylish fashions to you youngsters.”
As Maria approached the garage entrance, she put on her head-cam, ear piece and radio. Maria keyed her mike. “Madame, to Gemini. Are we secure? Over.”
Kasey came back immediately. “The security system is deaf, dumb and blind, Madam. The Swans have reached the ground floor apartment entrance for the roof. Stalking Horse and Rumrunner are in position. Over.”
“Madam to all Bravo-Bravo elements. Stand-bye for breaching. Over.” Called out to the rest of her team.
“Swans are go. Over.” Samantha came back.
“Stalking Horse, is go. Over” Bobby called out.
“Rumrunner is up. Waiting on your command Madam. Over.” Hunter answered last.
Maria slipped her hand under her coat and pulled out her custom made 1911 TTT Full-Size forty-five, with an extended threaded barrel. With the ease born of years, Maria screwed on the suppresser she pulled from her coat pocket. Keeping the pistol in her right-hand Maria walked over to the garage door entrance for the apartment. Pulling out the burn-through packet, Maria set her charge and stepped back.
Keying her mike one last time Maria gave the order. “On my mark; three, two, one. NOW!”
Maria hit the trigger on the burn-through packet and let the thermite do its job. Burning at over 2500c the thermite melted the door locks as if they were butter on a hot street. Thankfully, Hunter and Bobby had shaped the thermite charges so the chances of the doors catching fire were low.
As the four doors swung in the four adult members of the Black Badge Deputy Marshals entered on silent, but deadly feet. Sam pointed to her eyes, then point with her hand toward the back bedroom. Annette, understood the meaning of the message and headed that way. As Annette walked toward the back-bedroom Sam covered her with her own Sig Sauer 1911 TACOPS.
One of the changes that Maria had instituted over the past two months was a standardization of weapons for the team. All personal weapons were now the Sig Sauer 1911 TACOPS solid black .45 ACP pistol. Their tactical rifles were now the 7.62 NATO M-5 SABER AWS rifles with the 14.5 inch suppressed CMV upper receiver for CQB, and the 26 SIS suppressed upper receivers, for use in sniper support roles. While Annette hadn’t been happy about this change at first, she saw the wisdom of standardized ammo for a small operations team like the Black Badge Deputies. For this operation, due to its very close nature, the team had opted to use their 1911’s.
Maria had no problem with this, as it would ensure fewer chances of an accidentally placed round through a wall. Annette, reached the far back bedroom door at the same time Samantha reached the second bedroom door. As one; the two assassins turned Deputies slowly opened the doors. Sam spotted her target right away and fired twice. Both rounds hit the man dead center of his forehead. He would never wake-up. It had taken Annette a second longer to spot her target, but she too put two rounds into the man’s forehead. With both of their targets dead, the girls slowly backed out of the rooms and turned toward the front of the apartment.
Bobby had entered near the kitchen area through his door and swept the area with his pistol. Seeing nothing Bobby turned and made his way towards the dining area. Keying his mike, Bobby whispered to the rest of the team. “Stalking Horse to All. Does anyone have eyes on Primary target? Over”
“This is Whiskey Sierra, negative contact. Over.”
“Bravo Sierra here, same. Over”
“Romeo Romeo, that is a negative, Sierra Hotel. The front of the AO is Clear. Over.” When Bobby heard this last report from Hunter he got worried.
When Maria didn’t report in, in the next few seconds his pucker-factor, the formal name of the equation that states the more hairy the situation is, the more of the seat cushion will be sucked up your butt; jumped to 12.
“Sierra Hotel to Madame. Report Madame. Over.” Bobby waited a few seconds then tried again. “Stalking Horse to Madam. Come in Madam. OVER” When Maria again didn’t answer a second time he contacted Gemini. “Gemini, do you have eyes on Madam? Over?”
“That is a roger, Stalking Horse. She's a little busy right now. The Madam is in the process of, uh, giving a lesson in manners to our primary target at this time. Over” Kasey gleefully answered.
The giggles from Kasey over the open mike made Bobby, Hunter and Samantha wonder what in the world their oldest daughter was talking about. That was until Annette came over the coms.
Annette had tried to keep the mirth out of her own voice, but failed. “Gemini two, she is at stage one or two? Over.”
“The Madam is still at stage one Black Swan. I believe that if you hurry you’ll get there right as the Madam starts stage two. Over.” Kasey was trying so hard not to laugh.
