Mermaid Chapter 21, Part 2

Sorry about not getting this out earlier. One problem is that chapter 22 was skipped over a bit so that I could work in the ending of this thing. I also had computer issues. anyway, Sal makes some discoveries over in New Jersey and Stelios debriefs Steve.

 

Sal.

Sunday 12/27 – Monday 12/28.

 

Sunday we went to mass with Father Jones and after lunch at Bennies I talked to Joe and Bennie about the Amboy bower. I decided I wanted to talk to the bower before I handed the report into the boss. Joe said, “Take the Duesie and Sillia. Go all out and let them know that they are dealing with the Troubleshooter. That’s somebody that they wouldn’t want to mess with. Be upfront with them and have a packet ready.”

“They should have sent somebody over already,” Bennie said. “We’ve been busy, but a lot of the stuff has been in the papers and if there was something this big going around I would be sending messages and trying to find things out.”

“Do you think that there could be another indentured cutting communications?”

“That’s possible and worth checking out,” Joe said. “If they get too sticky, pull back and I have some very discreet people that can look into it. They were supposed to be back, but they may still be on the other job.”

“I’ll check with the indentured’s kids at the school on the way home.”

Sillia said, “That’s enough work for today. Let’s go for a Swim. In fact, why don’t we Swim across the harbor and check things out. That way we know the territory.”

I rolled her over to the warehouse in the rickshaw and we put our clothes in the lockers and slipped into the water. Dad and mom had been Swimming after lunch and joined us. “I see she managed to get you under after all,” Dad laughed. “Now that we know about the sharks and most of them are gone, a lot of the fear has gone out of the water, look around.”

He was right. The water seemed full of merfolk going about and doing things. I remembered what Mike said about the water being unhappy and that no longer was the case.”

“So where are you two going?”

“Across to Sandy Hook to get a look at the Amboy bower,” Sillia said. “I want to scope out the territory before we try to visit for real tomorrow. Sal and I are going as the Troubleshooter and his gal.”

“Let’s do that,” Dad said. “They’ve been very quiet over there and they must have been affected by the same chemicals that the Rockaway bower was.”

We Swam across the harbor, dodging tugs and barges along with an ocean liner making port and some lumber schooners. We actually ran into dad’s brother on his way in with a haul and he and his wife Cynthia joined us in our Swim along with their daughter, Dorothy, who had recently gone through Change and more or less lived on the boat. “So what about your boat, Angelo?” dad asked.

“If my son, Vinnie, can’t take the boat into the market and get the catch unloaded by himself at this point then he’s no good as my second mate. My first mate is ashore for the holidays and this is Vinnie’s chance to get the load in. He’ll be fine. He’s done it before. So where are we going?”

“Sal wants to check out the Amboy bower.” “Good thinking. Things have been too quiet over there. There were also some rumors about fights on the water and maybe some trawls in the wrong place recently. There’s a bunch of clowns going up and down the coast and trawling through gardens more than once. They also fish at night and close to the shore. We’ve been trying to track them down, but every time we get a lead they move and start fishing someplace else. They are definitely fae as some of the fisheries people and cops have been compelled or killed.”

“Angelo, tell Mera about this when you come to the wedding. In fact they should hit Sal’s place Tuesday and you need to talk to them. Mera is the senior enforcement officer at fisheries at the Cape and they have a merfolk team up at the Cape for handling this problem. This is how the sharks attack bowers as well as the chemicals. I also want you to talk to Tim Kirk, our intelligence officer. Now that he can get wet, this is exactly where he should be looking. When we get back to Bennies, I will call him. Sal, before you go over to Sandy Hook tomorrow, we will talk.”

As we swam over toward Sandy Hook some things were evident. We could see the remains of merfolk gardens that had been ruined and some attempts to restore them. As we approached the bower itself the shields and barrier were incredibly weak. There didn’t seem to be any merfolk Swimming around. Dad said, “I think that this place was hit harder than we knew. Let’s go and talk to Meria and the admiral. I think we are going to need them tomorrow.”

“I think that these people were hit by the Philly sharks before they went South,” I said. “They were probably expecting the chemicals to finish the job. I’m going to call Big Jim and see who handles trash over here. This looks like trouble that needs to be shot. Should we go into the bower?”

“What ever happened is done. We will come back tomorrow prepared to help.”

A merman Swam out of the bower toward us. “Who are you and what do you want?”

“We are from the Rockaway bower and we’ve been investigating the sharks and chemical attacks on our bower,” dad said. “I’m Mike del Vecchio. This is my son, Sal, his bonded Sillia, my wife Stella, my brother Angelo, his wife Cynthia and daughter, Dorothy. “And you think that we were responsible? We were hit by the same kinds of attacks.”

“We know who was responsible,” I said. “I work for the government and my agency, along with help from a bunch of other people shut them down. I was closing the investigation and just heard about your bower.”

“Well you can see most of it. We lost some people and some more people have scattered. Our royal family lost several members to the sharks, some fishermen trawled through much of our gardens. Then there was the chemical damage to the keystone, which you know about. My uncle, the king is injured and we are struggling. Our artisans have managed to repair the keystone somewhat but it may be a long time for it to recover, if it ever does. You were investigating and obviously stopped these people. Can you tell us more? I’m Morodo, by the way”

“We can and we will return tomorrow with what we have. Morodo. Do you have an up top contact?”

“We do, but lately she’s been telling me very little. After the shark attacks started, I haven’t wanted to be too aggressive and risk myself. My cousins and brothers are dead and my uncle and father are injured. My father Changed and had to go up top. That actually has been a good thing as he has been able to create a place where we can buy food and eat up top which means that we are not totally dependent on the gardens. We have also maintained some relationships through my father. But things have been so chaotic and the man we used to rely on when things showed up hasn’t been around for some time. Have you heard anything about Josh Claytor?”

“His bower was struck as well and his mother in law was killed by the sharks. So he has been forced to stay up at the Cape. His wife was a big help with the investigation and in fact brought us in on it in the first place. Don’t push your up top source too hard. Did he have children that you haven’t seen around recently?”

