Chapter One Hundred Seventeen
It's breakfast, Dasha and I do scrambled with cream cheese, cut cantaloupe, the red headed stepchild of fruit according to Oceane, biscuits and ham slices.
Janah, "Think of an approach?"
Nikko, "We should take all the workers going to or at work, then head to the house and take on the others, maybe something to draw a couple outside. If we get lucky, one goes to the store."
"Four dead falling in one morning is going to make a sound, and there are people around to hear it."
Amaya, "They work in two offices, the CPAs in one, the broker and agent in another a few miles away. Neither has a receptionist or other employees. We walk in, dart them, do any searching we want, lock the door behind us. If they have appointments, the client finds a locked office and nobody answers the phone."
Janah, "Okay, what about the house?"
Nikko, "Janah, there's nothing to do but barge in and start firing. We have four air guns that can fire two darts before they need reloading. I don't see a reason to make this tricky, it's why we got the darts in the first place. Fighting Shadows hand to hand is a pain, a painful pain. If we use you and Daria to defeat them brain to brain, we'd need to get them one or two at a time. Besides, we want them dead, use the direct approach. The business in Killeen was messy."
Janah, "All true, any other thoughts?"
We look around at each other, "Make sure you snag the darts and get the trackers off the vehicles. They will have a puncture mark, but the Oblivion drug David Li created is untraceable. It kills in seconds and looks like cardiac arrest if they autopsy, which they will."
Chloe, "How does he make it look like a heart attack?"
Janah, "He uses a version of Batrachotoxin, from the poison dart frog. The poison the frog produces comes from its diet of bugs. When the frog is attacked or is in pain, it sweats out the poison which kills almost instantly. There is no antidote. David Li and his sister Miyako developed a synthetic version that both acts more quickly and for which there is an antidote. The antidote must be in your system already or, worst case, administered immediately. The poison shuts down nerve signals to muscle, including the heart. A lethal dose is about the size of a two or three grains of salt. It usually takes about ten minutes and a lot of convulsions to kill a human. Ours takes seconds. It's, I don't know if merciful is the right word, they don't have time to suffer."
"We have two ten year olds at the house that don't die and don't need to see the others die."
Nikko, "That's a point."
"And we can't hope to just snatch them, like we get lucky and they go outside."
Janah, "Then somebody has to sedate them first. We don't how they see these people. Likely think of them as mom and dad if they were taken as infants or toddlers, doesn't mean they like them. Better to have them unconscious anyway, maybe Oceane can get a read while they're out."
Daria, "Eloise and I will go to the house today, maybe get better video of the interior."
"I'm going with you, if you're flying drones you can't watch the territory, even better if Nikko comes along, or Zi. That's enough, we can't all go out there and hang around."
Janah, "Good, it doesn't need to take all day. Get what you can get, we can follow on the IPads, maybe figure an approach for tomorrow. Minders will get the infants. I'll arrange to get them to authorities with no questions. I also need Transportation to find a place to talk to the not quite Shadows, then make a decision."
The four of us leave, drive to a spot down the road from the Shadow house, I back into a stand of trees. Eloise and Daria get the drones aloft, one hovers over the house while Eloise flies the other. The camera zooms in. We can see inside windows like we're standing next to them. A hundred yards out, the drone is just a speck, like a bird.
"Janah, follow the car, a couple just left and it looks like more than a shopping trip, there were two small suitcases, they put a car seat in their sedan, but no baby."
"I was afraid of that. They're off to make another snatch."
"Put Amaya behind the wheel, send Amaya and Dasha to put a stop to it. I want Chloe there with you and Oceane."
Janah, "I've got them tracked, back to you later."
Nikko, "They should take them while they're on the road. Better all around, it's probably an overnight at least, and they can't steal a child if they're dead."
"Janah, you get that?"
"Dasha was ahead of you, she took a dart gun. Said they weren't taking any kid or going to get back home."
"They simplified things for us, I'll take the luck."
Nikko, "We have only two in the house. If by some chance the two are supposed to be back tonight, it's going to create a problem. I think we need to step up the timetable."
