Nine

Two weeks after Times Square, nobody but the bombers know who destroyed the building and so many lives. No Islamic group claimed credit. Most of the Muslim world decried the act, and as usual, many celebrated as was caught on video and replayed across the media.
The response is vicious. Between the FBI and, in some cases the military, rounding them up for questioning, and vigilante posses, no Muslim is safe in America. Thousands have left or are planning to, the difficulty for many is finding a place to accept them. Muslim immigration to the US is banned. It’s not hard to impose the ban, most Muslims elsewhere have no intention of coming here.
There is talk of relocation, how to accomplish it is far more difficult. There are around three and a half million Muslims spread out across the country. Move them to enclosed areas, like Native American tribes on reservations, in two or three states? They have to be fed, housed, provided medical treatment. They give up jobs and homes. The US put Japanese citizens in detention centers during WWII, but there were only a hundred twenty thousand, and they were concentrated on the west coast.
Manufacturers can’t keep up with demand for guns, ammunition is at a premium. There’s an active black market in weapons. In every state, there have been Muslims shot on sight, taken from homes or simply murdered in them.
I’m on the sat phone with Katya, “Fly to Canada, we’re going to hole up in the wilderness for the duration. I know you’re armed and dangerous, but the vigilantes are letting bullets fly with no regard for who else is around. People are getting shot by stray bullets every day. We’ve been in talking to Society contacts, if the problem doesn’t settle down in a week, there’s going to be martial law and curfews.”
Katya, “We are grateful, New Orleans is a mess, Houston is worse. We can be locked up and gone in a day, the Houston house is already closed up. Is your family going? How are you fixed for room?”
“We expanded, I think Janah said she told you about it.”
“Da, I remember, added four bedrooms on the main house and built a second house.”
“With five bedrooms. It’s more rustic, we didn’t install Jacuzzis. And more authentic, it’s actually a log cabin outside, full of creature comforts inside. We don’t camp out. Nikko sends groups up from Murakami Sylk for retreats, my folks go, other friends. The space gets used.”
“When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow. Better for you to fly from there to Canada, New York is practically locked down. People who don’t fly private find it weeks to get a flight. Lots of people just pack the car and drive to another airport.”
“I had second thoughts about leaving. Like running away and leaving the mess to somebody else.”
“Us too. We got a reality check when Nikko asked if we thought we could solve this by putting ourselves in danger by standing against waves of mobs armed to the teeth. We’re good, but there’s a limit to our capacity. And we have Oceane, Cass and Lauren to think about.”
“Sarah got macho, until Ellen told her to quit being stupid, along the same lines as Nikko pointed out.”
“Let me know your arrival time, our flight gets into Canadian Rockies airport for ten.”
“We can schedule a flight to arrive around then. I’ll call Blue Sky now, text you the arrival time.”
We disconnect, whew! I think I’ve done all the calls I need to. Chan and Ning are going to stay in the Shaolin Temple. Black and Sonia can’t get there yet, access into Manhattan is almost nil. Nikko’s parents closed the stores and took off to Kyoto, which we considered. If things don’t clear up in the states by the onset of winter in the Rockies, we’re headed to Kyoto as well.
Dasha, “We haf everything ready Dahfoney, I haf shipped as much canned goods, nuts, crackers as we should need. Janah and Charles went to get perishables and frozen food today. Sister opened the house remotely, Francois and Su Lin will go over this afternoon with the groceries and double check that everything is in order.”
“Good to have friends.”
Nothing to do but make dinner while girls have cocktails. The news runs constantly, reports of this, rumors of that, gunshots fired across the country. My suspicions are unfortunately prescient. People see someone get shot, they assume they are under attack, then see someone with a rifle or pistol. They shoot thinking they are protecting themselves. Another person see them shooting, you can see where this is headed, people are shooting at people out of raw fear, not provocation or threat.
And, what else would you expect, Muslims have started arming themselves. It’s getting beyond nasty, the terrorists have done it, mission accomplished, America is at war with itself.
I call Sis, “The situation has deteriorated, so no argument, get everyone ready, you fly with us to Canada in the morning. Leave Emma B2 to take care of the condo, she’s also in communication with our Emma B.”