“It’s a woman, Della. She’s a land fae, but has relatives in the bower. Her bonded was killed in an accident some time ago. She has a son, but we haven’t seen him for some time, now that you mention it.”

“Don’t let her know that you have been contacted by us. Do you have the boy’s name?”

“Steven, Steven Carlson.”

“Good. We have several children that the people responsible for this were using for the same purpose and we may have him already. We have an agent who is going to take over looking for the kids, but she hasn’t transferred down yet. Where is your father’s place. I will meet with him and anybody you send tomorrow afternoon.”

He told me and said, “It’s good to know that we are not alone. For a while it seemed like we were certain to be destroyed. Thank you for coming.”

“I’m going to talk to my people,” dad said. “I think that we can put together some Swimmers and some resources to help you rebuild the gardens. I work in the navy yard and there are some old anchors and other junk that we can use for a garden base. We’ll do a clean up and put a barge together.”

“Thank you, thank you very much. Do you want to visit the bower?” “Not now,” I said. “We just came over because my bonded wanted a Swim and to see what we could see. This is worse than we expected. We will come back tomorrow and go over everything.”

We Swam back across the harbor. “That was worse than we knew,” Angelo said. “Mike, I’ll talk to people about finding stuff for the gardens. This was too close a call. I wonder why they switched targets?”

“Because a keystone going into collapse causes a noise that all the fae in the area will hear,” dad said. “They were sure that the keystone here was going to collapse on its own and wanted to start the process with us before we found out about the collapse.”

“When the boss and Mary get back, we will have to have a very long talk.” I grimaced. “We never even had a whiff that this was happening. For that matter, the Amboy bower was something we never thought to look for. We knew about the Rockaway, the sound and the Cape, but this place just escaped us.”

“We’ll go over this with everybody,” dad said. “We really dropped the ball with these people. I’ll have to check with our people, but I don’t think that the navy does any recruiting out of the Amboy bower and we never thought about it either.”

 

When we reached the Rockaway bower we looked up Meria. “So how was your little expedition?”

“More than a little scary,” Sillia said. “The bower over there came very close to collapse.”

“Closer than we were?”

“Yes. They had their gardens trawled, the shark attacks and the chemical attack on the keystone. The man who we talked to didn’t say how many died, but there must have been some. They came very close to losing everybody.”

“That was nightmare that Mera was worried about. Why did they stop?”

“We don’t know. Mike thinks that they were almost certain that the keystone would collapse on its own or the community would fail anyway, so they moved on to us at least partially.”

“It was fairly obvious that had things gone on much longer the bower would have collapsed anyway,” dad said. “I’m going to talk to the admiral and Bob and see what we can do to help restore the gardens. I’m also going to talk to Tim Kirk about setting up a procedure for detecting these things. I’m also going to talk to my people about a junk cleanup and maybe we can put some of those old anchors for ships long gone on the bottom to snag trawls before they get into the gardens. We’re fairly safe from that, but the Cape might want to use the same things. I’ll talk to Mera about that.”

“Why don’t we go up and call the admiral ,” Meria said. “This could have been a disaster and we would have suddenly had refugees dumped on us while we were dealing with the same things here.”

“I think that that may have been part of it,” I pointed out. “They like panic and confusion to make what they are doing worse. If Mera and Josh hadn’t shown up, they would have. But Mera brought Nera down and put Mike and Nera into looking into things and then the boss sent Linda and I down. They were completely unprepared for people looking into what they were doing.”

Meria dragged us up top and it turned out that the Admiral and his family were already there. The admiral and Mabel had three kids, the oldest daughter was married and up top with her husband, who was a navy contractor in Virginia, the admiral’s son was graduating from MIT in May and his youngest was fifteen and more than likely was going to be with Suzy and Kathy if the weakness in her legs was any indication. “Where is Suzy? I haven’t seen her at the yard since Thursday,” Mabel asked. “Rachel here was asking me since she’s starting to Change.” “She and Tim went for a long distance Swim around Long Island with Steve and Haruka. They are coming back on the yacht starting tomorrow.” “Steve had to go see Stelios and get a report anyway,” the admiral said. “One of his people had an incident with a werewolf while providing security for Chrissie’s party.” “Why would Chrissie’s party need that level of security?” Meria asked.

“Here’s why.” The admiral handed Meria the evening paper. “I don’t know how she managed it, but she managed to get most of high level Washington up to the farm. I suspect that Tom had something to do with that.”

“How did Tom have anything to do with that?”

“I’m not sure, but when we started to check up on him, the word came down to not ask too many questions, but if he wanted something, it would be in our best interests to give it to him. After the Manager, I think that I know why.”

“We’ve been starting to go through that stuff he handed over,” I said. He must have all sorts of connections to have found that stuff and reading between the lines the people who gave the stuff to him did it because they wanted it used and expected that he would. I imagine that there were some people very pleased when the Manager went down. We’ll have to get the full story about the party when they get here.”

“Admiral, You’ve met my brother and his wife. This is his daughter, Dorothy”

“Welcome Dorothy. Has your aunt talked to you about a job at the yard?”

“No she hasn’t. Are there jobs available?”

“Yes there are, actually. Finding housing is the hard part right now. Several young ladies have joined us after Suzy and it’s working out very well.”

“If you do work there, you will have to learn to be discreet or run into snoopy reporters like my brother,” Kathy said. “On the other hand Suzy is a big tease and she did ask for being snooped on.”

“How did that happen,” Rachel asked. “I haven’t been to the yard recently and then Suzy was bonded.” “Well my brother didn’t know about Change until my dad had to go under sea, though it turns out that it wasn’t as under as we all thought. So he is over there at the market looking for toothy kidnappers and sees Suzy making big splash for to give the Pennsylvania   boys a send off. So Tim takes her picture, Suzy spots Tim and starts to chase him. Just before my dad sends his little announcement, she nails him and makes his camera drop in the drink. Tim comes down here afterwords all broke up abut losing his camera even though all his friends had already arranged for another one and there we are telling him about Change and the fact that supposedly we are going away forever right here in Bennies. Then Suzy comes in and they are obviously bonded and he’s stuck with her. He and Sal here keep chasing the toothy kidnappers, the kidnappers take a kid that nobody in their right mind would dream of touching, my brother tries to rescue the kid and gets taken and Suzy sneaks into the toothy kidnappers’ clubhouse to close the deal so that they can all Swim discreetly out. You can ask them the whole story at the wedding.”

