Mermaid Chapter 7, End

Here’s the end of Chapter 7. This is where the Manager learns Nathan Bedford Forrest’s maxim about the “fustust and mostus.” And everybody else starts to talk to Tom about the island.

For inspiration, here’s a John R Neil cover from L Frank Baum’s The Sea Faries.


More here;
https://alancook.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/john-r-neill-artwork-the-sea-fairies-part-i/
https://alancook.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/john-r-neill-artwork-the-sea-fairies-part-ii/
https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/art-of-the-week-john-r-neill-the-royal-illustrator-of-oz/
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sea_Fairies
The book here;
http://www.archive.org/stream/seafairies00baum#page/n0/mode/2up


 

Tom.

This was the day that worried me. Once South of Boston my options were narrowed by the fact that there were two bridges but the same road from Boston led to both of them. The good thing was that the road led along the coast, which was good for stopping to wet Chrissie’s gills, but it made it likely that whoever was looking for me could just wait along the road for me to show up. This was my worry as we crawled out of the water, dressed and went with my parents to a diner for breakfast . I took out a map and said; “Father, I’m concerned about our stop south of Boston. There’s really only one way that we can go. See, here’s route 3 through Plymouth. If need to stop to wet Chrissie’s gills we have to stop somewhere along here. That would be a good place for people to find us if they are looking. Let’s make an early stop South of Salem and that way if we do have to stop it’s, right near or on the Cape.”

“Well, I wouldn’t worry too much. You are not alone now and your friends know that you are coming and your enemies do not.  Your mother and I are not without skills and we will sense trouble as it comes.”

Chrissie said; “Tom, your mother could drive your truck and we could Swim through the canal. I used to race through with the tide with my friends until grandpa put his fin down because he didn’t want anybody getting hurt. My friends still do it but I had to “set an example. Of course by that time I had other interests.”

“What, Chrissie?”

“You, silly. Anyway we don’t really need to worry about threats from the land.”

“What if the sharks show up?”

“From Long Island? For a maybe? Actually if they left their cars on Montauk like they did we would already know.”

“Why?”

“Daddy’s connections. Frankly anybody trying to hurt me anywhere near the Cape, up top or down below is really asking for a long trip in a boat and being tied to a cement block and dropped in deep water. Some of daddy’s friends do not play around where family is concerned.”

“Father, I joked about Stephie and her ability to conceal herself, but is there a way that fae can conceal themselves from other fae?”

“A fae of great skill can, but it’s very difficult and if they slip even for a very short period of time it’s almost impossible to recover because doing that attracts attention all on its own. For instance you sense Stephie all the time now even if she were being invisible to others. Unless, of course you are asleep. For that matter, even invisibility is the same way.”

“Well anyway, let’s plan to stop South of Salem for a short Swim.”

“Well that means that I can get more pictures.”

After breakfast I took the model 10 out of the truck, loaded it with specials and put it behind the seat in the truck. Then I did the same for the .45 along with the spare magazine and put them under the dash. I hoped that I wouldn’t need them, but I had this feeling that I might. I put Chrissie in the truck and we got onto the road.

The trip down through Boston went as planned with the break near Marblehead for our Swim and Chrissie taking pictures all the way as we finally passed through Duxbury toward Plymouth. Suddenly Chrissie said; “Steve? Tom I think we want to stop here.”

As she said that I felt a bunch of strange fae in the motel that we were passing. I asked; “Who’s Steve?”

“My brother. Pull in.” I made a left hand turn and turned into the driveway. A man in a navy uniform reached into the truck to hug Chrissie and said; “Hi sis.  So this is Tom.”

Chrissie said; “Why are you here?”

“You, sis, and Tom here. You’ve done the family proud with this one. I was ordered to come out and talk to Tom and I figured that I would intercept you on the way down and give you an escort back home.”

“Tom, this is my brother Steve. Steve this is my bonded, Tom. His parents are right behind us.”

My father noticed us in the parking lot and pulled in behind us; “Tom, what’s going on?”

Chrissie said; “Eric, this is my brother Steve. Steve, this Eric and Greta; Tom’s parents.”

“I’m pleased to meet you.”

Eric said; “So what brings you out here?”

“Well I’m here to talk to Tom and Chrissie about their adventure on the island and the sharks involved.”

“It’s bigger than that.”

“I know, somehow my family tends to have stuff like this happen.”

“So what’s the plan?”

“Tom, right now we’re waiting on your friend Mike and one of his people. I think that’s them now.”

A huge roadster pulled into the driveway.

“Tom! We caught up with you!”

It was Mike and somebody I didn’t know. He looked much better than when I had seen him three weeks ago.

“Hi, Mike. Who’s this and where did you get that car?”

“This is Sal, and the car comes from our undercover clandestine vehicle pool. Sal’s been using it with his work with the mob.”

