Chapter Sixty One

Janah, “We’ve had so many fresh flowers growing in our project garden this last year, I’ve been farming out Society work to our other teams, we haven’t had to deal with the weeds. It appears that one, maybe more, of our uglier life forms has reared its head.”
“Shadows cropping up?”
Janah, “Seems so. Remember how we said Shadows could make a killing selling life insurance?”
“Don’t tell me.”
Janah, “Afraid so. Rather than just take a mind long enough to make them cough up whatever’s in their wallet, this one comes across as an insurance agent. He sells policies, collects the money, leaves a stack of phony documentation and evaporates.”
“Isn’t that more complicated than getting someone to hand them a hundred bucks and evaporating?”
Janah, “Yes, but in this case it’s much more. He’s convincing people they are buying a guaranteed annuity. People are writing checks for fifty, a hundred thousand.”
“Ah, taking one mind for a hundred grand is a lot simpler than taking a thousand for a hundred bucks.”
Janah, “Didn’t know you were that good at math.”
“I’m not, I used your brain.”
Janah, “We need to put his guy out of business. Based on reports, we may need to put two, three or more out of business. Descriptions of the ‘agent’ vary. It could be one person in various disguises, or could be more than one.”
“How did this come up?”
Janah, “Once he’s gone, people see a check or a transfer of fifty, a hundred grand out of their account. Then they get zero paperwork, no policies, nothing. The company receiving the funds doesn’t exist, inquiries dead end. They call state insurance commissions, nothing they can do, no such company has filed anything with them, there’s no place to start an investigation. Checks are cashed in dummy accounts, when the check clears, the account disappears. Electronic transfers go to one account, then another, then split into different accounts, then another dead end. These people are slick, not the kind of Shadows we’ve encountered before. Those were more about sex or violence, and simple graft. This is bigger, somebody has thought it through.”
“Sounds like our hedge fund guy, way back when, people get greedy, jump into a fake fund, lose it all.”
Janah, “Yep, version of the same thing. This time, people weren’t just greedy, they had no control, they wrote the check because a Shadow made them write it.”
Nikko, “The problem is obvious.”
Janah, “Yes, how do we find them? We can’t follow around everyone who meets with an insurance agent. I’m sure these people do a scam or two in a town, then disappear.”
“Any ideas?”
Janah, “So far, nothing. He leaves a business card, of course it’s meaningless, the phone is a buy and fly, number evaporates when he does.”
Zi, “Then we have to wait for a break, someone calls their attorney, or notes a license plate we can track. Even a fingerprint or DNA sample. Maybe he drank coffee or a Coke. Can they get prints off a business card?”
Janah, “Yes, they use a rubber gelatin lifter, tape lifters don’t get all the powder since it gets in the pores of the paper. I’ll have to get on the phone and find out what they’ve got.”
Janah goes off to call our contacts. The latest reports came from Colorado Springs, she will have to get any reports from other states. The problem with insurance is each state has its own insurance commission, it’s not national like the securities business. Complaints go to the state, they investigate if they have someone to investigate. We’re not even sure they went as far as checking fingerprints.
She calls an FBI contact, it takes two hours but he calls back, “Insurance commission didn’t do any criminal investigation, they verified that no such company existed, there were no documents left at the victims homes. I do have their names and addresses, you want ‘em?”
Janah, “Yes.”
Then she has Identification call the two victims on the pretext of being investigators into insurance fraud. The victims are delighted to hear somebody is looking into it, they don’t ask questions, they’re happy to cough up details. By midday, we have one lead.
The first woman, a widow, wrote a check for fifty thousand, but met the fake agent in a tea shop. She had no cards, paperwork, nothing that might have a print. The second couple, in their seventies, had the agent in their home. They got a business card and a brochure and kept it. Identification pressed, did he have coffee or a soda? Yes, he drank a Pepsi. Do they have the bottle or can? It was a can, still in the recycle bin. Don’t touch it, don’t throw it away. One of our investigators will be over to collect it, the card and brochure, don’t touch any of it. Wherever it’s lying around, leave it there.
Identification calls when they’ve retrieved the items.
Janah, “I called our friend at the FBI, deliver the material, they’ll let me know if anything is on it. You have samples from the victims?”
Identification, “Yes. No problem, we took formal prints from them, they had no objection, we made it plain we had to rule out their prints.”
Janah, “Do they have the cancelled check?”
Identification, “Banks don’t send those any longer, you have to request a copy.”
Janah, “I need the routing number, account number and the check number.”
Identification, “We did get that much,” he reads off the detail.
Janah, “I want the check, I know who to call, thanks for the quick response.”
She calls a Treasury contact, tells her what she needs, another hour, the check has been located, it’s on the way to the Society drop here in Manhattan.
“Daphne, go and get it tomorrow, I doubt it will do us much good for prints, but it will be stamped with bank codes. The first bank cashed it, sent the cancelled check to the originating bank. But the money was deposited in an account. Maybe we get an handle on where the money goes after the check is cashed.”

