Mermaid, Chapter 28, Part 3 and end.

So what are Theresa and Gretchen up to? We find out.

Ghost.
Saturday 1/30, 1932.
This was promising to be an interesting day. Eli had wired down his morning report and things were heating up at Lake Placid with Tom’s ‘death.’ I just hoped that Tom made sure that Chrissie knew about his ‘death’ before it happened. There were some other developments as both the bureau and the Colonel were apparently making their big moves this evening. When Sarah handed me Eli’s report and the rest of the moring updates she said, “The Colonel apparently took some communities in Pennsylvania duthc country last night. One of our old friends down there is apparently not happy, according to the mornig papers. I think yo can guess what the people taken did.”
“Creators.”
“Yup. The Colonel is starting a collection.”
“How is he moving them.”
“Eli didn’t say. We’ll probably have more by lunch when he has a chance to talk to the bureau people.”
“Ok, let me go over this stuff while we wait for Gretchen.”
I went over the latst news and other things that Sarah had managed to clip and some things that Stacey had sent about the Colonel and strange shipping activity. Apparently there was a ship in Boston that had an undefined charter requiring it to depart on Monday. The same ship who’s owners had been purchsed recently. Sarah had traced the front companies to another outfit associated with White’s. Apparently Noro was going into the shipping business.
There was some more related news and I made a quick call to our Pennsylvania contact to get an update. The fae king down there was rather upset about losing his Creator and the rest of his family. Especially after he had heard about Bob and Scott’s shoots and was planning something similar for his area. I gave my contact Bob and Scott’s business number as part of the horsetrading and he was glad to get it. I also gave him Stacey’s number, but he already had it. As I was about ready to put the report away, George called from up front. “The lady is here with the car.”
You could almost hear the smile in his voice as he said that. I replied, “Send her in.”
“She’s already on the way.”
She was, and as I opened the office door, she saw me and said, “Hi, Theresa! I brought a present.”
She handed me a book. “The ladies finally got these finished. The bureau’s book of monsters and other characters. Courtesy of Tom, Tim, Sal and the rest.”
The book very interesting as I did a quick flip through before I put it down again. “I’ll definitely want to look at this later.”
“Well let’s go and pick up my mother, sister and the kids.”
“Do you want the kids to come?”
“To the market, to meet Jimmy and get some cookies and the school where we will drop them off. Robert is driving us today as a bunch of people are up at Lake Placid making daddy’s life miserable.”
“So what’s the plan?”
“Pick up mother, Ilyse and the kids, drive by downtown, head over to the market and the navy yard where some mermaids just might show up and Kay will have cookies for us to take to the school for lunch as well as stories and some friends talking about the sharks. Then we go over to the school where we meet the indentured kids, all the rest of the kids and we leave the kids with mine and the rest. After we eat lunch we go to the Manager’s house, Sal’s house, the Shark’s headquarters, talk to Frank Magelleno and down to Tim’s old neighborhood and Mrs. Macdonald. Then we head back, pick up the kids and go to Bennies where we talk with Meria and Bennie.”
“You seem to have things in hand.”
“Yes, and I want mother to meet a broad cross section of the fae here in New York. Jimmy is low fae, Kay is high fae and so is Frank.”
“Kay is high fae?”
“Very. Almost certainly royal. But her keystone was untied and she and Aiden were pushed over here by their families to have some survivors after sharks and other monsters started killing Selkies and other fae.”
“How did you find out?”
“Her kids are starting at the school now that it’s funded and I talked with her. We also started buying her cookies for special occasions.”
Robert pulled up with the car and we got in. I opened the middle window and said, “No photographs?”
“Not yet. We’ll probably get hit at least once downtown. What have you heard from upstate?”
“Well Tom ‘died’ while meeting with the Colonel last night. Chrissie is driving the people in the Academy crazy at last report and a bunch of things are probably going to happen this evening.”
“That sounds like Tom all right. The Colonel should talk more to the Director. Tom faked his death in Washington too. He’s probably got something going, other than the thing at Jacob’s.”
