Chapter Twenty One

The late afternoon eases into early evening, spend a minute deciding that Marconi’s is a good idea. We order for the monks outside as well. Between them and Paladin, Chapmans security company, we don’t need to think much about safety tonight. We eat, turn on the TV, watch NCIS on Netflix. Janah, Taylor and Sis are on the mat, Nikko, Amaya and I across the couch, half watching, making comments in Japanese. The show is okay, obviously popular. The characters have become predictable, I suppose like life, most people become predictable. Yield to the familiar, the safe, the routine. Not so much brain work.
Susan, “I suppose we ought to mosey down the block.”
“Just stay here.”
“Janah, Nikko and I are tired. We’re opting out of fun for tonight.”
Amaya, “I’m staying with Daphne. We’ll steal the bigger bed, Sis and Taylor can take mine.”
Taylor, “Goody, Susan and I can discuss, um, homeopathy, current events, or something.’
Susan, “You can discuss whatever you want while I’m busy taking advantage.”
Taylor, “Perfect,” she winks at Amaya, “They are sooo easy.”
We head off, after bedtime things, we’re lined up like pencils on the oversized bed. When I wake up, I discover Amaya and I embraced. Don’t know when it happened. My back is against Janah’s, arms around Amaya, her slim leg between mine, head against my chest. Lovely way to arrive at morning.
Soon enough, she blinks up at me, smiles, slips out of bed to the bathroom. After necessities, I hear the shower start.
Come and bathe with me.
Splendid idea, brush, flush and join in. We soap each other, do a little poke and prod, a warm-up for later. Rather than crank up hair dryers, we decide to brush over coffee and tea and air dry. I provide short silk robes, we go to the kitchen.
We get coffee, sit next to each other at the table, chairs joined, legs in easy reach. Good organization keeps the tingle going.
Amaya, “We have something special for each other, perhaps I should not think that way.”
“I don’t see why not, besides, you think of it the way you think of it.”
“I presume it is because of our mentaling and merging.”
“Interesting question occurs.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did the intensity of our feeling bring about the mentaling, or did the mentaling increase the intensity? Or does it work in a loop of reinforcement?”
“Oh…ohhhh….yes! That is sooo cool. How can we know?”
“That, I think, is the best part. I don’t want to know. I like the mystery.”
Amaya bites her lip, a tear falls, I feel her emotion. She is deeply touched, more quiet tears, I kiss them from her face, lick her cheek, she giggles.
“You drink my blood and taste my tears, and I am your dream, it is good to be me becoming you.”
We kiss softly, pop!, a rush of feeling, I am inside her, and she in me.
Janah, So beautiful. I felt your heart leap to the sky.
Have you been up for a while?
Nikko and I did necessities, I felt your feelings, we decided to hang in bed and whisper sweet obscenities to each other.
Amaya wants to share with both of you, she’s coming, enthusiastically.

Amaya bursts into the room and leaps on the bed, scrunches between them, “Daphne and I had another merging…just now! God, the feeling, I may never come down. Okay, hold me, feel free to kiss me, I am giddy.”
Janah and Nikko comply, I sit on the edge of the bed. It’s a kisses contest to Amaya’s cheeks, neck and shoulders. I lose track of who’s winning. Amaya’s face is brilliant, eyes wide open looking at the ceiling, squealing.
She floats back to Earth, the joy of her infuses us.
I lean to Janah, “Perhaps a kiss for me.”
Amaya, “Good to be us, is it not, Daphne?”
Janah, “Can your idolizers get a cup of tea?”
I bring in a tray, nobody wants to leave the bed. We sit in a circle and sip, the air full of ozone, like after a thunderstorm, crisp, new, fresh.
I lose track of the time, I hear Taylor pad out of the bedroom. Our door is open, she stands at the doorway.
“Do I interrupt?”
“No, sweet, find a spot, I’ll fetch more tea.”
Five girls on the bed, Susan walks in, “Looks like a witches coven, near naked girls everywhere. Can I be the sacrifice?”
Amaya, “I’ll start breakfast.”
We join her in the kitchen. I don’t know how many short silk robes and t-shirts we own, enough for lots of girls.
Janah, I should definitely have been a stripper…at a lez club of course.
You don’t mind men looking at you, you just don’t want them to touch.
I don’t want just any girl touching me either, I have standards, they have to be hot and hard.
You don’t want them caring, compassionate, spiritual, intelligent?
What does that have to do with anything?

