Chapter Eighty Five IV
No one should be astonished that men should be
so far removed from one another that they cannot
understand one another, that they wage war and kill one another.
One should be more surprised that men believe they are close,
understand one another and love one another.
Carl Jung, Liber Novus
There is no discussion of what happened.
By the time we return, Janah is on the phone with Mrs. Epstein.
Mrs. Epstein, “Good. Now they will be curious, maybe lose control, depends on the Major. The base will fly with rumors, how elaborate will depend on what the injured tell the medics and docs. My guess is nothing. Bring too much attention. There will be only a cursory investigation. The General has been notified that there was a training accident. Happens all the time, one guy had an undiagnosed heart condition. Automatic autopsy, busted chest will be cut open anyway.”
Janah, “Okay. Now, you’ve saved the good news for last, what is it?”
“The way you read voices, I would have thought telling you the cover-up would be flawless would have been good news enough. How do you know I have something else?”
“If I reveal my secrets, they won’t be secrets. Daphne might tell you if you ply her with that chocolate marshmallow cake when we get home.”
“Good. Dinner here the first Sunday you’re home.”
Janah, “Daphne howled with excitement.”
“I didn’t hear….stupid, of course I didn’t hear, she said it in your head.”
“So, the news?”
“The not so retired Major is still working for the Defense Department. His little crew of twelve, eight now, is checking on Muslim soldiers, their families and associates, both at the base and overseas.”
“And since the Army doesn’t want to turn the Nidal Hasan business into anything other than an isolated incident, they don’t want to be poking around into Muslims in any obvious way.”
“No, they screwed up by not monitoring Hasan in the first place. His fingerprints were all over the place, e-mails, regular communication with a jihadist imam, they start to look rather stupid.”
“So, what’s the problem? They ought to be monitoring people, they give them guns, access and training on more powerful weapons. It’s stupid not to monitor them. That means our Major and his boys are up to something else, something unrelated to keeping an eye on potential threats.”
“Right-O, smarty. They’re making a pile on the side dealing in arms sales, drugs and extortion. They are criminals of the worst sort. Acting under cover of the best interests of the country. They might as well be politicians, but the profits are too high in the arms trade.”
“Well, well. And our government is aware of this?”
“They are encouraging it. These weapons allegedly are going to our ‘friends.’ However, there are too many of them, small arms, rifles, tons of ammunition, to be used by some group of rebels in a tribe we want friendly to us. Our guys have gotten into to a whole different level of arms deals.”
“Why not take the evidence you have and expose them?”
“Nothing to expose. According to the Defense Department, nothing is going on. It’s exactly like the Hasan problem. If they admit it, somebody high up pays. If they quit, they lose the sweet prices alleged allies pay for weapons. We’re talking palates of handguns, rifles, ammunition. Nothing big time, no grenades or rocket launchers. That’s at an entirely different level. Thirty two crates of M9s, turns into thirty one at delivery. Nobody presses as to why the manifest is wrong, ‘It’s the Army,’ as if that were the answer to any screw-up.”
“And supply officers learn the fastest way to duty outside the green zone is to ask a lot of questions.”
“You got it.”
“So what do we do?”
“Put them out of business, any way you can. And before another child is killed by another stolen military weapon.”
Janah cuts the connection, says to no one in particular, “Well, we have our mission.”
All eyes turn to her.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to visit our not-so-retired Major. Black will come with me. Black’s already known to the other eight, and I can use him to discuss matters with our target. Since he’s B’s father, we’ll call him Big Daddy. When I’m done, he won’t remember how to salute.”
“And Nishiko, Chan and I get to play with the soldier boys? Cool!”
Janah, “That’s about it. Mei, Jarred, Suzanne and Jason will disappear into the woodwork at the barracks of the eight remaining toads.”
She tells the monks, “If anyone but us tries to leave their building, stop them, as forcefully as you need to. Watch all the exits. If they get to the door, they don’t get out, if they try for a window, discourage them….absolutely.”
The monks say nothing, nothing to be said.
Janah, “Let me be clear. These are rabid dogs. Mrs. E has photographic evidence of their activities. Because the Army will only cover it up as yet another aberration, the men might go to jail for a short time, but given what they know, more likely allowed to evaporate into work with some military contractor. I would prefer them out of operable condition for any future covert activity, not dead. That said, defend yourselves at whatever level it takes. After we’ve cleaned house, the evidence will be released to the press. The Army and the Pentagon can try and sort out how to explain things. We don’t care. It’s meant to be an object lesson. This isn’t the only group of misfit assholes in the military.”
