Chapter Sixty One
Eloise calls, "Car approaching the compound, check that, two cars."
"I see them on my screen, let's see what's what, is the drone loaded?"
Eloise, "No, I'm using a mini, you want me to swap?"
"Send one armed, can you keep this one active until it arrives?"
"Yes, battery's fine, take about fifteen minutes for the other."
Some military drones can fly at a couple hundred miles an hour, our current cruising speed is around sixty, kick up to eighty or ninety depending on wind, we're twenty five miles from the hotel, but that's on the ground. Less than twenty in the air.
"No sweat, gotta go, I see headlights, but they appear to have stopped."
"Yes, the drone shows a couple getting out of the cars, one with binoculars checking the place out. You want me to put trackers on the cars?"
"Let's see what happens. Once we have them, the cars aren't going anyplace. If they back off, have the drone follow."
Eloise, "What if they split up when they leave?"
"The second drone you're sending can follow. If they leave, we don't need a drone, it means they've decided to stay clear."
Janah has been listening, "The second drone is getting close, suppose we dart whoever is out of the car?"
"That'd work. If the others bolt, you can follow the cars."
Chan has finished with the first two, he's been asleep for a couple of hours. Before I wake him, I want to see what we're dealing with, two people in two cars, or something more.
Something more, "Chan, sorry, got to get busy, we have visitors."
If it was more delivery, they wouldn't stop down the road. Somebody's picked up on problems. First, nobody's answered a half dozen calls that came in to phones we captured. Second, a transfer didn't happen and there are dead guys in a motel parking lot. It's fair to assume their vans are tracked by their people. When they got to the transfer, both vehicles should have been moving again in a few minutes. When they didn't, one thing that wasn't going to happen is for their people to show up at the motel to check. The only other place they can go is the compound, but they have to be careful. If it's cops, they don't want to show up at the compound either.
I gather the others, "If the second drone arrives in time, Eloise will dart whoever she can. That's going to create panic, the cars are likely to leave. We can follow them with the drones, or we can go to them now. If we're sneaky enough, we can get them all, the drone shows three in one car, three in the other."
Black, "Better to capture, not have to chase them all over the coast. So far, we haven't seen any guns, this isn't a gun kind of business. Probably just scare customers away and you don't need guns to control six year old kids anyway."
"Okay, but don't assume no weapons. Let's break out, Black and I will take the left, Chan, you and Zi go right. Sloane, stay here."
She cocks her head at me, a lip curls, low growl, "I'll be alongside you, mother, let's go before our prey escapes."
I open my mouth to object, I earn a snarl, Chan says, "Your cub is grown, mother."
He's right, she's right, "Let's move."
I approach, they're absorbed in deciding, "I don't see anything, lights, but only a couple. Door in front is secure, nothing looks wrong, except they don't answer."
Second Voice, "There is supposed to be product, four were taken for delivery, now they are missing and our people are dead. Six arrived last night for training, where are they? None of our people picked them up, they were due to spend at least four days here. We have deposits and no product. Very bad for business this mess."
Voice from car, "Quit dithering, there are no cars, no helicopters, go find out what's going on."
One looks at Two, shrugs, Car Voice must be a boss. They start out for the compound. Works for us, that's two gone for the moment, four left.
I whisper to Black and Sloane, "I hear the drone, I'm mentaling Janah to have the drone take down the two. We'll deal with the four here. They'll be watching the two, when they fall, either these guys bolt, or they get out of the cars to see if they can sort our what's happening. In any case, let's take out the tires when the drone drops the two. Sloane, sneak over to Chan and Zi and deliver the message, and hurry."
She's off in a bolt, streaks behind the cars twenty yards, the passengers are focused on the walkers, they don't register jack.
Before I know it, she's back beside me, "Message received and understood."
Black, "She's not fast, she's sudden."
We creep Shaolin style as close to the cars as a whisper.
Binoculars, "Something's wrong, one of them is down, shit, the second is down too, I didn't hear any shots, what the fuck is happening? We got to move."
