More of the mermaid story.
Sal finds more shark victims, the navy sees the pictures and Josh and Mera get ready to leave New York.
I was about as far away from the old neighborhood as I could get. The other three shark attack victim pairs had all been old money from the Gold coast. I suspected that if the families here had gone on after the various couples had closed the deal that there would have been big weddings in the society pages. These were the kind of families with big boats and huge houses where even my car would not attract attention except perhaps as being too gauche. I wondered what the usual cop on this beat drove as I passed a rattletrap old car from the teens driven by an aging man in an unkempt suit.
I pulled up to the first house and rang the bell. The butler answered.
“I’m Detective del Vecchio, I would like to speak to Mr. Elliott concerning the death of his daughter Virginia.”
“Come with me to the parlor and I will see if he can speak with you.”
As we walked toward the parlor I heard a splash in the pool in the back.
I heard yelling;
“Is it that Lt. Magelleno again! If I get another one of those “Just one more things!”
And a muffled explanation from the butler. I decided that I would have to look up Lt. Magelleno at some point.
“He will see you now.”
I followed the butler to Elliott’s office.
“Mr. Elliott, I’m Salvatore del Vecchio of the NYPD detached as part of the task force that is handling the chemical dumping case into the South Shore. As part of the follow up we are pursuing shark attacks that may have been caused by chemical manipulation. In the main case we had several instances where extortion attempts were made to people who were subsequently attacked.”
This was playing hopscotch in a minefield. You did it with a delicate and light step. And I didn’t want to piss these people off on the first visit. I decided that looking up Lt. Magelleno would probably be a good idea. And this was just the first stop.
After talking to Elliott and hearing that no attempts at trying to shake him down had been made, at least in the way I was used to I asked the butler on the way out how I could get in contact with Lt. Magelleno and the butler told me to check into homicide and gave me his number. If I was going to be dealing with these people it was a good idea to talk to the cop who worked the beat.
After talking to all six families I drove over to the police department where Magelleno had his office. He was in and willing to talk to me about his beat. Frank Magelleno was a detective who had been in the force before the war and after doing his time and being injured returned to the force as a detective. He had been on this beat for the last ten years and had built up a reputation of solid cases. I told him about my car and the Jimmy story.
“Frank what drives these people? I know how to deal with the people from the old neighborhoods but how do deal with people who can squash you like a bug?”
“Sal, it’s just like anybody else. It’s all about reputation and keeping up appearances. Those people will drop a million dollars and never miss it, but a little embarrassment and they’ll cave like anybody else. They all have things to hide just like anybody else. The best way to keep them from squashing you like a bug is to have them not take you seriously until it’s too late.”
I drove back to Bennies. The boss and Mary were going over a packet that Josh’s sister in law had wired down.
“Sal, your hypothesis about the sharks is confirmed. All of it.”
He handed me the pictures. The pictures started with a pretty young mermaid next to some driftwood, a young merman near the same driftwood, a construct of the kind that we had been trying to get pictures of for years, the young merman grabbing what appeared to be a Remington Model 10 shotgun, the construct dissolving, more constructs, pictures of sharks, pictures of dead sharks and dead people in the same places as the sharks and naked men and women, all of whom seemed to have been killed by the shotgun. There were also some more pictures that looked liked crime scene photos taken in the same places but the bodies had disappeared. Those we were all too familiar with.
“What carnage. In addition to the constructs, it looks like at least ten more people were killed.” “Eltra says that’s about right. She found eight bodies in the water and one on land. She also tasted a weird kind of blood in the water. From Tom’s report he only killed to protect Chrissie until the tide came back in and they were ready to leave.”
“Why was there a flashlight attached to the gun?”
“According to Tom, that was what saved their lives. He lost a flashlight doing search and rescue work during the storm and was playing around with the bayonet lug on the shotgun to see if he could attach a flashlight to a boathook. When he and Chrissie were setting up their little camp he brought the flashlight, with the gun still attached.”
I hadn’t met Tom yet but Mike had told stories about Tom and his brother. Apparently Tom still didn’t fold until it was over.
The boss started to put everything back together.
