Mermaids, Chapter 24, part 5

This chapter went long. But it was fun. Today the Director and the Colonel case Bennies and Steve plays spy games.

The Director.

Wednesday 1/20, 1932.

The werewolves arrived early Wednesday morning and I placed them in a safehouse that I had acquired some time ago. They shared the safe house with the two doppelgangers, the Necromancers, the Chemist and the Instructor. The Chemist had looked into acquiring the materials for another assault in the various keystones and had been treated with suspicion and new restrictions on sales to foreigners of certain critical components. “I can buy the valves in steel, I can buy them in aluminum and I can buy the valves in bronze. They will not sell me the stainless steel valves unless I can provide proof of use and a long term residency or proof of US citizenship.” “Go to another supplier.” “White’s is the only company that makes the valves with the seals I need. They have also stopped shipping those particular valves overseas without proof of use and onsite inspections by White’s personnel.”

“Well we will have to resolve that at another time. Did you make the device I requested?”

“That? It’s done and ready to go.”

The Captain answered the phone and talked for a short time. “The Colonel is here and wants to meet us at the Coney Island subway station.”

With that we got in the car and headed down to the subway station. It was eleven o clock by the time we arrived and the Colonel was waiting. He got in the car. He turned to me and said, “I thought that we would scope out the territory before committing to a plan. We have twelve werewolves who could possibly get to and secure the car before it left. Sometimes a rapid assault and iniative can be successful, especially if we have knowledge of the terrain. We will also speak to your indentured.”

I told the captain where to go and we parked the car at the end of the street. Somebody must have been thinking about security because the street from an assault by werewolves point of view was a nightmare. On the end of the street were two navy shore patrol people and two NYPD officers directing traffic for the large trucks on the street. On the other side of the street was a large Packard sedan with two rather tough looking individuals inside. As we walked down the street, there were men working in the trucks wearing navy uniforms, men that seemed to be fishermen and teamster types next to the truck cabs. There weren’t any weapons visible, but I had a suspicion that they were ready to hand. We walked down the street into the speakeasy, which was essentially empty. I hoped that Claudia was not here yet, but she showed up to take our drink orders. “Claudia, this is the Colonel and one of his people.”

“Hello, so what can we get for you?”

“Three beers,” the Colonel said.

“Ok, D. I’ll be right back.”

I turned to the Colonel and he said, “I doubt that a direct assault is possible. The men in Change would be too obvious even if the men out there were not fae and I suspect that a significant portion are. Still all is not lost. Let us talk with the lady and see what we can find.”

Claudia came back with the beers and the Colonel said, “D. here tells me that the Japanese ladies have been coming here.”

“Every night. They have been staying at the bower here because the great lady invited them and they like to eat at Bennies with their friends.”

“How many friends?”

“A lot. Poor Sissy is overworked and I’m not quite ready to help out when they are busy. I’ve been relieving Sissy in the midafternoon so that she can see her kids home from school, but Bennie doesn’t want me in the way while the Prince and his friends eat there every night.”

“How do the ladies go to the bower at night?”

“On the rickshaw, Silvio and Tochi’s people take care of that.”

“Has the prince always come down?”

“Most of the time. He likes to come down here away from the press people and just be with his friends.”

“What if the rickshaw was broken?”

“The building in back of Bennies has a passage to Bennies and a hole over the water. Mr. Thomas uses it to get to his office from the bower. There is another rickshaw in back anyway.”

“Who is Mr. Thomas?”

“He has all the uptop businesses. He was injured in the war and when his wife and daughter Changed, he did too and has a tail full time. He is high fae and related to the great lady.”

This was working about as I had figured. The prince and his security people being here was a bonus. Hopefully even the madman would admit that what he wanted was impossible. A high fae prince and access to the water in the back, a wall of people with guns in front, with most of them either fae or immune to compulsions. Since the Manager had been so generous with them, I had to believe that whoever had assigned the mob shooters and the police made sure to put men immune to compulsions here. HE must have been thinking the same things as he started to ask different questions.

“The men who guard the ladies, are they always the same?”

“At night no. They rotate around with the prince.”

“What about in the morning?”

 

That’s Taki and Hidimoto. They come down with princess Ayoko and the princes wife Suki. They come here for coffee while the ladies are waiting for the mermaids. You would think that those samurai type would be all strict and demanding. But Taki and Hidomoto are nice guys and fun to talk to.”

I wanted to tell her to stop. To tell her what she was doing and I couldn’t. The colonel was getting what needed, not by pressing the information in an interogation, but simply in a normal conversation. Which went on as I was screaming inside for Claudia to stop as we found out about her friends that guarded the Japanese ladies, the princess and the prince’s strange but wonderful wife that everybody liked, Suki. I was hoping that the fact that having Suki and the princess in the car made the whole thing far too dangerous. The Colonel had answers for that too. “So, how are Taki and Hidimoto enjoying the city.”

“They like it very much. They both like shows and go out at night when they can. They are off on Thursday night and Taki, who I think is sweet on me, offered to take me to the hottest show on Broadway. When I asked how he got them, he said that a fish swam up and gave them to him. I’m working Thursday night, so I had to tell him no.”

“Well it sounds as if your new friends are having a wonderful time. The Director and I have to go now, so we will get going.”

As we walked backup the street, I noticed Robert with a bunch of kids, a man who must be a reporter, a young man who was taking pictures of the kids and a man who was wearing a fisherman’s captain outfit. Robert was apparently working for some place that was handling former indentured’s children and others, as he was being their teacher and bodyguard. It looked like he, at least had found a happy spot and the kids he had always loved. The colonel seemed startled by something but he didn’t stop and try to talk to the kids, something that would have ended badly for him as Robert would know what he was and killed him.

As we walked up the street, the colonel turned to me, “That construct there, was he one of the ones that you were talking about?”

“That was Robert.” “He didn’t seem to see us.”

“He saw us, me at least. As long as we continued walking up the street, we were fine and he probably knows that I have been here before.”

We walked past Bennies and there was a crowd of lunchgoers including three teenaged mermaids and a another couple that seemed to be waiting for somebody. The smells were wonderful and I regretted not being able to go inside. As we reached the end of the street Spirit and Ghost passed us in a car, going in the other direction, probably coming down here for lunch. We reached the car and got in. As we drove over to a place, had lunch and returned to the safe house, the Colonel seemed lost in thought and the Captain not much better. When we reached the house, the lieutenant, who the colonel had sent to procure maps said, “I have some maps of the area around the target.”

“We will not need them. We do not have the resources for a conventional assault on a street full of men and guns, there are handy escape routes and the back door to the restaurant has a powerful high fae near the back door most of the time and more than likely others providing security and working there. So any attempt to assault the street is going to fail. I expected that, Director, when we discussed this at the academy. But things are not without hope and the bold can still take the prize. We will use the doppelgangers after all. The two men will probably be wearing their uniforms and will be easy to spot. We can find a discreet spot to make the Change and dispose of the bodies. The captain and his people can help with that. The doppelgangers will take the prince’s car and use the device that the Chemist has made to incapacitate the ladies. You and the instructor will procure the truck and bring it here, to this rendezvous point.”

He pointed to a place on the map. It was a residential neighborhood. “Colonel, while the location has a subway station near by, it is in a residential location and there may be witnesses.”

“The necromancers can deal with loose ends. One of them will Take some police officers and deal with that after we are gone.”

The Colonel had probably not had the experiences that I had had with Necromancers and loose ends. Nor did he understand that the bureau knew everything about zombies and even if the loose ends were dealt with, the whole thing would unwravel as the things spiraled out of control. I tried again. “I don’t think that that is a good idea. It would be better to choose a more discreet location for the transfer, down here near the docks for instance.”

“Finding such a place and making sure that all the various elements of the plan know how to get there will take time we do not have at present. I scouted the location that I chose and it will be suitable for the brief time that we need it. Captain, I think that we have enough to go forward. I must go now, so have the lieutenant take me to the subway. By the way Director, I was never here and you will forget me until we speak again.”

He left and I started to work with the captain to make the Board’s madness work. The Board had insisted on doing this over my objections and I was obligated to make it work if I could.

Tom.

Wednesday 1/20, 1932.

Mark and I went down to White’s chemical and pump manufacturing plant in Schenectady with a set of drawings to go over the pumps. Frank, the production supervisor said on the tour he took us on around the plant, “Tom, let the office know when you come down next week for the singnoffs. A bunch of us have kids at home that would really like to meet you. How did you come up with all that stuff anyway?”

