At the Mandarin Oriental, Katja and Ellen are ready with restorative refreshment.
Mani, “It was great, except dragging a rug with that fat ass inside it. He mumbled and yelled the whole time. We drove until nowhere, a development with no development, just lots and empty streets. Dragged him out of the back, didn’t bother to unroll him. I could see his red head inside the rug. I popped him twice, neat, no blood spatter, his brains conveniently contained by the rug.”
Ellen, “Get showered, I’ll clean the Glock, maybe Katja can order something from room service, I’m hungry.”
Half hour later, girls are dining on she-crab soup. A creamy seafood broth base, poured over a pile of lump crabmeat and tobiko caviar, the tiny flying fish roe you see on sushi. They split two orders of grilled chicken breast satay skewers alongside a salad of cabbage, strawberries, glazed cashews and citrus soy ginger vinaigrette.
Ellen, “Nice choices Katja, I’m full without gorge. What’s the plan for the drug guy?”
Katya, “I spoke wiz Pearson. She is happy to have us put him out of business any way we see fit. Simpler to just kill him than kidnap and torture into compliance.”
Mani, “We don’t know where he keeps cash.”
Katja, “Society already has him under Surveillance, they have only one other team that can handle a big operation, that one is on something else. When I told her that we are four, she gives this one to us. Society gets half of any money, but we don’t need to do surveillance, we don’t need to track anyone. We will know where Calderon is, and where his cash is.”
Ellen, “How do they know how much we steal?”
“They do not, ees a matter of trust. The Society provides services, surveillance, transportation, minders, all to support us. We have not needed it, but they also haf connection to get us out of any police or other legal problem. Gerard verified.”
Mani, “Then we play fair, half is half.”
Next morning Ellen has the local news on, a female reporter on camera in front of a police station, “A Manny Menudo has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of Daniel McClusky, a Miami Beach homicide detective. His partner, Detective Franklin Davis, dropped McClusky at the Menudo home to question him on the shooting death of Eduardo Lucas. Menudo is reported to be a potential witness to the crime. Why Detective Davis left his partner to interview Menudo alone is unclear at this time. When he returned to pick up Detective McClusky, he was gone and Mr. Menudo was groggy after being hit on his temple by something hard. McClusky has been the subject of several accusations of police brutality, the Miami police have not commented other than to say the investigation is ongoing.”
Screen switches to the anchor, he starts on a different story. Ellen clicks off the set.
Mani comes along, then the twins, Ellen brings them up to date.
Katya, “Good enough, nobody knows much of anything, and they have not found the body.”
Mani, “That could take forever. It’s at the back of an abandoned suburban development. The lots were full of overgrown grass, somebody would have to walk right up on it and it didn’t look like anyone had been back there in months.”
Ellen, “Did he have a phone?”
Katya, “I took it before we rolled him up, it’s junk in a drainage pipe, along with his gun, badge, and wallet.”
Ellen, “Dang, good work ladies, so, what’s for breakfast? And what’s our job today?”
Katya, “I will talk to Surveillance, we need movements of Calderon and I do not know if they have identified the location where the cash is counted and stored. I am hungry, have you checked out hotel breakfast?”
Ellen, “They have everything, it’s fancy hotel expensive, but it’s right here, I didn’t notice much nearby, we could ask the concierge.”
Katya, “Price is immaterial, convenient to eat here.”
Downstairs, Ellen’s right, more than enough options. They go traditional, coffee, black tea for the twins, poached eggs, bacon, pancakes.
Back in the room, Katya’s on the phone for fifteen, then taps off.
“Two cars, the rifles, holster Glocks, extra magazines.”
Mani, “Cool, going to war.”
Ellen, “How do they keep track of the money. I mean, everything’s cash, it has to be collected, brought someplace and counted. Doesn’t some drip out along the way? Got to be a temptation.”
“Family, brothers, cousins, nephews. Once the cash comes in, nobody but family handles it.”
“Family goes bad over money.”
“Calderon is notoriously violent, fear is a strong motivation to stay in line. He has also provided a luxury life for the extended family. He is sixty, young enough to keep things orderly for a long time. The real trouble comes when he dies and there is a fight to be boss.”