“Admiral, I want to do a cleanup of the junk that’s been collecting,” dad said.

“While that is a good thing in general purposes, do you have a reason?”

“The Amboy bower’s gardens were trashed by trawls. I want to place some strategically placed anchors on the bottom so that if somebody tries that again, it will be very expensive. Plus some of those fixtures and whatnot can go to the bottom anyway and provide starter for the lobsters and other creatures.

We went over to the Amboy bower with Sal today and the place had been fairly well trashed by the sort of things that we’ve been talking about. Sal was doing cleanup after the sharks and my brother said that there was a strange fishing boat cruising around where it wasn’t supposed to at times that it wasn’t supposed to.”

“Have you seen the boat, Angelo?”

“Not personally. But a lot of people have. Not lately though. It’s a big trawler for deep ocean fishing like mine, but it keeps being seen close to the shore. It also seems to have too many crew aboard at times. I run my boat with six people, not including my wife and daughter, though they can handle the boat and help out. This boat runs with twenty.”

“Would you be willing to talk with my intelligence officer, Tim Kirk about the boat? The boat sounds as if it’s a boat that we’ve been looking for.”

“Mike already asked me to do that. My wife says that Tim had bonding issues.” “We fixed those by marooning him on an island with his bonded. They resolved things remarkably quickly once he could no longer escape.”

“Sort of like I did with you, Angelo,” Cynthia said. Only with me it was phasing into your cabin.”

“Do you know how much trouble I could have been in when you did that?” Angelo said. “Suppose the captain had shown up?”

“That wasn’t going to happen. He was on watch and knew about me. He wanted you set up as much as I did.”

“Admiral, I will be glad to sit down with your Mr. Kirk,” Angelo said. “If only to get the story of his bonding.”

“It’s worth it, Angelo,” dad said. “He did it to himself too.”

“His bonded is a wonderful lady,” Kathy said. “Suzy and I share the pool at work with her until we can get regular quarters. She keeps him straight.”

“They sound like interesting people,” Cynthia said. “Mike how come you didn’t tell us about all these interesting people you knew?”

“I haven’t known them for that long, Cynthia,” dad said. “Sal’s boss started bringing them in and suddenly everything got weird and strange. Which is really weird because we’re merfolk and we are supposed to be the weird and strange. Once Mike bonded with Nera, the world sort of turned upside down. Suddenly all these people showed up.”

“Well some of them had been around before,” I said. “Josh has been in and out for years. Steve is a navy officer and you knew him dad. They would have shown up anyway, sooner or later. So it’s not Mike’s fault, well not entirely. Uncle Angelo, they will all be at my wedding, so you can judge for yourself.”

“You will enjoy them,” the admiral said. “At least they can’t drop you in the drink like Noro did to me. Not that dropping me in the drink was a bad thing and at that, I was lucky. Josh was marooned.”

“Just about everybody knows that story,” Cynthia said. “That story has been going around merfolk circles for ages now. Since you all were up there for the big wedding, what happened with Tom and Chrissie this week. They seem to be in the papers a lot. Which considering that Chrissie is supposed to be discreet is rather amazing.” “Chrissie and discreet are not something that you normally use together in a sentence,” Meria said. “She takes after her mother where that is concerned, only worse. That party is a case in point. Of course that clown upstate deserves it. Ask Sissy if you don’t believe me.”

“Did somebody mention my name? Here’s your orders.”

She started to hand out the plates. “So what were we discussing?” “Jacob Martin’s antics with Chrissie.”

“You mean where he called her a “stupid girl” in front of the entire family. And the party that made the papers. At least we know where Doris went.”

“Do you think that the party was aimed at Jacob, Sissy?” I asked. “There must have been more than that.” “There probably was, but I can’t see my family let something like that stupid girl insult just sit there and none of us are stupid. Chrissie wouldn’t be family if she wasn’t coming up with something and making it as big as she could. I hope that the clown realizes that if he doesn’t apologize abjectly, it’s only going to get worse as more of us get involved.”

“It’s going to be fun,” Mabel said. “Hopefully they can use it to keep Noro occupied and away from the bower.”

“We can always point him at the Amboy bower for a project,” I said. “In fact I think that we should.”

We discussed how we could possibly get Noro involved in a reconstruction project for the Amboy bower until dinner was over and had all sorts of ideas. We also discussed what Tom and Chrissie had been up to. That kept us all occupied until it was time to drive back home where we talked to Tony, Robert, Albert and Mary about what we found. Perhaps most worrisome was that Steven was not among the indentured kids that we had and that meant that there was at least one more “School.”

 

Stelios.

Saturday 12/26 – Sunday, 12/27 – Monday 12/28.

Saturday went off without a hitch and Sunday was a success as well. I decided that putting people on the ferry, while it had been a good idea at the time, limited the flexibility of my people and that I could reduce the people in the ferry to petty officer Costa in the wheelhouse and having two people and a car next to the phone. I spent most of Saturday at the party, in the barn until Josh showed up and I left to join Boris at the sheriff’s office with not much going on. Which gave me time to write up the report on the Lieutenant. After going through Bill’s class I had a some insights on the report and I included those. Along with the photographs that had been taken at the scene. The lieutenant and the deputy had actually done things mostly right, had their guns out and had been looking out and covering each other, but the monster had been able to be discreet and attacked from the road, not the woods as one would have expected. Boris’s people did find where the thing had hung up its clothes and swung around, across the road and into the woods and behind them before crossing the road and coming back up the road as the lieutenant and the deputy had been going in the other direction. I looked at Boris and said, “I hate having to do this.” “You always do. That’s one reason that Bill is so tough. Still even when you do everything right it can go wrong. We had no reason to expect that Ed would show up here and we were stretched. I’m glad that your people were here and covering the lake. Though anybody planning to attack that party would have been rather surprised when they got there. Al went just a bit overboard and Larry had a chance to show off the merchandise.” He looked at his watch. “All the swells and most importantly, Josh, are in the inn for dinner. Why don’t we go over and have some of those great eats.”

