Mermaid, Chapter 25, part 3

Chrissie wakes up, Tim shoots a Necromancer, the hunt for the werewolves goes on.

Chrissie.

Saturday 1/23, 1932.

I woke up with the worst headache in my life. It was if Stephie had used the skillet several times. I was underwater too. In uncomfortable water. I looked around and the other ladies were sitting on the edge of the fairly large pool that we were in, in a large building. Through the windows I could see mountains like those in Vermont or Lake Placid. I Swam over to the other ladies. Nanami called out in Japanese, “You are awake, finally. Let’s speak Japanese for the time being. They have listeners.”

“Who are “they?”

“Other than a bunch if baka, you mean?” Misako said. “We woke up in the truck about four hours before we got here. Then we pretended that we were asleep when they brought us in here. The people who did it were soldier types who called their leader, Captain. After we were unloaded, they told the truck to drive someplace and two of them followed.We are in a large building with rooms that appear to be recently modified and some children. The leader talked to some people called the “Board.” And ordered another man around that he called, “Jacob”. We haven’t let them know that we speak English. The soldier types are not speaking English either other than the “Captain”.” “Jacob” tried to speak with us and we acted as if we did not understand him.” Haruka said. “He seems to be everything that Stelios said he was. As well as being compelled.”

‘If Jacob is here, that means they just made a bad mistake,” I said. “Whoever they are, they are playing in Tom’s home ground. Tom was going to run an operation before the Olympics to clean out the pestholes that he found. If Jacob is here I also know where we are. We just need to let Tom know where we are. Any ideas?”

“They could fix the water,” Nanami said. “It’s pretty awful. Almost like Swimming in a sewer.” “That’s an easy one. Eric has two tank cars for the pool at the inn we were going to be using. We’ll just tell the people here about them. George’s wheelchairs too. Any special dietary requirements.”

I don’t think that they would believe that we only eat the food at Bennies,” Misako said. “Sea urchins, maybe? They don’t seem to eat them up top here. Those big crabs with the long legs.”

“Those will work. I will tell them that he can get them from the co-op or Cahoons fish market.I’ll tell them that they should ask for Chrissie’s crabs from the menu. That’s a real thing on the menu, but it’s a joke between Matt, mom, daddy and me from when I was up top and ten or so. Chrissie’s crab is whatever mom would bring up top for me and Matt would put it on ice. For everybody else, it’s just steamed crabs with butter. Along with some fried sea urchin, actually and special Cahoons sauce.”

“Those sound delicious, actually,” Nanami said. “We definitely need some Chrissie’s crabs.”

“Do you know why my head hurts as if Stephie hit the bed tank a hundred times?”

“There was a door on the tank in the truck and every time it hit a bump, slam. We managed to tie it open after we were awake. Chrissie, if you find a skillet, I’m going to whap all of them over the head with it, multiple times.”

Finding the skillet is easy. Getting the skillet is going to be hard.If Stephie shows up I will ask her for one. Of course if Stephie shows up our friends out there will suddenly have a dance with death.”

Somebody must have reported that I was awake, because Jacob showed up. “Jacob, I knew you were an idiot, but I didn’t think that you were this stupid.”

“It wasn’t my idea, Chrissie. I’m just the go between. A fairly useless go between until you woke up. I have been tasked to ensure your comfort and keep you alive.”

“Well you could call Tom and have him pick us up. Since we were planning to come up on Monday anyway, we can let the nasty truck trip pass. My headache I will throw in for free. That way our problems become Tom’s problems.”

“I don’t think that the people in charge will go with that.”

“Then they become Tom’s problem. The bureau’s problem and Sal’s problem. The last guy that became their problem lasted about a week and a half. Where are we anyway?”

“I’m not going to tell you that.”

“You being here already did. I know where we are, the academy. You should be more careful about making sure that abandoned buildings actually look as if they are abandoned.” “That is as may be. I can’t tell you where you are, regardless. On a more serious note, is there something you need?”

“Sea water.” “The pool has salt water.”

“You added salt to pond water or something to make the salt water, didn’t you? We tried that at the farm too. That doesn’t work for merfolk. It needs to be real seawater for merfolk or it’s uncomfortable.”

“You have a pool at the farm.”

“I had daddy send up a tank car of seawater and that worked.”

“That might be rather difficult.”

“Well if those boys of yours can dodge Bob and Scott there are two more tank car loads of seawater sitting right now in the yard at Burlington waiting for the big pool at the inn to be finished for us. You might be able to borrow some.” “I will tell them. Do you have any special nutritional requirements?”

“Yes we do. You could ask Tom to handle that or contact the fish markets at the Cape. The easiest way would probably to call Cahoons in Woods Hole and ask to have Chrissie’s crab shipped up.”

“Wouldn’t that be rather obvious?”

‘Not really. Landers order it too. It’s fried sea urchin and the legs of those big long legged crabs. They just named it after me when I was ten because I would keep asking daddy for it. Mom would have it sent up and they would keep it on ice for me. Other people asked for it and it became a regular item. It’s on the menu and has been for years.”

“Anything else?”

“This one should be easy. My chair from the committee building so that I can get around more easily. The other chairs for the other ladies too.”

“I will see what I can do about the chairs. Your dresses and things are on the hangers over there. I should have the chairs tomorrow. The rest of it may be more difficult.”