Katya explains the layout, and the problem. The money appears to be stored at Calderon’s compound, and it is a compound. All the families live there, twenty acres, walled and gated. The main house is over ten thousand square feet, other homes dot the grounds. There’s a huge pool, a tennis court that gets a fair amount of use, even a softball diamond. A landscaping company owned by Calderon comes along every week to keep it pristine.
Drugs are delivered and payment collected by family members. The SUVs go into a garage that has four double wide doors and must be at least five thousand square feet. The garage, more like a warehouse, isn’t inside the compound, it’s a separate building, one wall is the compound wall. The other three sides of the building are surrounded by eight foot concrete walls, with a heavy metal gate for access, and an asphalt drive.
Katya checks her laptop, “Video is here, take a look.”
A shot of a car going in, they can see inside the garage, there are three other SUVs inside at the moment, two motorcycles in one corner, otherwise it’s empty except for men who approach the arriving vehicle.
Ellen, “How’d they get the video?”
“Drone. Society has drones that can plant a tracker on a car, then it follows by GPS. Some invention by the Society tech people.”
“Dang, that’s slick, we’re dealing with a sophisticated outfit.”
Katja, “Beeg question ees, what happens to money? No money stacked around garage, only cars.”
The door closes, the drone image shifts, there is video of the entire compound. Four women play tennis, kids are screwing around the pool. No sign of anything like boxes or bags of cash moving around.
The drone gets shots from all angles, Katya is recording it in her head.
Mani, “What if they see the drone?”
Katya, “Drone isn’t visible, the camera on it is exceptional, zoomed in from maybe a quarter mile out. Probably looks like a bird at that distance. I need to talk to Pearson, something does not add up.”
She calls from the sat phone, “In the video, which is only a half hour, money does not leave garage, why? Was the car carrying cash? Do you know?”
Mrs. Pearson, “Yes, it was, we followed it from the buyer to the compound. There were six duffle bags, it wasn’t gym clothes, we know it was cash. We have video of it being transferred. We also noticed the garage was mostly empty. Other video confirms what you saw, there never seems to be anything that could be construed as boxes of cash going from the garage to any other house.”
Katya, “Then garage has a basement, or there are tunnels.”
“Possible. Calderon wouldn’t want kids, or even wives or girlfriends to know where cash is, or that there is cash at all. I’m sure some of the women know, but he would want to keep the kids out of it, they can’t be counted on not to blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time.”
Katya, “Does not matter, tunnels or no. The cash has to go underground first, maybe it just stays there. Tunnels are a pain, whoever constructed them knows they are there. Besides, the cash has to leave eventually for laundering, it would go out from the garage just like it came in. The garage can’t be accessed except through the gate. If there is a tunnel, the money would still come back to the warehouse after it was counted and packaged. The more I think about it, a tunnel seems like an unnecessary inconvenience.”
Mrs. Pearson, “We agree then. It’s risky and appears to serve little purpose. My bet is they take it to a lower level basement, count and wrap it, then take it someplace else. How long do you need the video up?”
“One more viewing, another forty minutes. We will absorb the layout, I have it in my head anyway.”
She laughs, “Comes in handy, doesn’t it?”
“You too then, yes, handy. Forgetting is a problem sometimes.”
Mrs. Pearson laughs, “True. I find if I don’t refresh, things go dark eventually.”
“Send any relevant video, you can tap phones, monitor cell traffic?”
“Yes, but Calderon uses the same phone you’re using. The drone has a unique mike, it can pick up conversations through a wall, particularly good through glass. You want us to monitor the house for a couple of days?”
“That would be good. Since we have dead time, Surveillance can pull back, oh, for the time you have followed, are the pickup points the same?”
“They might duplicate over time. From what we’ve seen, they use different locations, likely safer than establishing a routine. They do collect on Friday and Tuesday, which is today. Three days to the next pickup.”
“We will monitor the house, drone has tracker on what cars?”