“We made a mistake, Theresa,” Gretchen said. “We should have snuck up with Gunther and Eli. This will probably be better than the parade.”
“I don’t think that Ed would be happy if you showed up after all the trouble he went through to get you out of the mess,” I said.
“I know, but that was when Ed thought that it was just the bureau and the director involved and that his compulsions were going to put him right in front of Tom’s gun when Tom took the Academy out. Now that my father has involved himself, things are murkier than they were before. Especially if my father goes after Doug.”
“Do you think that your father will succeed? He did take two communities last night.”
“Communities that didn’t know about him. Of course he has to get the people to Europe alive and Creators tend to fight to the death rather than just give in. This will likely end up as one of father’s typical messes. The difference this time is that I don’t think that he will be able to escape it. Tom is playing games with him already and he had me make some rather interesting phone calls.”
“Do tell?”
“Well I’m at my house right now after I called Stephie. She’s helping me move and having a party tomorrow. Of course I called her earlier to have her meet me at the station and pick me up.”
“They tapped the phones and Tom lives to play with phones. Some of his friends have been on the other end of that.”
“It’s not just Tom. His sister in law, coincidently also named Theresa as you know plays with phones too. Of course her son Jeremy is not on the favorite kid to babysit list because of a certain broken record.”
Gretchen told us stories about the family in Vermont as we drove across the Williamsburg bridge and negotiated our way through Saturday traffic to the Waldorf. Gretchen and I got out and Robert took the car down Park Avenue. He was going to stop at a deli he knew and grab bagels and coffee for him and us and be back in ten minutes or so. We walked inside the hotel and went up to the suite where we had an interesting surprise. Larry and Theresa had been parked by Noro right next to Adelheid and we when went inside they were talking to each other in amongst the mob of very active kids. Ilyse was struggling a bit to keep up and Gretchen was grinning as Theresa said, “Hi Gretchen! We found your mom. Or her grandkids found our kids.”
“How did that happen?”
“Well the suites are right next to each other and Larry was talking to our kids in the hall about the possibility of seeing mermaids. Ilyse’s kids heard and young Heinz there said that there was no such thing as mermaids. Well Amy said that her aunt was a mermaid and that she knew where there were mermaids here if they looked. She also mentioned cookies. So the kids all want to go down to the market to see Jimmy, buy cookies and look for mermaids.”
Your mom and Ilyse started to talk with us and we set it up. The car will probably be crowded though. Larry called Lou and White’s is giving us a second car and driver today. Apparently Noro called down about security issues. Have you had breakfast yet? Lou is sending a big bag of bagels and cream cheese for the kids. We figured that we could eat on the way.
That’s the way it worked out as we went downstairs and there were the car and one of Noro’s White Cadillac’s waiting. Larry’s kids must have been telling stories about the sharks, the car and Robert as all the kids wanted to ride in ‘the car’ and Gretchen’s plans were thwarted as we adults were forced to settle for the Cadillac. As we pulled off toward downtown, Gretchen and Theresa were laughing themselves silly. Ilyse looked a bit dumbfounded until Gretchen said, “Now the kids are going to be coming up with all sorts of stories. Of course they want the credit of riding in ‘the car.’ just because it is so notorious.”
“My kids tried to explain, but I wasn’t clear on why.” Ilyse said.
“That car is the Manager’s car, at least the car he took and used, along with it’s owner and the sharks used it to kidnap children. Fae children to stabilize the shark change. We’ll meet some of the victims’ parents at the market.”
“I wouldn’t expect low fae to stabilize a Change,” Adelheid said. “Were these people great merchants? Why did they not take measures to protect their children.”
“These were people who had lost everything and come over here to escape. Low fae, high fae they just wanted to build a life and took the jobs they could get. So we will be meeting a low fae, but interesting labor manager and his high fae laborer employee with his rather magical bonded who makes cookies. Their youngest was taken by the sharks and eaten. Quite a few people from the market had their children taken and eaten by the sharks. There were more from the barges and before you say things about the lowly, Josh and Mera lived on a barge for years. I suspect that the Director and the rest of them made the same assumptions that you did. They should have talked to Tony and Robert before they did.”
