The show is over, the Honda cranks up and pulls off, Zoe C follows at a distance, with a tracker there’s no reason to tailgate or worry about catching a light. It does make the chase scene fairly boring, the Honda is chugging along under the speed limit, Milton Road in Flagstaff is a busy thoroughfare.
I pass by the police station to collect Janah and Daphne, we get on I-17 south in the direction of the Honda. In a few, I spot the Tahoe and pull behind.
Zoe C, online in my head, ‘Wonder where he’s going? We keep chugging down 17 and we’ll wind up in Phoenix.’
‘I doubt he’s going a hundred miles, he could play his game there, why come up here?’
‘We’ll make sure it’s an unpleasant one.’
Not to Phoenix, the Honda turns off at an exit that doesn’t seem to lead to much. He takes a left under the expressway, Zoe C backs off, pulls to the side. I drive up behind her Tahoe.
Daphne, “Smart, we don’t want to be in his rearview on a two lane country road.”
I don’t have the GPS, Zoe C does, after three or four minutes, she cranks and we start down the road again. Both side are forest, not wilderness like Humphrey’s Peak, undergrowth has been trimmed and hauled off, trees felled by chainsaw, not nature. I can only assume it’s fire safety, while it isn’t particularly dry in this part of Arizona, underbrush and dead trees would feed a fire should one start.
Ten minutes later, Zoe C stops again, gets out and comes to our car.
“He’s up a dirt road, hardly make out the entrance but the GPS says the Honda is in there about a half mile. There must be homes around, maybe more like cabins, they didn’t build this road and run power just for the forest.”
Janah, “Tell Sloane to hustle down the road and see, give her a Sat phone, she can skip coming back here.”
Zoe C returns to her car, Sloane hops out and zips down the dirt. Five minutes later the phone dings, Janah answers and listens.
“Stay there, we’ll drive up fifty yards behind you and come along on foot, is that far enough to avoid anyone hearing the cars?”
“Okay, got it, a hundred yards then.”
“Sloane says a cabin, nothing special, a log cabin with a front porch maybe nine hundred square feet if that. Only the Honda is out front, she’s going to see what’s behind the cabin.”
We drive up, Sloane is behind a tree next to the road, waves us to stop. Then she’s gone. We confab behind the Tahoe, make an outline of a plan.
Daphne, “Call me paranoid, but I’ve got a feeling about this. Chef, Zoe C, take the dart rifles, tranquilizer only, we need to talk to this putz. We haven’t had much luck getting dead people to tell us anything. Although we have a friend from long ago, Joan Wayne, who is a crack forensic analyst, she gets all kinds of data off dead people.”
Janah, “The plan?”
“Oh, yeah…let’s get a report from Sloane first.”
Sloane appears from forest, “Two cars in back, I can’t spot Shadows, maybe Daphne can take a look before we go charging in.”
They go off into the woods, we wait five or six, then they’re back.
Daphne, “Shadow silt in both cars, not a little either, my guess is two others just got here or there are more than two, this is smelling like a set up.”
Zoe C, “How? They had no idea we were coming…or did they?”
Janah, “We know Shadows are aware of us, and they know we’re on the lookout for strange behavior. To lure us all the way here makes me think there’s hole in my network, that the Shadows know the locals reached out to us. That can only mean a leak.”
“No reason Shadows can’t be cops, or work in a station in some capacity, or that they took a mind in either the DA’s office or the police. Lots of maybes but if it’s what we think, something went sideways.”
I ask, “Now what? We have darts, we have guns, at least Zoe C and I do, more than enough for three, four or even five Shadows, not to mention you guys are your own weapons.”
Daphne, “We can talk all afternoon, doesn’t change anything. In a way, it’s good, we have them in one place. The problem is obvious.”
“You mean the hikers, presuming they aren’t dead, the Shadows have them here or somewhere. If they’re here, they become shields, like ISIS hiding behind civilians.”
Janah, “Dasha, launch a drone, we need a sneaky peek.”