Chapter Sixty Two

Amaya drives me to collect the cancelled check, Susan takes all of fifteen minutes to hack the bank, the funds transferred to something called Wisteria Holdings in Portland Oregon, an account at Umpqua Bank, never heard of it, but it’s well known in Portland. A series of five thousand dollar cashier’s checks were issued from the Wisteria account. The authorized signatory for Wisteria is one Raphael Donatello. The account was opened only three months ago, closed yesterday.
There are prints all over the check, Eloise gets what she can, we wait on the FBI.
Janah, “Book Dasha, you and me to Portland. I want to sniff around before the target leaves town.”
“How do you know he isn’t already gone?”
Janah, “I don’t. I’m happy enough he didn’t bounce around the money more than he did. Daria, if we get any names from the FBI, find out who this sucker is.”
Daria, “We will find target. Go to Portland. Maybe lucky, maybe he lives there and thinks it is safe for him. Does insurance scam in other town only.”
Janah, “You’re thinking the same thing I’m thinking. He doesn’t conduct his fraud in Portland, he thinks he’s immune there.”
Nikko, “You’re okay on this with the three of you?”
Janah, “If we need more firepower, you and Zi, Chan or the others can be there in a day. We only think this is a network, he may simply disguise differently, or, if he’s a Shadow, he’s taking their minds, they see what he tells them to see. Shadows are not social, and this doesn’t require a network like Wichita Falls. You have enough going on now anyway, the school, the restaurants. I don’t want to pull you out for my fishing expedition. And Chloe’s film goes nationwide in a few days, she has interviews, Amaya needs to be around.”
Nikko, “I’ll call Chan and tell him he may need to fly to Portland on short notice.”
Janah, “Good, what time do we leave, Daph?”
“Nine o’clock, six hours to fly, pick up three, we’ll be in Portland at noon, Transportation is arranging a hotel now.”
It’s tomorrow, we check into The Nines, in downtown Portland, a one bedroom suite. Nice place, green as all get out, it’s Portland, to be expected, might be required for all I know.
Daria calls, “FBI says prints are for Rolando Donato, not wanted, used to be stockbroker with Smith Barney, does not work there now. Regulator keeps prints on file for all stockbrokers.”
Janah, “Close enough to Raphael Donatello, have a clue where he lives?”
Daria, “Only address in Minneapolis, gone. Raphael Donatello has commercial mail box in Portland, driver license shows mail box as home address.”
“Flaw in the system, anyone can list any address for a driver’s license, long as you get your picture taken, you’re good to go. Change hair color, add heavy frame glasses and color contacts to the mix and your driver’s license could be anyone. Okay, it’s good enough I think, we’re going to stake out a mailbox, give me the address.”
Daria, “Mail box place makes you give phone number and e-mail address. Susan hacked the mail box place, phone is no good, but we have e-mail IP then we hack for location, get street and house.”
Janah, “Wow, good work.”
Daria, “Susan did the work, I just sit there and watch. I learn hack from watching.”
Janah giggles, “I’ll thank her soon, good work from everyone.”
Daria hangs up, that’s how you know the conversation is over, Janah giggles again.
Daria could have mentaled this through Dasha or me of course, but for whatever reason she chose to call.
Dasha, “We will go now to house, find man, feex.”
Janah, “We’ll go to his house and snoop. I want to see if he registers as a Shadow. I should be able to tell, you can get Daria online and verify. Once we know, it doesn’t matter if he’s the annuity scammer, he’s got to go.”
“I’ll get the car,” we had lunch on the plane, flying private gets you shrimp cocktails, spring salad, grilled fish and vegetables, cheese and crackers. We can manage until dinner.
I have Amaya’s favorite, an Escalade, overkill for three of us, but we are trained for defensive driving in SUVs, so that’s what we tend to use. I take us through Portland to a middle class neighborhood, fairly recent development, cookie cutter houses, not McMansions. Shadows generally don’t care for the pretense or the recognition. They prefer anonymous apartment complexes or quiet neighborhoods.
This one is so quiet it may as well have gravestones. Homeowners are mostly young starters or two parent families where both mom and dad work. In the middle of the afternoon you could jog naked and no one would notice. Of course, it’s Portland, maybe naked jogging is green and encouraged.
The house is in the center of a cul de sac, wood fence runs down the sides and along the back. There is no garden like many of the other places, but the grass is trimmed, it’s neat, nothing to attract attention either negative or positive. There’s a plain vanilla Ford Taurus in the driveway.
“He isn’t trying to impress the ladies.”
Janah, “He wants to be invisible. If he gets in the mood for female companionship, he goes to the local meat market, takes a mind and she gives him whatever.”
Dasha, “He ees leave house.”
And so he is, Janah and Dasha focus, I feel her connect with Daria, we watch him walk to the sedan, fiddle with a briefcase, click the car open and get in.”
Janah, “Black as coal, follow him.”
Dasha, “He ees no good, Daria says same, we keel now?”
“We follow now young psychopath. We want to know who he sees, then we corner him and find out who else he knows, then we kill him.”
Dasha, “I will do it, he ees more than steal money from old people.”
Janah, “I think she’s right, Daph. We need to be careful, he’s good. If you and Dasha didn’t have eagle sight and had to be closer, I think he’d have sensed us.”
“I’ll stay back, when he gets where he’s going we’ll stick a tracker on his car, then we don’t need him in sight.”