Janah, "Tranquilize the kids first, take out the two Shadows. You will need more darts to deal with the others at their jobs. No, wait....dummy me, the drones have darts, use those. I have to alert the Minders, the place you take the kids is already arranged. While you deal with the others, Chloe, Oceane and I will interview the kids."
Going to be a busy day. I relay the new plan to Daria and Eloise.
"Can you get a tranq dart in the kids from the drone?"
Eloise, "Windows are closed, but no curtains or blinds. The two are in their room, they're either playing doctor or doing stuff ten year olds shouldn't be doing."
"Typical of Shadows, they like child porn. They've brainwashed the kids into thinking it's just fine. What do you need me to do?"
"If you break the window, I can dart them both in a couple of seconds."
I haven't been watching the video, I click it on my IPad. They are butt naked on the bed making out. Ten boy has his hand between ten girl's legs. Ten girl is mirroring, her hand is guess where?
"Nikko, I'm creeping up to toss a rock through a window. If the two adults see me, we have trouble we don't need."
Nikko, "No sweat, Zi and I are going to the front door and draw them out. Daria, if you get a shot, kill them."
I make a wide circle to the side where the kids' are. The adults are in the kitchen, downstairs other side of the house. It's the mountains, rocks all over the place. I find one big enough to smash crap out of a window, wait on word from Nikko.
She and Zi are approaching the front, Zi starts screeching in Chinese, like she's pissed. Nikko yells back, except in Japanese. Hope it all sounds the same to the Shadows. The front door opens.
Nikko kicks Zi, she flies back butt first on the dirt, jumps up and attacks.
A man is on the porch, suddenly he turns to a woman just behind him, halfway out the door, he yells, "Fucking Shaolin bitch! Came to kill and die instead, cunt priest."
Daria sticks a dart in his chest, the woman sees him pitch forward but can't see why. She hesitates, starts for him. It dawns on her something's gone bad, turns to retreat inside. A dart stabs in the back of her neck, she plops forward halfway in the house. I throw the rock, the window disintegrates, a shriek.
I hear swip, then swip.
Nikko and I drag the man in the house, Zi's already gotten the woman inside. The two kids are dead to the world for now, Zi starts to dress them. I find two infants asleep in a downstairs bedroom, the third is in the kitchen in a high chair. It's the boy, looks older, maybe two, he blinks at me, hand in a bowl of cereal.
Janah, "Extraction is on the way."
Daria has the Escalade in the front drive, Nikko and Zi carry the two kids to the car. Eloise and I are going through computers, decide it's simpler to take them with us. I check around for a safe. Shadows steal a fair amount of cash, maybe these just put it in the bank. There's a safe in a hall closet, nothing behind pictures on the walls, there aren't pictures on the walls.
"Eloise, make a run through the bedrooms and look for cash, valuables. I'm going to crack this sucker."
Takes a bit, it’s not a chump safe. My hearing enables me to catch the near silent click as I turn the dial, but it takes me longer to catch the third. Then it's open, sheesh.
Nikko is over my shoulder, "Found a suitcase, we can load it in here."
I hand her wrapped stacks of hundreds, "Looks like a million give or take."
"Good, help compensate the parents of the babies."
Eloise comes along with a gym bag, "No cash, lots of jewelry."
"There's more in the safe. Guess they haven't gotten around to fencing it."
Nikko, "If they stole it locally, better to sell it elsewhere, some of this stuff looks high end."
I hold a diamond necklace to the light, "This one's the real deal," I toss it in the bag.
"Looks like that’s it," I hear a car pull in.
Extraction. A man and a woman. They’ll take the infants to wherever authority Janah has contacted.
Chapter One Hundred Eighteen
While we recycle infants and children, Dasha and Amaya are on the hunt for an opportunity. As we drive the kids to a Super 8, I get in Amaya's brain.
She's driving the other Escalade, ahead of her is the target car, a Toyota sedan something or other. I only know Escalades, a couple of other SUVs and Amaya’s corvette, not really a car girl.