“My sister and her friends. My sister is older than I am and poked me to try to get me to do certain things. I also thought that her friends were snooty, looking down on me and I wanted my sister to stop having so many parties because the parties made more work for me. Remember that I was about twelve when this started. Menawhile the neighbor next door had a lathe and a shop where he would make elaborate and wonderfull mechanical toys. He started me making things in his shop and told me to sign up for correspondence courses to learn how to do things better. So I used what I learned, started to get those magazines for still more ideas and made up surprises for my sister’s parties and other things. I did the book because my neighbor said that I should always make drawings of what I did and keep a record of what I did. Things went on for a while, I left home, bummed around at various things and met my wife.

When I came up to the farm so that my parents could meet my fiancé, my sister woke us up by banging a skillet. Since it was my turn and I wanted to give my sister as much trouble as possible, I had some copies of the book printed up. The shop made some extras, a publishing executive bought one and the rest followed along. The funny part is that the gags had exactly opposite effect than I expected. Instead of going away, the girls kept coming back, looking for my latest gag.”

He laughed. “Well you’ve caused a lot of trouble and made a bunch of kids happy, so there is a good ending to the story. Other than you obviously knowing what you are doing, how did you end up in this job?”

“Nepotism. Reverse nepotism. When I was dating my wife, her dad was playing the simple waterman giving me a job so that I could work the boat. Nice, simple and easy. Nothing about big companies and family responsibilities. Chrissie made sure that I was kept in the dark about certain things and Noro was being a recluse and staying away from the business.

Then we get married, the Games get dumped on the old man and suddenly there I am, back in a suit and right back in the kind of job that I had been running away from. So I’m stuck with it.”

“Having seen your wife in the papers, there are compensations.” “Yes, but she seems to have out done herself this week. I should have known that would happen with Suki around.”

We finished the tour and got to work going over the pumps. We went over my prints, made some notes and changes and went over the almost ready pumps. The whole thing took several hours,but by the time it was over, I was sure that the pumps would be ready. After we were done the company manager wanted to see me. “Tom, I’m George Raillis. I wouldn’t have bothered you other than to say hi and I expect that Frank already told us to tell your people to call us when you come down next week for the singoff, but Lou and Mr. Claytor wanted to know if anybody put in a request for certain valves in stainless. We also embargoed those valves for anybody who is not a US citizen or a long term resident without an agreement telling us how the valves were going to be used. Mr. Claytor wanted to make sure that there was not a repeat of our valves being used in a facility that had apparently caused quite a few deaths.”

I wrote down the bureau’s address and number. “Send what you have to this number. This agency and some others had to clean up another of those facilities and they found still another one last week. So Mr. Claytor was rather annoyed that our valves were critical when they made the things that were killing people. Send a copy up to Josh as well.”

“We already did. But we wanted you to know so that you could tell him about it when you saw him this evening. I’ll get the material sent down to New York right away.”

I thought about the fact that there was new Chemist out there trying to start things up again as we headed over to the steel fabricators so that I could check them out and see how the frame for my big projector was working out.

When we got back to the farm, Bob and Scott were working on the exchange with Theresa. She saw me walk in and said, “We rerouted all the taps. We found one at the school as well. We can take calls from anything and dump it into a tap, or anything else.” “Did you find out where the taps lead?”

“Oh, yes. We found where they connected. We have the address and Ralph came in from the woods and took pictures of all the cars and trucks at the address. They are also breaking in, because the house is owned by the Wilsons, who went South to be with their kids for the winter and as far as Boris can tell, these clowns haven’t rented the house. John Wilson was rather upset when Boris called him.”

“Are they fae?”

“They don’t seem to be. Mother was driven over there by father and didn’t sense anything and the house was not shielded. Ralph has photographs of all the men in the house and we are sending the pictures to the State Department.

In any case, we subverted all the taps. Jeremy has been told to call all his friends and chat. Most of the other younger kids as well.”

“Stories about me, I expect.” “Yes, they are all excited about the big thing that you are planning over here the weekend after next.”

“A big boom, right.”

“Well something. Our kids have been watching the older kids and you in the shop every night cooking up a big thing after work.”

“I hope you made sure to tell the kids, that, while I am working on something, that it will probably not be over here or a boom.”

“Stephie took care of that at the school. But they all know that you are cooking something up.”

“So now I have to. On the other hand I’m glad it’s the kids and that the people tapping the phones won’t have a clue.”

Josh and Noro walked in. “We saw that you were back and Eric pointed us here. So this is your phone company.”

“Not for very much longer. I’m going to have to turn it over to Theresa soon or run into conflict of interest concerns.”

“I’m glad that you are dealing with it. Eric mentioned the same thing, along with the fact that some family members have had a long term dispute with you over certain things. He’s a bit worried that you will make things expensive, just to poke those people in the eye.”

“Why? I don’t need the money and I’ve known what they think of me since I was about twelve or so. For that matter they were at the root of my battles with Stephie with their little digs to her and mother since I was about ten or so. As far as the phone system goes, the only reasons I held onto it were the access to the phone company for fun and games down in Washington and other places and the agreements that I had with Western Electric and the labs about using the system as a guinnie pig. I was concerned that that would end if I transferred the system. Theresa has convinced me that the use of the system to test hardware probably won’t change.”

“How did I do that, Tom?”

“Because the way you acted. You spent a week chasing down a click. That was my friends tapping the phone but still you spent that time chasing it down. Then there was your reaction to the taps and how you had Bob and Scott reroute things. You also were willing to listen to me about our family nervous Nellies.”

“Tom, you aren’t the only one they take advantage of. The squeals I get if I even mention an increase in the charges for various things, including phones. So I know what they are like. Why don’t you go over to dinner before mother gets annoyed with me.”

We did and after dinner I had a surprise as Chrissie called from Bennies to tell me about the event at the toy center and Tim’s rather funny morning. We laughed as I told everybody about Tim’s encounter with Mr. Day.

Steve.

Wednesday 1/20, 1932.

This had been a frustrating week so far. I was still getting the run around at the War Department and since Tim Kirk was still in Philly, I couldn’t use him to run things down and use his contacts to talk to the people that knew more than I did.On the other hand, grandmother was really upset about that meeting that she had had with the Director and while she was better than she had been when Joe and Maria saw her and Eli at Bennies at lunch, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something really wrong. It was at the point that I wanted to hunt down Ed and talk with him and only the fact that his compulsions would probably trigger the monster and make the effort pointless stopped me.

Then Helmut called and said that a call had come in from the blind and twelve werewolves including the leader left Tuesday right after noon.

After one last try at the war office I decided that I had to make the call. Now Miss Vicky’s reputation was well known by all of us who had done even a short tour through the Navy Department, which most officers did at some poiont in their careers. I had done mine as a Lieutenant about the same time as Tom had and while I had heard rumors about him, I had never met him back then.

I had also never called Miss Vicky as that responsibility was given to very senior and diplomatic staff captains who knew her very well and how to handle the issues that arose. On the other hand, this was my sister, father, grandfather and new brother in law that I was beginning to like very much at stake and the potential for collateral damage with all the other people and businesses surrounding the issues was not small. If possible I wanted to stop this Colonel before he did something really stupid and create an uncontrollable firestorm.

Before I made the call I went into the Admiral’s office. He was there and available, so I went in. “What is it Commander?”

“I need to make a call and I wanted to warn you in case there is a firestorm. I need to call Miss Vicky about the War department and convince them to talk with me.”

“We have people to handle the White House.”

“I know, sir, but there are issues involved that are rather discreet and I don’t want to involve everybody in Washington and create even a worse firestorm. I suspect that the tighter we keep this, the better. So I’m going to treat it as a family issue and not a military issue for as long as I can. Frankly at this point I think that the people in the War Department that sent my people need to know what I saw and heard over last weekend and it will be in everybody’s best interest to keep the contacts discreet. But something frightened the Director rather badly, it wasn’t us and he managed to terrify my grandmother. While they may be skittish, I do not imagine that my grandparents get scared like that without good reason. Sir, the werewolves at the academy left yesterday to do something. They are also acting like idiot and that tells me that somebody is waving them around to attract our attention. But if I’m kept in the dark, I may not be in the right palce when I need to be.”

“Make the call. Miss Vicky likes Tom and Chrissie anyway and we have your report and the pictures from last weekend to bolster your arguments.”