“Sal, Mike is typing up a summary for the book. Take his sheets and this packet up to the office tonight after dinner. I think we want this in the book soonest. I’m going to take Mary home and then drop into the office and get this going.”
“Sillia, should we go to dinner?”
She seemed pensive about something as we ate.
“Sillia, what’s wrong?”
“Sal, how much are you getting involved in the business?”
“Some, but it’s just troubleshooting and cleanup.”
“Do you think that it’s because of me?”
“Our bond, and daddy.”
“I think it’s more Vinnie than anything else. Vinnie was family and I wasn’t there when I should have been. Vinnie was attacked by these people for a reason and at this point if beating these people and making them pay means that I have to do things I hate, that comes with the job. Which is uglier than you know.”
“I’m just worried that you will become what you hate. That you could hate me.”
“Sillia, that won’t happen. The mere fact that you are letting me know your concerns and are worried about me is why it won’t.”
“I want to take that car to the beach and drag you under.”
“I’m working on that. Tomorrow’s Sunday. How about we go to my parent’s house and you see how they set it up. That way you can tell your parents about it. Tony’s been after me to push Dom toward building a pool.”
“And I can talk to your mother about clothes.”
“So that we can be discreet when we go back and talk the people you talked to today. Mera talked about it.”
“So it’s a date?”
After dinner I took Sillia down to the dock and kissed her good night.
“I will be back tomorrow to pick you up.”
I went back in and Mike had finished the packet up, so I took it back up to the office.
I dropped the packet on the desk.
“This is hot, Alex. Get it set up for Monday’s book.”
“What is it?”
“We got a break on the shark attacks. They picked the wrong guy to attack. And he took pictures while he was doing it.”
“He got pictures!”
“Yup. Both constructs and Changed.”
“Who is he. I want to shake his hand.”
Alex was going through the pictures.
“Wow these are great. And so is the report. ”
Steve came out with four envelopes in his hand.
“Here’s your pictures . You were right about these.”
I opened one of the envelopes and looked.
“These came out great. Thanks Steve.”
I went to my desk and called my parent to tell them that Sillia and I were coming by tomorrow and that we had pictures of the dance lessons.
“Fine dear. Mike was upset that he missed the show. Your father will park the car in front so that you can bring Sillia in quietly.”
The boss came in and we talked together with Alex about the stuff from Tom and then I went down, picked up the car and went back to my apartment.
“Mera, Mike, I think that we need to set a date to start back. I think that there’s going to be a bunch of stuff up there at the Cape that I, at least am going to need to be on top of and I think that things are winding down here for the moment”
“I was thinking Tuesday would be a good day to start. Al wants to see Nera about a fitting and I want to get together with Mary and finalize arrangements.” “Who’s Al”
“Helmut’s gun man. He wants to set up some guns for Nera.”
As far as I knew, Nera had never even seen a gun until recently.
“Yes he made some rather convincing arguments.”
“He did, Nera?”
“And Tom made the point today with those pictures. If Mike and I had been without a gun and in the same position as Tom and Chrissie we would have been killed. Tom, with a gun, was able to overcome and stay alive. I imagine that one reason that Tom took Chrissie up country was to start firearms training.”
“Mera what happened to Nera and who is this?”
“Mike, and this is the new Nera. Or maybe the Nera we never saw.”
“Ok, North Shore again or South Shore?”
“North Shore, we may want to stop by the navy yard.”
I thought of something.
“Mike, if you are with Nera and Al, could you see if you could get yourself a shotgun and some of those special shells. If those sharks turn up I want to be ready.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem. Isn’t there a gun on the boat?”
“No, I dropped it off at home because I knew that I was coming to NYC and I figured that not having one would avoid problems.”
The Sullivan Act was an annoyance and I didn’t want to have to deal with the problems that having a gun might cause. If the attack weren’t a surprise and I thought I needed a gun I had ways of acquiring one that Mike, in law or no, didn’t really need to know. Mike, as a Federal officer wouldn’t have those problems and I was concerned that the shark things would turn up with some of us in the water.
“Ok, well let me take us all down to the dock. I think that we want to talk to Sillia’s parents before we go to bed.”
After Sal dropped me off, I Swam down to find my parents. They needed to be brought up to date and I wanted to talk about Sal and how involved he should be in the business.