“Well you brought this on yourselves. You have not begun to see difficult yet. Jacob, you think you know Tom. But the sixteen year old that you think you know is not the man now. My husband can be very dangerous when he has to be. I was hoping that I could free him and my father of that burden and your friends set him off again. Well so be it. You all are going to get the full Tom. Since I haven’t sensed or seen the Director, I’m going to guess that he isn’t here and all the rest of the people that had the full Tom are dead. To say nothing of what my father and grandfather will do.

My father has the bad habit of going after every monster he encounters and dealing with them, which frightens just about everybody on the East coast. I’ve had the White House, the head of the FBI and all the top mob bosses tell me that they want daddy out of the monster killing business. Simply because of who he is and the connections and structures that he maintains. As for grandfather, the Wall St people that I talked to at Sal’s parties are glad that he doesn’t play anymore because he could probably leverage a good portion of the economy if he wanted. To say nothing of the fact that the only thing he is living for is his kids and grandchildren since your associates managed to kill his bonded. Since the last time he had an incident, it almost took out a big chunk of the East coast with weather magic, keeping us alive and grandfather happy, active and up top is something everybody wants.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“So that the people who are hiding behind you know just how stupid they have been. I suspect that they took me to get to Tom, thinking as you did that he wasn’t important and couldn’t hurt you. I hope that you, at least are beginning to get the idea that thinking like that is just plain stupid. That was when Tom didn’t really want to hurt you. If I should get hurt at this point, all bets are off. He’s already on the path of sacrifice, thanks to his brother. Right now I’m the only thing between you and your friends and a powerful, ruthless and very dangerous man. With two more right behind him. Along with both our families and every connection we have. If I were your friends, I would call the farm, tell Tom where I am, that is if he doesn’t already know, and then go back to the city and grab the first boat to anyplace that’s leaving. One of the Manager’s people gave him that advice and he didn’t take it. A week later he was out of the picture. Since there are more Twisted out there, it may take Tom a bit longer. We’ll have to see.”

“I will tell them what you said. Is there anything else?”

“Something to read. Nice and thick, so that I don’t get bored. Something new that I probably haven’t seen yet. Some things to read in Japanese for the other ladies. A table to sit at would be nice.”

“I will see what I can do.”

He left.

Nanami said, “I don’t think that they will take what you said seriously.”

“I don’t either. They probably think like Jacob did that I am just a stupid girl. I didn’t play stupid with Jacob because I suspect that by now he knows better. He’s also likely fighting his compulsions and will actually get the things I asked for even though he knows that doing that will lead people here. On the other hand, I just told him that we knew about the academy. I didn’t tell him exactly how much we knew about the place.” “So Tom was already looking at it?”

“Yes. He was planning to hit the Twisted that were its protection with a big hunt with Steve and some other friends in an operation that came in fast and took them all out. He wanted the Twisted out of the picture before the people started to arrive for the games so that there wouldn’t be any accidents. Mike and the bureau were going to work from the farm next week.”

“You said that he might already know that we are here.”

“That fish truck they used wasn’t exactly inconspicuous and if the boys were watching and they probably were, they saw it come in. Tom probably already knew about the truck. If they get sloppy about getting rid of it and it gets found, Tom will know for certain.Coming up here was a mistake for these people. They are in a country they are not familiar with and will stick out like a sore thumb. In the city they could possibly have hidden in the communities. Though at this point, it’s not likely, at least not the fae communities. But up here, there is no way to hide. Haruka, did you check our purses?”

“Yes and they left the guns. I checked and they are both still loaded.”

“Baka! On the other hand, the purses have aversions on them. So they may not have even thought to look for a gun. Not that we can do anything with them until we have a means to escape. We will probably have more guns coming anyway.”

“Why?”

“Tom will provide. He will know that we are in the pool and slip them in, just to be sure. I would actually rather have a trouble pack or two.”

“To make trouble, right?” Misako said.

“Or to give to the residents to make trouble with.”

“The residents?”

“The people that entertain the visitors. We may see them. We were sure that that was what this place did for the other side. On the one hand it functioned to tempt and corrupt the local fae and on the other hand the residents are made more vulnerable to the Twist. We wanted the place troubleshot when we hit the rest of the Twisted.”

The residents started to show up almost as soon as Jacob left and we could no longer sense somebody trying to watch us. Since we had been speaking a language that they almost certainly did not understand, watching to see if we were up to something was pointless anyway. For that matter as far as they knew there was no way to escape anyway. What they had no way of knowing was that we had wanted to get people inside here anyway and hadn’t figured out how. There were compelled staff and some dark fae that were “Managing” the residents. There hadn’t seemed to be a way to infiltrate into the compelled staff and we hadn’t wanted to start breaking compulsions without knowing more about what was inside. Grandfather, Father, Tom and the rest of us had discussed this on the train down from Vermont before our little cruise, so I knew what was planned in general.

Tom had building plans from the inspector’s office and we knew the layout before the current modifications had been made. Still it was the people inside, how they operated and what went on that we needed to know.   Linda and Roscoe were going to do the same kind of discreet infiltration that they had done for the place that Sal had found, but Roscoe was busy setting things up for his office on Long Island and Linda had been working with the kids that had been the “residents” at the place that Sal had busted and was trying to get a potential location for the “school” that was up here. As far as I knew we hadn’t found it and we wanted both the school and the academy before we hit one of them if we could. They were due to come up Wednesday and infiltrate on Thursday. Now that we were inside there was a good chance that we could do a bunch of the spadework, right out in the open.