Chapter Sixty Three

We follow Donatello through various common errands, a grocery, gas, stops at a specialty bakery.
“He looks vaguely Italian, maybe Spanish, what do you think five eleven, one eighty?’
Janah, “Fastidious as well. Notice his slacks are pressed, shoes shined, clean button down oxford shirt, sensible black frame glasses, salt and pepper hair, neatly trimmed, he looks like an ad for an insurance agent. Of course he can’t actually be one, he’s not going to apply for a license. Before the name change, he’d already coughed up fingerprints, photographs and a resume. Details of his exit from Smith Barney are vague, permitted to resign but no ticks on his record.”
“What does permitted to resign mean?”
Janah, “A not so veiled reference that the alternative was to be fired, terminated in the vernacular. He violated company policy, but something not so egregious that he couldn’t argue his side, even sue for wrongful termination. Given his nature, it was likely simpler for him just to move on, free of the restrictions of corporate oversight.”
“Wonder what he does for fun? Besides screw with people?”
Janah, “Beats me, we haven’t had Surveillance on him, we’re doing our own. Tonight, we keep an eye on him. It’s Friday, maybe he goes out, if not then perhaps Saturday.”
We return to the hotel, Donatello is back at his place and the car went in the garage, then the door went down. Didn’t appear to be leaving soon, and I’d stuck a tracker under his rear bumper while he was in the grocery. The IPad blinks his location.
By eight that evening, Dasha is having a vodka, Janah a glass of wine at Departure, the restaurant on top if the hotel. Sleek, modern, Asian fusion.
Dasha and I have chicken and shrimp springrolls with apricot mustard, Janah has vegetable tempura with ponzu sauce. You’ve seen it, the thin soy dipping sauce, usually a citrus note. For the entree, I do coconut Miso scallops, with apple, radish, grilled citrus and dill. Dasha goes for bibimbap a mixed dish with koshihikari (skewered) wagyu beef, noted for high marbling unsaturated fat, egg, kimchee, the spicy marinated Korean cabbage dish, and gochujang, the fermented red chili condiment you see in various Asian restaurants. We add a side of garlic fried rice.
For dessert, pear, ginger and cranberry crisp with candied walnut ice cream, and a nice sorbet trio of litchi, jackfruit and raspberry ginseng.
Dasha, “Food ees gud here, not expensive also.”
Janah, “I noticed, this would be twice as much in Manhattan, nice to have right in the hotel.”
I glance down at the IPad, green dot blinks away, Donatello must be wrapped for the evening.
Janah, “If we’re right about his habits, we aren’t going to catch him selling fake annuities here in town.”
“I hope we aren’t planning to follow him on the road.”
Janah, “No. We know he’s a Shadow, we have to get him stored away, then have an extensive interview. I brought Haloperidol, the antipsychotic, should keep him settled down. David Li’s newest tranquilizers and the super toxin to finish the job.”
“You want me to break in his place and snoop around?”
Janah, “If he goes out tomorrow, maybe. We could also just break in and wait for him to come home, but he may sense us and take off. Let’s not do that, first see if he goes anyplace on Saturday night.”
Dasha is staring at nothing, which means she’s online with Daria, then she blinks into the moment, “Sister says partial print on check ees probably Shadow. Not enough for a court, but she says a few points match up. Check has been all over, too many hands.”
Janah, “Tell her good work, how did Chloe’s TV shows go?”
Dasha is quiet, then, “Vesnushki make everyone laugh with her Russian name, now fan page ees full of Vesnushki adorable, girls post peekture of their freckle. She read comment, girls say they were embarrass by frayculs, now they like. Make Vesnushki cry.”
“How sweet.”
Dasha is back in receive mode, then, “Other TV show ask Chloe to bring katana, she thinks they want to see only. But they make surprise. One of host ees kendo student, second dan only. They haf kata demonstration, then a one minute match wiz shinai.”
“How did Chloe do?”
“She score three point, man gets nothing, he bows low to Vesnushki, tell audience she ees expert kendo person. Then they ask about katana, Vesnushki explain, then bring out bamboo straw, um, post, thick, maybe four inches. Ask Vesnushki to cut.”
“Well?”
Dasha, “She chop off top, then right away cut through other way, make three pieces, big applause. Host of show calls Vesnushki real deal, fan page go crazy, twitter, replay on YouTube.”
Janah, “I’ll bet Sis did back flips.”
Dasha, “Da, fahmahley come over to apartment, all Chapmans school watch, girls screeching, crazy. Moovey sell many teeket now, what ees Huffington Post?”
“An online, what, news site, entertainment, a variety of things, like a newspaper.”
Dasha, “Vesnushki ees Huffing Post news, first page, calls Vesnushki, violet eyes of death. Nishiko say she must practice more.”
Janah and I laugh, “Sounds like Nikko.”
I start to mental Amaya, then realize it’s midnight in New York, I’ll check in tomorrow.
Amaya, “It’s okay, we’re still up. What a day! Glad it’s the weekend, a show Thursday and the one today, things worked out and we should see a boost on the weekend box office. How’s the trip?”
“I guess Daria explained the target. We’re still in follow around mode, he hasn’t done anything Shadows do, no pushing people around, hasn’t stolen anything. We think he minds his manners here, does his bit out of town.”
“Take care of them, everybody come back as shiny as you left, no guess on when I suppose?”
“We never hang around long.”
“So I can say you’ll be back Monday?”
“Most likely, we have to play out events, but that’s the plan for now.”