Zwip times four, then eight, air escapes from busted tires, the men look around, panicked, "Fucking tires, all shot, what the shit is sticking...throwing stars, how the hell did they get them to puncture a tire?"
Black is on Binoculars, I see Zi swarming the one outside the other car, two inside....uh oh, a gun barrel from one window.
The shot zings past me, close enough to feel the air vibrate, I drop, flip left, look up.
The barrel is trying to follow, hand comes further out the window, then a growl. Sloane is in the air, jaws locked on his wrist, I hear a wet crunch. A howl of anguish from inside the car and a hand holding a gun lying on the ground. Sloane is at the window snarling.
Chan has the passenger in the other car, if he has a weapon, Chan's there before he can draw it. At any rate, the door is open, a body on the dirt road. I check on Zi. Her target is on his knees, hand up waving, he's cooked, surrendering.
"Let's get the party started, stuff them in the cars and drive to the compound."
Two cars flop, flop flopping along, running on flat rubber and rims. Still simpler than dragging them along, and Sloane's guy is passed out.
We collect the two darted from the drone, Black throws one on the hood, the other on the trunk, we continue to the compound. Handless is a mess, bloody irregular stump. Sloane has blood down the sides of her mouth, her shirt looks like triage.
"Did he taste like chicken?"
She pulls a hair from her teeth, "Glad I'm not a cannibal," she spits.
"Wash up, burn the shirt."
Black, "Here, take mine, I got a t-shirt under," he unbuttons his size zillion and hands it to Sloane. When she returns, she resembles a Muslim woman, tails hang nearly to the floor, the sleeves are rolled up a half dozen times, she looks like Popeye.
"Not a fashion statement, Amaya will be beside herself."
Amaya's in my head, What have you done to the child? She looks medieval, like a wastrel.
Amaya, I watched the weirdwolf dispatch her prey, she may have saved your life, in the most disgusting way imaginable.
I can't fathom saving my life in any way is disgusting.
That is because you lack my taste and sensibility. If you had been shot, it would have destroyed my evening, into next week even. And with all this driving, none of us can so much as have a cocktail. Do try and get this wrapped up expeditiously.
Do my best, see you soon.
Chapter Sixty Two
Chan returns to wipe the soft drives of the remaining two we captured in the compound, he'll be a couple of hours. Black and Zi have our most recent captures strapped down, picture wire to armchairs. I can see the flesh bulge around the wire. They aren't going anyplace, not with hands attached to wrists. Ankles similarly wired, be hard to escape with no hands or feet, maybe they can levitate.
I'm calling them Chair One to Five. Six is Handless, he's not going to be conversational for a while. I doped him with a tranquilizer dart from the drone, Zi bandaged him, he's lying on the floor with his mauled arm resting on a pillow.
One through Three are conscious, I start with them.
"We're dismantling your child selling business, you may have noticed."
Two says, "You have no authority, we are Pakistani nationals, we demand to be taken to our consulate in Houston Texas."
I smile, "I'll make a note. Perhaps it will help speed things up to begin our diplomatic relations here, in the moment so to speak."
Two, "You are American agents?"
My smile widens, "Better, citizens of the world, no allegiance to any government. You may think of us as our own government. Let's cut the niceties, you have no rights, you have no consulate, we don't recognize you as anything but child sellers and rapists. In a word, scum. We have your phones, we will track down your pals like we tracked you down. Well, technically, you came to us, but we would have found you eventually."
Two, who appears to be the lead dog, "You have no idea what you have stepped into woman. Children are a means to an end only. They are sources of income, and a nice bit of entertainment along the way. Our organization will not take kindly to your interference, it is you who will be hunted down and killed, most unpleasantly."
"So many have tried, yet, here we are. Let's start our negotiations, shall we?"
"We do not negotiate with infidels, we kill them."
"Geez, enough with the bluster, I'm not the one tied to a chair dickweed," I snatch his hand, remove his middle finger, he makes a weird, loud noise.
"Now, let's begin."