“Ok. Sir. I’ll take the heat for any firestorms from upstairs.”

So I dialed the White house line and waited. When the lady on the other end answered I said, “This is Lieutenant Commander Steve Claytor.”

“What can we do for you Commnader?”

“I need to speak to Miss Victoria about a matter concerning my brother in law, Tom.” “Did something happen to Tom?”

“No, but things are evolving around him and I need to expedite some communications, so I need to know who to speak with.”

“I’ll put you through.”

“Commander Claytor, is something wrong with Tom? Chrissie seems to be fine, at least if the things that I have seen in the papers all week are any indication. She may be the most popular mermaid ever.”

“I know, and that may be part of the problem. The War Department requested some of my people for a discreet security detail for Chrissie’s party last month and one of my people was lost. I know why and what happened and as result of discovering that, some other issues have arrisen that may involve Tom and possibly Chrissie, Tochi and the other ladies as well. The Admiral, Mr. del Vecchio and some others have discreetly increased security where the ladies are staying but I need to discuss the things that I have discovered and as expeditiously as possible. I would not have called you, but things seem to be in motion and nobody at the War department will answer my calls so that we can share information and coordinate, if necessary. If the man at the War Department wants to know why, mention that a source mentioned the Colonel.”

“If you are talking about the right man, your concern is more than justified. I will have somebody get right back to you. By the way, when you are in Washington, you and your wonderful lady must visit. You are a very lucky man.”

“I know.”

“Well, bye.”

About ten minutes later, the phone rang, the operator said, “Commander Claytor, there is a call for you, he says it’s important.”

“I’m expecting this call.”

“Commander Claytor, be at the restaurant in Penn Station in three hours. This had better be good.”

He hung up.

I took everything that I had, along with my report regarding my camping trip last weekend and took it over to reproduction and the photographer’s mate shop. I waited while the prints and reproductions were made and then had a petty officer take me over to the station. When I arrived at the station, I went into the restaurant and ordered a coffee. About twenty minutes later, a man with a briefcase came in and said, “all right, Commander Claytor, what do you have?”

“It’s not going to work that way. First of all,who are you?”

He put an ID folder on the table. “Colonel Decker, Army intelligence.”

“Ok, Colonel before I give you anything, were you responsible for having me send my people up to Vermont without proper intelligence?”

“No I was not.”

“Give me the name of the officer who was.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Because you don’t know or won’t”

“Don’t play hardball with us, Commander, you won’t like what happens.”

“Colonel, you have not begun to see hardball yet. I haven’t spoken to either my brother in law, father or grandfather about this yet. My goal here is cooperation over a matter that is very serious and has the potential to become much more serious. I am willing to bring resources and information to the table that you do not have. But I need to know that I can trust the people that I’m working with to also be willing to trust me with the information that I need to do my job. So far your people have not proven that they can do that and I lost somebody because they did not. While that was an accident and I know why it happened, the fact was that other things going on may have been known about by your Department and I was not informed. You can either demonstrate that you are indeed willing to cooperate or leave the table. If you do that, I will be making calls, and the first one will be to my father and grandfather to tell them that the Army, rather than provide me with what they know, was willing to put his daughter at risk. The next call will be to Miss Vicky again saying the same thing.”

“I can have you arrested.”

“By who? Here in New York? The FBI? Good luck getting them to cooperate with some trumped up charge.”

“You have classified documents.”

“Actually I do not, because all the information I have was obtained outside military channels and I am the originator and proprietor of the documents in any case. I’ve been around the block, Colonel and I handle classified material on daily basis. Try something else.”

“You’re carrying a gun.”

“You are an idiot, aren’t you? Let’s say that you actually manage to arrest me for something. First of all my boss, the Admiral is going to be looking for me, he knows where I went and I have a petty officer outside who’s been told to call my station if I don’t check in with him in about twenty minutes or so. Second, in order to get me arrested you either have to pull a gun on me, or have some officer arrest me. A federal officer or MP, preferably. Both of whom will call my boss and tell my boss that some clown, that’s you, had me arrested. Followed shortly thereafter with me being released, my boss making calls to his boss and his boss making calls to your boss. All the while I will be making the calls I already discussed.”

“We can destroy your career.”

“Seriously? My boss gave me responsibility and a wide scope of latitude on how I do my job. That’s because he trusts me to know what I’m doing. As far as my career being over, my family is at stake here. Do not believe for a second that I wouldn’t tear my career to shreds if my family were at risk. For that matter my standing orders are to protect my family if necessary regardless of the potential risk to my career for reasons which you and your bosses should know if they did their homework. Those orders were given to me by the Secretary of The Navy on the date of my induction and I was told that they supersede any and all orders if necessary. In any case if my naval career were wrecked because I was protecting my family, my uncle would be ecstatic as he would have my help in our understaffed and neglected by my father, business office. That is if I didn’t move out to Hawaii where my father in law would also be ecstatic to have me available to help with the business. In my case, if I were forced out of the navy, my income would go up substantially. I am actually making a sacrifice to serve my country.

Why don’t you stop with the stupid threats and tell me what you know, starting with the clown who treated me like a mushroom. You can’t protect him in any case as I just haven’t gotten to him yet. Playing these games with me is pointless. I came here to discuss things that I don’t think that you know about and I can find out what I need to know in other ways. The problem is that may take time, time that I and you may not have.”

“We needed to keep certain things discreet.”

“Now we are starting to get someplace. Since we don’t want certain things bandied about in public, why don’t we go out to the car and go to my office where things can be nice and private. On the way I will discuss what I found and why I think that it’s important that I know everything that’s going on.”

I paid for my coffee and we went out to the car. As we started to go back to the yard, I said, “How much do you know about my brother in law?”

“Not as much as we would like to. He tends to run rings around us.”

“I’ve seen him in action and I can understand why. Did you know that he has a secret deal with the phone company?”

“We knew that he was good with phones. Trying to keep a tap on any line he is securing for very long is pointless. Also he seems to have access that is rather unbelievable. A deal with the phone company explains some things.”

“That was one of the surprises that we ran into during the dustup with the Manager. Then there was the big surprise.”

“The document dump. A bunch of people wish he hadn’t done that.”

“He had reasons. I don’t think that he planned to dump the stuff like he did, but the Manager forced the issue by first trying to kill him, again and then taking his nephew, which was just stupid.”

“This we can agree on. Hilda and Stephie were there for the Manager, so you’ve seen what they can do. The other three are just as bad, but in different ways. Never try to tap the phones at the farm, trust me.”

“What happened?’

“For a week the tap worked and then it didn’t. I’m guessing that the lady in charge of the phones, Larry’s wife, Theresa and her two boys went over the system looking for a fault and realized that the line was tapped and pulled the tap. We put a tap in again and almost immediately the line has this kid’s song playing, over and over. It was a broken record of course, but those of us who were listening couldn’t get that song out of our heads. Nobody is going to mess with that lady again.”

“That explains the two boys somewhat.”

“Fast cars, construct shoots and the rest of it? Those boys are chaos personified.”

“That was before Tom got his hands on them, to say nothing of my grandfather. But that document dump is key to some of the things I saw. Did you know that Tom wanted to transfer a set of the documents to the other side if he could do it without the other side knowing that he was doing it?”

“That sounds like him. The documents wouldn’t do them much good because the documents were stuff they should know about already. But knowing that Tom knows would force them to move things around where his friends could destroy them.”

“It’s worked too, even before the transfer. The other side wanted to know what Tom had so much that they sent sharks to look into his wedding to find out what was up. Which gave the sharks away.

In any case we set up a discreet transfer through a mercenary, one of the Managers’ former indentured and Hilda, who retrieved a set of the documents from the farm and was passing them over in installments. A nice crooked deal stabbing Tom in the back. While Tom was in the room, along with myself and a bunch of other people discussing things that the man receiving the documents should have been paying attention too because everything in the room involved the man, one way or another.

Meanwhile the fun and games start up at the games. Grandfather is recruited, the Committee gets father and Tom is put to work and provided an irritant in the form of one Jacob Martin. As a result of being over there, my grandfather, father and the rest of the family sense something really wrong over there in Jacob’s kingdom. How much do your people know about it?”

“We know that Jacob is weak and a poor businessman. There haven’t been a lot of incidents in his kingdom.”

