Chapter Twenty Five
Amaya, the twins, Nikko, and I have taken the Bondurant tactical driving course. Consequently, we're trained to scream around corners, clear vehicles blocking the road, do one eighty and three sixty spins. Amaya will drive Chloe to the day’s location, two others will follow in a second SUV. Since we fly privately, we also brought two drones, partially disassembled. Eloise and Daria reassemble them. We can track our drivers and monitor the area around the filming. Amaya will be busy with Chloe, whoever is in the follow car will fly one of the drones occasionally, check out the area from the air. Everyone carries a personal tracker plus a neat device Eloise designed a couple of years ago, a necklace or a ring with video and audio capability. Of course, it will be snatched by any kidnapper, but we'd get a picture recorded at the least, and it looks like common costume jewelry. You have to have a magnifying glass to even see the lens or mic. The feed goes directly to our phones and IPads.
I hope this is massive overkill.
Today is the first day of filming, Nikko and Daria take bodyguard duty, follow Amaya and Chloe. The studio hired Bogota police for protection and crowd control. Despite reports that corruption and human rights problems have significantly improved, I'm not relying on the National Police of Colombia to take care of my people.
The rest of us linger at the hotel, we aren't particularly fascinated by the Gold Museum, nor will we being going up Mount Monseratte to take in the view. Cathedrals are out of the question.
Janah's content to read and noodle around on the web. She has Society work to follow up on, minor temple administration matters. Oceane wants to do me nude, no, not that kind of do, draw me. She's only thirteen and despite discovering self stimulation has made no overtures of a sexual nature. Zi reads no libidinous attractions so far.
Dasha flies the second drone while Oceane draws, then brings it in for a recharge. Oceane puts down her pad, I'm still a vague outline. I won't need to sit for her again, next will come shading, finishing with precision work. She does these things in pieces, says the pencils don't have anything more to say for now. Maybe they need sharpening.
Janah, "I'm still wondering if she's just describing how she works but transferring it to the pencils or brushes. Interesting, but I don't think questioning her about it serves any purpose other than satisfying my curiosity."
"She's a young thirteen, not silly, but not, what? Hard to put a finger on, it's like she's stuck at nine or ten sometimes, not crossing into her teens. Probably our fault, we shelter her, she doesn't go to school, has zero interaction with other girls of any age. What do you think Zi?"
Zi, "Nothing's changed since she came to us, she's not unhappy, she's content, serene as a gentle stream. Why interrupt serenity? Why does she need to know about the Middle East, political parties, or even how to do arithmetic? She speaks four languages for Buddha’s sake. We're a houseful of women, who cares if she wanders her room or the roof naked?"
"There's an old southern story, a man being interviewed, and the interviewer asks what he does for a living. The guy says he's a mechanic for Volkswagen. Interviewer asks kind of sarcastically, 'You work on those little foreign cars in that nice wash and wear suit you have on?' The man says, 'Naw, I work on 'em in the nude.' Interviewer acts shocked, 'Well…don't you think that's immoral?' Man says, "Naw, I think if we was moral, we could all go nude'."
Zi laughs, "He has a point, where did you hear that story?"
"Miss Alva, the woman who took me and my mom in when I was an infant, Sis was only fifteen and we were homeless. She took care of me while my mom cleaned houses and took computer classes. She taught me to cook, ultimately I taught Dasha, who manages to enhance the old south recipes. Those cast iron skillets we have at home belonged to Miss Alva, and they were fifty or more years old when I got them. Still the best cookware we have."
Chapter Twenty Six
The others return from a day on location, after cocktails we try the hotel restaurant, beef rib eye with mushroom sauce, pasta, mozzarella and blue cheese is popular. White fish filet with shrimp, prawns with rosemary potatoes and tomato sauce. Burger with portobello mushrooms, chicken, ham and onion rings. Janah makes do with salad and penne pasta alfredo. We taste around, the food is more than acceptable, even gourmet. The dessert selections look pedestrian, we skip it. One nice thing about Bogota, rooms and meals are dirt cheap. We have a hard time running a three hundred dollar tab for ten, including wine.