“Dad, Josh and Helmut had some interesting news today. It seems that the shark attacks were what Sal had speculated they were. The day before yesterday, Josh’s daughter and son in law, Chrissie and Tom, were attacked right after closing the deal.”
“Were they hurt?”
“No, mother, luckily Tom had brought a shotgun to the beach loaded with special shells that his brother in law Boris, who used to work with Mike had given him. He managed to destroy some constructs and kill a bunch of the sharks, which then Changed to human form afterword. Chrissie took pictures of most of it. Sal’s boss and Mary were very excited about the pictures.”
“Where are the pictures now?”
“Being put in the book. They, and Tom’s report, will be part of the Monday update. Josh’s sister in law sent them down from the Cape. Tom had apparently sent them down by mail, but he didn’t know about Josh’s sister in law because she lives under sea so he didn’t check in with her when he went to Vermont with Chrissie. From what Mera said I think that Tom was trying to forestall a feud before it started.”
“Tom sounds like a very capable young man.”
“From what I saw, scary capable. He killed at least ten of the weresharks and didn’t waste ammunition to do that. He also had an action plan that got Chrissie and himself off a small island while having to thwart attacks and keep a mermaid alive for hours while the tide came in enough that he could float his boat off.”
“Why didn’t they Swim?”
“Because then the sharks would have caught them. What I really want to talk about is Sal though. I’m worried how much the Change will change him. Mera thinks that it’s already started. What worries me is that Sal will become the thing he hates. That he might hate me because of it.”
“Dear, do you think that your father likes everything in the business? Or that the business is all bad? I got Sal involved because I trust him to know the good from the bad and I think that is what he will do. That is something that we, the fae of New York need done badly. What’s he been doing for the last two days?”
“Well yesterday he talked to Mr. Stelletti about Vinnie and the sharks and today he went out to talk to people on the Gold Coast. Mera says that he, and I will be the new royalty for this bower simply because of you and Uncle Mike.”
“I think that things are in flux right now, dear, but from the number of people with navy connections and the smuggling, those are the businesses that will support this bower. And both of those come through Sal right now. In fact Sal is at the center if a bunch of relationships and alliances. Apparently he’s looking to forge new ones as well.”
Mike, Nera and Mera showed up, followed shortly by Josh.
“Sillia has been telling us about the big news about your son in law. Were things as scary as she said.”
“Probably. How much did she tell you?”
“About the shark attack and the fact that they survived it”
“Yes. Actually things were scarier. With the best of intentions and based on what we knew, both Eltra and I screwed up. I should have had Mera sending up updates and we should have been looking for something like a shark attack after Lilly.”
“Don’t knock yourself Josh. Until Sal started to turn over rocks nobody would have believed in weresharks. From what Helmut and Mike have said these people are playing a deep game. Look how deep they penetrated the outfit without me even knowing about it until Sal started poking around. What did I do after Vinnie passed away. I cut myself off from Giovanni, even though we’d known each other since we were kids. I just couldn’t face Mabel after there had been so much hope with Vinnie and Cindy. I let our grief separate us rather than use it to bring us together. That is probably what the enemy wanted.
“Mera said that I should look into clothes again so that I can be discreet when I go out with Sal.”
“Well that too, but mostly when he deals with those new people up on the Gold Coast.”
“Stella would probably be better to talk to than I would because she’s still in public.”
“Sal is taking me there to see his old house tomorrow. He wants to show me the pool. Daddy, why haven’t you put in a pool for mom? Tony asked.”
“I was afraid that I would be seen as a freak.”
“By who? All the boys already know. They all want mother up top. Right now it looks as if you are hiding her away. And look at what almost happened. You know what, I’m going to talk to Sal’s dad and find out who they had install their pool. When mom lets you back up you are going to be talking to contractors. Or I will.”
“How? You don’t have any money.”
“Money’s the easy part. Ask Mera about that. And you told me to invest in Steletti metals back when Vinnie and Ynthia were going together. That paid off very well. Along with some other things that you talked about before my change. You didn’t cut off my allowance and since I couldn’t spend it on things down here, I did the smart thing and invested it. You’re getting a bed pool whether you like it or not!”
