Chapter Twenty Five

Next morning, Chan and I are up and out at five, Amaya is outside in the Cherokee.
Amaya, “You will need a skilled driver if there is trouble, that would be me.”
“Thanks, Chan isn’t much for driving, he tends to use the bulldozer technique and I need to be focused on the cars and taking pictures.”
She gets us to the neighborhood, stops a block down at a cross street. I can see a couple of plates parked in front, but four of them are behind the fourplex.
“Chan, I have to get closer, at least to the yard of the house on the other side. Do your best to interfere with their radar, give me two minutes.”
Chan nods, I ease out the door, it’s misty this morning, I have to get across the street, down the block and wander into the neighbor’s yard long enough to flash the plates into Janah’s brain, then haul it back and split.
I make it to the yard, get three plates and am craning to spot the fourth when the back door of lower right opens. I see him walk towards the car I’m interested in, he stops midway, looks around, I’m bolting back to the corner out of his line of sight, then across the street and into the Cherokee.
“He felt a twitch, I got three plates, the good news is I think he’s taking the fourth car. Go down another block, let’s see where he goes.”
Now we’re two blocks down, on his street at a corner. If he turns our way, Amaya can take the corner and disappear.
A tan Honda Accord comes from the side of the fourplex, turns towards us, crap. Amaya hits the gas, down a block and down half the next, I see the Accord drive past behind me.
“Pick him up again.”
Amaya hangs a right, sails up the street and back down the two blocks to his street. His taillights are a block further along.
“Let him get another full block.”
She’s in her own tracking mode, keeping a distance, lights off, but it’s past daybreak, the mist is some cover. I mental the plate to Janah. He’s five miles from home in a series of turns, I thought he might be trying hotels to see if we popped up in his head, but it’s not that. He’s not moving in the direction of any likely places.
He slows in front of an elementary school, stops. Amaya stops.
“I’m zeroed in on him, he’s taking pictures.”
The Accord starts moving to the corner, more pictures. Then he’s just sitting, I suppose he’s going through the pictures to see if he needs more. A couple of minutes later, he moves up the street, takes a left and a left. He’s going back to the apartment.”
“Okay, enough luck, let’s get gone before it runs out.”
Back at the apartment, dear Dasha is juggling breakfast, Zi is helping, “What do you need me to do?”
Dasha, “Stir aig, Dahfoney, I need check beeskit.”
They have butter, jam and jelly out on the table, a stack of plastic plates and utensils, coffee pots are full, water for tea simmering. For the volume, we decided to use bags, not loose tea, a selection of greens and blacks. Black and Janah are sipping coffee and tea at the table, Chan joins them, Chloe comes in from her place.
“Daria up?”
Dasha, “She ees work with Eloise, I tell her now to come here.”
It’s simple breakfast fare, big homemade biscuits, Dasha’s scrahmbulled eggs, slices of grilled ham and sausage, grits.
The crew lines up to get their selections, we go buffet to simplify.
Black, “Dasha, these are the best eggs, and you’ve given me a biscuit jones. I use Bisquick at home, but these are different, what’d you do?”
“Buttermeelk and butter een meex, bit of sugar, Dahfoney shows me.”
“Gonna change my recipe.”
Amaya, “What’s in the grits?”
“Mascarpone and meelk, creamy style.”
“Dahfoney show you that too?”
“Nyet, Dahfoney shows cream chizz, I sweech to Mascarpone, sweeter.”
“What does a Communist know about Mascarpone?”
Black laughs, “She always talk about you that way?”
“Eemaya ees like to hear herself talking, does no mahter, Eemaya ees gud to Dasha and Daria. Always make us look beautiful, she say we are sheiks.”
Black, “Sheiks?”
Amaya laughs, “Commie-speak for chic, I make them look chic, fashionably astounding. Unlike a couple of my clients, they never ask dumb questions about what I select, ‘Why a yellow scarf? I read that I’m a winter. Are you sure my hair should be this dark? Why such petite bracelets, I usually wear bigger ones.’”
“What do you tell them?”
“If you want to look like a mafia bride with a bad bleach job, then go back to your chunky gold abominations and your horrid colorist. You pay me to make you look good, not a freak on Jersey Shore.”
Black laughs again, we all do, “Keep a lot of clients that way?”
“If they do not want to look their best, I do not want my name associated with theirs. Once they get to whatever I dress them for, they are barraged by friends asking if they have lost weight, gotten a surgical touch up or what SPA they visited. The more horrid they start out, the more referrals I get from their friends.”
“That actually makes sense. You must be busy.”
