Chapter Twenty Nine
 
Janah calls Chan, “Can you travel Saturday?”
There is only one answer when Janah calls, she asks Chan to relay the obvious to Ning, no dinner Saturday, “Come over tomorrow night if you have nothing else on, we can have the smaller family here for a casual dinner. It would be great to see the kids.
Those arrangements out of the way, I Photoshop a picture of Chan we have on file, he changes his shirt, I snap another, send them to the Society for his documents.
I call out for dinner, Chinese tonight, have it delivered, Nikko goes down to pick it up from the security guard. I warm everything, we settle on the mats for a mini feast and watch a Sherlock Holmes update called Sherlock that had a three episode run in 2010. It is quite good, offered some new twists, it takes place in current times, still in London.
Going on ten thirty, we shuffle off to bed yawning. Tonight, Amaya sleeps between me and Janah, Nikko on Janah’s other side. There is no reason, sometimes we do it this way, sometimes I sleep with Amaya in her bed. At some point during the night, Amaya turns to face me, one arm under my pillow, the other over me, one lovely leg slipped in between mine. It is nicely intimate.
It’s Saturday morning, plane leaves at ten, five hour flight, we pick up three in time zone changes.
Our driver, Angelo, delivers us to Teterboro, a convenient airport just across the river in New Jersey. Blue Sky delivers us to San Francisco. Another SUV with a Society driver. The work is in downtown San Francisco. We don’t want to fiddle with parking or taxis.
To the Fairmont, our driver has the key to our suite, two bedrooms and two baths, Chan in his own room one floor down. It is ultra fabulous, I must admit.
Amaya, “This is my kind of traveling. Panoramic views of San Francisco, a telescope of all things. This refrigerator is stocked and over stocked. If I was not privy to such a splendid place in Manhattan, I could call this home.”
“This is the best place we’ve parked over the years, well, next to Shutters in Santa Monica. Mostly it’s Hampton Inn. Occasionally we’ve had a reason to go upscale. I’d say the rule is, the more dangerous and complicated the job, the better our accommodations.”
Janah, “That’s about it. The riskier refocusings need more time and have occurred in swankier spots.”
Amaya, “You’ve been to San Francisco before.”
“Yes. We stayed in a more boutique hotel, smaller rooms, very nice, but hardly this. Your first outing was in a bus. I’d say you’ve made a fairly large leap.”
“The bus was kind of cool, and the inn at Virginia Tech was hardly downscale. Our home puts this to shame though, we live in a palace. Chan, what do you think of all this?”
Chan, “Too much comfort makes us lazy, lazy turns into inattentive mistakes.”
“I take you point honored uncle. I shall not be lazy, despite creature comforts.”
Janah, “Rest from the  travel hustle, meet here at seven, dinner at eight. Prior to dinner, some general thoughts on this project. Please give it your attention between now and then.”
Amaya and I take the second bedroom, undress, we shower and stretch out on the bed.
“What do you think about our target? Have you considered approaches?”
“He does not leave his enclave. It is fifty stories up a private elevator. No access from any other floor. The roof of his floor is not the roof of the building, there is a dead space ten feet high between his floor and the roof, there are no windows in that empty fifty first floor.”
“We don’t know if the fifty first floor is empty or has other uses. I suspect he lives there, you recall, there’s no mention of him leaving the building. It could also be  storage, maybe a private gym. Let’s go with we don’t have a clue and skip speculation. I dislike novels where the characters spend five pages playing what if, none of which turns out to be relevant to the plot. It’s page filler, Styrofoam peanuts to take up dead space in the book.”
“Be interesting if the fifty first was filled with Styrofoam peanuts.”
I laugh, “If we blow a hole in it, downtown SF is covered in a snowstorm of white foam plastic. It’s bad enough when we get packages that use peanuts for buffer. They fall out all over the place and stick to everything.”
“We could blow a hole in the floor of fifty one and let the peanuts fall into fifty, pack the target in peanuts.”
