The end of Noro’s long day as he and Gunther rediscover that even under extreme circumstances, some people refuse to change. Will Han’s get a clue?
Gunther looked at Tom and said, “He is royal fae and yet he did all that today, how did that happen? What he did needed the skills of a Creator. He had that and the power of a royal fae to put behind it.”
“You know how unattached royal fae do not have access to their abilities, sometimes not until they bond, like it was with me,” Josh said. “Well Tom didn’t and that caused strain in his family. So Tom found a non fae neighbor who liked to make things with tools. The neighbor taught Tom some of his skills and how to obtain more of them. Meanwhile Stephie, trying to show her aunts that Tom was not somehow defective, tried to get Tom to reach into his abilities by poking him with hers. That started Tom on his gags and tricks, which he used to turn the tables on his sister. All without using his abilities, at least in the typical fae ways. Being what he was changed the family in subtle ways and the whole area as well.”
‘You’re Eli’s and Theresa’s son, aren’t you? The son they could not find.”
“Yes. Did they tell you the whole story?”
“Some. They said that you were left in an orphanage and when they could return, you had been adopted. They also said that you married a mermaid and that you are a very important and influential person in the normal world.”
“That was a bit of an accident.”
“No it wasn’t,” Mera said. ‘Josh you were developing those relationships long before I even met you. Gunther, don’t let him fool you. The reason that people are afraid is that Josh keeps the peace in our waters and by extension, along most of the East coast. He arbitrates certain arrangements that might not be completely legal and basically keeps certain groups of people from going off and making a big mess, among other things. So a lot of people in the outfit and the government get worried when Josh goes on a monster hunt. To say nothing of the potential victims of the monsters who worry when he takes chances.
But the reason that Josh can maintain those relationships is his relationships with the people that move the freight and people around and transfer it to ships or trains. A series of relationships that took careful work and dealing with problems, some of which involved monsters Taking or eating the people working the roads, rails and water, or their families. That is what makes Josh so important.”
“They also said that my father in law was taking a big risk by doing what he did here and that you would have a lot of help if you decided to go after him.”
“Gunther, they call my husband the Peacekeeper and that peace has been a good thing for everybody. Between one relationship or another, nobody in the region is going to let something like taking my daughter hostage just slide. Your father in law has a huge price on his head already. If he had actually killed my daughter, there would be no place that he could hide. Killing him would become a matter of honor rather than money. So he would be found and destroyed.”
“Gunther, when we get back to the city, I will take you to the leaders of the outfit and you can ask them what the one thing that they take great steps to insure doesn’t happen,” I said. “The word in certain corners is “Never piss off the Peacekeeper.” Also, most of the bosses know Chrissie in spite of my daughter’s best efforts and they all like her, so if the Colonel had actually killed her, a lot of nasty types would want to be doing Josh a big favor. As it is, Chrissie is back with Tom and Tom hasn’t been agressively chasing the Colonel even though the Colonel triggered Tom’s path of sacrifice.”
“Gunther, can you sense your Creator?” Josh asked. “Since we know where the Colonel picked his Puppet up, we might be able to sense if he is still there and maybe pick him up when the Colonel’s people do their little thing on Doug’s place.” “I can do that. So what do you think that Tom is going to do about the Colonel?”
“You’ve seen some of how he works. After he shot the sharks but didn’t know just what more the Director had come up with since he had never encountered the sharks before, he brought Chrissie up here, modified some guns in case he needed them and secured his material that he had on the Director. Then he made sure that the Director’s people knew that he was returning and planned to keep moving until he returned to the Cape after notifying Helmut’s people and the rest of us what had happened.”
“He brought Chrissie up here? Why.”
“Because the shark were trailing the scent that newly joined mermaids put into the water and he wanted to break any contact with the other side until he got a better estimate of what they could do. The bureau at that point was just beginning to realize that the sharks existed so they couldn’t alert Tom to them, he knew that the Director’s people were adamant about destroying evidence of their operations and he had just taken pictures of everything. So he wanted to remove himself from potential pursuit and break any eyes looking for him. He also wanted to make sure that his family would have no concerns about my family and that we would be working together rather than at each others throat.
He also wanted the other side scurrying around looking for him so that when he had the resources, he could take them out. He had been looking into the other side as a result of what happened to his brother for a long time. Eric told you what happened to his brother, didn’t he?”
“Yes he did, though I was part of what happened when Hilda was apparently taken. So I knew some of it already. I’m surprised that Hilda gets along so well with the man that killed her bonded.” “Well Tom has obviously suffered for that and wasn’t responsible for the reason that. Also, Hilda and Tom were kept separate by Eric to keep Tom from looking too deeply into werewolves and other things before he bonded. Of course Eric never knew just how much that Tom was looking into werewolves or the various things that the other side kept sending after Tom while Tom was in Washington. I expect that Eric also told you that the family didn’t tell Tom anything about what he was until just after he bonded.”