Dasha gets the drone in the air, we follow the video on two tablets.
No one on the porch, front windows have shades drawn, she navigates down one side, the one window shaded here as well. The drone goes to the rear, we can see the cars. I suppose we could have discovered the other cars with the drone, but the girls can’t spot Shadows off a video feed, Daphne or one of the others would have had to go back there anyway.
The kitchen, like most, is towards the rear, a window, shutters are open. Dasha has the drone high and thirty yards from the cabin, she zooms the lens. A woman is doing something over the sink, a woman you might call a hag if this was a fairy tale. Slim, near emaciated, straw for hair, beady eyes glance out the window from time to time.
“She’s scanning the area, good thing I’m stealthy or she might have seen me creeping around the woods.”
Over the hag’s shoulder we can see two men on a couch, one smoking a cigarette, the other handing him a drink, looks like bourbon, probably not apple juice.
Janah, “Check the rest of the place.”
The drone moves to the left, the back door is closed but it’s a door with a glass pane halfway up. A second woman is carrying something, a big pot, she disappears towards the kitchen. Then we see a second rear window, a bedroom, the window is shuttered. A small window up high indicates a bathroom, but it’s frosted.
The left side has two windows, both with curtains drawn.
Janah, “Leave the drone up and hovering, cover the rear with the video. Somebody bolts, we can down then with a dart. Zoe C, can you take over, I need Dasha and Daria ready to go in. What’s the plan Daphne?”
“I knock on the door, hard, as in bust it open if need be. Daria, you’re with me, Dasha, when we take the front, you take the back door, Sloane is with you, Janah too. Chef, come in behind Daria and me. Zoe C, give the drone a full aerial view, so you can see anyone going out either door, a window, whatever. Remember, we don’t know hikers from Shadows. Our experience is Shadows won’t run for it, particularly when they figure out I’m Shaolin. Unless Chef gets in your head to tell you otherwise, assume people running for it are the captives. Guesswork, we don’t know if the hikers are here.”
Zoe C has been studying the house from above, she drops the drone and zooms in.
Daphne, “Damn, a cellar door, good job Zoe C. Can you sneak the drone in close enough for audio?”
A voice, with the cellar door closed, we can just make it out, Daphne gets close to the speaker, she can hear snow fall, maybe she can pick up the words. To us, it’s mumbling, but someone is down there, more than one someone.
Daphne, “At least one is losing it, crying, saying they’re never getting out of this alive, can’t take any more, despair talk.”
Janah, “Let’s make a leap of faith and presume most of them are in the cellar. There were four hikers abducted that we know of, at least two are down there. Daphne, get in, we need these people released and the Shadows dispensed with. There will not be a perfect time or opportunity.”
Daphne, “Zoe C, zoom in on the cellar door.”
She does, it’s a double door that folds out, a metal bar runs through the handles, further secured by a chain through the handles. No reason for a padlock, the chain is wrapped around the handles several times.
“Dasha, get the door open, Chef can you help with getting out whoever’s in there?”
“Dasha and Chef, go through the woods, it’s only ten yards from the trees to the door, Zoe C, fix on the kitchen window again, see if the woman is still there.”
The drone changes position, we can see people standing but not paying attention to the window.
“Go…what’s that bit they always say in action movies…move it! move it! move it!”
We move it, sidle through the trees until we’re right across from the cellar. We zip up to the door. Dasha reaches down, undoes the chain, then slides the bar out. She grabs the handles and flips open the heavy wooden doors. I look in, four bedraggled people, naked as moles.
I whisper, “Come on, time to go home, come up as quietly as you can.”
None must be a Shadow or Dasha would have said something, they appear one at a time up the steps, I pull each to the woods and give them whispered directions. They aren’t filthy, hair is ragged, dirt on knees and butts, the only girl, Betsy, is crying in relief, practically hyperventilating. She was the most recent abduction, the three men don’t have the strength to emote, they can barely walk.
I know the others can see, the drone is directly above, I go online to Zoe C, ‘Leave the drone hovering with a wide view, help the people, water, any sort of covering, we have a couple of blankets in the Tahoe.’