Amaya, "Not a bad day, bit overcast, Chloe was really done in half a day, but there was a scene later that they need to complete so we could change location tomorrow, we hung around with Nikko and Daria. She was a big hit with the drone."
"They ask why she had it?"
"Yes, Nikko said it was a way to kill time. Fortunately, Daria left the dart gun off, they liked watching the scenes from above. I think the director is getting ideas though."
"You mean to actually use footage from the drone."
Amaya, "Yes, he watched video during the lunch break, wanted to know if had good enough resolution for a movie. I said I was not sure and deliberately did not ask Daria to verify. If we tie it up for filming, we lose the surveillance aspect."
"We have two. Eloise can do the film stuff, Daria can use the other for surveillance. The police give you any grief about the drone?"
Nikko, "A higher rank showed up and took a look. They don't know the difference between us and the film crew, they think it's just one of the props."
"Nothing showed up as problematical, no sign of Shadows?"
Nikko, "No but Zi should go along tomorrow and work the crowd."
Janah, "We're not doing anything but hanging around the hotel. Let's all go, Oceane can watch the movie making process and she flies the drone better than most of us."
We break off to our suites, Janah and I settling in bed when Eloise comes in, "Oceane is working on Daphne's picture, I would like to work on Janah if it's okay."
"Lovely idea, Daphne can enjoy the stars from the balcony."
I smile, Eloise has a look with which I'm familiar. I go to the terrace, pretend to look at stars while I look through Janah's eyes at the festivities.
She's already in nothing, Eloise strips off her t-shirt, straddles Janah's tummy and leans in for kisses. Then she does a one eighty, and leans on her hands. This means only one thing, she's in the mood for analstim. I can hear little squeals of pleasure, Eloise uses a slim finger to play between Janah's legs while she enjoys a tongue teased tush.
Another shift, I see short dark hair between Janah's legs, feel her temperature rise, grip the sheets, stiffen then a moan, and trembling release. I decide a bit of selfsstim is in order, my fingers go walking.
While I heat myself up, Janah is busy heating up Eloise, more squeals, Janah's eyes see Eloise biting her lip, then a gasp.
I'm breathing rather heavy myself, further fueled when I see Eloise strap up, then I don't see her anymore because Janah's on her knees, head on a pillow. Eloise is applying the strap-on anally, with great vigor, Janah temporarily misplaces her mind. I suck in my breath, one finger hits the magic spot, I short out in a burst of sparks...aaaaahhhhh....wow that's good.
After I subside, I look over my shoulder, Oceane is off to my left, smiling, "You feel warm."
"I do it every day. Sometimes I borrow the toy Eloise has, it makes me shake, my heart beats fast, then cozy."
"I have an identical feeling, most people do, orgasms are good for you, natural, healthy and fun."
Oceane, "Fun, orgasms are fun,” she turns and goes off to bed, a few minutes later I hear Eloise scurry across to her room.
Janah, "I am hyper-sensate, I need to cuddle and sleep."
I join my other, wrap her up and we drift to insensate.
Chapter Twenty Seven
Today they film in Bolivar Square, about ten miles from our hotel. Lots of gawkers, a few zillion pigeons. It's not crowded today, it's more a place for official parades, holidays. It was the site of huge protests when kidnappings got out of hand a few years ago, if the reported head count was a million people, they sure didn't fit in Bolivar Square. It's not tiny, but, come on, a million people? Bogota is home to seven million, I doubt a seventh of the population showed up to wave signs and yell for the cameras. What do I know, maybe it was a slow day and it seemed like something to do.