“Eric told me. They wanted to protect him, especially after the shooting. Apparrently he is the first unattached royal fae to come along here in America.” “Not the first,” I said. “There have been three or four others. Most of them when the country was young. There have not been many.”
We passed Doug’s where the lights seemed to be on and there were people running around in the dark, some of them in Change. We stopped and Al came over to the car. “They hit us once, the noisemakers were tripped and they ran off when the BAR started spraying bullets around. They just went back to the party house and they will be back. At least I hope they will.”
“Doug, Tom and I came up with the idea of making puppets out of wood skeletons, sand bags, some fat and a glamor.” “What’s powering the glamor?”
“A mouse living nicely in the chest. The kids found some mouse nests in the shed this morning and caught enough to inhabit every chest of all the puppets. They have nice little nest in the chest of the puppet and will be warm and happy. At least until the guys doing the kidnapping find the puppets.
So what brings you by?”
“We want Gunther to see if he can sense the Colonel’s creator,” Josh said. “If he’s there we might want some help a bit later.”
“You seem to have changed your plans from the ones that you had this morning. Why did you?” “Roger sent us the report about the families taken down in Pennsylvania right after you left. We got together and came up with this to let them think that they got what they wanted so that they don’t go for an alternative Creator that we don’t know about or kill the people they already have. This way we can give them what they want and deal with them when they show up on the boat in Boston. Tom liked that idea better because that gives him some time to play with the Colonel.”
“That could be dangerous,” Gunther said. “The Colonel can be devious and he likes to do things in strange ways.”
“I’m well aware of that. The problem is that even being tricky can lead to patterns if somebody knows what you are doing. That was how I gave the Colonel’s people a bloody now the last time we faced off.” “Are you Major MacDougal?”
“I was. I’m Al MacDougal.” “So you killed Hans.”
“And ten other werewolves along with a bunch of other men. They wanted to take injured men, some of whom were friends of mine, Turn them and drop them back on our lines, cursed to a life in hell. He sent his people over took the risk. The difference that time was that he was expected. This time he’s going after kids as well. Not that there are any here.” “Where are they?”
“Tony took them over to the Academy. He went over to Mrs. Martin’s thing to see Tom’s surprise and talked to Helen about borrowing a bus. Helen was happy to loan Tony a bus when he explained who it was for and why. The Academy had the space and Sal and Helmut’s people were there for cleanup, so Tony just moved the kids over.”
“Who’s Tony,” Gunther asked. “I haven’t met him yet.”
“That’s a rather long story that I think needs to be told with Tony present for you to understand,” Mera said. The short answer was the he was a bodyguard for the Manager and protector of the kids that the Manager was using to compel his indentured. When the Manager went down, He and his partner continued as guards and teachers for the school the bureau set up for the indentured and other kids that have special requirements.” “They are high fae?”
“Some of them. Others are the children of high level naval officers and administrators, along with some others from other places.”
“Is that where Gretchen is? I think I met Tony’s partner, Robert, yesterday. The solid Construct.”
“So you know what you are dealing with when you tangle with either of those two,” Josh said. “Al we’ll do our sweep past the place and go down to the bridge.” “Ok, tell me what you find. I’ll meet you down there. Joe and Steve are already there with some people setting some stuff up.”
We drove off down toward the party house. As we drove off, Guntehr asked, “. How did you, Mera and the other mermaids get so far from the water? Are you not concerned that you could be isolated so far from the water?”
“We made travel arrangements, which proved easier than we expected as the Pullman company was already handling those arrangements for other people who go down to Florida after the holidays every year. So making the arrangement has turned out to be far easier than we expected.
As for being concerned about being away from the water, there is some inner fear about that. But you learn to overcome it after a while and I would rather be here, with Josh dealing with what happened to my daughter than in the bower wondering if everybody was ok and not even having a phone. Being up top has it’s downsides, but it has it’s upsides too. The last few months have been a revelation for me. I don’t have to hide myself and my life away underwater anymore. I can be with Josh and help him with his work, help that he needs. It will also be easier to do my work now that I can talk to others up top and work with them. Plus it will make my old boss happy when he can retire without being concerned because I can take over. That’s a story for another day.”
As we approached the house, Bill slowed down and I could sense Gunther reach out, looking for something. He gave a start and said, “Hans! He is there!”
“Anybody else?” I asked.
“It feels like an Instructor, a Chemist and an Artificer, along with the normals.” “We knew about the Chemist and the Artificer, Josh said. “They had been at the Academy the last two weeks with some others. The Colonel pulled them all out of the Academy last night. So we know where his support people are. His fighting people are going to be busy again in a couple of hours or so. Let’s talk to Steve and Joe and see what we can set up. If we peel off the Colonel’s support people, he’s going to have problems. Let’s go.”