Not even thinking twice about it; Annette stood up straight, holstered her 1911, then turned on the hallway lights. Keying her mike. “Black Swan to All. We’re clear. Madam has the primary in hand. Might as well turn on the lights and see what we got. Over.”
Sam just looked at Annette, then did as she suggested, before asking. “Okay, sis. What is Mama up to out in the garage?”
“Beating the ever-loving shit out of our primary target, about now.” Annette shrugged her shoulders, then smirked. “You know how Mama gets with people who use crude or vulgar language around women. I figure that John Casey Wain, slipped out the garage door while we came in the back and front doors.”
Hunter who had been closer to them than Bobby looked down the hallway at Annette. “Um… Annette, should we go out there and give her a hand?”
“Hunter, I along with Samantha and Bobby have made you part of our family. You are an equal husband to Bobby, by his peoples’ customs, for us. Now, that being said, if I was you I would not step out that door until Mama calls for us.” Annette said with a loving smile. “You have become like a father to my Kasey, and Samantha’s Kristine. This is one time though that you need to just sit back a wait.”
“Wait for what Annette?” Bobby asked coming into the living room area where they all were standing. “By the way, why are we just standing here? Shouldn’t we be helping the Madam with Wain?”
Sam smiled up at Bobby. “Bobby, we’re waiting for mama to call for us. Until then, just help us understand what we’re looking at here? Is this a completed bomb?” Sam was pointing at a pile of parts and canisters.
All four adults froze where they were when a load bang came from the garage wall. This was followed by a second heavy thud, then a third. At the fourth heavy thud and bang all four deputies abandoned the apartment and ran out into the garage. There they found Maria, grabbing John Wain by the hair on the back of his head and slamming him face first into the hood of a Chevy City Express cargo van repeatedly. Sam, and Annette just looked at each other and sighed. Bobby and Hunter looked on in pure unadulterated fascination.
This was the first time that either of the two men to witness Maria really going all-out in that crazy martial-art she was teaching Kasey and Kristine. The same one that had been handed down to Maria from her mother, her grandmother, and many more generations. The same martial-art that Sam and Annette practiced with deadly skill.
Annette pointed to the wall and asked Sam. “Head or ass?”
Sam looked at the indentation closely. “Ass.”
“Nope, it had to be his head, Sis. To high up for it to be his.” Wain went flying past the deputies in a spinning flip to slam into the wall once more, head-down. “Okay, you’re right. That is an ass print.”
“Told you. I wonder how much longer Mama is going to play with her food?” Sam mused.
“Not much longer. See,” Annette pointed to where Maria now stood with her family knife in her hand. “This will be over in; five, four, three, two, one.”
The moment Annette said one, Maria flicked her wrist and the knife sailed through the air to embed itself in John Casey Wain’s right eye clear up to the hilt. Maria sighed and walked up to the corpse. Placing her left hand on top of Wain’s head Maria used her right hand and yanked her knife from the corpse’s head, bringing the eyeball with it. With a flick of her wrist, the eyeball slid off the knife’s blade. Taking a silken cloth from her pant's pocket Maria cleaned her blade.
Returning the DeMarco Family knife to its sheath, Maria sighed then crossed herself. "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."
Twenty minutes earlier in the garage…
Miles away, in the ALOC, Anna and Rinaldo watched as the team carried out their assigned tasks. Rinaldo’s respect for the teens grew with each passing moment as they first secured the security system then disabled it. When they started directing the teams to their positions Rinaldo realized that his great nieces really were the Twin Goddess Gemini. The tactical cameras gave Rinaldo a whole new prospective into how the U.S. Deputy Marshal team worked. He watched as his Maria, walked slowly through the garage area of the building.
Maria had stopped and let her eyes adjust to the glaring light given off by the overhead fluorescent lighting. After placing her thermite charge and giving the command to the rest of the team to breach Maria stepped back to wait. She knew her job was to ensure that none of their targets escaped through the garage. She did not have long to wait as John Casey Wait slipped out the garage door.
In a voice colder than the Artic wind, Maria greeted him. “Hello, Johnathan. How long has it been? What ten, eleven, years now?”
The man froze in place, then turned slowly to face Maria. In his hands was a box about one foot by one foot by two feet long. A cruel smile came to the man’s face. “Hello, Dove. I thought you had retired from the game? Not that it matters, as I really don’t care. Do you know what this is?” he asked holding up the box.