I slide my arm under her neck, she lays her head on my shoulder, slips one leg over mine and we zone out for nearly an hour. It is moving towards seven, we slip into cotton t-shirts, yoga pants, brush hair, skip makeup, we aren’t going out. We pad barefoot into the main room, Janah is on the phone, Nikko on the couch with a glass of wine.
I decide she needs a kiss, I lean over and give her what she very much deserves. I love Nikko’s lips, smooth as glass, narrow, like mine. We fit together nicely.
Amaya, “Daphne, perhaps a glass of champagne, I am sure Janah will help me polish off a bottle,” she turns to Nikko, “think up a plan? Daphne and I have a great one.”
Nikko, “I can imagine. Are you rested? The mentaling is going well, headaches, neck pain?”
“Headaches are gone unless we talk a long time. Less tiring now.”
Chan knocks, I open the door, little brother is big, “You look hungry, I’m hungry, you must be. Come in, I’ll dish out some of the minibar, and they left us a fruit basket with crackers.”
Chan replies enthusiastically, he nods, brushes past me and sits next to Janah at the table.
“Good of you to come Chan. Please refrain from dominating the conversation.”
Chan is used to Amaya’s pokes at his silence, he ignores her in favor of apple slices, cheese and crackers.
Janah, “Dinner in an hour, the usual hotel mishmash, sandwiches, ravioli. How’s the room Chan?”
“Elegant, big bed, sofa, more than enough.”
“Has anyone come up with a starting point? I know my job is to create a general plan, right now I’m stuck on how to get to Meyer. He has employees and a network of contacts, doesn’t appear to have friends, doesn’t appear to require female, or male, companionship, he doesn’t have a flipping dog or cat. His work is his hobby, entertainment, life. Since his contacts are worldwide, he keeps odd hours out of necessity.”
Amaya, “Can we figure out to whom he speaks? The Society can surely access phone records.”
“The conversations are scrambled on both ends. We pick up static or nothing. The calls back and forth are to a virtual number then forwarded to a series of regularly changing numbers. He’s been at this a while, he knows the game.”
Nikko, “What about the people he blackmails? Their phones aren’t encrypted.”
Janah, “Their records still don’t tell us where the call came from. That’s wrong, duh, he doesn’t leave the building much, the calls have to originate there. He does his business all over the world, so contacting victims face to face in a dark alley  isn’t necessary. The information he wants doesn’t need to be in an envelope dropped into a wastebasket, that’s old school. He wants data, and all data can be sent through the air, invisibly if you have the right technology.”
“Can we listen from outside the building?”
Janah, “Nope. He’s got jamming devices spread around the entire floor.”
Amaya, “Then how do we get to him?”
“Stealth and raw force.”
“Yes. We aren’t going to trick this guy out into the open, he’s unreachable. We don’t know his network. There are no external avenues of approach, track down his contacts, tap phones or computers. He can encrypt websites and e-mail just like we do.”
Chan, “We have to go to him. One way is up the staircase. We can distract or remove the guard on the bottom floor. He also has a video camera?”
Janah, ‘Yes. That doesn’t address climbing fifty floors to get to his emergency exit.”
 “We can enter a few floors down.”
“Okay, let’s bookmark that thought and continue.”
“The elevators are monitored. There is a roof exit, so a roof entrance. There is the stairwell.”
Chan, “Doors can be breached, it’s a bit of time, but not a problem.”
 “We should check out the building tomorrow, and the surrounding buildings. We can figure out if Nikko and I can fly to the roof. If Chan is in the stairwell, we can get in from the roof, come in from everywhere.”
Amaya, “Do I have a role?”
Janah, “Don’t know yet. Your objective is to observe our planning, and of course contribute any ideas. Sometimes I really don’t have anything to do, at least until we’ve corralled the target. You will have a role then, drug administration and interrogation if that’s the route we take.”
A knock on the door, food. Chan and Janah disappear to one bedroom, Amaya to the other. Nikko answers the door.
Carts roll in, I smile, “Thank you gentlemen, I see the gratuity is included, we’ll take care of arranging, our guests are still in a meeting,” I give them twenty each, “Here’s a little extra, enjoy your evening.”