Bill drove us down to the bridge where there was another of my cars parked, along with Tom’s truck and several other trucks and cars, some of which had Army markings on them, discreetly parked off the road at one of the other summer cottages. As we got out, Tom came over. “Andy and Trillia got the pool. They’re entertaining the Japanese ladies and the rest of the kids. Chrissie and I will have a tank bed at the farm later.” “Where is Chrissie now,” Josh asked.
“Up at the party house with Eltra and Nera keeping an eye on the place. She’s hoping to get another shot at the Colonel.”
“What’s she going to shoot him with?”
“Her Krag. She wants to give it a real workout and nobody will mind if she shoots the Colonel. She is rather annoyed at the man. I also made up a water tube attached to a stock that I found at the shop in the Academy while Chrissie was showing the shop to me. So Chrissie will get her shot, if he shows up, which he probably won’t.”
“Why don’t you think that he will?” Gunther asked.
“Because he’s probably over in Vermont trying to decide if Gretchen is there at the farm. She’s not, today, but he doesn’t know that and she called in this afternoon and said that she was at the station. Some of his people came down and ran when they caught on to Boris and his people waiting for them. Then there’s Brad’s diary and Andy. Who may be at the farm, at Gretchen’s with Bruce or down under the Sound according to the various phone calls made about him on various phones that the Colonel has tapped. The Colonel really should have done his homework about me and phones. Not that I told Eli or Theresa too much about that and they hadn’t really started to look into my extracurricular activities in Washington until the last few days when they started to talk to some of my old adversaries, along with Steve and Joe. I’m going to have to be on my toes now that the whole bunch of them are talking to each other. But Theresa didn’t have a file on most of my activities and my adversaries want the Colonel too, so they aren’t going to tell him my secrets. So the Colonel is either in the dark about the location of his daughter or the book, at least from the information he got from tapped phones. If he was going to come after me like that, he really should have done his homework. A week down in Washington, buying drinks would probably told him a lot about me, at least not to try to play those games.”
“Aren’t you worried about what he might do?”
“A bit. But rather than playing things his typical way where it matters, he’s trying to play to my strengths. Of course an all military type operation is in trouble here as well because of all the people and the firepower that can be concentrated against him. He’s also made some mistakes. He should have turned Chrissie and the others over for the diary and the rest of the information that he wanted. I would have made that exchange, and he had to know that we were fully aware of where the ladies were and were watching the place. Then he Turned Vinnie and his crew. Making zombies and using them against me was just dumb in the first place and using friends of mine wasn’t going to make me want to do what he wants. If I hadn’t been using a Puppet, the meeting would have been over the second I sensed the zombies.
The fact is that he’s been messing this up from the beginning. He took Chrissie, with the other ladies. That meant that not only was he dealing with me, and my rather substantial associates, but the ladies’ associates as well. Of couse those associates were also friends of mine, but involving the Empire of Japan and the navy on personal level was just plain stupid when he could have avoided the mess.
Of course he made yet another mistake this afternoon.” “What happened?” Josh asked.
“Katherine went out for another sweep of Hilda and Bill’s camp this afternoon and ‘Nia came back lathered and frightened without her. Boris went out looking when ‘Nia came back in and found Katherine’s rifle and two dead men, naked, so they were probably werewolves. Boris launched a hunt that spooked maybe fifty werewolves who were probably planning to hit the farm and the ones that weren’t shot, ran. Katherine is still missing though.” “Why didn’t you tell us about this before?” Mera asked.
“Stephie just told me and left with Hilda and Bill for the farm. I’m staying here for this so that I can find out everything I can about these characters. Father and mother are already on their way over. If the Colonel were really smart, he will let Katherine go before the family starts the hunt. Back when I was five, Brian was taken by what was probably a vampire. The vampire lasted two days and Brian was back, untouched, in one. Nobody around here would be stupid enough to play those games with our kids. Father has a reputation and taking anybody’s kids in our county just is asking for a lot of pain. I sense Chrissie and the others returning, so I need to go and get her.” “We’ll come too,” I said as he went over to the other car and pulled out two ladies coats. “Who’s in the water?”
“Right now, Nera and Chrissie. They were trading off with Eltra and Stelios, waiting for the people over there to leave.”
“Al is on his way down, so he and Eltra may be down shortly.”
We went over to a dock where there were four wheelchairs waiting with some blankets. ‘How did you requisition this place?”
“It belongs to a friend of mine,” Tom said. “When I said that I was planning to make some guests at the Martin’s party house miserable, he didn’t have a problem with me using it for a night or so. He was out on the hunting parties today.”
Chrissie and Nera leapt out of the water into two of the wheelchairs and Chrissie called out, “Hi, daddy.”