“Oh, I figure that is a thermobaric atrocity built by one of your two friends in there.” Maria smirked as the look of shock crosses Wait’s face. “Yes, I know exactly what, who, and where you have been up to. No that it matters, as you said. Now, put that down as we both know you won’t be using it in our fight.”
“Oh? You think I won’t blow myself up?” Wait tried to bluff his way pass Maria.
“Please, do not insult my intelligence Johnathan.” Maria sighed then waved her pistol to show him she already had him covered. “We both know you are no political or religious zealot. Now do as you’re told, or I’ll save the country the cost of a trial by putting a bullet through your head.”
The flash of Maria’s smile and glint off the silencer got the point across to Wait. With slow practiced movements, John Casey Wait placed the bomb on the concrete floor of the garage. Standing up straight John Casey Wait made one of the last mistakes of his life. He insulted Maria’s honor. “I always knew that your reputation was over-blown and full of shit, bitch. If you didn’t have that pistol I would gut you like a fucking fish, right after I raped your old dried-up ass.”
Back in the ALOC, Rinaldo and Anna both groaned when they heard this. Kasey and Kristine just snickered. They all knew that Maria was about to give the man a life-altering ass beating, off sheer principle. Just before she killed him, that is.
Rinaldo turned to Anna. “Please tell me that idiota is not drawing a knife on my oldest sister, Anna?” Both had seen Wait reach to his waistband and withdraw a hunting knife. The blade of the knife was a classical Bowie drop-point, about ten inches long, with a hidden tang.
“I wish that I could Rinaldo, but you know that I don’t and won’t lie in front of children in my care. That fool John Casey Wait just pulled a knife on Madam Maria.” Anna smirked, then giggled at the stupidity of the situation.
Maria, saw the knife and knew what Wait wanted. “DO you really want to play this game Johnathan? Very well, I will play your game.”
Sliding her left hand inside the trench coat Maria pulled out her family knife while her right hand returned the pistol to its holster. John Wait saw all this and smiled. That was when he made his next mistake. “Oh, this is going to be fun. You really think you can take me in a knife fight, you old bitch? You really have let your reputation go to your fucking head.”
As Maria shifted her knife to her right hand the Command team could hear her voice drop in temperature once more. “Time for you to learn some manners Johnathan.”
The two combatants went at each other with a fierceness that was unbridled. They closed the twenty-foot distance between them with deadly intent. Their fight would be a study in contrasts. Rinaldo, reached over and taped Kasey on the shoulder. “Is it possible for us to see the video feed from the security cameras, Deputy?”
“Of course, inspector. One moment.” With a few key strokes Kasey brought up the security video feed from the garage area. Kasey and Kristine were just able to get the security feed directed to the Overhead monitor when Maria and John Wait met.
Rinaldo sighed. He had seen this coming the moment Wait pissed Maria off. Maria’s knife flashed in the light as she ducked under John’s thrust biting into the man’s wrist and forearm. The sudden attack to Wait’s arm, along with the unexpected pain, forced him to drop his own knife. Still spinning under John’s arm, Maria brought her blade downward cross his upper thigh and hip joint.
“I wish your Nonnina won’t play with her opponent like this.” Rinaldo said from behind the teenagers. At their blank looks Rinaldo pointed to the monitor. “She is not taking that man seriously. If she was, she won’t have wounded him like that. She is Dancing instead of killing. I have a feeling she will get hurt if she doesn’t start taking the man serious.”
“Um… uncle Rinaldo, Nonnina is taking the man serious. She’s going all-out.” Kristine said with a look of concern only to have Anna place a comforting hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong Miss Anna?”
“Your great uncle is right Kristine. Your Nonnina is playing with the man. She is holding back for some reason.” Anna explained to her youngest student.
“They’re right Kris. I’ve seen Nonnina going all out once before, and this is nowhere near that. She should have already put this guy down.” Kasey told her sister. Only to have Anna correct her.
“No, children. Neither of you have seen the Dove going all-out. She is the last Lithium Flower. Until she hides her blade, your Nonnina is playing around.” The cold, no-nonsense expression on Anna’s face drove the point home.