“Sal from the book? You found out a bunch about the sharks I killed. I’m glad to meet you.”

“And you shot a lot of those sharks. More importantly you got pictures. Which means that I am REALLY glad to meet you. Until you got those pictures everything I had was speculation.”

“That was luck. Chrissie wanted pictures of me. So we went up top and took them.”

“That’s the kind of luck you make. We’ve been trying to get pictures of the other side for years and failed for the most part. Or lost people before the pictures could get to us. You not only got the pictures, you got them out. That wasn’t luck.”

I asked; “So what’s the plan?”

Mike had that planned out; “Tom, Josh is coming up through the canal in the boat he brought Sal over from Long Island in. We’re planning a shell game. We all get together for lunch with Chrissie’s parents, my bonded, Nera, Sal’s bonded,Sillia and some of Chrissie’s friends who are Swimming up through the canal with the tide on the Long Beach. You, and some of Steve’s people will Swim back down the tide with Chrissie’s friends to a boat waiting on the other end.”

“Josh’s boat?”

“No, yours. Joe put it back in the water last night with the new wheel. He’s going to be running it”

“What’s special about Tom’s boat?”

“Steve, from what Josh said about it, it’s one of the fastest boats on the water right now. It’s a former rum runner. It’s also fairly anonymous until the engine opens up. So it’s pretty much invisible, but it gets around quick.”

I asked; “What about the sharks?”

Mike said; “Tom, from what Sal has said there were never very many in the first place and from what we’ve been able to find out been able to find out you’re safer in the water right now because you managed to pretty much decimate them. Let’s get on the road and talk about this on the beach.”

We drove down the road and turned to the end of the beach. We passed a guard shack that was used in the summer to collect fares from the beach goers and was usually closed in the off season, but had two beach patrol officers who waved us past and we passed a large car with two hard faced men in it as we ran up the road behind the beach spur that went up along the coast. There, was a medium sized motor yacht anchored offshore and some people both with tails and without on the beach. Chrissie yelled out; “Hi mom!”

There was the woman that I had seen in Josh’s boat what seemed like a lifetime ago. Chrissie said; “Tom, pick me up and take me over so that you can meet mother.”

I picked Chrissie up and took her over to the blanket where her mother was tending the fire for a bake along with two other women in long dresses. I put her down on the blanket. As I set Chrissie down, Mera said; “Hello, Tom, we meet officially, at last. This is Nera and Sillia, Sal’s bonded.”

Chrissie added “Tom, this is my mother, Mera.”

“Pleased to meet you all.”

My parents came up and Josh came over. I said; “Josh, Mera, meet my parents, Eric and Greta. Father, mother, these are Chrissie’s parents, Josh and Mera. ”

Mother said; ”Mera, I am so pleased to meet you at last. We have much to discuss.”

One of Josh’s people brought a folding deck chair over for mother and she and Mera started talking as if they were old friends. Mike came over, sat down next to Nera and said; “Nera and I bonded as a result of my visit to you, Tom. I released Chrissie from one of your pots and Nera picked up on me.”

“Is that when you took that picture of Josh and Chrissie?”

“You’ve seen that?”

“It was in the book that Boris gave me. I want a print.”

“The briefing book?”

“Yes. It explained a lot that I didn’t understand about what happened. The sharks just sort of appeared and then the monster things.”

“Why did you leave the water in the first place. I know from personal experience that one’s interest isn’t on leaving the water.  Sal did, but that was because he and Sillia planned it that way.”

“Well ever since my brother I’ve been sensitive to the potential for monsters. Chrissie would probably say too sensitive, but there was a shark that kept hanging around that didn’t seem to make sense and didn’t feel right. It kept following us around and it never seemed to be interested in anything else. So Chrissie suggested that we go up top and take some pictures of my Change for mother.”

“Why did you have the camera?”

“When I went up to Vermont while Josh went down to New York, mother asked me for pictures of Chrissie. When Josh took me out to the island after the storm, the camera was on the boat. I took it down with me along with some other things when Chrissie and I got together and I took the pictures mother wanted. Which is why the first pictures in that set are of Chrissie.  When the shark first started hanging around, Chrissie suggested that we get some pictures of me in Change, then we spent some time up top and I fixed the boat. We went back to the camp where the monsters showed up.”

“And you shot them. Why did you have the gun?”

“The flashlight. During the storm I lost my primary flashlight because I was trying to use both the flashlight and the boathook during a rescue and it fell overboard.  After dropping Chrissie and her grandfather off at the bower I went back to my slip and was thinking about ways to attach a flashlight to a boathook. Since the gun had a bayonet lug I used the bayonet lug to attach the flashlight since I didn’t want to bring the boathook into the cabin and the shotgun had the bayonet lug already attached.  So I used a couple of hose clamps from my spares box to attach the flashlight to the gun as an experiment and since I had a nasty feeling of something bad coming I loaded it with the specials that Boris gave me when I put it away.   Then when I collecting stuff for our camp I thought I might need a flashlight and I was in a hurry to get back to Chrissie, so I brought it, gun and all. Which saved Chrissie’s and my life.”