“Good thing we don’t need the internet.”
We are our own internet, all of our communications go through us, not any corporation. We don’t even need Con Ed, we’re all solar, with generator and battery backup. The bots have graphene batteries that automatically recharge when they move.
“We leave at seven, it’s a little over five hours, we pick up two in time zones, arrive around ten. We’re taking the Escalade and a Mercedes, have to leave them at Teterboro, once we’re out of Manhattan we’d have a hell of a time getting back in. We don’t want to call in personal convenience favors from our Society contacts in the middle of this mess.”
“We’ll be there for five thirty.”
“Just wait at the condo, don’t get on the streets, we’ll come to you, five thirty might be overkill but it doesn’t matter.”
 Most of the people who wanted to leave Manhattan have left, all the bridges and tunnels are one way, out only. They have one lane open inbound for emergency vehicles.
Susan, “We’ll be set. James will stay, but he’s sleeping at the hospital, he’s not on the streets much. The hospital is locked down except for emergency and there’s security at every door. See you early a.m. ”
We will fly in two planes, policy is the entire family never flies together. Lauren, Sloane, Oceane, Cassie, Janah and I will fly with Sis and the rest. In case I’m confusing you, I’ve called my mom Sis for years because we look so much alike. She had me when she was fifteen, and since we’ve all quit aging, we still bear a strong resemblance. I didn’t get her inability to cook genes, I got something better, her amazing legs. My girls are most appreciative.

Ten

Francois, “Bon Jour Daphne, wow, what a crew! Twenty two, oui?”
“Twenty three with Grace B, our newest bot, at least we don’t have to feed her. We wanted everyone out of the city, out of the country. James had to stay, doctors are in high demand. He said he’s relearning trauma surgery, even shrinks can suture wounds.”
“I admire his dedication. We follow the story on the internet and the satellite TV. Horrible. America has been in a state of deterioration ever since the Trump debacle. At least he wasn’t elected President.”
“The angry right never got over it. There were vigilante posses throughout the country, mostly chasing around Hispanics. Then the attack. Attention shifted to Muslims, but there’s no evidence Muslims were involved. Anyway, enough American stupidity.”
Jan, “On a more pleasant note, most of the food is at the house, a few parcels arrived today. We left the houseboat on the other side. We’ll need to take three powerboats over to accommodate everyone, leave two with you.”
The fishing guide business we bought from the former owners began with Francois, Jan, Charles and Su Lin. A few years ago Don and Vicky joined them when we expanded the lodge. All are Shaolin monks. They came because there is solitude half the year, when the snows come and the road closes. They came because there is work year round, a balance of activity and stillness.
We bought a snowplow for emergencies, which helps if they absolutely need to get to the highway. Winter is spent in maintenance and repair, the rest of the year they guide fishermen around the lake. The lodge is full the entire season, there’s never nothing to do.
“Thank you all, we had so much food to stock.”
Jan, “Let me know when the perishables need replenishing. We froze most of the bread and cheese, there should be plenty of meat and we left fresh fish.”
Vicky, “Your robot is fascinating, indistinguishable from a human.”
Grace B, “Better, I do not sleep, I am smarter and do not get caught up in smarmy emotions. I see things as they are, not as I wish them to be.”
Vicky, “Buddhist.”
“You may say so, although I do not meditate, only hibernate.”
Vicky laughs, “Sense of humor too.”
Su Lin and Don take a boat each, Dasha likes to pilot the boats, she takes the third. We divide up and board, zoom across the ice blue lake and offload ourselves, then to the house. The monks take one boat and return to the lodge.
Lacy, “Sheesh, I always forget how huge the place has become. Can we stay in the cabin?”
“Anyplace you’d like. Katja, perhaps your crew would like the rest of the rooms in the cabin.”
Dasha, “Come wiz me, we will get you settled, Dahfoney will make tea, lunch will be seemple, ees already noon, maybe one.”
Grace B gets the kitchen squared away while I make tea, girls return and take a cup, some around the fireplace, others out to the porch. I start in on finger sandwiches, Ellen and Dasha make it a production line.
“We have fish to grill for dinner, how about baked potatoes to accompany and leave it at that?”