At any rate, there aren't a thousand people out here now, maybe a couple hundred. The square is cordoned off on one end. Matt and Chloe are going to be escaping from vicious rebels who think Matt's character can influence the State Department, for whom he allegedly works. The State Department in real life is really three departments. The first is a marketing arm for American corporations. The second is a spying arm for the CIA. The third represents average Americans; it's only a placebo, nobody actually works in the third department.
The kidnappers claim to want justice for 'the people' but what they really want is what all political groups want, to depose the current corrupt government so they can replace it with their own corrupt government. (Hint, if it's a government, it's corrupt.)
In order to overthrow the current scum, the rebels demonstrate their loyalty to the people by kidnapping Matt's daughter, threatening to kill her if he doesn't convince his bosses at the CIA to fund the overthrow. The whole idea makes no sense, but first, it's not about justice, second, it's a movie.
Eloise is busy droning the area for problems. How would she know there are problems? One clue might be a truckload of heavily armed guys, another could be creepy jittery people with backpacks, a third could be Jehovah's Witnesses pedaling towards the site heavily armed with tracts proclaiming whatever it is Jehovah's Witnesses proclaim. At least the heavily armed guys just want to kill you outright or you can pay them money and they'll go away. JWs never go away, and if you talk to them once you might as well adopt them. A fourth, the worst possible terrorism, are guys with briefcases full of guaranteed annuity and whole life insurance brochures. Aside from suicide, there's only one escape, tell them you can't wait to buy a policy as long as it covers your HIV diagnosis. You'll never see them again.
Today, none of those threats materialize. Zi and Daria walk the perimeter, no Shadows. A fair number of angry people, violent people, clueless people, even a few momentarily happy people, but no Shadows.
I mentioned pigeons. Janah can communicate with birds, I can with smarter birds, owls and eagles, but they don't make an appearance. Pigeons are profligate. She could recruit them to look for Shadows, but that creates a problem we don't need right now. If they find one, or more, we are obliged to hunt them down and kill them. That's a distraction from looking out for Chloe and Amaya, our primary concern in the land of a thousand kidnappings. For the moment, we're like Buffy the vampire slayer. If she's confronted with a vampire, she has to deal, but her slayer status doesn't require she go looking for trouble.
Our days are pretty much the same, different locations, different people getting shot, beat up, sliced or threatened, different cars smashed, chases over rooftops, through cathedrals, pursuit by both in power government criminals and out of power rebel criminals. Chloe and Matt can't find a friend in Bogota. The drone takes a lot of overheads and makes a chase scene simpler to film since it can film over the shoulder, then from the side, then the front, all with one camera. They use a normal camera set up, then follow the same action with the drone.
It’s a bit tricky, she has to catch the action, but not have the drone in the film the regular camera is recording. She built it with more than enough zoom to handle the distance. We needed that to do our Society and Shadow surveillance.
The camera crew is impressed at the resolution and flexibility, one says, "Machine gonna put us out of work."
Another disagrees, "You have to know how to adjust the focus, pick an interesting angle, close up or wide angle shot, no different than we do now, plus you gotta know how to fly the thing."
"Yeah, but you don't need three cameras, if you're shooting from a car you have to hire a driver, that job goes away."
"True, that's part of what technology does, jobs change because of it, this business is no different. All the more reason to get good with drone cams, cause from this test, it's gonna happen anyway."
Amaya, "Think of it this way, you have three cameramen, and you need them all to film a chase scene. Then you have a scene across town with different actors that has to wait because all three cameras are doing the chase scene. With drones, you can film two or more scenes in different locations. Yes, there will be drivers who are not needed, and films will be made in shorter periods of time., but you still need set, lighting and prop people, perhaps even a few more to do the two scenes at once."
"How's the director supposed to be at two places at once?"
Eloise, "The director sees what the drone sees in real time, just as if he's looking through your camera. All he needs to make changes is Skype on the same screen he's watching the filming. Today a director can be in two places at once, or three, or more."
"How do I buy one of your drones?"