Next morning, Janah and Black leave in a nondescript Ford sedan. Chan, Nikko and I walk over to the barracks where the eight remain.
I stand near the edge of the building, a voice whispers, “Two have gone to the gym, there are six inside. You will hear a tap on the rear door when the two return.”
I walk to the front door and knock.
A very large man opens the door, six four, going two forty, “Yeah, what is it, honey? Need some dick?”
I front kick him hard in the lower abdomen, he staggers back, doubled over. Four other men are around a dining table with a map spread out. They leap up, start towards me.
I flip open a leather case, ID from the Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agency, this one ranks me as a Major General, since I’m barely twenty-five, I must be a military prodigy, or joined up when I was four.
“Sit down shitheels.”
Chan and Nikko, like me, in fatigues with no rank visible, follow me in the door.
The guy I kicked manages to get himself upright, “Fuck you think you’re doing? When I finish making calls, you’re going to be doing parking lot patrol.”
Nikko punches him in the neck, he gags, she sidekicks his knee and dislocates it. His big body crumbles to the floor, one down.
“Okay, seven dwarfs left, five here and two in the gym. This guy is Stupid, the eighth dwarf,” I point to the one Nikko disabled.
I scan the room and name the others, “Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc, Happy, Dopey…..Bashful and Sneezy are still at the gym, we’ll decommission them later.”
Sleepy stands, “Won’t be nothin’ left to deal with. You’re ID don’t mean a sack of shit here, cunt. When we’re finished, you won’t have an ID.”
Nikko is suddenly next to him, taps an elbow across his jaw, his head twists, but he looks unfazed, “Fuck was that, love tap?”
Nikko says nothing, she hit him lightly, he wasn’t fazed, but she accomplished what she’d set out to do, get him pissed. He takes a hard shot with a left jab at her head, misses, came back with a right uppercut, misses. He’s confused, he hadn’t hit her, but she hadn’t moved either. She breaks his nose with the heel of her hand, chops him in the throat and inserts her titanium covered kneecap in his nuts. He gasps, remains upright, much of the steam is gone, not all. He reaches for her, she lets him have her forearm, spins and sinks her elbow into his ribs, this time not lightly, crack, spins back and pokes her thumb in his eye, deeply. He screams, raises his hands to his face, Nikko puts Sleepy to sleep with an elbow to the right temple, followed with the same elbow to the left. Now he’s face down on the floor. Goop trickles out of his crushed eyeball.
Grumpy, Doc, Happy and Dopey jump into action.
Grumpy takes a shot at Chan, just before he gets to the jaw, Chan ducks and he breaks his hand on Chan’s head. With his left he pulls a Ka-Bar knife from behind his back. Like the man Black had faced down in the gym, he holds it blade down, edge out. He cuts and slashes the air in front of Chan’s face, mystified that the bulky Chinese doesn’t flinch. He takes a sideways slash directly to Chan’s neck. Chan’s hand comes up, catches Grumpy’s and crushes it around the knife handle. Blood runs between Chan’s fingers, the knife hits the floor. Chan hits Grumpy in the chest so hard he folds in half, falls to the floor, dead. Chan retrieves the knife and breaks the blade in two.
While Chan was ignoring the knife, Doc had swarmed to me. He went for the shoulder tackle, firmly tackles the air where I had been standing and hits the floor.
I kick him in the ribs, hard enough to hurt, but not to stop him. I want him back on his feet. “Get up Doc, come to mama.”
Doc swears, “You are one dead fucking whore.”
I grin at him, “Unfortunately for you, not yet,” I hit him with the cup of my hand on one ear, his eardrum pops, blood seeps out. I dismantle his left knee with a front kick and use the same leg to jam the lower part of his jaw into the upper part. Teeth crunch. He staggers back, his head must hurt like a bitch, but he comes again. He takes a hard swing, I duck, grab his wrist on the way past and snap his elbow. For good measure I pop his remaining good eardrum, then crack his ankle clean through with a side kick, exactly in the middle of his shin.