“Why didn’t they use their abilities to get an advantage?” Ilyse asked.
“Ask them. I know how I felt about it when I came. I wanted to feel as if I was as good a person as my neighbors. Yes it would have been easy to cheat, like a bunch of the Martin boys do. But the Martins have to live with the stigma that goes with that. Larry, your father doesn’t and he thrives because people respect him and want to do business with him.”
“He’s always been like that. He rarely uses his abilities and when he does, it’s almost always to help somebody else. Of course he can be conservative about certain things, farm machinery being one of them, but he’s one of the most respected people in our county, none of which is because he used compulsions or cast a glamor. The thing we use abilities for is to deal with monsters and yes have a little fun from time to time. Fun that we share with everybody.”
“I wish that father hadn’t sent us down here,” Theresa said. “I understand his concern, but the entire region is waiting for Tom’s big show tonight and we are going to miss it. At least the family members who have all been at mother about how defective Tom was will have his being defective rubbed in their faces.”
“Why did they think that Tom was defective?” Adelheid asked with a frown.
“Because their entire value of what a person should be was based on their fae abilities and skills and Tom seemingly didn’t have any.”
“He is a royal, isn’t he? He is also not an Heir.”
“Yes and yes. Something that has been very rare here. So he was so tightly shielded from birth that he was seemingly as normal as they come. Around the time that Larry and I bonded, that was being demonstrated to not be the case as Tom was doing things in very new and strange ways.”
“How so?”
“We had a normal neighbor who liked to make wonderful mechanical toys with his lathe,” Larry said. “He gave one of his toys to Tom when he was ten or so and then when Tom stayed interested, taught him how to use the lathe and tools in general. About the same time, my sister, listening to my aunts, tried to prove that Tom was not defective by trying to poke him with her well developed abilities. Since Tom couldn’t get mother to punish my sister because mother was keeping everything fae from Tom, he struck back in other ways. With lots of bangs, strange gags and things going off in weird and strange ways, none of which required abilities. At least on the surface. I’m sure that some of his more elaborate gags do indeed tap into his abilities subconciously to ensure that they work, but it’s hard to tell. In any case, Tom is a wizard at doing amazing things that work in strange ways.”
Adelheid turned to me and said, “Is this true? You also said that he is on the path of sacrifice.”
“I’ve seen Tom in action and Larry saw it from the inside. I’ve also talked with some of his friends from Washington and they couldn’t get up to Lake Placid fast enough to see what he was going to do to poor Mr. Martin. As for the path of sacrifice and your husband, if what Gretchen said this morning is true, he’s already started to deal with the Colonel the same sort of way that he dealt with the Manager.”
We were crossing the bridge and I pointed the navy yard and the market out. There was a transport moored on the outer pier and Gretchen grinned as she saw it. She turned to the rest of us and said, “I think that the kids will indeed get their mermaids.”
“How many?” I asked.
“Well Suzy is upstate, so it’s Rachel, Kathy, Captain Farr’s daughter, Sylvia, who just finished her Change and Suzy’s cousin, Dorothy. So four at least and there may be more. Rachel and Kathy talked about doing a bit of a show for the kids at Bennies last night. They weren’t going to do a show if there wasn’t a ship to block the view from Manhattan. Since there is one, we’re in luck. Nobody say a word until the girls do their thing.”
We pulled into the market and Jimmy seemed to be waiting for us. As we got out of the Cadillac and Theresa and Ilyse brought napkins to deal with their white mouthed children I turned to Gretchen and said, “You put this together quickly.”
“Yesterday afternoon, before we went to Bennies and met with you. The ladies at Sal’s and I put it together when I knew that mother was here. I wanted to put a bit of shock value into the show. Mother expects things a certain way and needs to see things for herself. This is a consequence of what the Masters did. But we will overcome, now that we are rebuilding a community and aren’t isolated any more.”
“Do you think that the director and his friends worked to stop that rebuilding?”
