I decide to meet up with my girl, get in an hour of gung fu and have lunch. A taxi has me in the guts of Chinatown in a few minutes, Janah’s in her office.
“I’m here, going to change and get in a workout, see you at lunch.”
Janah, “Twins at the diner?”
“Yep, Dasha’s making the southern style green beans, bacon and ham chunks, onion, simmer all day. She’s also got the pot roast to prepare for po-boys, another long cooking process.”
Janah, “What’s she making with the green beans for tomorrow’s hot lunch?”
“Meat loaf with brown gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, cornbread.”
Janah, “I know where I’m having lunch tomorrow.”
I’m changed and on the practice grounds, it’s forms and weapons for an hour, the monks have already been at it for two. Then to see David Li and Manolo in the garden.
Manolo is watering plants, “Master Sylk, I see you have been at practice.”
“Yes, after lunch I’m sticking around for hard gung fu this afternoon, where’s David Li?”
He points to our elevated nursery, “On the third level. We have ripe tomatoes to be picked.”
“Going to be some at lunch today?”
Looking forward to that. David figured out how to grow Creole tomatoes in Manhattan, and they are some of the tastiest natural delicacies on Earth. Other than a hint of salt and pepper, they run without add ons, the unique flavor eliminates the need. He can only grow enough to use at the monastery, and the plants only bear fruit in the early summer, it isn’t a cash crop. He sells herbs to local shops, there’s not much money in it, we can’t produce enough after he makes his liniments and medicines for the temple. I move through the bamboo and sit in Tan’s hut, fold up into meditation until time for lunch.
Janah, “These tomatoes are a work of art,” lunch is served and eaten in silence, but the appreciation for it is evident in the faces.
Our atmosphere encourages laughter and joy, even the contemplatives and mystics are not always stoic and serious, one always feels welcome warmth. During the rest period after lunch, I help clean the dining room, chat with the kitchen staff.
“Armando, lunch was excellent, thank you. Spicy fried rice, silky egg drop soup, I see our bread provider is still on his game, crusty French as good as ever.”
Armando, “They have great breads, same company you found years ago. I thought over making our own, but it is time consuming and I doubt we can make it better than professionals. We make our own cornbread, something else you introduced. In the winter, we make vegetarian cornbread dressing, usually with garden meatloaf, macaroni and cheese or your southern green beans, mock duck and grapeseed oil instead of bacon fat.”
“That’s how we make it at home for Janah. Dasha is cooking the meat version at the Village Diner right now.”
Armando, “She still goes in two days a week then.”
“She finds the craziness of Mini’s kitchen relaxing, you know how it is, you cook for a lot of people, you have to be in the moment, the time flies by. She says it’s like she shows up, starts work and the day’s over in what seems like minutes.”
Armando, “Tired young lady at the end I suspect.”
“Pooped, in that good way, like when you do something worth doing and get in the zone.”
Armando, “I can relate.”
We swap bows, I’m off to be brutalized, and dish out some of my own brutality, all with compassion of course. It sounds strange, but our training is compassionate. Not gentle, that’s not compassion. Compassion is helping others get the most out of training, discover they can endure more than they think. And you receive their compassion the same way, we are obliged to deliver pain, receive it and learn from it. That’s not to say we do mortal combat. It isn’t about broken bones. But we learn what sharp blows feel like, and we learn that we can continue after receiving them. Our bodies harden and adjust over time, there is pain, but we mentally and physically acclimate. It takes years, and needs regular combat to maintain; no different than any athletic training, if you aren’t hurting, you aren’t progressing, the cliché no pain, no gain, has become trite, nonetheless true.
I don’t bother to shower, Janah is coating me in liniment, I have a few bruises and an ankle strain. Once I’m sufficiently soaked and massaged, we walk to the apartment. Keeping the ankle in motion is better than propping it up on a pillow and David Li’s liniment is nothing short of magical. Most balms only warm the surface skin, or chill it, but doesn’t penetrate very deeply. His infuse, almost burn for a while. Bruises evaporate in hours, tissue around sprains bathed in warmth.
Amaya, “Eeew, you reek of compost and camphor. Immediately to the shower, stinky, give me those jeans and your shirt, they must be washed immediately or we will all be dizzy and nauseated.”
“You ought to smell me from my nose,” I strip off my clothes, head up the steps, I hear the washer filling before I hit the top of the stairs.
“Dasha, you are still at work?”
“Da, we will leave now, just feenish putting beans away for overnight. I am tired, Vesnushki will make tea, you will tell her.”