At their looks of confusion Rinaldo knew that the teens didn’t understand the reference to Lithium Flower. “Girls, your Nonnina is the last Master for two families of assassins. The DeMarcos and Capizeos, when she passes on, Her titles will fall to your mothers. Those titles are Lithium Flower for the DeMarco family, and Hemlock Rose for the Capizeo family. Our two families, have practiced the art of the Death Dance for more than nine centuries. She has been teaching you both, the ways of the Dance slowly. Just as she taught your mother Annette, and your Nonnina Mary Elisabeth Capizeo taught your mother Samantha.”
“Wait. Are you saying that Nonnina is teaching us some kind of martial art?” Kristine asked him in amazement.
Anna chuckled behind the teens. “Your Nonnina started teaching you two the Way of the Dancing Blade from the first time you stepped into the ballet studio, children. Just as she did with your mothers, twenty years ago. And just like them, it will take you both more than just two or three years to master the art of assassination.”
“NOW, your Nonnina is FINALLY starting to get serious.” Rinaldo, pointed at the screen as Maria hid her knife in such a manner that it was still in play.
Command Center, Ram’s Rock Island…
Lyssa, just stood at the back of the TOC as the rest of the OICA Team watched the feed from the ALOC. She had always known that only Tiffany and herself would be able to handle Maria in a straight on fight. The speed and grace of Maria’s movements showed those in the TOC why Maria was a true MISTRESS of Assassination.
Kimberly looked back at Lyssa, and asked the question that was on all their minds. “Lyssa, just what kind of martial art is that?”
“I'm told it’s called the Dancing Blade. It can be used either armed or bare handed. Most practitioners of the art never bother to learn the unarmed form.” Lyssa pointed up at the main screen. “Maria is one of the last true Mistresses of the art. As I’ve said before, I’ll say it again. Maria ‘the Dove’ DeMarco, is not someone to be taken lightly. The woman maybe old enough to be a mother to most of us on this island, BUT she is still DEADLIER than a tiger with a stick jammed up its ass.”
Rodrick looked over at his wife giving her a strange look. There was something in Lyssa’s voice that grabbed his attention. It was worry for the older woman. “You respect her in more ways than one Lyssa. Why are you so concerned about her being on this mission?”
“They’re facing a two-front battle. First here and then overseas. The STRESS on her body may be just too much for her handle.” Lyssa sighed. “She is not as young as she used to be, and she is playing around with that fuck stick.”
“Um… I don’t think so, Lyssa. Maria just went crazy on the man’s ass. DAMN! How many times did she just strike him?” Krystel asked in shock.
LoneStar, who had not taken his eyes off the screen, just chuckled behind his helmet. “Five. Don’t count out Maria just yet, Lyssa. Sure, she is as old as the Major, but she can still teach us all more than a few tricks. I could sit and watch this eating popcorn.”
Back in the garage…
In the TOC and ALOC the two Command Teams watched as Maria moved with a grace that belied first her age, and second her deadly intent. As Maria rounded to John Wait’s back, she struck him five more times. Each hit was an open-handed strike with stiffened fingers. With each hit, the man dropped faster to his knees. When Maria stepped back and smiled at John, the smile never reached her eyes.
Raising her hand, she beckoned for him to charge her. What only Anna knew was that the five strikes to the back had rendered the nerve clusters in certain points worthless. John Wait would not find this out, until he tried to raise his arms to grapple with Maria. Maria, just grabbed his outstretched right forearm, spun inside of his reach as she bowed forward, throwing the man over her body. Wait flew through the air upside down to slam into the apartment wall back first.
When John Wait didn’t stay down, but slowly climbed to his feet, Maria gave him a small nod of respect. This time when Wait came at her Maria held nothing back as she kicked him square in the crotch. Wait bellowed in pain and bent over. Only to have Maria spin in place raising her left foot to chin height. The spinning kick broke Wait’s lower jaw and knocked out four of his front teeth. Maria continued her spin to bring her left foot in play in a back spin that sent the man flying into the wall once more. When John Wait refused to stay down again, Maria finally lost her temper. She moved faster than she had in years and grabbed the man’s right arm, only to turn and flip him once more into the wall, again upside-down. When Wait landed on his head Maria reached down, grabbing him by the front of his shirt and hauling him to his feet. Once the beaten man was standing, Maria grabbed him by the hair on the back of his head, and started to ram him face first into the hood of a work van that was parked in the garage next to the apartment.
After pounding Wait’s head into the van’s hood several times, Maria leaned in close and whispered in John Casey Wait’s ear. “You should have stayed in prison Johnathan. Now, your only chance at seeing the inside alive is to tell me who holds your contract. Why they are targeting judges. Finally, where can I find the contract holder. You have one chance Johnathan. For your sake; make it count.”