I don’t give them enough to be memorable, but enough to let them know they are appreciated. I’ve learned that top tier hotels keep notes on guests. If they are rude and demanding, they get one kind of treatment, pleasant and generous, another. The bellman knows the housekeepers, waiters, they all talk to the front desk. Tip the bellman, housekeeper, even the desk clerk, have a splendid stay.
I pop the champagne, pour glasses for Janah and Amaya. We appetize on quesadillas while a movie plays, enough talk about the assignment. We need two things, tonight to let the ideas mingle, and a visit to the area tomorrow. Until then , we enjoy dinner and take our minds off it.
Club sandwiches, mushroom ravioli, spinach salad with pear and blue cheese, skip dessert, there’s chocolate and varieties of cookies in the minibar.
Chan heads off to his room, I roll the cart out to the hallway, call housekeeping and let them know, stick a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I unplug all the hotel phones, I don’t want a dope drunk to dial the wrong room in the middle of the night. We have satellite phones, anyone we need to talk to will call us on those.
Nikko and Janah wander off to one bedroom, Amaya and I to the other.

Chapter Thirty
 
After I undress Amaya, then myself, we refresh, Amaya stands next to the desk, she puts her fingers under my chin, raises my head, “Attend to me.”
I kneel and cover legs with slow kisses, her skin soft over a curve of muscle. I feel her hands on the back of my head, she pulls me to her.
“Make love to me.”
She pulls me closer, my lips on her softness, I kiss gently, then slowly use my tongue, she gasps at the new sensation, “Oh….”
She tastes of violet.
 I take my time, her hips move, breath quickens. I feel myself warm and wet, tongue sliding over her perfection, then into her, she moans softly. No noisy screeching or porn video ‘oh yeah,’ just the feel of her heavy breathing and a groan of pure pleasure. I stretch it out, until she is quivering, then rush of moans and climax. She holds my head against her while her hips push against me, my tongue on the magic spot. She exhales in a whoosh….sinks against the desk.
She giggles, “I thought the time you used your hand might be the same as doing it to myself. It was not. Now this….indescribable.”
She shudders, a flush of pleasure.
We lay in bed, we kiss, long and deep, “I like tasting myself on you.”
“You are instant addiction. I trust this isn’t a onetime thing. I’d have to enter a twelve step program”
Amaya, “Not likely, I now have another addiction. The first one is you serving me, now this one, call it an extension of your service. A magical service.”
And so it is. Janah and I started at fifteen, our motors smoothly synched ever since. Amaya is going to be barely sixteen for a long time, the inevitability had been building, she chose the time and place, during a trip, in a luxury hotel. Maybe we could travel every week, or permanently, like nomads. I’ll mention it to Janah.
Amaya reads my thought, “It wasn’t the travel, I considered this for a while. If we had been in New York, the timing would have been the same. I like putting you through your paces, it excites me, it is charged, erotic. It works for us, we are required to explain nothing.”
“I was thinking of getting a sign, ‘I scored Amaya.’ I would be the envy of women everywhere, grown men would weep.”
She laughs, “Thank you. I have another devious plan. I shall make you wait for me to reciprocate. Just before you lose your mind in anticipation, as Kafka said, “not on the last day, but the very last.”
“He was referring to the coming of the Messiah.”
Amaya, “In your case, it is the same thing. In the meantime, it would please me to watch you pleasure yourself, stand next to the bed so I can see your eyes, feel your passion for me.”
“You find the best buttons.”
“And discover new buttons, immerse myself in the quest, always perfecting, enhancing, letting it flower. Now, demonstrate the depths of your admiration.”
Boy do I, standing next to the bed, fingers slowly exploring, then busier, I probably could have gone off just looking at her, but she enjoys watching me do me for her.
When I supernova, she is smiling her devastating smile, a zillion blinding teeth, flawless silken lips. I lay next to her, she takes my still damp fingers in her mouth. My hand orgasms. We caress, kiss and cling to each other, drifting together.