“Everyone that went out, six. Surveillance has IPads that track them. They won’t be needing them, there are two, track three cars each. Where are you?”
“They’ll be at the desk tonight, the hotel will ring you to collect. You can figure out how to operate them? We have it fairly intuitive.”
“Yes, not a problem, we use trackers in our other work.”
“Then bye for now.”
Katya taps off.
Katya, “Sister and I will have burgers from room service, we have already vodka and wine.”
Ellen, “Good by us, out all day snooping around, I’m ready for chill. Mani, let’s make drinks, I’ll get something ordered later. How’s sevenish sound for dinner?”
Katja, “Da, good. We will haf vodka and find moovey, sister will have brain anyway turning over for making a plan.”
By seven thirty, they’re having sushi appetizers, followed by juicy burgers. The hotel has enough sense to make the burgers build it yourself. That keeps the buns from turning to mush and allows diners to add or not add additions. Ellen told them not to bother with lettuce, only sliced tomato, dill pickle, shredded cheddar, crumbled bleu cheese and sliced jalapeno. Condiments of ketchup, mayo and horseradish mustard.
Mani, “Damn, these things are great.”
“It’s twelve hundred a night for a reason.”
They watch Gary Oldman play George Smiley in the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the role originally played by Alec Guinness in the BBC mini-series.
Katja, “Good moovey, Ellen, ees Cognac?”
“Of course sweetie, hang on,” she pours a snifter for the twins and herself, Mani isn’t much on Cognac, she finishes off the wine.
The film concludes, it’s ten thirty and girls have a busy day upcoming, following around drug dealers, time for welcome rest.
In the morning, Ellen asks, “What’s the plan, or are you still planning?”
Katya, “Everything happens at the house, and we have now control of the drone. First, we take it someplace quiet and learn to operate. Then we use it to monitor house.”
The sat phone dings, Katya answers, “Da.”
A tiny voice, “This is tech support, please identify your team.”
“Thank you. I have a number for you to call if you need assistance for the drone. Have you looked at the IPad?”
“Yes, instructions are clear on the video. We will go soon to practice.”
“Okay, I am available any time while missions are ongoing.”
The call disconnects.
Katya, “Maybe we pick up something, donuts, muffin, find a place to fly the drone.”
Ellen, “Where is it?”
“In one of our cars, they put it in last night. I leave key with desk clerk, collect last night, you are already in bed.”
Ellen, “Sometimes I wonder if you actually sleep, girl.”
Katja, “Looks like open area ees here, maybe twenty miles west, south of Trail Glades Range.”
Mani, “A shooting range?”
“Da, but we cannot anyway go. South of it, there is a big area of nothing.”
A coffee shop along the way provides croissants and almond poppy seed muffins, reload coffee and tea. Fifteen minutes after that, two Hyundai SUVs are parked on a nothing road, surrounded by more nothing. Barely audible pops to the north indicate the gun range. The girls hardly want to demonstrate any familiarity with guns, much less their expertise.
Ellen, “Damn, this thing flies itself.”
They each take a turn, it’s touch screen control, or lock into the tracker GPS and it follows. The camera is crystal clear, Katja drives a half mile further, talks to herself. They’re trying to get a feel for the mike. She gets in the car, windows up, more self talk, then drives back to the others.
Katya, “Above car, mike picked you up inside, outside, range is maybe fifty yards unless someone is whispering.”
Mani, “Quite a machine, and near silent.”
Katya, “Titanium. Light and strong.”
Ellen, “Battery’s full according to the indicator, and one car is on the move, you want me to lock in the drone?”
“Maybe….no, Mani and I will follow car, go to the hotel and launch drone from balcony. Then see what is happening at the house. Do not go for listening, keep your distance in the daytime. Tonight, we maybe listen.”
The SUV travels north on 826, it takes them a few minutes to retrace their route on Hwy 90. Ellen and Katja continue, Katya and Mani take 826 north. They catch up fifteen minutes later.
Katya, “Tracker signal is still good, Society must use one like we have, only run battery while the car is in motion. Good for about twenty four hours of drive time.”