“I’m surprised that you were here tonight.” I said. “Hold on a second, I have to pull some things up.” She had a line in the water and pulled up a rifle and a rather put together thing that seemed to be mostly metal tube with a gun stock attached. She pulled the two things up and then took the coat that Tom handed her and put it on. “Ok, well I was going to have a session with Tom in the pool when the kids showed up and Andy and Trillia wanted to give the other kids a show. So Tom and I didn’t get our session. Tom wanted to see what he could do here and I wanted to shoot the Colonel if he showed up and make us rich. Or at least make sure that he can’t bother us anymore. He didn’t show up for the raid. He must not be too concerned about it. In any case I didn’t have a shot at him, this time. There were some other interesting characters among the troops. A Creator is here, among other people. That’s how he made his Puppet.”
“We knew about the Creator,” Josh said. He came from the Colonel’s domain and Gunther was looking for him.”
“That’s probably why he has compulsions. I was tempted to pull them, but he’s in the middle of the troops. He was left back here to pack up when the first raid left. He was getting ready to go when the raid came back. There was a lot of shouting as the lieutenant in charge of the soldiers wanted some constructs and the Creator said that he doesn’t have the materials to make constructs right now. Aunt Nera, did you see the same things I did?”
“They were not happy with the way things went. Of course they were careless too and I would have to believe that the Colonel told them about the noisemakers. They apparently didn’t bother to look for trip wires and were completely surprised when things started to go off. Then they went forward in spite of all the noise, until the BAR went off. Tom, don’t the soldiers these days train for things like booby traps? I will admit that General Gage’s troops didn’t either, at least in the beginning. You would think that the generals would learn in a hundred years or so.”
“Nera, you will have to get together with my sister Mary about that. She was disgusted about their explosives skills as well and as far as phone skills go, I’ve already told you my opinion of these clowns,” Tom said. “But they are the Colonel’s problem and not ours. Frankly I am as surprised as you are how poorly these people were trained and briefed for this mission. I don’t know about the other teams, but this one has been rather pathetic.” “Well I will talk to Steve about his people and developing a proper training program for booby traps and other improvised weapons. I haven’t involved myself in these things for a very long time, but I’m going to make sure that the troops responsible for protecting me get a more diverse training than these folks have.”
My daughter hadn’t played at these sort of games since the revolution. It looked like the things happening up here had sparked off her old sense of playing fun and games. Since she hadn’t started to Change, she probably wasn’t pregnant, yet. That was coming all too soon, if her attitude was any indication.
“You’ll talk to me about what, Aunt Nera?” Steve suddenly became visible, along with Joe. Since they were both wearing clothes, they must have been up top. “I train my people in all the things that we can think of. That is part of our mission. We can’t afford on the shelf thinking and whatnot when we have to be able to function independently.”
“Dealing with and reacting to booby traps. These men were pathetic.”
“That’s partly the Prussian war culture, Aunt Nera. They aren’t big on dealing with new ideas. They take time to regroup and create a doctrine. They also are not as good on the defensive and if you don’t give them the time to react, they have a hard time catching up with you. My people are better, I hope, but you, Tom and I can set up something at Roger’s if you like. Please, surprise me.”
Nera smiled. “I think that I can do that. I will have to talk to some people, but I want to introduce Tom to them anyway. Bob and Scott as well. I will talk to the Admiral and see what we can surprise you with. Both at Rogers and the navy yard. I’ll talk to the people at Newport as well when I get back.”
Poor Steve had a rather frightened expression on his face. Nera under sea and not paying attention was one thing. Nera and training was another.
“Aren’t you being a little rough on these poor normals, Nera?” I had a grin as I looked at her. “After all they don’t have your experience.” “Father, these people should have had an idea about the noisemakers. They were in Theresa’s file. I have the feeling that they didn’t take them seriously at first or understand how they might be used. So when the noisemakers with real bullets went off, they were surprised.” “Ed gave the Colonel a copy of my book,” Tom said. “For that matter, I left a stack at the Academy for the kids. From what I heard all day today over there, they knew what to do with them. Apparently the Colonel didn’t pay attention.”
Al and Eltra popped up. “They seem to be getting ready, So it’s time to set up.”
“What do you need from me and Gunther?” Josh asked.
“Go with Steve and Joe. They know the plan already. They have been discreetly inside once already and have the marines watching the place and ready to go.”
He slid back in the water with Eltra and Steve said, “I know that both of you are good at being discreet. Still, I don’t know about Gunther, so all three of you stay back until we go in. Tom will as well. I have people in the water with Al and Stelios and Lieutenant Kowalski has his people hidden out front and covering the road.
Tom has set up some distractions on the ice and when they hit Doug’s again, things are going to get funny here. There will also be a truck that accidently blocks the road right after they leave. The road in the other direction will be blocked by a sheriff’s car. You three, and Tom’s job are to pull the compulsions on the support staff and convince them to stay at the house until the main body is long gone. If that is not possible, to get them to the car and over to the Academy as soon as possible.”