Ellen, “Good, I saw boxes of brownie mix, you want me to make those?”
“Great, brownies and Cognac, they’ll like that.”
We while away the afternoon, Sis cracks open wine.
“Getting an early start, it’s so nice to be here, as if the turmoil in the States isn’t happening.”
Susan has changed to snug cotton shorts and a t-shirt, Sarah slips next to her on the couch and turns towards her. I don’t know what they’re discussing, but it involves Sarah’s hand resting on Susan’s thigh, whispering and a sparkle in mom’s eye.
I go outside to watch Sloane race around, but she’s in her wolf element, the forest. When she returns, one of her pals is with her.
Taylor, “I can never get over seeing Janah with the animals, Sloane with a wolf. I haven’t had the amazement of seeing the twins with their bear buddies.”
“One will come around eventually. I takes a bit to get the news of our arrival spread over the forest-net.”
I need a pee break, go inside to the bathroom, Sis and Sarah have disappeared. I doubt they’re working on software code, maybe another kind of software, that operates with a different kind of code?
Oceane is on the dock communing with the fish, Cassie floats silently over her shoulder.
Kara, “How beautiful, I hope I’m never not amazed by that child.”
Amaya, “I am certain she will think of some other weirdness to amuse herself. Personally, I think she is just showing off.”
Chloe, “Jealous because you can’t levitate?”
“Of course I am, all my incredible skill and talent, it should be me floating around in the sky allegedly creating universes. I create universe in books and films, her universes are likely imaginary.”
Kara, “Wait, you make up stories out of imagination, how is your stuff less imaginary than Cassie’s?”
“You confuse definitions of imaginary. I make up, imagine, stories, but that result in real words that other people can read. Whatever Cassie claims to be doing, only she reads, or sees, or whatever.”
Chloe, “Oceane said she creates universes, Cassie’s never said anything of the sort, or much of anything else.”
Amaya, “Point taken, so we are left with the interpretation of the other strange-o.”
Chloe, “Cassie has demonstrated her ability to visit the past, and to see, if only incompletely into the future.”
“And how has it helped?”
Nikko, “I moved a lot of money overseas in part because of Oceane’s prediction. You recall her saying four years ago now, ‘anger, violence, they blame the different ones who pray, there will be death.’”
Amaya, “Sheesh, she could have been reading Revelations.”
“Oceane doesn’t read, she wouldn’t know a bible from a candlestick.”
“I see I am outnumbered. I relent, is there more wine?”
I find a bottle and pour. Amaya is being argumentative for argument’s sake. She adores Oceane and Cassandra. Her way of showing it is like her way of showing affection for all of us, by poking our egos. Amaya figures she has enough ego for all of us, we don’t need any. She’s right.
“Of course I am right Daphne dear, how could I be anything else?”
Kara, “What are you talking…oh, you’re mind reading Daphne’s thoughts.”
“Yes, a children’s book, but entertaining in spots.”
My tribe laughs, my role fulfilled, I head off to think about grilling fish.
First to our room to slip out of jeans and into nothing else. My t-shirt and knee socks will suffice, I brush my hair while admiring myself in the mirror.
Susan passes, sees me and comes in, shuts the door behind her.
Behind me she leans in, her hands up the sides of my thighs to my waist, “Sarah is deliciously debauched, the things she made me do….then after I perform, she just leaves.”
Hands circle my tummy, then one on my tush, she kisses my neck.
“You loved it, Sarah’s got good radar for submissive sluts.”
“Like us.”
I turn, Sis is glazed, not from wine, her breath is quick. She bites her lower lip, takes my hand and licks my fingers, then puts them between her legs.
“Want an assist?”
Her eyes close, she shudders, “God…I…..yes.”
We go to the bed, I scrunch against her, work the sensitive spot, slow tease, she moans.
Soon enough she’s writhing against my hand, legs squeeze, sighs and gasps. I sense she’s ready, lean in and kiss the softness. Boom, boom, boom, boom!
I put one finger in her mouth, slide it out, put the other in my mouth, her body tenses then relaxes.
I turn on my tummy, she trails her fingers across my tush.
“I’ve managed to achieve perve mom status.”
“What we do is our business.”
“And Janah’s?”