It was quiet on Sunday as I drove down to the dock and Sillia. It was one of those days that happen in mid November where it was actually warm and sunny. Still I brought a coat and a blanket for Sillia. I got to the dock and Mera and Josh were on the boat.
“Hi Mera, I have the dance lesson pictures.”
I handed the envelope over to her.
“These are great, except the one you took of me.”
‘Well, you weren’t out there dancing.”
“Come down tomorrow and I’ll dance for Helmut’s picture.”
“He’ll like that.”
“I know, and I think that he’s going to be a good friend. Let him know that that we’re taking the boat home on Tuesday. Josh needs to get back and we want to be up there when Tom comes back. ”
“Has he said when he was coming back?”
“Not yet. I don’t think he has any definite plans. ”
Mike and Nera’s heads popped up, followed shortly thereafter by Sillia’s and her parents’.”
“So are you letting Dom up, Tara?”
“Only to the boat so that we can talk and Bennies tomorrow for a farewell dinner with Josh, Mera and the rest. You’re invited along with Stella and your father.”
They all climbed into the boat. Dom looked much better than he had a couple of days ago.
“Sillia is going to give us a thorough report on the bed pool that Mike has set up. We’ve decided, whether Dom likes it or not, to put one in.”
“I like the idea, I’m just a little nervous about how it will look.”
“Dom, I’ve been hanging out with the boys at the office for the last few days and there isn’t a single one who hasn’t said that you should make arrangements for Tara. Tony and two other guys gave me connections to discreet contractors.”
“Sal when we’re done today, you give me those.”
“Dom, you’ve had to deal with that North Coast crowd. How do you do it? For the first time in my life I’ve never felt so out of place. I also talked to a detective on homicide and he had stories. ”
“You know him?”
“Not directly but there were some incidents up there and some of the boys got accused by the swells. Magelleno played the whole thing straight arrow. Made it clear to my people that he didn’t need to paid off to do his job and that his only interest was getting the right people. Which he did. Those people play by different rules but the big thing is that they are pretty much the same as anybody except that they only want to see their name in the papers three times outside the society pages. When they are born, when they get married and when they die. They live and die by the scandal.”
“Frank said the same thing.”
We talked a bit and then I put Sillia in the car and off we went.
“How fast can this car go?”
“Because Suzy and I got pulled over here the other day.”
I waved at O’Brian as we drove past.
“I want to stop by the outfit and drop some pictures off for Tony”
Tony wasn’t there, no big surprise as it was Sunday. I dropped his set of the pictures off and got back in the car. Then we drove over to the neighborhood and I put the car in the driveway. I was about to go and knock on the door but dad came out and opened the garage door.
“I hear you drive up. That car is rather distinctive.”
I drove in and got out of the car to carry Sillia over to the lift but she had already transferred herself over.
“I like this. Is the rest of it like this?”
“Pretty much, yes.”
Sillia rode the lift to the top of the stairs where dad brought up the wheel chair over.
“Welcome, Sillia. Let me show you around.”
The living room, where Cindy was working on her homework and listening to the radio was pretty much the same as when I was living there.
“It’s Sillia now.”
“Well when a few of us all Changed at the same time we sort tried to make our names more exotic and mermaidy and make ourselves more mysterious.”
“Did it work?”
“Well it worked with Sal for a while, but Vinnie knew who Cynthia was right away. I like Sillia better than Cece anyway.”
“Dad, since you and mom don’t use the room up there, what changes have you made?”
“Not really very many yet. I’ve turned Suzy’s room into an office for my consulting business, but not much more than that. Cindy is still using her room and I figured that I would keep your’s and Mark’s room until you found somebody. Have you and Sillia found a place?”
“Well, We haven’t had much time for that yet. With the legislation going through repealing prohibition, the outfit might have some waterfront properties that are more or less redundant and Mike was talking to your boys over at the yard about setting up some sort of discreet apartment for people with tails. The recent problems notwithstanding, a bunch of the boys at the yard are getting tired of the long commute or only seeing their wives on weekends.”
