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.
Washington D.C. 0945
Dorothy Rose led Billy Chandler and his team into the apartment building’s parking garage. Billy knew that she had received a phone tip earlier that morning, but not what it was concerning. All he knew was that Dorothy had called his office earlier with instructions to gather his team in the Marshal’s motor pool. As they walked out of the early morning sunlight, the five members of his team that he could gather spotted what the commotion was all about.
Dorothy walked up to a Detective and flashed her badge. “U.S. Marshal Dorothy Rose.” Pointing at William. “This is S.O.G. Supervisory Investigator Deputy Marshal William Chandler for the International Fugitive Taskforce. I got a phone call this morning that you might have something concerning one of his ongoing cases.”
“You could fucking say that Marshal.” The Detective pulled out his on badge and credentials. “By the way the name's Richard Dicks.”
Billy’s team chuckled at the man’s name as the very obvious nickname came to mind. The glare Billy gave them stopped the younger deputies in their chuckling.
Detective Dicks just shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t worry about it Deputy Chandler. I’ve been getting grief over my name since I was a kid. I’m used to it.” Hooking his thumb over his shoulder. “What I’m not used to; is what I’ve seen in there.”
“Marshal, if you’ll stay out here and handle the press I’ll go see what has our brothers from Metro PD so upset.” Billy suggested to Dorothy.
“Sounds like a plan. Go to it. And Billy.” Dorothy stopped the man and his team before they could move out. “If you find what I think you will, call for me. No need to waste time in guessing. I know their signatures.”
“Yes ma’am.” Billy knew what Dorothy was getting at and led his team towards the crime scene. The first body they came across was that of John Casey Wait. The dove’s feather laying on the man’s chest was all he needed to see to know that Maria DeMarco had been the one to kill the man. “Tracy, go get the Marshal. Tell her she was right. The old Families have been taking care of our problem children.”
The young woman just nodded her head and ran to get Dorothy Rose. The thought of ‘What did the boss mean by the old families taking care of our problem.’ Kept running through her head. As she approached Dorothy outside Tracy stopped a few feet away and signaled for her boss’s attention.
“What is it Deputy?” Dorothy could tell that her young deputy was troubled.
“Deputy Chandler said to tell you that you were right and the old families are taking care of our problem ma’am. That and he said that you need to see what we’ve found. To be honest ma’am, before you ask, I’ve no idea what we’ve found.”
Dorothy knew right away that whatever Billy had found was screwed up; in epic proportions. Dorothy just waved for the young woman to lead the way. As she came upon the first body she knew what was meant by his statement right away. There in front of her was all the evidence she needed to know that Maria DeMarco and her merry band of misfits were behind this.
Turning to the deputy that had shown her in Dorothy asked. “Where’s your team Supervisor, Deputy?” the young woman pointed towards the apartment door. “Thanks.”
Dorothy went straight in and found even more evidence of Maria and her team. On the coffee table in the living room were a tulip, plastic charm ballet slippers, and the big and little Joker playing cards.
Chandler looked over at Dorothy and pointed to the back rooms. “You need to see what we found back here first boss, before doing anything else. I think that the last of these assassination teams has been stopped.”
Dorothy just let herself be led around the apartment. When they got to the back bedroom Dorothy was brought up short. There, before her eyes, was a complete bomb making lab. One that could turn out just about every type of explosive known to man. “William, please tell that I am not seeing what I am seeing?”
“I wish like hell I could do that Dorothy. I really fucking do.” Billy Chandler knew exactly what he was seeing in that room. “That’s not the really fucked up part either.”
“What’s the really up fucked part Billy?” Dorothy felt like she was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon.
“They have everything here to make a thermobaric bomb.” William told her with all honesty. “Whoever killed these people did us a favor. They were some real pieces of shit. I have a feeling that if they hadn’t been stopped. Tonight’s gala would have been one massive kill zone.”
“Damn. If that is the case then we can expect there to more of these little surprises.” Dorothy pulled out her cell and started dialing. “Billy, ensure that only our personnel have access to this crime scene.”
“What are we looking for Marshal?” Billy asked.
“Remember that conversation we had about a certain unit?” William nodded his head as he remembered the talk they had about the Black Badges. Whispering so only he would hear her, Dorothy explained. “We clean this place. No evidence that anyone other than a mob family hit team took these people out.”