“Nobody was in my head, all busy with someone else. We haven’t seen Katya or her crew for a while, variety gets the hormones moaning.”
“I’m relieved.”
“I’m about to be.”
I have an audience of one for my strum. I play myself wonderfully, as I fly off, I feel soft lips on mine.

Eleven

Okay, I had an incestuous moment with mom. So what? It’s not like we make idiot babies. Besides, she’s hot.
I’m on the deck grilling, girls are chilling, Dasha and Ellen have baked potatoes lined up, the condiments are out. Grace B is refilling wine, Amaya still prefers to make cocktails herself. We have to do meals buffet style with the crowd.
Lacy, “Yummy, hot off the grill, so glad I can’t cook.”
Lauren, “Grace B, a glass of wine please.”
“Right away Miss.”
Chloe, “Me too.”
Grace B, “Hold your fucking horses hotshot film star, I’m not in your damn entourage.”
Chloe laughs behind her hand, “It never occurred, should I get an entourage?”
Amaya, “I am your entourage.”
Lauren, “Maybe I could get one.”
Lauren was quite the hit in Amaya’s last film, a gymnast with a snappy flirtatious attitude. Chloe played her guardian. Her coach got friendly, in an uncoachmanlike way, roaming hands, in the locker room while she showered.
Amaya doesn’t write smarmy sentimentality. The character used her tight gym body to lead coach along without ever coughing up the goods. Coach, on the other hand, coughed up a lot of goods, presents, first class road accommodations, cash.
When he overreached, Chloe had him on video, then Lauren beat him senseless.
The film made money, not a ton, but it costs almost nothing to make, under a half million. What it did do was get Lauren opportunities for other roles, in the last four years she’s made two more films. One action flick ala Coen Brothers, the second a comedy about a high school freshman misfit. Lauren was the misfit. With Amaya’s coaching, she’s been able to expand her range, she can even sing. She’s no Amaya, but she carries a tune just fine.
Amaya, “Get real, you have Daphne trailing you around half the time, Emma and Grace B, Sis is your slave when you go over there. Sloane already had two crazies to watch over and now her little sister.”
“All deserved, my beauty and talent need care and attention.”
Taylor, “Two Amaya’s in your house, dueling egos.”
Dasha, “Eemaya ees manicure and pedicure Lauren, she gets best outfits, jewelry, shoes. Peerfect hair styling, leetle preencess.”
Nikko, “I recall Amaya hovering over you and your sister with a fair amount of attention, and clothes, hairstyling, jewelry and shoes.”
“Da, and we are still not allow to leaf house until Eemaya haf eenspect, feex hair, remove eenvisivble lint from shoulder. Always to make a fussing over us.”
Dasha learned the game years ago. Once Amaya showed them how to put together their outfits and apply just enough makeup, the twins were perfectly capable of creating their own perfect look. Daria does. Dasha intentionally screws something up so Amaya will make a production and rebrush her hair, or redo heavy handed makeup, button her misbuttoned blouse. She’s even been known to come down in mismatched sneakers.
Nikko clicks on the news, “Riots in every city of size, senseless trashing property, looting, vigilantes shooting looters, looters shoot back. It’s a bloodbath.”
The scroll crawls across, US declares martial law, six p.m. curfew for all nonessential personnel.
“There it is, they asked for it, they got it. At least school is out for summer. Parents can stay home and teach their children how to load an AK.”
We surf the cams in our New York and Arizona homes, nothing. Unless someone blows up our building in Manhattan, getting into our place is an exercise in futility. Windows are opaque and bulletproof, entrances have titanium doors with reinforced frames and three inch wide deadbolts that slide into those reinforced frames. Two years ago, when the fabric really began to unravel, we installed roll down steel shutters in front of all the entrance doors, including the ones on the roof. Finally, a facial recognition system in the elevator that will shut it down if someone gets in the system doesn’t recognize.
All that on top of Emma B, programmed to capture and detain any stranger on the premises. Bad guys will have better luck elsewhere.
Katja, “Glad you showed us your system, home in New Orleans is locked down like yours. We have the bot you gave us looking after it as well. Selling Katya Donut and leaving Houston permanently was a fluke of good luck. We even got back the costs we put into the property we used as a gun range. Now we take advantage of the range you have in Arizona.”