Chapter Twenty Two

Life brings us presents, and we need to turn our minds to the latest one, a cadre of Shadows that requires our attention.
Amaya, “How do we go about tracking down these men?”
Janah, “The Society will check the names and addresses of the dead men. If that’s fake, they still have fingerprints, dental records and identifying marks. The autopsy reports will be in their hands by now.”
“They can get access to that, and so quickly?”
“The Society will have them before Marsconi, although we don’t want him to know that. We can’t ask him, it puts him in a bad position and we don’t need him for access anyway.”
Janah, “Chan has one of their mobiles. We left the other intentionally, didn’t have time to crack it and it would have raised questions, neither of them having a phone.
Daphne will dig out the calls and contacts, the Society will get his phone records. We’re going to know them as well as we need to.”
Nikko, “They will try again. We don’t need to do anything, just wait. Better to be proactive though. If we discover the extent of their network, we know who to look out for. Don’t have to wait for the sense of them, which the better ones can mask.”
Amaya, “Why not mask all the time?”
Janah, “It takes energy, they would wear themselves out and be distracted in the process. They can’t mask the darkness and apply qi at the same time, not in our experience anyway.”
“Ah, makes sense. I cannot charm someone and hide my charm at the same time. ”
“Not a bad example. I wonder if I can be sizzling without the sizzle?”
Nikko, “Can we get to work?”
Amaya sizzles a smile at Nikko.
“Don’t even try. Be useful and make fresh coffee.”
Soon the aroma of strong coffee envelopes us, ah, caffeine, drug of the Goddesses.
Janah, “Daphne, tea for me, strong green and yerba mate. I need to get the brain in overdrive.”
I hear Chan’s door close, “Chan’s coming, bad girls need to get presentable.”
They scurry off to find more clothes, I open the door, Chan ignores my mini t-shirt, he’s used to leggy girls, “Good morning brother, have a phone for me?”
He hands it to me, I head to the bedroom to find silk pajama pants, he slides a chair out, Amaya pours him a cup of rocket tea.
Chan, “Yerba mate. Going to think hard and fast.”
The phone isn’t locked, “You crack the phone code, Chan?”
“David,” Chan isn’t much on lengthy explanations. He figures they muddy up clarity. He has a point.
“I’ll reverse directory his recent calls, list the contacts.”
Chan pulls a few sheets of paper from his shirt pocket, hands them to me.
“Always a pleasure to engage in dialogue with you, Chan.”
He looks to Nikko, she shrugs, “Gaijin always run mouth.”
Janah and Amaya giggle.
“Okay, Master J, we have names and phone numbers, even some addresses, David was busy. I’ll have to make him something special. I sense he wants flourless chocolate cookies with slivered almonds. Amaya, want to help while the blond brain cogitates?”
Amaya lines up ingredients in order of need, the oven on, bowls out, spatula at the ready. Soon the scent of baking cookies joins the coffee aroma. Man, I’m good.
Janah, “If we go after one, how long will it take for the others to know? Instantly, no more than a couple of hours? Shadows tend to be loners. Some take students, they like to have acolytes and gofers around to shuck and jive. Others find human company distasteful, just enough to get what they want. Controlling students is tiring.”
