Mermaid, Chapter 18, Part 2

Here we meet the Ghost, who takes the Director to lunch at a place he would rather not go, Bennies.

The Director.

Thursday 12/17

Wednesday afternoon, I received a message from one of my best information sources. They were also my most expensive as our relationship was strictly mercenary. As was typical the message was a restaurant, a number and one letter. The number was how much the information was going to cost me. 1,000 dollars in this case. So whatever Ghost had was going to be important, but she wouldn’t tell me what it was until I handed her the money. Since she and Spirit were royal fae, why they were doing what they did was a mystery to me. They certainly knew what I was attempting and knew the potential of what could happen if I succeeded. Yet they continued to sell me sometimes key information. So I went to my bank Thursday morning, drew the money and proceeded to Coney Island, the nearest train stop to the restaurant in question. I got a cab and paid the cabbie to wait through lunch.  The place was a hole in the wall that seemed to be shielded and when the waitress came over, I said that I was waiting for somebody who would be here soon.  As I looked around a large portion of the customers seemed to be fae who were being discreet. Considering how close we were to the Rockaway bower and other fae centers, that should not have been a surprise.  I also noticed that the waitress was a powerful high fae and I suspected that if my shields had not been strong that I would not last very long. So I was very nervous when Ghost suddenly appeared in the seat opposite me. I hadn’t even seen her come in and my booth had been facing the door. “Hello, D. Isn’t this a wonderful place?”

“I don’t think so. Why did you pick this place?”

“Because of the food. And other reasons. You should be more observant. You’re fighting a war with these people and you don’t even know who your opponents are and what they are up to.  It’s quiet today, but this place has had some important people eating here talking about important things. They are all someplace else today.”

The waitress came over and Ghost said, “I recommend the meat pie. Sissy, I think that I will order one and some tea.” “I will as well.” “OK, two pies.”

She left. I sort of felt like I was under a microscope. “Since we are waiting, why don’t we conduct our business.” I handed her the envelope with the money. She took it and didn’t even open it. She pulled an envelope out of her purse and handed it to me.

“I have the minutes from that meeting that your buddies were trying to crash last weekend. That was rather stupid, by the way. They were made almost immediately.”

“How did you get this?”

“I think I can tell you, this time. Since it was a one time thing and not a regular connection. I got a job temporarily at the hotel so that I could crash the wedding and took the carbons out of the waste basket for the meeting minutes. Then I typed this version up. That young man is very good by the way. He put a lot of your operation together and has apparently been working at it for some time. I also paid the messenger to send the newspeople’s Western Union material to my address, so you have what they sent about the wedding. Not that you care about weddings. The young man and his bride made such a nice couple. You need to watch that young man very carefully. The Manager didn’t, ignored all the warnings and he played the Manager like a fish. My advice would be to shut down anything that might have a connection with the Manager or the young man. Don’t try to kill him by the way. First of all, he’s used to that and second if you succeed, I suspect that things will start dropping all over the place if what I heard at the wedding is correct. Also treat anything you get from a source that came from him with kid gloves. Including what I got from the carbons. He’s very good at the information game as the Manager found out the hard way.

He’s away on a honeymoon cruise with the other two couples, his bride’s parents and his brother in law as captain with his bonded in a large yacht they bought. They were heading toward Maine before coming back to go up to his parents for Christmas. So you have some time before they start looking in your direction again.”

“The young man is hardly the only one looking for me. And the other side picked the Manager clean. As far as I could tell, they got everything. So whatever the Manager had, they do. I released all the indentured’s children, so they will be looking for the parents. I would have thought that the children would have been placed in a Federal facility for such things or some other location like that, but they all disappeared.”

“They all went to the wedding of course. Courtesy of the bride’s grandfather. Along with the Manager’s caretakers. They came back and set up in a house that the Feds set up with the Sound bower royals. The navy people are also using the house for discreet operations dealing with you and the sharks you revealed.”

“Jaw said that the Feds, the outfit, the navy and the bowers are all cooperating on this. Did you see that?”

“Yes, you made all sorts of friends with the Manager’s activities. Add the Vermont kingdom that the groom’s parents are the royals of and you have the guest list of the wedding.  Which made for a very fun party and some great alliances coming. But that’s your problem, not mine.”