“See you soon.”
“Chloe, Dasha has assigned you tea duty, the girls are on the way. If you’re busy, I’ll do it.”
Chloe, “They will want to shower first, everything will be ready.”
As I’m drying off I hear Amaya again, “Yuck, more clothes, Dasha you smell like a fry cook, give them to me and get a shower.”
Dasha, “Eemaya, what ees to expect? Cook in busy keechen all day, not sit around typing in laptop. Look at myself in mirror thousand times.”
I hear Chloe and Janah giggling.
Amaya huffs, “Just do as your are told, communist sympathizer, yech, I may gag, hurry up, grease monkey.”
Dasha, “Eemaya ees isporchennyye otrod'ye.”
Amaya, “See, commie-speak, I knew it! What does it mean?”
Daria, “Spoiled brat.”
Amaya laughs, “Of course, who more deserving? Now go, and scrub, plenty of hot water, urchin.”
Dasha, “What ees urchun?”
On their way upstairs, Dasha tells her sister, “Kommunisticheskiy malʹchishka, Eemaya ees sumasshedshiy capitalist.”
Amaya, “What now?”
Janah, “Crazy capitalist.”
Amaya, “Oh, a compliment, how sweet.”
When we get downstairs, Nikko and Zi have arrived, our own Group of Eight around our tea table relaxing.
Nikko, “I see you got beat up today.”
“Stayed for hard gung fu, there’s a reason they call it hard. Either I’m getting worse or the monks are getting better, I thought Master Alex might have cracked a rib, just a nice bruise though.”
Zi, “Nikko and I need a session after tea, we’ve been up to it with the new ranch and a school.”
Chloe, “I know Janah found a place for the new ranch, in New Mexico. Do you have a spot for the school?”
Nikko, “The building where Chris’ taekwondo school is located. Susan and Daphne turned over operations to two 5th degrees after Chris passed away, but she owns the entire building. The top four floors are office rentals, the studio is on the second floor, the ground floor is retail. Third floor I let go empty a few months ago, leases expire at the end of this year on four and most of five, sixth has two more years. We can open the school, start with the first and second grades, maybe even third. It will give us a chance to go slow, be picky about students. Do fourth through sixth over time. The kids moving up will automatically fill those grades.”
Chloe, “The school has no history, how do you get students?”
Amaya, “Dear One, Chapmans students have younger siblings. Once this is pitched as an entry level Chapmans, they will have too many students.”
Chloe, “Of course, pretty slick. How does Susan make out on the deal?”
Nikko, “We do the remodel, she is donating the space, gets a much needed tax deduction. Janah wants to operate as a 501c3 educational Trust. We already have one, The Sylk Trust. Mrs. Epstein has pledged a million, our school is flush and we don’t have any students yet.”
Daria, “Trust will pay salaries for Daphne, all of family, everyone will teach at school, salary for that. We pay income tax, but not the Trust.”
Amaya, “Can I donate instead? I am already making money from book and movie royalties, I do not spend close to that. I have no rent, no insurance costs, no medical, not even food costs.”
Chloe, “It’s the same for me. Right now, my income just goes to the brokerage account.”
Nikko, “We know that. Our lawyers and tax people are creating structure to minimize tax and demonstrate that the Sylk Trust assets are being appropriately disbursed. So, I’m afraid you are going to have to take a check and sing for your supper. You will have legitimate roles, either in the school or in the management of the Trust. Amaya, for instance, will be on salary as a creative director, as will Chloe in some designated role, geisha studies, I don’t know, she can create it. Daria is easy, she’s in finance. Daphne is director, Dasha can oversee nutrition, gymnastics if she wants. Janah is an educational consultant, Zi and I are operations officers.”
Amaya, “It’s like no matter what we do, we make more money.”
Zi, “The nature of wealth. If you give it away unwisely, it’s wasted. If you hoard it, it does no good. We are trying to spend it in ways that make sense, either for education or to get the abused into a new, safer life. But we can’t just go dripping dollars out the window. And the tax rules for 501c3s are such that we have to operate within certain constraints.”
Amaya, “I understand, then we will take on our roles and perform for our pay. I will manufacture dozens of creative genius sprites.”
Friday is relaxed, except for the twins, Janah and I go over to the diner for lunch. Daria’s at the register pretending to like people, Dasha’s back to me over the stove. The place is packed, we go to the storage room, which has a table and chairs, a fair number of quiet meetings take place there, it’s empty today.