We drove over to the barn, where the shoot staff and some of my people and Boris’s people were already grabbing lobster, clams, pork and fixings from pans on the table. We walked over to a table where Hilda and Athena were with Andy and a lady that I didn’t know. Hilda saw me and said, “Stelios, come over and meet somebody. Stelios, this is Theresa. She and her husband do discreet investigations for people. Right now Tom wants them to discuss werewolves with you.”

“The one that came over here. Did Tom say why?”

“He didn’t have a chance to,” Theresa said. “Other than saying that a discreet line of communication would be a good thing. Perhaps we can trade and figure out what he was looking for.”

“I don’t have very much.” “Nobody does,” Hilda said. “Why don’t you start with why you were sent up.” “Somebody at the War Department noticed how many VIP’s were showing up for the party and wanted some extra discreet security.” “Why you?”

“We speculated that it was because we knew you all and could work with you. Plus the fact that we are fae and we could be brought up as a unit without pulling people like Roscoe that might attract notice.” “Ok, so we can start with somebody at the War Department being nervous about the same things that we all were,” Theresa said. “Noro wanted us to look into things and we did some digging but didn’t run into anything. Neither did Mike, Al, Hilda and Athena. We mostly seemed to be running into each other. Tom speculated that Edward was still alive from the way Jacob is acting.”

“There were all those Twisted we dealt with down at the Managers. When we started to collect and Identify them, a chunk of them came from up over there or just West or South of there in Utica or Albany. Helmut’s people were still going through that stuff when Steve last sent a report last week.”

“Tell me more about how the Manager went down. I saw a lot of it from the sidelines, but not from the inside. The Director was rather disappointed that things did not go up in flames.”

“Tom and the bureau used a slow bleed strategy to remove the Twisted once we knew where Andy was. He was concerned that the kids were going to get in the crossfire and once we missed the opportunity to get the kids out because we couldn’t get in contact with the mothers, he made the noisemakers and pulled the twisted out so that they could be shot by Hilda and Stephie or us if necessary. We didn’t want to concentrate a larger number of soldiers because that would have attracted attention and the local police had been suborned by the Manager.”

“With all the expertise, why did everybody let Tom run the show?”

“Because he had a strategy right from the start. Mike, Helmut and Steve went along because he seemed to have an instinct for what the Manager might do. He set the manager up by messing up the trains, he built the noisemakers and provided Andy with supplies to make trouble. He wasn’t the only one driving though and Sal and Tim were working the sharks. So it wasn’t just Tom running things.”

“Tom does have an instinct for these things. He’s also been involved with this for a very long time and collecting information about the Director and what was happening for the entire time.”

“Steve and I first saw that at the ambush and when he told us what happened on the island. Once he got over the surprise, he took exactly the steps to deal with the problem. At the ambush he was willing to allow us to take over and run things because he thought that we had a better plan to hit back, though what we hit was something the other side considered expendable for the most part.”

“Losing the necromancer wasn’t. Losing both the necromancer and the chemist was a big blow to the Director.”

“What about the werewolves. Tom and Mike both mentioned that there were packs at one time, one that was attached to his brother and maybe some more.”

“My husband and I think that they were part of a push to advance the dark. The Director has been over here for a very long time creating chaos in the loose fae and killing a lot of them like my family right after they came over, using vampires and other Twisted. They nearly got my husband and I when we came over. The werewolves were part of the same thing that brought the Manager and the sharks over. Tom dealt with his brother. Mike knows what happened to the rest more than I do.” “Bill destroyed Brad’s pack before I arrived,” Hilda said. “Mike kept finding more, but we always assumed that they were escapees of Brad’s pack.”

“Then we had the thing across the lake,” I said.

“He’s been very sneaky or we would have picked up on him a long time ago. I suspect that what happened to the lieutenant and George was more or less an accident of timing. He probably felt that it was worth the risk to come over here so close to the full moon and see his kids for Christmas and instead of us being more or less shut down like we normally would be, there we were, looking for trouble coming. Tom seems to think that Ed knows that his time is more or less up.”

“Do either of you think that Ed by himself would make the War Department to be so concerned?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” Hilda answered. “All of us who went over there have sensed something bigger than one werewolf. When we all talk to Steve at the wedding, we can look into things. Mary and Helmut are taking Tom’s files with them and the people down in New York are already looking into them.”

“Well I should go back inside and mingle,” Theresa said. “I’m going to have to share copy with Doris later for the story about this party. Stelios, we will keep in touch, for reasons that will become obvious in a short time.”

She left and I said to Hilda, “She is a very interesting character.” “Very. She and her husband came over from Europe and were set upon by Twisted and had to give up their son to protect him. They lost him and were looking for him until they found him here.”

“Do I know him?”

“You’re trying to hide from him right now, which makes things even more interesting.”

“Josh? She didn’t look old enough to be Josh’s mother.”

“Welcome to the fae. Noro doesn’t exactly look old enough to be Mera’s father either.”

Stacey came out looking for Hilda. “I thought that you were hiding something. Hello Stelios. You’re a bit of a surprise.”

“Steve sent me up to watch your sister’s little party. It’s a favor for the War Department.”

“Probably because your units are all fae and it was easier to grab them rather than trying to pull something from the army. So you’ve been hiding, why?”

“Your dad. Steve doesn’t want him to know about a certain monster until you leave.”