Lunch came and we started to eat. She was right about the pie. Unfortunately I could never come here again unless she was bringing me. It was just too dangerous. We talked through lunch and as I paid the bill she disappeared. So I walked back to my cab. The driver said, “The next time you come down here, ask for Karl. Thanks for bringing me to this place. The food was great.” He dropped me off at the subway station and I headed back to Manhattan. As I rode the subway north, I looked through the material.  The minutes mostly consisted of a statistical analysis of draft records and other material showing the fingerprints of our operations since the turn of the century and through the war.  Most of it was public information but coupled with what the young man had obtained from the Manager what he had obtained was dangerous to our operations as it would allow the other side to see when one of our operations started and shut it down. She had been right about fighting the information battle. The problem was that moving most of my assets right now simply was not possible and shutting down the operations could be worse than letting them go on. The sharks, for instance, needed to feed and if they changed location, they would attract attention. .  The Twisted couldn’t be controlled anymore in numbers anyway since the Manager was gone.  As for the indentured, they would be better off unless the schools were discovered. The only reason I had released the school I had was that it had that connection to the Sound bower and if I hadn’t broken that,  it would have been a connection right back to me. I had not expected the other side to set up to handle the children so quickly. From the sound of it they simply took the set up that the Manager had been using and coopted it for their needs. I had met the constructs that the Manager had a long time ago and frankly if the other side hadn’t hired them on the spot it would have been astonishing.

I started to go through the wedding copy and pictures. The guest list read like a who’s who of the local fae powers, which would be useful on its own, but potential of the alliances involved was a bit shocking. It was as if all the local fae communities had decided to join forces. This hadn’t happened in Europe and we had been able to take them down, one by one even if they were alert. We had developed new Change and new techniques as well as compelling and suborning normals to do things that they normally wouldn’t, like trawling in restricted waters. We had started here in the Americas by removing individual fae families and that had been more or less successful. My masters wanted bigger results, sent some resources over and we had started a campaign against the Vermont kingdom and the Cape bower, both of which had failed, because the heir of the Cape bower had been too capable and had too much influence. He also spent very little time under sea outside the bower so getting a shark attack on him was impossible. The attack on the Vermont Kingdom had collapsed before it was even started when the young man had shot his brother who was not even supposed to even be there, but had exposed some things and alerted the Vermont kingdom to the potential for were wolves.   Apparently the brother had discussed certain things before he died and set the young man on a path of sacrifice.  Since he was a royal fae that was very bad for us, because he would only stop with his death or our destruction and killing him had already been proven to be almost impossible even before he knew what he was. The overall picture was starting to look grim.


Thursday 12/17

I watched as the Director left. I kept our relationship strictly financial and played rough with him for a variety of reasons. He actually paid very well and never actually thought to ask too many questions or look too closely. The fact that I chose places where he felt uncomfortable, like Bennies, made that a bit easier.  It’s hard for a monster to look at the consequences of their actions. Once he was gone I stopped being discreet and joined the two people sitting at a table. Joe said, “So that is the face of the other side. I’m surprised he came down here. I wonder if he knows that he was set up from the beginning.”

“He was going to come. He couldn’t help himself after his sharks and dopplegangers failed. He needed what I had and I have a good track record of providing information that he didn’t have.”

“You didn’t give him anything that wasn’t already in the public record or isn’t going to be in the paper this weekend. You even told him that.”

“But the stuff is coming from a clandestine channel and is more trustworthy to him. This is the material that Tom collected and information I diverted to get. I had to sneak to get the information and that makes it more valuable.”

“I hope that Tom doesn’t get upset when he finds out,” Doris said. ‘He doesn’t know you at all.”

“I want to meet him, soonest. I told the Director that he plays the information battle very well and if this is how he does it, he’s very good indeed. Tim and Sal too, but Tom knew exactly how to take the Manager apart without the Manager self destructing until after he was picked clean.  Meanwhile he had been gathering all this information about how the dark operates. I wish that I HAD been at the wedding.”

“Mother, you and father have been chasing my lost brother for a long time. Can you still go on? I was still in Europe bringing over the relatives when he was born at sea and you had to give him up or be discovered with the keystone. We established at the bower here, but we couldn’t form our own community until my brother was found or died because he is royal. At least we know that he isn’t dead. You’ve been playing these games with the dark in the hopes that they might lead you to my brother. Yet they haven’t.”

