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Chapter Fifty Seven
The film girls return each day spent, as in tired. The weather has held, Amaya says they're ahead of schedule since Childers had the sense to build in rain delays. Dasha and Daria are finished with their London parts, but on the sets everyday to keep an eye on Amaya and Chloe. Nikko and Zi are due, I get a mental from Nikko they're at Heathrow wading through customs. Finn is at the airport to pick them up.
They arrive mid afternoon, Nikko, "Flight was good, hard to beat Virgin Atlantic first. This suite is nice, kind of over the top."
"My pal Edward upgraded you. Murakami Sylk is dropping a small fortune here, if we ever return he'd like to have the inside track. We also get freebied on afternoon tea, courtesy of a timely phone call from the Duchess."
Zi, "Janah said she called while you were at tea, had to get their attention. Speaking of which, is it tea time now?"
"Next seating is four fifteen, we’re set, you have time to unpack and refresh. I assume you want to plow through and get to bed at a normal hour."
Nikko, "Jet lag is no big deal from New York to London, crossing the dateline is weird but we don't this trip. You will on the flight from Tokyo. If you leave Tokyo at three o'clock Thursday, you get to New York at three o'clock Thursday."
"Sounds like Oceane's doing, wherever she is it's always the same time...now."
Zi, "I have to think that one over, maybe after tea."
We gather for another near decadent tea, Zi, "This is remarkable, white glove service, one feels quite the fashion."
Our server, Harold, asks, "Everything satisfactory ma'am?"
"Everything at the Dorchester exceeds expectations, particularly your service Harold."
"Thank you ma'am. May I welcome Ms. Murakami and Ms. Zhang to the Dorchester."
Nikko, "Thank you. From Daphne's reports and our initial impressions, we have landed in the perfect spot."
Harold moves off to check on other guests, Nikko says, "I see you've been courting the staff as usual."
"Find out what I can. The Brits don't familiarize as easily as Americans, north or south. They like to be seen as more than robots carrying out orders. The finer line is between trying to be pals and respecting that they see themselves as doing a job, not bowing and scraping to the wealthy. I made a few inroads so they don't feel they need to walk on eggs around us. It's not like I'm in search of lurid secrets of the Dorchester Hotel."
Nikko, "Dasha and Daria haven't had a chance to tourist, do you want Zi and I to take security duty tomorrow?"
"Take a day to settle in perhaps," I switch to mental, "Daria, you okay with another day on location?"
Daria, "Da, they will use drone tomorrow, Eloise must come."
"Take Oceane as well, she flies the thing as well as anyone, they have two on set, yes?"
Daria, "Yes, better for Dasha and I to watch the crowd, lots of people to see Matt and Chloe. Also obnoxious British press, worse than American paparazzi."
"If it gets too bad, blank the cameras, love to see the look on their faces when they discover they have a photo of nothing."
Daria and to a lesser degree, Dasha, can mentally jam the equipment, a form of telekinesis. While they can make an object move, they can also create an energy disturbance, distort the light a camera needs to take a photo. Photos will look like the lens is covered in a thick layer of Vaseline. In a pinch, Daria can make the camera so hot it burns the photographer's hands.
Nikko, "I need to move if I'm going to stay awake."
While the others go to rooms, I take Nikko and Zi on the two mile stroll to Kensington Palace, after a once over, we turn and make the couple of miles back.
"Four miles, no exactly aerobics, got the travel kinks out I hope."
Zi, "Yes, much better. We were spoiled, sitting in first class stretched out is hardly like stuck straight up in coach, still, it's a confined space."
"Maybe a hot shower, then we'll meet for dinner. The Grill here is good, we ate there the first night. The French restaurant is excellent, as is the Chinese, Amaya and Chloe had Chateaubriand at the Grill and raved."
Nikko, "Good with me."
"I'll make arrangements, dinner at seven thirty, meet at the bar for seven."
Everyone's returned, drinkers have the libation of choice, Chloe says, "Seems like I spent the day running, one stretch was up six flights of stairs full tilt."
Eloise, "What were you running from?"
Chloe, "Running to. Matt and I were chasing a scared witness we needed to talk to. He thought we were trying to kill him. Wasn't us though, it was rogue MI-5 agents. We had to knock off two of them then get the witness to a safe house."