“Once I have them sensibly dressed, accessorized and made up, they mostly do not need me, my definition of success. I am consulted from time to time if they have a society thing. I limit my time on it, between writing, keeping Chloe and the twins respectable and our work, days are quite full enough. On top of that, I have been assigned talent coach duties at our new school.”
Naturally, there are other conversations going on, Janah, Nikko and Zi are plotting mayhem for the targets, Daria and Eloise are talking machines. Yes, Eloise talks, very, very quietly, and mostly to Daria. Occasionally we can hear her whisper something to one of us.
Along the way, the food disappears. We stick our throwaway stuff in a big trash bag, I help Dasha wash the pots and pans.
Then we’re spread around the living room.
Janah, “Once Eloise has the tracking device on the cars, groups of three will follow and look for a spot to dart them into the afterlife. Based on this morning’s early events, they’re getting serious about planning, or they have a deep interest in elementary school architecture. If they have a second school in mind, they may either know which one or have additional spots to scout.
Zi, “Perhaps they are taking pictures of several schools and then deciding which seem to be best candidates.”
Nikko, “Seems right. They have to be close enough to keep the cop under control without being in the school or even on the grounds. Once the first person is shot, the police will be all over the place.”
Janah, “They’re running out of school year, I’m more concerned they have the other location already decided. We need another surveillance tonight along with installing tracking devices. The bugs in the two apartments have yielded only general conversation, like where they might go after it’s over, how much money they may get. Some nasty jokes about dead kids and cops shooting each other.”
Chan, “How much money can they get at one bank branch?”
Janah, “Small branch, no big cash customers like a grocery store nearby, ten to twenty thousand. Might go up to a million or more if they have busy ATMs and several large cash customers. We haven’t looked into banks here. I should have thought of that. I’ll make some calls, I have two contacts that can get that information.”
Nikko, “We’ll track cars as they leave, there may not be a need for all our cars to be out at the same time, or they may not go anyplace where it’s a clean shot. The sedan isn’t much good for that anyway. Better to take the shot from the second seat of the SUV, open the hatch, pop. If you get an opportunity to give the target a flat, like he or she is in a grocery store, cut the valve stem, they are going to be stationary while they check the tire. Pumping gas may be an opportunity. The rifles are good a fifty to seventy yards, better to be twenty five or thirty and make sure nobody but the target is in the line of fire. The toxin doesn’t care which body it goes in. Shooters are me, Daphne and Black, nobody else has handled the rifles much. Two others will be with us, a driver and the second to look for things that might go bad, people pulling up to the pump, guy walking across the lot the shooter doesn’t see. When it’s clear, the driver pops the hatch, both SUVs have auto hatches that operate from the key fob. They open slowly, make sure you go out today and test it. I checked them when Transportation brought them to me, they work, takes a few seconds to fully open. The driver can close the hatch the same way, don’t drive off with it open, it attracts attention.”
Janah goes off to make calls, it’s only a backup, we hope to get this done before a bank gets robbed, that would mean shots at a school have already happened.
FedEx comes, I collect the package, take it to Eloise, she and Daria scurry off to play MacGyver, a program I’m only familiar with because it became a phrase for fixing things with duct tape and a Swiss army knife. I was only six when it went off the air.
Janah returns, “Let’s see, Eloise was able to find out the rest of the names from the license plates. It doesn’t much matter what their names are, best we can tell none of them are their birth names. Like most of the Shadows we’ve come in contact with, they are not rich. Up until now, they seem content with using their skills to get free stuff and small amounts of cash to support themselves. They mostly appear to enjoy making people do whatever amuses them at the moment. In that sense, they really do live in the now.”
“One smaller group, with the talent centered in a woman who ran it, set up a kiddie bordello. That took more thought than we’ve seen in most of them. This outfit is new territory.”
Janah, “What seems to work for us here is, like all of their kind, they are massively overconfident. For instance, given that three of them are dead, nobody’s left town, or even moved someplace else in Wichita Falls. Where they work appears to be unrelated to what they’re planning. It’s a big Air Force base, they work in different areas, mostly admin, they are civilians, not in the military chain of command.”
“We think they somehow came together under the guidance of the three that don’t live here. They are looking for a big payday.”