“Danika and Su are always glad to receive guests, they say when Ellen’s there, they eat like royalty.’
Ellen, “Least I can do, we get access to that splendid range, screw around with the karts, swim in the pool, it’s a resort out there.”
“If New York is still a mess, when we leave here we’re going to Arizona, you should come with us.”
Katya, “We will see, New Orleans has not been as crazy as other cities. And we have more work than we can handle. Lots of conflicts to resolve.”
Katya and her sister became contract killers when they were fifteen. They call it conflict resolution. Two people have a disagreement, a conflict. They can’t seem to come to terms. One of them hires Katya, she kills the other party, conflict is resolved. There were two unhappy people. Katya or Katja did their thing. Now there are two happy people, the person who hired Katya, and Katya, who got paid. The dead guy isn’t happy or unhappy, he’s dead. It’s like a miracle, Jesus turned water into wine, Katya turns two unhappy people into two happy ones.
Of course, the person who hired a contract killer doesn’t know twins, doesn’t even know it’s a woman. Transactions are handled online, in the dark web, with bitcoins. It’s secure for both parties.
Person A places the contract amount, minimum forty thousand dollars, in a secure bitcoin account. He has a code to access it. Katya has another code. Once the money is in the account, it takes both coeds to release it. It makes no sense for the contractor to try and stiff the killer, he can’t get the money out, it can only go to the contract killer who has the second code, and only after the contractor reenters his code. The killer can’t get to the money until the contract is fulfilled, or as Katya says, the conflict is resolved. Isn’t technology beautiful?
Then Ellen came along, followed by Mani then Sarah. All five are gradients of psychopathic, none have any compunction against sticking a Glock in the back of someone’s head and pulling the trigger. The twins were abused by their mother in Russia, abandoned and eventually fell into the hands of child sellers, who flew them to the states. They were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, a perve for personal use, or a pimp to turn them into prostitutes.
Unfortunately for the Russians, they didn’t grasp the eight year old girls’ capacity for self preservation. They killed three men with kitchen knives in the course of ten minutes. Sliced the crap out of carotids, the pricks had no chance.
Ellen was used by her mom to attract the boyfriend of the moment. Mom’s boyfriends came, but went when they found out Ellen wasn’t giving it up. Mani’s mother died, father went to prison, she moved from Thailand to her aunt’s home in Jackson Mississippi. She wasn’t mistreated, just regimented, study, get good grades, school, school, school.
Sarah had the easiest life, father a noted surgeon in New Orleans. Sweet devoted mom with a boutique in the French Quarter, private girls’ school education in the Garden District, track star. Despite a privileged upbringing, Sarah is most psychopathic, a once case bit of evidence that psychopaths are born, not made.
For Katya and Katja, killing is profitable, it’s a business deal. For Ellen, pretty much the same. For Mani, it’s a bit about money, a bit about power. Sarah just likes it, a lot, she orgasms when bullet hits brain.
How did we get hooked up with them? Shadows inadvertently brought us together, Shadows haven’t been happy about it ever since.

Twelve

If you’ve waded through other volumes, you know Shadows are arch enemies of Shaolin. Many Shadows used to be Shaolin. One of the secret skills is channeling qi energy. It is tedious and difficult to learn. After a certain level of skill is attained, the mostly highly skilled Qi Master can transmit the ultimate level directly to the student.
The problems arise when students try for too much too quickly. Ambition is a hard teacher. When ambition exceeds ability, the mind breaks. We are left with Shadows, men and women only shadow humans, with the ability to take minds. People will do whatever they command, hand over money, their cars, even children. Shadows tend to perverse, broken minds are….broken. No sympathy, empathy or glimmer of caring. Just what they want, when they want it.
Over time, Shadows began to teach others, not monks, not associated with Shaolin. It figures, they despise Shaolin. Hard to blame them, we vow to kill them whenever we find one. The Society work is different, it isn’t a death penalty, mostly a rearrangement of body parts to make abusers unable to continue abusing.
Shadows cannot be reasoned with, even with physical coercion. They usually start small, get clerks to hand them money, or let the leave a store with whatever they want. It always escalates, everyone always wants more, especially Shadows. After all, it’s how they got broken in the first place.