“Yes, ma’am. Total wipe of all evidence other than a mob hit got it.” Whispered back to her. “I do have one question.” At Dorothy’s nod Chandler asked. “Why?”
Dorothy sighed, but kept her voice low so that only he could hear. “Those three deputies and two assassins that went off the reservation did this. They are still working for the angels, but now they’re doing it from the shadows.”
“Got it Marshal. No traces of our shadow people working off the grid.” Clearing his throat Billy Chandler turned to his team. “Okay people, let’s secure this scene and process the evidence.”
“NOW wait one damned minute there, Deputy. I don’t care who the fuck you think you are, but this crime scene belongs to the FBI.” A suit flashed an FBI badge to Chandler and then pointed towards the door. “Now, you can clear the fuck out of OUR crime scene. I don’t know who has been trampling all over our crime scenes in the other states, but you’re not doing it here.”
This made Billy smile then pointed behind himself. “Take it up with the boss, suit-monkey. You may think that this is your crime scene, but it ain’t.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean, deputy?” The FBI agent asked.
“Those three bodies are all connected to an ongoing investigation into the deaths of multiple sitting judges, courthouse personnel, terrorist attacks on several Federal courthouses, and are all International escapees. So, let me sum it up for you dumb-fuck-asses. THIS crime scene belongs to the U.S. Marshal Service, so get the fuck out before I tear you a new one.” Billy Chandler had done his best to keep his Operator background in check on most occasions, but this was one time he let his training feed his eyes and voice.
The man from the FBI got the hint and caught the unsaid threat. U.S. Deputy Marshal William Chandler was going to kick his ass if he and his team didn’t un-ass the crime scene. And do so with haste.
Dorothy Rose just smiled as the FBI team left. They were no match for Chandler’s SOG team, and she knew this. This was why Dorothy had let Chandler have such a free-hand in the choosing of his team. “William, there is no need to threaten the locals. They are more than willing to work with you.”
“Yes, ma’am.” William growled out. “It’s just well, I… um… well it’s just that…”
“The FBI dip-shit pissed you off.” Dorothy chuckled. “Trust me, I understand all too well how you feel about the suits in the Alphabets. Just do me a favor and try to work with the locals. They’re not out to screw with your investigations. Usually that is. There may be a few that do, but most just want to help. Understand?”
The former NEMESIS Operator got the hint and smiled. “Yes ma’am. Read you load and clear. I’ll keep it in check from now on.”
“Thank you, I know how hard it can be at times. Two of our shadows had that very same problem when it came to the suits. So, I do understand. For now, I’ll leave you to your investigation.”
“No need to go further than we already have Marshal. The mob hit team that took out the ones in the other cities, did the job here. We got all of their signatures. The Dove, Tulip, Ballerina, and the two Jokers; ended this team.” Said one of the CSI techs from the Marshals.
“Sounds like these people crossed some kind of line.” Billy pointed out.
Dorothy smiled at Chandler’s understatement of the facts. “Billy, I think you need to spend time over with our Organized Crime Division once this is all cleared up. They can give you a real education into how the Organized Crime Families think and operate. On second thought, go down there today and pick out a new team member. Then I want you to go through every department and find one person in that field to be on your team. You have been woefully understaffed. I want that corrected, this week, William. Am I understood?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll get right on it, once this is cleared up.” Tossing Dorothy a smile and a wave. “See you later Marshal.”
Dorothy just smiled as she walked away. “That man will never change. Thank God. For some reason I have feeling he’ll be a rogue until the day he dies in the field.”
Ramstein Airbase, Germany
As the C-17 rolled to a full stop at the far end of the runway Maria sighed. The flight had not been as easy as her brother-in-law had promised. The unexpected storm over the northern Atlantic had bounced them all around far more than Maria liked. She just knew that the big plane would crash into the icy waters below.
Maria looked at her team as they stood up and headed for the ramp. “I’m glad you all are used to this type of flying. I swear, I thought we were going to fall out of the sky there for a minute.”
Sam just giggled as she passed Maria. “Don’t worry mom. This airplane can take a whole more damage than you think. Come on we got to get the trucks off-loaded.”
Maria stood up and joined her family and team as they all moved to unload their trucks. She and Rinaldo took care of the Gray Ghost while the others each took care of their assigned trucks. Peter, Carl, and LoneStar oversaw the unloading of the team’s trucks before stepping off to say goodbye. An Army officer had come up during the unloading and handed Bobby a package that turned out to be license plates.