Chapter Twenty Six

Dasha and I take a ride, hit the grocery for vegetables, vegetable stock and tofu. I’ll make veg soup for dinner, get a couple of pies for desert. We round up a takeout lunch from a Chinese place called the Golden Bowl. It may not be great, it’s flipping Wichita Falls, but it won’t kill us. Reviews were the best we could find. We stick to popular items and haul it back to the apartment.  
Janah, “This isn’t bad, the vegetables are fine, garlic sauce is good, nothing I have is overcooked glop.”
“Some people just get off writing crappy reviews. Most of them were okay. It’s not expensive, the people we dealt with were very nice.”
Black, “For takeout in Wichita Falls, I’d take it out again, I like the Lo Mein, and the shrimp with garlic sauce is great.”
Dasha, “Dahfoney talk to woman in Chinese. Then we make order, Chinese lady yells at cooks, then we get food, gud.”
Black, “Ah, once you made her a pal and she understood you know what happens in the kitchen, the quality improves. Wonder what the local rubes get?”
“Doesn’t matter, unless they’re Chinese, they wouldn’t know the difference.”
Amaya, “When do we stick the trackers on?”
Janah, “It has to be at night, cars are gone during the day. I think late is best, after ten. Daria, can you place the trackers from here?”
Daria, “Da, but faster to be close, only one tracker at a time, have to come back here for next tracker, back and forth, drain battery.”
Janah, “Okay, Amaya, you drive Daria and Eloise, Chan will go as well, that’s enough for this. We can follow along on the IPads, see what the drone sees.”
Since we have little to do but wait, everyone goes off to their apartment, noodles on the net or reads, Dasha watches her sister and Eloise figure out the trackers, then test them. Janah and I spend time discussing what happens and what we may have overlooked, it doesn’t go very far, the conversation wanders to subtopics.
Janah, “I wonder if poking them with a deadly poison is any better than shooting them with a gun?”
“Not for them obviously. The air rifles are rifles, different projectile, less noisy and not so messy. Other than that, they’re just as dead.”
Janah stares at the floor, “Sometimes I wish life had gone another way, then I think about Amaya, Chloe and the twins, what a joy they are.”
“How it happens is how it happens, Janah. They had sad to miserable lives, then very good ones, with a mixture of our work, the danger and the violence. We didn’t make them participate, they could have declined. Amaya likes the excitement, the twins are high functioning sociopaths anyway. This gives them an outlet. Dasha would have been okay, but Daria would murder a pesky asshole in a heartbeat. Our violence keeps her away from that. Chloe is Chloe. She would be happy if we never did another refocusing, she will be happy if we do one a week. Vesnushki used up all her unhappiness as a beaten child, it brought her enlightenment, she’s happy she was abused by her sister and ignored by her father.”
Janah, “Chloe is amazing, Bodhisattva, Bosatsu, whatever label she’s tagged with, she is a fountain of joy.”
“The Shaolin think you’re a Buddha.”
Janah half smiles, “If they wish, I don’t know what Buddha means, I know the Sanskrit is ‘awakened one,’ I’ve never felt awakened. The concept seems circular, other than the idea that everything is interconnected, like neurons in the brain. I don’t think it takes much enlightenment to see that.”
“People don’t though, particularly in America. Too much brainwashing about self actualization and rugged independence.”
Janah, “You’ve tested the air rifles?”
“Yep, quit over thinking it, we’ve checked out stuff, we’ll get the cars tagged and track them, then do what needs to be done. What else is there? Tell the police that Shadows are going to take a cop’s mind and have him shoot up a school, then get more cops shooting each other? Based on what, the blinks of conversation we have? We are some of the very few people on the planet that can spot Shadows. Even if they weren’t planning anything so bizarre, they have to be dealt with.”
Janah, “They do, yes, they do. Think I’ll nap, it’s going to be a late night and an early day.”
“I’ve been up since four thirty, a snooze sounds good.”
And we do, until nearly four, Dasha’s in my head, “Tea, Dahfoney.”
“Cripes, it’s four, I need to get the soup made.”