“That sounds doable,” I said. “We shouldn’t have nay real trouble.” “I’m hoping for that, but I’ve seen too many things get screwed up, because somebody assumed that everything goes right. I’m counting on you two to get the people that shouldn’t be in the firing line, out of it. Leo, Helmut, Hank and I want to talk to these people abut how they operated over there and fill in some holes. If we have to go back there, I want to have a good knowledge and background about certain things. Let’s collect Gunther and head up toward the house.”
Gunther was waiting by the car and we all went discreet and followed Joe toward the party house along a trail that they had found. Gunther asked, “So how are we getting Hans and the others out of the house?”
“Steve and I will deal with the guards, if any. Then father and Noro will break compulsions and we pull them back out right along this trail. If things go the way we expect, they won’t realize that their support people haven’t joined up with them until we are gone and they are at their rendezvous point. Then they have to call this in to the Colonel. The Colonel is not going to be happy when they open the boxes.”
There was a sudden roar as several trucks left from the party house, along with other vehicles. After a few minutes, another truck went past the party house, went up the road and stopped, the big black block seemingly blocking the road. A white shape emerge from the woods and Steve said, “It’s show time.”
We followed the white shape to the house where there were two unconscious bodies on the ground covered by one of Bill’s deputies. The bodies had been cuffed already and the strange submachineguns that I had seen them carrying before were set aside. We went inside the house through the smashed open door and there were about ten men and two women that were being covered by more men in the white ponchos. Joe must have pulled the compulsions already, because I could only sense scarring and confusion. Linda came downstairs in Change and said to Tom, “Tom, could you take a quick look at the self destruct, I want to make sure that there is no way to set it off by accident.”
They went upstairs as Steve was collecting the rest of us and pushing us outside the house. Gunther was taking in German to one of the people from the house as we left. The man seemed to be excited about something and Gunthre turned to me and said, “Hans is wondering about the merfolk. He and some of the others have been sensing them for the last few days in the lake. For that matter, Hans is wondering how there are any merfolk at all. There have been none near the domain even though it has a boundary beside the sea.”
“What have you told him?”
“That the lady Mera will explain. I can translate.”
“That will not be necessary. My daughters discovered that knowing German was useful when overhearing the king’s mercenaries. It was amazing what you could discover by the water in New York as young German men attempted to charm young ladies. I wonder what the Landgrave thought as so many young men never made it back. All those big strong husky men that the farm fathers couldn’t wait to have their daughters drag into the hay for fun and games. Then there was after the war, when the boys sent their brothers and sisters mail and they came over with their shovels and axes to grab farms of their own. In any case, German is not a problem.”
We waited for a bit until Steve gave the all clear and we left the house. Tom rejoined us as we were leaving and said, “They really need to come up with a better self destruct. It works, but we turned the power off when we went in and Linda had it disabled in seconds anyway, just by pulling the plug.”
“Did you dismantle it?” “Not yet. We’re debating whether or not to let it go off. At this point, other than making Andy and Victor even more miserable and Doug’s life a bit quieter we won’t be accomplishing very much. It won’t take the Colonel long to figure out that we took the place. I think that we will just leave it for the time being.”
We walked through the dark back to the cars where Mera and the other ladies were waiting. We took a bit getting arranged and Hans and Gunther joined Mera and I along with some of the other former compelled for the trip to the Academy as Josh used the other car to bring the rest. Tom and Chrissie were using Tom’s truck to go back to the farm.
As we drove off toward the Academy, Mera explained to Hans about merlife here in the states and what we thought had happened to the merfolk over there in Europe. Hans asked, “So how did so many get up here?”
“We made arrangements,” Mera answered. “By the time my daughter and the other ladies were taken, we were already making the journey up here for other reasons. In fact, the ladies were going to come up here anyway.” “That young boy and girl that have been in the lake, how did that happen?”
“She grabbed him. The boys is actually Gunther’s nephew. He was kidnapped by a dark fae to attempt to get his mother to make werewolves and she discovered him and gave him a Christmas present. So they are together now almost all the time. He grew up around here and she wanted to see the area.”
Hans turned to Gunther and said, “That is Hilda’s child? How did she let the siren take him?”
“You will have to ask her” Gunther answered. “Since it helps to ensure the end of the wolf Change, I can’t see that mother will have a problem with it. I’m surprised that you have a problem with it?”
“A siren took my brother and we never heard from him again.”
“That was because your mother used to bully Karl and when he had the chance to go away, he did. As to why he stayed under, well there may have been things happening. Because we didn’t keep in touch with other domains we never saw what was happening to them. It is probable that Karl and his bonded were killed when their bower was destroyed. The lady is getting the stories of the fae here in America where those things happened. Fortunately the fae here have joined together to defeat this, including dealing with the Colonel.