Janah, “I’m going to have to ratchet up my game.”
“Your game is expert. I just have to play triples now. I can handle it.”

Janah, “Love to stay and chat, but Nikko is in a frenzy…oh God, yes…she brought the toy. I’m in for it, she’s strapping up with the nastiest expression on her face…gotta go…bye.”
Amaya, “Talking to Janah?”
“Yes, I must have leaked lust. She doesn’t know details, she felt me in a state with which she is familiar.”
 Amaya, “It is strange, I guess it is, I have no experience with this. I have minor sexual experience, being touched, but that was long ago, not really me, not remotely intimate. Do they understand that my arousal springs from the nature of our relationship? My feelings for Janah come from her sensuality, she sexual intensity just standing there. Nikko is different, not just that I call her mom. I don’t catch any vibe from her.”
“Nikko may want to be less mom at some point, you are maturing after all, even if not aging. If she warms to the idea, you’ll know, she isn’t shy about expressing herself on matter of intimacy.”
Amaya, “Is it okay to tease Susan?”
“Everything is okay with Sis. Nikko drives her crazy, makes her wait until she’s practically begging. I inherited more than legs from her, I got her submissive streak as well. Chris won’t do dominant with her, Lacy does but only a little. Nikko is happy to demand obedience.”
“But she doesn’t do bossy with you, just with Janah and Sis.”
“Our intimacies are complex, you are correct, Nikko is gentle with me.”
“Then there is Janah…I mean, she’s so…”
“Yes, she is.”
She smiles, “I really enjoy being on the pedestal.”
“I enjoy keeping you there.”
She laughs softly, “Being your Goddess is hardly any work.”
We fall asleep fused to each other, wake up the same way.
Amaya is still sleeping when I creep out of bed, call room service for breakfast, I feel Janah stir. There is tea and coffee in the room, I bring Janah and Nikko tea, then coffee for Amaya and me.
Amaya, “You feel the need to shower with me.”
“How perceptive.”
As we dry, Janah is online, “Breakfast is here. All lesbians front and center.”
I robe up, slip one on Amaya, we join the others. Even Nikko has an appetite, raw lust burns calories.
Janah, “Chan went down for breakfast earlier and wanted to take a walk around the area. Please be ready by ten, we’ll cruise the building and revisit the plan of attack.”
We disguise light, sunglasses, ordinary tourist clothes, jeans, jackets, it’s always chilly in San Francisco, a good excuse for scarves and hats. The driver takes us to the building, circles the block, to the parking entrance and drives down. I exit, Janah, Nikko and Amaya can see through my eyes. I walk the lobby, survey the elevators, get a snap of today’s guard posted at the elevator on the end. The next door is the emergency stairwell. The building itself is on the corner, a door next to the stairwell exits to the street. Makes sense, go straight out in the event of an emergency, not have to pass through the lobby. That exit is locked, sign says, ‘For Emergency Use Only Alarm Will Sound When Opened.’
The guard is ordinary, wears a suit, no uniform, either armed or has a significant growth to the left of his chest. He stands, no chair. There is a radio earpiece to let him know when people are coming down and to announce when people are coming up. As far as Surveillance could tell, there are no outside visitors. Just the regular exchange of guards and a very few employees. Someone has to keep the security equipment functioning, sweep for bugs, monitor the computers and do general cleaning and maintenance. All of it is by internal staff, no outside cleaners, no outside maintenance that Surveillance had captured. Groceries come in by staff, I presume meals are cooked upstairs or delivered. A mostly self-sufficient universe up on the fiftieth.
Surveillance determined staff to include eight people, three females, five males. The men rotate downstairs guard duty. No steroid bodies, but everyone on record is fit and trim, all under thirty with the exception of one man. I reviewed the data on him, six three, chiseled, not huge, hard face, graying short hair. He looks like a Colonel in somebody’s army.
“Seen enough?”
Janah, “Yes, walk down a block, turn right, we’re returning to the hotel, I need to rethink this.”