“That was because the kingdom was the source of the monsters.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because the werewolf that killed my man told us about it. We confirmed everything and we have people set up to take it all out before the Games so that there aren’t any accidents. But I don’t know if that is what the war department sent us up to protect against or if there is something else going on. Since the turn of the year, it’s starting to look as if there is something else going on. That is a game changer that I want to know about before we go in so that we don’t get blindsided. We’re in this too deep now to back away and we need to be prepared. I also need to know who to talk to and that is why I need to know who the man responsible is. Roger’s death was an accident. The man that shares his body with the monster had told my brother in law that and taken responsibility for the accident. My sister was not lax as far as security concerns and our presence wouldn’t have changed that unless there was something happening that I did not know about. I was told to send my people up there and provide additional security. Against something that didn’t show up and it wasn’t Ed and from what you are saying, not the pestholes.”

“You’ve made your point and when we get to your office I will call the general and get the authorization. This discussion needs to be kept discreet or the consequences could be nasty.”

“That’s another reason to cooperate. You don’t know my family, but they are all noseys and information sponges. The problem you are going to have is that I’m not the only one asking about this Colonel and if I have to put a lid on something, I will need to have a reason.”

He looked a little shocked. “How many family members?”

“I don’t know. Chrissie isn’t, because she has been shopping, doing events, touring with the princess and the Japanese ladies and hasn’t had the time to look into anything. Father and mother are both up at the Games, but they might be looking into things, Tom almost certainly is, the boys were with me last weekend, I don’t know what Joe is doing but he has a lot of work in the yard, Stacey could be looking into just about anything. Should I go on.”

“How much will they find out?’

“That depends. You know about Tom. Mother can get anything government related in about an hour if she wants it, dad usually finds out what he wants to know, one way or another. Of course grandfather is the one who likes to play games and trick things out of people. With my family you have to do things a certain way. For instance I told the boys not to tell Tom about the werewolves that showed up because he would react differently if he knew. I did tell father and grandfather and they have been having Tom run around doing errands and other work. In any case the werewolves have gone elsewhere. At least twelve of them have.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. To do something. Something splashy that attracts attention because if what I saw is any indication they are either the most stupid soldiers in the worst army ever, sacrificial lambs, or both. The boys and I set up a field telephone almost literally under their noses and as far as I know, they never even saw us do it. So somebody put them in the middle of their monster factory to act like idiots and presumably attract attention. Since what they seem to want is Tom with a passion, what they are after may be my sister, bonded and the other ladies. Which will not only piss my family off, Tom’s family off, my father in law’s family off, my boss and his boss off, but all of Japan off. To say nothing of the other kind of family who all think of Chrissie as their little girl.”

“Did you take steps?”

“Yes we did. We have boats on the water doing various things, the streets reaching the bower have shore patrol, NYPD and outfit people watching. The navy and the outfit, along with bower people are moving stuff in and out with large trucks and the restaurant that they eat breakfast in has some armed people from a bunch of different places watching the front and back while they eat, rather discreetly. I also have one of my platoons there during breakfast and they eat after the ladies leave with the Japanese prince’s car. As far as I know the werewolves have, at best, handguns and there are about a hundred guns on the street at any given time. The problem is if the guy behind it is sneaky and he probably is, he’ll think of something else and nobody can cover everything.”

We arrived at the navy yard, passed through the gate and the rating took us over to my office. We got out and went inside. “Things seem quiet today.”

“Well my sister and her friends were touring yesterday and we cleaned things up a bit. This is the yard’s slow time of year anyway. Also a bunch of people are down at the bower doing honeydos for their wives now that they can. Repairing storm damage and rebuilding the gardens. A bunch more are over in New Jersey doing the same thing.”

“I need to make a call.”

I handed him the phone. He dialed the number and said, “general, I need the authorization.” He listened for a minute and then handed the phone over to me. “General Macnair wants to talk to you.”

“General.”

“Commander Claytor, I owe you an apology. I was responsible for requesting your people because of concerns that we had and your sister’s party. At that point they were, at best, rumors and concerns and I was just taking a precaution in case somebody very bad showed up to retrieve something that he thinks of as his. But at that point it was rumor. I’m sorry that your man paid the price, but we did not want the target to know that we thought that he was here before he actually showed up because he’s planning something large. It seems that you have a handle on what that might be. I will let you and the colonel trade back and forth and maybe we can get a bead on this monster at last.”

He hung up.

The colonel said, “I shouldn’t have come down on you like that, but the call from Miss Vicky where she said that you mentioned the Colonel was quite a shock.”

“Who is he?”

“Short answer is that his name is Heinrich von Wulf. Supposedbly he was born in the 1870’s, but with fae you know how that goes. Bonded in 1892 and had three children a boy and two girls, Hans, Ilyse  and Gretchen. He entered the service and at some point created the werewolves. You probably know most of what he did in the war. His son was killed and we had a hard time trying to figure out what happened to the daughter. We did find her eventually and that’s where you came in.”

“Gretchen is Ed’s bonded. I haven’t met the woman yet, but some of my family knows her. Tom’s family has known her for some time. Ed was seeing her when Roger and the deputy got wind of him and chased him. Knowing what I know now, I would have told them to ignore Ed. He’s as much a victim as any of the others and as far as I know, until Roger and the deputy tripped off the monster, Ed hadn’t killed anybody for years, if ever.”

“We discovered most of that and we should have told you. We were concerned about your father’s reaction.”

“Then you definitely should have told me. Tom discovered Ed because of Jacob’s being compelled and checking the record to see if he was killed in action. This was right after two of the Martin boys tried to kill him. So Tom started to look into things because he thought that Jacob was acting as if he was compelled. At that point because of the fact that it was the day before Christmas and the sheriff’s offices were all closed, Tom and Hilda couldn’t check them for strange deaths by animals and discover that there hadn’t been any. So they feared the worst and passed that on to Roger who thought he was chasing a monster trying to get at a bunch of VIPs and not a man out to see his kids on Christmas.

I was trying very hard to make sure that dad never caught a whiff of a werewolf and had I known, I would have escorted Ed to Gretchen’s house and back myself so that dad never caught a whiff of him. The last thing anybody in the family needs is a random werewolf hunt. We can talk to Chrissie about that. The only person in the government who hasn’t told her to keep dad out of monster hunts is the President. Keeping dad off monster hunts is another one of my standing orders now that I’m here in the region.

Ok, so you think that the Colonel is over here for personal business.”

“His son is dead and he needs an heir.”

“So he’s looking for Gretchen’s kids. Well, good luck even if he finds them.”

“Why?”

“Well two very large reasons to start with, Tony and Robert. Anybody, fae or not is not going to get to a kid under their care if they can help it. Then the Troubleshooter lives down the street, the guy who lives across the street looks out for monsters since being the Manager’s neighbor for years and my people and others use the house for training and staging. Finally Hilda, her boyfriend and her son are there because Hilda is doing recovery work for kids recovered as a result of actions against the Director. Ed requested that Gretchen and her kids be removed from the mess and the school needed a teacher. The Colonel’s problem with getting his kids now that I know about them is that the number of people that he would need to pull something off means that he would be detected long before he gets to the kids.”

I thought about something, but I wasn’t going to tell Colonel Decker about it. As soon as I finished talking to the Colonel I was going to have Joe run Tom’s boat down to the school. That way there was a quick back door if we needed it. We could both head back to the Cape on Saturday.

“We also think that there’s something more, lot’s more. He may be bringing over one of his entire units.”

“What all do you have on him?”

He opened up his briefcase and pulled out a rather large binder. As I was going through the material I asked, “How much of this does Tom have?”

“All of it.”

“How did that happen?”

“He traded for it. We wanted some information he had and he wanted werewolf information, so we traded.”

“This didn’t show up in the rest of it.”

“I think he kept stuff directly related to the werewolves in a separate file and kept it with some things his brother had. Things that we would very much like to see.”

“Good luck finding it if he doesn’t want you to. Bill and I talked about that and Bill said that he had been on the farm for thirty years and that if Tom had not shown him the locations of the various stashes he would never have known about them.

Ok, here’s what we found out at the Academy last weekend. General Vickers and I were prospecting for our operation to remove the pestholes and rescue the kids from the academy when the Director and the werewolves showed up. Earlier in the week five guys showed up and seemed to take over. Ed brought the Director up, dropped him off and went to find Tom and grandfather to tell them about his remarkable train trip with the Director.”

“What was so remarkable about it?”