I hear Daphne knock on the front door, she says loudly, “Dominoes’, Fed Ex, UPS, Jehovah’s Witness.”
I hear Janah giggle behind me.
Dasha, Sloane, Janah and I beat a path to the back door, Glock is in my holster, I’m carrying the dart rifle.
A disturbance, loud voices, “It’s the Shaolin, everything is falling into place.”
I start to kick in the back door, for the heck of it, I try the knob, the door opens. I’m staring at the backs of five people who are staring at the front door. Three men, two women.
Janah, “Shadows, all Shadows. We have the hostages, try and leave one Shadow alive.”
I fire the rifle, it sinks into the back of a man, nothing happens.
Janah, “They’re wearing vests, go for a leg or neck.”
I pop off a second, catch him in the butt, now he sinks to the wooden floor. There’s noise, across the room Daphne and Daria come through the door. Then a blast of light, both girls are blown back out to the porch, Daria bashes into the wooden railing, Daphne rolls down the steps to the dirt.
Janah, “Sloane, get after it.”
Sloane growls, they’ve hurt her friends, she’s in pure wolf mode. A leap, she has the hag by the neck, shakes her head like it’s a chew toy, blood runs, she snapped the carotid artery, a stream of red spews and catches one of the men square in the face.
Dasha takes the biggest man, he may or may not be the most powerful but it’s not like we have time to sort them out. As he raises his hand, Dasha reaches out, crushes his open palm, I hear things crunch. She yanks his arm towards her, uses her empty hand to drive the heel under his jaw, another crack, head lolls, she’s broken his neck so completely he looks like a rag doll. She cuts him loose, he crumbles to the floor. Three down, two dead and one in dreamland.
Daria gets up, she’s got to be in pain, but comes towards the only man left standing. The man and woman combine their energy, hoping to send her flying again.
Daphne comes through the door, clean over Daria and shoulder tackles the woman. The man stands no chance against Daria alone, but she’s hurt, I’ve reloaded the rifle, stick a dart in his neck. Last one, Daphne has her hands full, the woman, all five three of nothing, tries to jolt Daphne. No good, Janah has her hands on the woman’s head, it implodes, then a small flame from what used to be a head.
“You good Daphne?”
“Been better. They quintupled us coming in, I felt launched, like one of NASA’s rockets.”
Sloane washes up at the sink, she has blood all over.
Janah, “Go take a shower, find some clothes and put the bloody stuff in a garbage bag. We have time, I want to interview our two leftovers. Dasha, maybe go check on Zoe C, feel out how the captives are doing.”
I’m left with Daphne, Daria, two walking wounded, and Janah, at least until Sloane gets cleaned up.
“Damn, Sloane gets into her wolf persona, she’s quick and efficient. Swallowing blood doesn’t bother her?”
“Wolves eat all their food raw.”
I shake my head, I do a lot of that, hanging around with Daphne’s tribe.
“Chef, can you get the man tied down, Daphne and I will do the other, use the handcuffs, if they recharge they can snap a zip tie. Find pillowcases to put on their heads, everyone, even Shadows, gets freaked when they can’t see.”
We get them set up, both on hardback chairs like captured terrorists, an apt analogy.
Janah takes out a syringe, preloaded with something, snaps off the cap and injects the man. A few minutes, he starts to stir, then his covered head snaps up, we can see him try to turn left and right, shakes his head but the pillow case is loose and stays in place. Janah gives him another minute, make sure the drug has taken hold.
Janah, “It’s Truth, even Shadows aren’t immune. My favorite since it eliminates beating the story out of them. I don’t mind beating the story out, but it takes longer and we’re never sure they aren’t making things up.”
The interrogation begins, this is normally Daphne’s part, but she’s injured and laying on the floor under a bed of ice.
Janah, “Tell me everything, I don’t care about your misspent youth, I want to know who trained you, where and if they are still around.”
His speech is a bit slurred, but we can understand him.