Chan, “Didn’t seem to wear out Tan, except for the direct transmission”
“I should have said, controlling ambitious students. We knew the mindset, we went to him, followed instructions, there was no resistance. In students Shadows are likely to get, they want something, to be powerful, to control people, grab easy cash.”
“I see it. Again, always intention, to learn, or to acquire.”
“And that greed is their undoing.”
“Does this mean we have to sell our property?”
Chan, “The work.”
Janah, “I’m getting there, brother. I can think and listen to Daphne’s babble at the same time, been doing it for years.”
Amaya takes out the cookies, sets them on a cooling rack, “Daphne, I need attending to, my nails need a rework. Janah will have this sorted out soon enough. You can be more useful to me for the time being. Come along.”
Working on Amaya is far more fun than plotting mayhem, I trail behind her, her slim hips clearly aware of my close inspection, they dance lusciously.
She closes her door, “Disrobe so I have a pleasing vision while you work.”
I shuck my t-shirt and pants, there isn’t anything else but my everyday jewelry, the ‘janahsgirl’ ankle bracelet, the fourth, emerald ring from Amaya, a necklace and a wrist bracelet. I’d been wearing the ankle bracelet since we were in Chapmans. A delicate chain with tiny letters spelling janahsgirl. After Nikko put her stamp on me, I got a stainless necklace that read nishikostoy. Since Amaya now also rules my life, a new wrist bracelet appeared, also stainless. It says, simply, amayasslave. Is my submissive showing? Don’t get me started, I’ll get steamy and lose my concentration.
I dry her nails carefully, then apply OPI DS Extravagance. A spackled deep purple. While it dries, I set to work on toes, cotton balls between each, my flawless touch in application. I blow softly on them. Lick the top of her foot
Amaya, “Satisfactory. You may take out a toy and pleasure yourself, something fun to distract me while I dry. ”
I lay on the bed, soft hum of the wand between my legs, inside me, it buzzes, I buzz. I’m climbing the hill, the thrill of Amaya’s gaze, her elegant legs stretched out towards me, tingling in my center.
“Now you have done it. Shut that thing off, bring it with you and stand before me.”
Amaya lifts my hand, the one with the wet toy, takes it in her mouth, a soft ‘ummmm’ from her throat.
She lays it on the desk, “Spread.”
I stand, legs apart, her hands on my hips, leans forward. Her tongue slow, my preferred speed. Having been well prepped, it takes about three minutes until my mind leaves its resting place, shorts out, sparkles, then a solar flare. I wonder if I’m disrupting global communications.
She holds her tongue against me while I tremble, then return to a semblance of sentience.
“You are a gourmet dessert, a singularity, unique, sublime in flavor and texture. Godiva should make you a truffle.”
I laugh, then she giggles, then we get near hysterical.
Janah, What in the devil?
I don’t know if Jesus is coming, but I sure did.
Then Nikko, You two are indescribable, such sinners, infidels of lust, on a sleigh ride to hell.
When did you convert?