Oops, appears we may have accidentally created yet another business, Nikko mentals Janah and me, We need to get the technology patented. The hard and software.
Chapter Twenty Eight
As Amaya pointed out, films are shot out of sequence. The child is rescued early on in the filming, but naturally will be one of the last scenes in the movie. The final scene in the movie, Chloe and Matt parting ways at the Bogota airport, was filmed the same day they flew into the Bogota airport. The jumble gets sorted out during editing.
It's the last day, everyone safe and secure. The Colombian police hired to keep an eye on the film crew have been diligent and polite, Janah speaks Spanish and some of the officers speak passable English, we are treated to family histories, children difficulties and successes, like any casual conversation over time. We don't go informal, everyone is señor, we are señorita, they are Colombian men, not gay guys in Manhattan. If they wonder about nine women and a teen girl with no boyfriends or husbands, it doesn't come up. We talked of a couple of our business interests, the restaurants primarily, then Chloe's film work. Don't get into investments, schools or the Shaolin temple. Demonstrating wealth down here is a bad idea.
We're packing up when I notice the car that picks up Matt pull in. He's had a couple of different drivers, but it was always one or the other, this one isn't either one.
"Zi, wander over and check out Matt's driver, a different guy on the last day."
Matt walks over, I ask, "Are you in another night?"
Matt, "Just going to ask you the same thing, yes, I wanted to know if we might meet for a drink. Not a bunch of people, my assistant Claudia, all of you. Everyone else is going to be busy with equipment, the director and his assistants will have a wrap up meeting, then fly to LA. They're all dog tired anyway."
I see Zi talking to Nikko, then a mental, Zi says this guy's bad news, Matt needs to send him along, we'll take him to his hotel.
"Say, suppose you just ride with us, we'll take you to your hotel, have drinks there and hang out, then you and Claudia can get some sleep."
Matt, "I have a driver, he's already paid for, no need to impose on you."
"Let me put it more directly. This is the first time we've seen him, you don't recognize him do you?"
"No, can't say I do."
"Why do they send the same two guys for two weeks, then a different one on the last day?"
"I have no idea, sick, other jobs."
"Matt, two guys get to drive around a major film star, stories for the family, stature at work, they bail on the last day, perhaps lose a nice tip from the star, a photo with him on their phone. Anything's possible, but it doesn't sit right, this is Colombia, not Los Angeles. These guys don't drive famous people all the time, unless they're famous for drug deals. Maybe it's just happenstance, but why take the chance?"
He thinks about it, "I see your point. I'll give him fifty bucks and let him go home."
"No, not alone. And call him over to you, don't get near the car, I'll go with you."
Matt, "If there's trouble, what can you do, it seems more dangerous."
"Matt, we're not here to watch a movie being made, we're here because it's Colombia and it's Chloe. Seven of us have martial arts training, five have tactical protection driver training. It's what we do. Let's pay off the driver and be on our way."
Matt waves him over, he speaks English, isn't happy about being blown off. Even with fifty bucks in his hand, which in Colombia is more than a generous tip, there's no smile. He protests, keeps his composure, but I can see there's more to it. He's not having to do any work and getting paid anyway, it should be like Christmas.
Daria is beside me, he doesn't want to get upwind of Daria, "Take Matt to one of the cars," she's clear from my tone that it means immediately and get him sealed up tight.
They walk off, the driver takes a step towards him, I move in between, "He’s with us, thank you for being so prompt, buenas noches, señor."
He doesn't reply, trying not to glare, but he ain't happy. I don't care about his attitude, I just need him gone. We don't leave until he's history.
He gets into his car, a chunky Tahoe, the windows are near black, I see the glint of a cell phone, then the engine starts up. As he turns the car, the side of the Tahoe I'm on is east, the low western sun puts a bit of light inside, there are two guys sitting in the second row. The Colombian police are nowhere to be seen.