The surprise was that the first two came into the pool by phasing in Change, which was remarkable because they both looked to be about thirteen. We had been suffering the water to get wet when we heard “See Terry, they are mermaids.”

“How, Vicky? They seem awfully old. The visitors will not want to play with them.”

We popped up and I said, “Hello girls. How do we look old? But on the other hand the only visitor that I would want to play with is my husband and he isn’t here right now. I’m Chrissie and this is Haruka, Misako and Nanami. They don’t speak English because they are from Japan. ”

“I’m Vicky and this is Terry.” Terry looked at us. “How come you are here if not to entertain the visitors.”

“Terry, we don’t know. Some bad men killed our guards, took our car and put us to sleep. When we woke up we were in this pool. How did you get here?”

“From a school that’s all by itself. We were sent there after our mommys were killed by the Director. When we were old enough we came here.” She looked at the clock on the wall. It was four o clock and she said, “We need to go.”

“Come back again.”

They phased through the door again. “That was interesting” Misako said. “They went into Change at a very young age. I presume that the entertaining visitors is providing sex.”

“Yes. Sal found a place like this that had been run by the sharks.”

Just as I was saying that I caught a sense of Tom moving away. “I just sensed Tom leaving. That must be the shielded blind out there.” “I thought that was Tom,” Haruka said.”Though it was very faint. There was somebody else with him who was also shielding themselves heavily. The other one did not seem familiar, but I haven’t met everybody in the family yet.”

“Grandfather and father won’t let him travel by himself unless it’s in friendly territory like the Cape anymore. Director Hoover insisted that he have security. That may be why they went after me. Now we know that they are here and that they probably know we are here. Now all they have to do is take Andy again and have guns in the cellar.”

“I don’t think that there will be guns in the cellar,” Nanami said. “For that to happen twice to these people is rather mind boggling.”

“For that matter, taking Andy again is just going to be painful. Hilda insists that he have a gun at all times now and if he’s near the water, he will just disappear.”

“Trillia didn’t waste any time dragging him in, did she?”

“Tom was a bit annoyed by that because he wanted to teach Andy to swim and now he can’t.”

“I don’t think that Hilda was bothered.”

“No she wasn’t. Anything that makes it harder to use Andy as a hostage is just fine as far as she is concerned”

Misako said, “I wonder how they plan to feed us?”

That question was answered by two people that were obviously compelled and who wouldn’t talk to me regardless, rolling a cart with dishes and plates and putting the dishes next to the pool. After they were done, they turned around and left. I said, “Well, let’s eat.”

After we ate, we left the dishes piled next to the pool and talked. From time to time, more of the residents peeked in and we said hello. The other side seemed to have stopped trying to keep an eye on us, which annoyed me, because if they were keeping an eye on us, they weren’t keeping an eye on Tom.

Steve.

Saturday 1/23, 1932.

Joe, Moira and I left New York for Providence on Saturday morning. I had a rating waiting in Providence and Joe and Moira went to get wet and head over to the bower while I went to Newport to meet with my people. We put together a plan and arranged for vehicles and equipment so that we could leave in the morning. I also updated lieutenant Ferris and Stelios on the Colonel. Including the fact that we weren’t going to tell Tom about him.

Then it was over to the Cape and talking to my sister at the diner with Joe and Moira. Theresa had made up a packet for her including everything we had On the Colonel. She had found some things already. “I talked to a contact up at the Maine kingdom. There were several farms hit by what they think were werewolves up in Canada last month. They are looking out for them and talking across the border. They gave me a contact at the RCMP, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. So there are almost certainly more werewolves out there. Other things too, probably.”

“That was stupid on their part,” Joe said. ‘Look at how Ed managed to hide for years because he is vary careful not to chew on people. A little care and they wouldn’t have attracted any attention.” “I don’t think that the Colonel worries about that too much,” I said. “I was looking at his book and he didn’t seem to worry about the consequences of the messes that he left behind.”

“You will show the book to father, won’t you?”

“Tim has it. He bought right out from under navy intelligence.”

“Now that sounds like a story. Tell me, along what else he and Suzy have been up to.”

I did and we filled the place with laughter. When we were finished, Helen came over and wanted to know what was happening with Chrissie. I told her, “we don’t know yet. Some very good people are working on it and we are chasing the people that took the ladies.”

“The kids were so happy to see her and the other ladies. How did the prince let people take them?”

“He didn’t. They killed two of his people, people that the prince liked and trusted and replaced them and picked the ladies up. The good thing is that they want something from Tom.”

“Well he won’t give whatever it is to them until the ladies are returned. All the people here are upset about this. Chrissie and her family have been here for a very long time and we will not let somebody take them from our water and lands.”

She went back to deal with another customer and Stacey said, “That is grandfather’s whole life’s work. In a way I wish that the Colonel could have heard that. The Director too. The people here think of we fae as part of them and not something apart. And we are.”

“Well if you get a chance to tell Aunt Eltra about the Colonel, let her know.”

“Not Al?”

“Right now, too many family members are up there and involved. If you and Al are here with aunt and George as well as out uncles, the bower and the Cape can be secure. I’ll tell father and grandfather. If Al finds out from other sources have aunt call you and give. him everything we have. He has more experience with the Colonel than anybody else. I just don’t want to give the game away before we’ve started. He’s planning to come up for our big show anyway. When he does I will give him the up to date briefing.”