“We were close once. The orphanage burned down, we found out who adopted him, but we couldn’t find them until they were dead. We know his last name, but do you know how many Claytors there are in just the New York phone book. Since he’s royal fae, he may not even know what he is. In any case, fighting the dark is always a good thing. Your father and I are just about ready to take the entire network apart if we get a few more pieces. Not that Tom hasn’t already taken a big bite out.  I watched from the sidelines and the whole thing was amazing to watch. I was tempted to take some of those things he built but they got picked up by his sister, the bureau and the navy very quickly. And I’m not going to mess with Tom’s sisters. Any of them. The two I saw were bad enough.”

“From what Eric has said the whole family is like that,” Doris said, “The Manager kept sending things to either punish them for destroying his werewolves or kill Tom, who wasn’t even there and they just became very good at killing Twisted before they could attract attention to themselves or hurt the neighbors.  As for any constructs that get used, those are more of a nuisance up there than anything else. Most of the older kids use them as toys and shooting exercises. Except when they were used as a diversion they really aren’t a problem.  The young man who tried that is in deep trouble. As for Tom, killing him now would be a terrible mistake because there is one person on the East coast that nobody wants to piss off and Tom just married that man’s daughter. Did you say that your son’s last name was Claytor?”


“When you meet Tom and Chrissie, check for resonances to be certain, but I think I just found your son, Joshua Claytor, The Peacekeeper.”

“Mother, now there’s a possibility. I’m not good with affinities and since Maria is related to Mera that would mask any affinities when we were together. You’ve been looking low for my brother and failing because you assumed that there would be no bond for him. But Mera and Josh had a rather spectacular bonding and he had no knowledge of what he was before he bonded. As well as very tight shields. Josh hasn’t looked for his parents because he assumed that they were dead.”

“I had never thought of him as a possibility. We were even on the opposite side of something that I was using to gain bonifides and I looked into an incident where a necromancer disappeared and the director was very upset that he had lost him and the operation against the barges. I’ve stayed away from him because if Josh thought I was dark I would be hunted and that would be rather inconvenient. I do know that he is relentless when something shows up in his area. Since he was so relentless I stayed away.”

“Well that explains some things,” Doris said. “From what I saw, the Manager had to develop his own information resources at the Cape and you missed a lot of what was happening up there. Your grandson has developed some interesting skills in those directions, hasn’t he Joe?”

“Yes he has, mother. You’ve seen his work. Well at least some of it. I can’t wait until he gets back here and we can tell him how proud we are of him and introduce you to him.”

“I don’t quite think I’m ready for that. I’ve been undercover for so long and speaking to a reporter, no matter how discreet and even though he is my own grandson frankly and in the open scares me more than a little bit. Eli wants to meet him though. He has turned out so remarkably and he has a bond as well.”

“That was rather amazing for somebody so young. I think that most of it was the keystone wanting to draw him in. Not that Suzy isn’t a wonderful and courageous young lady. They were so brave, closing the deal right under the sharks’ noses in their own pool to bring that young girl out. Kathy and Suzy were teasing Tim about outrageous places to close the deal and they were actually planning to close the deal at a hotel that Sal and Sillia discovered after Tim and Suzy went to Sal’s wedding. You can crash the wedding like you did the party. Bennie always wants family to help anyway. That way you could get close to Josh and Chrissie. Joe, Steve and Stacey too for that matter. If Josh is actually my brother I am glad to have him. Considering what happened to the rest of my brothers and sisters in that war, I’m very glad to have him. I wish that I could have helped them as they were stood up and shot, but they sacrificed themselves to insure that I, at least got away to help you. Which was a lot for a sixteen year old.”

“Joe, you never told that story before,” Doris said. Where and when did this happen?”

“That doesn’t matter. The soldiers that did the shooting were all compelled and died soon after. The thing doing the compelling tried to compel me and I reflected and killed him. But there were others. I had a passport, visa and a ticket, so I got to the boat and left with the rest of our relatives and friends who were on the boat already to join mother and father with what was left of our community both up top and below. We had mostly merfolk left so we settled them down in the bower and after a long time I bonded with Maria and went under myself until Tim was born and Maria’s uncle needed me up top. Then I was drafted. Mother, I think that we need to talk frankly with Helmut and Mary when we can.”