On the way I wave at Mini, hand sign we’re going to the room. We can eat in there and not suck up customer space.
Couple of minutes later, we’re loading up on meatloaf, well me, not Janah, creamed corn mashed potatoes, green beans, mine regular, her’s veg, and jalapeno cornbread. There is apple and cherry crumble for dessert, with or without a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Janah, “Geez, Daph, Dasha’s stuff is so good. I know it’s mostly Ms. Alva’s recipes, but still, she makes it come out perfectly.”
“She does, and she does it in volume, which is different from a few servings. We experiment at home, she takes some of it here. It’s her idea of fun.”
Janah, “I didn’t know there was a market for vegetarian green beans at the diner.”
“There isn’t, she made them just for you.”
Janah looks at me, “I’d say you’re kidding but you’re not. Good gosh, what a simple touching gesture. You didn’t…”
“No, I didn’t plant it in her brain, I’d say it was a small gift, but they don’t think that way. She just knows you’re a veg and that we would come here for lunch today.”
Janah, “Still, it occurred to her in the midst of a boatload of preparations and actual cooking. It’s her version of thoughtfulness, even if she doesn’t realize it.”
We bring our plates and utensils to the kitchen, kiss Dasha, Janah adds, “Thank you for thinking of me, I loved all of it, but the green beans were a special happy treat.”
Dasha nods, she’s cutting chunks of meatloaf, the cook next to her filling plates with the sides, we move on, pass through the restaurant dodging customers, wave at Daria.
I hear her tell the guy checking out, “No Jack, I will not marry you and move to castle, I live already in castle. Go to work, don’t waste time being foolish, thank you for coming, have a nice day, come again soon, bye-bye.”
I hear him laugh, tell his friend, “I ask her every week, same answer, an honest woman. I’m in love.”
We buck the line out the door, it snakes around the corner. Meatloaf, green beans and blunt force trauma from Daria, who’da thought?
We opt for a long walk through Soho, not Broadway, too crowded, wind up in a circle after three miles, then home.
Susan calls, “Taylor and I are off to London, then Paris next week. Eloise will be in and out, Kara will water plants, you shouldn’t need to check on the place.”
“Do you want to get a home automation system installed while you’re gone? Daria and Eloise have it all worked out, you can monitor the condo from anyplace.”
Susan, “Cool, it’s no trouble?”
“You’ll be gone a month, they can do it in two days. After trial and error on ours, they have it cold.”
Susan, “Then go for it. Is it expensive?”
Susan, “I ought to give them something, the equipment, their labor.”
“A thank you will be sufficient, bring them something from Paris maybe.”
Susan, “That’s easy. I posted our schedule, hotels, flights on the family website. I see you’ve updated progress on the school. You’re going to be busy.”
“You were generous, donating the building space.”
Susan, “It was going to you and Janah eventually anyway, now it’s in the Sylk Trust, same thing. Nikko, Zi and Daria have taken over my investments, it’s already feeling good, turning new corner from a life in front of a computer screen.”
“You have arranged the car to the airport?”
Susan, “Yep, we’re first class Virgin Atlantic to London, taking the train to Paris, Virgin back home. We have a driver for London and another for Paris. Eventually we’re doing south of France and Spain perhaps. We’re considering a cruise around Japan next year, then to Beijing and Hong Kong. We’re both excited, Taylor has acquaintances in Paris, her agency is bugging her to do a shoot there.”
“She going for it?”
Susan, “I told her she should, a kind of farewell to modeling. In her head she’s already left, but I think if she can get it done in a day, she’ll go for it. She doesn’t want a weeklong project.”
“Cheerio and bon jour, send photos.”
Susan, “Things will show up on the website, take care of your girls.”
We click off, I am so happy for Sis. Entering semi-retirement, enjoying the money she’s earned over her career, taking in the rest of the world at her own pace. We, on the other hand, have less carefree things to do. Shadows roam the land, we have to bottle them up.
I find Daria, she’s up in the workroom tinkering with Eloise the Elf.
“Daria, when you and Eloise have a free day or two, please automate the condo for Susan. I don’t know if Kara wants her place done, I’ll ask.”
Daria doesn’t look up from her worktable, covered in electronics, “Da, next week, finish drone first.”