Happy has a Beretta M9, Nikko sees him flick the safety and pull the trigger, she slips her head back and the bullet hits the wall, he is still firing, the fifteen round magazine fully loaded. Wherever he aims, she’s a half inch away from the projectile and a step closer. He can’t register that she’s walking towards him. As he squeezes another round, her foot kicks the gun upwards, the bullet grazes Nikko at the hairline. She smiles as the blood runs down her face, snatches the weapon by the barrel and twists it from her opponent’s grip, then smashes his jaw him with the butt, and again in the middle of his forehead. She ejects the magazine, and opens the slide so the chambered round flicks out. She spins like a figure skater and smashes his chest with the barrel, then uses the butt to break his collarbone.
“Handy weapon,” she says to no one in particular.
A tap on the rear door, “Bashful and Sneezy are coming, Chan, deal with Dopey while I fix up Nikko.”
Dopey doesn’t need encouragement, he waited to find an opening in the action. One of his guys was swinging a knife, another pulled a gun, jumping in might have made it worse. Chan stalks him, Dopey picks up one of the chairs and swings it at Chan’s head. Chan raises a massive forearm and the chair is in pieces. Dopey stares like his namesake at the splintered bits. Chan pushes his arm out, the man flies across the room. His spine snaps as he hits the kitchen counter, he falls forward, paralyzed.
I wipe Nikko’s forehead, and clear the blood from her face, squeeze out a strip of Dermabond on the gash. When the skin held, I put two butterfly bandages over it and cover that with gauze and adhesive tape.
Bashful and Sneezy heard the shots coming from their barracks. They’re running now, other soldiers look in their direction, but it’s a military base. There are lots of gunshots, target ranges, sniper practice. Still, men are on alert, this is the place where Hasan, an Army psychiatrist terrorist, had walked around shooting soldiers at will. They approach the building cautiously, when, out of nowhere, hands find pressure points on their shoulders near the neck and they are led passively up the steps and into their quarters. They’re shoved inside, never saw who had come up behind them and delivered such pain it was impossible to do anything but cooperate.
“Ah, Bashful and Sneezy, welcome home dwarfs, I’m Snow White,” I tug at my hair, “Okay, Snow Black.” I nod to Nikko, “This is my evil stepsister, Cruella. I know I’m mixing my fairly tales, tough shit.”
The men don’t know what to do. Their buddies are all over the floor, bleeding and broken, a train wreck without the train.
“You look confused. I suggest you sit while I tell you a real story, not a fairy tale. Or, if you think you’ll have better luck than the other dwarfs, then let’s have at it. Oh, pardon me, she nods towards Chan, let me introduce my brother, you can call him Death.”
Chan takes the M9 off the floor and bends the barrel in half, jerks it the other way and it snaps in two. He throws it on the floor, next to the two parts of the Ka-Bar.
The men stare, I speak, “I can ask him to repeat that, using your necks, or you can sit quietly while I explain your position. What’s it going to be, life or death?”
The men don’t even go for hard looks, they sit, say nothing.
“Good, nice and sensible. I see we can reason together. Here’s how it is. We have lots of evidence that you pukes have been selling weapons, not just to imagined friendlys overseas, but to the highest bidders here in the States. We have your bank accounts, by the way, sprayed them with nitroglycerin, they’re frozen now. We have video and audio of your conversations at your meets. You are going to testify as to the dealings of your little group, two of which are dead, the rest are potted plants. You two can escape with no injuries, other than jail time. Am I talking too fast?”
Bashful and Sneezy look at each other, then the two women and a man a head and a half shorter than them. There’s a moment of temptation, then they resurvey the carnage spread across the floor.
Sneezy starts to get up, Bashful holds his arm, “Don’t. You blind? I know it don’t look right, but six of our guys are either dead or crippled. I have no interest in joining them. We ain’t saving the fucking world here.”
Sneezy thinks it over, his face says it’s hard for him to think, but he sits down anyway.
“There was only one decision that didn’t reek of idiocy, you just made it, congratulations.”
Bashful, “What’s the deal?”
“You go to the MPs and they take you to the LG. You tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but….you get the idea. Well, maybe not Sneezy here, but you can explain it to him later. You will be tried and court-martialed. You and the other dwarfs still functional will spend time in prison, then you will be released. We will be watching you, every day, forever and the day after. You will have no passport, no military status. If you try and leave the country, if you do anything illegal, sell arms, drugs, run a red light, we will feed you to a wood chipper…..feet first….Cruella?”