"What's the difference between MI-5 and MI-6?"
Amaya, "Five is for domestic security and counter-intelligence, MI-6 is foreign, sort of like the FBI and CIA. Like any agencies, they have decent and not so decent people. The two Chloe killed were trying to eliminate the witness, who was going to leak details of an operation that would land them in prison, money laundering and possibly treason. Now, Chloe and Matt do not know who to trust. They believe the witness, but turning him over to a questionable agency is dicey."
Dasha, "All happen while Vesnushki ees still being chased by Yakuza, two stories een same movie."
Amaya, "They dodge the problem in London by taking the witness to Beijing. The Chinese are so cooperative with our production because look like good guys, kind of like Russia taking in Snowden. They get to thumb their nose at Britain while the Brits try to explain away MI-5 agents aiding a money laundering scheme."
Chloe, "The remaining work in London isn’t as physical. I have a katana thing with two remaining Yakuza who take Matt hostage to draw me out. Most of that was shot earlier, Dasha and Daria whacked four, but two got away with Matt. This is the scene where I locate them and save Matt."
Janah, "How's Matt with being saved instead of saving?"
"We alternate. In China he bails me out."
Zi, "Do Dasha and Daria have more to do?"
Amaya, "The twins are not in the Chinese scenes, they show up again in Japan."
Dasha, "We save Chloe and Matt at end. Both are in two sniper sights, just before they pull trigger, we shoot snipering persons."
Amaya, "And my next book will about the twin assassins, Chloe and Matt will have cameo roles but the story revolves around the twins."
Dasha, "We will be beeg moovey star, get drunk, start fight in club, no wearing panties, make expensive coke habit, go to rehabbing."
Dasha's developed a macabre sense of humor.
I ask, "What's the book titled?"
Amaya, "Still deciding, I am leaning towards either, Now You See Me, Again, or Double Vision. Although there is already a film with that title, Double Vision may be out."
"Maybe Mirror Image."
"That's good. There was a movie listed on IMDB called Mirror Image, says it was released in 2012 but I can't find it anyplace, at least no on Amazon or Netflix. An older film was called Mirror Images, some dud from the early nineties."
"I found a trailer for Mirror Image, it's a slasher flick, pretty lame. It is about twins, one was killed, looks like the other did it. Sure didn't go anyplace."
"There was a movie about a magician called Now You See Me, so my first title may not work either, I do not want people to think it's a sequel or about magic. I will give it more thought. No rush, I have to write it first."
"Is it a book, then a screenplay, or straight to screenplay?"
"I think a book first, online like Ultra Violet III. That sold well, I netted as much as I would have on a regular book. I wonder, maybe Oceane can illustrate it, that would be cool."
Oceane is at the table, having a conversation with the champagne, "Happy grapes sparkle."
Amaya, "Excuse me Happy Grapes, I am going to write a story about twin assassins, do you want to illustrate it?"
"If you read the story to me, it will tell me," she puts her finger in the champagne, "fizzy."
"Fizzy in your head," Oceane smiles, gone off to Oceaneland again.
Chloe giggles, "Like a balloon, bouncing from one sensation to another."
Amaya, "Precious angel makes my heart fizzy."
Chapter Fifty Eight
We come to the evening of our visit to Kensington Palace, Henry arrives, there are six, Dasha, Daria, Janah, Chloe, Amaya and me. Our royals don't know the others are in town and we could hardly ask them to expand the guest list to accommodate everyone.
"Henry, so good to see you, meet Dasha and Daria, you've met Janah, this is Chloe and Amaya."
Henry, "My pleasure, The Duke and Duchess look forward to your visit. This is the gift?"
Daria is carrying the box, it's tastefully wrapped, but the top opens so he can examine the contents. the second is in a three by three foot portfolio style case.
"Yes, we can stow then in back, you want to examine it now?"
Daria puts in rear storage space, lifts the lid.
Henry, "Oh my, appears to be a drone. Quite an interesting design, and do I see an IPad?"
"Yes, it serves as the control panel. I understand the Duke has an interest in helicopters, this is a mini version. The second is a piece of art I think the Duchess will enjoy."
"Let's get you delivered, I have to do a more thorough examination, you understand I trust?"
"Of course, and Daria will give you a preliminary demonstration before it's presented."