“I plan to when I can be sure that it is discreet. Having me and them in the same place and it getting to the director and his friends would not be a good thing unless it were obvious that I was conducting some sort of operation. That has possibilities. The wedding might be a good time.”

Meria was rolled in by Silvio. “Hello Theresa. Silvio and Karl said that the Director is on his way back to Manhattan. What did you give him?”

“A copy of Tom’s stuff from the meeting you all went to and the stuff Doris sent to the paper from the wedding.”

“There’s no way you could have given him all of Tom’s stuff. I’m fairly sure that he didn’t bring all of it to the meeting. What he did show was amazing.”

“Just the brief that was typed up. I said that I got it from the carbons left in the trash.”

“Well the bureau is going to have all of it made into a large briefing book. Mary and Helmut just got started on it with Sal. Mike and Nera won’t be back from their trip until after Christmas so they and Tom won’t be able to help. Tim is taking a break at Sal’s place with Suzy and working up his final for the sharks and the kidnapping.”

“Roger sent a discreet fae reporter to all the families and got together with George Buckley to go through what he had personally.” Doris said. “Roger worked that story back in the day. That’s why he was so excited to see Tim latch on to it. He would have nudged Tim in certain directions, but I did the nudging for Roger. Since my sister was personally involved at the time, it made sense for me to point Tim in certain directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the lunch when Joe was there and we never pulled his compulsions. I haven’t had a chance to talk to George yet about what really happened. Joe didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

“Meria, we think that Josh might be our lost prodigal,” Joe said. “He is an unexplained royal fae, with the right last name.”

“Well he was a bit of a surprise to my brother. Mera bonding like that was a bit of a trial for everybody up there. I’m sure you’ve all heard most of the stories by now. Mera hadn’t bonded with anybody and seemingly was never going to.  Then one day she just disappeared and came back all pleased with herself.  Shortly thereafter this seemingly completely ordinary man shows up and Mera insists that Noro buy him a boat. Liltra backed Mera up and there was Josh on this boat given to him by an old waterman leaving the water for good that John pointed him at. Then the fiasco happened and Mera and Josh came down here.”

“The barges. I did a job for the Director back then when one of his operations suddenly went bust. It went bust because Josh knifed it and discreetly disposed of the body. The Director lost his necromancer, the revenue from the robbed cargo and the barge fae gained confidence and protection.  I told the Director to back off on the barges and after a few more incidents that had dead dark fae and Twisted as a result, he got the point. At the time I didn’t want to get too close to Josh and the idea that he was royal fae never actually entered my mind. Royal fae typically don’t go too far from their keystones. Which would have meant that he and Mera would have stayed near the Cape. Instead they came to New York after the fights surrounding their bonding.   Of course Noro and Liltra showed up later and took Josh and Mera, along with their kids, back up to the Cape. Soon after that the Director had nothing up on the Cape and his attempt to wreck the bower with seemingly random trawls was ruined by Mera taking over the enforcement for fisheries. The Director never seemed to consider that fae could actually serve in the government and use it as protection.  In any case the dark fae that was responsible for the trawls met with an accident and disappeared.”

“Josh being our prodigal explains some things,” Joe said. “For one he comes down here frequently and destroys the occasional monster. Now some of that is old friends, but we planted our keystone here in the city and if he’s tied to both ours and the Cape bower’s he could be bouncing back and forth.  For instance, he came down to the Rockaways and then went right back up to the Cape to deal with Tom and Chrissie.”

“Mera dealt with our problems, along with Mike, Sal and Tim,” Meria said. “but suppose that it was your keystone that was calling and because the threat was to all of the keystones we never noticed which tie was binding. I wondered why both Sal and Tim were raised up. I think that I’m beginning to understand now. Theresa, you will probably be giving your keystone to Tim, Sal takes over the Rockaways and I will have a gift ready for Tom soon, when he is ready to receive it. He’s too far along the path to sacrifice right now to accept it. On the other hand, he is probably fairly close to completing the task bound to him by his brother’s death.”