"How far out are you?"
"Thirty miles, heading to Salt Lake. Maybe that is as far as they go."
"Have to stop for gas sooner or later, is your tank full?"
I switch channels, "Janah, they're headed to Salt Lake. Nothing to do but follow and wait for a spot."
"Following the travel couple sucked up our other car. When you get the kids settled, come get us. I need Oceane's take on the kids. Then you, Nikko, Daria and Zi need to clean up the four in offices."
"And get back to the house to wait on the teens."
Dasha pops in my head, "They are going to gas station. I will keel now."
I can see what Dasha sees, Toyota pulling up to the pump. Amaya turns the Escalade in the other direction, opens the rear hatch. Dasha is in the second row of seats, sighting the air rifle. I hear Amaya, 'Clear.'
Driver and passenger exit, passenger, the woman, walks towards the convenience store. I hear the pop of the rifle, see the woman flinch, then start to fall. The sight moves to the man. His back is to the store, he's unscrewing the gas cap. In the background, I hear a voice, 'a lady fell, she's not moving.'
A second pop, the sight shows a dart in the Shadows shoulder, he drops the gas cap, just as it clatters, he drops. The hatch on the Escalade closes.
In the confusion, Amaya approaches the Toyota. Reaches under the bumper and pulls off a small box. Then snags the dart and pockets it.
She crosses over the pump island, excited voice tells the four people gathered around the fallen woman, "A man, by that car, he's down too! Remember those people shot at gas stations in Virginia? Get to your cars or go back inside! Hurry!"
She pockets another dart sticking out from the right side abdomen, partially hidden by her purse. Amaya runs as if she's trying to get away like the others.
Dasha moved the Escalade to the side street next to the convenience store, Amaya slides in the passenger door, the Escalade pulls off.
I relay the story to Janah, Chloe and Oceane as we drive to the Super 8 where we parked the kids.
"Good, Amaya did a nice bit of quick thinking retrieving the tracker and darts."
Daria and Zi are in the room with the kids, Nikko is patrolling the perimeter.
She checks in, "Isn't squat going on out here, place has five cars and semi in the lot."
Janah, "Minor change of plan, I need Daria here to assist with drugs and either Zi or Chloe to read the kids."
"Chloe should stay here. Even though we're all disguised, something goes wrong, like the cops get drawn in, somebody may recognize her."
Janah, "Good point. Okay, get a move on. I would have preferred fronting the office crowd first thing in the morning, it's after lunch now. Can't be helped, and you need to deal with the teens."
"Amaya and Dasha will be back soon."
Janah, "They coming here then?"
"Yes, already spoke to Amaya."
Nikko, Zi and I head off to do murder. If we finish today, which we need to, it's not a record, we killed more Shadows in Killeen, but not all on one day. We killed a few more in one day at a fake monastery that masked a child sex brothel outside Santa Fe. We don’t think of body count as an achievement, even with Shadows, this isn’t the lie of Vietnam.
I find the CPA's office, Nikko gets out to see if anybody's home. The tracker shows the car here, I look around, spot it in a slot down the way.
Nikko returns, "Door's locked."
"Car's here, must have walked to lunch or somebody picked them up. Let's go check out the broker and insurance agent, it's only a few blocks."
As I'm backing out, the CPAs round the corner. I drive off like I'm leaving, wait at the corner to see what happens. I see them talking to each other, the woman glances in my direction as they go into the building.
"Nikko, I think they sensed me. I'm going to the rear of the place in case they bolt. You and Zi need to get to them quickly and deal, if they call anyone it's a problem."
They're out of the car, I park on the side street and go behind the building. It's a service alley, dumpster, a rear exit to take trash out, nothing else. The exit isn't locked, front door is open, no reason to keep the rear door locked during the day. Nikko and Zi have had time to get to the office, I hear muffled banging, like furniture being slammed around.
Things haven't gone well. The dart guns are on the floor, Zi's being tossed around like she's in a tornado. The woman is heading towards her.
"Fucking Shaolin, you think we don't smell your self-righteous stink?"