Al actually came in with Eltra. “Altris said that Joe and Moira came through the bower on their way to pick some stuff up. You going up to the farm?”

“It lucks as if they took Chrissie up there. There may be one of your old friends up there. I will let you know when I know more. At least something has the spooks scared. I called Miss Vicky to try to get the War Department to talk to me about Christmas and the army spooks wanted to play games because somebody bad might be in the neighborhood. Then the navy showed up on Thursday. Something big has them spooked. Also somebody’s playing with the phones up at the farm.”

“Not for long.”

“I’ve heard. Is the record that bad?”

“Some of my army buddies wanted to nail Theresa for cruel and unusual punishment and violations of the Geneve Convention. They also wanted me to destroy the record. But Jeremy treats it as his greatest treasure. I’m also not going to piss Theresa off like that.”

“We aren’t sure yet and if something bad turns up Stacey has everything. But stay here and keep an eye on things. We don’t have the whole picture yet.”

.

Tim.

Saturday 1/23, 1932.

Suzy grabbed me and took me out for a Swim before breakfast with Sal and Sillia. Suzy and Sillia were going to Swim over to the school while we drove over as the Detective and his intrepid reporter friend. There were stories going around the paper about a radio show series about a ratty detective and a reporter who went around solving garbage cases that turned out to be weird and strange. Everybody liked the show for the most part. Kay had told me about the show and Suzy had insisted that we listen last Tuesday and the show had been a riot as the Sal character had been played by an Irish guy, accent and all.

In any case we pulled up in the wreck to talk to the kid about what he had seen with Bill, Hilda, Eli and Theresa. When we were about done I said, “I wish you had gotten a picture of these characters when they were making the transfer.” “I didn’t, but my brother did. He was on our porch on the second floor of our walk up taking pictures while I went to send the message. He placed third in the car contest.”

Sal and I looked at each other. Sal said, “I think that we need to talk to your brother right away.”

These people had destroyed the doppelgangers to tie up a loose end. If somebody spotted him up there, he could be in real trouble. We turned around and went outside with Bill and Hilda and got in the wreck with Bill and Hilda right behind us. When we arrived at the kid’s neighborhood we saw two cops walking toward the house. Sal stopped the car a bit in front of them and got out to talk to them and suddenly called out, “Zombies!” and drew his gun. I looked at them again and could feel that they were not alive, but not dead either and drew my gun. Sal fired at one and I fired at the other as Bill and Hilda drove past and turned around. Bill got out of the car with a shotgun and started to look around and Hilda got out the other side. The two cops had gone down and I grabbed my camera and took pictures as they started to dissolve. Hilda said, “Keep your eyes open! The necromancer is probably around here someplace.”

Sal and I went down the street and two more people that were not right came at us. Sal shot them both and they went down. I took two more pictures. I looked around and sensed a guy shielding alongside the road. I put my camera back in the satchel, pulled my gun back out and went over to him. He apparently hadn’t seen me as I walked up and said, “You can’t hide. Why don’t we go over there and have a chat.”

He tried to compel me and I think tried to Turn me, so I grabbed him and shoved him back across the street. “Sal we’ve got a live one here.”

That was when I found out what it took to become a Necromancer as he looked around, realized that there was no way he could escape and Changed, into a zombie. I didn’t have a choice, so I fired my gun again and it was over except for one last picture. The stench was awful and I said, “Now I know why Josh sank his first Necromancer after he killed him.”

I looked up and the kid was up there was taking pictures again. I said to Sal, “I’m glad it’s you that’s going to have to tell him that he can’t take the pictures to the paper.”

Sal said, “The next time Suki says something to me that sounds crazy, I think that I will just say, ‘yes, Suki.’ She was right about this and you having your gun.”

“Let’s go up and talk to the kid.”

It was strange to talk about him as a kid and me as an adult because we were almost the same age. But that was what putting the suit on did. We didn’t have to go up to talk to the kid because he came down with his mom. “Hi, I’m Isaac. I know who you two are. Tim, I was in the contest, but didn’t win. What happened down here?”

“We really can’t tell you,” Sal said. “For your own safety. The people behind this are looking to tie up loose ends and they are getting more dangerous and violent. We forgot to ask your brother about anybody else watching what happened yesterday and they sent a thing to kill you and take the photos you took before they would be seen.” Sal turned to Isaac’s mother. “I think that we want to take you, ma’am and your son to be with your other son for a week or so. ”

She looked around at the dissolving bodies, “I think I can understand why.”

Hilda had called it in and Helmut showed up with the bureau’s two forensics people along with George and Alex. Helmut asked me, “Did you get pictures?”

“Yes. My first zombies. Also what a Necromancer’s Change looks like. Ugh. Who would want to be a Necromancer and Change into a zombie voluntarily?”

“Change, of whatever kind can be an attractive thing. Especially for fae that don’t have it. That was one reason that you, Sal and Tom were not told until you bonded. You’ve seen what not having Change did to Bill. I will admit that the Necromancer Change is a bit extreme, but a zombie could be dangerous and powerful back in the day and making others your zombie slaves is a powerful drug.”

“Must be a very powerful drug to get you to do that.”

“Power does that. By the way, Mike and Nera want you at the Waldorf, so George will take you up. Hand Alex the film.”