“In Tibet, then Japan, then here. I dunno if those assholes are still alive, fucking training nearly killed me.”
Janah, “That would deprive me of the pleasure.”
“You…you…have murdered many of us, there are more, you can’t hide forever.”
“Not your problem, what was the point of abducing the hikers?”
“To get you and the priest to come rescue them. We fucked with them a little, made threats, kept them on a one meal a day diet and water. We don’t care about them, just a means to an end.”
“And here we are.”
“At least I got to blast the fucking Shaolin, we heard she was a tough bitch, and the other one, who is she, not a priest?”
“No, unfortunately for you though, she and her twin are supremely tough bitches, you might as well try to break sheet steel.”
“Fuck, one of our network said there were pain in the ass twins, nobody mentioned the girl, the one who bites.”
“The hag was lucky, she died near instantly, our wolf girl sometimes snaps a forearm or an ankle first, you know, plays with her kill.”
No comment, but his head drops forward and he shrugs, “What else?”
“I want a list, every Shadow you know, name they used and where they lived when you knew them. Spare me explanations, I’m well aware Shadows move around, change names, you give me what you have, you die painlessly. Jerk me around, well, my wolf is at the door.”
It’s a pointless threat, he can’t help but spill, the drug assures compliance. I record his list, probably redundant, Janah memorizes it as he says it.
She injects the remaining shadow, generally the same story, hardship training breaks the mind, makes them violent, perverse, or both. He was trained in the states, another name for our list, a few contacts across the country, They do what Shadows do, keep to themselves, but have loosely banded together to root out Janah, Daphne, and their associates. I’m feeling quite special, a Shadow target, one they want to kill. Amazing how the real possibility of death focuses the mind.
The abductees didn’t see anyone die, we killed off the last two Shadows with Oblivion. What to do with the bodies? The hikers know where the cabin is, they know there were five people involved. Each of the hikers was taken by a different Shadow, a test of skills. Betsy got taken and Wynona left on the mountain because the one Shadow couldn’t control two women, not for the length of time it took to hike down.
In the Tahoe, Zoe C and Dasha don’t volunteer names, don’t ask for the men’s names. Our rescues are too frazzled from fear and pure exhaustion to engage in conversation.
Daria and Daphne are in my SUV, resting busted bodies while we clean up. I get in Zoe C’s head and tell her to take her time going back to Flagstaff.
‘We need to figure out what to do with the bodies and it’s better if we don’t turn over the rescues until we’re away from here.’
‘No sweat, they’re guzzling water and eating cookies, can you get Sloane to run down with clothes, the Shadows won’t be needing them.’
‘Tell Dasha we need her up here, you okay with taking the abductees back?’
‘Sure, somebody call me with a drop off point.’
I help Sloane grab jeans and t-shirts, they can sort out sizes. We also need Sloane back at the cabin, she hustles down the dirt road, delivers the clothes, returns with Dasha.
“I have a plan, let’s get the bodies in their car, trunk, backseat, doesn’t matter. We’re going to find a spot on the road to make it disappear. I’d rather torch it, but that attracts attention and while it’s rained, I’m worried about starting a forest fire. Janah, can you find something that looks like a canyon, or someplace where we could push the car over, maybe it will disappear long enough for us to get gone.”
While the three of us stack bodies, Janah surfs.
“If we go maybe six miles further down, it appears to be, if not a canyon, a stretch of empty forest with what looks like a timber road. If they aren’t currently logging, the car could sit for some time. Leave the doors and trunk open, the forest creatures will mangle the evidence.”
“Okay, I’ll drive this heap, you guys follow.”
She’s right, the logging road goes deep, maybe three or four miles. When it ends, there’s no sign of current work, there’s no sign of anything. I pull the car in between trees, manage to get far enough that the car can’t be seen from the logging road.
I get out, open the trunk, leave the windows down and the doors open. Climb into the SUV and Janah takes us back, eventually to 17 and on to our hotel. Zoe C, is there already.
I ask, “How’d it go?”