Nikko is picking herself off the floor, blood runs down the side of her head. She's crawling to the dart gun. The only advantage for the moment is they think the priest they sensed outside is the one now inside. The man has his back to me, the woman is occupied with Zi. I yank open the glass door, run three steps and take flight.
My heel catches the back of his thick neck, it sends him sprawling forward. Don't need him regaining his feet, I leap and land squarely on his spine, he flinches hard, his head actually lifts and bangs down again. Nikko's reached the dart gun.
"Take the woman."
Zi is struggling, the woman is not on her, she's using powerful qi to keep Zi at bay. I see Zi double over from an energy strike to the gut.
My target is moving, slowly, he can't stand, but he turns on his side, "A good day when we kill a Shaolin, better day when we kill two."
I hear the thwip! of a dart, "Your pal is toast, and both Shaolin are still standing. I notice you're still lying around."
He looks over to his dead partner, back to me, sneers, "Don't need to stand."
His hand raises, I feel the energy flow, wait until he fires his first volley. I can see the pupils dilate, his fingers twitch, I do a full split and the shot goes over my head. I hear what sounds like a sledge hammer bang the wall. Before he can regroup, I roll to the side, my steel toe boot crushes his front teeth, then I stamp my heel down on his hand. Just as I'm about to throat him with the same toe, a dart shows up in his eye socket.
I turn around, Nikko has Zi supported with one arm, the dart gun in the other, "That was noisy, let's get moving."
I grab the second gun, pull both darts from the targets and we hit the hall running. Just as we turn down the hall to the rear, a door opens down the way and a head leans out. Nikko and Zi are out of his line of sight, at best he catches my profile for a second and we're gone. He can offer a useless description from a half second view of a tall person wearing a watch cap, sunglasses, baggy jeans and a beat to hell denim jacket, good luck.
In the car, Nikko is probing around on Zi, she's tender in spots.
Zi, "It's no worse than our hard training, let me work on your cut."
"How'd she get cut?"
Nikko, "He shot me across the room into the edge of a desk."
"Can you handle the others?"
Nikko, "With a cut and some bruises? We have sex with cuts and bruises."
"Yeah, but that's more fun than killing people."
"Speak for yourself."
Zi and I laugh, humor's funnier with a dose of truth mixed in.
"Janah, CPAs down, bit of trouble and minor injuries, but nothing to keep us from finishing."
"Crap. This was going too easy. I'm into the boy's brain right now, finish up as fast as you can. I'm not crazy about Amaya and Dasha taking on the teens."
"That has to change. If Amaya wants to drive, fine, but Daria needs to go along. Better to just send the twins, Amaya knows the drugs as well as Daria."
"I hear them at the door now, talk to you later."
Chapter One Hundred Nineteen
Nikko, "They're going to sense you and Zi just like the others. I should go in alone."
She's got a point, but I'm not crazy about the idea.
"Maybe we make that work for us. I'll walk the hall, see if curiosity gets the better of them. Maybe Zi and I both walk the hall, get them really agitated."
Nikko takes an air rifle, I take the pistol. We enter the building, Nikko goes left, away from the office, Zi and I walk slowly past Tanner Insurance and Investments.
The next office is a dentist, couple of people in the waiting room, woman behind the reception counter on the phone staring at a computer. I hear a door open, a wave of energy floats past, like a gust of wind. I turn my owl neck, one's out the door, the other is halfway, still behind the glass. Both of them are staring, Shadow dead eyes, like the lights are off inside.
My pistol is in front of me, they can't see it, I raise it to my chest, spin and fire. I get the man in his left breast, his hand goes to the dart. Looks like he's about to say the pledge of allegiance but can't remember the words.
Nikko fires the same instant. The woman falls back into the office while the man smashes face first on the hall floor. Nikko leaves, Zi and I, drag the bodies into the office and out of sight from the door. She retrieves the darts and we head for the exit. As we go out, an older man is coming in holding his jaw. Must hurt, he's oblivious to us.
"We're done, do you need us there, or do we go to the house?"