I took two more pictures to to clear the film pack and handed it to Alex. Then George and I started up to the Waldorf. As we drove off, I said, “we blew this one. If Sal and I hadn’t been talking to the kid this morning it would have been bad. On the other hand, what are these people thinking? They take Chrissie and leave bodies all over the place. Then they try to take out the witnesses and create yet more bodies. What happens if there are yet more witnesses and more attention? These people should be trying to be discreet and instead they are just making a bigger mess for themselves.”

“I don’t know Tim. These people are playing by a different set of rules than we are used to. They also seem to be amazingly sloppy just as we got better. Talk to Mike, he’s been around these things a long time.”

We arrived at the hotel and went in a side door this time. That didn’t help as when we arrived at the floor, Suki was waiting for me. “You needed your gun, didn’t you? For zombies.”

“How did you know?”

“Mike told me. But I’m not surprised. These are new people and very sloppy.” “How did you know that?”

“I talk to people. It’s a skill you should learn.”

“I talk to a lot of people. That’s how we ran into the zombies this morning.”

“See, you can learn. Did you take pictures of the zombies? That is probably important.” “Yes I did. Of the Necromancer just after he Changed as well. I wish that Mike or Josh had told me about that, ugh.”

“He became a monster himself, didn’t he?”

“How do you know these things? You are not fae.” “No I am not. but my father was collector of stories about the oni and I liked to read them. I also know quite a few, like the princess and her aunt. So I know things. That is one thing that makes me useful to my not quite useless husband. The fact is that the fae here are disconnected from the knowledge of a lot that the fae knew and need somebody to collect and distribute that knowledge. Passing it on fae to fae won’t work when so many chains are broken. Tom may have a start on a new approach.”

“I want to start a paper for the fae.”

“That may be very important. Why have you not started?”

“Because I have been distracted by a certain tail.” “The one that is right here?” Suzy asked. “So what happened in Brooklyn?”

“Sal and I went to the house where the kid lived, Sal called out, “Zombies!!” and drew his gun and shot what appeared to be a cop. I drew my gun and took out the other one. Two more zombies showed up that had probably been an elderly couple that the necromancer just grabbed and Sal shot them. While he was doing that I spotted the Necromancer trying to be invisible and walked right up and grabbed him. The Necromancer Changed and I had to shoot him. The Necromancer Change is a zombie, ugh. So why are you here?”

“You just up and left and Sillia and I figured that you and Sal would end up here anyway so we had Bill drive us over. It sounds like you had good reason to just up and leave.”

“We did, we were very lucky and I paid attention to a very smart strange lady who I thank for the good advice.”

“You’re welcome, Tim,” Suki said. “At your age being distracted by a certain tail is to be expected and Suzy is certainly a worthy distraction. But also remember to keep your eye on your dream. I think that Suzy will want to help anyway. That’s what partners do.”

“So any word about Chrissie?”

“No, but a farm north of Albany had the family killed and partially eaten by rabid wolves or dogs.”

“The werewolves indulged themselves.”

“Yes, which was stupid, because they lost focus on what was important. Eating people on a farm is not keeping their eye on Tom. If Tom is your enemy, you cannot afford to take your eye off of him. Even without abilities, he will disappear and come from some direction you will not expect. Tom was planning something even before they took Chrissie. For that matter, taking Chrissie and having her probably near to their center helps Tom and hurts them.”

“It does? Chrissie is a mermaid. On land she will probably be almost helpless.”

“Is Suzy helpless on land?”

“No, of course not.”

“They will think that Chrissie is helpless as well. Meanwhile she and Tom will work together to bring about these people’s destruction. My family has a long experience with hostages and they can be very dangerous. Taking somebody hostage means that you have somebody working against you right inside like a viper next to your chest, ready to bite.”

“Tonight is the full moon. The werewolves will let their monsters out.”

“And do something stupid. Attack another farm right next to their base, probably. Attract all sorts of attention and noise. Noise that Tom will use to his advantage to hide what he really is doing.”

“Well I need to report in to Nera.”

“Yes you should, but don’t go far away.” She giggled. “I will attempt to distract Suzy for a while.”

They were giggling over something as I went over to the room that Mike and Nera were using as an office. She saw me and said, “Tim, you had some excitement with Sal this morning.”

“I discovered why your brother in law hates Necromancers so much. It’s not so much that they make zombies, it’s that they ARE zombies. I can’t imagine what kind of thinking it takes to want to do that to yourself. Suki says that the werewolves indulged themselves.”

“Yes they did, which was stupid as that told us what direction they were heading. The truck was also seen heading through Albany, heading North. Scott also said that the werewolves had shown up at the academy and the academy has a large indoor pool before he went off on the boat. Roger was at your grandfather’s meeting yesterday and Scott talked to Mike and I last night”

“Somebody should check and see if Jacob bought a large quantity of salt.”

“Funny that you should ask that question. Roger did too. He asked Jacob’s business manager and they did order a fairly large quantity of salt. Rock salt and not brine, unfortunately.”

“Why was that unfortunate?” “If they had ordered Brine from evaporated seawater the mermaids would have been comfortable. Using rock salt, the mineral composition is wrong and a mermaid is uncomfortable. Mary at the inn and my brother talked about this. They are using sea water to fill the pool initially and using brine salt for the make up. Since the aquarium is right next door to the office I made some discreet enquirys.”

“I wouldn’t want Chrissie to be uncomfortable. She might not like that. What do you want from me today?”