“Dropped them a block from the emergency room, told Spenser where they were, he didn’t ask, I didn’t tell.”
“We left the bodies in their Honda off a desolate stretch of logging road. If they aren’t discovered in three or four weeks there won’t be much left but bones. I’ll shag dinner, make sure Daphne and Daria are freeze dried, they have nasty bruises front and back. Maybe cracked ribs, they took a hell of an energy shot from five Shadows. If it had only been just Daphne or Daria, instead of splitting the energy…well, let’s not go there.”
I get easy to eat stuff, Chinese, three chicken in garlic sauce, three Szechuan shrimp, vegetable fried rice, skip soup as too complicated for the wounded. I wondered if it was too much, wrong, it all disappears, killing is hungry work.
Girls collapse at nine thirty, I have a last vodka and fade way myself by ten.
Janah does a health check when we get mobile, “They can travel, just don’t hit too many potholes. Daphne’s had her ribs bashed so many times I think they’re fossilized, Daria is like her sister, sheet steel, but they’re both still bruised and tender.”
“Can you and Dasha work on them while we drive?”
“I think they’ve had enough ice and Qi, what they need is rest. Daria is easy, Daphne will want to go active right off, but I have a not so secret weapon to keep her still.”
“We have a longstanding agreement, she’s the field commander, controls our plan of attack. I’m the commander of everything else, she has to do what I tell her to do.”
The drive is easy, easy for me, I wasn’t blasted by Qi energy. If they’re hurting, they don’t complain about it.
It’s only forty five miles, we’re at the Arizona compound by eleven.
Susan is first at the door, three giant dogs behind her. Morshchiny checks out both Daphne and Daria, she groans, sensing all is not well.
Susan, “Well, your dog told me what I need to know, both of you find spots on the couches and don’t even breathe hard for the rest of the day.”
Daphne, “What about tomorrow?”
“I’ll decide that tomorrow, maybe you can park on the patio for tea, until then, sit and shut up.”
“Oh sure, Daria doesn’t say much anyway, I’m the one who will suffer in silence.”
Susan isn’t buying, “Just do it.”
Taylor gets them situated with pillows and a light blanket, they’re asleep in fifteen.
Susan, “What happened? And no hiding behind need to know, I need to know.”
Janah fills her in.
Susan, “Christ on the cross, don’t get in my way, I’m going to mommy until I’m satisfied.”
Lacy, “And I’m going to back her up.”
Never get in the way of determined women.
The families understand, it’s quiet in the house, I’m tired, I can only imagine what Daphne and Daria must feel. At least they’re asleep.
The rest of us have a light lunch, then a nap. It isn’t because of injuries, we don’t have any, not physically, mentally we’re wiped.
Natalie shakes me, “Sorry to wake you, but if you sleep much longer you won’t sleep tonight.”
I blink, groggy, “Maybe you can help relax me later.”
“I can do that.”
Natalie is a gem, feel that way about Zoe C and Elle too. They genuinely like and enjoy each other, and there’s little worse than a house with contentious women (or a bullying man). It wasn’t my doing, their congeniality is natural, not artificial. The only bit I brought is an even temperament and a refusal to believe I’m in charge of anyone but myself. Then we met Janah and discovered we had similar life guidelines, generosity, cooperation and consideration, which one might call compassion.
You may ask…we beat people up, slice them up too, and we kill others, what’s generous, cooperative or compassionate about that?
Generous, we don’t charge money to help the abused; cooperative, maybe not with our targets, with each other, always; compassionate, looked at from the victim’s standpoint, the beaten child or wife, we are sublimely compassionate. We put ourselves in harm’s way so victims can get out of harm’s way.
Rationalization?...maybe…then again, what isn’t?
The remainder of the day passes quietly. I check with Janah about the injured.
“Recovering, must have been more painful than we realized, if Daphne was a painting she’d be titled Still Life on Sofa, Daria is more mobile, slow mobile. Dasha has been with both of them nonstop. Amaya has restrained herself so far, but she’s bound to harangue them later. She doesn’t understand why we don’t just shoot the bastards. After this last thing I’m not sure I disagree.”