Janah, "To the house. I sent the twins and Eloise, school should be out. You're hopefully unnecessary backup."
I go into Dasha's mind, she's watching Daria and Eloise fly the drones, then she looks at her IPad, I see a car pull into the drive.
There's laughter, the boy is driving, he's out first. He leans against the fender and lights a cigarette, no, a joint. The girl joins him, they alternate tokes.
Shadow Girl, "I fucked with Jackie Albert big time. Cunt prom queen going to remember herself on her knees licking Sissy Bright's ass in the chem lab, got it on my phone."
She shows Shadow Boy the video, "Fuck that's cool, you gonna post it?"
"Maybe. I'm so good, two girls under control at the same time. Maybe I can get the cheerleaders to go down on each other in the locker room."
Shadow Boy, "I hear a couple of 'em are doing that already."
"Heard it, didn't see it. Two football jocks claim they did it to prime the pump before they fucked. Man, the Jackie bitch looks like she's into ass licking, Sissy is either a porn star or she's loving it."
Shadow Girl, "That's the weird part. One I got them going, I didn't have to keep after it. I dropped all control to see what would happen. Jackie spun her around and lapped pussy like she'd couldn't get enough. Sissy was loving it."
"So I see, Jesus, lezzies, who knew?"
Shadow Girl runs her hand over his crotch, "Somebody's got a hard on, you like my porn vid."
She unbuckles his belt, unzips his jeans, decent size cock pops out. She gets busy. If you're going to die, die happy, even if you don’t know you’re going to die.
I see a dart zip into the girl's cheek, but it's the boy who keels over. Daria has an interesting sense of humor.
A second dart pokes out of the girl's shoulder just as she starts to scream. She’s dead with a dick in her mouth, wow.
"Don't have to go to the house, teens are cooked."
Janah, "See you in a bit."
I check in with Dasha, she's pulling the tracker from the car, then I see Daria with the two darts, "Good job, there's no reason you need to go to the motel, just go back to Sundance and wait."
At the motel, the two kids are asleep again.
Janah, "They weren't very far along. The girl was actually resisting training, why she got the headaches I’m guessing. The boy was reluctant because she was. Despite their age, and the jump start sex play, they care about each other. Their major problem aside from being stolen by Shadows were the teens."
"It was the teens that started them up, they were five or six. Living how they lived, they thought it was okay. Shadows have no conscience, no moral constraints. The kids didn't know from anything else, they don't go to school. They had a sense things were off, apparently they could watch TV, they had some indirect social exposure. The teens just took their minds when they wanted sexual entertainment. Four years of that, they behave the way they do now."
"What do we do with them?"
"They're ten, DNA databases weren't much a decade ago, they don't know any family other than the Shadows. They go to one of the ranches. If we hunt for family and find them....you know the rest, therapy, victim, horrible childhood will screw them up forever."
"You going to leave them together?"
"Yes. They may carry on for awhile, but they will be around other kids. Separating them is too cruel, they have real affection for each other beyond playing around. Besides kissing and touching, they don't do anything. It was the teens that did the sex. Boy-girl, boy-boy, girl-girl."
A knock on the door, it's an older couple. We get the kids situated in the back of the van, they drive off. Janah will call one of the monks, explain what the two have endured. They will be among kids their age, some younger, some older, kids who experienced abuse, physical, sexual or both. Nobody is a pariah, nobody is treated like victims, nobody gets pills. The ranches keep kids busy, they have horses, chickens and cows to look after, vegetables and fruit to grow. They take online courses, learn to look after themselves, hike in the mountains, snowboard, ride mountain bikes. Sometimes newer ones have tantrums and act out. Nobody gives them grief, nobody overreacts, it's hard to be a pain if no one pays attention. Eventually they tire of it, figure out being part of the big family is less trouble and more fun.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty
Daria and I are surfing Shadows' accounts on the computers we lifted, she's also creating a sale for the real estate.
"They have ten million in banks, the jewelry still needs to be appraised. Daria estimates the property is three to four million."