“To stay put until something happens, if something does. I don’t think that anything will. The truck will arrive and the mermaids will be dumped into the pool with Tom watching them.”

“Suki mentioned hostages as vipers on your chest, ready to bite you.”

“That does happen. Taking a hostage and keeping them alive and healthy means that you have taken an enemy right into your center. The best thing to do is to place the hostage far away from whatever you are doing. At least that was they used to say when I was talking to military types before they got nasty about things. Thomas Gage got carried away with power and tried to take me hostage to get father to cooperate. That was just stupid because he had to keep me aboard ship and the sailors were rather ucomfortable with that. Along with later when ships started to have problems. I’m sure that Mera has taught Chrissie how to play the game as a hostage.”

“What about the other three ladies?”

“Well you went on that long Swim with Haruka, what do you think that she will do?”

“Start organizing things. She’ll take over if they aren’t running things shipshape.”

“She does that, doesn’t she? She keeps Steve organized and that lets him focus on his job. Well sit down and wait with Suzy. That’s all we can do right now.”

I went and found Suzy, who was telling Tochi’s kids about her brother and the navy yard. As I sat down it hit me. I had shot somebody today and killed them. This was different from the time that I reflected that guy. That had been a result of his trying to compel me. This time I had pulled a trigger and killed somebody. He had been a monster at the time and I had had no choice, but I hadn’t hesitated to pull the trigger. To say nothing about that cop, though he was already dead. Mike came over and said, “ Nera said that I should probably talk to you. The first one is always rough. It’s where you are different than you were before. Before you weren’t a killer and now you are.” “I had no choice. He had made himself a monster. It wasn’t my first one either, but the first one was a mistake.”

“No you didn’t. In fact I’m sure that you wanted him alive for so many reasons. But he didn’t give you that option.”

“Well at least I know why Josh didn’t think that any Necromancers would turn up. Who would want to do that to themselves?”

“Why would anybody want to do any of the Dark Changes? Yet we see those Changes, and the people on that path over and over. Bill, for instance. They force the Change and the Change destroys them. I just wanted to tell you that you did a good job today. Also, even when he was dead, the Necromancer told us things. He was a recent entry and had his passport with him. We know who he was and more importantly where he came from and who he came in with. Unfortunately the ship they came over on is at sea, but it will be returning next Friday. We will talk to the crew then.”

Lunch was brought in and we all talked about various things. Suki came over and asked, “How did things go on Wall Street yesterday? I was worried about other things and didn’t think to ask about that. You were at the street market yesterday weren’t you?”

“The curb exchange? Yes I was.”

“They should have left the market in the street. That big fancy building will make them comfortable. Comfortable people are never hungry and hungry people are better in a market like that. A little weather won’t hurt them.”

Vic had shown me the pictures of the market on the street during a blizzard. Some of the guys still wanted things like that and had wanted the exchange to open the windows. “Well I learned to keep my mouth shut on the floor and when talking to those people.” “How?”

“Vic asked me about Tochi and Noro while some Japanese companies were taking a hit when the kidnapping story broke and I mentioned that Noro and Tom were tight with you and the companies started to recover. The over lunch I said that Chrissie and I were cousins and that I had talked to you and Noro.”

“That was the truth. Telling the truth doesn’t hurt things. This way the companies have the money to operate and nobody loses their jobs. You helped people to have lives. That is a good thing.Yes you should watch what you say, especially in a place like that where a rumor can be destructive. As for who your family is and who you know, people will discover those things anyway. That fact that my less than useless husband and Tom are old friends is hardly a secret. The fact that Noro is Chrissie’s grandfather has been in the papers. Your relation with them probably was not common knowledge yet, but people would have discovered it fairly soon just from the fact that you have been seen with us so frequently. The fact that you are known to be with us will give what you say validity. The thing to remember is to not lie when things are important.”

“I killed somebody today.”

“Is that what is bothering you, going around like you have all day? Yes you killed somebody. Did he give you a choice?”

“No, the Changed into a monster.” “Was he hurting people?”

“He Turned people into zombies.”

“So you had to kill him before he made more zombies. It was a good thing that you could. A zombie master like that can destroy a village very quickly. Had you not killed him right away the thing he had become would have started to Turn everybody he touched and he would have tried to touch everybody he could reach. The fact that you are what you are protected you and Sal, along with Hilda and Bill. A normal police officer would have been in grave danger followed by everybody in that neighborhood and and everybody the zombies tried to feed on. You saved many lives today and don’t forget that.”

“Mr. Rockefellor said that I shouldn’t make the news.”

“Mr. Rockefellor was hoping that you wouldn’t have to. I don’t know the man, but he probably is not as innocent about these things as you might think. Have you talked with him recently?”

“No, I haven’t had a chance to.” “When you get a chance, see what he says. In any case, you did a good thing today.”

Mike came over. “The kid did us good. Between yesterday and today we got some good pictures. Tell Roger to keep an eye on him, if he isn’t already. Look.”

He started to hand us pictures. One interesting one showed a character that I had seen and taken a picture of, along with some Southern European looking types. Including one that had been in the other picture. “The Director was there. He doesn’t look happy about it though.”

“He doesn’t, does he? He looks as if he sees his doom in what’s happening.”

Suki was looking at the zombie pictures. “Tim, you look heroic. Hey Suzy, come here!”