John Casey Wait knew he had nothing to gain by remaining silent, so he spilled his guts. “Robert Hines is the contract holder. The reasons are purely his own. He thinks he can find the money that was seized by the DOJ from the LOG Party. He has a hacker that is one of the best searching for the money as we speak. He also wants pay-back against that bitch Dorothy Rose and her Deputy Marshals for taking down the LOG Party. You can find Robert Hines in a private residence just outside of Lausanne, Switzerland. That’s it, that’s all I know. Now, get me to a hospital.”
With one last flip Maria sent Wait sailing into the wall as she stood there seething with a rage that was barely under control. As the man slid to the floor, Maria’s anger finally got the better of her. Her family dagger was in her hand and flying. At this close range the blade embedded itself to the hilt in Wait’s face. It took Maria a few seconds to realize that she had an audience.
Bobby whispered to Annette. “Is your mom really praying for that man?”
“No. She is praying for his victims and asking their forgiveness for not killing him sooner.” Annette was stopped in her explanation to Hunter and Bobby by Maria.
“Just a minute Annette.” Keying her mike Maria called out. “Gemini. Send the Inspector out of the AlOC. Over.”
A few seconds later Kasey answered Maria. “We’re clear, Madam. You have a ten-minute window for a block of instruction. Over.”
“Thank you, Gemini. Over.” Looking over at the two men who had become like sons to her. “Boys, I know that we do things that baffle you and the rest of the military members of the OICA. This is one of those times now. There are many types of assassins. Two of those types are those who kill for emotion, and those that kill for reason. The ones that kill for reason are the ones like John Casey Wain. His reason was political anarchy. The man hated any type of Government. The ones that kill for emotion used the love of country or god as the reason for what they do. For these reasons, these two types of assassins are the most dangerous. They care nothing for the innocent by-standers that can be their victims, along with their target. The Capizeo and DeMarco families have never been either of these. OUR’s has always been the rarest of assassins. The pure profit motive assassin. Our families may not have not have moral compasses as most do. That our main reason for killing is mercenary in nature, is truth. However, we have always followed a code. No children, no veterans or innocent bystanders. We take on a contract, it is fulfilled with the smallest amount of bloodshed as possible. AND, the hardest of challenges, as a matter of pride.”
“Okay, I can see that. However, it doesn’t explain why you were beating the crap out of the man. Especially when you ordered us to shoot on sight.” Hunter smirked.
“Oh, that.” Maria sighed. “I lost my temper with the man and decided to teach him a lesson in manners. Maybe, in his next life, he’ll remember the lesson in manners. After all, they are highly underrated.”
All four of the adults laughed out loud as the ALOC members laughed in their ear pieces. Annette pointed to the box that was sitting on the floor. “Was Wait carrying that, when he came out?”
“Yes, he was. I have a feeling that either Bobby or Hunter need to secure that PARTICULAR package.” Maria answered.
Bobby and Hunter walked over and looked the box over carefully. Seeing no trip wires or booby traps, Bobby slowly opened the box. Looking down inside he sighed in relief. “Well, we know where the bomb is. That is both the good news and great news. They didn’t have time to arm the bitch, before we hit them.”
Sam, Annette, and Hunter joined him in his very apparent relief. Only Maria showed any signs of tension. “What of the delivery device?”
“THAT is the sixty-four-dollar question, Marshal. There is no sign of an aerial delivery system like a drone or remote-control model-airplane. There’s nothing to point towards a handheld delivery system. Not even something pointing towards a suicide bombing. It just doesn’t make any sense.” Hunter answered for the team.
Maria looked around the garage area. When her eyes fell on the van she had been using to beat the crap out of Wait with, Maria had an idea. With quick sure hands Maria searched Wait’s pockets for keys. When she found a set of car keys Maria hit the unlock button on the key fob. The van gave the characteristic bee-bee and flashed its lights. This let Maria and the others know that the van was open.
Bobby and Hunter pulled open the rear doors. Both men whistled at what they saw. There in front of them was a radio-controlled F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter model airplane, with its wings off. Everything to fly the giant scale model airplane was there in the back of the van. Hunter turned to Maria.