Maria smiled as LoneStar stepped up to her. “LoneStar if you’ll come with me for a minute?”
“What are you up to Maria?” LoneStar’s voice may have been muffled by his helmet, but Maria could still hear the curiosity.
Maria led him over to the back of her truck. Opening the cover she reached inside and pulled out a beginner’s level drone. Handing it over to LoneStar with a smile. “This one is for Mindy, the one in the back of Bobby and Hunter’s truck is for you. I believe that you’ll be able to have more than a little fun with it.”
LoneStar was a little surprised by Maria’s generosity. She had just given him and his daughter close to four thousand dollars’ worth of remote control toys. “Maria, I can’t take this. This is just too much.”
“Wrong. You, Kimberly and Mindy, are part of my family.” Maria stepped in close and hugged the younger man. “Now, these are something that both boys and girls can play with. The remote control model jet may be too advanced for Mindy right now, but I expect that won’t be for long.”
LoneStar just chuckled. Then noticed the three other drones. “Thinking about doing a little aerial scouting before hitting your target?”
Maria just winked and walked over to rejoin her team. Lone Star watched her as she walked away and just shook his head. “That woman is just full of contradictions. One minute she can be a cold-blooded killer, the next she is a loving grandmother.”
As the Black Badges finished readying their trucks they spotted a group of people pull up and get out of two dark blue Mercedes Benze sedans. One was a young woman, in her mid-twenties dressed in a nun’s habit, and three men in their late twenties to early thirties. All four had the appearance of the DeMarco family about them. They all watched as Rinaldo walked over and began to hug the nun, then the three young men in greeting. Maria and Anna just stood back and chuckled at seeing this.
Sam turned and looked over at Annette. “Um… Sis, do you know who they are?”
“Not a clue, Sam. Whoever they are, uncle Rinaldo sure does know them.” Annette pointed at the group. “Just look at the way he is greeting them. If I didn’t know any better I would swear they were family.”
“Yeah, no kidding, Annette.” Hunter commented. “There’s something about them though that just doesn’t sit right with their appearance though. Those four are not normal, not by a long shot. The nun is the biggest puzzle.”
“That’s because they’re not.” Bobby said quietly. “You guys have heard about the Catholic Church having its own Police Force right? The Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City State. I’ve heard that Interpol has been working hand-in-hand with them to take down several drug cartels and smuggling operations here in Europe.”
“You don’t think that uncle Rinaldo called in the Vatican do you?” Annette asked with more than a little worry in her voice. Of all the Organizations only the Church gave Annette paus. Facing off against the Gendarmerie Corps was not something she wanted to do on her best of days.
"We've heard the Vatican agencies don't play well with others." Kristine remarked and Kasey nodded.
“Relax children. I knew that Rinaldo was calling in for assistance before we left the U.S.” Maria said from behind them. “I just wasn’t expecting him to call in who he did. In fact, I didn’t even think they would be available.”
“Um… Just who are they mama?” Annette asked with more than a little curiosity.
Chuckling Maria waved for them to follow her over to the group. “Annette, I am shocked that you don’t even recognize your own cousins?”
Hearing this the younger members of the Black Badges stopped dead in their tracks. Only Sam and Annette truly grasped the full significance of that statement. Their uncle truly had brought in heavy hitter reinforcements.
Rinaldo turned and smiled at the gathered deputies. “Deputies, allow me to introduce your counterparts. Sister Magdalena of the Gendarmerie Corps for Vatican City, or for the girls, your cousin Angelic. Her older brothers Samuel, Rinaldo Junior, and of course my youngest son Marco.”
Bobby and Hunter busted out laughing; while Samantha and Annette just chuckled with Maria and Anna. Maria walked over to them and gave each one a hug starting with the boys first. When she got to the girl she smiled before pulling her into her hug.
“I see that you answered more than just one Call to serve Angelic.” Maria held her niece tight as she whispered in her ear. “Your grandparents would be proud of you dear. Tell me when did you take your vows?”
Angelic giggled as she returned Maria’s hug. “Shortly after leaving high school aunty Maria. As for becoming a member of the Gendarmerie, I did that three years ago. Shortly after Father Orlando came to me about our family’s past.”
When Maria turned to the young men that were her nephews her smile grew. “And just what have you three malcontents been up to while your sister followed her calling?”