Henry, "Thank you."
Wow, what a place, it's a palace alright. We took the public tour, but now we're in the living quarters, and it's just as magnificent.
"Daphne, Janah, so good of you to come," Catherine is radiant, beautiful smile, bright eyes, clearly in her element.
William, "How nice see you again, Catherine so enjoyed her visit to your temple. I've learned a great deal from my electronic correspondence with Janah. The photos she sends of your schools are terrific."
"May I introduce Dasha, her sister Daria, this is Amaya, and of course Chloe."
William, "Rubbing elbows with movie stars and famous authors. I am a great fan of your thrillers Amaya, and am determined to catch Ultra Violet II soon. I understand Chloe is, in fact, a kendo master."
Chloe, "A constant challenge. Hanshi, my instructor, is most demanding and his daughter, our friend Nikko, makes me looks completely incompetent."
William, "That is the same Nikko that heads Murakami Sylk?"
Chloe, "Yes, her skill in business is equal to her skill with the sword. She and Zi do all our heavy business lifting along with Daria."
I'm a bit surprised he knows about Murakami Sylk, but then not. We were doubtless vetted over the years or they would have dropped contact.
Catherine, "I want to hear all about the movie, shall we have a glass of wine? Dinner is for eight, there are appetizers. We can begin here and move to table later."
Conversation wanders from education, to charity, to film making, on to our restaurants. I had no idea they'd gone this deep in our businesses, but they did. Dasha explains about Ms. Alva, her early interest in cooking. We turn the conversation to interests of William and Catherine, she likes painting and is a fan of Janah's mom.
Henry coughs from the doorway, Catherine says, "Henry, what is it?"
"Gifts from Ms. Daphne and her family ma'am."
Catherine, "Oh my, how very thoughtful, bring them in."
He lays the box on a table, the painting is in a portfolio that zippers open. Kara's gallery framed it, just a best guess since we have no idea where, or if, Catherine will hang it.
William removes the lid, stares down on the drone, "Catherine, it's a drone, Daphne is it functional?"
Henry, "May I answer sir? I've been treated to a demonstration by Ms. Daria. I was flabbergasted."
William, "Henry doesn't flabbergast, it must be amazing, may we see it in action?"
Catherine, "As soon as I peek inside the portfolio, dear," Henry unzips the case, opens it, Catherine gasps, "A Kiersted! Good Lord, how absolutely amazing. It is gorgeous, thank you Daphne, Janah. I shall get off a note to your mother tomorrow, you must give me an address."
She's studying the art. Kara's work is abstract, three dimensional. This one is titled Thames, after the river, what may be water seems to flow over the canvas, what looks like a bridge across, almost as if you could walk on it.
William, "I've only seen photos in magazines. This is just splendid, as if the water is moving. However does she do it?"
Catherine, "I shall have it in my quarters, at least for a good while. I will reluctantly share it eventually, I promise you, it will be displayed and enjoyed, thank you again."
Janah, "Most welcome, Kara sends her regards."
William, "Can I see the drone now?"
We go outside, the gardens are well lit, the drone has its own light. Daria fires up the IPad, shows William the controls, she takes it on a demonstration flight, does a few tricks, sets it down in front of the royal couple.
William is near giddy, "Fantastic stuff. May I try my hand?"
Daria hands him the IPad, he does a simple take off and landing, she shows him how to move his finger to turn, then to loop de loop, then bring it in for a landing. He knows how to fly a helicopter, he can handle the drone.
Next comes the icing, she turns on the video and audio, takes another flight completely around the palace. William watches as images from the other side of the building come into sharp focus. She zooms in on Henry in front of the palace, he waves, "Wonderful bit of machinery isn't it sir?"
William, "Clear as day that is. Where did you develop it?"
Daria, "Eloise built it in our workshop, Daphne's mom and I wrote the code, Eloise and I got it synchronized with the IPad. Here," she points to a bar on the screen, "you can see the battery life, just like an IPhone, except when it goes yellow, it has about thirty minutes left, red means ten minutes or less, bring it in for a recharge."
William, "It is so simple to operate. Just marvelous, I shall have a grand time with this. Harry will be dying to try it."
"You can download video and send it to him. Make him guess how you got it."