“I like how Suzy was set up, but that would only work as long as Sal still works for the Government. So much has happened that I’m not sure where Sal is going to end up. I want to look at different ways that people like us have setup and make the best choices. The wives living down below and husbands above worked when the husbands were watermen, but so many now work jobs away from the water or in places like the navy that it’s just not working very well. It doesn’t for dad and mom, though mom and I are going to fix it.”
We walked into the kitchen where mom was cooking using a sort of rolling stool. Sillia said;
“Mike, Stella, mom and dad have invited you down to Bennies for a farewell dinner with Mera, Josh, Mike, and Nera. Josh wants to get started back to the Cape on Tuesday.”
“Dad, I wanted to tell you before we got too deep into other things. You’ll see the pictures in tomorrow’s book and you’ll want to give the admiral’s people a heads up, but we got a break on the sharks yesterday. They went after somebody who was nastier than they were.”
“Mera’s son in law, Tom. Apparently, after the storm, Mera’s husband, Josh took Tom out to an island on Tom’s boat and sort of marooned him out there so that he and Josh’s daughter Chrissie could close the deal. Which they did. They were having the usual afterwords fun and games when they were rudely interrupted by some constructs and those sharks we keep seeing.”
“By sheer luck Tom had brought a shotgun loaded with the special shells that we use in the agency that his brother in law, Boris gave to him. He blew the constructs and ten of the sharks away while Chrissie took photos of the whole thing. Before I take Sillia to the beach I want to talk to Tom about how well a Model 10 works as a beach gun. When you see the pictures you will understand. He basically held them off Chrissie for six hours as the tide came in while she stayed wet in a tidal pool. They then got back in Tom’s boat and drove away.”
“Why didn’t they just Swim off?”
“Because the sharks would have killed them. Which could have been very bad if Tom’s family had gotten pissed off at Josh. Josh and Mera can tell you more tomorrow and show you the book. By the way here are the pictures of Mom, Sillia and Suzy dancing.”
“Wow I really missed a show. You looked wonderful dear.”
“When Nera comes back with Mike, we’re going to set up a regular exercise program. By the way, Mike you, the Admiral and Bob are going to be included along with Nera’s Mike. You all spend too much time on your legs and we are going to fix that.”
“At least I’m off the hook. I can’t Change”
“No you’re not, Sal! I’m going to fix that.”
I took Sillia back to the pool.
“Wow that looks wonderful. Can I get wet?’
“That’s why I brought you back here.”
She dropped in.
“I can hardly wait to get you someplace where we can close the deal so that we can share.”
“I’m working on it, but it’s a bit hard to discreetly ask if they have a salt water pool and I’ve been busy driving around for the investigation and dealing with the outfit. One thing I do know now is that if Tom and Chrissie’s closing of the deal was number one on the shark’s list we are more than likely number two.”
“I’m going down for a while, Why don’t you talk to your parents and I’ll be back out in ten minutes or so.”
I walked back into the kitchen.
“Sillia’s getting wet.”
“So what else have you been up to?”
“Mostly chasing after shark attacks. There were some of those people on the Gold Coast who had kids attacked the same way that Vinnie was but I don’t have hook yet that can let me find out what the angle is up there. I have to assume the bonds were for forming some sort of alliances but how they work and what they are, I don’t know and I can’t just go and blurt out that they are merfolk even though I am absolutely sure that that’s what they are. I talked to a homicide detective that works that beat about it but his approach probably won’t work for me. I did open a line with him about really weird cases. With those people I think that they would be perfectly fine with a werewolf in the house so long as he didn’t bite on family. I think that one family had a construct for a butler.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Well, mom, Sillia wants to talk to you about dresses so that she can up with me as sort of a discreet proof of our bonafides. To tell you the truth I never felt so out of place in my life and that was with the car. But if I’m going to be looking for the sort of stuff that I’m looking for I need to know how the social patterns work. It’s easy with the outfit, because I know the rules. With the swells I’m out of my depth.”
We talked some more and then Sillia came back out.
“Sillia, dear, Sal says that you would like to talk about clothes.”
“Yes, Mera was talking about how Sal and I might have to act as representatives for the family.”
“Like Mera and Josh have been doing?”