Typical of people who hide behind children, they fold like cheap lawn chairs. In the end, only a few digits lay on the floor. They can't cooperate fast enough. I have names, which match names on their phones, locations, and the man of the year, the Top Perv, some psychopath called Tariq. Unfortunately, he's in Pakistan. But his second, third and fourth in command are in the states. Third and Fourth are here in Biloxi, Second is in New Orleans. Apparently New Orleans is a good place to swipe kids, lots of immigrants, runaways and Catholic schoolgirls.
I mental Janah, It will take us a week to brain drain these guys, and we need to be after the others.
Nikko is coming. She'll handle them. Tell Chan he's done. Nikko isn't going to kill them, although that's her first choice. But they won't be functional as men, or useful to anyone except a doorstops. Amaya is driving her, when she drops off Nikko, she's driving you and Black to New Orleans. Deal with Second, leave him barely functional, I want Tariq to wet his shalwar kameez.
What about him?
I'm calling in resources. He'll be dead in a day or two. I want him sweating first.
I turn to our captives, "Bad news boys. A friend is coming to visit, a blade runner, with razor sharp blades.
Two, "Then she will send us to Allah, virgins await, like the ones we had here, in your satanic country."
"No, she won't give you the luxury of Allah or his virgins. You ever see those people who have to get around by pushing their legless selves around on a piece of wood with wheels. Hands so callused they can barely close their fingers, and, in your case, neutered. She's going to turn you into the very girls you abuse. How's that for justice?"
One pisses his pants, Two is hurting but trying to keep up a front, Three through Five just sit and sweat, glancing from me to each other.
I hear the SUV, Amaya and Nikko pop in, Dasha has a second SUV outside.
Amaya, "Eeewww, nasty boys. Let's go, leave Nishiko to her work."
"Chan, Zi, stay with Nikko, then take the car Dasha brought to the hotel. She can stay here until Nikko’s done. Amaya will drive Black and me to New Orleans."
Sloane, "And Sloane."
I look at her, "And Sloane. We're going to see what's what. Our friends here say Second has guards, we aren't going for him until we have the situation scoped."
"Remember, Third and Forth have a couple of guards, maybe more. Look hard at what you're going into. Eloise and Oceane should drone everything thoroughly, darts are the first choice for attack. We all on the same page?"
Nods, Nikko says, "Go, I'll make this short and sweet. We need to get to the others before more alarms go off and they evaporate."
Janah, Tell them not to worry, we have trackers on the cars, Eloise and Oceane are surveying the house they share now. Third and Forth are home, if they leave, we can follow.
I pass along the message.
Nikko, "More reason to get this done quickly, the rats are in one cage. Get Amaya gone, her sensibilities may be offended."
Amaya huffs, "You forget who smashed a Korean into a concrete wall. But you are right on the other count, get this garbage compacted and go home."
Nikko, "No problem."
We're on I-10 west, pass alongside Slidell, down to New Orleans East, then into the city. Our target has a place in rebuilt Lakeview, one of the flooded Katrina areas right next to the breached levee. Homes were in water up to and, in some cases, over the roof. It's kind of rebuilt, still many lots where homes used to be. Occasional mangled houses where owners can't be located or insurance lawsuits linger. Why people who had houses below sea level failed to buy inexpensive flood insurance escapes me, but they didn't, they lost it all.
Chapter Sixty Three
He lives in a two story that's more like three. The house is raised off the ground, that after being built on what is clearly a man made hill, like a plateau five or six feet higher than the surrounding land. The driveway is concrete, as is the foundation under the house, which serves as covered parking. Two sedans and a van are parked there. There are steps up to the ground floor, which is another eight feet off the ground. Covered veranda around two sides and the front, a deck in back with a second set of stairs down. There are four men on the deck smoking. They might be Muslim, but there are bottles of wine on a table, something smoking on a grill. Must be chicken, the lid is down.
"This is too easy, but I'll take luck over skill any day. What's the drone carrying?"
Amaya, "Tranquilizers, I only have two Oblivion darts, we weren't planning of offing these guys."
"Sloane, take as many as you can. Once the first two go down, the others may bolt inside. Before you do, check any windows and see if there are more inside."