“The Director is starting to run scared.” I said “Probably not scared enough. He still thinks of Tom as that boy back in Washington when he ran into him just after he got there. I did some digging when I saw the Director’s interest and the Director ordered the Manager to kill Tom. Which only set the path of sacrifice into a conflict and exhausted a good portion of the Director’s resourses faster than he could replace them. Tom and the bureau killing all those monsters saved a lot of fae lives because every Twisted that Tom killed was one less that the Director had to send out and destroy a fae family.  That was before Tom fully understood what he was doing. Of course he has been working with the bureau all along and feeding what he found to them and others.  I would love to see his network but I suspect that he never shows all of it to anybody. I think that I will indulge in a Swim and then go on with my day.”

I went discreet, phased through the door, left the restaurant and walked over to the warehouse. On the way over to the warehouse, I stopped at the phone booth outside and called for a cab to pick me up in an hour. I then entered the warehouse, undressed, Changed into my delphine and dropped into the water. Unlike mer Change I was not locked into the Change and didn’t need to worry about gills drying out. I also didn’t have the intimacy with the water that a mer did. Still it was good to get wet for a while and be with my true self. After all too brief a time, I left the water and dressed to wait for my cab and the ride back into the city.

It was time to start looking into Josh more closely and talk to Eli when he showed up. Since Mr.White was back, he was looking into what he was up to for some of his clients. Which meant that he should be talking to our intrepid grandson anyway, because from what Doris had said, Tim had been working with Noro closely for the past few weeks. From all that Doris had said before lunch, Tim had developed all sorts of interesting relationships and handled himself very well while he was handling the kidnappings.  Even if he hadn’t been our grandson he would be a good resource to cultivate.  He certainly had his ears and eyes in all sorts of interesting places.

The cab dropped me off in front of our office and I went in through the door past George, our fae doorman who we had gotten the job for a long time ago. “Hello, Mrs. Thomas. It’s good to see you today. Mr. Thomas is in your office. Have a good day.”

“George, thank you. It has been a good day and it’s starting to look as if we may have more coming.”

Our office was on the first floor of the building and I walked in to our foyer and the front desk. Our secretary said, “Theresa, Eli is waiting for you in your office.”

I handed her the envelope. “Sarah, take care of this, would you.”

The envelope disappeared as she smiled. “Of course. He paid again.”

“He always does when he can’t get what he wants himself. My husband is waiting, so I need to go. I’ll tell you the juicy story later.”

I walked into my office where Eli was waiting. After I closed the door he grabbed me and kissed me. “You got wet. I love it when you get wet.” “You could have come down. Joe would be glad to see you. Maria too.”

“Work. I had an interesting discussion up at White’s with Mr. Gollancz. We talked and horse traded some things. Lou was willing to talk about Noro, but wanted me to look into some things about Noro’s new grandson in law. I may need to go up to the Cape soon and talk to the other side of the business. That seems to be where Noro is focusing his attention.  Tom is involved in some business they are coming up with for merfolk. I’ll talk to Joe before I go up.”

“So Tom is involved with something other than the Director and his operations. Is it something big?”

“The rumblings I’m getting say it could be. There are very few businesses that are directed at the fae simply because there aren’t enough of them to matter. That may no longer be the case and there may be enough of us that require special things to create a good business. We are also likely to have access to money and resources.  Tom seems to be tapping into that and looking at products for merfolk in the beginning, but I suspect that he will have other things coming for other fae. In any case my clients are interested even after I told them that Noro is probably just doing it for his granddaughter.”

“There’s a possibility that she may be our granddaughter too. We were talking after my little chat with the director and Josh may be our lost son. He fits what happened and he is definitely royal fae.”

“We never considered that. We’ve been around the edges of what he was doing for a long time now and never looked into him in detail.”

“Which may be the strongest argument of all. We used the keystone we had to put the strongest protections we could on him before giving him up. He still has those protections. Nobody pays too much attention to him except when he wants you to. Since we never got too close, we never really considered what those protections would look like. In any case we should both arrange to go to Sal’s wedding and see if Chrissie resonates with me. If she does we will have proof.”

“Does Joe know?”

“He pointed it out to me. He’s been working with Josh and the rest on dealing with the Manager and other things and so has been in close contact with him.”

“So how do we handle this?”

“Part of me wants to run right up to Vermont, chase him down and grab him. The other part is scared to bits that he wouldn’t understand, see the dark taint we have acquired and want to destroy us. In any case I want to be sure before we meet.”