Suzy rolled over and looked. “Tim! You were putting yourself at risk pushing that Necromancer around like that. Shoot him first.”

“I couldn’t do that! We wanted to talk to him.”

“Well he didn’t want to talk and if he had been hurt maybe he would be thinking about the pain and not be able to Change. Well, you did shoot him after. Bill’s training paid off.”

“I had specials in the gun. On the other hand, Bill’s training made sure that he was going down fast. I want to talk to Josh about zombies.”

“You should,” Mike said. “Though you also got pictures, something we did not have.”

Suzy, Sillia and Nera were getting dry, so Mike took them to the discreet spot at the end of a pier that Mary and Helmut had set up for the bureau with a way to get in the water and a place to put a boat. Helmut was looking for a rumrunner like Tom’s but the coast guard hadn’t gotten their hands on one intact recently.

Around about four o clock a call came in from Mary. Jacob’s business office had just placed a large order for Chrissie’s crab to be delivered to a bulding that was supposed to be abandoned. After George put the phone down, stopped laughing and told us what Mary had said, he added, “Well that wasn’t that obvious was it?”

After Suki stopped laughing, she asked, “What’s Chrissie’s crab?”

“I don’t know. Nera will, though. I bet that it’s a family joke with Chrissie and crabs, somehow. I bet the people up at the Cape know what it is.”

Nera and the rest came back from their Swim and Suki nailed Nera as she rolled in and said, “Explain Chrissie’s crabs.”

“How did those come up?”

We explained. She started to laugh and said, “Just after my sister and Stacey went under sea, Mera would bring goodies for Chrissie and leave them at the fish market in Woods Hole for Josh and Chrissie to pick up. That became Chrissie’s crab. Chrissie likes fried sea urchin and those big long legged crab legs and Cahoons served that when Chrissie would ask for Chrissie’s crab. My brother would make sure that Cahoons had it and then other people heard Chrissie order it and tried it. After a while, Chrissie’s crab was on the menu. It still is as far as far as I know. The caterer had it at the wedding and my nephews had some fried up at the party.

We were speculating about signals. Maybe not a signal so obvious, but if Jacob is fighting his compulsions, Chrissie will take advantage of that. If Chrissie is at the academy, that means that they put her right where Tom wanted her. With a gun and her water magic, right in Tom’s home ground where he was already going to hammer them.”

Suki said, “See what I told you, Tim. They should have been watching Tom instead of eating people. They made mistakes. Of course the big one was taking Chrissie in the first place.”

Tom.

Sunday, 1/24, 1932.

Mother was entertaining the Japanese ski team for breakfast again and when it was over, Nanami’s brother Umijiro came over to me and said, “the prince called yesterday and said that my sister had been taken with your wife on Friday.”

“Yes, she was. Hopefully we can convince the people who took her to let her go, along with her aunt. They were taken to get to me, we think. So far the people who took the ladies have not attempted to make any demands.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?”

“Yes there is, actually. Let me get a map of the ski trails from the workroom.”

Actually the whole team followed me into the workroom, which had been set up with maps and plans of the academy and the other places we were planning to hit. I pulled out the map of the ski trails and pointed out the trail that passed fairly close to the academy. “If you could use this trail for training it might attract some attention from people that we want distracted.At least for the first few times you use it. Some of the other teams use it already.”

They smiled. Umijiro said, “I see what you are getting at. What could we be encountering?”

“Werewolves, so watch your step.”

“Like the ones in the war? My uncle encountered those.”

“Exactly like the ones in the war. Don’t push them and just keep moving through.”

I pointed out the woods. “If they do get pushy, duck in here. We have a watchpost with people set up and if they see you being chased they can intercept. They are not quite as good as my sisters, but the werewolves will not be going back.

The four members of the biathlon team were impressed by my sisters. Starting Monday, the watchpost was going to have four people in it all the time. Father had called his brothers and sisters and my brothers and sisters and set up a timetable for the blind. The blind covered the trail as well as the academy and the road. So far, the werewolves had stayed inside the academy walls.

More than likely you’ll encounter a pair of idiots. They may provide some entertainment. Especially if none of you speak English.”

They smiled and Umijiro said, “Has there been a report on how it happened? The prince does not take security lightly since that close call with his brother. Along with some close calls with you that he talks about.”

I handed him the report. “They switched out with two of his people. They did the same thing with my nephew a couple of months ago. The same two doppelgangers were involved, in fact, which is why we were not careful enough. We knew that they were unstable and couldn’t Change. They apparently could Change once and the people responsible were going to destroy them afterwords anyway so they didn’t care if they still looked like Tochi’s people when it was over.”

“You think that they are up here?”

“The fish truck showed up yesterday and Jacob called Cahoons fishmarket on Cape Cod and ordered a big lot of Chrissie’s crab to be delivered to an abandoned building.”

Umijiro smiled. “Well that wasn’t obvious. We need to catch our bus. We will be over at the Olympic Village until the games are over.”

They trooped out. Don came by to pick me up and we went out to my truck. “So, what did they want?” “That’s Nanami’s brother. He and his friends want to use that trail that goes right by the academy every day.”

Don smiled. “A bunch of guys all skiing by together every day just training for the games. The first couple of times they attract attention and somebody goes to look. By the fourth time, they become part of the scenery. And so does any other group using the same trail.”

When we crossed on the ferry, Bill Jacobs was waiting on the other side. “Good, you came over. Go ahead to the office. Have you seen Bob?”