The drone lifts off, we follow in the screen. She zooms the camera to a front window, nothing, upstairs there is only one window with open blinds, nothing. There are no lights in upstairs. Then a movement in a curtain. It cracks, a face.
"There's at least one guard upstairs watching the neighborhood. See what's downstairs."
The drone zeroes in, no open windows except the kitchen in the rear. One man stirring something on a stove.
"Black, take the front door, pick the lock, or if you hear a commotion first, just bust in. Go for upstairs, I'll deal with down."
Black eases out, I see him make his way up the steps, he's kneeling by the front door, turns the handle, nothing to pick or kick, it's open.
"I'm going under the house to the deck. Amaya, mental me when Sloane is done, I don't need a stray dart in my neck. If somebody makes it to a car, discourage them."
Amaya, "They aren't going anyplace."
I'm out and under the house, creep under the deck, hear the voices. It's a mixture of Urdu and English. I don't do Urdu but the general tenor is tense. They are obviously aware of the difficulties, frustrated that they can't find the rest of their men. One is on a phone, I hear the name Tariq. It's about eight here, I have no idea what time it is in Pakistan, tomorrow I think, maybe yesterday?
Reassurances of a temporary difficulty, the voice says, "but Tariq, there are always difficulties, we are handling it, have patience," then a switch to Urdu, don't know for sure, sounds like a fair amount of groveling from the tone.
Then I hear the thwip of a dart, a second, followed by a Thump! and a Thump! Two bodies hit the deck, a third thwip, a body falls a few feet from me, smacks the concrete head first. Neck's twisted at an ugly angle, his dead eyes are open, like he's staring at me. A door slams.
Amaya, Fourth got inside, she's backed away.
Tell her to monitor, she may spot something we can't see.
Just go, we have it covered.
Should have known detail oriented Amaya wouldn't let something that obvious slide.
Amaya, Well duh.
I smile to myself as I scramble the steps to the deck, then inside, through the kitchen, a living dining combination. A man's feet hustling up the stairs, whoever was in the kitchen is gone.
I head to the stairwell, I hear the crashes, yelling, Black is up there against three men. Then I sense motion to my right, kitchen man steps out from a room across the hall. He has a gun.
"A woman? And a lovely one at that. We will enjoy your body, all of us, before we take your head."
He looks puzzled, I'm walking towards him, guess I'm supposed to be babbling, or cringing in fear, hoping for a brave man to rescue me. He’s seen too many movies.
"Far enough," he waves the pistol.
"I thought we were going to fuck Faisal. It's been my life's dream to fuck a fat hairy Pakistani child rapist."
He's getting pissed, good, a nice sneer, I go for the throat, "Islam, that's the goat fucking religion isn't it? On your knees, ass in the air, training your little boys to take it from behind?"
Now he's lost it, even with the dark skin, he's molten red, the gun rises to my head, I do a front split, one leg between his, a hard straight punch to his Muslim man spot. He doesn't have time to gasp, a dart is sticking out of his head, below the temple, eye level. Must be Oblivion, he's dead before he becomes his own prayer rug. Bad luck for him, he's on his back, facing west.
I race upstairs, if anyone had a gun, it hasn't gone off. The guard is unconscious, his chest looks caved in and one hand is pretty much ground meat. At his feet is a bloody pistol. Second, or Third, not sure, is on the bed. He conscious, but his leg is at a painfully peculiar angle, his jaw is misaligned. He's trying to talk tough, he looks ridiculous, drool, nothing but incoherent mangled English, imagine talking but your jaw won't move, that's him.
Black, "Guard was armed, but this one was in between me and him when I came in. I used him to get to the guard, once I dislocated his knee, he was basically a sock puppet I smashed against the guard. Got a grip on his gun hand and, well, you can see."
"You have bigger hands than Chan, like skillets, both of you. Sloane stuck a dart in kitchen man, Oblivion, he's done."
Black, "What do we do with this one?"
"He gets to be martyred in the jihad. Sloane darted three, one fell off the deck, his neck snapped. I have to finish off the other two."
Sloan appears, "No you don't. I used the last Oblivion dart and shared it between them, I think there's enough left to finish this guy. A little goes a very long way."