“Yes, Mera seems to think that our families have more or less become the royalty of the Rockaway bower. And that Sal and I would more or less be the representatives for the bower. Mother lives below and doesn’t wear clothes while you, Mabel and Ella still live above and need to conceal yourselves. So what do you do? It’s not as if we can walk into Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s.”
“Well no, but both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have catalog sales. And there are some fashion designers that like a challenge. And are looking for inspiration. Sal, dear, why don’t you and Mike go and go for a ride in your car while Sillia and I discuss this. ”
We had been given our orders. We went down to the garage got in the car. I backed out of the garage.
“Sillia seems worried about something.”
“I think that she’s concerned that I will get too involved with the business. And how that will affect our relationship.”
“How involved will you get?”
“I don’t know. For one thing I think the business is going to moderate and change. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Prohibition is doomed and that’s a big part of the business. I didn’t want this job but for some crazy reason it was stuck on me. To be honest it’s because of Vinnie more than Sillia. I do know that people got hurt because I wasn’t paying attention and the monsters got in and were able to operate inside the business because nobody was watching out for them and fighting monsters is what I do. If keeping the monsters away from me and mine means that I have to do a job that I hate, that’s the price I have to pay. Because that’s who we are.”
“You’ve grown a lot this week and I’m proud of you.”
“I’ve had to dad. It was that, or fail all the people I love.”
“Now what about Sillia’s and yours living arrangements.”
“It’s going to be hard. Especially dealing with the monster part. Because whatever’s behind what we’re dealing with isn’t going to stop at us. They will be after our families too. That’s one thing I’ve learned this week.”
Sillia seemed worried about something. More than just the pool or the clothes.
“Now that the men are gone, what’s really troubling you dear?”
“Mera said some things about Sal and what he and I are becoming. The thing is that the pictures of Tom’s battle with the sharks came in right after that and the pictures were brutal. Tom had to kill a bunch of people to survive. Is that what we might have to go through to be together?”
So that what was scaring her. She was worried that she might be in the same situation and that Sal would have to be as brutal as Tom apparently had had to be. Add to that the frustration of not being able to complete the bond.
“I don’t think you have to worry dear. Sal has fought monsters before. You should talk to Mary about that. I also think that he loves you far too much to treat your safety casually. That’s why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
“Working for the outfit?”
“The way I’ve been seeing it, it’s more of a case of the outfit working for him. He’s filling the hole that Vinnie left. It’s part of what we are dear. The responsibility that comes with the long life and the power of Change. Now let me talk to you about dresses and getting Dom under water from time to time. And arranging it so that Tara and I can visit.”
I couldn’t resolve all her issues, but at least I could help her move forward.
After Sal and Sillia left I had a long talk in the water with my wife, which led to other things. Stella was all for getting Dom under water more. And for pushing an exercise program. The next Morning, after Cindy was gotten ready for school I dropped Stella at the office where she worked with Bob’s and the Admiral’s wife on various things. I think that they were looking into a setup to provide for facilities for more merwives and to make it easier for merwives to work in the yard. Considering how Suzy was working out that wasn’t going to be hard. Spiro Kaliades really liked how she took notes on marine life for him when she wasn’t working on a ship.
After parking the car I walked over the admiral’s office to give a heads up to our N2 that the incoming book was going to be hot. Our N2, LT CDR. Tim Kirk had been in the naval attache’s office in just about every major country and was an underwater munitions specialist. Which was strange because he hated the water. But he knew his technology. And he had dealt with some of the weird and strange and was well aware of Swimmers if for no other reason than he used them and instructed them in his work.
“Tim, my son Sal gave me a heads up on today’s book. Apparently some hot stuff came in over the weekend concerning those strange shark attacks and he said that there would be pictures. I just wanted to pass that on. When it comes in, call me and I’ll give you and the admiral what Sal told me.”
“Ok, Mike. I’ll keep an eye out.”
Three hours later I got a call from the Admiral’s adjudant for an immediate meeting. In the meeting were Tim, Bob and the Admiral. The Admiral handed me the book. The first pages were facsimile pictures of a young mermaid, a young merman, some sort of weird agglomeration of fish, frog and man, the young merman firing what appeared to a Remington model 10 with a flashlight under the muzzle, more monsters and photos of sharks dead sharks, dead bodies where the sharks were, more dead bodies followed up by some photos that looked like they were taken by a crime scene photographer with no bodies.