They want bigger scores, more free stuff, then degenerate into degeneracy. Sex play with children is a big favorite, but they like humiliating mom and dad too. Mom has sex with son in front of dad, dad actually filming the event. Think of any variation on that theme, a Shadow has tried it out. Only the best, worst, can pull it off. Controlling one mind takes energy, two or three is exhausting after a quarter hour or so. But then, how long does it take to film dad screwing his ten year old daughter? And the subsequent blackmail is splendidly profitable.
Other times Shadows don’t bother with blackmail. They enjoy spreading the video around to friends and family…of the victims, Shadows don’t have friends or family, they have accomplices occasionally. Victims have gone suicidal, which only encourages a Shadow.
Lauren, “Daria and Susan are working on the code for the monk bots, we can assemble the physical parts in a few days, underneath the skins they’re all the same. What they’re programmed to do and how they look is different.”
“Then you should get outside and explore. Janah’s going mushroom and berry hunting, go with her, Sloane, you too, keep an eye on things.”
Taylor, “I want to go.”
Lacy, “I’m fishing along the shoreline, with Susan. We thought about asking Oceane to attract the fish, but it felt like cheating.”
“Zi or Chloe can tell you where they are, well, if they’re within twenty yards or so.”
“That might move things along. On the other hand, it’s kind of nice just standing there and casting, I think we go for pot luck.”
“Lunch will be out at twelve thirty, anyone going to the falls or berry hunting, there are packs of granola, water and protein bars on the counter. Take one, drink a sip of water every so often, if you don’t eat the other stuff, fine, but stay hydrated.”
The place empties out, it’s me and Dasha, good sign, our people are being active, not obsessing over uncontrollable events in New York or the rest of the country.
Dasha, “What ees lunch Dahfoney?”
“I don’t think many will be back for lunch, probably the fishing girls. Let’s cheese and cracker it, I’ll make chicken salad, we have a zillion cans of chicken breast, onion, pickle relish and almond slivers. “
“Da, gud idea. We will make cheeken now, then enjoy fishing girls from porch wiz coffee.’
Twenty minutes later, we’re in the rockers with steaming mugs of Lavazza, keeping an eye on the splendor of the lake. Fishing girls have wandered further down shore, I can hear them with my owl ears, but they’re out of sight.
I hear the grind of a powerboat off to the west. It’s a big lake, fisherman or recreation boaters cruise by once in a while.
A shadow circles over head, then a whoosh! An eagle sits on the porch railing.
You are the human who learned from my ancestors.’
‘Guilty, and eternally grateful. Their transmission to me have saved lives.’
‘And taken them no doubt. No loss, kill as many humans as you wish.’
‘You have young, a mate?’

She cocks her head, like I’m a dope, ‘How else do we continue?’
‘And they are well, growing?’
‘Mate is teaching them to hunt, to the side of the sun, our territory includes your nest.’
‘Tell me about the forest, are things well with the animals?’
‘Always. Sometimes humans come with guns, we stay away, deer and moose are too thick, never seem to learn how to avoid the killers. The worst try for us, for sport, we are useless for food. We understand killing for food, even to protect the young. Your kind kills to kill. Our folklore speaks of the hawk you saved long ago, and how you drove hunters away. We have tried to repay.’
‘Your ancestors, the owl, the wolf and the bear have given us gifts we could get nowhere else, at any price or sacrifice. It is we who are grateful.’
‘My mother said you would see it that way, it was her mother’s, mother’s mother who gave you the gifts. Then the ancestor of the owl. You retain the abilities?’
‘Yes, I see in infrared and ultraviolet, I can spot small animals moving from a mile away, I can hear the snow fall. I can even twist my head and see behind me. All gifts from my teachers, the eagle and owl. My companion,
' I nod to Dasha, “and her sister were given the strength of the bear, my daughter received the speed and balance of the wolf, her sense of smell, a hundred times more sensitive than a human being and far more sensitive than a dog.’
‘We are pleased, you trusted us, we could have blinded, even killed you. The bear was most unusual, it surprised us that he would help.’
‘Maybe he likes twins.’