Mani, “If we think the money is at the compound, why worry about…oh, wait…duh, eventually the money has to go someplace besides the compound. They can’t launder it there.”
“Calderon has been in business a long time. He has a system for moving cash offshore. Maybe small planes, boats, I am betting the cash eventually goes to Columbia. Banks there have public rules and private rules. A man in Calderon’s position may own a bank or two, not in his name of course, but in fact.”
The SUV exits 826 and heads east on 924.
Katya, “They are going to the same private airport we used.”
Mani, “Small world.”
Katya retrieves her binoculars, “Medium jet, I don’t see crew, just a ground guy. Cargo hold open, boxes from the SUV to the hold,” she counts.
“Thirty boxes that could hold two million each if it is hundreds. Sixty million. We should have robbed SUV.”
Mani, “Shucks, but it isn’t like we knew, and you just think it’s money.”
“What instead, oranges? It is cash. Now we know one way they move it. They can’t use the same system all the time, sometimes plane, sometimes boat, different launch, different airport. I need to think it over, back to hotel.”
Ellen, “Hey babies, Katja says we missed a sixty million payday.”
“Da, but no way to know what the SUV was up to until it was too late. Mani and I could hardly start shooting up a private airport.”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“If we rob another SUV, we have only a few hours until Calderon knows something is wrong. If we break into the warehouse, even presuming we can, how do we know there is enough cash inside to justify the risk?”
Ellen, “It’s sounding like we tap a delivery and get what we get. Calderon is better insulated than Abd al Razik was in Atlanta.”
Mani, “How’s he stay in business so long? We find out, why doesn’t the DEA, or the locals?”
Katya, “Everybody gets paid. He turns in a competitor now and then, or even one of his own dealers. It is nothing to him, dealers are interchangeable. Cops get an arrest, leave him alone.”
“Geez, if you can’t trust your cartel, who’s left?”
Katja, “We can’t move here. And part of deal wiz Society ees to neutralize Calderon. If it cannot be done, it cannot be done, we go home.”
Katya, “I am calling Pearson.”
Mrs. Pearson, “How’s it going?”
“Slowly, compound is a fortress as you have seen. And Surveillance reported they never saw him leave to go anyplace. If he does, he must be disguised, and all his cars have black windows. We saw a cash transfer, estimate maybe sixty million. By the time we knew what it was, it was going into a private jet. We need something that can get to Calderon, kidnap one of his family maybe.”
“That might keep him inside. I see the dilemma. Think this over. We have specialty drones, we don’t use them in everyday social work. They’re armed with darts, tranquilizers, and it will drop a man in seconds, good for several hours.”
Katya, “Then you have poison also.”
“Sometimes we have to do hard things.”
Katya, “We will find lunch someplace, Ellen, drone shows anything at compound?”
“Had to bring it in, battery. But no, nothing we didn’t see on the video. Life in the compound is quiet. Some of the women took a car, it hadn’t returned when I brought the drone in.”
“Women aren’t delivering drugs. Tonight we will send it and see if the microphone picks up anything. Society is sending second drone, one with dart gun attached, it will be here tomorrow.”
Mani, “Cripes, these people have everything, who thought of adding a dart gun to a drone?”
Katya, “No idea, but I can tell from talking with Pearson, they have deep resources, stay prepared and fear nothing.”
Ellen, “How many of them are there?”
“No way to know, Mrs. Pearson is two women, there is a tech person. But they must have more help, people close to them. Three women can’t do all this alone.”
Mani, “There’s Perricone’s Café near, lunch sandwiches look good.”
Katja, “Da, we will go now.”
After sharing an antipasto appetizer, sandwiches appear, turkey and brie, two filet mignon and one meatball parmigiana are set in front of hungry girls. They order a second glass of Chianti.
Katja, “Wine ees good here.”
Ellen, “Sure is, and those filet sandwiches you and Katya ordered look real tasty.”
“You will have some, I will try meatball.”
They slice and swap, Mani, “Great turkey and creamy brie.”
The filet sandwiches come with fries, more than the twins would eat on their own, Ellen and Mani share the excess.