Chapter Thirty One

We are circle on couches and chairs in the suite.
Janah, “Ideas?”
Chan,  “The fortress is not impenetrable. I can get in the stairwell their premises. Daphne and Nikko can access the roof, from an adjacent building and make their way down to their floor. You have done similar forced entries.”
Nikko, “We used explosives. We can’t afford that much noise in the middle of San Francisco. The thought of terrorism would be the first thing on people’s minds, then everyone with a badge and a gun will descend.”
Janah, “Skip the roof, too noisy. We’re overlooking the simple entrance, the private elevator. According to the plans, it opens directly into the offices. No reason not to. The elevator is guarded, and there’s a video monitor inside.”
Chan, “How can we use it then?”
It gets quiet, then Amaya says, “I have an idea.”
It’s bold, dangerous, and quite original. So inventively simple, despite reservations, we go with it.
We spend a day in rehearsal, room service must think we’re strange. Dinner first night, breakfast, lunch, dinner again, breakfast again, lunch again. Then to our target. It’s three in the afternoon, his whole crew is in. We thought about trying for a time when fewer people might be around, noon, or late at night. Rounding up the whole crowd is dicey, still seems better than having some slip the noose.
Nikko and I wear long coats, no katana, no easy way to get them past security. Our shuriken are ceramic, we’d brought our ceramic knives, hard acrylic handles, highly illegal, but don’t set off metal detectors. In a highly trafficked office building allowances are made for jewelry, detectors are only set for unusually high metal content. The gloves in our pockets have no more metal than change and get through fine, we wear hard soled boots, skip the steel toes.
We’re disguised, not in weird mode, no face paint, or strange hair, there are other people wandering the building lobby, we need normalcy.
Chan walks past the elevator bank to a small sandwich shop. He buys tea and waits.
Nikko and I take a public elevator to the forty ninth floor, get off and go to the stairwell exit. Offices have people in them, this floor a brokerage firm. The elevator opens to a hallway, restrooms and storage closets down the hall to the right, the door to the brokerage to the left. The stairwell is at the end of the hall past the restrooms.
Downstairs, Amaya breezes in, IPod, ear buds in her ears, she is nodding to the music. She’s in a skirt that gives new meaning to the word skimpy, platform shoes that further highlight curvy lean legs and a tight t-shirt. She has acrylic bracelets, a fake tattoo of a vine with flowers on her ankle and is snapping gum. Her hair is dark brown, big sunglasses and a fedora finish the look.
Chan exits the coffee shop, Amaya touches an elevator button, approaches the guard at the private elevator, smiling, less than innocently. She spins, first flash of panty, back to the guard, leans over a trash can, and tosses her gum. Between the legs and the thin snug panties, she has his attention. Still bent over, she turns and smiles at him, his brain goes on pause. Chan touches his neck, his brain logs off . Chan stands him up and it appears they are walking to the now open public elevator. Chan presses the private elevator button as he passes, gets on the public elevator with his new unconscious friend, Amaya enters the private elevator, lets the door close but doesn’t press the one button to go up, there’s only one for fifty and one for the lobby. Her head bobs and she dances around to the music that isn’t playing. She begins to count, when she gets to fifty, she presses fifty.
Chan joins us on the forty ninth, we park the guard in a storage closet. Nikko and I arranged a space where he’s surrounded by stacked boxes of paper towels and soap. It will do. I zip him up with nylon ties, three on wrists, three on ankles, add duct tape over those and his mouth while Nikko and Chan go up the stairs to fifty. I come running behind them. We have ten seconds before Amaya gets to the floor.
I can hear confusion.
“Some girl is in the elevator, dancing around, listening to an IPod or something.”
“What happened to the guard?”
“Don’t know, he didn’t call in, he’s not responding.”
“He’s got some explaining to do. Idiot girl probably hit an elevator button and got in. Get her, but don’t make a thing. Send her back down with someone and get her on the right elevator. Ask what company she’s supposed to be going to, see if she has an answer. If she does, straighten her out and find Milt. That asshole, he’s supposed to lock the elevator if he goes to pee. Don’t freak the girl, it’ll just create a problem.”