The big bird blinks, ‘He likes strength, lack of fear, power, he must have sensed it in them.’
‘He got it right.’

Four foot wingspan, she lifts off and heads out and up, I see her circling the lake then a straight shot to the east. Must have spotted her honey bunch, or lunch.
Susan comes from down the shoreline, “Have you seen Oceane and Cassie?”
“They were with you.”
“There were behind us, we got absorbed in casting. I turned to check and they weren’t there.”
I get online with Janah, “Send Sloane, and tell her to hustle, Oceane and Cass have wandered off.”
“Dasha, I’m going to look around, tell Sloane to pick up the scent.”
Sis and I return to the spot, she’s right, no sign of either, Sloane races up, her nose to the ground. She zips down the shoreline, which makes sense, Oceane is a water baby. I’m racing behind her, she’s wolf fast, forty miles an hour flat out. I’m quick, not that quick.
Dodging trees, rocks, boulders, Sloane zips past trees, sails over rocks and boulders. Then I see two men, maybe eighty yards farther on, one has Oceane by the arm, Cassie is behind her to the left, not in the air fortunately.
I hear the one with his hand on Oceane, “Come one little missy, you and your friend, we gonna have a real nice ride. I got a cozy cabin other side the lake, beer, wine, some smooth Jack Daniels, even a little toke.”
Oceane’s expression seldom changes, an ethereal smile, not a tooth baring grin, but more than Mona Lisa, who’s smile to me seems or like a smirk or grimace. I work my way through the forest so I wind up behind Oceane and Cass.
I hear Sloane’s growl, she’s airborne, must have been a twenty foot leap. The man and his pal, who is approaching Cassie, look up in disbelief. Then they look down, one in agony in the dirt, the other confused and scared.
Sloane has his wrist in her jaw, then nothing in her jaw, the hand is on the ground, the rest of his forearm is spouting blood. Never heard a man scream so loud.
Second Man is frozen, if he goes to help his friend, there’s a vicious…something…would be a regular girl if it wasn’t for the blood and bone dripping from her jaws.
Sloane growls, her jaw snaps, the man lurches back and goes to grab Cassie as a shield.
I have his wrist in my left hand, then arm twisted behind his back and my owl claw right is on his throat, “Party’s over dork.”
His arms flail, he’s trying to talk but I’ve got his throat so constricted he can barely breathe.
I look at Sloane, “Take the girls home, no names.”
Sloane takes Oceane by the arm, Cassie by the hand, she walks them in the direction of the house.
Susan shows up, she takes a look at the one bleeding away, then walks over to me with my capture. She hits him under the chin with the palm hell of her right hand, I hear teeth crunch, blood oozes from his broken jaw. He passes out, I let him thump to the ground.
Susan, “If Nikko was here, they’d be dead.”
I check his carotid for a pulse, “Doesn’t appear Nikko will be necessary.”
“Oh. I killed him then.”
“It was a mother daughter project, I still had his throat restricted, your punch sent his head up and back, with no give his neck snapped.
Dasha and Daria appear, “Sloane explained, we will deal with keednapping pervert peerson, go home.”
Susan, “But, the other needs….”
Daria, “Go home.”
The twins lift the two by their belts as if they were no more than gym bags and throw them in the boat. Crunch, ouch, if they were conscious, that would hurt. First Man’s head bags the gunwale opposite, he won’t get the chance to bleed out.
Susan, “Sheesh.”
“Dasha, check for ID.”
She hops in the boat, tosses me two wallets, she searches the boat for anything of interest, comes up with a scoped rifle, box of bullets and two Ruger pistols. I don’t know from guns, Katya will know what they are.
“See if they’re loaded.”
She clicks back the bolt on the rifle, rather large round drops out. Daria dropss the magazines out of the pistols and pulls back the slides, bullets pop out of each.
I take the guns and ammunition, hand Susan the rifle, “Come on soldier, let’s march to the house.”
Janah, Lauren and Taylor are back, hikers are still up the mountain, but Janah mentaled Nikko and they’re headed down.
Lauren, “Mom! What happened? Sloane was all bloody.”
“Isn’t her blood.”
I give her the most sanitized version I can.

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