"Okay, stick him, if it works, fine, otherwise Black can throw him out a window."
We're talking about the last target's death like he's invisible. He's gurgling, trying to make a case, it doesn't sound like threats, it sounds like a partially blocked drain. Sloane pokes the dart in his neck, squishes the remainder in, eyes dim, blood oozes from his mouth, slumps to his side. I check his pulse, not a flutter.
"Let's get gone. We weren't noisy, but the lights were on in back. Somebody might have seen bodies drop."
Turns out someone did, sirens, Amaya, Cut the chatter, we need to fly.
Race downstairs, she has the SUV in gear and facing the street. Rocket out the driveway and tires squeal in pain as she hard rights, away from the noise. Two blocks, a left and a left, she slows. There's an empty lot between the street we're on and the one we left, cop car blinking lights, another siren, a second screeches to a stop, the whole street is cop strobe. Ten minutes later, we're on the I-10 back to Biloxi.
Chapter Sixty Four
Amaya, "Good thing we did not have to do a getaway, this is a rental, lacks the engine or suspension to deal with escape from high power police cars. I would have to smash them up and the cops would likely get testy."
"Did you swap the license plate?"
"Of course, from one of the cars at the compound, or was. I swapped it with the SUV under the house while you and Sloane applied antibiotics to the bacteria inside. Change to the rental plate back at the hotel."
We relax into the ride, soon enough we're in the suite, Dasha and Daria have drinks, hand a large vodka to Amaya, "Thank you, I was near delirium tremens."
"What happened here? I didn't have time to follow events."
Nikko, "Decided we needed to get to Third and Forth more than I needed to slice and dice. We used Oblivion, they died quickly, instantly in fact."
Janah, "Oceane had Third's place covered by the drone. Fourth was there, snippets of conversation, a lot of confusion, phone calls to Second. Only one other man, a guard I suppose, he didn't say much, stood around, checked the windows once in a while. They decided to bolt and were packing things when we showed up. Chloe took out the guard with her katana when he did a tour round the house."
Dasha, "He leef door open while he ees outside, stupid. Chloe and I walk in. She chop off fat boy head, I cut throat of skinny boy, we come back to hotel for vodka cocktail finally."
"So much for leaving them incapacitated."
Janah, "Yeah, I know. Too many. Nikko talked me down. We had child sellers who sampled the product, those kids were raped repeatedly. The scum actually bragged about it, and the kids we rescued confirmed. They drank something that made them sleepy, then men came in, it degrades from there. The only good part is the six we got from the compound. The men hadn't gotten to them yet. These guys used and sold dozens of kids by their own account. We aren't sure we got to all of them, the group, gang, whatever they are. The operation was three or four years old, they moved kids two or three times a week. Four to six or eight at a time. That's over three hundred in the time we know about. And this is a worldwide network."
Chloe, "Is Tariq the top?"
Janah, "I don't know. I think they work like terrorists, individual cells, a loose chain of command. If the money comes in, the people in Pakistan don't ask much. Tariq is a big dog, but we have no way of knowing if he's the biggest."
Black, "He going out soon?"
Janah, "He may be out now. I'm waiting for confirmation."
"I'm starved, let's hit the mega buffet, or is it closed?"
Elosie, "It's Friday, a seafood buffet open until eleven."
"Cool, nine thirty, skip waiting on room service."
There's no line, the shows are showing, most of the crowd is either there, or at the tables. The club opens at ten. It's usually packed on Fridays, a DJ, dance music, people on the make.
Geez, a ton of options, if it's seafood, it's on the buffet someplace. We order champagne, Black, Chan, Zi, and I substitute Seltzer water and lemon, boring Shaolin. The others wind their way through three bottles before we've had enough. Chloe escapes recognition, we're here with fake names and stay lightly disguised even at the hotel. After dinner, we escape to our rooms, except Dasha, Daria, Eloise, Sloane and Oceane, who decide to have a run at the Coast Club. Dance off some steam. None of them look twenty one, but their fake licenses say they are, and the hotel has us as full fare guests in several of the best suites. They get waved in past the line and walked to prime tables one level up from the masses on the dance floor. Two complimentary buckets of champagne arrive. When Transportation made our arrangements, someone up the food chain in the hotel got a call from someone else in the chain. In all likelihood, a pal, head of security at one of the majors in Las Vegas we'd saved from a significant public relations headache several years ago. We've been treated like rock stars since we arrived. Unfortunately, we had a fair amount of time out of the hotel doing dirty work.