“Remember how the Director set up a deal with Hilda and some other ladies to purchase Tom’s information? Well he asked recently how much would the ladies charge for it in one shot. So he was told one hundred thousand dollars. He paid the money. Then on the train trip, the Director was going on about how much Hilda hated Tom and Ed almost lost it right there. Gretchen had told him the truth and Andy had been telling the story about the bridge that collapsed to his class including about Chrissie the Monday after it happened. After the trip and dropping the Director off, Ed looked up Tom and my grandfather because he needed somebody to laugh about it.”

“So Hilda doesn’t hate Tom.” “Not one bit. Tom saved Andy’s life when that old bridge on the farm collapsed and the minute Tom knew about Hilda, she was the sister that he had never known. I think that he sees her as a redemption for shooting Brad. Who could hate that?

Meanwhile we started to take a look at the academy. We were fairly sure what the academy was because the bureau had closed down a similar facility recently. Tom, Bob and Scott found an old shielded deer blind and converted it into a lookout post. General Vickers and I went around on a discreet reconnaissance and took photographs. The boys and some others have been taking photos of people going in and out, including Ed and the Director with five large cartons going in. The same five cartons coincidently that the mercenary had handed him and that he did not leave with.”

“So somebody else has them.”

“This is where things get interesting. The general and I needed to return to the city, so we caught the train back from Burlington. The Director takes the train back from Plattsburg. I join my sister, and some others for dinner and shortly afterwords the Director comes in to talk to his source. He says that he can’t afford to pay her, but that she should look into the Colonel. I didn’t check the Director for compulsions but I think that he was fighting some very strong ones to tell the source to look into the Colonel. Is there a picture of the Colonel available?”

“Not one that is confirmed. We, and a lot of other governments would pay quite a lot for a photo of the Colonel that we knew had to be him.”

“So he does the same thing that my grandfather does, or worse. We probably got one of him from the blind, but unlike Ed, we don’t know what he looks like and he wasn’t with somebody who we did know what they look like.”

“How did they get photos from the blind? It must be quite some distance away.”

“The boys have two scopes that used to belong to a battleship that was sunk some time ago as a target. The scopes were purchased so that the boys could use them to score constructs before they dissolved and they modified one of the scopes so that there is a camera attached. The front door of the academy is well lighted and they were taking pictures from the blind of the ‘visitors.’ One thing that the boys said was that they knew who most of the ‘visitors” were. So we may have a picture of the Colonel. I also think that the Colonel is definitely here. Which is why I was trying to get I touch with you. I’ve seen the Director a couple of times now and the source has known him for years and she was very shook up by how the Director was acting.

This was above and beyond the concern over the collapse of his operations, which considering that we here at the navy along with some others, closed down another one this week and as far as we have been able to determine, the Director only has operations in Washington and the operation up in upstate New York, trying to get things clear and salvage things should be a priority. Instead we have those clowns sitting up there at the academy, something that is annoying Ed and they are plotting operations, stupid operations against Tom.”

“If the operation succeeds, it probably won’t be stupid.”

“Yes it will. One of two things happens. They take my sister alive, which means that they have to make accommodation for her and the other ladies special needs. That puts Chrissie right in the middle of what they are doing, which will be fun.”

“What can she do? She’s a mermaid.”

“Ask Jacob what she can do. If they let her have a phone even for one call, all bets are off. As far as even trying to contain her, she will be all over them. If they take her anyplace near the water, she will just disappear and head to a phone booth.

It gets worse if they kill her. If they do that, first of all, Tom, with all the skills that you know about and connections that nobody but Tom knows about becomes dedicated to only one thing, killing the people responsible as quickly as possible. When the shark attack happened, my boss pulled strings to have me transferred from Hawaii where we were developing doctrine and expedited the transfer so that I could provide assistance and keep Tom from essentially wrecking the East Coast on his way to getting the Manager. Tom didn’t play things out that way, but my boss and some other people were concerned that he would be on a path of sacrifice. What we never appreciated at the time was that he had already been on the path for a long time, was trying to find a target and the Manager and his games with his sister gave him one.”

“Involving werewolves. Some of our people saw the same thing.”

“Things get worse if they actually kill my sister as that would really piss my dad off and worse, my grandfather would probably stop at nothing to get my sister’s killers and destroy them. The country is still struggling to recover from the depression. That means that the economy does not need the kind of firestorm that grandfather would trip off. That’s just for starters.

That’s why I need the information about the Colonel. Of course if Tom gets a whiff of the Colonel, things will start to get interesting.”

“Thus the reason to keep things discreet as we can.”

“We should tell Tom.” “We will, when we are certain. If they do take Chrissie, he and Chrissie can handle the people that you’ve seen and you are already planning to take his operation out, so you can have people alert for signs that the Colonel operating.”

The phone rang. “Tim here, I’m back and your grandmother left me a message earlier this morning. She is holding a meeting concerning somebody called the Colonel. She wants you to come as well.”

“I’m in a meeting, but I will call her when it’s over. Since the Colonel is what I am discussing right now, why don’t you come over.”

I hung up and turned to Colonel Decker. “That was the admiral’s N2. He’s just been on the phone with my grandmother, who was the woman that the Director was talking to about looking into the Colonel. He’s on his way over.”

“Your grandmother? As far as we knew, your grandmother was killed ten years ago and your father was an orphan.”

“We found them. They had to leave him at that orphanage and lost track of him. They joined my parents at Christmas at the farm and gave dad the best Christmas ever. Tom brought them in because of his concerns over Ed. They had been staying away from my father because they were skittish about my father. Since Theresa works as a discreet information collector and is sensitive to nuances, she probably started right in looking into the Colonel. She’s been using the Director as an income source for decades by feeding him things that he should already know. They never quite had the resources to deal with Director themselves and were trying to make sure that the Director never quite knew what they were really up to until they could lower the boom on him. They also do discreet and expensive investigations for their clients including my grandfather’s company, who sent them up for a look around when my grandfather sniffed something wrong in Jacob’s kingdom and wanted to know what it was. That led to everybody stepping on each other’s toes until Ed revealed things and we found the academy thanks to Jacob dropping Scott right in front of the place.”

Tim Kirk walked in. I turned to the Colonel and said, “Colonel, this is Lieutenant Commander Tim Kirk, our N2. He just returned from taking down the Philadelphia operation. Tim, Colonel Decker is concerned that word about the Colonel may get out and that the Colonel may get wind of the fact that we are aware that he is in the country. He’s with Army intelligence.”

“Is Colonel in the country? Theresa wasn’t sure, but something scared the hell out of the Director last weekend and the Director scared the hell out of her. She wants to talk to me, you, Tim if he’s available, Albert, Hilda, and somebody new and swap information about the guy on Friday. I called our people in Washington and they are sending a packet. I said that you had an operation going on up there and that the Admiral was concerned about some things that he had heard about going on up there. They were also willing to swap for what Theresa found. They have done business with her before on some other things and they know what she can do.”

“Who do I call in Wahington? I’m going to let them know about my weekend at Lake Placid and that there is a high probability that the Colonel is in the country.”

“Captain Georges. He runs the intelligence people. Here’s his number. It sounds like you had a more exciting weekend than I had.”

“We can talk about that later. I expect that the Colonel’s time is limited and that he will want to report to his boss.”

“Well who is the Colonel, other than a very bad guy?”

“You know about him?” The Colonel asked.

“Colonel, I’m in intelligence and an ordnance specialist. I’ve also done a tour through most of the embassies in Europe and talked to just about all the militaries including the Germans. So I’ve talked to a lot of guys, some of whom may be fae, but are hiding it very deep and not talking about it, and the Colonel had a reputation even before the war, as a “consultant” in the Balkan wars. He may have worked with the Black Hand to help kick the war off. He has all sort of contacts with nasty governments. This is what I found out in conversations over a very long period of time, usually after several drinks as most people would not talk about the man straight out. It was easier to learn how those Bolshevik bastards ended up in Russia from the people who were responsible for it, than it was to find anything about the Colonel. I’ve also read his book because even though I am navy, I want to know who might be running an operation again my boss if I’m supporting Marines.”

“He may be going after Tom,” I said. “By killing or taking Chrissie.”

“That would be stupid. When we finish this, I’ll tell my bosses. But that would be crazy on a bunch of levels. If he were to just try to kill Tom, he might surprise him. The sharks almost did. But since the Colonel relies on werewolves, Tom will sense them long before they get into normal rifle range, let alone getting close to him and he will shoot them or run until he has better idea of what he is up against and then shoot them. As for killing Chrissie, that probably keeps a bunch of people up at night because of your father, let alone your grandfather.”