The elevator door opens, a man and a woman stand at the door, Amaya is dancing around, oblivious. The two look at each other. The woman gets on the elevator with her, hits the button and it starts back down.
We face a metal door, since it’s an emergency exit, it opens towards us. Chan can’t just kick it in. It has standard industrial trim, a stainless steel handle. Chan twists the handle, snap! He yanks it open, we walk in like we’d been invited. Five faces stare at us from cubicles across the floor. It’s a lot of space and very few people. A large glass partitioned office at the far end. The guy inside looks puzzled, then pissed.
Shuriken fly, four bodies wiggling, trying to figure out what hit them. Chan whaps one, he drops to the floor unconscious, moves towards Meyer’s office. Nikko and I rush the others, render them equally inoperable, then we are easing through the space, looking for the three still upright. Computers blink, no phones ring. Red lights on three walls began blinking, but no alarm. Guns come out, the fun begins.
In the elevator, Amaya pulls out her ear buds, “Who are you? I’m looking for my mom, she works at Feldstein and Parker, it’s a law firm.”
The woman had her question answered before she asked it, “Wrong elevator, it’s on forty four. Didn’t you see there’s only one floor on this one?”
Amaya giggles, “Duh, I was into Jay Z,” she waves her IPod, “mom says I’m going to walk into a bus one day.”
The woman smiles, “You sound like my niece.”
Amaya, “Sorry for the trouble, she opens her purse, digs around, “Want some gum?”
The woman, “No thanks,” Amaya sticks a syringe in her neck and presses the plunger.
The woman collapses to the floor, the door opens, Amaya steps out. Janah is waiting for her. She gets in when Amaya gets out.
Amaya walks to the sandwich shop and orders hot tea, plugs in her ear buds, sits at a table, crosses her legs slowly and taps the screen of her IPhone. Several young men in the place are suddenly very happy.
I’m dodging a bullet, I mental, “You okay?”
Amaya, “Perfect, as always.”
“Stay put unless you smell trouble, any alarms or security….”
“I know, hit the fire exit and get to the SUV. Don not waste time on me, some puke is shooting at you, worry about him.”

I roll forward, behind a filing cabinet, listen for footsteps. Nikko has disarmed one woman, that left my guy and another man. Nikko is stalking her target, I wait out mine until I hear him one cubicle away.
He says to whoever, “I have this one cornered.”
Dumb, I can tell from the voice he’s facing away from me. I jump up, leap to the desk in my cubicle and fly over the wall. My man turns, I catch his gun hand with my owl grip, crush it as I come down, blood seeps from his wrist. Then I clock him just over the ear with my knuckles, the titanium does its job, sort of, he’s down, not out. Tough bastard. I take his gun, eject the clip and pop the round out of the chamber, throw the gun into the cubicle I’d come from. He’s dazed, but comes at me. The ceramic knife point in his throat gets his attention.
“Settle down Superman. Behave and live, misbehave and you will leap out of a tall building with a single kick.”
To his surprise, I lift him by the back of his neck, one hand, knife poking his throat with the other. I whap him with the butt of my knife. He sinks to the floor, doesn’t move. I zip him up and go to find Nikko.
Her guy is bleeding out on the carpet. Nikko has a wound on her arm, I’d heard shots, one of them grazed her. She pulls her knife from his chest, wipes it on his shirt. I duct tape her wound, she nods. There’s a lot of noise in the direction of Meyer’s office.
He and Chan are going at it hard. I see Chan sail across the desk and crash against the glass. It shatters. Chan doesn’t fall, doesn’t appear cut.
“Crap, a Dark One.”
Nikko, “Not for long.”
Her knife sails over Chan’s shoulder. It should have stuck her target in the chest. Instead he catches it in the air. Oops.
Now he comes at Chan with the knife. Chan remains stock still, Meyer flips the knife, Chan moves to the side, Nikko snatches it out of the air.
“Meyer, you going to play catch all day?”