Janah, "Call it thirteen million, the jewelry can offset Society expenses. How do we split money between the parents of the infants and the abused kids."
Nikko, "Abused should get half, maybe more."
"Okay, three and a half each for the kids, three infants two million apiece. If the parents don't screw it up, they will be wealthy by the time they're twenty one."
Nikko, "Look, they get their children returned, intact. Dribble the money, don't just trust the parents. If I made the decision, pay out an annuity to the kids when they're twenty one."
Janah, "They're infants, one's maybe two, they were healthy, clean and fed. It's the parents who lived through the terror."
Nikko, "Point taken. Sending the money in pieces over time has other complications, like having to know where they are, bad idea. Send them the two and we hope for the best."
Nobody else has an opinion, Janah will make arrangements and we can be finished with it.
“You got a fair amount of detail on the kids pretty quickly.”
Janah, "Oceane was key. She touched, felt whatever vibe she feels. She sensed the real affection for each other, reluctance about the sex and resistance to being trained. I was able to explore those things with them, they were remarkably open, I didn't use any drugs. What they told me fit with what Oceane sensed."
Oceane is on the balcony studying ice cubes left from her drink, she pokes them with a long finger, "I swim in your sister. Soon, you will be back in the sky. Maybe I will swim in you one day."
Her experience with the kids is gone from her mind. She doesn't feel their feelings, she senses what the person feels. If she felt all those sensations her disc would crash. Janah and Daria can retain yottabytes, guess I exaggerate, that's a trillion terabytes. The point is, facts aren't emotions, they don't burn the same level of mental and physical energy. Emotions aren't just in the brain, they affect the entire body, heart rate, sweat, gastric system. If she felt their feelings, their emotions, and retained them, she'd explode.
"Zi, how are you feeling?"
Zi, "Better, nasty bruise. If she hit me with the shot you dodged I would have a hole in my gut."
"I don't know if she was less capable than the guy, more likely she wanted to slap you around first. He didn't use the same force on Nikko. When he saw it wasn't going his way, he kicked up the spice. We need to remember that down the road. Some future Shadow may not want to play with his kill first."
Janah, "That's why we drone whenever possible. I have no reason to offer Shadows a fair fight. If the drone is out of the question, then air guns. Hand to hand is the last resort. In the future we don't use Daphne or Zi to track, the best ones sense a priest. Better to use them like the last two, draw them out. They can't seem to resist the urge to kill Shaolin, it's a weakness we can exploit."
Dasha is talking to herself at the stove, "Eloise and sister keel teen Shadow, Dasha keel two at pumping gas station, we are gud Shadow keeler. Ees gud day, not such a gud day for Nikko and Zi, but they are anyway not hurt so bad."
Then she says, "Eemaya, you will make vodka drink, I am cooking your dinner."
Amaya, "Yes Comrade Bossy, what is for dinner anyway?"
"Vegetable borscht zoup, then Cordon Bleu, breading cheeken breast stuff wiz chiz and ham, mushroom sauce, creamy spinach wiz nootmaig, apple cherry crumble wiz ice cream."
Amaya, kisses her, "And you earn an extra large vodka for a great dinner. If you show up tonight in my room, you earn a fantastic bonus."
Dasha is back to communing with her preparations, "Eemaya ees gud sexy girl. Dasha will bring strapping on device."
"Sound like you're in for a treat."
Amaya, "That was the plan all along."
Nikko, "Surrounded by licentious lesbians."
I kiss her, "The kind you prefer."
Girls unwind, been a long deadly day. By the time we wander to rooms, the drinkers are fairly buzzed, should be an interesting night of sexual abandon. Eloise had already started in on Daria while we finished dessert. Nikko and Zi are banged up, sleep for them. Chloe goes off with Janah, Dasha will have Amaya to herself. I go with Oceane to her room, yummy, such a creamy dream. I take my sooo sweet time.
Time to escape. When we do these jobs, we evac as quickly as feasible. Since we are all here and we don't all fly together, we have two flights home. Dasha, Daria, Eloise, Janah and I leave at seven thirty, Nikko, Zi, Amaya and Chloe and Oceane leave a few minutes later. Losing two hours in time zones, we get to Teterboro at two. Everyone is home by three.