The three young men laughed at Maria’s snarky comment. Samuel answered first. “I have been working out of the Belfast office for Interpol Aunty Maria.”
“Same here Aunty Maria, only I have been working out of the London office.” Rinaldo junior answered Maria with a smile.
Maria looked over at her youngest nephew with a sly knowing smile. “Let me guess, Marco. You’ve been working out of the Interpol office in Vienna?”
“Not quite, aunty. I got stationed in Warsaw. I’m been working the Eastern European crime desk for the last two years.” Marco answered truthfully. “By the way, thanks for putting in the good word for me with the Superintendent.”
Maria just smiled at her nephew. She knew that he would have figured it out sooner or later. “I’m proud of you Marco. How long did it take you to figure out that it was me who was pulling the strings for your promotion?”
“About three days at the desk before everything fell into place for me. Only someone with enough blackmail material on the Superintendent could have gotten a junior Investigator like me assigned to that desk. Seeing as how papa wouldn’t do something like that, it left one of two people. You or aunt Camelia.” Marco smiled then chuckled at the look of pride on Maria’s face. “I take it that I was right?”
“Oh, you’re right about one thing Marco. It was a family member that helped you get that posting, but there was no blackmail involved. You need to call your aunt Camelia and talk to her about your posting. I had nothing to do with it. You have my word on that, the word of your Donna.” It was Maria’s final words that got Marco to reconsider his thoughts on how he came to be the youngest Investigator in the organized crime unit for Eastern Europe. “Allow me to introduce my team.”
Sam stepped forward with a smile. “I think that should fall to one of us mom. Hi cousins. For starters, I’m your cousin Samantha, this is my husband Bobby. You all know Annette, the ugly mug standing with her is her husband, Hunter. The two teenagers are our daughters, Kasey and Kristine. Hands off boys.”
The three DeMarco brothers understood the threat for what it was. If they made a pass or overt sexual move towards the two teenagers they would lose more than just their lives. That would be a mercy. They could tell by the way Samantha and Annette stood that they would remove body parts that define an individual’s sexuality. They all gulped at the same time then nodded their heads.
Kasey and Kristine didn’t understand what just happened, but kept their mouths shut. Anna quirked her lips as Maria hid her smile behind her hand. For Rinaldo it was pure comedy at its finest. Bobby and Hunter just pulled their knives 'to clean the dirt from under their finger nails'.
Pete, Carl, and LoneStar stood back watching as the two teams climbed into their individual vehicles and left the airbase. What they had not told Maria's team was that Lyssa, Rodrick and Tiffany were already in Geneva, Switzerland on standby with no-notice. The main OICA Assault Team was there as back-up for the Black Badges on orders from the Major. Dannigan had given orders that they were to finally put an end to the mess that the LOG Party had made. Maria had not shared that piece of information with her team, but didn’t need to. They were way past the point of caring when it came to the people behind their current problems.
As Kasey and Kristine climbed aboard the ALOC, they reestablished the connection to ONYSSIUS. They knew they needed it to finish their own investigation into possible safe houses that Hines may have elsewhere in Europe. Before they had taken off earlier they had been able to pinpoint five possible safe houses in Hines’ assets. Those houses were in five different countries all across Western Europe. With this in mind, the girls expanded their search to include Eastern Europe. This added two more safe houses to their finds.
This gave the team a grand total of seven known bolt-holes and over thirty escape routes for Robert Hines. That didn’t include the less than conventional routes and underworld hidey-holes the man could use. The old post World War Two ratlines were still in place for a great deal of Europe. These escape routes were used first for escaping Nazis during the late forties and early fifties following the Second World War, then during the year of the Cold War between the fifties to late eighties they became the preferred routes for political refugees of the Communists. During the nineties these escape routes were turned to far darker enterprises. The number one use being human trafficking going both ways.
Robert Hines had learned of these routes during his time working for the LOG Party and had made extensive use of them since then for his own organization. The more Kasey and Kristine dug into the operations of Robert Hines the more they came to hate the man. Both girls wanted to severely hurt Hines by the time they first entered the Autobahn. Anna had kept a constant watch on the two teens as she drove the ALOC at the rear of the convoy. As the team traveled through the countryside, towards hopefully their first and last target, Anna became worried over the teens’ obsession with finding any hiding place or escape routes for Hines.
Reaching over, Anna keyed her truck’s built in mic for the c.b. “Madam, we need to refuel and make a restroom break.”