Meyer, “I am going to decimate you. He folds up on his desk, crosses his legs, stares at Chan. Chan staggers, I feel dizzy, Nikko backs up to increase the distance and moves to a side out of his line of sight. She’s still as a gravestone. I fake a stagger, isn’t hard, I feel black clouds gathering in my head. I summon all the qi I can find, then feel a rush as Janah kicks in. She is walking to the office, her eyes on Meyer.
I step directly toward him, he can’t seem to grasp it. I’m supposed to be senseless. He raises his hand, I get an invisible blow to the gut. Thanks to Nikko’s training abuse, I only bend slightly, keep coming. He raises a second hand, his eyes widen, nothing happens, Janah’s in overdrive. Chan moves forward and is reaching for the target when a blur flies past, Nikko leaves the floor and sails directly towards Meyer. Off balance, Chan grabs him in a bear hug and Nikko breaks his face hard with her shoulder, then a second shot with her elbow. I jamb a syringe in his neck, Meyer is done for now. Chan heaves him over his shoulder, we go to the elevator and down.

Chapter Thirty Two

Amaya is waiting at the emergency exit. She pushes open the door, the alarm sounds. We pile in the SUV.
Janah, “I didn’t allow for a Dark One. It won’t happen again. I wonder why we didn’t sense anything?”
Chan, “We were occupied, behind a concrete wall and a metal door. I caught it on the way to his office.”
“If you hadn’t powered me up it could have been nastier. He’s good, bad good. He took on three of us and was holding his own. Others able to absorb his qi confused him, probably hadn’t happened before.”
Amaya, “Mother is injured.”
Nikko, “It’s nothing. Janah will give you a lesson in wounds before she takes Meyer apart. Watch closely..”
Janah, “I’ve never dealt with a Dark One pharmaceutically. Should be interesting.”
Amaya, “You have spoken of Dark Ones, Daphne. We did not discuss it in detail. When we are finished, you will explain more fully.”
“We’re more familiar than we’d like to be. There are apparently more than we thought, doing more sophisticated things. No wonder he commanded such loyalty, a twenty-four seven job for his staff. He has more than paychecks to control them.
Janah, “I should have thought of that. Questioned why his people didn’t have a life.”
“This was Society business. Our past experience is through the Shaolin, or personal. Now we know. Good thing Chan came along, Nikko and I would have had our hands full.”
Chan, “What about the others?”
Janah, “This was a big job. The Society took an unusual step and drew in additional support. While we head to the interrogation, a team is on site, hacking and downloading files, cleaning, and will transport the staff to a separate location. A private elevator comes in handy. After the dust settles and the building closes for the night, they will take his staff one by one in boxes. It will look like moving. Meyer’s elaborate security works in our favor. The movers will show the right documents, signed by the right people. It will appear to be an FBI sting. Given Bernie Madoff and the rash of other white collar crimes, building security will cooperate for a simple reason. The owners have been notified of the search warrants and have been told if they cooperate there won’t be any media noise. They will be happy to be quietly rid of unscrupulous tenants. A news circus would be bad for business.”
“What happens to the staff?”
Janah, “Debriefed. If they cooperate, they go home. If not, they disappear. They won’t know anything about FBI or stings. They will fear their interrogators, particularly since Meyer has no hold over them. The good news is, they aren’t our problem. We defrag Meyer and go home.”
Amaya, “The Society has a long arm.”
“You have no idea angel.”
Our driver drops us in Oakland, a small warehouse, nothing in it but Janah’s equipment, cots for us, a refrigerator with her pharmaceuticals, food and drinks. There’s a coffee pot, a hot and cold water dispenser and tea. Looks like three days’ worth. The driver disappears, we settle Meyer on his new unfavorite chair, strap him down, bright halogen directly in his face. Janah’s alongside, the syringe in easy reach. She begins explaining to Amaya each drug’s dosage and purpose.