William, "What great fun! Of course, he's familiar with drones, but he will never guess I have one. I will make a video of Catherine and George from up in the sky, then fly it down for a close up, circle around them. Thank you Daria, and please thank Eloise for me."
Daria, "Tap in a message to her on the IPad, I put contact numbers in case you have questions or a problem. Nothing you record is visible to anyone except on this IPad, unless you send it, like to your brother. The signals are encrypted and unique to this drone and this IPad. We set it up so it won't operate on any other device."
William, "Grand," he brings up her contact, texts, 'Your drone is positively splendid, the quality of workmanship is absolutely remarkable, thank you so very much, William.'
A minute later the screen beeps, 'You are welcome sir.'
William, "Catherine, look, I got a text from the inventor. I may be out here all night."
Catherine, "You will be inside presiding over dinner for our guests, who I am certain are famished, I know I am."
Chapter Fifty Nine
We are seated, William at one end, Catherine at the other, I'm on her left, next to me is Daria, then Janah on William's right. Amaya, Chloe and Dasha across from us.
The server is removing empty wine glasses, she has three on a tray and when she rounds the table to my side, she catches her heel on a runner, the crystal starts to tumble. I catch two glasses mid flight, the third is nearing the floor when it stops, right in the air. It rises and sets itself on the table next to me. Daria snagged it with her mind.
Catherine stares at the glass, jaw dropped, stunned silence. The server faints, my second catch of the evening. I lower her to the floor, check to see she hasn't swallowed her tongue, her pulse is normal, she's breathing normally. A gaggle of staff rushes in, trailed by Henry.
"She's had a bit of a shock," I'm fanning her with a napkin, "coming around now," her eyes blink open, "good, take a few slow deep breaths, everything is fine, no broken glass, no bumps, no bruises."
After she regains composure, Henry and I help her up, he walks her out reassuring her no harm is done, just nip to the kitchen for a cup of tea, a dash of brandy.
Dinner recommences, sort of.
Catherine, "Will, did you see, the glass levitated, Daphne had her hands full, it went down, then stopped cold, then to the table."
William, "I saw it when it set itself on the table, obviously it did not break, nor did it bounce off a hard floor all the way back up. Should be in a million pieces. Daphne, what happened, there must be an explanation?"
"Would you like the condensed version?"
William, "As a starting point."
"And what happens in the palace stays in the palace?"
Catherine, "We try our best. Once cannot always control the staff, but they have signed pledges. Nothing will come from us."
"Daria is telekinetic."
William, "Good Lord, you are having me on, yes?"
"Well, no, I'm not. She can move things with her mind."
Servers appear with roast beef, vegetables, potatoes, soup came and went earlier. After they leave, we continue.
William, "Of course, I've heard of such things, but aren't they generally discredited?"
Janah, "Yes, most of it is a trick. In Daria's case, no. We stay away from demonstration, considering the circumstances, perhaps a small one if you wish."
William, "It would be foolish to refuse, please."
"Pick any item on the table, just to insure it isn't something we preselected."
"Then, let's see, Catherine's spoon, how's that?"
Janah nods at Daria, the spoon lifts from its resting place, floats across the table and lands next to William's.
Catherine has her hand to her mouth, Janah says, "She's going to need it later, perhaps return it."
The spoon levitates and makes the trip to its original spot.
William is smiling and clapping, "I have no notion of how, but well done Daria, well done indeed."
Catherine, "The most amazing thing I have ever seen, or ever likely to see. What do we tell the staff, and the girl?"
"Something more believable, that I caught the glass with my foot, got lucky and bounced it up to the table. If you say I'm a Shaolin priest and have remarkable reflexes, after all, I did catch two glasses in the air, she may doubt it, but it will be easier to swallow than telekinesis. The only other responses are none at all or that you have no idea what happened."
Catherine, "I shall go with reflex, just foggy enough to be true. Henry can back up the story with his martial arts experiences. He's seen a number of superhuman capacities in his travels, particularly in the East. Stories he relates about his time in Tibet are riveting."
"Sounds like a solution, the roast is exquisite, my compliments, everything is superb," trying to move things to a different track.
William, "You are not slipping by with a subject change Daphne. I want to know more about this phenomenon, is it unique to Daria, is it more common than we think, how does one practice it, or can it be practiced?"