Sal sked; “Would you have gone back in the water if the constructs hadn’t shown up?”

“We’d been going into and out the water already. On the other hand we could see the sharks by that point and were slipping in and out to avoid them. We weren’t spending enough time in the water to let them set up an attack.  Once it was obvious that there was a pack of sharks there was no way that I would let Chrissie in the water unprotected. My thinking by that point was to take the boat and use it to go faster than the sharks and be elsewhere for our next Swim. If the sharks had gone away nobody would have gotten hurt. Instead they kept coming. Even after they knew I had the gun.”

“What would you have done if you hadn’t had the gun when the construct showed up?”

“Sal, I don’t know. Changed and grabbed Chrissie to run.  Grabbed the lantern and smashed it its feet, grabbed a chunk of driftwood to stick it with. The gun was the first thing I reached for.”

“So you wouldn’t have just run right back into the water?’

“Probably not. By the time the constructs, is that what they were, showed up, the sharks had already been getting more aggressive. Or at least the one we had been seeing had. By that time we were already nervous about what was going on.  At least I was.  The shark gave me the same kind of vibe that my brother had, the feeling that things weren’t right. Have you guys run into that?”

Sal said; “I did with the construct that attacked me the first time. Though with a construct, at least the ones that look like monsters you don’t need to feel them.  I didn’t understand it at the time.  I sort of felt the same thing the other day in Big Jim’s office when the zombies showed up.  I knew that they were wrong even before they came through the door. Of course in that case they came in shooting.”

Mike said; “Boris might know more about it since he Changed before we met the werewolves and I didn’t until I met Nera, but there were a couple of times that I could feel the werewolves nearby when we were chasing them. At least once it saved my life as your brother came back at us with the pack. Since then I’ve felt vampires and zombies a bit before I knew that they were there and that’s gotten me out of a few sticky situations in the past.”

Out on the water three heads popped up. Chrissie yelled out; “Hi Vilia, Selia, Hali!! Come on over.”

Mera said; “Steve, could you send some men down to bring the girls up?”

Steve sent three smiling seamen down to pick the girls up and carry them back up the beach. As they were bringing the girls back up the beach, Mera said; “I think that lunch is about ready.”

Two more heads popped up and Nera called out; “Al, Eltra, Tom is here and lunch is ready so come on up!”

The man Changed and picked up the mermaid and came up the beach. As they came up, Mike said; “Tom, meet Al, our armory officer and his newly bonded, Eltra.”

I said; “Congatulations. I think I have some pistols for you when we get to the Cape. Larry wanted me to hand deliver them since I was coming down here anyway so I’ll drop them off at your place when we get back.”

Steve said; “Mike’s boss was telling us about the stuff you were doing with guns. I’d like to see what you did. We haven’t been able to convince the people at ordnance that Change requires special guns and they haven’t wanted to put up the money for doing any kind of testing. They also don’t like it when we break the  perfectly good guns that they issue us. Especially when they are expensive because they have things like stainless steel frames”

Al said; “I saw the frame you did because Larry sent a picture down when I sent up the RFQ, but he hadn’t finished the first gun you did when he sent the quote back. Why don’t you bring it over.”

I said; “I’ll bring them right over.” My new shop was going to need work and I had the fixtures to do all the machining for 1911 frames already. For that matter, I had shown the boys how to do the setups for that stuff before I left so that they could do guns for Larry when he needed them. If Steve could have Colt send me the stainless frames I could do the work and it would be a good start for my shop.  I went over to my truck, picked up the shotgun and set it aside, picked up the pistol, slipped the magazine out and put the magazine and the pistol in my pocket, went to the back of the truck to get my rifle case and carried it in one hand and the shotgun in the other back to where Mike, Al  and Steve were sitting with Nera and Eltra. I sat down again as Josh and his people, along with mother started handing out plates.  I handed the pistol to Al and said; “I haven’t done any work to smooth the action or tune it yet so it’s still fairly rough.  Larry did some of it, but he knows that I usually do mine anyway. The two I have for you haven’t had anything done at all as Larry said that you wanted to do that work yourself.”

Al Changed and checked the chamber before pointing the pistol at the dune in back and working the action and trigger. He said; “I haven’t tried to shoot with my Change yet because Eltra and I have been occupied with other things, but I can see how this would work better. This looks like good work, even if you hurried. Nera you fired some pistols down at my range, what do you think?”

He handed the pistol to Nera who did the same thing and said; “Tom, this works much better than trying to fit your fingers with the trigger guard. Mike, get undressed, Change and tell me what you think.”