"Amaya, take Matt, Claudia, Daria, Zi, and Janah. Nikko, Eloise, Oceane, Chloe and Dasha are with me. Get in the car now and hit the gas, not to Matt's hotel, go towards ours but don't go there until you hear from me. Stay as public as possible. Everyone, hats and sunglasses, we may wind up on CCTV, let's not make it easy."
Claudia, "What's going on? Matt, is there trouble?"
Her answer comes, the Tahoe is screeching towards us. Nobody needs further encouragement, Amaya's Escalade leaps into gear and she leaves a trail of rubber. Tahoe turns to follow, I floor the pedal and I'm on his tail.
It's like a movie, screaming down a street, whizzing past other cars, people on the sidewalk freeze and scamper. They have a heightened sense of self preservation here, maybe even seen versions of this before.
I see Amaya careen around a corner, Escalade holds the road just like at Bondurant, the Tahoe misses the turn, hits the brakes hard, swerves half turned to the street. Gives Amaya a chance to gain ground, I spot my shot. Over the curb at the corner, just as the Tahoe gets in motion, I clip the front end just behind the tire and send it sideways. I yank the wheel hard right and stop, which leaves the tail of my Escalade up against the side of the Tahoe. I drop into reverse and jam the pedal, push the Tahoe sideways up the street as the big rear bumper smashes the doors. That's the idea, don't want them coming out in our direction.
I pull forward ten feet, I hope they can't resist being stupid. They can't. Doors open on the other side, soon as I hear them, I floor it, backwards into the Tahoe again and keep going.
"Dasha, Nikko, see if they continue to be a problem, quickly and get back here."
They jump out, take opposites sides of the mangled SUV, peer around the far side, then hustle back to the Escalade.
Dasha keeps it simple, "Smush, guns in street."
I stomp the pedal, Escalade's going to need triage after today.
Amaya, I am being followed, they aren't being aggressive, just following, you have my location?
Yes, circle them back towards us, pay attention to what's ahead, I suspect they have help and you're driving into a trap. If you turn around, they lose that for now.
She makes the block, driving towards us. That deflates the plan, they jack up to pursuit mode.
You had it, now they are after us.
First right, second left then two blocks, make a hard right go to the middle of the block and wait.
I'm stopped on the cross street on the other side from where Amaya will end up. Two minutes later Amaya's car makes the right, I hear the pursuit car racing down the street, it's a sedan, Ford something or other. As it reaches the corner, just as it starts to turn, I clip the driver's door doing sixty. The sedan cracks against the curb hard enough to send the car rolling over on its side.
"Nikko, Dasha, Zi, if anyone's awake in there with bad intent, disincentivize them."
They get out, the driver is toast, two guys are disoriented, one is holding a gun, shots ring out. He can only shoot up through one side window, they aren't in danger, but they also can't easily get to him.
I turn and back the Escalade against the exposed bottom of the sedan, step on the gas and drive it into the concrete building it's resting against. Don't know if I killed anyone, but they can't get out, the roof is six inches from the top of the seats.
As the girls get back in, I look up the street, Amaya's still parked mid block, another SUV is at the far corner.
Amaya, backup towards me.
I reverse and check the intersection, no suspicious cars lingering, nothing screeching down the street. I hear an engine rev, an SUV is coming after Amaya. She guns the engine, screams past me backwards, hits the brakes, one eighties to forward and blasts down the street. SUV sees me, sees Amaya disappearing. I'm blocking his exit. It's a temporary Columbian standoff. SUV is a Nissan, mine's bigger by half and he can clearly see I will use it as a weapon.
Obviously they have guns, it appears a decision is being made. The expense and deaths they've already chalked up, they've lost Amaya, who has Matt. Their only alternative is to come out guns blazing and see if they can get somebody worth ransoming, or go home and take on a less challenging target.
Sigh, unfortunately, it's Colombia. Macho trumps good sense, the doors open, assault rifle barrels are the first thing out. I hit the gas.