Dasha, “Zoup ees een already pot. Come and haf tea now.”
Everyone is back together, tea and snacks, cookies, dark and milk chocolate Ghirardelli.
Daria, “We need to test drone.”
“Amaya can take you back to wherever you went before, Chan or Black needs to go along.”
Black, “I’d like to watch the test flight.”
“There, you’re set. We’ll watch on the video feed.”
I check the soup, tofu is on a couple of plates, don’t have a press, so Dasha improvised, a plate on top and pans of water on that. I drain off the water from the tofu and put her improvisation back together, the soup is simmering, needs water. Smells good, lots of veg, carrots, potato, onion, yellow and red pepper, chopped broccoli spinach, green beans, garlic and parsley. Vegetable stock half and half with water.
Dasha, “Eemaya take me to store again, I get black beans, beeg tortillas, sour cream, gud salsa. Two roast cheeken, chop up for tortilla. Beeg men need more than zoup. Also two loaf of fresh today bread.”
“Good thinking, you will be appreciated for your thoughtfulness.”
Dasha, “Da, fahmahley ees appreciate, gud.”
It is good, and it’s even better to see she recognizes it. The twins are coming around, slowly, but they’re coming around. I kiss her smooth cheek, am rewarded with an expressionless blink.
The test flight troops return, Amaya is enthusiastic, “Eloise is a genius at operating that thing. Zoom, off fifty yards, u-turn, right under the back bumper, there is a little clunk as it attaches so she is making a modification to cut down the noise.”
“How’s she going to do that?”
Amaya, “Daria showed us how she built a cradle on top of the drone where the tracker sits. It is held in place by two sided sticky tape, enough to hold it while in the air, not so much as to keep the magnet from clamping the bumper. The plan is to use more tape so she can get closer to the metal before the magnet overcomes the tape. She is outside now playing with different amounts of tape to see what works.”
“She’s not flying it?”
Amaya, “No, just sitting on the curb behind the car and doing it manually. It looks like a kid’s toy, no one is around anyway. Black is watching.”
They come in just then, Black, “Man that sucker is fun.”
“She get the adjustment made?”
Black, “Almost silent, from ten feet away it’s no more than a click, from twenty feet, you might hear it, I couldn’t. We tried two strips of tape, then three, four is the magic number. Something smells good.”
“Vegetable soup, Dasha’s also making black bean and chicken burritos.”
Black, “Thank you, Dasha.”
“Dobro pozhalovat, Blahck ees appreciate.”
Black’s not much of a smiler, for some reason, that makes him smile, a big toothy one, must be his new Dasha name, Blahck.
I get the black beans heating, add onion, black pepper, minced garlic, let them simmer. Dasha takes the chicken apart, shreds it, then into the oven on warm. We’ll butter the tortillas on one side, then microwave to get them pliable, cold tortillas suck, “Dasha, leave the sour cream out so it is room temp when we’re ready for it.”
“Da.”
Only Amaya, Daria, Eloise and Chan are going tonight; as driver, Amaya has to forego her vodka martini, the rest of the drinkers make cocktails or have wine, sit around batting the breeze. David Li comes from his place, been preparing the darts.
Chan, “You have them ready?”
David Li nods.
Chloe, “How do they work? I mean when you shoot them, what do they look like? I know Nikko and Daphne used them on Nurse and Accountant, but I’ve never seen them.”
David Li takes one from the box, “Basically a syringe made to handle being shot out of a rifle with compressed air. There is a feathered tail that stabilizes flight. The impact causes the syringe to compress and release the drug. Some have small barbs sticking out behind the tip, to keep them from being easily pulled out… I didn’t see the point of barbed, the drug is so potent, the barb is overkill and messy if we retrieve the dart.”
Chloe, “And what is the drug?”
David Li, “Similar to something called M-99, or Etorphine. Approved for veterinary use only and can tranquilize an elephant. In humans, a drop will cause death. I made it from opium, although with the Society’s contacts, they could get it from a large animal vet.”
Chloe, “Gee, is there an antidote?”
David Li, “Yes, but you have to act instantly. It’s called Revivon. Everyone involved will have antidote syringes ready to go. I don’t expect the shooters to shoot themselves, but accidents happen, including a dart missing the target and finding someone else. Inject them immediately.”
Nikko, “How fast does the tranquilizer work?”
David Li, “No more than a few minutes to kill a human. In the amount we are going to inject, it will be less than a minute. There’s nothing they can do, no amount of their qi will help. Once the tip is in, even if they rip it out instantly, the drug has been administered.”
It’s near seven, line forms for soup and burritos, everyone settles in to eat, there’s quiet pools of conversation only, like before the battle starts.