I called Susan so she would have Sloane at home when we arrive. She jumps in my arms for a long hug.
"Mom, everyone is okay?"
"Nikko and Zi got in a bit of rough exercise, they're tough though."
Sis is examining Nikko's head, "Who did the stitch job?"
"Janah, Daria's getting good too, but Janah did this one."
Susan kisses her, "I don't need to know details as long as I know you're safe."
"I'm good. Zi got a nasty bruise, but nothing busted, everyone else walked away clean."
"I'll pass along the message to James and Kara, Amaya talked to Taylor already. We sort of knew what to expect. James was concerned about a concussion."
Nikko, "No concussion, it was more the pointed edge of a wooden table that caused the cut, not the force of impact. I never blanked. Just glad I didn’t hit the point straight on, would have had a deep puncture."
Susan, "There was a report of some weirdness in Provo Utah while you were gone."
"Isn't that where Brigham Young is, there's weirdness there already."
Susan, "Okay, I got the visual and can report to the parents. Sloane and I have bonded, mostly because I refuse to let her out of my sight except when she went to school She drew the line at me attending classes."
"How much bling?"
Susan, "Do you think I would stoop to buying her affection? We spent the free time learning to program. She's nine, by the time she's twelve she'll be as good as me. Nobody is better than me."
Sloane, "It's cool mom. I made a simple game, Susan says Daria and you can show me more about hacking, but I have to learn to program first."
Sis, "She should come over a few times a week, or I can show her here. Just put us on the schedule."
"I'll do it in the morning."
Sis hugs Sloane, kisses to soft cheeks, "See you soon."
"Thanks Susan, hug everyone for me."
Janah, "We need all the security expertise we can muster, glad she's liking programming."
Sloane, "Can I swim?"
"Sure. Oceane is probably in the pool, but it can handle two, go for it."
I make tea, which we have on the go today. We want to unpack, shower and chill.
"Dasha, we'll order out, I'll call Marconi's and have them deliver."
I'll skip pizza tonight, go with antipasto, veg lasagna and veal marsala with rigatoni and a Nikko favorite, osso bucco. Amaya appears, must be cocktail hour. Family gathers around the table, food arrives. Lasagna in a warm oven with the marsala and osso bucco, serve antipasto as appetizer.
Sloane races past, "Smells great in here,” on to her room to dry hair.
Amaya, "She is an inch and a half taller since she's been with us, her feet say she has inches left."
Janah, "Average height at nine is the same for girls and boys, about four-four. Sloane is taller than that."
Amaya, "Yes, she is four seven. I estimate she winds up someplace between my five seven and Daphne's five ten."
I start pulling pans out of the oven, Dasha cuts the lasagna into chunks and puts the pan on the table. Rigatoni in a big bowl, veal marsala in another pan, osso bucco in a third. Amaya pours wine, a zesty Chianti of course.
Nikko, "This is amazing veal, cuts with a fork, I love marsala sauce. Same with the beef shank, falls apart at the touch. We have enough protein to fuel a small country."
"I went a little crazy on the order I guess, although it looks like more than I ordered."
Janah, "I suspect Dominick stuck in extra for his pal Daphne."
"How sweet. It will go to good use, tomorrow night we will have beef and veal marsala po-boys, on crusty French bread."
Amaya, "I am already anticipating dinner tomorrow, this is splendid."
Janah, "And I will be delighted to finish up the veg lasagna."
Guess dinner will be simple again tomorrow. I'll add a tomato and red onion blue cheese salad, they like that.
I think now is as good a time as any to close out this volume. We just killed ten people, saved a bunch of people future grief from sadistic Shadows; also rescued two kids and sent three infants back to parents who thought their children were gone forever. All anonymously. The cops won't be too happy, bunch of inexplicably dead people from the same house outside town, dead all over Provo and surrounds. It's not like we can meet with the DA and explain Shadows.