Janah, Convert, pervert. Who do you think is driving the sleigh?
Put your clothes on despicable whore, get out here, we have a plan.
I beg your pardon, whores do it for money, I’m a slut, I do it for fun.

Chapter Twenty Three

I reluctantly re-clothe, Amaya hadn’t taken her miniscule shorts off fortunately or I would have locked the door and we may have not been seen until sunrise.
Amaya, “Are we ever going to get tired of this?”
“Janah and I have been at it for years, Nikko with us for more than a decade. See any evidence of weariness?”
“You all get worse, scintillatingly bad.”
“See your future.”
Amaya grins, pumps her fist, “Yes!”
We join them, “Who do I kill first?”
Janah, “We’re mulling a double blind. We locate who we can, then pretend confusion, be in disarray. If they think they’ve got us cowed, they may get bold.”
“That will work for the first couple of attacks. When they start turning up dead, the plan has to morph.”
Janah, “Yes. Then we go from rabbits to wolves.”
“I don’t know, I mean Nikko and I discouraged two, and two others died. I think the scared tactic opportunity is gone.”
Nikko, “She’s right, won’t fly unless they’re idiots.”
Amaya, “Nishiko has hit on something. From your description of these vermin, they have a hugely inflated opinion of themselves. The others may think the ones that attacked simply lacked sufficient skill. Anyway, they are not going to give up, they cannot. Acting scared may actually confuse them, or reinforce that view.”
Chan, “Girl isn’t just decoration.”
“Thank you, Chan. Although I do not mind being decoration, I am the pinnacle of decoration. It is my high calling.”
Chan actually smiles, “Two Daphnes, it must get bizarre.”
Nikko, “You don’t know the half of it.”
“I made Chan smile, Christ I am good.”
Janah, “So how does this work?”
Chan, “Find the biggest dog we can. Ask for a meeting, like those gangster movies my sister loves. A plea for peace. He won’t believe you, of course, but he will wonder what you want. Make an offer to buy him off.”
Nikko, “Can they read us, like know we’re lying?”
Janah, “I don’t know, we have to assume they can. What then?”
“I remove him, the war starts.”
Janah, “I see the intrigue, what I don’t see the necessity. How is it better than finding them as we can, or them finding us, and we deal as we’re dealt?”
Nobody says anything for a time.
“I think the conclusion is like our general approach to most refocusings. We have vast experience in the futility of elaborate plans from watching other’s plans fall apart. Our approach has always been to confront and improvise. We only plan to the extent of weapons and location. After the party starts, there’s no plan, it’s all chaos.”
Janah, “Then it’s settled. We look, we live and things will happen. It’s the reason for all the training, instant response to the unexpected. It’s just as Nisargadatta said about the future, the only thing real about it is the unexpected.”
Nikko, “Okay, we get real.”
So we do.
“One plan we can make is that you two," Janah nods to Nikko and me, "save the discipline sessions for a later time. Unlike refocusings, we aren’t sneaking up on men who aren’t looking for us, doing it on our timetable. And these people have far more skill than putzes in pool joints. You aren’t likely to get off with a bruise or a cut lip. I don’t need you beat up before you get beat up.”
Chan, “What about young girl?”
Amaya, “I am in it up to my fab ice blues. This is dangerous, more than a refocusing. If I am to be trained at the highest level, it requires I be put in positions to test that training. For several years, you, Janah and Daphne have transmitted qi skills. I’m not either of you, but I can hold my own.”
Her hand stretches towards the open door of her room. The bottle of OPI nail polish sails out, zips across the living room and smacks into her hand.
She sets it down, wriggles her fingers at Chan, “What do you think of the color, très chic, yes?”
“Dang, when did you learn that?”
“Dear Uncle Chan taught me. Be rather stupid to have a mystic Shaolin uncle next door and not take advantage of it.”
Nikko, “You can read her mind, you didn’t know?”
“Never occurred to me to look for it, I don’t replay her days, I try and give her
some privacy, and I do have other things to do besides relive Amaya’s life.”
“You do? Cut back on stuff then. You do not know what you are missing. I replay your days frequently. Gives me ideas for my creative work.”
I smile brightly, “Wow, I’m her muse, I never knew. I’ll try to be a more amusing muse.”
“Just be Daphne, you are quite enough amusement already.”
Janah, “Don’t inflate her any more, I’ll have to let Nikko discipline her despite the current situation.”
Nikko, “Just say the word.”
I am the center of the universe, my rightful place. I reflect on my world, it is good.