Chapter Twenty Seven

Those of us not on the drone run are huddled around IPads. I can see through Amaya’s eyes, but she’s in the driver’s seat two blocks from the fourplex. The Murano is parked on the street, windows tinted dark as death. It’s fascinating to watch, like a video cam, picture is even in color, of course, it’s nighttime, not much color. I see it take off from the top of the car, then it’s flying along, street below is quiet, it’s near ten thirty. Then the fourplex comes into view, lights are still on in one apartment, another has a low flicker like a TV. That’s good, a noise cover.
Then the back lot, four cars under the carport. The drone sinks under the first, the screen goes dark, then a small beam of light under the car, the metal bumper in plain sight. She has the audio on, there’s a slight click and the tracker is in place, then the drone backs out and returns to the SUV. Cool.
Two more trips, then as the drone is making its way back with the fourth tracker, just over the rear and starting down, a door opens and a voice, “It’s in the car, I’ll get it.”
The drone goes up, to the left and hovers. We watch a man come down the back stairway, to one of the cars we’d tagged already, open a door, pulls out a plastic bag, locks the car and back up the steps into the apartment. The drone hovers for a couple of minutes, waiting to see if there’s anything else he forgot, then she drops it, attaches the tracker and zips the drone back home. Two cars left, parked in front. These are simpler, one is pulled up too close behind the other, so the final tracker goes under the front bumper, then she’s got it back to the car and the picture shuts down.
We break out in applause, that was seriously neat stuff.
Amaya, “I need a drink, I was on pins and needles.”
“Congratulations, Eloise, you were wonderful, you and Daria put together a remarkable piece of technology.”
My compliment is repeated in various forms, Eloise has a slight smile on her face, staring at her shoes.
Daria, “I hold tools and watch, Eloise made whole thing. I can do it now, we will make another one that goes faster, better camera. Audio is already good, we will build one more sensitive.”
“I don’t mean to increase complications, but can you add infrared, night vision?”
Eloise stares into space, then nods a yes.
“Dang, we can track in the deep dark.”
Black, “I feel like I missed a century, the things these kids can do.”
Janah, “While we were having dinner, the bugs recorded conversation in the two apartments. The drift is that they are going forward despite the deaths of three of their crew. Typical of Shadows, they have no feeling for anyone but themselves, and they clearly don’t believe we know anything of their plans. They know we are out here, frustrated because they can’t find us at any hotels. Some think we’ve left, that we’re worried about being known to them, plus the police investigating three dead people, two apparently killed by lethal injection. The local police are talking serial killer among themselves, and they’ve connected all the deaths to the fourplex. They appear to be torn between making the remaining residents suspects and wondering if they’re all targets of the killer. The targets have been interviewed, but the couple we heard talking were laughing about how easy it was to dance around the cops, plant the suggestion they have no idea what it’s about. And that they don’t think the death of the Indian had anything to do with the ones we shot with darts. They’ve even convinced the cops they don’t know each other that well.”
Amaya, “Was there anything more definitive about the plan.”
Janah, “Unfortunately yes, they’ve picked the schools and they had bank branches picked for months. Our two laughers were joking about cops shooting kids, then talked over what they would do with a million each. One of the branches they have in mind keeps several million on hand, it serves the base, lots of check cashing, lots of ATM activity, lots of stores, grocery and otherwise, all needing cash. We have time though. Our three out of towners are coming in tomorrow evening. They live in Phoenix. We’ll need the drone to listen in.”
Nikko, “Now that we know where they are, and we will know soon enough what the look like, they are coming in for the event, they won’t be going back to Phoenix.”
Janah, “No, we deal with everyone, I just wasn’t sure the three were event participants, they may have just been management. Given their personnel reductions, the three will be needed for the job itself. Oh, by the way, Eloise, operate the drone from here. I don’t want us in the vicinity of their place one more time. If the residents are smart, they’ll do a temp relocation, get the cops off their back and maybe think they’re losing us.”
“Time for Daphne to go to bed, I’ll be up early, breakfast served at six in case we get early signals. We’ll have breakfast until eight or so for those of you who don’t have to follow around psychotics. Amaya, Chan, Black, Nikko, Daria and I need to be ready early, the rest can chill if you wish.”
Everyone moves on to their apartment, the tension is wearing, and it’s only going to get more tense in the next couple of days.