"I think we should visit when we have time to appreciate being appreciated. You know, best seats at shows, tables at the upscale restaurants, private craps table, Zi at the big buck poker table."
Janah, "You know, that's a good idea. We all like good food, some like gambling, the girls love the clubs. Daytime in Vegas there are huge swimming pools and string bikinis. We should have a trip when we're in Arizona, Vegas is practically around the corner, two fifty, maybe four hours. Amaya can probably drive it in two."
"Oceane will love it."
In our suite, Janah decides she needs to be serviced every way service can be rendered. Suitably fondled, licked, toyed and orgasmed, we fade to black.
Morning, we need to vacate. We have two flights scheduled, minutes apart, Blue Sky always ready and waiting. We don't leave until noon, give our club girls time to sleep in, lunch on the plane, smoked salmon and caviar appetizers, eight ounce filets, steamed vegs, vanilla bean ice cream on the side of warm apple pie.
"How was the club?"
Sloane, "Great! We danced and danced, break for champagne, bullshit the boys, more dance. Dasha and Daria demolished it, had the crowd in a circle around them. When they kissed, I think there were a few dozen orgasms. Girls were all over them to dance."
"What about you?"
"I had a hottie guy after me. He was sweet, polite, we danced, I invited him to our table, he kissed me! I decided not to confuse him genderwise, I wasn't going to go to his room or anything. He didn't even make a serious pass. We kissed, like make out kiss, he got a hard on! I could feel it against me. It was nice, we even joked about it."
"And you didn't bite his tongue off."
"Not even tempted. I took his number, didn't give him mine, he thinks I'm Amber Jackson, poor baby."
"And you won't even call him."
"Can't, it's better for him, I can't tell him who I am, and he thinks of me as all girl, which I am but not yet. We had fun, it's done, with his charm he won't have any shortage of companions. It was fun being hit on."
Her answers are what I expected, but it's good to hear her volunteer them. The rest of our family has no conception of swooning over the latest boy. We were all teen girls at some point, just not hormonally attracted to the opposite sex. Sloane is, sort of. She has more girl hormones now, because we added them, but she was born with both, in amounts different from typical girls. With the help of Janah's dad, and our mind wide open family, she's had none of the psychological abuse many transgender kids get. Sloane's 'father' was planning to sell her, couldn't get his mind around his son as a daughter. We intervened, Robert Jr. became Sloane, and she hasn't looked back. Robert Sr. became unaware of himself, or a son/daughter, a mindless nomad bereft of home, bank accounts and identity.
We have two SUVs meet us, and a third for Chan and Black.
Chan, "Spoil Shaolin, fancy hotel, private jet, private car home."
Black, "Spoil me anytime. Besides, Chan hasn't slept on a mat since he married Ning, she's not into hardship."
Chan shrugs, "Wife needs husband to keep her warm."
I laugh, "Go, your women are waiting. We got to play at the hotel, you had to be good boys. You can fix that tonight."
Black, "Sonia said to tell you she had dinner with Ning, Susan, Taylor and Lacy. They got idiotic and ran up a huge wine bill at Ultra Violet. Susan told Mariella to charge it to you."
"Mariella would never give Sis a tab. All the family goes to our house account, we pay for all our meals there just like anyone else. You and Chan are on the account, you should go more often."
Black and Chan load and leave, we're right behind them.
Amaya, "God it is good to be home. I have oodles of writing to do, Chloe, you have work Monday, a commercial for the boutique."
Chloe, "I'd forgotten, okay, we have Sunday to chill anyway. Considering what we got on the flight, maybe dinner light?"
"We haven't had oriental, I'll call Empire Szechuan later, they can send over something."