Nikko is standing next to Sneezy, as if from nowhere, she holds her Gerber Applegate Covert Double Bevel Titanium Knife. Double means knife edge on both sides, one side of which is also serrated.
Chan clamps his hand down on Sneezy’s wrist. Nikko takes half his little finger in one swipe. He screams, the chunk falls to the floor, blood spurts from his hand.
Bashful, “This is torture!”
I get a half grin, “No shit.”
The door bangs open, “Everybody freeze!”
It’s the base MPs. I pull my ID, the four men look around, recheck the ID, the ranking MP, a Major, makes a call.
He talks, then he listens, it takes less than an minute, “We’ll clean up, ma’am. I apologize for any inconvenience.”
I wink at him, leaned to his ear, on my toes, he’s tall, “Sometimes, when I see a hunk like you, I wonder what would happen if I wasn’t gay. But I am queer as all get out, you didn’t ask, but I told anyway.”
The major smiles, whispers, “If you ever decide to fish on the other side of the stream…..”
“You’re the stud I’m going to call, Major Burnside. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. The LG will be presented evidence of the illicit activities of these men, because you are going to give it to him. Take them to him, along with these. I handed him a jewel case with four DVDs and a thumb drive. Do it quietly, this base already has a dubious reputation. Conduct a thorough, honest, no bullshit investigation. Your promotion will follow.”
A small crowd has collected out front. Chan, Nikko and I leave by the rear entrance and return to our quarters.
Chapter Eighty Six IV
“It’s always something.
If it’s not psycho military selling guns off the books,
it’s guys trying to get in my pants.
What are ya tryin’ to do, make me sick?!”
My Roseanne Roseannadanna persona
While I was having fun with the dwarfs, Janah and Black are having a less active, but more interesting, confrontation with the Major. Janah calls him Major B, as he’s B’s father.
Halfway through his fifties, he’s burr headed and leathery. When he opens the door, Black hits him so hard he slides down the hall into the small table that graces the end of the hallway.
Black pulls him onto a chair, straps his arms down with picture wire, then his ankles, one to each leg, a sturdy metal chair with a small cushioned seat. Just to avoid the Major tipping over or creating a ruckus, he chains the chair through the back to an old fashioned radiator connected to the wall. Places a set of Bose noise reduction headphones over his head, and gives Janah a mike. The mike is connected to a voice scrambler. She can sound like a disembodied digital voice, a screeching schoolgirl, a Darth Vader Satan, or a seductive temptress.
Janah pulls on latex gloves, sticks an ammonia cap under his nose, his mouth is taped shut, a blindfold on his eyes. His head pops up, a moan through the tape, she waves the cap under his nose again until he gags.
“Clear now? Nod yes. No, means more ammonia,” a male computer voice.
He remains rigid, she pops a fresh cap and shoves it up one nostril. It takes about fifteen seconds before his head is bobbing yes so fast it’s almost a blur.
She removes the cap, drops it in his lap, he’s breathing deeply, trying to clear the noxious vapor from his lungs, his throat stings, his lungs hot.
He nods yes, several times.
The disembodied voice says, “You are going to become another person. You will not be able to help yourself. You will confess to everything, and you will not be able to reenter the covert ops business. If you even think of it, you will have a blinding migraine, you won’t be able to stand, sleep will not come, your entire body will be wracked with pain.”
He hasn’t actually seen Janah, just a huge fist, he assumes a man since he heard a man. Unsure of what’s happening, or how the voice could do what it claimed, and since he can’t move anyway, there’s nothing to do but wait.
A needle enters the back of his hand. He mumbles, nothing distinguishable, Black did a thorough job of silencing him.
He drifts off into absolute suggestibility, she uses a bit of pentobarbital sodium, to get him into a hypnotic state. It’s the drug used for assisted suicide in some countries. She, brings him up with Dexedrine, ratchets the sound up and changes to Satan voice, he shakes and groans. She brings him down again and injects LSD to create hallucinations. The cycle continues for six hours, ending with more pentobarbital. Janah has her game down from earlier sessions with former targets, when it took two or three days to get a target’s neurochemistry recombined.
She loads him up on saline and dextrose. He’d pee every ten minutes, which would flush some of the drugs from his system, reduce the chance they’d show up in any serious quantity on urine screens.
She unplugs the IV, heals the wound to a very slight mark that could have been anything, a mosquito or ant bite.