The Colonel looked at his watch and handed me a card.“Commanders, Steve is right and I need to report back. I’ll leave that with you, Steve and take this to my people. Could you arrange so that one of my people can have a discreet talk with the boys. Also I would like to attend that meeting on Friday.”

“You can do both at the meeting. Scott with Elizabeth is coming down Thursday night and staying through the weekend because of werewolf and full moon issues. So he will be down here and we can get him to the meeting as well. I’ll call for the car.”

I did that as he left and after I hung up the phone, Tim asked, “So why were you talking with him. Army was giving me the runaround until I left for the south.”

“They were giving me the runaround too, until things heated up in Lake Placid and grandmother had her little talk with the Director. It was at the point that I just couldn’t take the risk of something blowing up in our faces because some clown was trying to keep a lid on something, so I called Miss Vicky and asked her who I should talk to about this and told her that I thought that Tom and Chrissie are at risk, which they are.”

“Chrissie is at the bower at night, and with Tochi’s people all day. Not exactly a low security situation.”

“True, and we took steps to discreetly increase security with Dom’s people because we all have a vested interest down there. Still, there are two doppelgangers out there that we know of and some werewolves running around loose someplace and our very bad guy is probably pulling the strings. We may have spotted him at the academy and we did spot the Director being brought in by Ed. Jacob had been playing his games again with Tom all week, games which more or less told Tom to take a close look at the academy if Tom hadn’t been already. The clowns inside don’t have a clue about what we are doing. Ed has lunch with Tom and grandfather to tell them about Hilda stabbing Tom in the back for one hundred thousand dollars. General Vickers and I spent a nice cold camping trip checking out the academy and watching Ed and the Director, along with a pack of werewolves. Ed and the director left while we were there. Some of the werewolves left yesterday afternoon. They haven’t turned up yet. The problem for them is that they are near the full moon and even if they just hit a Hooverville, they will be obvious. So they have to be out of the city by Saturday. The ladies are at the toy center today, the stock exchange tomorrow and I’ll go down to Bennies tonight to suggest to the ladies that they take it easy or stay underwater over the weekend. I expect that there is something planned for Friday, but if they are underwater Saturday, then the werewolves will have to be gone and we can go up to Vermont on Monday as we planned.”

“You gave a packet to the Colonel. Can you make one up for me and another for ONI?”

“Already done. They are on your desk.”

“Ok, I need to do a report on the end of the Philly operation for my boss in DC and the Admiral and I’ll send your stuff down with it.”

“Ok, since you are handling ONI, I want to call my brother and grandmother.”

Tim left and I dialed the yard up at the Cape. Moira answered and I said, “Moira, this is Steve. Is my brother available?”

“I can get him, is it urgent?”

“Not immediate, but it is important.”

“Ok, call back in ten minutes. I’ll get him.”

She hung up and I called grandmother’s office. Sarah answered and I said, “Sarah, this Steve. Is my grandmother or grandfather available?”

“Theresa won’t like you throwing that around, Steve. Call her Theresa most of the time.”

“Ok, is she available?”

“I’ll see.”

Theresa picked up the phone. “Steve, I was just going to call you. Your office said that you were having a meeting.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk with you about. I had a discussion with a man from army intelligence about the Colonel today and Tim Kirk mentioned that you and Eli were having a meeting about the Colonel on Friday. He would like to attend.”

“We don’t have a problem with that. We don’t have very much yet, because we have been trying to be as discreet as possible.”

“The Colonel gave me what the Army has, and I will bring that and Tim will bring what the navy has. Scott is coming down from Vermont and he can bring us up to date about what is going on at the academy. I’m also going to talk to father tonight and see what, if anything, is happening up there.”

“Something is going on. The Director was fighting compulsions because something frightened him so much that he was willing to tell me to tell his opposition that they needed to be wary. As I think about things now, I am certain that he knew who most of the people in the room were because Chrissie and the rest had been in the papers, you were with Haruka, your relationship was obvious and you and the Admiral were in uniform. He didn’t know that I was related to you, but at that point, I don’t think that he would have cared. Then these werewolves decide to leave the academy just before the full moon.”

“Well, they haven’t turned up. I’ll go over to Sal’s and talk to the compelled about them. We have their pictures and maybe we can put the word out. I want to take the Army’s stuff over there later. I need to go, bye.”

I decided to make another call before calling Joe again. I dialed the bureau and instead of Mary, Aunt Nera picked up. “Hi Steve. What can we do for you?”

“Ask Mike about about a man they call the Colonel. I’m bringing some material about him to Sal’s place after I talk to my boss about it. Also, there are some werewolves loose someplace and I had an interesting discussion about them.” “Mike knows. They called from the blind. The problem is that we don’t know what they are planning. We do know that they have three cars, and the registrations. But if they are separate, it may be impossible to pick them out.”

“I think that they are going after Chrissie somehow. And that the Colonel is involved. Theresa is having a meeting Friday about it.”

“We know. She called Mike and wants us there. Unless something comes up, we will be. If something comes up, we’ll want to get everything we can.”

‘Ok, I need to talk to Joe, so I’ll talk later.”

“Come over to the houseboat for dinner and we can talk about this.”

“And eat your cooking, Aunt Nera?” “I’m getting better. Mike hasn’t gotten sick once this week.”

“I’m going down to Bennies tonight to be with Haruka.”

“Being with your girl, that gets you off the hook. For tonight anyway.”

She hung up.

I called Joe again and he answered. “Steve, what do you want?”

“Joe, could you bring Tom’s boat down and dock it at the school. I want a discreet back door.”

“What for?”

“Not something I can discuss over the phone or in public. It involves father, Tom, grandfather and a very bad character looking for somebody I don’t want him getting his hands on.”

“Moira and I can do that. She wants a good Swim anyway and since it’s our slow time here, wants me in the water.” “Ok, I’ll owe you one. I hope we don’t need it, but I want a back door this character, or anybody else for that matter, doesn’t know I have. I will tell you all about it when I see you.”

“Do that. You might want to talk to dad too. Mom called last night and there are some fun and games being played with the Benton’s phones.” “I doubt that it’s our people. I was talking to a guy that had tried. Apparently Larry’s wife was rather annoyed at them. He told me that something happened involving a broken record.”

“Then we really need to talk to mom. To find out the whole story.”

“I’ll call her tomorrow. I want to talk to them and grandfather about this anyway. I need to report to the Admiral.”

Actually he was at my door. I stood and saluted and he returned it. “Sit down, Steve and tell me how it went. Since I didn’t get any heat from Washington, the call to Miss Vicky must have gone well.”

“I handled it with extreme delicacy, dropped the fact that Tom and Chrissie are at risk and ended by dropping the Colonel into the mix. Army intelligence sent somebody up.”

“Did they try to play games?”

“Yes they did, which was just stupid and they should have known that. If I really wanted to mess with them, I can just hand them to mother to play government with. They sent me up there in the dark and that got Roger killed and forced Ed to have to deal with his monster getting loose. If they had told me what they knew in the first place, I would have gone up myself, ridden herd on dad to make sure that he never got a trace of Ed, made sure that Ed and his family had Christmas and that Tom and Ed got together for a chat. I also would have been alert for the real threat and maybe picked up some things things that were probably there, but nobody was looking at. The werewolves showed up this week, but there have been some other people around playing games with the Benton’s phones. I was talking to my brother and he told me about it.

After he finally got to the point things got productive all around. He came down here to the office and we talked about what was going on up there and he gave me their file on the colonel. A file that they just traded to Tom.”

“I suspect that Tom also has our file on the man, and files from several other countries as well. None of that was in the big file, so he has it pulled and someplace separate. From what some of the intelligence people have said, along with a diary that Brad did and that the intelligence people would really like to see. But since Tom has never even hinted that it exists, finding it is going to be rather difficult.”

“My guess is that he and Brad probably stashed the stuff because Brad didn’t want Tom waving it around and the colonel and his friends going after Tom after Brad was no longer on the scene. So the file is part of his burden and he takes very good care to conceal it’s existence, even to the point of lying to his father about it. I think that if Tom gets even a whiff of the fact that the Colonel is in the neighborhood, the file comes out and Tom has his target. In which case one of them is going to die.”

“I want to make it clear that the Colonel is to be taken out at the first opportunity regardless of the risk to the rest of your operation. If you get a shot at him, take the shot and we will deal with the consequences.”