Mike took his clothes off, Changed and Nera handed the pistol to him. He checked the chamber and dry fired it and said; “I haven’t tried to fire a normal pistol Changed yet, but this works very well. I wonder how it would work underwater.”

I said; “Not very well. Chrissie asked the same question and I had some time and tools in Vernont so I tried it out with the .22 that Larry modified for Chrissie and a .38 that I cut the bottom of the trigger guard off of so that I could teach Chrissie how to shoot a pistol. Chrissie took some pictures of the skillet I used as a target and the setup and I’ll do a writeup for you and Al because Boris said that you would want one. To make a long story short, unless the gun is in contact with the target, it’s not going to be of any use. Maybe you could put a cartridge on the end of a spear or something.”

I racked the shells out of the shotgun and handed it to Al and said; “I modified the trigger guard on this Model 10 and it seems to work fairly well. I tuned the gun, but I haven’t tried it for very long while Changed in Vermont.”

Al worked the trigger and said; “You were a busy fellow up there.”

“I think it was a case of me not wanting to feel so helpless. I was doing what I could do to keep Chrissie safe. I like doing that sort of stuff anyway and I got the chance to use my old shop which I’m going to miss until I get the new one going.”

“This is good work even if you were just fooling around. I’ve always wondered just how much was Larry and how much was you.” “It was both. Larry worked with me as I did stuff and I learned a lot of the general gunsmith stuff.  But I also did more with machining than Larry does, which in the end saved a lot of time on the guns.  Here’s something that’s all me.  I built it two years ago when I was trying to get my shop business going.” I opened the rifle’s case and took out the .30-06 and handed it to Al. “I built this as a way to show off what I could do.  I also did the machining for another one for Larry to show around as a sample.”

Al worked the bolt and the action and said; “This is a very nice piece to look at, but how does it shoot?”

“I got consistent 3 inch groups at 300 yards and won a couple of competitions with it. When I bench tested it the groups were less than an inch, so the rifle is better than I am, or I was as I haven’t practiced for a while.”

Al handed the rifle to Steve and said; “Who did the stock work?”

“I did. The checkering was a pain and I ruined some hard wood and an old stock learning how but I wanted the rifle to look as good as it could.”

Mother came around, handed loaded plates to Mike and Nera and said; “Tom dear, why don’t you get plates for you and Chrissie. I’m getting plates for Al and Eltra.”

Chrissie was with her mother, just finishing serving the last bunch of Steve’s people, with Steve’s ensign taking a plate over to one of Chrissie’s friends. Mera handed two plated loaded up to mother who took them over to Al and Eltra as Steve came over and got a plate from Chrissie who said; “I think that’s everybody, Tom take me over next to Sillia and then get our plates.”

Sillia had been taking pictures all along as had Chrissie and I think that Chrissie wanted to compare notes and plan to share the pictures.  I carried her to where Sillia was talking to Chrissie’s friends who had come up through the canal and went back to Mera for our plates. As Mera handed the plates to me she said; “Tom dear, after lunch, why don’t you and Chrissie go for a short Swim with Josh and I to wet our gills and talk a little.”

“Won’t that be dangerous?”

“Al and Eltra never saw a whiff of a shark and they had some fun and games in different places to spread the scent around. Mike and Nera are going in just before we are with Sal and Sillia. The idea is to confuse the other side about what we plan to do as much as possible.”

“I’ll pack up my things again before we go into the water.”

“Don’t. I’ll have Steve and Josh deal with that when we leave. That way, if anybody is looking they won’t be expecting you to leave until after you were gone.”

I took the plates down to Chrissie and said; “Did your mother tell you what was up?”

“Yes, we planned this together. Somehow I have this feeling we’re are being watched.”

“I do too, but I’m still very new at this. Sillia have you picked up anything?”

“Tom, other than the same thing you and Chrissie are feeling, no. But there is something out there.”

We talked together and Sal came by and told us his story about the mobster Jimmy the Nose who Sillia called Jimmy the Jerk and how Jimmy couldn’t get his head around the fact that Sal was driving his car and still be a cop. Al came over and they did the routine with Mike playing Jimmy and it was hilarious. Sillia mentioned that Sal’s mom had already spread the story all over their old neighborhood. I sort of felt sorry for Jimmy but it seemed like everybody that knew him thought he deserved it. Chrissie told her friends about the farm and Bob and Scott, whom the other girls seemed to be very interested in as apparently there was a shortage of boys who were not “slugs” as Chrissie put it. I put in a good word about Bob and Scott and said to Chrissie; “Is that why you latched on to me?”

“Well that was one reason. Right from the start I knew that you were special and just right for me. At least until that incident with the boathook.”

Hali asked; “What incident with the boathook?”