“From what Sal said the sharks tried to put the bite on the wrong guy. It looks like he was right.”
“Who’s Tom Benton?
“According to Sal, Mera’s son in law and the son of the royalty of a very powerful fae family up in Vermont. That trench broom is what Tom used about ten years ago to kill his brother, who happened to be a werewolf at the time.”
I read the report that Tom had provided, and the additional report that seemed to come from Mera’s sister and an officer by the name of Jake O’Malley.
“What do you think?”
“Tim, I’m not an operator, but I thought that Tom did an incredible job keeping himself and Chrissie alive. I thought so when Sal told me about this yesterday. I also think that we should talk to Mera and Josh before they go up to Cape Cod. And that it might be time for Steve’s Hawaiian vacation to come to an end. He’s the best operator I know of, he’s Mera’s and Josh’s son, so he could probably put Tom at ease and get more out of him than anyone else.”
“Do you think that’s necessary?”
“Tim, I’m not the one to answer that question. But from what Sal told me, what we have here is the potential of a royal high fae in full war mode. Whoever tried to kill him made a big mistake by winding him up because if my grandmother from the old country was right, the only way to stop him is either to kill him or die. And as Tom has demonstrated, killing him is not going to be easy. The only saving graces we have right now is that A. he doesn’t have a target, B. that he’s new and inexperienced with his powers and abilities and C. that we are on the same side. Steve’s the best that I know of who can give us an assessment of the potential issues.” “Admiral?”
“I agree. Which is why I had the orders cut for Steve and his team to return from Hawaii before this meeting. I also agree with the assessment of why Tom was targeted. If these people are targeting alliances and trying to turn them into feuds or wars then these shark attacks just became a big deal. Fortunately the only new alliance on the table right now is your Sal and Sillia.”
“Sal has been looking into some North Shore attacks that were similar to Vinnie’s. As far as I know we don’t have any connections with the fae of the Sound, so stuff could be going on with them that we have no way of knowing about. This is more Sal’s agency’s bailiwick, but a lot of our people were caught up in this already.” “Playing “this isn’t my job” only does the other guys work for them. Bob, Mike, put the word out to your people that if they see anything that they think is unusual to report it to Tim’s people.”
“Ok, Admiral and I’ll run by your concerns with Mike and Mera at dinner tonight. I’ll also tell them to keep an eye out for Steve to show up for a visit in a couple of weeks.”
“Do you think that Mera would mind if I and Mabel joined you all for dinner tonight?”
“Honestly I don’t think it will be a problem, Admiral.”
“Good, because any excuse to eat at Bennies is a good one.”
I was going to have Helmut send a car, but Nera insisted that Mike Swim up and Mera wanted for us to Swim too. Since Mera made the appointment with Mary to have somebody pick us up at the government pier with some jackets and blankets, I didn’t really have much choice. Which made for an interesting Swim as we played dodgem with everything on the water as Mike was taking Nera sightseeing on their way up. After a close encounter with one of the Staten Island ferries I was getting tired of the whole thing by the time we met up with a smiling young agent who Nera called out by name. Apparently he had been part of the warehouse raid and slightly injured by some falling debris as he carried a filing cabinet away from the building. The car was behind a wall, so none of the tourists off to the Statue of Liberty saw us as we got in and the agent drove us over to the Federal office building where Helmut’s bureau was.
“Hi Mike, you brought Nera up!”
“Hi Al. Nera insisted. She also insisted that we Swim up. This is Mera’s husband Josh.” “Hi Josh, nice to meet you at last. We kept hearing good things about you from Mera. How come we didn’t see you earlier?”
“I was kept playing yo-yo by my relatives.”
“I’ve had that happen. Back in the war, running from one crisis to another and not being able to settle any of them. Lost a lot of friends that way. Nera, Mike, let’s get you down to the range and get started.”
Al took Mike and Nera away with him.
“He looked happy.”
“Look again. He keeps himself at work to keep from thinking about what he’s been through. And he’s fae, one of Mary’s orphans. ”
We were rolled into Mary’s station where Mary and Mera got right to work. I went inside and checked in with Helmut.