“Zoe C and I will be happy to accommodate, and you have your darling psychopaths, Katya and Katja. Send the four of us, we’ll even provide our own ammo.”
Janah giggles, “How generous….and cooperative. The only thing that keeps me from instant terminal solutions is the Qi girls want to keep their skills honed. It’s one thing to push around tennis balls, another to generate enough Qi to kill under the pressure of being killed.”
“Ah, understood. It’s like hitting a piece of paper on a shooting range versus hitting a target that’s capable of returning fire, and won’t stay still to make it easier.”
“Exactly, even shooting at mobile practice targets isn’t the same, mobiles don’t shoot back.”
“You have Daphne out of commission, and Dasha taking care of her and Daria, I’ll help Ellen with food prep? McKenzie and Akiko will be happy to jump in.”
“Most welcome, let me get Ellen, I don’t know what she has planned.”
Ellen is planning Chicken Kiev, frequently served with rice, we’re doing mashed potatoes and southern style green beans. Cooked all day on a low simmer with ham hocks, is ready to serve anytime.
Ellen, “Kiev isn’t too difficult, it’s just a bunch of steps and for so many people. If you and McKenzie will slice the breasts and pound them flat, I’ll show Akiko how to make herb butter, the key to the dish. Then we cover the inside with herb butter, roll the breasts up and sew up both ends to prevent the butter from running, that’s the tedious part, particularly with forty pieces. Get them coated with egg, flour and breadcrumbs, into the oven, voila.”
“Good, ready McKenzie?”
Redundant, she’s already sliced a half dozen breasts and is whacking them with the meat mallet. Soon enough, they’re in the oven. I deal with mashed, a lot of mashed considering our crowd. Then we’re ready to serve.
Elle, “Damn this is good, herb chicken, buttery mashed and down home green beans. Thank you chefs, is there more white left?”
Ellen, “Take the last of the bottle,” then to Grace B, “open another white.”
Grace B, “Of course Your Majesty, I get to tote and carry, you get to slop white wine.”
“You’re a bot, you don’t eat or drink anything.”
“Not the flipping point Miss Priss, please and thank you would be nice.”
Ellen, “Of course, please shut up and thank you for doing it.”
We laugh, the children think it’s particularly funny.
Grace B, “Everybody is a comedian, where is Sylk? She is usually good for a laugh.”
“After you fetch the wine, preferably before we finish eating, you can bring plates to Daphne and Daria on the couch, they had a rough time of it.”
“Yes Your Imperiousness, right away fascist bitch, and what is the pampered Emma B going to do?”
“Reprogram you as the Village Idiot if you don’t get busy.”
Grace B huffs off, she’s designed to be a bitchy smartass. Makes her more interesting.
She returns with the wine, opened, thunks it on the table, “If Your Laziness can manage it, how about you pour so I can get the real heroines fed,” she walks off without waiting for a reply.
Amaya, “Eloise, Sis and Daria did almost too good a job with that one, her tongue is almost as sharp as mine.”
Susan, “We made her a blend of you and Hit Girl. I wanted to do Ultra Violet but Chloe’s character in your screenplays doesn’t curse much, not at all really, only mild stuff, damn and hell.”
Amaya, “Foul language is the idiot’s way to compensate for stupidity, Chloe’s Ultra Violet is far more erudite, modeled after me of course.”
“Who could doubt it.”
“What’s on the future movie menu? Are you finished with Ultra Violet 3?”
“With the screenplay, yes. Almost done with hiring supporting cast.”
Susan, “Did you create a role for Matt?”
“Yes, similar to the UV 2 role, except he is older and is Director of the CIA. Chloe does not age in the films, she does not age in real life either but we ignore public questions about age. I address the issue in the screenplay by making her immortal, a gift for saving a Tibetan sorceress from the Communists. Better not to ask how that happens, I do not have a clue. The character performs an incantation, tells Chloe she will live forever; that’s as complicated as it needs to be, the virtue of movies, a few frames pass, the audience accepts what they are shown and told.”