It is far more likely that the Masters were responsible for Karl, not the merfolk. Karl may have been killed by fae in Shark Change like so many here were. Or he was forced to find a safe place and hide what he was with young children. He may even be here. To blame your brother’s bonded for what happened is ridiculous.”
I wondered how much the masters had taken advantage of minor strife like this. I could see the picture now. Karl had been henpecked by his mother, gone wandering and bonded with a mermaid. Since he was probably in the bower or on a fishing boat, he never sent word home. Then the chaos started and the Masters almost certainly spread divisiviness and attempted to start feuds and isolate the various fae kingdoms. I took out a pad and made a little note to Mary to talk to Mary and my sister and see if we could establish a family registry. It was possible that there were broken families that could be reestablished. Then I thought of something and smiled. There was Tim’s Uncle Karl, the cab driver. Who seemed to be very comfortable with the fae and who Joe wasn’t too worried about hiding anything from. Now how much Karl wanted to be reunited with his relatives was another story. Considering what I was seeing now, I was beginning to understand why he wasn’t going out of his way to reestablish contact with his family. The bickering continued as we pulled into the Academy and Hans looked around and realized where we were. He turned to Gunther and cried, “This is the Academy, why did you bring me here?”
“We are using it for our headquarters since it has facilities that are useful. It also helps because the residents can be taken care of.” I said. As we got out of the car near the front entrance, Roger and some other people came out to collect the people in the car for their debriefs. I turned to Gunther and said, “Do you want to stay here or go back with us?”
“Go back with you. I apologize for my cousin. He lets what happened to his brother get away from him. As a Creator, he was always his mother’s favorite boy and Karl was always told to be more like his brother. So he went to sea and was dragged under. The few times that I visited when I could, he seemed happy and his bonded was a remarkable woman. They hadn’t had kids before I saw them last.”
“You had dinner at Bennies, how did you get there?”
“Theresa and Eli took us, why?”
‘I don’t want to spoil the surprise yet.” I got out of the car and walked over to the front entrance where Tony had been standing in the shadows. He looked at me and said, “Hello Mr. White, what can I do for you tonight?”
“It’s Noro for you, Tony and I want to ask some questions about Joe’s cab driver.” “Karl?”
“Does he have tail at home?”
“Not at present, but his older daughter is fourteen, so that is likely to change fairly soon. In our little community that isn’t that big a deal. He wants to get a job driving Tom when the time comes so that he has an in for a tank bed. Why are you asking all of a sudden?” “Because his brother just walked through the door after making an ass over himself with Gunther over Andy and tails. He wasn’t happy that Trillia dragged Andy under because his brother had broken off contact with his mother.”
“From the things that Karl talks about, his mom didn’t want to have anything to do with him after he and Lelia bonded. Never mind that Lelia is high fae and a princess of the bower before it was destroyed. So they more or less stayed under until the bower was destroyed and they managed to get over here because Lelia had a son and legs and could escape. But they just found a place about twenty years ago, Karl started driving and they just have their life.”
“Well, give Robert a quiet heads up the next time you talk to him. I don’t think that Karl needs any nasty surprises.” “I thought that you liked surprising people?” “Not like this. My family can be bad, but we don’t make an effort to just cut each other to pieces like this. You’ll see more of it, I’m sure. I will see you tomorrow.” “Thanks for the heads up. I let Robert know to tell Karl and Joe that Karl’as brother is around and to have somebody else to most of the Bennie’s pickups. Karl has some drivers from the bower that he can use to do that.”
I went back to the car and Gunther had a rather intriquing look on his face. “You know where Karl is, don’t you? So does Tony.” “What gives you that impression?”
I was really out of shape if Gunther, who had only known me less than a day, was picking up on things. On the other hand, he hadn’t liked the bickering any more than the rest of us.
“Well you went over to talk to Tony, right after we were talking about Karl. You were also asking about getting to Bennies. It didn’t hurt that the Berlin Library has a New York City phone directory and before Mrs. Thomas sent her message, I was looking for people that I had known and sending messages. Karl sent one back, but we didn’t have a chance to talk because I was shepherding the lady and my wife. We were supposed to meet at Bennies today, but I came up here instead because of the situation.”
“I see. So you weren’t going to tell your cousin that his brother was still alive and here. For reasons that are obvious.”
“If I can get my father in law out of our hair that will be enough. Getting Hans to give up his prejudices and attitudes is more work than I want to take on. On the other hand, I don’t think that he realizes yet that we are not taking him back with us if we can avoid it.” “Why not?”
“You don’t know?”