“Tom’s werewolf probably. Now that Steve is back in the area, I imagine that he’s going to do everything in his power to put an end to dad’s monster hunts. Now that Mike and Al are part of the family that should be much easier and a bunch of people can feel a lot better. When dad and mom went down to New York on his boat, the business office got a bunch of calls from some rather nervous people. It’s a good thing that he called Mike right off the bat and ended up at Bennies. Because dad neglected to tell me or the business office where he was going. He didn’t tell John either, for that matter. I had to find out from Joe, who found out about it when Tom was on his way to Vermont and dad needed to drop off Tom’s keys off and Chrissie after that when she was out of it. I think that dad and mother were so happy to be back in their waterman and mermaid modes that he sort of forgot little things like telling people if he was going to be away from the office and needing to be in communication. Grandfather didn’t help matters by sending him down there with mom in the first place. Dad going on the train by himself is one thing, but out there on the boat with mom? I hope that him needing to come right back up gave him a clue. It was lucky that Joe knew where he was. Then there was Tom’s stuff and what he was involved in. I’ve been through his contact list and the people he talks to. I don’t think that the Director knows what he was dealing with. I need to get back, Suki and I are up for skiing lessons tomorrow afternoon, Hilda.”

“Ok, we can meet here for lunch.” She turned to me. “Now that you are finished eating let’s collect your day shift people and get you all to bed.”

We did that and I took the daily report and called the navy yard to check in. The desk said that Steve was going to meet me at the Cape on Monday.

Sunday was spent watching the ferry and the roads all of which were free of any fae that did not live there. I watched Josh and the rest leave after their early dinner, met with Helmut and Mary who were taking the morning train to New York at George’s and then platoon started back down to Newport with the guys who had the night shift driving as the rest of us slept. None of us were happy.

When we arrived at Newport, Steve wanted to meet with me on the Cape. So Art and I were on our way to the Cape, arriving at the dock where Hali was waiting on the edge for me. “Steve and Haruka aren’t here yet. Joe went over in Tom’s boat to bring them over. Steve called last night. You look terrible, so we get wet, right now.”

I bowed to wisdom, undressed and Changed as Art laughed at us. If it hadn’t been snowing we would have fixed that. The Swim felt great and Hali asked, “So what happened?”

“Roger was killed.” “How?” “A werewolf got him through the neck. We were supposed to be discreet additional security and Roger ran into the werewolf.”

“Did Uncle Josh chase after it?”

“Steve didn’t want me to tell him.”

“Good. Uncle Josh is too important for him to risk himself so lightly. What did grandfather do?”

“Take over the Olympics, but I don’t think that that had anything to do with the werewolf. Then Chrissie had a party. That’s why we ended up there in the first place.”

“Well why don’t we Swim out and meet Tom’s boat on the way back. I don’t think that it will be too long. So was the party fun?”

“What I saw of it, yes. I had to be on duty for most of it. I helped Bob and Scott set up Tom’s toys and was there with Boris and watched the shoot until Josh showed up. For the most part I was there to take Eric’s foreman, Bill’s class on enhanced adversaries. He’s coming down and I think that all our people should get the training. The Boston FBI office sent some people up, but I’m not sure if it was for the training or yet more security. Tom seems to know everybody important in Washington and a big bunch of them came up.”

“The other side probably wanted to know what was going on, so the werewolf came over.”

“Actually no, the werewolf came over well before anybody from Washington was going to show up. Hilda thinks that the werewolf came over because he has a bonded over in Vermont and wanted to spend a last Christmas with his bonded and                           his kids.” We Swam out toward Martha’s Vineyard and an hour or so later we sensed Tom’s boat approaching and they slowed to let us leap aboard. Moira was handling the boat and Joe, Steve, Haruka, Tim and Suzy were aboard. Joe handed us blankets. “Suzy wanted to Swim around the island,” Tim said. “Haruka insisted that Steve come too.”

“So what happened, Stelios?” Steve asked.

“Art Costa has the report in the car. We went up and the lieutenant thought that the best way to make ourselves useful was to take over the ferry and join up with Boris’s people to cover the south end of the lake. I took over the ferry with four people and the lieutenant was on the road duty with five of our people and the other five were in the hotel as the night team. Thanks to Chrissie’s party Boris and some FBI people were there as well and we had six cars over. About oh nine hundred or so, two powerful high fae come over in separate cars and I have it called in. At about twelve hundred or so, their cars are being towed back and they look rather scared. I learned later that they had been sent over as diversion.

We continued to operate the ferry until it shut down for the day and that was when I learned that the Lieutenant had been killed. Hilda took me to meet up with Boris and Eric’s foreman, Bill at his place and we bunked there for the night. I was at the party until your father showed up to take Bill’s enhanced adversary class and keep an eye on things and the rest of the mission went on without incident. We came back as ordered.” “Good. Did Hilda say anything more than she told me when you called in on Friday?”

“We have some speculation. Most of that will be in the report. As far as we know the lieutenant picked up on the werewolf and it turned on him.”

“Was the werewolf hunting for something?”

“I’m not an expert, but I don’t think so. You’ll have to talk to Mike, Bill or Hilda.”

“Did my father see you?” “No, as far as I know, he didn’t. I talked with Tom, Stacey and another person that you will meet, but not your father. I took steps to keep things discreet as you ordered.”

“Well for something that went as bad as this did, you did a good job.” “I wish that we had better intelligence, but nobody did. Mike, Al, Hilda, Athena and Tom all sensed something over there and Noro brought in two specialists and none of them found anything. Tom’s speculation about the werewolf was based on the actions of Mr. Martin and he didn’t have much to go on Thursday when Hilda first talked with us.

Other than the Lieutenant everything else was a milkrun. We never had a whiff of anything to bother the party or the VIP’s and we just watched them leave.”

“So was the party as fun as the paper looked,” Haruka asked.

“I was more or less on duty for the party, but yes, including yet another visit where Mr. Martin inflicted his daily Jacob on poor Tom. He apparently was the reason that Chrissie put the whole thing together and Tom has been pushing him away all week.”

“How did all the VIP’s know to come up in the first place?”

“From what Stacey and Hilda said, Tom made a lot of connections in his time in Washington and Stacey found his address book when Tom handed his contacts over. Then Chrissie sent out wedding announcements and invitations.”