Maria caught the worry in her old friend and longtime employee’s voice. “Copy that, Maid. Black Beauty, there is a service station coming up in about three kilometers. Pull in and start refueling.”
“Copy Pitstop Madam. We were monitoring the Maid’s transmission.” Bobby left out the fact that Sam and Annette had also heard the request for the pit-stop.
For Bobby and Hunter driving through the German countryside was a trip down memory lane at times. Separately as young G.I.s, the two men had participated in various exercises. More than one convoy through this very beautiful countryside had given both men some very pleasant memories from their time in the service.
Rinaldo was a little surprised when the four trucks of the Marshals all started pulling into the Raststätten. Then as the four trucks pulled over to the petrol station Rinaldo chuckled. “It seems that those monster trucks of your cousins’ lack any real range. Not surprising, they are American designed and made.”
Rinaldo’s sons who were in the car with him joined in the laughter. Only his daughter kept from laughing. She had her phone out and was searching for the performance specs on the four American trucks. What she found put the lie to her father’s joke about their cousins’ tactical trucks. From this Angelic figured that something else was going on. Her suspicions were proven when her aunt and two cousins both headed for the big camper truck.
“Um… papa, I think I’m going to go find out a little more about Annette and Sam. Do you mind?” Angelic asked of her father politely.
Not that she needed his permission. After all, Sister Magdalena of the Gendarmerie Corps for Vatican City had over twenty major criminal cases under her veil. She may not carry a firearm like her brothers, and had taken a vow to not take lives. But, she was still a DeMarco, fully trained in the family traditions. More than one criminal had discovered that little piece of information, the hard way at the business end of her collapsible batons. She may not kill, but she has no problem handing out life-altering beatings.
As Angelic approached the camper, one of the two men working with her cousins stepped to block her access. Angelic could tell that the big man was not going to move. His words as she neared, proved this. “Sorry, sister, but nobody outside of our team is allowed inside the Earth Roamer.”
“It is Hunter, correct Deputy?” Angelic asked the big man as she looked for the normal points to take down someone bigger than herself. She was going to get inside that truck and find out what was so all fired-up important that only the Americans were allowed to see the inside of it.
“Yes sister, it’s Deputy Marshal Hunter Taugh, as well you know. Just as I know, you’re a member of the Gendarmerie’s Investigation division, a Dominican Nun of the Saint Nicolas Order. Holder of a Master’s Degree in Art History and Preservation and most importantly of all; a DeMarco. Now with all that being said; if you think I’m just going to let you walk over there and climb into the Earth Roamer, forget it. So, if you want to pull those batons, go right ahead. Just remember one thing.”
“And just what is that Deputy Taugh?” Angelic was already reaching for her batons.
“I’ve spent more time training against your aunt, and two cousins than just about anyone else alive with one exception.” Hunter flicked his right wrist and out snapped his own tactical baton. “Your father. This won't go the way you want it to.”
“Stand down Angelic.” The voice that came from behind Hunter was hard but caring. “You as well, Hunter. Not, that I wouldn’t love to see you two dance a tango, waltz, or a rumba but, this is one time Angelic you would be very much at a disadvantage.”
Angelic looked over to where Anna was standing. “Is he really that good, Ms. Anna?”
“Both of your cousins’ husbands are that good child.” Anna smirked. “Do your lovely self a favor. Don’t try them. You’ll just get hurt, and hurt badly.”
Angelic looked over at what had to be the second deadliest woman she knew of and then at the big Deputy. Moving so as to keep her hands in plain view Angelic. “I merely wish to meet my second cousins?”
“Hunter, let her pass. The Sisters of the Saint Nicolas Order, all, have taken certain vows that will insure they keep secrets better than a certain Major that we both know. It is one of the reasons they are allowed into the Gendarmerie Corps for Vatican City.” Anna waved for the young woman to enter the Earth roamer.
Hunter just nodded his head and stepped aside as he collapsed his baton. Angelic couldn’t believe that a US Deputy would just bow to the whims of a Maid. Then again, that Maid happens to work for her aunt, who just happens to be a U.S. Marshal and his boss. “Thank you, Ms. Anna.”
As Angelic stepped inside the ALOC she quickly came to understand why Hunter was willing to beat her ass to keep her out.
The nun crossed herself. “Madre dolce di Dio! Have I entered the Holy Barracks of the Asura? If we in the Gendarmerie had this type of equipment we could truly put a stop to illegal art trade, and just about every other type of crime in Europe!”