“I’m sure of it. I’ve been spending a lot of my time over at Sal’s looking through Tom’s material and the rest of it. Take the first kidnappings, here, at the market. The market was a good place for fae to congregate. Until the kids started to get eaten. There were several other cases where the same sort of thing happened that Tom spotted even though he didn’t know what he was looking at. I’ll write a report for you as soon as I can.”
“I will buy it. This is another piece of the puzzle. Of course things are going to be calmer after today, I suspect. The Director isn’t going to have anything left.”
Jimmy came over and grinned at Gretchen and I, “Hello ladies. Now I’ve met this gentleman at the Troubleshooter’s wedding and his wife, but who is this lady?”
“Jimmy, this is lady Von Wulf, my mother.”
“You never said you were royalty. I might have treated you better the last time you were here for the school.”
“Jimmy, you were fine. If I wanted bowing and scraping, I could have stayed in Europe. I like you better the way you are. How is your wonderful wife? Obvously she hasn’t managed to get you a new tailor yet.”
Adelheid looked a bit aghast at Jimmy and his suit as Jimmy bantered back, “Not yet. She’s been looking, but hasn’t been able to find one that meets my high sartorial standards. For that matter, my tailor says that Mr. White bought some suits from him the last time he was in town, so I must be doing something right.”
Jimmy’s dark face and white smile were infectious as he started to show us around the market and introduce us to people. Adelheid joined me in the back of the pack and said, “He’s a character, isn’t he? We don’t see many like him where we are, and most of them seem fairly simple.”
“I wouldn’t call Jimmy simple. He’s actually well respected and liked by just about everybody. That’s amazing in his job because all too often things are settled violently. Jimmy doesn’t need to use violence to make his point and he is good at his job. My grandson likes him very much and Jimmy started Tim on his first big story, the sharks.”
“Why does he wear such outlandish suits.”
“Look closely.”
As we had been going through the market, even while he was giving us the tour, Jimmy didn’t stop working. As we went along somebody would walk up to him, Jimmy would write something down and then wave his arm up, sometimes with a whistle and point to the man or boy that he was talking to and make some hand signals.
“He wants to be seen, doesn’t he? That way his people can find him and everybody else can too.”
“Yes, unlike my inlaw, who just wears those suits to play games. Fortunately Tim got him out of those games. Well at least some of them.”
We reached the piers and the kids were asking Jimmy about mermaids. “Now I don’t know if I should say anything about them. They can hear things and can cause you trouble when you are near the water. Tim found that out the hard way.”
Ilyse’s oldest, Heinz said, “There are no such things as mermaids.”
“Now that’s what my young reporter friend said too. Right when he was about here, in fact and looking over there.”
Jimmy’s hand pointed out toward the ship and Jimmy went on, “Until young Timmy took a picture over there and caught a mermaid dancing.”
“There’s no mermaid there now.”
“Are you sure? Look closely.”
The kids were all looking out at the ship when six silvery shapes flipped up right in front of us, splashing back down and disappearing into the water in a sea of giggles. A few seconds later, they splashed up and waved before they disappered again. Poor Heinz looked flabbergasted and amazed. Adelheid turned to Gretchen and said in German, “Some of those girls looked a bit familiar. They were in Bennies last night and you set this up.”
“I wanted to give the kids a bit of magic. The girls were happy to do this.”
Jimmy was telling the kids, “See, what did I tell you?”
“What do the mermaids do for the navy yard,” Ilyse asked as we walked back toward the front of the market.
“You’ll have to ask the Captain or the administrator about that. I don’t work there. I just get to enjoy them dancing from time to time. Considering that everytime I look there are more of them, it must be something the navy needs. You can ask Mr. DelVecchio, he’s right there at Kay’s which is my last stop as I need to keep an eye on some slaggards. So I will bid you all good day.”
He left us at Kay’s stand where there indeed was Mike, with Stella. Gretchen introduced Mike and Stella to her sister, along with Kay. Ilyse asked Mike, “We just saw some young ladies in the water. What do they do here?”