Ellen, “Aren’t stingy with the portions either. Damn these are good meatballs. You know, I’ve never made meatballs, just meatloaf. I’m gonna give it a go at home.”
Mani, “Meatballs and spaghetti.”
“Well, rotini, those curlicues hold the sauce better and long strings of spaghetti are a pain, twirl around a fork, never comes out even. The twins don’t like messy food.”
“Explains why we never have boiled crawfish or crabs.”
“They won’t fool with that. I get lump crabmeat, and when I boil shrimp they have to be served peeled. No way they’re dealing with crawfish tails, the only crawfish Katja will eat is in bisque.”
Katja, “Sisters do not play with food first, eat only.”
Mani giggles, “Don’t blame you, my aunt would get her fingers greasy as heck with chicken wings or ribs and gnaw down to the bare bone, yuck.”
Katya, “Sister will pay check, to hotel for resting, tonight we see what drone can tell us.”
Back in the suite Katja announces, “Mani, you will rest wiz sister, I am for making sex wiz Ellen.”
Mani, “Can handle that.”
They brush, flush, freshen, each pair gets up to various lesbiana for an hour or so, then drop into the sex sated zone of resetting hormone spikes for another hour and a half.
At four, Ellen makes tea, which they enjoy on the balcony until five.
Katya, “Maybe a walk, see the area until dark, then return to snoop on compound.”
Ellen, “Good, I need to move, Katja tried to paralyze me with orgasms.”
“Ellen ees good for leeking, then she fucks me wiz strapping on toy, she ees enthusiasm girl.”
Mani, “We know how Katya gets in hotel rooms, I may drag her to the Royal Sonesta once a week.”
Ellen, “What a great life, killing people and girl sex, it’s hard to know which one I like better. Well, actually I do, if I had to choose, it’s sex, but murder is a close second.”
Katja, “You haf orgasm when you keel contract.”
Ellen blushes, “It only happened once, the other times I just get squishy warm.”
Mani laughs, “I think it’s cool, death and the little death. I get excited, but not, well, wait…you know, it is sensual, taking a life. I never connected the rush until now. I’m going to get a couple of the Ben Wa balls, stick them in my pussy next time I have a kill.”
Katja, “What ees Ben Wa ball?”
Mani, “They come in various types, some are solid, the kind I’m getting. Some are hollow and clink, some actually have chimes inside. The best have a cord attached to make pulling them out easier. Besides sexual stimulation, they strengthen the vaginal walls since you have to squeeze to keep them in.”
Katja, “They geev climax?”
Mani, “More a gentle pleasure, you wouldn’t get off wearing them, just a teasing tingle. I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of it before.”
Katja, “We will get Ben Wa balls and see. Katja ees tingle wiz balls rolling een vaginal closet.”
Ellen laughs, “You’re a piece of work girl, get me a set Mani, get one for all of us. I wanna see what happens to Katya when she’s mildly stimulated all day, she might even get an expression recognizable as emotion.”
The twins are uninsultable, Katya’s expression never changes, Katja is more animated, but compared to Katya, a blink is animation.
“Ees dark, we will fly drone, now,” Katja takes a sip of vodka, “Ellen, you will fly.”
Fifteen minutes later, the compound comes into view, two black Tahoes are leaving the grounds.
Katya, “Call for cars, this is maybe big opportunity, take Glocks and rifles.”
On the way down the elevator Katya says, “Pair up like before, I can talk to sister in her head. Katja drive, Ellen may need to shoot.”
The two Hyundais are waiting, tip the valet, the Glocks are shoulder holstered under jackets. The rifles are in two customized hard shell cases that look like small suitcases.
Along the way, Katya mentals her sister, “Appears both cars are going to the same place. Keep the speed limit, but we will try to catch up before they get there.”
Minutes click by, they’re gaining, they push it to five miles over, cops don’t stop cars going five miles over on a highway. The two SUVs exit to a two lane that looks to be heading to the ocean. It’s dark as death.
Now they’re just behind, maybe fifty yards.
Katya, “Pull alongside rear car, tell Ellen to take out a tire. Be careful, car may swerve.”