The two teenage girls at the computer consoles turned and looked over their shoulders at her. The looks of ‘who the fuck let you in?’ and ‘burn in hell’ coming off the teens stopped Angelic dead in her tracks. There was something in the eyes of the two teenage girls that said ‘don’t fuck with us’ in great big bold blood red neon lights.
The snarl that slipped from Kasey let all of the adults know that the teenage members of the Black Badge Deputies didn’t like this strange woman here. “Who let her in here?”
“Behave yourself Kasey Maria. The same goes for you Kristine. She is family. Remember the family moto.” Maria scolded the teens.
Both answered at the same time, sounding less than contrite. “Si, Nonnina.”
In truth neither girl liked having their area of operations invaded by an outsider.
Angelic giggled from where she stood by the door. “I highly doubt they feel any real trust for me Aunt Maria. Regardless of my ties to the family. I can tell that they believe that I have invaded their private sanctum.”
Maria looked down at her granddaughters who were still giving Angelic burn-in-hell looks. “Enough you two, drop it now.” Maria ordered.
The teens looked up at their grandmother this time. “Yes ma’am.”
“Now, tell us girls, what has you two so torqued and twisted that you haven’t let up in your investigations since leaving Ramstein?” Samantha plied out of them.
Kasey was the first to speak. “Safe houses, Mama Sam. That’s what has us so over-torqued and ready to snatch somebody’s head off.”
“How many are we talking about here Kasey?” Samantha asked.
Kristine sighed angrily, then looked up at her mother. “Seven so far, Mama Sam. Not that it matters, Robert Hines has access to over thirty of the old Nazi ratlines. We’ve been running scenarios for the past hour and none of them look good. IF, we don’t capture or eliminate Hines at his home in Lausanne, Switzerland; we stand a very good chance of chasing that scumbag all over Europe for the next ten years.”
“No child, it will not be that long. If we miss Hines in Lausanne, it will not matter as his next stop will still be his last.” Maria pointed at the three boxes sitting on the floor at the back of the ALOC. “Are those ready for use?”
Both girls giggled and nodded as Kasey answered. “Yes, ma’am. Full direct feed back to us here. With Infra-red, and starlight options.”
“What are in those boxes Aunt Maria?” Angelic asked quickly.
“Something that for most people is just a toy, but for our little team, maybe just the edge we need in taking down Robert Hines.” Picking up one of the boxes Maria showed it to her niece with a crooked smile. “Drones.”
The private home of Robert Hines, Lausanne, Switzerland…
Robert Hines was beyond pissed off and having a really fucking bad day. First there was the phone call from Handready concerning his teams in America. There should have been no way for them to have been stopped already, but yet they had been. All nine men were dead. Assassinated by what appeared to be five of the most wanted and highest paid hitters of all time.
Next, his pet hacker was having no luck in finding the missing LOG party money. It was as if Blip was being blocked at every turn. He knew this was impossible. He had personally snatched the boy before going into hiding. He had at one time been the number one student in computer sciences at a very prestigious private university in the United States. The slave had already received recruitment offers from more than one federal agency. Blip should have been able to hack the U.S. DOJ servers and find the missing LOG Party funds. Seventy-eight hours should have been more than enough time, but nothing worked. It was as if the entire LOG Party’s funds had disappeared into the ether of cyberspace.
Then there was the report the Head of Security for his home had given him earlier this morning. The man’s contacts within the Eastern European Organized Crime families reported that someone had taken out an open contract, on Hines’ head. They had been more than happy to profit from Hines’ less than legal activities, so long as they weren’t implicated or tied to Hines’ operations. When they found out about the open contract, they closed ALL of Hines’ safe houses and escape routes in the east. If the report was correct; then Hines knew he had little to no time left for getting out of Switzerland.
The next problem on his plate was the French Milieu were actively shutting down his escape routes to the west for the same reasons. Topping everything off, no one knew who had taken out the contract. All he or his people were able to find out was that the American Sicilian Mob Families were involved, and something about old treaties. So, when his head of security suggested that he relocate to one of his southern safe houses, Hines was seriously considering it.