The elf is on the other side of the table, a grinder starts and sparks sparkle from whatever it is she’s molding. She looks like a fly, big safety goggles on her tiny face, I return through the twins’ bedroom, Dasha still on the computer. It’s quiet in the room, once we saw lathes and grinders being installed, soundproofing became an obvious necessity. The new room is filled concrete block, except for a shared wall between the girl’s bedroom and the workspace. Part of that wall in the workspace is the new bathroom. That’s half the wall, and provides its own soundproofing. The connecting door is soundproof, the rest of the wall lined with a specialty composite that’s just peel and stick. The silver metallic Mylar isn’t homey, but it’s a workspace, not a living room. And the stuff does the job.
“Dahfoney, ees time to kill Shadows now?”
“Soon. We have projects drawing to a close this week, we’ll travel next week”
“Who ees to go?”
“Janah’s still thinking it over. She and I for sure, you if you want to go. Daria and Eloise have things to work on here, Either Chloe or Zi, we will need a Sensitive. We think there are only two, but Surveillance is still collecting information.”
Dasha, “How ees Surveillance to tell Shadow?”
“They can’t. We’re going on behavior. Things they do, walk into a store, walk out with whatever they want, cashier hands them money out of the register, doesn’t even recall doing it, or even anyone being in the store.”
Dasha, “Haf they kill persons?”
“We have no evidence of that, only speculation, Surveillance has video of them injuring a man, just a push to the ground, but he was never touched, didn’t trip. The target was near him, there were words, the man fell backwards as if he’d been shoved.”
Dasha, “We will kill them, come home.”
Ah, the black and white world of the sociopath, “No, we will go and investigate. If they are Shadows, we do what we do.”
Dasha blinks up at me, “Booley pushes man, cracks skull, like Manolo, haf to anyway kill. You will kiss me now, Dahfoney, we will make lunch.”
How her mind works remains a mystery, three topics in a row. Still, kissing her is pleasant duty, I snag her soft cheek, go downstairs to rustle up lunch.
I take turkey and cranberry on toast, chips and sodas up to our toymakers, I have to issue a command, last time I did this, the food was still sitting when I went back an hour later, “Stop now, sit over here and eat.”
Daria, “Da, one minute only, finish with screw.”
Eloise is under a worktable, rummaging through a box of chips, pulls one out, stares at it, replaces it and takes another, after scrutiny, she’s satisfied, stands and lays it on the table next to two others. She starts back under the table.
“Eloise, don’t even think about it. Come, sit, eat, Daria, minute’s up.”
Daria, “Forty two seconds only,” she has a stop watch in her head, she can tell you how much time has passed to the second and two decimal places. I know, I’ve timed her.
Despite her eighteen second cushion, she slides onto the stool in front of her plate, Eloise next to her, I wait with my arms folded, “Take the sandwich in your hands, eat it. No crap, mine is downstairs getting cold, I’ll be back in ten minutes and I’ll be watching the camera to make sure food is going in geek mouths.”
Daria takes a bite, then Eloise, won’t be a problem now. Once they start, they finish, occasionally need a little push. Daria was eating regularly until she got absorbed in her mechanical projects, now she’s like Kara with a painting and the world disappears.
Downstairs, Dasha, Chloe and Amaya need no encouragement.
Amaya, “The waif makes great sandwiches, thank you Dasha.”
Dasha, “Dobro pozhalovat,” she eats a couple of chips, we like the basic kind, with sea salt and cracked pepper, or vinegar and salt, a little extra bite.
Chloe, “What are the engineers working on?”
“The drone, it’s why they’re so distracted, it’s almost ready. There were bugs, the range wasn’t what Eloise wanted and it was too slow. Once they have that figured out, then they have to install the camera and make sure it feeds video properly.”
Amaya, “I thought it would also do audio.”
“Video first. They are methodical, one step at a time.”
Chloe, “I’m no engineer, but won’t adding more stuff interfere with the range and speed?”
“Yes, which is why they added weight to the prototype, to compensate.”
Chloe, “Dang, they are thorough. I couldn’t put together a model airplane.”
Amaya, “You did farm work, you must have some mechanical skill.”
Chloe, “I was a kid, I milked cows, grew vegetables on a small scale, cleaned house. If there was a mechanical problem, mostly my deranged father did it. Anyway, that was big stuff, none of it electrical,”
Amaya, “Mechanical escapes me if it gets beyond operating a lipstick.”
We laugh, well, not Dasha, if she’s paying attention, it doesn’t show, she says, “They haf feenish, I will get tray, Dahfoney, we will clean.”