“I was under sea and out of touch for then years. I haven’t yet caught up with domestic situation other than the Governor here is running for President. So I don’t know European politics at all and I haven’t really had a chance to catch up. This Hitler must be something very bad.” “He was a creation of the German Master and is very persuasive. Low fae, but very, very dangerous. He has a gift of making people want the worst and darkest things. You have contacts in the newspapers. Ask them about the man. It would be best to see newsreels and see the man in action. In any case, the turmoil that the man is likely to create is going to be immense. If I didn’t see him winning the Chancellorship in the next two years, I wouldn’t be so concerned, but it is likely that he will, taking the country down a very dark path. If the domains were strong we could perhaps weather the storm, but we are the last domain and there is only darkness surrounding us. We have at best, four years to get the domain either here or to some neutral place or we will be destroyed.” “How will you move the keystone? It must be rooted.” “The keystone cut it’s roots about three years ago. Until the Colonel is destroyed the lady has been responsible for it. Once the Colonel is destroyed, the keystone becomes Ilyse’s responsibility. I hope that I can create a place for it here. In any case, all members of the community that came over with the Colonel are not going back to the domain until the domain has found a new home.” I was going to have to ask for a dossier on this Hitler. For a domain to uproot itself was unheard of. Yet it had happened. That meant that this Hitler was something that the keystone was certain that the community would not survive. Finding a spot for a keystone wasn’t that big an issue. Getting the community, especially if the colonel had inflated it, would be. I could see why Gunther wanted to start with key people like a creator, especially as he was already here.
“We can talk to my son, down on the Cape. He wants a Creator. Of course has is going to have to work on his prejudices and he’s just a bit tainted by the dark. But you can park him with us if it becomes necessary.”
“Good. That way we can legitimately bring his apprentices and other artificers if you can sponser for special skills. We’ll want to open up more than one channel for these things so that the German authorities do not catch on. The German master will be looking for people in the domain escaping. So we will have to be subtle about this.”
“We will want to talk to Tom about all of this. His shop is likely to be the center of a lot of fae activity as things go forward in the next time.”
“His little shop here? It wasn’t that impressive when Eric showed it to me.” “Well it’s more impressive when you see it working, but no, the shop that we started down on the Cape. The shop that Tom hasn’t had time to work in because for the things happening since Christmas. The shop that has doubled in size since he last saw it, just to handle the commitments that he already has. The company and the family business already has a business starting up and Tom’s staff here is going with him to an office on the Cape. My CEO already has several projects that he wants Tom to troubleshoot as soon as he can get Chrissie to let go and let Tom up so he can work. So Tom’s shop is a rather large thing already and I have the Japanese prince warning me that fae from over there are likely to show up if we are not careful. When Tochi saw the cameras running at Helen’s little thing tonight Josh said that he said that there was going to be trouble in certain circles. That’s ok, Mera has tails looking to drag unsuspecting fae under. Has Hans bonded?” Gunther smiled. ‘No he has never bonded. His mother has always been too afraid to let him loose. Of course, she is over there and he is over here, with the beach and the ladies. Is there dancing? He likes dancers.”
I grinned. “We will have to introduce him to my daughter, Nera. I think that she knows some dancers with tails looking to find bonds.”
“That might do him a lot of good. Of course there is the problem of dealing with my mother and what she considers appropriate.”
“Why is that?” Mera asked.
“Because she has probably already booked the ticket and is on her way here. Once she knew that Hilda was alive, only the fact that the Colonel, who frightens her somewhat, kept her from coming with us. She probably thinks that a week or so should be enough to deal with him when he doesn’t have an army, so she is on her way. Once she finds out about Bill, the pressure is going to be on those two to make it legal even if they are not bonded.”| “It’s not Hilda or Bill that’s the problem as far as that goes, it’s Bill’s family and the fact that they have a keystone, a very small family and are scared silly. Bill and Hilda have wanted to make things public for years and the family has always been resistant. The fact that the keystone is involved just makes things worse. If the keystom would cut Bill off, because he no longer has a bond, then he and Hilda could have kids of their own and they would be forced to make things legitmate. It’s a confused mess.”
“Not made easier by Bill’s habit if chasing down every dark fae, Twisted or werewolf that he can sense” I said. “If the Colonel is very smart, he will have Kathy driven back to the sheriff’s office and left there. Otherwise he is looking for a very bad time as soon as Bill, Boris, Stephie and Hilda start things up.”
“The Colonel has quite a few werewolves with him.” Gunther said.
“Talk to some of the people around here about Bill and werewolves or anything Dark or Twisted. If the werewolves are like the ones at the dinner this evening, they are not going to last long enough to matter.”
We arrived at the ferry which seemed to be waiting for us. Along with some other people as Steve, Joe, Josh and some of Steve’s people arrived and Steve waved at the wheelhouse. There was a toot and the ferry started across. Gunther said, “You all took the ferry over.” “Steve’s people did it the first time as part of security for Chrissie’s little party and When the Colonel showed up, doing it again was obvious. That may be why the Colonel was absent from all of his little shows. Especially if he was looking for Gretchen over here.”