Chapter Twenty Eight

Dasha and I are in the kitchen at five thirty, make pancakes today, bacon instead of ham, scrambled eggs again, too many bodies for special orders. We’d picked up containers of cut fruit, that should do it.
Coffee perked, hot water for tea, twelve people to get stoked for a day chock full of unknowns and murder. IPads all over the place monitoring the trackers, all the target cars parked where they were last night.
Everyone shows up at six, kind of figured that. Even if they aren’t going out to kill people, they want to follow events.
First car starts to move at seven, Chan says, “I’m ready, Nikko?”
Nikko nods, first up.
Amaya fires up the Murano, Nikko has the rifle and darts in a small golf bag, slings it over her shoulder.
“Have a good round.”
Nikko, “Going to shoot one under.”
That’s our girl, sadistic optimistic.
Might be a wasted trip, the car is headed in the direction of the base. Unless it stops someplace, there’s no shot. We must look strange to an outsider, staring down at IPads, watching a dot sliding along a GPS map.
Eloise is fingering her IPad, I hear a tiny voice, “You can follow the car from the drone video feed if you want.”
Do we want? The girl has tied the tracker signal to the drone, which then follows the car. We are looking at the Honda from a hundred feet over the car. I’m pretty techie, but the things this kid can do amazes me.
Zi, “Goodness, look at that. On top of that jerk and he doesn’t have a clue. Eloise, you are not a genius, you are a super genius.”
I hear a virtually silent ‘thanks’ from the tiny girl flying a tiny bit of mechanical wonder no different than a common video game. Her nimble fingers tapping away making minute resolution adjustments.
The car pulls into a bank of gas pumps at the Albertson’s where Dasha and I shopped. The resolution is fantastic, we see the target’s car disappear under the canopy covering the pumps, and the Murano pull up thirty yards or so to the south. It’s early, the only car at the bank of pumps, then a sedan pulls in two rows over.
“Eloise, can you drop the drone so we can see the target’s car?”
She makes an adjustment on the IPad, takes control away from the tracker, car is in view, the drone is behind our Murano, but the video is zoomed in on the Honda. The cover of the gas cap pops open, a woman gets out and starts the process of swiping her card, choosing the grade of gas, she pulls out the pump and shoves it in the opening, then she jerks, we can see a dart in her neck, feathered tail at the end of the syringe. She reaches for it, before she can get her hand around it, she drops. We see the Murano drive off, the drone stays fixed on the target. Nothing happens, then a minute later a man looks at the fallen woman, bends over her, then runs out of the video. The scene shifts to the street, Eloise finds the Murano, we watch her fly the drone, follow the Murano back.
Janah, “Great work Eloise.”
Then the screens light up, another car is on the move.
“Nikko, you getting that?”
“Yes, I have more darts, we’re moving to the second car.”
Efficiency is good.
Eloise reengages the tracker for the second car, a Mercedes of some older vintage, it’s still early, but they don’t appear to be headed to the base, so it isn’t work. Ten minutes passes, where the heck are they going?
Janah, “School buses.”
“You don’t think…?
Janah, “Probably a time check, look over how kids go in, what precautions there may be, they aren’t set to go for the kill today, the other three mystery guests aren’t in town yet.”
Zi, “See the cop?”
Chloe, “Yes, to the left of the entrance. I bet they’re testing their capacity to reach him.”
Janah, “Good call, that would make sense, they need to know where they have to be located in relation to the cop. Wonder what they’re going to make him do?”
Soon as it’s out of her mouth, the cop does a little dance. Maybe he’s got a sense of humor, kids are staring at him, then he stops and resumes his position. An adult, might be the principal or a teacher, goes over and talks to him, he shrugs, she walks in the building. The Mercedes drives off.
The drone follows the car, Nikko mentals, “Amaya has it in sight, we’re three blocks back, their position is on my screen.”
“There are two?”