She sees the Hyundai pick up speed, then creep up in the left lane as if to pass. The passenger door is just at the rear of the Tahoe. There’s no muzzle flash, no sound of a shot from the silenced Glock. Tires on a moving vehicle are harder to pierce with a bullet than one might think, but it can be done, and Ellen does it with two quick shots. Katja brakes, the Tahoe steams on forward.
The big SUV wobbles, swerves, brake lights come on but the shredded tire flies off and the rim sparks along the road. The driver handles it well enough, but the shoulder drops and the SUV is loaded. It rolls and slides on its right side twenty or thirty feet before stopping.
Katya, “First car did not see wreck. We will catch it. Deal with passengers and see if there is money.”
The highway is empty now, someone is sure to come along eventually, Katja and Ellen are out, guns drawn. The two men inside are groggy, had the sense to wear seatbelts, the airbags are inflated against them. Katja takes the driver with her first shot, the passenger with a second. She reaches in, turns off the motor and uses the key fob to unlatch the rear hatch.
Ellen opens a box, hundreds, there are a dozen boxes. They transfer them to the Hyundai. As Katja pulls away, she sees specks of headlights approaching, she guns the Hyundai, leaves the lights off until the headlights disappear. Whoever it is will stop to check the wreck.
“Car came, there will be cops all over soon.”
“This one is getting near the ocean. There will be a small boat waiting to take the cash to a bigger one. I do not think we can take them on the road, maybe at the beach.”
“We are going to find a way around, beach road must go someplace.”
Katya smells the salt air, going to have to do this one differently.
“Mani, slow down, turn off lights, let them park.”
She takes the case and unpacks the Ruger .223, checks the scope, clicks in a ten round magazine.
“Turn car around so rear faces them.”
She puts the Hyundai where Katya wants it, they’re somewhere between sixty and eighty yards away, buried in the shadows.
Two men exit the Tahoe, the hatch opens, they walk to the rear. On that model, the entire door opens up, like a lid on a ball cap. They lean inside, then one falls forward to the cargo area, it’s full of boxes, he slides down to the ground.
Number two has no time to react, the .223 has taken much of his brain, which now paints the inside of the left window.
Katya, “Drive to car.”
Katja and Ellen pull alongside, Ellen’s out with binoculars, peering into the dark for any signs of a boat, or men to pilot it. There’s a rubber skiff just to the sand with an outboard tilted up, it bobs lightly on the calm ocean.
“Don’t see anyone. Let’s not assume. Katja, take the left side, maybe twenty five, thirty yards down, I’ll go right. We’ll cover while Katya and Mani move the money.”
They work by overcast shadowy moonlight, can hear the ocean but not see it, it’s just blackness. Light from a passing ship a mile or so out. Then a man approaches from the ocean side, to the left of the bobbing skiff. He’s carrying an AK.
Katja, “Man ees coming up wiz rifle, stay behind car.”
Katya pulls Mani to the side away from the ocean, whispers, “Company.”
The ocean suppresses even the soft pop of the silenced Glock.
“Man ees dead, feenish wiz car.”
Ten minutes later, the two SUVs loaded with boxes of cash are headed north on the beach road. They can’t go back the way they came, going south brought them to civilization too quickly, so they opt for a more circuitous route.
Katya, “Find a motel, anything, but quiet, nyet, wait, just keep going.”
She dials Mrs. Pearson, “551389, we need cars picked up and two delivered. Cars are full of boxes, we have not counted.”
Mrs. Pearson, “Not to worry. Where are you?”
“We will be at Motel 6, she specifies the location, better to have two identical cars, black Hyundai Santa Fe.”
“Give me an hour.”
“Money will be okay? There are twenty seven boxes, we did not look in all but there appears to be two million in each.”
“They will be here tomorrow, fully accounted for.”
An hour and a half later, girls are in the suite at the Mandarin Oriental.
Ellen, “Damn the Society is efficient. Two cars, identical to the ones we had, in forty five minutes, gonna get the cash to wherever by tomorrow. What do we do with Calderon?”