“We may already have had a shot. He was obviously at the academy while the Director was there. The problem is that there are no known verified photos of the man, so we don’t know what he looks like. There’s a good chance that we got a picture when he was at the academy, but it will take time to go through the pictures and eliminate the knowns.

Then there are these people messing with the phones. From what Colonel Decker said, Larry’s wife, Theresa handles the phones with Bob and Scott doing the work and when they tapped the phone, Theresa spent a week trying to find a fault before she realized that it was a tap. The army people replaced the tap and Theresa put a broken record that one of her kids had on the line.”

The Admiral started to laugh. “I’m guessing that they never tried again.”

“I doubt it. The colonel seemed rather afraid of Theresa. I haven’t found out what Mary and Diana get up to and I don’t think that I want to know. My family is bad enough.”

“That is for sure. Well Mabel and I have tickets tonight, so I will be off. Tell your Aunt thank you for the tickets. How did she get them, anyway? As far as I knew she had spent her entire life up at the Cape under sea and when we mention that we would like to see a show, but it’s sold out, she gets tickets.”

“Choreography. If you do that for over a hundred years, you will be very good at it. All of the producers know my aunt. The fun part is that it’s going to be harder to hide that from mother. Aunt Nera has been playing that ‘I don’t care about the land gag’ for years while daring mother to catch on and call her out on it. But mother never looked into it and dad never knew. So Aunt Nera was stuck with it. Of course mother may have been acting as if she didn’t know, but in our family, who can tell. I do know that Aunt Nera was a lot more fun once we got to know her. She really likes to dig into things and would read us stories in her office when we were kids. As well as telling us some. Which got me in trouble in school when I used what she told us about Ben Franklin in school.”

“What was that?”

“Well let’s just say that Aunt Nera was not the only one to have fun on a dock in the moonlight and that Ben had a lot of practice at certain things.”

The Admiral laughed. “I can see how that could get you in trouble.”

“I sourced it from references. It’s not as if the man hid the fact that he was a master of horizontal dancing. I just had it from a first hand source.”

“Well I need to go. Do a write up tomorrow for me and Tim.”

I stood and saluted and he left. After he was gone I went down, got in the car and drove over to Sal’s. Sal and Sillia were down at the Sound bower discussing things with Tono, so I left the packets and told Roger what was in them and to keep an eye out for werewolves. He said that both Mike and Helmut had already called about it and the paperboys were on the alert, but the cars hadn’t turned up. Dan from the blind had wired down prints from all three cars. The compelled had called the state police to check to see if the cars had been stolen, but nothing had come back yet.

After Sal’s, I made a quick stop at the school. Tony was there and I told him, “If you see some people poking around that don’t look like they belong in the neighborhood let Sal and I know. Especially if they look doggy.”

“So those idiots are back? I thought that Bill and Mike took care of them.”

“A new batch came in and went upstate. The big good wolf upstate was not happy about that.”

“He wouldn’t be. He has to do the stupid stuff because of his compulsions, but he tries to keep himself clean.”

“Also keep a very good eye on the good wolf’s wife and kids. A very bad wolf may come looking for them. I’m sending the boat down and if you or Robert even get a whiff that the bad wolf is in the neighborhood the kids and the wife go on the boat and the boat goes up the Sound. I’ll have somebody here who’s job it is to do that.”

‘Just to be absolutely clear, you’re talking about the Colonel, aren’t you?”

“Yes, and don’t tell Gretchen unless you absolutely have to. Frankly I wish I had another of those amulets and Bruce would bond with a tail so that he could be dragged under. That’s who he’s after. I trust you and Robert, but I had a rather scary session with a colonel in army intelligence and somebody scared the wits out of the Director and he scared the wits out of my grandmother.”

“Albert said that Tim was asking questions about the Colonel. He wasn’t going to answer until Tim had more.”

“Theresa is having a meeting and Tim is supposed to be there. So we will see what he has then.”

“You wouldn’t be talking about this unless you were fairly sure that he is somewhere close by.”

“The Director came up to the Academy to talk to somebody When he went in, he had the five cartons that Theresa and Hilda sold him.When he left, he no longer had the cartons. He also asked Theresa for everything they had on Tom and Ed threw in a copy of Tom’s book.”

“Which is the thing that they should be paying the most attention to, but the big chief idiot will probably sneer at the shiny toys. Which is stupid because he hasn’t seen what Tom does with those toys.”

“The big chief idiot may be going after Chrissie to get to Tom.”

“That’s a crazy kind of idiocy. I thought that the Manager going after Andy was a special kind of stupid. But does the Colonel realize the kind of enemies he’s making. If he kills Chrissie, there will be no place that he can hide.”

“Worse, he may be trying for the farm.”

“With how many werewolves?”

“Who knows. At guess, maybe a hundred with some other support types. What kind of weaponry they have is beyond me. The werewolves at the Academy only had handguns.”

“Not nearly enough. Al was talking to me and Eric about Chrissie’s party and the two fifties. Eric said that they didn’t bring the heavy stuff out because it was too expensive to shoot, but they had a bunch of different things that they made up to show that they could and that BARs had been a good business to the surrounding sheriff’s departments when the gangsters started to use Thomsons. The Bentons are not afraid of dynamite or powder and know how to use it. You’ve seen what Tom does with little stuff. Eric said that he’s no slouch with bigger booms when he needs them and that his sister Mary thinks of a good explosion as a work of art. She uses them for trail clearing.

The main farm was built over a fort left over from the French and Indian wars by Eric’s grandfather. A lot of the features of the fort have disappeared, but you can see them from the cliff overhead. If Eric really has to fort up, he has barbed wire at hand anyway and there are the fences and paddocks already there. Also Greta is very sensitive to werewolves and the rest. She usually picks up on a twisted about the same time that it crosses the County line.”

“Just be alert. The Colonel has a reputation of being sneaky.”

“I know and I will.”

“I need to get down to Bennies or Haruka will be annoyed at me.”

“Say hi to Robert when you get there. He took a bunch of the kids on a boat ride to watch them catch fish.”

“I will.”

Tony was smiling as I went down the driveway and I started to drive down to Bennies. I arrived a bit early and since Tochi’s cars were not there, I did a walk around. As I walked down the street there were several large cars on the street that looked familiar and Robert was herding bunch of rather tired looking kids into cars. He turned as I walked up and said, “I’m getting this bunch back to the school. Except for Trillia and Andy.”

“Where are they?”

“Down below. Several Rockaway bower kids invited them for the night. Hilda is coming down to pick them up in the morning.”

“So what did you do today?”

“Took the kids out on Angelo’s fishing boat to see them work.”

“Wasn’t that cold?”

“Yes, but I wanted them to get the full experience. There was hot cocoa and cider in the galley and the kids spent a lot of time in the wheelhouse. The kids with tails didn’t care anyway and everybody had a good time. I’ve got to go. I think that we need to look into a bus now that we can afford one.”

I looked at the kids and they seemed to be happy. The cavalcade of cars drove off as another one appreared and Tochi’s people started to unload. I strode up to help my bonded and sister and we all headed into to Bennies. I looked around and didn’t see Suki, but did see Tim’s sister and the Admiral’s daughter with Tochis’ daughter. As we were sitting down I asked Tochi, “Where’s Suki?”

“With Tim and Suzy, in his car.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“For Tim? Probably. But he knows Suki well enough by now.”

‘You aren’t worried?”

“No. Should I be? Tim would protect Suki with his life if it became necessary and they are in a car that nobody would connect with me. So the risks are ordinary risks.”

Bill and Hilda came in and sat down with us. Sissy came over and started to point her finger at us and say, “usual?”

Three more couples came in and sat down. One of the men was Tim’s boss Roger and he must be introducing the other couples to Bennies. That wasn’t the entire story as I found out when Tim rolled Suzy in and seated her. Suki came over and sat down as Roger waved Tim over and one of the men apologized rather abjectly. I turned to Suzy and asked, “What’s going on here?”

She told me and I started to smile. “The apology was absolutely the right thing to do. That way, none of the family gets started. I imagine that you all were concocting schemes.”

I was surrounded by innocent grins. “Not just us,” Suzy said. “It’s a good thing that Mr. Day is taking the subway because he made a complete fool out of himself today in front of an entire bunch buildings full of people with cameras and a lot of them have cars. Tim said that everywhere Vic took him today, the people were plotting to park in the spot with a camera.”