“Was Meria there at Bennies?”


“Did you ask her not to do anything with this? Because if she decides to get involved, we will be talking with Josh whether we like it or not. Remember how she got us back together with Joe.”

“I didn’t ask her. Oh no, you’re right. Worse, she’ll tell Noro as soon as she sees him. Or maybe not. She knows what’s at stake here and that we have to keep certain things under wraps and away from the Director. She’s been leery about getting Noro and Josh too connected because they are both so visible. Of course now that Tom and the bureau took out the Manager, the Director is going to be looking at Tom too.”

“That was why Lou got together with me. He wants somebody independent looking into Tom and what he’s been involved in that could affect the business if Tom gets in too deep. When the business stuff started with Tom, nobody knew how deep he was involved because he kept a tight grip on what he had.  Once he resolved things with his family and bonded he felt that they needed to know and dumped a lot of very scary stuff out.”

“That’s certainly true. The director was rather upset about what I showed him and that didn’t include the details. Meria said that the details fill a rather large book. The bureau is working on that.”

“We want to make sure that we see it before the Director does. That may mean getting a bit closer than we have been, which could be risky. On the other hand, if Josh is indeed our son, we will be in deep anyway. So far we’ve stayed away from the bureau because we didn’t want to risk exposing ourselves or them being hit from a flank they didn’t know about.  But all our children and their children are being involved in this even when we kept our distance from them to protect them. I think it’s time to leave the shadows and use what we know.”

“Not all at once. I don’t want the director to see the knife we have been slowly using against him until he ready to go down. On the other hand, he’s short of resources now and Tom has done an excellent job of looking at how he operates. The Director gave too many resources to the Manager and those are gone now.  When Tom went after the Manager, he played the whole thing out like a piece of music.”

“What if something had failed? Operations that are too complicated can do that.”

“That was the key to his success. He anticipated that some things might fail and exploited opportunities as they presented themselves. From what Doris, Joe and Meria said, he didn’t know very much when he started except that the Manager had the indentured and the sharks.  So he had some general plans and ideas.  Plans he used to generate a response.  He then crafted his next tactic based on the response. If the Manager had done nothing, Tom might have been at a disadvantage.  How much, I don’t know, because the Manager was always reacting rather than thinking. One thing I did learn was that Tom is a master at making elaborate gags and jokes.”

“We saw some of that when he was in Washington. Not something a typical fae would be able to deal with. When we meet with him I want his story.”

“We can ask Meria. But I suspect that we will be better off asking him. I do know one thing. He is the most unfae like fae you will meet.  He makes things, builds relationships and connections and even if he weren’t powerful, would be incredibly dangerous. Whoever Turned his brother and sent him over here will be finding that out.  As for the rest of them, I suspect that the dark will never know what hit them.”

“Well, I need to get over to my office and make some calls before Sarah thinks nasty thoughts about us.”

“Sarah loves to think nasty thoughts about us. Since the Director killed her bonded, that is one of her pleasures.  That and pestering her son about looking for a bond.”

“So she can think nasty thoughts about Victor. I do need to make those calls, though, so you gossip with Sarah about the juicy details of your meeting with the Director and pick him apart again.”

My husband left the office and I went back out front where Sarah had a cup of coffee and big smile waiting. “He didn’t muss you up too much this time. You need to drag him out in the water more. Can’t you get him down to Bennies?”

“I try. He doesn’t want both of us in the room with the Director at the same time and I lately I think that he’s a bit afraid of who might show up there.”

“He shouldn’t be. The Director isn’t likely to just show up and the rest of the crowd isn’t likely to just attack him or you without asking questions. Did the Director like Bennies?”

“He wasn’t very comfortable there. I think that the crowd was a little unnerving for him. At that it was just Joe and Doris, along with the usual crowd. He wanted to get the business over as fast as possible.”

“Along with not asking the right questions.”

“Well he did ask me how I got the information I gave him. I lied of course. I didn’t tell him that Joe and Doris handed it to me before he go there.  Along with sharing all sorts of stuff about the wedding that I’m very sorry I missed.”

“Do tell. Did Doris give you extra pictures?”

I reached into my purse. “Funny that you should ask, somehow she seemed to think that I might want a spare set.” I handed her the envelope with the pictures. She looked at them.