Katya, “Depends, if he goes to ground, we cannot do anything. If he goes crazy, maybe he gets stupid. Nothing to do but wait. We will rest, order something light. We will send the drone to the compound in the morning.”
Ellen, “But how do we get him, if he even appears?”
“You forget, tomorrow we are getting another drone from Society, one with more lethal capacity.”
“Ahhh, slipped my mind in all the excitement. Jaysus, this is flipping fun.”
The drone is over the compound, it’s midnight. There are guards posted around the walls, two Humvees circle the exterior in opposite directions. Men point handheld halogen spotlights into the darkness. They don’t point them overhead.
Ellen hovers the drone over the roof of the warehouse sized garage. There are no windows, three roll down doors are shut, the last on the left is open. She drops the microphone, which operates like an upside down car antennae, telescoping out in sections. She adjusts the volume on the IPad.
Two men are talking, “Jeffe is going crazy. I been with him fifteen years, I’ve seen him pissed, seen him blow men away. I don’ ever see him like this.”
“Nobody ever stole sixty million from him before. You remember the guy in Lauderdale, tried to rip him off for a lousy hundred grand? We dumped the body parts in the ocean, and that wasn’t the only one.”
“I was here when we cleaned out the competition, that was some bloody shit. Wife, girlfriend, momma, Jeffe took the kids and sold them like fuckin’ cattle.”
“Before my time.”
“You came in after we had control, be happy yon don’ have to see the shit I did. Course, if he figures out who stole his money, gonna be bad for them bro.”
“He’s already talking about pulling everyone in, asking questions, hard ask. I don’ wanna get into that shit, torture a guy who don’ have any idea who stole the cash.”
“He’s gonna do what he did before, makes it simpler, guys give up information when they see their family getting cut.”
“Yah, but if they don’ know, woman gets cut for nothing. Man can’t tell what he don’ know.”
Katya, “We have to find Calderon, cut off the head. If we start picking off his help, he will burrow in and we will never see him. Pull off the drone, they get lucky and spot it, we lose a big advantage. Time for sleep.”
Despite bed after one, Ellen’s up at six thirty, makes wake up caffeine, the others come along twenty minutes later.
Katja yawns, “We are no usually for late night, what ees breakfast?”
“You want to go down or I’ll call room service.”
“No mahter. New drone will be deliver by maybe ten, then we will see how it operates, maybe talk to tech girl.”
Katya, “Fly drone to the compound, keep your distance. Maybe Calderon goes out in the morning, breakfast on patio, takes a walk. We don’t know his habits and we need to find out or we will be here forever.”
Ellen, “Crap, shoulda thought of that myself, he could be up and around.”
Mani, “Nobody else thought of it until now, I’ll call and order us some protein.”
Katya and Ellen are on the balcony, the drone lifts off, freshly charged and peppy. Smoked salmon, big bowl of scrambled eggs and platter of crispy bacon arrive, along with a pot of coffee. Mani signs, the waiter disappears, she puts out plates. While they eat, Katya keeps an eye on the screen.
“Ah, Calderon goes for early swim. He is having breakfast on the patio now, but he is in a robe with a towel around his neck, hair is still wet. Tomorrow we must be up early to see.”
Mani, “Maybe we get a shot today, like, I don’t know, he has cocktails outside or something.”
Katja crumbles bacon into her eggs, takes a bite, “Good.”
Ellen, “Salmon was good too, good idea Mani, we need the protein, I’m still having toast and carbs,” spreads blackberry jelly over the already buttered toast, “still warm, not bad for room service. Got their act together here, don’t they?”
Mani, “Luxury is luxurious, I’ve gotten fond of first class hotels and private jets. I do want to get home, need a Sarah fix.”
Katja, “You haf text her?”
“Yes, on a throwaway phone. She thinks we’re property shopping in Atlanta, a little lie. If something blows up in Miami, I don’t want her associating us with here.”
Katya, “Nine o’clock, he is making a call, I need to make one, to Pearson.”
She taps the sat phone, “551389.”
“The package delivered?”