I said; “when Chrissie showed up in my boat one night, Josh and I had had a couple of drinks and I wasn’t really sure what she was, so I reached for my boathook just in case and Chrissie jumped right back in the water. My only experience with Change at that point was my brother’s as a werewolf and I was a little scared and trying to play it safe.  Of course it didn’t work as I went over to Josh’s boat, she was there and caught me anyway.”

“Not at first, not entirely.”

Vilia asked; “Is that why you were so upset a couple of weeks ago, before the storm?”

Chrissie said; “Yes, I was sort of out of it. Which is why I talked to grandfather, who was REALLY out of it.”

Selia asked; “Tom, why did you leave?”

“Just before my first beach party with Chrissie my dad sent down a telegram saying that there was a family emergency and that I needed to come up right away. I hadn’t understood the implications of Change and what Chrissie planned so I sent a reply saying that I was coming right up. When Chrissie and I failed to close the deal I went up to deal with the emergency and start to bring my shop down.”

Mike went by undressed and carrying Nera and said to Sal; “It’s time that we got wet. Come on.”

Sal and Sillia undressed and went down to the water with Mike and Nera.

Selia asked; “So what was the family emergency?”

“Me, actually. My family wanted to finally let me know that I was likely to Change and what that meant.  While that was wonderful, the timing was just a little off. Of course I had no way to tell Chrissie that I was going so that created all sorts of misunderstandings.”

“Why didn’t you just send her a telegram?”

“Under sea? I didn’t know that you could. Of course there are a lot of things under sea that I don’t understand yet.”

Chrissie said; “You’ll learn. I will teach and we will learn, together.”

She reached over and kissed me. Then she grabbed the camera, handed it to me and said; “take our picture.”

So I did. I handed the camera back and said; “Have you been taking a lot of pictures?”

“Oh yes, I can hardly wait to get them developed. I especially like getting pictures of mom.”

She had handed five rolls to a smiling George to develop before we left and asked him for five more. George had promised to send the pictures down and said that when Chrissie came up again he would show her how to set up a darkroom for herself.

Ensign Delios came by and started to talk to Hali. It had been obvious that there was some interest in both directions and Hali had been asking questions about Virgina and Hawaii.  Sal and Mike came back out of the water, picked Nera and Sillia up and went over to talk to father and mother as Josh came by with Mera and said; “Chrissie ready to get wet?”

“Yes dad. Let’s go, Tom.”

I undressed, picked Chrissie up and carried her into the water. As we Swam down Mera said; “I can’t tell you how proud we are of you, Tom.  You’ve handled this every well.”

Josh said; “ I want to apologize for marooning you. That was a mistake.”

I said; “Josh, there wasn’t any way for you to know. I’ve been through the briefing book and until they showed up there was no way that anybody could have expected the sharks. For that matter I wasn’t marooned unless I wanted to be. If you hadn’t taken me out there, I was going to take the boat out and chase after Chrissie anyway and since she was out on that island already, that’s where we would have ended up.  At least this way you and Eltra knew where we were and Eltra could keep an eye on us.  The only thing that would have changed a thing would have been to let me know that Eltra was out there and who knows how that would have ended up?”

“So what do you plan to do now?”

“Well there’s that empty place across from my shop and I think that I’ll ask old man Georges how much he wants to rent it for. Then I’ll move my pots and get them fixed up for next year.”

Josh said; “Joe is already setting that up for you, him, Chrissie and Moira.”

“Moira?”

“When you see her this afternoon, you will understand. Moira has had some Changes recently.”

Mera said; “Be prepared for the wedding.”

Chrissie said; “What wedding?” “Oh, no. We hadn’t told you yet.  We’ve got a big wedding planned for you and Tom next month. Along with Nera and Eltra now.”

I said; “When did this happen? From what everybody’s said, high fae don’t normally do weddings.”

Mera said; “We don’t, but we needed a reason to get the various families together and the timing was right. Anyway, the way things have been lately we all need a celebration.”

Josh said; “By the way the other side is planning to rain on our party. They seem to be waiting for something. Probably our friends the sharks.  We’re hoping that you and Chrissie will be gone before they kick things off and I’ve already told Steve, who picked up on the same things that Mera, Eric, Greta and I did. I’ve told Sal and Mike as well. Still, be alert and ready.”

“I‘ve felt that something wasn’t quite right. What happened to the sharks?”

“Noro, John and Jake. The beach patrol shut down the beaches across from here to car traffic, Jake has patrols all over the place looking for strange drivers in fancy cars and the word out to the toll takers on the bridges to keep an eye out for a bunch of fancy cars with New York plates. Jake even has officers with cameras at the Bourne Bridge which is having emergency repair work done with a closed lane and by strange coincidence the Sagamore Bridge stuck open right after I passed under it with the yacht. So, more than likely right now, they’re chasing around in an area they aren’t familiar with, looking for a beach that isn’t blocked off while having traffic cops follow their every move. Jake figures that if they get too upset before they leave he can collect a bundle in traffic fines and maybe lock some of them up for a while. The Sagamore Bridge is closed and the Bourne Bridge is backed up so that they can’t make it back to the land side of the Cape. On this side, Ray has a couple of more cars out with some rather tough characters patrolling the beach entrances.  You saw the car in the way in.  There’s no way they are going to make it near a beach near my daughter again.”