“Why the tail?”
“Mera insisted. I think that if she can, She’s going to be keeping me in tail all the way home.”
“Who’ll run the boat?”
“Mike and I will switch off. There’s a box set up that we’ve used before. It’s a pain in the tail, literally. Tom has a nice seat set up for Chrissie. Mera wants one and will probably push Tom for one when we get back. For that matter, I’ve had to work the boat Changed in the past and I want one too. Anything else in the book other than Tom’s stuff?”
“Sal’s visits to the Gold Coast crowd and some interesting connections and hardware.”
I thumbed through the book.
“I tried to make some connections with the Long Island Sound bower and they gave me the brush off. The Rockaway people were easier because of Mera’s aunt.”
“Whole communities could die in secret and we might never find out about it. Sort of the same thing that Roscoe found over in Europe. We really need to open up with those people.”
“At least now you have something concrete to show them. Burned buildings and spots on the floor aren’t proof , but those pictures tell a different story. I just hope that Tom didn’t pay too high price to get them. At least he and Chrissie are together and that’s going to make a huge difference.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well Mera has two brothers and two sisters, but there was a time that she had three brothers. Around about the time of the Revolution some Dark Fae went on the warpath and attacked the bower. Mera’s older brother was Noro’s general and he went on war mode and didn’t stop until all the dark fae were dead. Then he killed himself in shame for the innocent deaths that were collateral damage. His bonded wife committed suicide soon after. When Noro made me his general he made me promise that under no circumstances would I fight in such a way that the only options were victory or death. He didn’t want to pay that price again. Ever since then he’s taken steps to make the bower stronger by having low fae intermarry and participating in the community. And making alliances with other fae. Once he got over the shock of Mera and me he’s been using me as sounding board ever since. Once those shark pics get around, and they will, every boat on the Cape is going to be looking for strange sharks. Chrissie is very popular on the water whether she knows it or not and so is Noro.”
“I think though that Tom may have started to go into war mode. I think that he got dangerously close to that with his brother and that’s why his parents didn’t tell him about the possibility to Change and sort of kept him out of the community until he bonded. As for Tom’s brother, well you saw what happened there. Who knows how many more were created in that war. Or what else was created in the chaos. And what’s happened since. With the Fae gone in Europe something has filled the vacuum and what that something is likely to be ugly and dark.”
“Josh, I’ve been fighting these battles for a long time. Since I was created in fact. Mary and I were there for the beginning and we got out to over here. Mary lost her bonded to war and she’s been determined to fight, not just the fae who killed her bonded but the dark, ever since. We tried to reach out to Tom, but we couldn’t make the connection. We got lucky and Chrissie bonded with him. I got lucky and Mike found Nera. You were right about my top down approach. The problem was that I was scared. Scared of what might happen with my people.”
“It’s worked out, hasn’t it? With Boris, Mike and now Sal.”
“Yes it has.”
“As Mera has probably told you, our bonding was more than a bit of an ordeal. Not helped by just about everybody involved until John Warshowski suggested to Noro that they maroon Mera and I until we resolved things. Which Mera worked very hard to make me very happy to do.
Because it worked so well for Mera and me, I did the same thing with Tom and Chrissie. Which could have been a real disaster. Fortunately, Tom is too good with engines and has been around them for long enough to know that he needed to keep spares on the boat for things like ignition coils and spark plugs. And that he keeps guns close to hand. I also owe your Boris a big favor for handing those shells over. That saved us all. I just hope that Chrissie can keep Tom happy until I can get this war fought, my way.”
“Are we part of that?”
“A big part. Along with Sal’s friends and anybody else I and Mera can find to play. I haven’t sent my son Steve anything about this yet, but since Sal has more than likely told his dad, who has told his boss, we’ll probably be seeing him shortly. When it comes to being an operator in this sort of thing he’s about as good as it gets. When it comes to war it’s better to use professionals. None of this lone wolf hero crap.”
The chapters so far.
Chapter 4, part 1(Now chapter 5.)
Chapter 5, part 2.
Chapter 5, part 3.
Chapter 6 part 1.