We disconnect, the three of us return to our room, I log on to Huffington, we watch Chloe slice up the post, she did great, one left to right, you do these on an angle, not straight across. After the first cut, she kept the momentum, swooped the katana up and over, then down right with another cut through the bottom half. It was cool, she did it so quickly the first piece didn’t fly off, just slid down and fell to the floor. The second cut was even more impressive, it didn’t go anyplace, for a second the audience thought she’d missed entirely until she tapped the piece with her blade and it plopped over. The second fiddle on the show joked that if he ever did anything to offend her, to please let him know before she reached for her sword.
The lead host said not for him to worry, he wouldn’t feel a thing. Second Fiddle put his hands to the side of his neck and said, I’m making sure she didn’t get me already.
Chloe sparkled her way through the whole production.

Chapter Sixty Four

Janah, “Good for Chloe, she charmed their socks off, I’ll bet Amaya is preening like a peacock.”
“I haven’t followed her, she should, she worked hard on the book, made Chloe look good and shined her up for her ten minutes of TV. I don’t have to get into her head to know she’s thrilled for Chloe. Her bonus will be to complain about taking a backseat and Chloe getting all the attention.”
Dasha, “Eemaya luf drama, even better for her than being great beautiful. She make production for fahmahley to haf fun, like Dahfoney ridiculous. Come now, Dahfoney, you will make Dasha feel gud, then I geev you to Janah for play.”
“Works for me.”
After a couple of rounds of girl lust, we nestle together and drop off.
I round up breakfast via room service, keep an eye on the GPS, nothing so far. We start the day by driving past Donatello’s place.
“Geez, this neighborhood is dead on Saturday, few people out cutting grass. In our town, the streets are full by now. This is boring.”
Janah, “Presume they don’t like either surprises or interaction. The buy local Portland crowd is more active, bicycling to the farmer’s markets. I’ll bet they’re free ranging all over the organics as we speak.”
“Since we don’t need to follow Donatello just yet, suppose we find one and see what they have to offer. We don’t much organic at home, milk, eggs, organic vegetables look unappetizing mostly. We lean more to Monsanto than Whole Foods.”
Janah giggles, “Don’t mention Monsanto, I think they call it a terrorist network here. We could find ourselves in prison instead of cage free.”
We drive over to the Portland State University market, it’s pretty big, the usual mix of artisanal breads and cheeses, fruit, vegetables, jams, flowers all over the place. Apparently they don’t mind slaughtering the flowers which, as far as I can tell, are perfectly happy to live out their lives in the ground rather than being lopped off in their prime for a quick death in a vase. Of course, you can say that about vegetables or herbs in our temple garden as well, but at least they’re food or medicine. That observation from a girl who doesn’t mind killing a Shadow, or bludgeoning a twerp into being a better human being. My philosophies are intricate, inconsistent, even incompatible, what can I say?