“I think we just found their delivery system, Marshal.” Hunter pointed at the big model airplane. “That bad boy could carry a four to five-pound thermobaric bomb with no problem. It’s one of those high-performance jet models. With a few modifications, it could smash through just about any window at the USHMM gala and BOOM. No more International Justice Convention, just a shitload of bodies. Extra crispy.”
Samantha, Annette, and Maria stared at Hunter in stunned disbelief. The thought that something that could be purchased at a local hobby shop could be modified for terrorism was beyond them. Yes, they were all three assassins, but to them it was an art form. Something to be used to rid the world of unsavory individuals. Not for political or religious motives, such as this.
“How hard would it be to get your hands on something like this, Robert?” Maria asked.
“Any hobby lobby or shop that specializes in this type of pastime, anywhere in the U.S. would carry something like this plane, Marshal. The only restriction would be the size of your wallet. These things start off at thirty to forty bucks and go up, with the sky the being the limit.” Bobby rubbed his chin thinking. “One of the guys that used to work Cold Cases with Sam and I flew these babies during his down time. If I remember right he paid eighteen hundred for a Fu-4 World War Two Corsair along the same scale as this, but by the time he got done with all the custom mods, he had close to three grand invested in his little toy.”
Sam nodded her head the moment Bobby mentioned their old partner. “Yeah, David really did love his model planes. He used to have a trailer that he pulled behind his truck for when he went to the meets. He once told me that the prize money for some of the competitions could buy one these free and clear.”
“I see. So, they are more than just toys. They can be used for weapons in the right hands.” Annette was looking at the model plane in a new light. One that her mother would not approve of, if she wasn’t already thinking along those lines.
“We take it with us. I’m sure that Gemini will be able to find a use for the thing.” Maria ordered. Then looking at the cooling body of John Wait. “Leave that piece of filth where it is. The same for the ones in the apartment. We’ll set a timer and burn packet. Torch the building.”
The four Deputies knew that Maria had something on her mind that had pissed her off. This was confirmed as Maria walked over to where the package that John Wait was carrying sat on the garage floor. With slow steady hands Maria opened the package to see the bomb that didn’t look all that powerful. Yet her good friend Lyssa had told her exactly what this unassuming package would do.
“Robert, Hunter, make sure this will not explode. Girls, you’re with me. We need to sweep that apartment and make sure that there are no more of these little surprise packages lying around.” Maria ordered and led the way inside the apartment. She wanted to put as much distance between the corpse of John Wait, herself, and what that corpse meant.
Annette and Sam hurried inside as the boys made sure that the bomb was totally disabled. Once they were alone, Bobby made sure his mike was off before whispering to Hunter. “Brother, I have a feeling that mom is on the razor’s edge right now.”
“Yeah, I kind of got that feeling myself. Something about that fuck stick and killing him, hit too close to home for her. Wonder what it could be?” Unlike Bobby, Hunter failed to check his mike. Anna heard every word between the two men and sighed. She knew that it wasn’t her place, but someone had to answer the question for the boys.
“Kasey give me only your fathers please?” A few key strokes later and a nod from the teen Anna was set. Keying her mike, Anna got Hunter and Bobby’s attention. “Stalking Horse, Rumrunner. The Madam will be fine. The reason she is upset right now is John Casey Wait had been a friend at one time. In our old line of work, those are hard to come by and are far between. The fact that Wait insulted her in the end, just made the betrayal all the worse.”
“Maid, how bad is this going to get before the Madam is back on her game? I need to know if this is going to put the rest of the team in jeopardy.” Bobby asked Anna quickly. The note of worry for his mother-in-law was real.
“She’ll be past this by the time you need to board the flight to Switzerland.” Both Hunter and Bobby could hear the confidence in Anna’s voice for her old friend. “Now, I suggest that you boys get your job done.”
The two men got the hint and made sure that the bomb wouldn’t exploded accidentally. While inside; Annette, Sam and Maria went over every inch of the apartment. What they found, they didn’t not like. In one of the back rooms was a work table. On the table were all the needed supplies to make four more thermobaric bombs. Maria looked up at a map that was pinned to the wall and frowned. There in bold clear color were six different sites circled in red. Each one a high value soft target for terrorism.
To the eyes of the three assassins this was a perversion of their craft. One that would not could be allowed to continue. Not if Maria DeMarco and her family had anything to say about, and she did. Keying her mike Maria put out an all-hands call. “Small change of plans, Bravo unit. Stalking Horse, Rumrunner, finish securing that bomb as ordered then head out for the ALOC. The Swans and I will meet you there. Gemini, I have a two-prong mission for you the first is to contact the local LEOs anonymously. Next contact Dorothy Rose through a secure line the same way. Inform them both about this place. The Swans and I will secure the apartment then head for the ALOC.”