“This being a slow week, and the potential for a good time, that will do it.”

“Also, a bunch of people were a bit concerned about thing over at the Olympics and Tom has more or less become the troubleshooter for those little problems. Haruka, he is likely going to be talking to you and Steve about going up to the games if what the prince said to me means anything.” “What for?” “The prince is entertaining the royals from under sea and will want a Japanese speaking person to be a guide and help out with those things that crop up.”

“I can do that. It sounds like a wonderful thing for somebody to come all that way. I’ll talk to him about it.”

“You’ll like the prince too. He gets along with Tom very well.”

“That is probably going to be fun,” Tim said. “Is the prince coming for Sal’s wedding?”

“I don’t know. He may be staying at the inn or going back to Washington. But his sister and the others are arriving soon, so Tom may want Sal to provide housing for the merfolk.”

“That will be interesting. How did my family get involved with the Olympics anyway?”

“You’ll have to ask Noro, but Jacob managed to piss off Josh pretty thoroughly and apparently there were some unpaid bills involved. So the committee pissed off Josh too, he gave them a hard deal and they accepted it. One key point is that Jacob was to be nowhere to be found and he’s managed to mess that one up.”

“The poor man doesn’t know what he’s done to himself,” Steve said. “He’s lucky that Joe and I haven’t been drawn in yet, but give it time. I won’t be able to escape now that the werewolf has killed one of my people. As for Joe, he missed his chance to work with Tom on the Manager to a certain extent. But until things move down here, he’s not going to be able to be involved.” “I didn’t miss out entirely,” Joe said. “I was in the water for a chunk of things. I was also at the navy yard and talking with people about the yacht and the cruise business. Moira and I also helped Altris’s boys make the selections for Chrissie’s little party and get them ashore. I do want to talk to Tom about his gags and what he does with water magic. Steve, you and I will have to find out from Altris’s boys exactly how much fun they all had. I feel sorry for that Jacob fellow. ”

“I know. To light off everybody like that. Of course most of the time we are all here and everybody here knows better than to light the family off. This is the first time that Aunt Nera and Aunt Eltra have been away from here. So nobody is going to understand what could happen. Mostly it was us playing around with each other, the last fifteen years or so. Then there’s mother. You just know that she was talking to everybody she knew down in DC about the party. We’ll have to find out everything at the wedding. I want to meet this prince character.”

“You’ll like him, sir,” I said. “He was there involved with Tom. Not a stuffed shirt type at all. His wife is worse. She’ll be poking Jacob just to get him to go after Tom. Not that Tom needs to be poked.”

“How was grandfather?” Joe asked. “I hope that he doesn’t go into his funk again.”

“Fine as far as I saw. But I didn’t see very much. Nobody seemed to be very concerned about him.”

Haruka took off the jacket that she had been wearing and the dress underneath. “Steve, We’re pretty close to the harbor. Why don’t we Swim over to the yacht and Joe can put the boat back in the boathouse. Tim you come too, you too Stelios.”

The ladies leapt into the water and we had to follow. As we Swam into the harbor, some cars were lining up beside the yacht.

 

 

Tom.

Monday 12/28. After some connections and zigzagging our train car arrived at the Cape with the two o:clock train. Chrissie and the rest spent a good portion of the night in the tanks and once we reached the shore in the early morning the Pullman people changed the water. We were joined at New Haven by a Pullman car engineering staffer and an engineering staffer and we started to go over potential improvements on the tank bed and how the water might be handled for longer journeys. Right now, the service was limited to the East Coast and out trip had been one of the trips farthest inland. I told them about the approaching Japanese princess and her under sea friends and said that it was probable that they would be doing this again.

When we arrived at the station, the business office had some cars and a truck waiting including George’s Packard. Stacey and George went home to drop things off and get fresh clothes and the rest of us were driven down to the dock and the yacht. The truck was taking the Christmas presents, the presents for my wedding that people had left at the party and the things we wouldn’t be needing to the business office to be sorted out later. We took the rest to the yacht. When we arrived at the yacht, six heads popped out of the water. Stelios had apparently beaten us back and there were Steve, Haruka and Hali, along with Tim and Suzy. They plunked up on the dock as we got out of the cars. Josh said, “I’m bit surprised to see you here, Stelios. You’ve been avoiding me all weekend.”

“Steve ordered me to,” Stelios said. “He was concerned that you would just go after the werewolf.”

“More to the point, dad, I was under orders to be discreet and setting you off would have not come under being discreet.” Steve had a rather firm expression on his face. “I also had both my superiors sitting right next to me when Stelios called after Roger was killed and they endorsed my orders. As did the war department which had requested my people in the first place when I reported to them. I don’t think that they liked the idea of you going on a random monster hunt. Especially one as sneaky as this one apparently is. We will go after him, but I want to talk to Hilda, Boris, Bill and Tom, along with the people that served with him if I can before we go after him.”

“Steve, Ed came into my office yesterday and we had the same kind of chat that I had with my brother,” I said. “In a way, what happened was almost as much our fault as his. The lieutenant and the deputy triggered something that Ed really doesn’t have much control over any more than my brother did. That being said, Ed needs to be brought to an end and he has compulsions that won’t let him go easily. Let’s get the ladies in the water and then we can talk more about this.”

That turned out to be unnecessary as the ladies had flipped themselves into the water while we were standing there. Chrissie called out, “Tom and the rest of you, get the boat loaded before Joe gets back so that we can get going! Then get in the water with us. We need to get you all back in shape.”

Since I was still wearing my suit that was a bit unfair because I couldn’t actually help with the work and just carried my guns and our bags onto the yacht and put Chrissie’s dress onto a hanger and hung it up in our cabin. Most of the presents and what not for the wedding were coming down with Noro, especially Tim’s pistol, since Larry would be doing the finish work. I had managed to get the frame work and some of the rest done while the kids were there and did the modifications late Thursday night.