“We did miss something. Your grandson has something coming up, I’m sure. You need to be in touch and get us invitations to that shindig. Doris says that these people know how to party and from what I’ve seen, Doris is right.”

“Doris has a bunch more of the pictures coming that are not for public consumption. Chrissie is making the arrangements to have a set of everybody’s pictures sent around. Both Meria and Doris are getting sets. The amazing things are going to be the movies that the navy made of all the dancing by the merfolk and Tom’s sisters and mother. With Tom providing the background. Hopefully we can come out of the shadows before Tim’s wedding.”

“So how much did you manage to scare the Director today? He had to have been rather distressed already.”

“He was. Especially since he figured that the wedding was a front for something else. I think he’s very bothered by the fact that all his victims are talking to each other and making plans against him. Also, Tom picking the Manager clean must have been distressing and he wanted to know what Tom had on him.”

“So what does Tom have on him? Probably a lot, since he’s been in this for a long time now. You have quite a file on Mr. Benton. Eli had me pull it earlier before his meeting at Whites. From what I saw with a quick glance, you can find out quite a bit about Mr. Benton, but what he knows, that isn’t so easy. I do know one thing, his network and information on what the Director is doing is deep and large.”

I handed her a copy of the type written sheets that Joe had given me. “Add this to the file. I’m hoping to get the detailed version of this before the director sees it through some other channel.  This is what I gave the director.”

She glanced at it. “Wow. I can see that this mostly public record stuff, but this is just the summary. He has a pretty clear picture of what the director’s operations have done and where. How long has he been collecting and sitting on this stuff?”

“Since his time in Washington, probably. According to Meria nobody in his family knew anything about this until he told them in Bennies last week and the bureau didn’t have all of it until the wedding and the Manager was gone. Considering who was at the meeting, I suspect that calls are going out this week to people to back check this and verify.”

“That’s already started. Eli didn’t call Lou, Lou called Eli in. Over this, I suspect.  He was willing to give the Noro stuff up for a handle on this.  I’ve had a couple of other calls come in from clients wanting to know if we could look into what blew up last week.”

“I told the director to handle anything he got from Tom very carefully, including this. I should have paid attention to that. He’s sitting on that yacht right now, seemingly out of touch while this all goes off. I watched him run his gags and toys with the Manager and never really looked at the subtlety behind them. Make noise and the managers sends his Twisted, which die. Make noise again and the Manager send compelled, which don’t die. Meanwhile, Tom is setting something else up entirely.  More noise and the compelled disappear.  Then just before the Manager is finished, he drops the biggest noise of all. From what Joe said, he had all the stuff packed away hidden in boxes that he sent down from the farm filled with other stuff.  He shipped the stuff to the Cape right after the Manager sent the sharks to kill him, taking Chrissie up to Vermont to do that.  He was planning to release this bomb before he even knew about the wedding or the Manager for that matter. At least he was getting ready to release it.”

“Why now?”

“Because the Manager interfered with his bonding? This all started right after he closed the deal Chrissie and the sharks showed up. The sharks that he hadn’t planned for.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because he hadn’t planned to be out on that Island in the first place. Josh and Chrissie did that. He was planning to close the deal, but not there. I’m sure of that now. He also didn’t know about the sharks in particular because he had only seen werewolves,zombies and Twisted at that point. He’s talked about how he only took the gun by accident several time to Meria and the others. I think that that was right.  He had only encountered land based attacks at that point and wasn’t concerned about attacks in or from the water.”

I went over and pulled the copy of the briefing book that Meria had given us. I turned to the pages of Tom’s report. “See, he says that he wasn’t expecting an attack from the water.” I flipped to the first picture of him with the gun. “If he had been expecting some sort of attack the would have had some more ammunition with him. He’s in Change here and just has the gun. He had no way of knowing how many constructs there were.” I looked at the report again. “Here, he refers to constructs as “monsters.” He had never encountered them before. Remember that, up to that point, his family and the bureau kept him in the dark about Change and his abilities. He hadn’t fully understood everything at that point. He had a view of the big picture that nobody else had, but didn’t know about the actual details beyond what his brother had told him that launched him on his quest.”

“So he brings the stuff down from Vermont and leaves it in the boxes, not saying a word until the Manager is about collapse, then has a family meeting at Bennies and spills everything, followed up by dumping everything out at the wedding, why?”