The only question on Hines mind right now, was where? The houses in Poland, were a no-go. Along with the one in the Czech Republic, thanks to the Russian Bratva. With his escape routes through France closed down thanks to the Milieu, his options were fast running out. Germany and the escape routes through to the North Sea were also fast disappearing. The Bundespolizei were scouring their countryside doing their best to shut down the illegal trade and smuggling routes. So far, he hadn’t heard from his people in the south. If they told him that his ratlines and safe houses in the southern Med were still in operation, he would leave today. He was only waiting to hear back from his people in Greece, Italy, Albania, and Sardinia.
The phone started ringing and by the second bell-tone Hines had the receiver in his hand. His greeting was gruff and to the point. “Hines here. What do you have?”
“Mister Hines, this is Dale Collins at your Athens home. I regret to inform you that we are presently unable to host you at this time. The renovations that you requested are taking far longer than expected. We have been experiencing problems with the contractors and their union workers.”
The simple code was enough to let Robert Hines know that his safe house in Greece was under surveillance. “Thank you, Mister Collins. Please see to it that the conflicts between our contractors and his union employees are seen to. Any ideas as to when the problems will be sorted out?”
“I will see to sorting out the problems sir, but as for a time frame, I am sorry to say to I don’t have one at this time.”
This brought Hines up short. His man in Greece was one of the most connected people in all of the country. For him to not know when the surveillance would be pulled was highly usual. “I see, Mister Collins. Do your best then and keep me informed. Good day to you sir.”
Hines didn’t wait for a reply, he just set the receiver back in its cradle then sat back to wait for the next call. “It will have to be either Italy, or Sardinia. Albania is just too close to Bratva territory. I can use either one really, both have advantages, not the least of which is the seaports at each.”
The maid that came through his office door with his afternoon coffee stopped his rambling thoughts. “I will need to decide which of you two lovelies to take with me and which to send to the other location.” Hines rubbed his chin in thought, then smiled. “Then again why should I have to deprive myself of either of you?”
His mind was brought back to his present problems by the desk phone ringing. “Hines. I hope you have some good news for me Billings.”
The man on the other end coughed before answering. “Yes sir, Mister Hines. Your home here in Olbia, Sardinia has finished renovations.”
“Thank you, Billings. That is some good news in what has been a very difficult morning. I may be joining you in a few days.” Hines kept his smile out of his voice.
“Very good sir. I will insure that all is in order. Will the household maids be joining you?” This question made Hines pause before answering. He hadn’t thought about taking his personal slaves with him.
As much as he wanted to keep his toys with him it would be best if they traveled by a different method. “No. If they join me, it will be at a later date.”
“Should I arrange for a household staff?”
“Not at this time Billings. If my stay should be longer than expected I’ll arrange for my personal maids to be brought down. Have a good day.” Hines hung up the phone.
Turning to look out his office window Hines sighed. “At least I have one place to run to if things go sideways. I just wish the place in Athens was in the clear. It has better facilities than either Venice or Olbia. Then again Venice has a better nightlife and shopping scene. Maybe, I’ll just head for Venice anyway and take my maids with me. After all, there is no real proof of me taking out those contracts. Handready will keep his fucking mouth shut if he knows what’s good for him. If not, his family pays the price.”
Hines was interrupted in his monolog by his desk phone again. Snatching the receiver from the cradle, he snarled. “Hines.”
“Buon pomeriggio Mister Hines. This is your man in Venice, Fabio De Luca. I have good news for you. The renovations have been completed on time sir.”
This was unexpected good news as far as Hines was concerned. This news doubled his options. “Thank you, De Luca. Make sure you add a ten percent bonus to your bill. Now please secure the house and return the keys to the property manager.”
“Of course, sir. Thank you for the bonus. Have a good day.” The phone went dead so Hines returned the receiver to its cradle. Hines turned back to the office window.
“Now, let them come. They will never find me. I will remain the ghost in the machine. The one that hunts these murderers of men.” Looking over at the clock on the wall Hines began to make his plans. Plans for first escape then revenge. Revenge against those who had dared to double cross him. Starting with the so-called mob families. They would be the first to feel his wrath.
As Robert Hines was busy making his plans for escape, the head of his personal security team was making his own. Paul Mitchel may have been forced out of the SEALs because of what happened in the Bamyan Province, but he was not stupid. Not by a long shot. That ambush had left Paul with a very bad taste in his mouth for the war, and his superior officers. So much so, he punched his CO in the mouth after returning to base. This lead to him receiving a General Discharge. It was with this in mind that he started forming his own escape plans.