“Desk has not called, I am calling to find out if Society can access accounts.”
“When we met with men, we obtained ID and papers. One was for a bank in Columbia,” she reads off the name.
“Excellent, we can check it out and find any other accounts that may send or receive money. It could take all day.”
“No problem, if you can get in, maybe make a withdrawal.”
“Done it before.”
“What split? You have to do the work.”
“Doesn’t matter, same split. If we got no lead, be nothing to split.”
Katya clicks off.
Mrs. Pearson, Janah, stares at the phone.
Daphne, “She do it again?”
Janah giggles, “Wish I could meet her. She’s exactly like Joan Wayne and Daria.”
“Not much for chit chat.”
“Hardly. We have money coming this morning, lots of it if their partial count is accurate. Nikko and Daria will wash it, make it all shiny, then we send half to the team.”
“They’re going to be rich.”
“They’re already rich, they aren’t in it for money, probably work for expenses, they like it.”
Mrs. Pearson is in Manhattan, but Social Work teams don’t know that. Janah and Daphne’s extended family has a huge condo in the West Village, another home in the Canadian Rockies and an expansive layout near Prescott Arizona. They generally split to Canada in the blistering New York summers, to Prescott when the weather turns icy. There are twelve women and girls, with a strange conglomeration of skills and abilities.
Back in Miami, the desk calls, a package for them, do they wish it brought up?
Katya, “Yes, that would be fine,” she hangs up, “Katja, find ten dollars and give it to the bellman.”
Knock on the door, swap two boxes for a ten, one is drone size, two by two by two, the other is smaller, size of an average jewelry box.
Ellen unpacks the drone, Katya is looking at vials of injectible drugs, and several syringes. A page of instructions for getting the liquid into the darts and a warning of the high toxicity of the one labeled Oblivion. Another vial is labeled antidote, the paper says it must be administered immediately, or preferably just before handling the darts.
Katya, “Mani and Katja will not handle poison, tranquilizer only. Ellen and I will load poison, we must take antidote first. Paper says it is good for several hours, longer than we need.”
Ellen, “Why an antidote, we aren’t going to take the poison?”
“A slip, stick needle in finger, better have precaution. Paper says Oblivion is one hundred percent effective in under thirty seconds.”
“Christ, where’d they get that stuff?”
“I suspect they made it, or have talented pharmacologist, they have everything else.”
The rest of the morning is for studying the operation of the new drone. This one is a slightly different size and weight, it has revolving chambers for darts, it can load five. There’s no audio capability, of course it still has a video cam, the operator needs to see what the drone sees.
Ellen, “Damn, the darts are laser sighted. Point the camera at the target, it pinpoints exactly where the dart will go, tap the screen, dead guy.”
Mani, “What’s the range?”
Ellen is still reading, “Here, it is best fired from twenty five yards or less, but in a calm wind and dry day, it will penetrate at fifty. Farther that that is guesswork and not recommended.”
Katya, “Seventy five feet is not a problem, only the drone is there, we can be miles away.”
Ellen, “Let’s see how it works, she sent practice darts, pull up the cushion on the couch and lean it against the back support.”
Mani looks up from her laptop, “That’s not very far.”
Mani thinks for a second, brow furrowed, “Double duh, it’s a drone, it flies.”
Ellen loads three darts, launches from the balcony, flies it out and u-turns it to face the open balcony door, “Criminey, it measures the distance, you see that?”
The others are looking at the second screen. In the top right is a distance indicator, it’s out fifty feet.
“Stand clear, I’m going for the center of the cushion,” she taps the screen…
thhhwip! Soft thud as it hits.
“Good Lord, look at that. Lemme get it out farther, okay eighty feet, put a little pressure on it, ready…” another swish and small thump, “Katya, tell that Pearson lady this in one magnificent machine. Be nice to do all our killin’ this way, no muss, no fuss, can’t trace to us.”
Katya, “Society will not support our other work, they are in a less lethal kind of conflict resolution business. Calderon is an exception because he has been so violent with innocents. He and his people are fair game for killing. If he only sold drugs, Pearson would not bother with him.”