“Things that we didn’t know we needed. For instance, surveying a flooded dock in case the blocks shifted. Making sure a ship is water tight and there aren’t any failed rivits or plates due to rust and corrosion. Or a slightly open valve. That one caused us a big mess last month and we had a ship sink because of it. Swimming down and being able to check the effect of sea life on steel plates and new marine life repellant paints. Studying sea life like sharks in their natural habitat without disturbing them. We keep finding new jobs for our Swimmer girls.”
“How did that start?”
“My daughter went through Change and there had been a series of shark attacks. So to protect her, we here at the yard let her live here and in order to keep her from getting bored, I started to give her work. As senior Swimmer girl, she has a pile of work when she gets back on Monday.”
“Where is she now?”
“Helping her boyfriend, Theresa’s grandson, the reporter with an assignment. Since the assignment involved family and tails, she insisted on going with him.”
“You are high fae, how did you end up in the navy?”
“I joined, like everybody else. The navy is a volunteer force. As to why, I a high fae, joined in the first place, our king at the time wanted to make a contribution to protecting our country and several other high fae both land and sea were encouraging merfolk to join the navy. That has worked out well both for the navy and the bowers. The navy has the advantage of Swimmers and the bowers have a level of protection because so many navy personnel are attached. That broke down here somewhat because of some targeted shark attacks and communication failures, but we here in New York at least are making sure that something like that doesn’t happen again. We’re also encouraging the Coast Guard to recruit from the bowers as well and lately we’ve expanded our recruiting reach and knowledge of the bowers that the navy had not actively recruited from before.”
“But why do this at all?”
“My grandmother used tell me the stories of the lords of the undersea and how they disdained dealing with the land and made light of sinking ships and killing the people aboard. That was fine for them until the monsters came and destroyed the bowers and the keystones. Then their arrogance was their downfall as they were isolated and had no friends, even with other bowers. When the trawls started, the sharks attacked the high fae and the keystones were destroyed, there was notbody that they could ally with and one by one, the bowers were destroyed and the survivors scattered.
Your boy was saying that merfolk do not exist. Over there, they do not, thanks to the arrogance of people who didn’t understand that they needed to be part of their communities and not wrecking the people up top for their enjoyment. Here, almost all the bowers have had refugees from destroyed bowers and we have tried to take that to heart. Joining the navy may seem to be an extreme, but it really isn’t. Also, how else is a young merman going to see the world and find a beautiful tail in his life. Something the Navy also encourages and enables. Frankly, my being in the navy makes me far more powerful than even the most powerful of the lords undersea could even imagine.
All this because just before the Civil War a young royal fae from the Virginia bower joined the navy. He’s retired and my father in law, actually, but now there are merfolk and other fae at every level of the navy, from Swimmer ratings to Admirals. Men and now ladies that make the navy stronger and the country safer. People far more admirable because they are willing to sacfrice their lives if necessary so that we, as people go on.
Stella is finished with Kay and my boss is probably looking for me to tell me to remind certain girls that they are not supposed to be flashing their tails around so I need to get going. Gretchen, you talk to the adjudant about bringing the kids around next week for the tour. Ladies, it was nice to meet you.”
“Mike, you go ahead,” Stella said. “I think that I will join the ladies if they would like. Robert can bring me back later or I can meet you at Bennies tonight. Theresa, may I join you?”
I turned to the ladies and said, “I think that Stella here is the sort of lady that you were looking to talk to.”
Adelheid was taking a closer look at Stella in her wheelchair and said, “Lady DelVecchio, I am pleased to meet you with you again.”
“It’s Stella and likewise. This is Kay. Her daughter was taken by the sharks
“Ok, I will see you later,” Mike said. “I need to chase down some girls.”
He winked at Gretchen and I as he left. Adelheid said to us, “The girls aren’t really in trouble are they? Not over that little thing in front of the children?”
“Not about that, but the girls have been sneaking over here quite a bit.” Kay said.
Adelheid looked around. “Boys, high fae boys, correct?”
“There is that. Also, for all that Mike doesn’t want them flashing their tails around, Lieutenant Jones definitely wants the occasional splash.”
“Who’s Lieutenant Jones? I don’t think that I have met him.” I asked.