“So what else are they sending?”

“It looks like constructs and zombies. We passed some recently dead in the beach patrol shack on the way in and I’ve been sensing somebody up North, though she doesn’t seem to be twisted.  Mera, perhaps you and Greta can convince her to leave before I can no longer ignore her. Even if she launches her constructs it doesn’t do much more than give Sal things to shoot at and Sillia to photograph. If the point of this was to punish Tom and Chrissie for taking pictures they just made a big mistake.  The thing in the beach patrol shack is a lost cause and I’ve told Al to use your rifle, Tom, to blow his head off and if he escapes that, I’m calling in a sweep and we’re going on a hunt. Either way that sick bastard gets it.”

Before I had hooked up with Chrissie I had been warned to never really piss Josh off. I was beginning to see why.

Josh said; “I think it’s time we went back up top. If you sense anything or I give the signal, you, Steve’s people and the girls leave for the canal. This isn’t your fight. Anyway plan to go Swimming down the canal in about an hour and have fun.”

Chrissie said; “Its Tom’s first time, should we worry about staying deep?”

“I wouldn’t worry this time of year. It’s all going to be watermen and locals who already know.”

We went back up top and I carried Chrissie over to her cousins who had apparently convinced Ensign Delios and two of his seamen to join them on a race through the Cape Cod Canal with us to meet up with Joe and Noro in my boat on the other end. Steve had asked for volunteers and apparently this was not a hardship duty as all three were unbonded. We had been talking and Ensign Delios was a new Anapolis graduate and chemical warfare specialist while Seaman Davies was hand to hand combat and Seaman Lisowski was underwater ordnance. All three of them were interested in my experiments up at the farm and we made arrangements to get together with some people that Lisowski knew over at the topedo station to do some more rigorous testing. Hali had been watching the tide and said; “It’s time to go!”

We started toward the water just as Josh whistled, pointed toward the water and I felt something twist. I carried Chrissie into the water as the navy people carried the girls in and then all four of us Changed and dived in with them. The tide carried us down through the canal as we Swam just fast enough to keep ahead of it and at the other end there was Joe and Noro with my boat. We all clambered aboard and we were on our way home, at last.

 

Gull.

I stood at the North end of the long beach and looked down at a disaster in the making. I had carefully collected the ten large fish and gulls I needed to launch all the constructs that I had seeds for.  They were ready to go.  And the Necromancer had suborned five beach patrol officers and they were going to be on the way from the land.  The Alopias were supposed to cover the water but they hadn’t shown up. Still what we had should have been enough to overwhelm one young fae even if he was good with guns and everything we had had said that it wasn’t likely he had more specials. Then the yacht showed up and on it were a bunch of royal fae and men with guns. The people from the yacht came ashore and started to build a picnic right where we had expected the young fae to wet his partner’s gills. Then a car from the mob showed up with two more men with guns and stopped beside the road. The picnic was heating up when the targets arrived in a parade of cars with yet two more royal fae, the young man in the car who had done so much damage to our operations in Brooklyn with another man and what appeared to be a navy strike team. The young man in the car hugged a young mermaid who was taking pictures with the kind of camera that newsmen used.  Considering that the young man with the car and his partner worked for the opposition it was certain that they would have guns loaded with specials.  I didn’t know about the navy people but with two sets of royal fae and the mob involved this was a very bad thing already. The target went over to his truck and came back with a case and a shotgun of the same kind that he had used on the island.  He handed a pistol to a merman who looked at it and handed it to a mermaid as the target emptied the shotgun of its all brass cases of the kind that were all too often special shells and handed it to the merman who passed the gun around. Apparently they were discussing guns as the target opened the case and took out the kind of rifle that you would use to shoot a very long way away. It was obvious that this group of fae at least were experienced with guns, though what merfolk needed guns for was a mystery.  I could smell the clams and lobster from the bake and my stomach growled as I watched them eat.  The navy people ate in shifts with one group with the girls on the beach and another near the cars that they had driven up in.  The men from the yacht took a dinghy out and changed with the men on the yacht so that the other two men could get lunch.  The mob people also came over one at a time and got lunch. There had been two men on the flying bridge while the yacht had been there, keeping a lookout and I could tell that both of them were fae so being invisible probably wouldn’t work. Then pairs of merfolk started to go into the water to wet their gills and still the sharks hadn’t turned up.  The targets went into the water and came up about ten minutes later. Where were the sharks?