We kill a couple of hours, find out more about the complexities of cheese than I need to know. Janah buys fruit, a couple of loaves of bread and a few cheeses for our lunch, we nibble and tour Portland, pointlessly pumping greenhouses gas all over the place. There are a few million cyclers, looks like downtown Beijing, which is polluted as it gets. Bicyclers breath heavier, exhale more carbon dioxide, which is a prime greenhouse gas. Paradoxically, we could save the planet if all seven billion of us quit breathing. The Earth appears to be setting up that exact eventuality.*
I drive us to the Columbia River Gorge, it’s quite impressive, a huge waterfall, series of canyons and more waterfalls, we almost forget the reason we’re here.
Dasha, “Daria ees enjoy waterfall, make her think of Canadian home, we will go soon.”
Janah, “God, yes. With restaurants, schools, Chloe and Amaya’s film and these constant refocusings, it’s time to regain our sanity. It’s May, July is near, we’re going for a month and I don’t care what gets sidelined.
Janah mentals Nikko, “Nikko, shut down the middle of July through the middle of August, immediate family only, we’re going to Canada, whatever needs to be shelved, shelve it.”
Nikko, “I’ll call the monks, get the cabin opened, stocked. Zi and I are definitely ready, I know Chloe and Amaya need to disappear for a while.”
Janah, “Good. We’ll check in later, nothing happening with the target for now, we’re just touring Portland until tonight, then we see what’s what.”
“Sounds like everyone needs to clear out of Manhattan.”
Janah, “It’s not like we’re going to another planet, we’re set up to handle business from the cabin, Nikko’s staff is perfectly capable of dealing with everyday issues, we may have a few delays on the schools since we won’t be in town, oh well.”
“David is all over the school project, us being gone won’t change anything, the first school will be operating on schedule, the city removed the roadblocks, we could open tomorrow if we had the remodeling done. Let your administrators administrate, everything will be fine.”
Dasha, “Target ees in car.”
We head to the green dot, get within a quarter mile and follow. After twenty minutes, the car is stationary, up ahead is a sign for a mall. I pull in just in time to see Donatello walk inside.
“Dasha, follow him. He’s more likely to pick up on Janah or me than you. Here, take fifty bucks, you may need to buy something, not just loiter.”
Dasha hops out, goes in the same door as Donatello, I’m watching her walk through the place, she spots him going up an escalator, then walk down to the center, the food court. I relay the activity to Janah.
“He’s bought coffee and is sitting on a bench near the food court, Dasha’s behind him, in a store watching him though the window.”
Dasha, “You are seeing him, da?”
“Yes, keep on him, but don’t stare, buy some stuff so they don’t see you just hanging out.”