“Recruiting. Not a fae, but loves the idea that the navy has some magical secrets and the potential for real adventure. So while Mike wants things kept discreet, Mr. Jones isn’t above encouraging the girls a bit.”
Adelhied asked Kay, “So what is your story, that you were cast down so low.”
“It started about thirty years ago when I was a young Selkie on the beach in Ireland. I was the princess of our community and spent my days lolling on the beach until one day a boat was blown into our bay. The boat had Aiden struggling to keep afloat and I was attracted to him from the first. We managed to get the boat safe ashore and I made sure that I was not in Change when he showed up to take the boat home with his brothers. Now his kingdom was leprechaun and our communities had been at each other over things for a long time. Still, I managed to get a ride with the rest of them and the boat cart to his home and meet his mother. It took three years of my parents and brothers fighting, but we were married in 1905. Aiden’s mother taught me about glamors, the fae lore and how to make these cookies. In 1910 the monsters struck.
Our marriage had been followed by others and both my mother and Aiden’s said that the keystones were binding our kingdoms together for a reason. The reason was that the entire fae community needed to work together and after a while we did. But the selkie and merfolk’s keystone fell apart, the sharks took most of my family, the Twisted just kept coming and we could not get enough guns. Finally, my mother sent the selkie children ashore to Aiden’s mother and with some of my family and his, sent us all off to America with all the money that both kingdoms had left. Aiden was the new leader and used the money to get us to New York and help establish the families with children. Since we did not have children then, we found a place and Aiden started to work here at the market. Then the sharks started again and Aiden has been doing what he can to stop them until Sal and Tim destroyed them.”
“What happened to your mothers?”
“We haven’t been able to find a trace of them or the kingdoms. Aiden went over after the war and looked and there were only the abandoned villages.”
“What will you do now?”
“Now that the sharks and the rest have been destroyed, start to build a new community. Encourage my oldest to join the navy, not that will be hard as I think a tail has attracted his attention. Help Jimmy and watch out for the dark. Finally sell my cookies and use the money to help Aiden and the rest of our community. We are doing so much better recently. Gretchen, here is your order. I think that you had plans for your doubting nephews and nieces.”
“I do, and thank you for being so frank with my mother.”
“Well the story is true but Aiden and I have fine children and things have been looking up lately. Aiden may actually have to manage the cookies for me, though he’s been trying to avoid it by telling me that Jimmy keeps him too busy. But Aiden has been able to play games and keep himself out being in a position of responsibility long enough. So I will have to nudge him somewhat. I see some other customers showing up, so kids, take one cookie each so that you don’t spoil the fine lunch that the lady Gretchen has coming for you.”
She handed the cookie over and more to us and we headed back to the cars where a smiling Robert and Vince, Lou’s driver packed the cookies away. As we were driving away, Adelhied took a bite and said, “These alone are reason to come to America. They are wonderful.”
‘Mother, if I hadn’t ordered before we came over here today, Kay would probably not have had my order. She uses the ovens at the ice cream factory and they still can’t keep up.”
“I think I see why. Kay is also carrying a heavy burden. Keystones do not like to be unrooted. I’m surprised that she and Aiden have not found a place.”
“That’s one of ten keystones that I know of,” I said. “All of them have the same sort of stories as Kay’s does and their holders just don’t have the resources to build communities in the face of the threat of Twisted and dark fae. The established communities were able to establish themselves before the rush and the monsters. The rest of us have had to work around issues and try to deal with the dark and the monsters at the same time. So Aiden is trying to keep his community flexible enough and deal with the monsters.”
“It was a good thing that Tim and Sal started to look into the sharks the way they did.” Stella said.
“It was, and Roger fed Tim right to Jimmy,” I said. Tim had the one thing that Roger, Jimmy and the rest needed. He was untouchable. The folks at the market knew that the people that went after the sharks couldn’t have handles that the sharks could use to shut them down or they would fail. So when Tim showed up all innocent and cub reporter, with no vices, tied to Sal, the Troubleshooter, who was mysterious, connected and dangerous, the sharks just weren’t ready for that.”
“The Troubleshooter is real?” Adelheid asked. “We thought that he was some sort of American story. The whole thing seemed so outlandish.”