Zoe C, “The audience wants to believe.”
“Precisely, they paid for the ticket, once that happens, they are invested. It works for later streaming because they paid for that too, Netflix or Amazon video for instance. Plus, the whole point is to show a strong female heroine, snappy dialogue, nothing smarmy, no filling up time with long chase scenes, absolutely no fumbling around in the dark where the audiences only hears but cannot see.”
“I can never understand why directors do those in the dark bits, a movie is a visual experience, looking at a dark screen makes no sense.”
Lauren, “I read about it, even the actors don’t like working that way, first they run into things trying to act in black, second, some of it is dumb. For instance, FBI raids a house, it’s nighttime, they search the premises with a flashlight in one hand over their drawn weapon. Talk about making yourself an easy target. Even more ridiculous is that they never just turn on the lights.”
Amaya, “Unimaginative directors fall back on the commonplace. I don’t hire unimaginative directors, some think of angles I did not. I am, though, the final authority on all aspects of the film.”
“What happens next?”
“Work should begin in a month, my location people are nailing down dates to film out of town. They deal with permits, any police or fire involvement, EMTs on hand to deal with injuries. It smoothes out because city administrations want their town in the movie, both the money we spend while we make it and the name recognition, particularly for smaller towns.”
“So not everything in LA.”
“No, not even half. This film goes to San Francisco, Salt Lake, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Jacksonville Florida.”
“What, no New York City?”
“There is no New York anymore, it is merely a playground for the ultra rich, either to live or to visit. New York has lost the real New York, now it is an exclusive Disneyland North.”
Natalie, “As I discovered when I worked for Goldman. Flew over for meetings, we flew first, a hire car collected us, we went to a private hotel, chauffeured to meetings followed by elaborate dinners with top shelf everything. The only real people I saw were the serving staff, everyone else was a corporate psychopath.”
I ask, “Even being ultra-rich didn’t dissuade you from moving to the left coast?”
Janah, “Nikko , Daria and Zi are our business managers. Nikko came to us with a proposal, essentially sell all the property we owned personally and the property management companies. She said if we liquidated we’d have so much cash we could bury a skyscraper. She also felt that, considering our very long lives, that one day Manhattan would be constantly flooding at the least, maybe inundated. Property is then worthless. The Chinese and Middle Easterners were throwing money at Manhattan like it was chump change. Prices per square foot got absurd, Nikko let them fight over bids, sold to the highest. I had a vague idea of what everything was worth, too vague, we were awash in capital. Nikko had trouble placing so much money in the stock and bond markets, that is, in a way that didn’t attract attention. The stock market had begun its recovery from 2009, Nikko made another absurd killing. Now our tax free income alone is staggering. Do I sound like I’m bragging? Don’t mean to, it’s meant as a compliment to our three business managers. I had nothing to do with it.”
Not exactly true, Janah and Daphne were close to Mrs. Fong in Manhattan’s Chinatown, she owned multi-millions in real estate, she left it all to them. Then the Epstein’s passed, first Dr. Epstein, then his wife, both of whom adored Janah and Daphne, more money, eight figures worth, plus a huge 5th avenue condo. Daphne’s mom made millions in her computer security services. Suffice it to say, Janah and Daphne’s tribe is worth multiple billions, not counting Amaya’s publishing and film mini-empire and Eloise’s drone business. The family gave her the money to do what she wanted, now they have a multi-million dollar drone leasing operation, a favorite of filmmakers and TV producers worldwide. The drones have patents ten feet deep and leasing allows Eloise to retain control over them all.
Nikko spends her time now managing the assets, mostly reviewing accounts and balance sheets, she trades hardly at all. Daria monitors dividends and income to the penny. The entire family doesn’t spend half of what Nikko generates in tax free income, the stack gets bigger every year. Daphne likes to say they’re stupid rich.
What she means is, even if they were stupid, it would be impossible to blow so much diversified capital. They aren’t stupid.