Amaya and Chloe would gladly help, they also know Dasha likes her routines, which includes clean up. They sneak in other services, change the twins’ sheets, clean their bathroom, Amaya still buys all their clothes and accessories. Why in Dasha’s mind one kind of help is different from the other, I have no clue.
Dasha, Janah, Zi and I fly to Wichita Falls, it’s in Texas if you’re geographically challenged. We fly private to Wichita Falls Municipal Airport, everything is arranged, an SUV, since Amaya isn’t with us, I’m designated driver. The town is a hundred thousand people, we stay at the Hilton Homewood, better than acceptable, two king suites, which means a king bed and a separate sitting area.
It’s noon Wichita Falls time, had lunch on the plane, we unpack and Janah checks the website. Our targets share an apartment. The mission is both to determine how dangerous they are and why Shadows are here at all, Wichita Falls is hardly a Mecca of illegal activity. It is, however, only a hundred twenty miles from Dallas, up Hwy 287, a straight shot northwest. Don’t know if that has anything to do with anything, it’s just the nearest big city.
Janah, “Let’s roll, ladies, we have to determine why two potential Shadows are holed up in this smallish town.”
Janah, “Beats me, perhaps they’re parked someplace small and off the radar because of something they want to hide or hide from. Maybe this is a practice ground. Maybe they are part of something bigger and this is their end of it. Maybe they just like it here. One thing we can be sure of, if they are Shadows, it isn’t good.”
“The biggest employer is Sheppard Air Force base, a training center, have they been hanging around that?”
Janah, “Not as far as we know. They drive around town, grocery shop, eat at a couple of restaurants. They have internet and satellite TV, no unusual activity, no fascination with porn sites. Vanilla.”
We’re in the SUV, a Lincoln, nice wheels. We’ve seen photos or our targets, one man appears to be fortyish, the other over fifty. Both are off the rack, not fat, not thin, no beards, hair cut close, not military, the older one is balding a bit. Caucasian males, no middle eastern or Asian influence. The names they use, Kurt Findley and Dale Bishop, don’t register on arrest reports, don’t much register at all. Pretty clear these aren’t their real names, we’ve been working off the photos to see if they show up as someone else on old driver’s licenses or passports. Surveillance lifted fingerprints from restaurant glasses, those weren’t on file anyplace either.
Janah, “Our boys have been invisible, and we’re in this with less information than usual. With Susan out of town, Daria and Eloise are trying to match up current photos with a variety of databases. And they’re checking the Findley and Bishop who rent the apartment, somebody pays for internet service, phone bills, utilities, the things you can’t mentally coerce people into.”
“Unless they have the landlord under control and it’s all on his tab.”
Janah, “Yes, and if he or she shows up on all those bills then they aren’t paying rent either. That would take a fair amount of energy, if that’s how it’s going down these guys are good in their evil and more dangerous.”
“I think it’s more likely than less. You noticed they picked a fourplex, not a mega complex where there’s a paid staff who have no ability to let the rent slide, and you have to get your own utility, internet and satellite TV services.”
Janah, “No, they can’t control all that, it’s all done online or on the phone and customer service is separate from billing. Neither Chan nor I can grab a mind over the phone, we have to be in physical proximity.”
Zi, “Doesn’t it eventually occur to the landlord that they aren’t getting paid? They can’t control people twenty four hours a day.”
Janah, “Paper trail. They get a receipt from the landlord. If the landlord challenges them later, they show him the receipt. Now it’s back on the landlord. They take his mind again, he believes they’ve paid, off he goes. They can play that game forever. Even better, convince the landlord he took their money and spent it, not their fault he didn’t post it to their account.”
“If that’s what’s happening, it doesn’t take that much control, only when they pay the rent. Maybe they even plant the idea to spend their imaginary payment right away and it never even occurs to him that they didn’t pay, even implant something to buy. In his mind, he collected cash and doesn’t have to report the income.”
Zi, “Geez Daphne, I’m glad you’re on our team, that’s nicely efficient and deliciously devious.”
Dasha, “Daria will find out. We haf dinner now, vodka first.”
Excellent suggestion, Zi and I don’t drink, but Janah and Dasha do. We repair to the self created bar in our room. Wichita Falls is not a place to go for fine dining. On the flight, I’d explored restaurants, nothing surfaced as worth a special trip, most of it is barbeque or steaks, which is great, but ordinary, the specialty places, Chinese or Italian, range from mediocre to sad. There is no gourmet, or even upscale, it’s a working class town. Fortunately, we can get decent vodka, wine and sparkling wine, order pizza or take out fried chicken or BBQ. Tonight, it’s pizza. After a search, I find The Spot, a pizza joint. We decide to drive over and eat at the restaurant.