Josh came back to rejoined his wife. “According to Bill Jacobs, the trucks and the rest of the people headed North. They’ll probably go across the top of the lake before heading East and South. Roger says that the trucks that had been seen in Pennsylvania were seen crossing at Bear Mountain. I have people looking out for them in Southern Massachusetts.
Sam pulled the same thing that Al did when he heard about it. So the Colonel has two captures and two failures, but he won’t know that they are failures until he gets to the ship. The ship is docked, unloading, taking on provisions and coaling. They are expediting, so they should be ready for departure on Monday per the charter. The new captain has things moving along smoothly. The previous captain and crew are enjoying their vacations or are on their way. We’ll probably get them all back when the next ship ports at New York next month.”
“You seem to know a lot about the ship that the Colonel is planning to use. Did you buy it?”
“I bought the company,” I said. “It was a bargain, actually. Most of the vessels are fairly new and we’ll go over them as they port. We’ll shift crews around to deal with that. If the Colonels’ charter falls through because of some sort of law enforcement action, we’ll dock the ship and give it a going over. It was built just before the steerage trade ended and maybe there’s some traffic we can take advantage of.”
“I see. So you were planning some things.” “You’ll see.”
We pulled into the farmhouse and there was lights and activity, but not as much as I would have expected if Kathy was still kidnapped. We walked in and there she was. Eric said, “They drove her up to Boris’s office and dropped her off when the major in charge heard her name. Then he took off, taking every werewolf and soldier that he had left and heading North.” “How did that happen?”
“I promised to break the record,” Kathy said. “I didn’t tell them that Jeremy had already broken it, but they were good with that. I said that they were lucky because they never had to babysit Jeremy and could stop listening. Now that the inn is open, I can get real jobs and not have to go through that again.”
Josh and I started to laugh. “Was the Colonel there?”
“No. I was knocked off ‘Nia by four werewolves by Bill and Hilda’s Camp after I shot two of them. They carried me to a safe house and the Major asked who I was as the shooting in the hills was starting. I don’t think that he realized his safe house was inside our perimeter and dad had people all over his, almost immediately. We made our deal about the record, he had two of his people take me over to dad’s office on their way out and the rest of them split. They didn’t even bother to set off their self destruct.”
“We were saying that dropping her off was the right thing to do,” Josh said, grinning. “We’ll have to see if the major is salvageable. He seems to be the first part of the other side with his head screwed on straight. Where’s your Uncle Tom?”
“Chrissie dragged him into the pool, said to knock late in the morning and locked the door. She also said that if my mother tried to wake them early, she was in deep trouble.”
“Andy and Trillia took the pool away from them at the Academy,” Mera said. “Then you were taken and the rest of the fun and games tonight. Since Chrissie didn’t get to shoot the Colonel she’s making sure that she gets what she really wanted. We’ll take a tank bed a the inn tonight, won’t we, Josh.”
“That’s fine with me. We can get up early and see about finding the Colonel. Noro, since Kathy is safe, for the moment, why don’t we head over to the inn and get some sleep.” “That sounds like a wonderful idea.”
We took the car over to the inn where Mary was waiting in the common room. “Did you have as an interesting day as I did?”
“Very,” she answered. “The poor Colonel. I watched Tom change things on the fly, move things around and still make things work.”
“You weren’t supposed to be chasing him around.”
“I wasn’t, but with only three fliers, we were stretched. So I watched him at Helen’s this morning in case the werewolves showed up, at the stables this afternoon while Roscoe and Linda were watching Doug’s. Then I went over to Doug’s while Roscoe and Linda were watching the stable and the house. I saw the harpies try to drop something down Doug’s chimney, only to be spooked when the flashbulbs and the rest to it went off. Those girls were not happy. Then Linda and I covered the house and Doug’s for the second raid. So we all had a busy day.”
Vic came into the common room with Tim and Suzy. “There you are, how did it go?”
“We didn’t catch the Colonel. We did get his people though. They will be getting a surprise when they unload, courtesy of Tom.”
“You haven’t introduced me to the lady.”
“This is Mary. She was one of the Manager’s indentured, forced to work for him because they had her son hostage. She likes me for some reason.”
“Mary be careful with him. He can be tricky.”
“Oh, I know, but I think that this gull has caught this old fish, wily as he is. He tells wonderful stories. The one about today is going to be a Duesie.”
“That’s for sure. I’m having Tim post most of it tomorrow. May I touch base with you and trade? I’ll even throw in some old Noro stories.”
“Do you know old Noro Stories?” “Now Vic, don’t get me in trouble.” “We can fix that,” Mary said. “Come along, you old fool, and lets go to bed.”
We did and enjoyed the end of our long and interesting day.