The party went on for another hour as the tide flow increased and all those fae and whatever didn’t seem to be paying attention. Finally, the Necromancer gave the signal that he was unleashing his suborned and that’s when things came off the rails. Just as the Necromancer gave the signal the target picked up his bonded and three of the navy people picked up her friends and they all went down to the water where the men all Changed and went under with the girls. I prepared to launch the constructs and there they were. She was glorious and perfect and I wanted to bow to her as she said; “Are you sure you want to do that, dear?”

The other one, the merqueen in full glory said; “Other than giving Sal targets to shoot at and and Sillia something to photograph I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish. If you do launch them, I think you’ll want to leave rather quickly. I would fly to the North toward Plymouth and take the train from there. Go to your clothes and be as normal as possible. Don’t even think of looking back. We can shield you somewhat, but once my husband starts really looking, being anywhere in the area in NOT advisable. I’m afraid that your friend down the beach is going to be a lost cause. ”

Were they actually trying to HELP me out of this mess?

“I-I must.”

I set the constructs into motion.

The Faery queen said; “We understand. All right now, go, go, leave this place. You may search us out at some other time.”

They vanished again and I wondered about that as I wrapped my shield around myself and left the growing chaos.

Josh.

Greta and Eric had discussed Hilda and Sphinx with me and the girl up north with the gull Change seemed to be more of the same. In a way what they were doing to those poor fae caught in the trap and their kids was worse than the monsters like the sharks and the thing which had turned the beach patrol into zombies. I had picked up on some things not dead and not alive as well a high fae as we had passed the beach patrol station on our way to anchor the boat.  Of course the fact that even though John had called ahead to tell them we were coming, nobody came down to check us out was a clue.  Typically they would come out just so that they could grab some eats and I had taken that into account when we set the thing up. The sick thing that turned them into brainless monsters was going straight to hell if I could manage it.

Some of Steve’s people were hanging out near their cars and the rest had been carrying except the three that were going down the canal.  Hali called out to her friends just as I felt the twist that would launch the zombies and the constructs arising from up the beach.  I whistled to Tom and pointed toward the water but they were already getting ready to leave.  Then I went over to Tom’s jacket, pulled the pistol out and fished for the magazine. When I found it I slid the magazine into the pistol and worked the slide. I started to walk toward Ray’s people as Sal opened the trunk of his car, tossed a shotgun to Mike and pulled out a Thompson. Al picked up Tom’s shotgun and calmly loaded it with the shells that Tom had emptied from it earlier. He handed it to Nera of all people and pointed out how to work the action and then reached into the case for Tom’s rifle, opened the bolt and started taking cartridges from the box in the case and loading them into the rifle.

I continued walking toward Ray’s people as a car started down from the patrol station wobbling down the road.  As one of Ray’s people walked across the road, the things inside the car poured out and all of them started shooting at Ray’s man.  Ray’s man went down and the other drew his gun, dived behind the car and returned fire. I fired Tom’s pistol, Steve fired a shotgun, Nera fired, Sal opened up with the Thompson  and the rest of Steve’s people fired with shotguns and pistols. All five of the things that had been beach patrol officers dropped as Sillia took a picture. Then we all turned our attention to the constructs and I called out; “Sal, they’re all yours how do want to handle it?”

“Let them get a little closer so that Sillia can get good pictures and I can get a beeline where they came from. The constructs got to within fifty feet and Sal lifted his Thompson and started dropping them one by one. He changed magazines and Steve dropped the last two. Behind us I heard the crack of a rifle and Al said; “Josh, I know that you said that you wanted me to blow his head off, but he was just standing there alongside the road like an idiot and I figured that maybe he might have something to say for himself before we put him away.”

There was a figure about 400 yards up the road down on the ground holding his knee. Al said; “I’m going to have tell Tom that his rifle is better than he thought it was. He does great work.  Let’s go see if this piece of crap has anything to say.”

Al set Tom’s rifle aside, Steve handed him a pistol and we walked to where the high fae was trying to stand up. Al’s shot had taken out his right knee, destroying it. As we walked toward him, he turned, looked at us, pulled out a gun, put it to his mouth and pulled the trigger. Al said; “I guess that he didn’t want to talk to us. I hate it when they do that.”

“Do they do this often?”

“So far every time Helmut’s people have taken one alive.”

Al kicked the body over; “At least it doesn’t look like he’s going to dissolve like those poor zombies over there.”

The zombies had already started to dissolve. Al went back, picked Sillia and her camera up and brought both of them back. “Here Sillia, shoot away.”

As she sat down on a dune and started taking her pictures Eric came over with a wheelchair and said; “We made these for Tom and Chrissie. Here, Sillia, this should help you be more mobile.”

Sillia took her pictures and as she was done, Sal backed his car up and said; “Sillia, are you done here, I want to check out the launch point for the constructs.”