She tells Black, “Take him apart now, he’s harmless. He won’t leave, he won’t do anything but wait on the MPs. I’ll wipe down the place, they aren’t going to look hard in here anyway, not for us. Daphne convinced Major Burnside, her new MP buddy, to wait until she gives the go ahead to come for Major B. After he’s pee’d a half dozen times, we split. She’ll tell Burnside to come pick up what’s left.”
Black parks the target on his toilet, facing the rear to make sure he hits the bowl, not the floor. He unwinds his mouth, removes the towel and shoves bottled water down him to top off the mixture Janah has in his veins. He also makes him chew a half a tube of Rolaids to mask the amphetamines, and multivitamins to make his urine run yellow. Clear urine makes drug testers suspicious. Black has to flush four times in the first twenty minutes. He pours more water down Major B’s throat. He pees, Black flushes. After forty five minutes, Black undoes the blindfold, leaves the man’s hands loosely tied, he isn’t going anyplace. He lacks the will and is going to urinate on and off for another hour. By the time Burnside’s men appear, he’d have to have his liver dissected to tell if he’d been drugged.
Janah checks the street, they’d parked two blocks down, a street over. They leave through the back door, down a delivery alleyway and over to their car. In fifteen minutes they are back in the barracks with us.
Janah, “Tomorrow, we go home. Surveillance will follow up whenever these bozos get out of prison. The evidence is going to the Lieutenant General first, out of consideration for his position. He had no control over these men, nor was he aware that Major B was, in fact, not retired, but working the shadows.”
Nikko, “What if he doesn’t do anything?”
“He’s already been given the evidence. He’ll send it to the Pentagon, which will reward both he and Burnside for uncovering criminal activity. The Pentagon will be required release news stories deploring the use of covert operations in this manner. And it has to come from the top of the top. If not, everything goes to the New York Times and Washington Post. After that, it will be everywhere.”
The next night, we’re at our apartment, Chan home with his family, Black with Sonia, the Shaolin at evening meditation.
After a peaceful evening, a long sleep, and a day of nothing, we are having breakfast, it’s Saturday morning. We’d come home Thursday night, spent Friday holed up in the apartment. The news hit the airwaves Friday, and the online versions of the New York Times and Washington Post.
The newspapers aren’t thrilled with the internet profit-wise, but at least they don’t get one-upped in the middle of the day by having to wait until the next print version. They can Twitter, phone-app and e-mail as fast as CNN.
Susan, “The whole world is out of control. Government covert ops teams selling handguns to street gangs?”
Chris, “What surprises you?”
Susan, “Nothing, I guess. There are thousands of people in the military, that a few of them are crazy or greedy shouldn’t come as any shock.”
Chris, “It’s more of a miracle that they stay in line as much as they do. I mean, they get at the least, basic training in death, most wind up doing mundane jobs, shifting supplies, computer analysis, fixing broken trucks, tanks and helicopters. Endless maintenance on mechanical stuff. Much of what they do is just a job like any other factory or white collar gig. But they do it around lots of weapons. Many carry weapons, even if just side arms. Maybe the NRA has it right, arm everyone, train them, and people will think twice about going off on people.”
Kara, “You’re starting to sound like Fox News.”
Chris, “Fortunately, most people don’t want a gun. Must be a lot of guns in the hands of a relatively small number of people.”
Janah, “Not so small C-mom. Depending on who you believe, about half of all US households own at least one gun. There are three hundred million guns in American households, just under one per citizen.”
Kara, “James says gun deaths actually encourages people to buy more guns and to support arming the police to the teeth. They get to spend lots of money on bigger and better, aided by scare stories from the media.”
James, “Seems to be working. Locals learned from the Feds, keep the people afraid, tell them you are their protection, the public gives you the money and goes to the movies.”
Susan, “Are you disrespecting the general population?”
James, “Yes. They’ve earned it.”
James already knows about our involvement, he waits.
Kara, “You guys were on a trip, exactly when these bozos were busted for selling guns to anyone with a satchel of money. And Nikko has a bump on her forehead.”
“Strictly coincidental. Did you know that Janah knows how to breakdown an M4 carbine rifle? Like off the top of her head? She’s amazing. She taught me in two seconds.”
Susan, “You…..? Never mind. I can see this is going nowhere.”
And now we are going somewhere, on to Book V.