Turns out to be good, not Marconi’s, but I admit bias. We have standard, Dasha likes pepperoni, anchovy, mushroom, Janah is veg, Zi and I are fine with anything. At nine thirty, we’re back in Janah and Zi’s room, Dasha is having another vodka, Janah a glass of cabernet, we sort of watch a movie, then Dasha and I go to our room. We don’t get up to anything but sleep.
Homewood has a good hot breakfast, similar to what you would see in a Hampton, a touch more upscale maybe. They have waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal. The coffee is good, not brown hot water. We make our selections and locate a table off to one side.
Zi, “This isn’t bad for buffet, nothing like the eggs and waffles Dasha spoils us with.”
Dasha is dealing with a piece of bacon, she’d managed to find several crisp slices in the steam tray and brought a plateful to the table for the other two carnivores. Janah is happy with fresh fruit, oatmeal and a waffle. I’m doing oatmeal, Dasha and Zi have eggs.
“What’s the plan?”
Janah, “Drive to the apartment, let Zi have a look around, get a read on our targets. You will hover nearby and make sure there’s no interference, Dasha and I will stay in the car. Zi, you will need to be sneaky, get a bead on them and move on. If they’re any good, they will sense a Shaolin presence. I’m not ready to confront yet, let’s see what Daria and Eloise can come up with.”
We’re back in the rooms doing minor disguise, we had flown out not looking like ourselves, temp hair dye, color contacts. Apart from that, we don’t see the need for much elaboration, just sunglasses and hats.
Wichita Falls isn’t big, seventy square miles, twice the size of Manhattan with six percent of the population. We’re down from the target’s place in ten minutes. It’s a standard fourplex, two floors, two apartments each. According to the records, all are two bedroom cookie cutter. Parking is around back, stairs up in front and in the rear. Our targets’ car, a Ford sedan something or other is in its slot. They aren’t living large.
Zi and I get out, there’s minimal traffic, a residential neighborhood, people are generally at work, school’s in session and it’s only ten o’clock. Our targets live on the first floor right; unfortunately, curtains are open and the blinds up both in front and on the side. Zi has a bag of groceries in one hand a cell phone in the other, I drop off at the far left corner. Her phone rings, it’s Janah. She doesn’t want anything, just to make it appear Zi got a call, giving her a reason to stop just to the right of the apartment. She stands pretending to be listening and talking, clicks off, then fakes typing in a text and staring at the phone like she’s waiting on a reply. Then she continues past the driveway and down the block. I move backwards down the street away from her. When I get to the next house, the apartment door opens and a man steps out, Findley. He trots to the sidewalk, looks down the block towards Zi, she stops, almost as if she’d been pulled from behind. I feel a surge of energy coming from Janah, Zi rolls her neck, like loosening tension and starts walking again. Findley cocks his head, jogs towards Zi. She and I don’t mental, nor does she with Janah. But Zi is a Sensitive, she feels his oncoming presence. She ducks down the next driveway down the side of the house and does what Shaolin do, disappears.
I’m now behind Findley, “Excuse me, sir, is Malvern Avenue up ahead?”
I know it is because we’d just come down it.
He stops and turns, he stares at me perplexed, he can’t figure out why he doesn’t see my mind, I’m qi’d up with a Janah back, he can’t get through the wall.
“Sorry, sir, Malvern Avenue?” I point in its direction.
He’s pissed, he’s lost the scent of the woman and he can’t catch mine, “Yeah, yeah, two blocks,” he stomps off, turns back halfway to his apartment, there’s only empty street, I’m Shaolin too.
Janah picks us up, “Close, they must be good, what did you get, Zi?”
Zi hesitates, then, “The whole place is full of them.”
Janah, “All the apartments?”
“All four. The rest not home, I got the residue they leave; without them physically, I can’t gauge their level. Findley and Bishop are deadly dark, on a scale of one to ten, eight or nine.”
Janah, “And now they are on guard.”
“We had to find out, now we know.”
Janah, “Should have waited until nighttime.”
“For what? Then the others are home and they still could have sensed us. A pile of Shadows pouring out of the apartments would have been worse.”
Dasha, “Ees better this way.”
Janah, “They’re going to be paying attention now.”
Dasha, “So what? Ees gud, make them scare, be stupid.”
Janah smiles, “You may be onto something. Let’s go back to the room and see if Daria has anything.”