Janah leaves him unconscious. She begins with Nikko. Amaya takes off her coat, cuts away the duct tape and the arm of the shirt to reveal the wound. It’s quit bleeding, starts up again when the tape comes off. Janah examines, explains how to inject Lidocaine around it. Amaya does the injections. If she’s squeamish, it doesn’t register. She cleans it with peroxide, wipes off the foam, applies it again, wipes it again, covers it with Betadine. Janah explains Dermabond, cracks an ampoule and has Amaya apply it. When it’s set, she demonstrates how to wrap it. Nikko never flinches.
Amaya, “Good, mom?”
“You did well, daughter, at the site and here. I will rest now, Daphne will take care of me. Your focus is the target.”
Amaya and Janah turn their attention to Meyer. Chan eats and rests, I situate Nikko on a cot and cover her with a blanket. I give her Percocet, she lays back and drifts off.
While Janah does her thing, bringing Meyer up to partial consciousness, Amaya attends the IV and the tray of drugs, Chan and I settle in. I make coffee and tea, eat a sandwich, watch my girls work. Amaya switches off the rest of the world, her world is now Janah and Meyer. Her years of performance allow her to compartmentalize. Once Nikko is resting comfortably, she can help most by following Janah’s instruction.
They work Meyer for two days. When Janah has him in freak city, they rest. She teaches Amaya to bring him down, how much sodium pentothal, how often, which varies according to the target’s mental state, bodyweight and age.
Meyer is the most difficult yet. His mind and qi are strong, except for Tan, stronger than we’ve seen. He resists, and is initially successful. He can’t bust the strands of picture wire he’s constrained by, he can’t control Janah, but it takes her longer to break him than any of the priors.
Chan has to restrain him twice. Finally, he wraps a long strand of wire around his neck and fixes it to the back of the chair. He’s aware enough to understand he’ll only decapitate himself with more outbursts.
By the third day, he’s done. Janah elicits details of his operation, names of sources, current projects. He’s docile, not lobotomized, but close.
Janah, “I’m only partially convinced, but we can’t stay here any longer. I’m having the Society pick him up and put him under observation. If he’s playing us, he’s playing us good.”
Nikko, “What if he escapes, or takes over his guards? Leave him to me. No problem, no expense.”
Amaya, “Janah, I know I am the new kid, but I would be remiss if I did not say I think he is still dangerous.”
Janah, “Chan?”
“Take him. Our obligation is to remove Dark Ones, it isn’t really a question. If he regains qi function, even half his former skill, you put others at risk.”
“Janah, we’re obliged to kill Dark Ones, there’s no middle ground here.”
Janah sighs, “Okay. I got what I needed, Amaya got a unique training session. I’m calling for a pickup. Nikko or Daphne, do what you have to do.”
We go outside, Chan stays with Nikko and Meyer.
Two minutes later, Nikko and Chan come out. A van arrives. A team unloads, we get in. The team will remove everything, bleach and clean. The scent of burned meat drifts from an incinerator behind the warehouse.
“There was nothing to do, Janah. He controlled eight people for several years. He ruined good businesses, wrecked simple, normal lives. We aren’t God, we do what we can do with the information we have. We aren’t in the rehabilitation business.”
Janah’s eyes are moist, “I don’t care about him, I wanted Amaya to see something besides death in what we do. You will make sure she understands?”
“Janah, that girl is made of sterner stuff than you imagine. She is Nishiko’s daughter, your ward. She has two very tough role models she loves and respects. Still, I’ll talk with her, and if she needs to, she can talk to dad. I think she’ll surprise you.”

Janah, “I defer to your judgment. It is terribly sad, but you’re right, we have no choice with Dark Ones.”
“We’ll go to the hotel, be silent, reflect, I’ll talk it over with her and let you know what I sense. Take care of Nikko, talk with Chan. He’s a good sounding board, he would never insert himslef, but he would be honored if you talked things over with him. Don’t waste such a valuable asset.”

Janah brightens, not bright, but I feel her spirits lift, “That, my dearest, is a very good idea, thank you.”
“I’m not all hardbody and legs.”

My angel actually has a hint of a smile, she squeezes my hand.


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