“My son Sal had been in the police force and made quite a reputation closing down child brothels and other businesses that the outfit couldn’t shut down from inside, but didn’t want the stench sticking to them” Stella said, smiling. “Sal’s friend Vinnie would call Sal, spill the beans on the place and Sal would put a raid together as the young cop that didn’t know any better. With the press present. The press liked Sal for that and so did most people.
Some of Sal’s bosses didn’t like the backsplash from what Sal was doing and his connections with Vinnie so they transferred him to homicide and gave him garbage cases. Well they were garbage until Sal got his hands on them and dropped the hammer on yet more important people. He didn’t get the kidnapping case but that may have been because there were no children taken or they didn’t want him turning over rocks.
Meanwhile Vinnie was killed in a shark attack after Sal was forced to stop talking with him. A bit later, Sal was hit with a construct attack and recruited by the bureau. We hadn’t told Sal about Change and the bower for royal fae issues until we were fairly sure that he had bonded with Vinnie’s sister, Sillia. We were trying to arrange for Sal to run into Sillia when the bureau started to look into the rockaway bower, the chemicals in the water and the shark attacks. As part of that, Sal started to use a Duesenberg for undercover, had his little run in with Jimmy and all the rest of it.”
“Starting a legend in the process,” Ilyse said. “What was the warehouse they burned down?”
“That was the Manager’s chemical plant for destroying the Rockaway bower keystone. The water tainting was how the whole thing started. A couple joined, realized the water was “unhappy” and the bureau and some others investigated and found the sharks and the chemical factory. Sal troubleshot the factory and a young man in Massachusetts had his bond interrupted by the sharks and took offense. He ended up shooting most of them.”
“That was Tom,” Larry said. “The sharks were idiots. They sent constructs after Tom to scare him into the water and didn’t vamoose when it was obvious that Tom had a gun. They kept going after Chrissie and when it was over at least ten of the sharks were dead.”
“Why did Tom have the gun in the firstr place?”
“Bond fuzz. He and Chrissie had spent the previous day rescuing people and then agreeing to meet up and go to a beach someplace. When Tom docked his boat, he was out of it, had lost his flashlight and was trying to figure out a way to attach as flashlight as a bayonet is attached to a gun to his boathook. Since the weather was still pretty miserable and he didn’t want to play around with the boathook in the cabin, he attached a flashlight to the Remington Model Ten that Brad had brought home and Tom had inherited. That trench broom has a bayonet lug on it and Tom was just playing around in a fuzz. Then he figures it’s been a long day, reloads the gun with specials because he doesn’t use that gun unless a monster needs to be dealt with, puts the gun away and goes to bed.
The next morning Josh is running Tom out on the boat to a little island the family uses for marooning reluctant couples and after beaching the boat, leaves Tom and Chrissie to work things out. Chrissie has a nice little camp set up, so Tom goes back to the boat for the camera mother insisted he take, the flashlight, still attached to the gun, a lantern, and some blankets. Chrissie serves lobster for breakfast, they take some pictures, Chrissie gets Tom horizontal and with tail and then they go for a long Swim, leaving the camp still there.
The first shark shows up, Tom and Chrissie go up top so Chrissie can get some pictures for mother of Tom in his brand new Change, and get ready to leave when the tide floats the boat off the beach. The sharks get upset that Tom and Chrissie are not in the water to be eaten and send in the constructs, Tom shoots the constucts and when the sharks are not smart enough to stop attacking, shoots most of them too. With Chrissie taking pictures of the whole thing. Tom brought the boat back to the harbor, sent the pictures to appropriate places and the sharks made the papers as missing persons because they left their cars on the beach.”
“Why didn’t Tom and Chrissie just Swim away?” Ilyse asked.
“Because Tom was fairly sure that that was what the sharks were looking for him to do. Apparently newly joined mermaids have a temporary condition where they put aphrodisiac hormones into the water. This is how the sharks can trace couples and know when to attack. Tom didn’t play the game the way the sharks thought he would and the sharks paid the price for their stupidity. The Manager followed it up with still more stupidity by setting a rather ridiculous ambush up.”