There wasn’t that much to load as it was all just the baggage for the wedding anyway and our clothes for the trip. When I was putting the stuff in the drawers, I noticed that my bag had several of my suits and none of jeans and shirts I usually wore. So I made a quick trip over to the harbormasters and called Joe to bring back one set of clothes. I was going to need them regardless of what Chrissie thought for Al’s little project. After I got back to yacht, I undressed, Changed and joined the rest in the water. Tim asked, “so what’s going on with that Martin character? He seems to have made a big impression.”

“Well after the wedding, my parents, Hilda and Athena went over to talk to Jacob Martin, the king over across the lake. They showed him what we all had been involved in and in some of the discussion regarding George, Jacob said that Bob and Scott were, “Such good boys.” What he didn’t seem to realize was that Bob and Scott were bussing tables where Jacob was meeting. Apparently father had been sending them over before meeting with Jacob and Jacob never picked up on it. Bob and Scott did the sort of things that you might expect.” “The parade. We saw a newsreel.” “Yes it was a lot more fun in person, especially when Jacob shows up and while father is introducing Chrissie says, “some stupid girl from the Cape” in front of most of the family.”

“That will do it, at least partly,” Steve said. “But there must have been more, because even our family wouldn’t go all out unless he made an absolute fool out of himself.” “He managed to accuse Scott of kidnapping his granddaughter after their dance, to Josh and me and tried to throw the White’s people out of their Christmas party because the company had rented his favorite place for it. So Chrissie had a lot of support, not least from Stacey and me.”

“The party. Was it fun? ”

“Oh yes, it was.”

“So how did you end up with Jacob’s office?”

“The committee came over and wanted Noro to be the patsy for the Olympics failing and they got Josh instead. We went over and I was assigned the task of getting the rest rooms and concessions going. In the process of figuring out why they weren’t ready I had been meeting with enough people that we needed a table and room. Josh and Noro were meeting with most of the committee in their conference room going over the schedule and Chrissie pointed out the empty office and the table. So we get together, I need to make a very delicate negotiation with a very high level lady in Washington and in walks Jacob. The problem was that Josh had told the committee that under no circumstances was Jacob to be even near the games or he was going to pull the people we were bringing in and I was on the phone with the White House. Jacob starts screaming at me and I need to get rid of him and fast, so I toss him out and to make sure that he doesn’t come back, take the office.” “He wasn’t using it for anything but a place to hang his hat and read the paper,” Chrissie said. “When it came to getting any real work done, the man is useless. So I redecorated.”

“How did the party happen?” Steve asked. “As far as I knew you weren’t planning anything like that.”

“It’s Tom’s fault,” Chrissie said. “He hid his life away and when Stacey asked for his contacts we found all these people that he knew that should have been invited to the wedding and weren’t. So we had a second reception and people showed up.” “We weren’t going to look at those,” Steve said. “Only Stacey and Mary were going to manage those.” “That was the scary books. This was Tom’s desk book from his office. Of course Tochi showed up anyway, so we would have known about things even if Tom hadn’t handed the books over. The party would have been harder to manage though.

So anyway, we were thinking about ways to deal with Jacob and since robbing him blind wasn’t going to be effective we decided to take his status and influence away from him. Tom provided me with some of the tools to do that and I already had the rest. The company and the business office actually came out ahead at the party if what grandfather said was true.”

“So where did the Japanese prince come into the picture?”

“I’ve known Tochi for a long time,” I said. “He needed some rather discreet services and he came up to see if I could help with them. Since the discreet services involved the transport and quartering of merfolk at the games, that was something that I could help with. His wife came up and they stayed for the party. Mary and Roger are renting them the inn for the Japanese team until the games and we will want to help with the merfolk. Haruka, while I speak Japanese, I will be up at Lake Placid through the games. Would you be willing to help with the ladies?”

“Steve said that you might ask and I would be glad to help the ladies coming such a long way.”

“Thank you. That will be a big help and you will like Tochi and Suki when you meet them.” “They are not fae, are they?”

“No, the Imperial family isn’t. At least that is what Sumitomo told me. I asked about that when Tochi showed up and didn’t seem to be fae They can’t be truly separate from the people. They may have been fae in the past, but they joined with the rest of humanity a very long time ago in a conflict against the Oni. A lot of legends came out of that. Still they relate to the fae and things are in flux right now. In any case they have a close relationship with the sea people. Tochi and Suki are not at all like you might think when you hear about royalty. They’ve been good friends for a long time now, though they have been in Japan and I hadn’t seen them for six years or so.”

“So how did the werewolf enter the picture and why do you think that killing Roger and the deputy was essentially an accident?”

“The werewolf entered the picture when I noticed that Jacob was acting like Joe Buckley, acting stupidly. He’s never been the brightest bulb and you will have to ask Stephie more about that because she was in contact with more than the rest of us, but this week the stupidity was off the scale. Not only did he raise that stink in front of all of us over Bob and Scott’s antics, which everybody loved and the committee would really like me to rig up a bigger show for the closing ceremonies, But there was the scene in the office, a scene at Antonio’s with Tochi’s people and He tried to throw everybody out of the restaurant as Doris was introducing your dad’s parents to me.”

“What!! We’ve always assumed they were dead. Dad how did you find them?”

“They found me,” Josh said. “Or at least they were looking for me and one of them resonated during my meeting with the committee. They are mercenary spies who feed stuff to the opposition for money and work for other clients. They were actually hired by father to do some discreet digging.” “I’m arranging with Hilda and Athena to feed the other side stuff through them.” I smiled. “The ladies need money because that weird Mr. White sent Athena into some bad investments and my sisters need money for their ammunition habit and to buy more guns. We are planning to set up a meeting at Bennies.”

“Why would that guy even come near the place?” Steve asked. “I doubt he would feel comfortable there.”

“Theresa, that’s your grandmother, set it up and this was right after the wedding and the sharks had just had their bad day,” Josh said. “Tom wants to have Dom and Sal doing some troubleshooting setup and the usual crowd there for the meeting.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun. I think I like my new grandparents already.” Mera had gone aboard the yacht and dropped back in the water. “Josh, why don’t we all start Swimming out to the bower? We need to check in and the yacht can catch up with us when George and Stacey get back. Steve, Art Costa put the report on the yacht for you. Joe brought your clothes back from the boathouse.