I look to Janah, "Take this ball please."
Janah, "Daria caught on rather easily, Daphne and Dasha through practice. Part of Daphne's training included a lot of mental work via one of the Shaolin mystic masters. I have some skill in it, trained by the same monk. I don't use it much, Daphne, Daria and Dasha play games with it."
William, "Games, what sort?"
Janah, "Can you locate a few tennis balls?"
Catherine's favorite physical activity is tennis, getting a can of balls is simple enough. The three of us kneel in a circle on the floor, I pour out the three balls and we begin to push them around with our minds.
Janah explains, "The idea is to try and get one of the balls out of the circle. If Daphne sends one, Daria or Dasha have to keep it in bounds while trying to send one of the others out."
The three balls roll across the floor, then mysteriously stop, or turn, or roll the opposite direction. The game is fast, dealing with only three balls is simple for us, we usually play with six, seven is our top. Catherine becomes cheerleader.
"Oh Daphne, she nearly got one past you, good move Dasha, nice block Daria," she's gotten into it.
We go on for five minutes, not so bad with only three, it is exhausting with six or seven balls for twenty minutes.
I collect the balls and plop them back into the can, "Can I keep them? A souvenir from the tennis playing Duchess?"
Catherine is still laughing from watching the game, "What fun! Of course, several cans. It will be my secret, my tennis balls used for telekinesis practice."
"Maybe Daria should come to your matches, you would never lose."
Catherine giggles, "I never thought of that, who needs a coach with Daria in my corner?"
William, "It occurs she would be devastating in a casino."
I smile, "We did it just once, as an experiment. One roulette roll, her number came up. Never tried with dice. It would be theft of a kind and we draw the line at that."
William, "Ah, but did you keep the winnings?"
"It's a fair question Catherine, we donated the money. Not accepting it would be too bizarre, and we had no guarantee it would even work, as I said, it was an experiment. The casino she played at can afford a few thousand, it helps them in the long run, makes people believe they can get lucky too."
William, "Quite true."
I skip over the part that the few thousand was seven hundred thousand. I figure to a major Vegas operation, seven hundred is a 'few.'
Dinner winds down, final glass of wine and we're off to the hotel.
Henry, "Appears the Duke and Duchess got more of an evening than they bargained for."
"I hope you are able to throw some smoke about mysteries of the East, make my story about quick feet seem palatable."
Henry, "I made a brief comment, tomorrow I will expand, how I've seen monks go from one place to the next without appearing to move, actually did see something of the sort. I saw no telekinesis demonstrations as such, I can stick to my story that the glass didn't hop up to the table on its own."
It's a short trip, couple of miles, we exit the car, I go to hug Henry, catch the scent of burning. I step back and look in his eyes, he's clearly tired.
"Do they know?"
He hesitates, reads my sad demeanor, "No. A better question is, how do you?"
"I'm similar to a bloodhound, an unfortunate gift, one I would gladly relinquish."
He nods, "Must be difficult, I assume you can know even when the subject does not."
"Yes. I have to keep it turned down, too many people have something. When it gets...serious, I can't avoid it. In your case, there is no way you don't already know."
Henry, "Quite right. I passed on radiation and chemo, my doctors say it would extend things a few months at best. I fail to see the point in a lot of sad faces and pats on the shoulder. I'm not that old, seventy one, but I've seen good men die in their twenties. Serving in the palace, well, how many people get to do that?"
"When do you tell them?"
"Have to do it soon, the stiff upper lip is too hard to maintain much longer. Only reason I keep at it is a drawer full of pain relievers."
I hug him again, "One of my moms went far too soon, in her forties. I carry her with me every day, as I shall you."
"Thank you, ma'am."
There's nothing left to say, I'm misty, can't help it. I can't say I know Henry, but I do in a way. He's a martial artist, and has used his skills in combat. It creates a bond only warriors can understand.
Back in our suite, Janah says, "Shame, he's highly regarded at the palace, a wise and valuable gentleman. Catherine is quite fond of him. I'm sure he walked her through a lot of royal obligations and expectations. Diana would have benefited from his guidance, but he wasn't in service to the family then. He came along when William and Harry were just getting to their teens."
"When did you find out all that?"
"Over the course of e-mails with William."
"Sometimes I wish I could drink."