Sal put Sillia and the chair in the car and drove off down the road toward the North. Al said; “They make a good team.”

“Yes they do. How is it working with you and Eltra?”

“We’re still working things out. I think, though that we make a good team too, though it’s very early. I need to get her set up though.  She sort of felt left out today.”

As we walked back to the picnic Greta was closing the eyes of Ray’s man. She said; “He took too many hits. There was nothing I could do.”

That was another on the opposition’s account. I said; “Was anybody else hurt?”

“No, the zombies apparently all concentrated their fire on this man and they were destroyed before they could fire on anybody else. The constructs never got close enough to hurt anybody.”

I could hear the wail of a siren approaching as Al said; “How do we want to deal with the local police?”

“Ask Mike, he’s the Fed.”

We walked over to Mike. I said; “Mike, how do we handle this? I’ve never been in one of these things this way before.”

“It’s a Federal investigation that went bust obviously. It’s also hush hush and undercover. You, Josh, are helping with the investigation to help your wife who is part of the joint task force.  See all true and easy. Just not the whole truth. We do it all the time.”

I went over to Eric and Greta and said; “Let’s get you over to the boat and under wraps. You’re the only real civilians here and I would prefer that most people don’t even know that you were involved.”

Eric said; “Ok, but we will want to know the details of what went on later.”

One of Joe’s people took them out to the boat and they went below as the police arrived. Mike walked forward, flipped a badge and started to explain as I had Joe’s people start to douse the fire, and toss the leftovers to the gulls.

Mike had it easy. I was going to have to deal with the fact that six people were dead because some sick monster wanted my daughter and her bonded dead. Simply because of who they were.

Tooth.

It had been a frustrating three days. First, on Monday the Manager had sent us out to find the newly bonded prey that we had missed Sunday night and that proved to be a wild goose chase as the prey never seemed to be in the water very long and when the new Scout did manage to track them down in three different places, they turned out to be towels near party boats, one of which was chumming the water to attract real sharks and taking pictures. I managed to make it home just late enough to be told by mother how upset she was that I had missed my sister’s bonding party and that under no circumstances was I to miss anything else during the season. The next morning the Manager called again and told us that we all had to be up on the Cape by Wednesday morning to be off the beach where the advesary who had so devastated us was supposed to be Swimming and help set up an ambush with Gull and Pete. That meant a long and tedious drive with the ten of us sharing three cars and driving into the city and through Fairfield County on Route 1 where there was a stoplight every ½ mile or worse. Things got better East of New Haven, but still took all day to get to the cottage at Newport for the night.  The next day was a nightmare as we tried to find a beach where we would be safe to Change on the Cape only to discover that all the beaches on the North side of the Cape facing Cape Cod Bay were closed to car traffic due to the recent hurricane and clean up efforts. Meanwhile our cars seemed to be under the eye of every traffic cop on the Cape and I got two tickets for traffic violations within ten minutes. We tried to use the Sagamore Bridge to cross over to the land only to find that the draw had failed, the bridge was stuck open and that repairs would take four hours or so.  We raced back down to the Bourne Bridge only to find out that the bridge needed some emergency road work and one lane was shut down leaving only one lane open for both directions and the traffic backed up.  I made a bad turn to try to get ahead of the traffic line and was arrested for reckless driving.  I got in contact with father’s lawyer who managed to get me out four hours later, but by that time everything had passed and there was no way to accomplish what the Manager had told us to do. Of course the fact that I was up on the Cape in the first place was going to get me in real trouble with mother. We went back to Providence and the railroad station where we were supposed to rendezvous with Pete and that uppity bitch, Gull.

We arrived at the station and Gull was there next to the train, but Pete was not. Gull said; “So where were you?”

“What happened? Where’s Pete?”

“On a slab, I expect, considering what we were up against.”

“What were you up against?”

“Two sets of royal fae families, the mob, the feds and a navy underwater strike platoon. I launched the constructs and left, quickly, but from the sounds of the gunfire, Pete’s zombies lasted about ten seconds and the constructs were nothing but targets. And I think that the other side was able to get more pictures. There were enough cameras being waved about. The target Swam away before anything got close enough to even see it. Which raises the question again, where were you?”

“Stuck on the Cape in traffic with the beaches closed and the bridges shut down. We couldn’t get close to the beaches and we couldn’t get off the Cape either until it was all over.”

“I’m off to give the report. At least you are still alive, for now. Though, from the sounds of it I’m going to recommend that we stay far away from the target from now on. This isn’t just some young fae with a gun anymore.  Now both sides of the family are pissed at us.  I get the feeling that we just touched the edges of the power that opposed us and it still managed to defeat us without much of a sweat.”

She climbed back on to her train as the train slowly departed from the station. Now I had the long drive, and facing mother to look forward to.

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