He also collected Tom’s guns from Jake’s and put them in the boathouse for you, Tom. He figured that you wouldn’t be able to get to them yourself.” “They could have stayed where they were for the time being.” We Swam out to the bower where Altris and Ilutra were waiting for us. “Chrissie, how did things work out up there?”

“Wonderful, Uncle Altris. Everybody had a great time. We could see some new business next year here too.”

“Good, so we can write off the party. Of course with the guest list, that was obvious. Was that character up there humiliated?”

“Yes he was, but Tom and I have some more ideas. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

“Well, tell me everything. There was some stuff in the paper, but it wasn’t clear what would set the whole family off.”

Chrissie went over the whole thing again, as well as some of our other concerns.” “Well having father take over the games is probably a good thing and Josh, I wish that you hadn’t spent so much time on the water last summer and fall. Not that there was any way to know for sure.” “I know. I got too distracted and I was caught up in enjoying myself.” Josh grimaced a bit.” Lou never raised that much of a stink and I assumed that things were ok until I was back in the city dealing with the Manager. I’m going to have to be up there for the next month or so thanks to that. The good thing is that Noro and Tom can take a big part of the load.”

“Are we going to need family people up there as well as the company?”

“We shouldn’t. The people we have up there are good and Tom dealt with the biggest sticky, which was the water supply. Mera and Chrissie are going up with us and we will be operating from Eric’s place. The commute is long, but we can stay overnight if we have to and we have access to a salt water pool for the ladies if we need it.”

“Well, if you need some people, Josh, don’t hesitate to ask. This is our slow time anyway and we may need you back here from time to time.”

“It’s not a vacation anymore. Though that clown owes me one. There’s more to this than the clown though. We did have one very good thing happen. My parents found me.”

“How did that happen? We could never track down anything. We tried at first because you were royal fae and we wanted to know what your lineage and connections were. But by the time you met my sister, the orphanage had been burned down for twenty years and your adoptive parents were dead.” “They apparently have been looking for me by looking at what the dark was doing. The problem was that by the time they got close enough they were afraid of me because of how I dealt with the dark and they didn’t want to risk getting too close.” “What changed their minds?” “One of them slipped into Josh’s little meeting with the committee and resonated,” Mera said. “Then they were working for father and made discreet contact with Tom. He was concerned that they would be hunted by the werewolf he had discovered and had Doris bring them in to talk and Josh’s mother resonated as well.”

“I want to meet them and since Ralia and I are joining you for the wedding, we can. I thought that all the werewolves were dead.”

“So did we,” I said. “But the clown’s heir could not be accounted for and he was acting like Joe Buckley, so I looked into the heir’s military records and found that he had been missing in action. We discovered that he was real when he showed up over on our side of the lake and killed one of Steve’s people and one of my brother’s deputies.

He actually came into the office and we had a discussion yesterday. The problem with the werewolf Twist is that the victim can’t constrain the monster if they are stressed or too close to certain parts of the lunar cycle. He was both that day.”

Ralia Swam up with a gaggle of girls trailing behind.  “We’re ready to go. Sal told me to bring more girls and well, their mothers told them to go. Tom, are Bob and Scott coming?” “Yes, but they have both bonded. Scott bonded in a rather spectacular fashion. His bonded is probably coming to the wedding.”

“Well I expect that Greta has more grandsons.”

“Yes she does. One is sixteen and one is fifteen, but they are not coming down until the Summer.”

“Good, so the girls can be ready for them.”

I was wondering if I should warn Diana and Larry. But they probably already knew. Better Mera’s family than Jacob’s anyway.

The yacht cruised up and we all leapt aboard and started our cruise. Of course Chrissie and Mera insisted that Josh and I drop right back into the water along with Tim and Suzy. We Swam until dinner and then went back on board as the yacht cruised up the sound. As I rolled Chrissie into the dining room she said, “The farm was an adventure, but I am so glad to have you back on the water, even if it’s for a little while. The inn will have a pool soon and that should make things easier. I will also have to be down here for Sumitomo’s relatives. I expect that you will have to come down to the city frequently too.”

“I do too. We can arrange some Swim time together.”

“We are going to. Even somebody like yourself needs time with his wife. I’m going to insist that you get it.”

During dinner Tim and Suzy made sure that they got all the Jacob stories. “I thought that you couldn’t file copy and Doris has all of it anyway.”

“I can’t file any until next week,” Tim said. “But I heard the stories at Mike and Sal’s Christmas party and I wanted to hear them straight from you. You never mentioned that you could just call the White House.”

“Don’t try that. It can get you in a lot of trouble. The office mom there is powerful and you do not want to get on her bad side.”

“Like Mary?”

“Worse. Though the difference is slight as they talk to each other anyway. So piss off one and you could piss off all of them. Fortunately Josh was just laughing his head off in the back corner with Noro while I was beating up on Jacob after I got off the line with the President.” “What about the Japanese prince?”

“Jacob is lucky that Suki didn’t show up until Saturday. Hopefully Jacob stays away. Suki has very twisted sense of humor and is perfectly willing to poke Jacob so that he keeps me occupied. Fortunately I gave Tochi’s kids copies of my book and that will keep them occupied for a while.” “They aren’t the only ones that will like that book. We had a kid who was a friend of Trillia’s and he’s going to make sure that you are fully entertained. Along with all the other kids.” “A friend of Trillia’s. How did that happen?”

“Apparently he was out on a boat and she turned it over. She helped him flip it back and has been going to his parties ever since, along with most of the other parties along the coast and as much trouble as they can get into. Trillia was looking to find out more about her father by talking to people who knew him.”

Suzy and Chrissie dragged us over the side for a Swim, along with the rest of us, Including Moira dragging Joe. We Swam for a bit until it was time to get aboard the yacht and bed down. None of the ladies let us Change and we woke to yet another Swim before breakfast.

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