Nikko, “Yes.”
“Par three.”

Nikko, “Unless more of them leave, but I would be down to a single dart, should have brought more.”
“Black and I will take it.”

The Mercedes turns into a parking lot, heads towards Starbucks. At first it appears they’re going to the drive-thru, but they park instead. It’s a black man and white woman, she’s average size, appears to be mid forty, the black man is taller, I guess six feet, stocky, maybe late thirties.
Nikko, “Going to be tricky, I have to reload.”
“If you get two shots, people are going in and out, and just to the left of the car are outdoor tables, you can’t shoot on that side anyway.”
“So I see. Any ideas?”
“If you can take the woman, she was on the passenger side, he won’t know what happened. He’s going to either bolt, or more likely go around to check on her. If he does that, good. Gives you time to reload and he’s on the right side of the car.”
“What if he just leaves?”

Janah, “Then come back, he’ll go home and we don’t want to go there for now.”
A few minutes pass, the place is busy, either had to wait or they’re sitting inside. Door opens, had to wait, they have coffees and the woman is carrying a bag of something. When she gets to the passenger door, she puts the coffee on the roof, then we see the dart in her hip. She looks down at it, sways, collapses on her side, hiding the dart.
The man has his door open, he slides inside, a few beats, then he’s out of the car walks around back and sees her on the ground. A couple passes by on the sidewalk, sees the woman on the ground, there is conversation, a phone comes out, likely calling 911. The black man stands, he hesitates, there’s no shot, the couple is behind him still gawking at the woman.
Janah, “Reloaded?”
Nikko, “Yes.”
“He may try to split, he didn’t see a dart, but he knows two others were killed by them. When he gets behind the car, take him.”

As if on cue, he picks up the bag, she has no purse or it’s in the car. Then takes her coffee off the roof, turns and starts back to the driver’s side. He strides behind the car, as he gets to the license plate, a dart smacks into his shoulder. He stares down at the sharp pain, drops the coffee and the bag, reaches for the dart, yanks hard, we can see him snarl. He takes a step, staggers, falls straight forward nose to asphalt. The dart still in his hand.
The drone moves off, we see the hatch on the Murano is closed and the car in motion. A crowd gathers, somebody realizes that two people keeling over did not have coincidental heart attacks and they scatter. From the drone, we hear sirens, Amaya has them six blocks away and returning to the apartments.
Janah, “Six Shadows gone, six in town, three coming.”
David Li, “Do we know the three are Shadows?”
“That’s what the owl told Daphne.”
“He won’t be wrong.”

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