Tim came back and sat down again.“I’m only going to bring Noro in when he comes down to see my mentor, Vic. I think that Vic and Noro are old friends and that Vic misses him.”

“If he’s one of Noro’s friends, be careful,” I said.

“I’ve been around Noro for weeks now, how bad can it be?”

“So far you’ve been lucky. Most of the time Noro has been focused on other things and then after the wedding, he went up to the Olympics. He was also trying to recruit you. Now that he has and you’re family, watch out. If you don’t think that Noro and Vic won’t tag team you, think again.”

“Chrissie, is this true?”

“I was too young when grandfather went undersea when grandmother was killed. He didn’t come up and didn’t want to play any games. Now that he is up, he’ll start to.”

“Don’t worry, Tim,” I said. “He won’t touch your money and you won’t be forced to do anything that will get you in jail longer than overnight. He likes you, so it will probably be fun.”

“Like that stunt he pulled at Chrissie’s wedding?”

“What did he do at Chrissie’s wedding Tim?” Suki asked

“When Crissie and Tom were married, Tim and I had just closed the deal, ”Suzy said. “Newly joined mermaids secrete certain things that cause things that I can’t talk about with children at the table to happen with everybody nearby in the water. Tim and I wanted to dance at the wedding and Noro convinced us that the current flowed in the direction away from the reception so that I would be far enough away where we wanted to dance so that certain things would not happen. They happened and that was the end of the party for merfolk.”

“Where were Tom and Chrissie?” Keiko asked.

“They had gone off on a Swim with the other wedding couples to have a box opening party so that they could prepare for mother’s big meeting the next day and get out of the hustle of the wedding. They opened the boxes, took the stuff for the meeting out, had it enlarged and then had some time together underwater.”

“That was a strange thing to do on a wedding night.”

“It was Tom’s fault,” Chrissie said. “My mother had planned the meeting and Tom didn’t tell us about the material until the Manager was about to go down. So he couldn’t get the material prepared before the wedding and the meeting was, for the fae here in the area, rather important. This was the first time that a lot of us realized the scope and damage that had already been done. Tom’s documents were an important part of that. So Tom did the unboxing and Jake finished the enlarging in time for the meeting.”

“That explains why so many of us weren’t invited,” Suki said.

“That was Tom’s fault too. He could have gotten his address books before we left Vermont after the island. Admittidly, he had a distraction, namely me. Along with Stephie and the rest. But he did manage to get the other stuff down and we were in the shop a good bit of the time. But he forgot the books and so we didn’t know about all his friends. He also never showed me the boxes of the stuff he did, just the stuff that he never finished. So I never knew that I should contact you until we were back in Vermont and he hauls the stuff out. Mom had the meeting set up, but we could have worked around it. On the other hand that gave me an excuse for another party and you all came.”

“Speaking about plans, what are yours and the other ladies for the rest of the week?” I asked.

“Tomorrow, Ayoko opens the Stock Exchange in the morning and we visit the fish market in the afternoon. Friday we are going to do a final fitting for our dresses for the Olympics and then take the press shopping on Fifth Avenue. Poor Ayoko has another event and it’s a bit private, with snobby society types and we aren’t invited. Saturday and Sunday we were going to Swim over to the Amboy bower, but we may do an event up top there too, but that isn’t definite.”

“Could I ask you to just go to the bower underwater? The army and I have been talking today and the werewolves from upstate are someplace and Helmut’s people can’t find them.”

“Should I talk to Miss Vicky about it tomorrow?”

“I already did, Chrissie and a Colonel from the army had a long chat with me after he stopped threatening me.”

“Why did he threaten you? Not that it did any good.”

“He was concerned about a dangerous man and keeping things discreet.”

She looked over at the table full of press people and for the first time in her life, actually was discreet about something. “I think I know who you are talking about. Is he here? Grandmother and the Director were rather scared on Sunday.”

“The Colonel’s boss was the one who told me to send some people up because he was concerned about our bad character showing up and going after Ed’s relatives on Eric’s side of the lake.”

“Does Ed know?”

“I don’t think so. His getting his relatives out of the picture was exactly the right thing to do and I’ve taken some steps and told Tony to keep an eye out. Joe and Moira are bringing Tom’s boat down and hiding it behind the school. I don’t think that the bad guy is good with boats and if he wants to play on the water, I have a lot more resources at my finger tips, all in the area. The Admiral has ordered me to take the shot at the character if I get one.”

“What about daddy?”

“He, mother and grandfather are staying at Eric’s. Eric has surprises and lots of guns. In any case I think the character wants us looking at the academy.

So what did you do today and are going to be in the papers again.”

“Judged a fun stuff contest for kids that made things from the trouble kits. Tom is going to regret missing it. Tim, how come you didn’t show up?”

“Work. Also mother and dad wanted to have me come down here with Suzy to make plans for some awards dinners coming up.”

“I need to talk to you about a dress for the dinners, Chrissie,” Suzy said. “Mother too probably. But you are closer to my age and you have such good fashion sense for mermaids.”

My sister and Suzy started in about dresses while Tim and I talked about his adventures today. I tried to remember if I knew Vic or not. Probably not as he was one of grandfather’s New York friends and we didn’t see them very much at the Cape. He sounded like one of the people that grandfather picked up and a very good teacher for Tim. Tim also mentioned that Hienrich had written a book and that I should check and see if the yard library had a copy. He had apparently looked at it and not liked what he read. He was also going to check the bookstore on Fourth avenue and look for a copy. “The great thing about doing the looking now is that if anybody asks questions I can explain that it’s an assignment for Vic. Most of the people know him and understand that.”

“Well, be very careful.”

“Everybody has said that. I will be. I figure that as long as it’s just looking at papers in the morgue nobody will notice very much.”

“How is the car working out? Parking aside, that is?”

“I’m leaving it at my place tomorrow unless I really need it for something downtown. I’ve had enough parking grief. Of course now that I have it, my dad can send me on errands and so can mother. How did it work when you had a car?”

“The same way. But Joe and I had fun too, because we could use it to set things up and haul stuff. Especially the stuff we found under sea and floated up.”

“You floated stuff up?”

“When we first moved to the Cape, I was eleven and Joe six. Mom had some social things going before she started to work for the government and grandfather arranged for mom to have help for the house as Stacey was three. Anyway, when we got to the Cape, we went after Aunt Nera because of the stories that dad and mom too told. Grandfather had just given us some gags and we found out how to make them work underwater and other things. Then grandfather invoked family rules on us and said that since both of us were going after Aunt Nera, Mother was on Aunt Nera’s team. We thought that was very unfair and when mother said that we would have to spend all weekend with Aunt Nera we went after mother at a library committee meeting. We still ended up going undersea with Aunt Nera for the weekend, but she subverted us by taking us through wrecks, telling us stories about them and showing us how to do certain things like float things up. So for the next few years we would float stuff up for the front yard, which annoyed mother as stuff you bring up falls apart as it dries out. Once I could drive though, it meant that it was much easier to float stuff up and bring it home in dad’s truck.”

“So your aunt was more fun than you knew.”

“A lot more. Some of which we still haven’t told mother about. She also helped me buy a truck so that I could run errands for her business. Something that we also neglected to tell mother about.”

When dinner was about over and the discussion about dresses had wound down, I turned to my sister and said, “When was the last time that you talked with Tom?”

She blinked. “You know, I can’t remember. I think that I should call the farm right now and talk to him.”

She rolled over to the phone and was on the phone for about fifteen minutes. Long enough that when she came back I asked, “What account did you bill the call too? I hope that you didn’t just hit Bennie with a big bill.”

“Tom’s special account with the phone company. No billing at all.”

“So what’s happening up there?”

“Larry’s wife Theresa and Tom are playing with the phones and somebody tapping them. She has this record and nobody can listen to it for very long. Tom also had an interesting visit with the Creator up there. He apologized to me because I had to do the contest for him but the schedule just didn’t work out. I told him what we had been up to and thank you, Steve, for reminding me that I should call him. He missed me a lot.”

“It was rather painful for me and Haruka last month until she got the rest of our people here. Since you can, come up to Bennies and call Tom on Saturday while we’re here.”

“I’ll do that.”

We talked some more and then dinner broke up as we put the ladies back under water. Haruka said, “Do you think the Admiral would object if you stayed here tonight?”

“No. I’ll call in and then we can go for a Swim.”

I did and we did.

 

 

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