The mountains of Western Maryland
Dotty Garret led the way down the century old coal mine. The William Massy Mining Company went out of business in 1919 shortly after the First World War. Due in most part to the excessive presence of methane gas and coal dust. Like a lot of these abandoned coal mines, the WMMC number 9 mine was nothing more than another dangerous hole in the ground. “Be careful boys. Don’t want to get trapped down here due to an unexpected or planned collapse.”
When Richard Mallard heard this he didn’t like the implied threat. Then he remembered that it was no threat, but a promise. These people were going to leave him and his team down here at the bottom of the shaft, then collapse the mine on top of them. With as far down as they were going no one would ever hear the collapse. It would also be eons before their bodies would be found. If ever.
“Care to explain what it was that we did so wrong there, Mrs. Garret? Last I heard we had the right to a trial of our peers. Isn’t that what you Yanks fought your Revolution over?” Robert felt he had to try and save his men’s lives.
“Sonny boy, the only fucking thing you’re entitled to is an unmarked grave. Your men killed one of OUR family. Let me gives you a little history lesson. About a hundred and twenty-five years ago, two families went to feuding over a pig. A feud that led to the almost total destruction of one family, and about half the other. We take the killing of family up here in these parts PERSONAL. Your men killed my GRANDSON! You’re lucky that the Elise boys turned you over to ME and not my husband. HE would have left your happy ass tied to an ant hill covered in honey for the bears to find.” There was a harshness to the old woman’s voice that drove fear into the heart of Robert Mallard he had never experienced before.
Robert Mallard had heard of the two legendary American families that went to war with each other in 1868 to 1891. He, like all Englishmen, had believed that the stories of the American Appalachian people, and their ways, were just that stories. Stories told to sell trips to gullible tourists. It took him facing this hard, unforgiving and cold-hearted old woman to realize they were true. There was no compromising with this woman or her people.
As they walked lower and lower through the mine shafts, Robert noticed the age of the supports. Their escorts kept Robert and his men well away from them. They knew something that he and his men didn’t. The Garrets weren’t about to tell them either. After a very long ride in the mine elevator the group reached the very lowest level seam area. Only the Garrets knew exactly how deep underground they were. The mountaineer family guided the mercenaries deep inside the mountain.
Once they reached the end of the tunnel, the Garrets hogtied the men. Dotty walked up to face them. “Any last words?”
“Would it make any difference if we gave the name of the woman who hired us?” Thinking quickly Robert asked of her.
“Maybe.” Dotty answered.
“Her name is Sharon Hines. She and her husband hired us to raid that school to recapture those girls for sale overseas.” Robert gave up everything he had in the blind hopes that these people would turn him, and his men, over to the authorities. Little too late did he realize, all he had done was anger the old woman further.
“Charlie, Leonard. Reset the charges. Fifteen-minutes, on the number four pins.” Dotty looked Robert dead in the eyes. “Sonny, the only thing that little story of yours got you, was another ten minutes before the collapse.”
Walking over to the far wall Doty placed a knife and .38 caliber revolver on an outcropping. “If you and your friends can get untied, I’m givin' you a choice. There are five shots in the thirty-eight, and six of you. You get to decide who gets it quick, and who gets to bleed out. C'mon boys.”
With that Garret family starting walking away with one exception. The youngest of them leaned down in Robert’s Face. “You got lucky fuck-stick. Personally, I wanted to use you and your boys as bear bait, and send you back as a warning to others to stay out of Garret County. Say hello to Lucifer for me when you see him. Not that you’ll have far to travel. You and your friends are over a quarter-mile to hell as it is now.”
Robert Mallard and his team watched helplessly as the Garret family walked back to the mine elevator and boarded it. Once they closed the door the car started rising. With the family of mountain people gone, they all started struggling to get free. Just as the first of them was able to free himself from the ropes, the blast charges went off, collapsing the seam roof over a hundred feet away and sealing them all at the bottom of an abandoned mine. In a darkness that was total. Death would be a long time in coming for these men unless they could find the knife and gun. An hour later, the first shot rang out in the cold dark confines of the collapsed mine. Four more would follow over the next six hours and a few minutes of pitiful sobs that faded to silence.