Chapter Twenty Four

Amaya, “We do not get to go to race driving class for a while. I called and told them had business matters that would keep us grounded past the next. I asked them to pencil us for the fall, maybe in six months the immediate problem will be resolved.”
“This one might. Janah has concluded there’s a loose network. We’ve done a few individual Shadows, word got around. It’s a pretty fair guess that it’s turns into one of the old west gunslinger movies.”
Amaya, “What does that mean?”
“One of the western movie formulas is about the good guy who used to be a bad guy, and now wants to be left alone to raise sheep or whatever. He was a famous sheriff, or gun for hire, for instance. Then, every newcomer thought he could make his reputation by calling out the celebrity gunslinger. Weary of it all, he hangs up his guns and refuses the next newbie that comes along. Except newbie won’t let him. Since he won’t fight, the new bad guy kidnaps a woman, or some other provocation that forces the trying-to-retire gunfighter back into a showdown, which he inevitably wins.”
“Ah. So the Shadows who have not dealt with us figure they strut their stuff and put us away, they become the next big thing.”
“You got it.”
“It does not dawn on them that, if they succeed, they are now in the same position as we were?”
“Of course not. People at the top tend to think they’re destined to be there, thus invincible.”
“Except the top, whatever that is, is not something we think about.”
“That doesn’t matter. They think anyone stronger or smarter than them is on top. Like the trying-to-retire gunfighter, we don’t care about proving anything. There is a difference between us and the gunfighter example though.”
“What’s that?”
“We aren’t retiring. We’re going to chase down every one of these assholes until we, or they, are dead.”
“I see. The example applies as far as the ‘top dog’ part, who is biggest and baddest. You and Nikko are like the retired gunfighter, do not care about biggest or baddest. Unlike him in that you are not going to hang up your katana.”
“Exactly. But the analogy applies to the extent that the bad guys are going to line up to get to The Pale Rider.”
“I have never heard of the pale rider, I shall look it up.”
“It’s a slightly different version of the story, you can get it on Netflix, it’s a Clint Eastwood western. Clint was a bad guy, changed his ways, then the bad guys went after the hardscrabble miners for their gold. Clint stepped up.”
Amaya, “Your old west movie got replicated in part in the Godfather series, yes?”
“Good catch, dear one. Can you explain it?”
“Sure, the whole series was about becoming the top bad guy. The Godfather everyone feared and obeyed. They called it respect, but it was pure fear. They called it respect to dodge the humiliation of subservience. Then, in the last part, Michael Corleone tries to hang up his guns, but they keep pulling in back in, he even says so, ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in..' a famous line. To some degree, Puzo took the western and made it a story about a mafia family.”
“Every rise to power and subsequent fall is about ego. It is couched under terms like honor, respect, family or country, but these are all illusion. If ego is tied to family, it’s about protecting family. If it’s tied to God, it’s about defending God’s honor, (which is only ego, do you think a God worth her salt needs your protection?) If ego is tied to country, it’s about patriotism. People are afraid, empty, bind themselves to a God, a family, a country, a team, then fight to defend its so-called honor. There’s no honor, only ego, covering its fear.”
Amaya, “This is the entire story of human history in a paragraph.”
Nikko, “We protect our family, is it ego?”
“We protect innocents from assholes. Not for a cause, a religion, not our ego tied to family to protect our ego. We aren’t hiding behind family to shore up ego, nor God, nor country. I presume there’s some grand purpose behind ego, self identity, but the best I can tell, it also creates a boatload of mayhem. Janah says we are a species under construction, not complete. Life is never complete. There are bound to be sidetracks, confusion, missed deadlines and cost overruns.”
Amaya, “One could argue that the Society is a cause, or that tracking down Shadows is a cause.”
Nikko, “She’s right you know.”
“Yeah, she is. That’s the trouble with dicing up life with words. For instance, Janah agrees with Nisargadatta, what is right is the necessary, what is wrong is the unnecessary. As a simple statement it seems correct. Then when you start to dig down, one woman’s necessary is another’s unnecessary, then the tangle of parsing meaning starts.”
Nikko, “Is any of this talk going to stop us from hunting Shadows?”
I laugh, “Nope. I enjoy listening to Janah noodle about it. We’ve discussed and philosophized, but in the end, she sides with Nisargadatta again. He was asked as a follow up to the necessary and unnecessary comment, ‘who decides?’ His answer, ‘the situation decides.’ We deal with what’s in front of us, not hypotheticals, except as philosophy. Something to keep Janah’s brain occupied.”

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