“Because he knew that after the Manager went without going up in flames, that the Director or somebody like him would have to react and he wanted to make sure that his families knew what was going on and that the Director was going to be reacting and not acting. Which the Director has been doing.”

“Then why go off on a cruise and a trip up to Vermont?”

“Why not? He didn’t plan the cruise and is just going along for the ride. It’s not as if he is a long way away from communication if somebody really needs to talk to him and he is constantly in motion. He’s with Noro and Josh, two of the powers up there and talking to others, spreading the word. Somebody could radio the yacht and he could quietly go ashore and make a phone call, on the Bureau’s bill. Nobody would ever know.”

“What if somebody attacks the yacht?”

“With what? Who? Anybody with the kind of fire power to hurt the yacht, which is 240 feet long, is going to be spotted or already be under the control of his allies. There were destroyers on call in the Sound and the yacht is back near the Cape. They own the canal and have patrols South of the Cape already. For that matter the outfit and the navy are watching things. Josh’s security chief is on the boat, her husband is a Fed, Josh’s wife is a Fed and the other sister’s husband is Helmut’s second in command and operations guy. Then there’s Noro. Tom doesn’t have worry about security because everybody else is. As for the Vermont trip, the Feds in Boston were rather annoyed that Josh up and left the month before last and nobody let them know that the Peacekeeper was going down the Sound in his small boat.  They were happy when Mike told them about Tom’s boat and how fast it goes. The train trip up to Vermont is covered.  In any case the Director will probably have trouble even finding Tom and setting something up.”

“So what do you think that the Director will do now?”

“Keep going. He may not actually have much choice at this point. Go after Tom, probably. I’ll make up a rather useless document on his movements and what he might be doing, but the Director will have a hard time getting to Tom at the farm, he’s going back to the yacht to cruise down to Sal’s wedding and good luck attacking that with sharks or Twisted. After that he’s going to be in the city doing business at Noro’ s and talking to the bureau, probably under the close eye of a bunch of people.”

“Does the Director understand that going after Tom may be exactly what Tom wants. You told me about that ambush that the Manager set up and how badly it went.”

“I told the director that even if he succeeded in killing Tom that a ton of stuff would would most likely suddenly drop all over the place. That’s even without Chrissie committing suicide and Josh getting pissed about that. To say nothing of Noro.”

“Noro could be a problem. If Chrissie were to go he would probably go into full war mode and suicidal as well.  Lou told Eli that he’s a bit worried about Noro, even though a lady seems to have latched on to him to keep him distracted. Lou asked Eli to have him put some discreet fae on retainer to watch the lady. He also said that Big Jim already had people watching her place here in Manhattan and the houses out on Long Island.”

“Who’s the lady?”

“One of the indentured, the Gull. Apparently she was watching Tom for the Manager, liked the Cape and then when she ran into Noro, liked him.”

“That’s sounds wonderful. They have both lost their bonded and need somebody. How is the family dealing with it? They do have that history.”

“They are already setting a place up for her, and him more than likely. Eli said that Lou said that they quietly want Noro up top and away from things like weather magic for as long as they can get away with it. That’s the extended family which includes White’s and Meria. Along with everybody else at the Cape. Lou is going to hint to Tom when they meet up after Christmas that Tom should get in contact with us to point Noro at the Director.”

“Did you make up a report from Eli’s notes. I think I want to read more.” “Just finished it. Here it is. Now, all I need are yours for the director.”

I handed her the notes that I had made up from our meeting in the cab ride up. Then I picked up the folder she had done up, my coffee and returned to my office. Sarah was her usual thorough self, not only including Eli’s notes on Tom and Noro, but material from our files on both of them. Noro being back and active had shaken up some things on the Street. But other than the thing with Tom, he was being hands off as far as any investment was concerned and the thing with Tom seemed to be mostly Chrissie and the rest of the family. They did give Tom a new shop for a wedding present, but that had been actually paid for by Tom’s parents as part of a deal to get him set up, Colt, Pratt and Whitney and Chrissie’s family, all of whom wanted Tom working on things again as fast as possible.  Tom being as far as he was on the path of sacrifice must have been a rather nasty surprise.  On the other hand, Tom releasing his bomb probably meant that the Director was in for some interesting times.


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