Garret School for Girls…
Marshal Law was woken by the phone ringing in his room. “Marshal, here.”
It was the gate guard. “Marshal, there is an old woman here who says her name is Dotty Garret and wants to talk to you. Says you know her.”
“Let her in and show her to the security office. Have Pete call the boss to meet us there. I’m on my way now.” Marshal hurried to dress. Of all the people he didn’t want to deal with, it was the grand dame of the Garret family.
He arrived at the same time as Supervisory Deputy Marston. “Sorry for dragging you out of bed, boss. Especially at this time of the night.”
“Don’t worry about it, Marshal. Of all my deputies, you’re the last one to yell wolf.” Looking at the door to their offices. “So what can you tell me about the old lady we’re going into meet?”
Marston knew that Marshal was from up this way, but not about his ties to the local Law Enforcement. “Dotty Garret, she's the head of her family, and the Garret’s pretty much still OWN the fucking county named for them. She’ll be blunt as fuck and still remain polite about. That old saying about old ladies knowing all the dirt and not saying, applies to her in more ways than one.”
Marston had heard of similar places in the South where he was from. Taking the hint, Marston nodded his head and opened the door. Marston took in the elderly lady that stood inside the office waiting for him and Marshal. He was a little surprised when the elderly lady looked angrily past him, at Marshal.
“Marshal Laurence Law, the next time you come home and don’t come stop by the diner for your Philly Cheesesteak I’ll be tannin' your hide, boy.” Dotty Garret growled.
“Yes, ma’am. I just haven’t had time to get downtown lately.” Marshal answered meekly. He knew that Dotty was pissed at him for not stopping and saying hello. It was just bad manners on his part in her eyes. “I’ll bring a couple of the girls down with me, once we have a situation taken care of. Promise.”
“Well then, I’ll see you and them young ladies later on this afternoon. I've heard your problem has been taken care of.” Dotty just let Marshal know that she and her family had removed the threat to the school and its girls, permanently.
Marston was confused for a few seconds until Marshal smiled. “I’ll be there at one, Mrs. Dotty. I might have more than a few of the other escorts with me.”
“Be sure to bring them service dogs too, Marshal.” Dotty turned and started for the door, then stopped. “I’ll let you know when the funerals will be.”
“Mrs. Garret, I’ll have more than a few of the staff there, to pay our respects.” Marston finally figured out what the old woman had been talking about, and what had happened.
This old woman’s family had taken the law into their own hands over the deaths of the two Game Wardens. The reason why was still escaping him, but that did not matter at that time. He would question Marshal about that later. The two deputies watched as the old woman just nodded her head and walked out of the school.
Marston turned to Marshal. “There goes one hard woman, Marshal. How do you know her? And, don’t try to bullshit me. The truth.”
“Mrs. Dotty, has owned the Englanders café and grill for the past fifty years. She used to make my lunch when I was a teenager, riding along with my uncle, during the summer months. She always said that I would be wasted as a County Deputy. That’s why I went on to become a U.S. Deputy Marshal.”
“Okay, Marshal truth time. Just who is this uncle of yours?”
“Retired County Sheriff Daniel Elise. My other uncles are the current County Sheriff William Elise, HPD Captain Joey Elise, and Judge Baron Elise. Yeah, boss. I come from a big cop family. Only, we’re all country cops.” Marshal just smirked at the stunned look Marston’s face. “I told you when this assignment first started, that I was coming home. Now you know just how true that is.”
Marston wanted to shake his head at missing the obvious. “One more question, Marshal. When she said that our problem had been solved, you weren’t surprised. Why?”
This time Marshal let the sadness fill his eyes. “Both of those Game Wardens were friends of mine. I grew up running these mountain trails with them. When those mercs killed them both, they made one big fucking mistake. They killed one of the grandsons of Dotty Garret. We could spend the next five hundred years searching and we’ll never find the bodies of those mercs. Nor will anybody else for that matter. I’ll see later, boss. I got the duty, in four hours.”
Marston watched as Marshal walked out of the office. He knew that the man was pissed that he wouldn’t get his own piece of justice, but maybe this time it was for the best. Turning to the night duty officer. “Cancel the Code Gloria. Resume normal operations. Then pass on to whoever sent the warning that we’re clear.”
“Got it boss. Go get some sleep.” The young deputy told his Supervisor and went about carrying out his orders as Marston left the office.
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