She moves to bins of various candy, gets a bag and dumps a bit of this and that, I can see the candy, then a glance over to Donatello, then candy. She has her purchase rung up, pretends to continue shopping. She fiddles with boxes in a display, but she’s watching the target. She buys a box of peanut brittle, collects her change, the box goes into the bag she’s already carrying.
“She’s got enough sugar to power a small country.”
Janah, “And the target?”
“Just drinking cof….wait… he’s up and approaching a woman, she’s with a girl, maybe nine or ten. They don’t appear to be talking, the woman seems frozen. Oh crap, he’s taken the girl by the hand and is walking off the way he came in.”
“Dasha, keep your distance, but get out of the mall ahead of him, come to the car.”
“Nyet, he ees stealing girl. I watch to see what mother does.”
“Good thought.”
Dasha made a good decision, to see what the mother does, if Donatello took her mind, then the girl’s, mom is going to check back into reality soon. He’s going to be busy keeping the girl under his control.”
Janah, “He’s coming out the door now.”
The target has the girl’s hand, she isn’t struggling, nor does she appear confused, just flat. They are approaching his car, I see the lights blink when he presses the remote.
Dasha, “Woman is looking around, ees get scared, run to food court, head turns all over,” I hear ‘Jamie, Jamie, where are you baby, my God, where is my child!!’
I see a security guard, he’s talking into a radio, appears to be trying to calm the woman down.
Dasha, “Dahfoney, you will get girl, I am coming now also.”
“Janah, mom is frantic, he’s stolen the girl, grab his mind, maybe he’ll lose focus and the child will react.”