“What happened?”

“Ed hit my cousin Roger last night. Chewed up the entire family. We had a deal. I didn’t push and he didn’t let the monster out where it could get at people. Well the deal is off.”

“Bill, it wasn’t Ed. Some idiots just made a bad mistake. I’ll be at the office in a few hours with Bob. If we run into Ed, I will talk to him.”

“Well if you see Ed, tell him that if he doesn’t show up at the office and account for his movements yesterday and last night, the hunt is on. Boris is on his way and Bill and Hilda are already on their way up.” “Bill, you might want to hold off on the hunt. Killing Ed will probably trip some very bad things that we are not ready to handle. My brother in law Steve is going to infiltrate people and I have some others coming that are experienced in dealing with these kinds of hunts. We will have the hunt, but we need to be careful. Let me go get Bob and the others.”

I got back in the truck and floored it out of there. Don said, “Talk about stupid moves. That one could get a bunch of people killed.”

“That’s what I’m trying to avoid. The deal with Ed was a surprise though.”

I broke every single speed law and tripped about five speed traps on my way up to the trail. All of them just waved me past. I didn’t bother with the shed and parked the truck where the trail crossed the road near the blind. We skied up to the deer trail and Ed was waiting as we approached. “Tell Bill it wasn’t me.”

“I already did. He wants you at the office to account for where you were last night.”

“That’s not going to be easy. I was way back in the woods for reasons that you know. That was the deal. I never thought that these clowns would be so stupid. Of course by the time I realized that they were sending the wolves after Chrissie, it was too late. They weren’t here and I needed to deal with my own monster. Ok, I don’t think that you are ready to light off whatever it is you are planning, so I’m going to see if I can resolve this. Go and get Bob out of the blind, drive down to Bill’s office and bring back a sheriffs car. You will be Deputy Benton and Deputy Benton taking the suspect in. The suspect will confess and then force you to shoot him. He is going to Change right in front of Bill’s office before you shoot him. I’m going to talk to the people over there and make that happen.”

He left on his skis. I said to Don, “Leave your pack here, we need to hurry.”

He dropped his pack and took mine and put it next to his. “I think that you are right. How did he know about the blind, anyway?”

“He probably helped build it. The Martins were big on hunting and no slouches with guns before the war. That changed afterwords.”

“A lot seems to have changed afterwords.”

We hustled and reached the blind. Bob and Brian were waiting. “Bill called Jacob and came right out and told Jacob to have Ed at the office or else he was going to bust any Martin for every little thing he could think of along with some not so little things that they had been getting away with. What did the clowns down there do?”

“Hit Roger Jacob’s farm and put the bite on him, his wife and his kids. Ed wants us down there with one of Bill’s cars, soonest. I think that one alpha wolf is going to get the riot act read to them and then is going to commit suicide by forcing us to shoot him. Ed wants to keep a lid on things.”

“Let’s go.”

I handed Brian my rifle. “Take care of this. I might need it later.”

We hustled back down the deer trail, strapped on our skis and skied back to the truck. Then we hustled down the sheriff’s office. I reached into behind the seat in the truck and pulled out the shotgun that had been modified for Changed hands. Bob said, “if we push things, we could leave that with Chrissie.”

“Not yet.”

We walked into Bill’s office. Boris and Bill were there and so was Jacob, looking more than a little scared when he saw me. “Bill, I talked to Ed. He’s going to talk to the people responsible and have us bring back the head guy. Ed says that he will confess. We need a car.”

Mazie handed me a set of keys. “Go and get the thing. Bring it back alive.”

We went out, found the car and drove back to the academy. “Do you have your badge?”

Bob grinned and flashed it. “Lately, over here, I never leave home without it.”

We pulled into the academy and Ed was there with a rather stunned looking Southern European type. “Deputies, this man would like to talk to Sheriff Jacobs and confess to a crime.”

As Bob cuffed him and we stuffed him in the car, I looked at the building and Chrissie waved through a window. I didn’t wave back as we drove off again. As I drove, Bob expertly searched the man, removing a gun, his wallet, his passport. and a money belt. When we reached town I parked in front of the sheriff’s office and checked for compulsions. There were some and I just pulled them as we took the prisoner in. We sat him down and Boris started to work on him. I watched as Boris gave him the “Russian Talking To” that we all hated. As it went on, Boris’s accent went from something that sounded like it had been born right there in Vermont, to something rather far east where it was cold and scary. After a while I went outside holding the shotgun. Suddenly shots rang out and a werewolf came charging through the door, bleeding from a bunch of holes. I raised the shotgun and killed it with a classic Bill shot. Everybody came pouring out of the office as I looked at the end of a monster.

Bill looked at it and said, “That’s one. The house was hit by a pack. We counted too many tracks for just one. We’ll have to hunt up the rest. You were right though, and it wasn’t Ed. I was pissed at him about last month, but they were law enforcement officers and that’s part of the risk we take. Ed can’t really control the monster when it gets loose.” “There’s something worse than Ed out there and it needs to be dealt with before taking care of Ed. As for the pack, right now the pack is right in the middle of the worse and that may be why Ed only turned this clown in and not the rest of them. You can keep your eyes open for the rest of them coming from the same place as this character and if your people see one, father has called out the family and we will have people here all the time through the games along with Boris’s people. Steve and some other friends are going to be infiltrating people and you may see some military exercises.”

 

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