He knew if Hines took both his maids that he wouldn’t be returning to this house. The man was a sex addict of epic proportions. He couldn’t do without fucking one of the maids at least twice a day. Then there was the drug use. Paul knew Hines was going through a dime bag of cocaine every two days. Paul called in the jarheads and brits before he laid out how he felt things were about to go down with Hines.
“Okay people, I’ll be up front with you all.” The six hardened mercenaries gave Paul cold looks. “Hines is most likely going to bug out and leave us hanging.”
“How you figure that lad?” Asked Johnathan Smyth of the Royal Special Air Service. “He’s always been a decent governor to work for.”
“The man is spooked big time. Whatever was in that report Handready sent this morning has him contacting his people all across the continent. You see where I’m going with this right?” Paul left the threat to them all unsaid.
The three U.S. mercs nodded their heads hearing this and conveying they too understood the threat. The brits on the other hand were not convinced. Smyth put their thoughts into words. “Just how bad can it be? I mean we’re only dealing with five to six people at best. Even if they’re some kind of hot shit killers, they’re still civilians.”
Paul looked at the man for a minute, then sighed. “Smyth, I respect the hell out of you and your guys. But you need to understand the threat here. These are not your ordinary everyday hired hitters. From what I was able to get out of Nickola the people we're dealing with are straight out of hell. We’re talking about five to six of the meanest assassins there is. Sure, we’re all good. Hell, we’re some of the best trained there is, but we’re paid to handle cops not million-dollar assassins.”
The brits started to nod their heads at hearing Paul explain the total threat to them. They were soldiers for hire sure, but there was no profit in taking on an unknown force with the possibility of dying while your boss headed for the hills.
Smyth looked back up at Paul. “Okay Paul, what do you have in mind?”
Paul sighed and laid out his plan for their escape. They all knew that Hines would keep his normal six-man team with him. They had been with him for longer than anyone in the room they were also the most loyal to Hines. If anything could be said about the six-man personal bodyguard team it was they were loyal beyond reason. Those men were the closest thing to friends that Hines had. Paul pointed out that unless Hines took both maids and the computer freak with him, they would do nothing. If that happened, they would be heading for France, scatter and home.
Lyssa and Rodrick had secured her house there. The Mercedes SUV in the garage was ready with their load-outs for hard-penetration. Tiffany had contacted them and was identically prepared.
Lyssa checked in with Krystel. "You should have Tiffany up. Update."
Tiffany appeared in a third window. "I'm up."
"Aye Ma'am. The girls have been burning up practically every tax and property database in Europe. They've been looking for additional bolt-holes for Tango-One. They're on the Autobahn heading for Switzerland now." Krystel replied.
Lyssa asked. "Are they pushing their edge?"
Krystel answered. "If they slept on the flight, no. If they didn't, yes and I'll know soon. Also, they've met up with additional personnel. DeMarco personnel."
Tiffany arched an eyebrow. "Ut-oh?"
"No Tiffany. Let them ride shotgun, but stay on them Krystel. If this goes sideways, we go. If not, we're out." Lyssa said. "Tiffany, start studying that mountain-side. If we have to, we'll climb up it during the night."
"Already doing that. It's what you'd do, so I was already on it. I've seen weakness on the Northern face." Tiffany stated.
Lyssa nodded. "Rodrick and I will take the Eastern face."
"Assault clock?" Krystel asked.
Lyssa consulted her papers. "If they put up a fight, maybe thirty minutes. If not, fifteen to twenty. The High-grades will understand quick the situation and want to bail. The Lower-grades are the ones to stand and fight. They won't understand the tactics."
Rodrick leaned into frame. "That SEAL will. He won't want any of it. Those S.A.S. guys will show some pride before it sets in. Take no chances, we hammer them like lightning and keep on them. Stay on the move, tight fire will bring them down."
"The guy would have the dumb-fucking luck to get a house in a blind spot of our satellites. No way I can get a re-route just for the fuck!" Krystel snarled. "Best I can get is Google-Earth!"
The three Operators chuckled at the Cyber-Specialist's frustration. Fortunately, there were high-resolution pictures of the mountain faces taken by climbers that they were able to find. Apparently, Hines hadn't thought of that, or he would have had his own hacker remove them.
"Ok, we're set then. Standing by for Go-order." Lyssa said and closed out the window.
Tiffany and Krystel did the same. Now was the waiting.
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.