I screech through the lot, he has the car door open for the girl to get in the passenger side. I pull directly behind his car. He isn’t going anywhere.
I get out, I see him glaze, Janah’s got him confused, Dasha appears and grabs the girl. He turns and looks, but turns back to me instead.
“Well, well, what have we here, a concerned citizen?”
“Gee, such sarcasm, all I want is to fulfill my lifelong dream of buying an annuity from a fraud who preys on old people, and, it appears, children.”
He snarls, “You snatch my granddaughter and make accusations?”
“And what’s your granddaughter’s name, where’s she live, what’s her mom’s name? You can give me two out of three, can’t you?”
He’s cloudy, Janah’s got the qi engine revved, Donatello is good, he raises his hand, sends me butt up against our SUV. I smile.
“Gotta give it more than that asshole. I’m not a mommy in a mall,” I start towards him.
Donatello snarls, “Who the fuck are you?”
Since he’s not going to make it though the evening, I figure what the heck, pull my sleeves up, hold my forearms out.
“Shaolin cunt. So what? I’ve taken three of your kind, now I take you.”
I feel my head snap around, a sharp blow to my gut, sheesh, this one’s a royal pain, that much force despite Janah’s interference. But I’ve been clocked harder by Nikko, I advance on him, throw out my own qi, multiplied by Janah. Donatello raises his hand, only to find it in flames, he gasps, when he sticks his hand under his arm to smother the fire, I jam my five pressed together fingers hard to his heart, a fatal dim mak point, qi flows like a bolt through my fingertips, then, for good measure, I take his eyes.
Dasha reappears, we get in our car, Donatello has maybe three minutes to breath air. He’s blind, his chest starts to swell, I back down a few cars, we wait. He stands, the one good hand waving in the air, his toasted hand useless at his side. His heart explodes, blood foams from his mouth, he falls to his knees, then face forward to the asphalt. I grab his keys and wallet, lock his car.
Back in our SUV, I drop into gear and we head for the exit.
Dasha, “I take girl to food court, point to mother, she runs, I see you geev death touch to Shadow, we go home now.”
“Tomorrow, we need to go to his house and dig around before the cops figure out what’s what.”
An hour later we have a decent collection of video, Donatello and various children, from eight to twelve, all girls, more than a dozen. We take everything digital, he’s dead, we don’t want the police or anyone else to start digging up the past. However the kids reacted, whatever trauma lingers, isn’t going to get fixed by having their videos in the hands of the legal system.
I find six hundred thousand in cash in a safe, tomorrow I’ll fish though his digital records on the way home. Dasha sends his bank detail to Daria, she’ll bring it to Susan, who is teaching her how to hack anything. Whatever he’s got will find its way to victims we can identify, kids first, defrauded annuity buyers next. Mortgage records will show his home belongs to whoever we say it belongs to, then it will be sold and added to his restitution fund.

*technically, we exhale greenhouse gas already in the environment, so the argument goes that breathing doesn’t create more carbon dioxide than already exists. What does create more is burning fossil fuels, which if left in the ground unburned, create no additional greenhouse gas. The dilemma is that there is no reasonable way to feed and house seven billion humans without efficiently growing and transporting food and materials, so we burn oil, coal and gas to do it. That makes Exxon and the other oil and coal companies money. The sun provides thousands of times more energy than the planet burns in total, but it’s almost free, you can sell the equipment, but not the fuel, no money in that for Exxon.

Chapter Sixty Five

Sis and Taylor are in Hong Kong, we’re flying today to our Canadian home, just the nine of us. The schools will be open in the fall, full. Nikko’s investment in Amaya’s film has returned our money and twenty percent, not a killing but we aren’t complaining about earning two million. The thing has yet to go overseas, hit Netflix or Amazon. Guess we’ll see if Chloe has any international draw.
Amaya, “Of course it will, I’m already translated into a dozen languages, Chloe is a big deal in Japan, the film will do well in China, it doesn’t pick on the Chinese, all the young Chloe grief happened in Japan. They aren’t as sensitive as the Chinese about national image, like mafia movies do well in America, yakuza themes do well in Japan.”
“You figured this into the plot, or it’s just happenstance?”
Amaya, “Nothing I do is happenstance, all is intricately planned, my success is never accidental.”
Dasha, “Eemaya ees take credit for world peace eef it happen.”
Amaya, “That, precious psychopathette, isn’t in the cards. As long as there’s religion and nations, there’s war.”

This is the end of Book XI. Join us for further adventures in lust and mayhem in Book XII.

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