“Why was it ridiculous?”
“Well the whole thing depended on Tom being on a certain beach, unarmed and alone with Chrissie and used the sharks again, constructs and zombies, all of which Tom was familiar with and would sense a long ways away. What the Manager’s people never considered was that everybody in the area knew about that beach, that Tom would send a message to Josh telling Josh that he and Chrissie were on their way with my parents and that even if Tom didn’t have guns, my parents certainly would. As far as Tom not having guns, I don’t think that he hasn’t had a gun on hand since he was about eight or so. Maybe when he goes Swimming. He has alternatives when he is Swimming. In any case, Tom has top government permits and clearances and can carry a pistol into the President’s presence. At least that was what his friends tell me. In any case, Tom is almost never without a gun.
What happened at the ambush was that Josh shows up with a bunch of people, Sal shows up in the car, Tom comes in with still more people that Chrissie’s brother had arranged and they settle down for a bake while the Necromancer and the indentured with the constructs are waiting for the sharks to show up. The sharks were having traffic issues on the Cape and never made it close to a beach. Then Necromancer finally decides to lauch his zombies, just as Tom and Chrissie, along with some friends of hers, go racing down the canal to her grandfather in Tom’s boat while Chrissie’s grandfather is doing some fishing.”
Ilyse was smiling as she said, “That does sound ridiculous. How long did the zombies and the constructs last.”
“The zombies lasted about ten seconds but they did manage to kill a man from the Mob that some of Josh’s friends had sent. The construct lasted a bit longer, but that was because Sal wanted pictures and they were just target practice by that point. That was before Sal knew about my son’s construct shoots.”
“What is a construct shoot and how does your son do them?” Adelheid asked. “Gretchen mentioned them last night, but didn’t give any details other than saying that the kids never miss one.”
“Well about three years ago, my son and some of his friends managed to ‘acquire’ some construct jars from some of the Martin boys that had come over for their usual reasons. Since the boys had never done anything with constructs, they decided to try a jar out in a farm that had been more or less abandoned. The boys put an hour clock on it and started to chase it, shooting at it from time to time. A neighbor heard the shots and called the sheriff, who sent a deputy out. The deputy stopped his car right along the construct’s path and when he saw the thing, opened fire. Unfortunately the construct was able to get close enough to the deputy to attack him before the boys could get there and finish it. The boys took Joe, the deputy to the hospital and the sheriff, my brother in law went down to find out what had happened and give the boys his Russian lecture if necessary.
Joe wasn’t injured that badly and when the boys explained where the construct had come from said that the best way to deal with them wasn’t to stop the boys from playing with them, but to set things up so that nobody got hurt. So the boys and joe went around and talked to people that had run hunts, shoot and other things and when harvest was over, held the first construct shoot. They have proved to be very popular with shooter and spectators. So much so that Chrissie’s party did very well just from the shoot.”
“So the boys will need a Creator?” Ilyse said.
“They just made contact with the local Creator. They’ll almost certainly be looking for at least one more, just to ensure their supply. That is, unless they come up with some alternatives to constructs. Since they have been talking to Tom, they might.”
“Didn’t they know about Creators at all?”
“Not until recently. They just bought the jars at connections they found and didn’t worry about the source until they started to count how many jars they were going to need this spring and came up short even after buying every jar they could get their hands on. Something that probably has made the other side a little annoyed. Of course releasing constructs in our neighborhood isn’t likely to do much more than having people come into to my shop to restock on ammunition.”
“Won’t they scare people?” Ilyse asked.
Gretchen was laughing as Larry said, “Not very much. After Thanksgiving and the Christmas shoot where the victims of the Thanksgiving construct raid that hadn’t been to a shoot showed up, I doubt there is anybody left in the county who hasn’t taken shots at constructs. So other than pissing people off because of property damage, constructs aren’t going to be that much of a problem. Back in the days when a man only had a halberd or something, a construct that was stronger than you were would be a frightening thing. My sister kills them with kid’s rifles and single shots. I think that Grechen here would too, if she actually did any shooting, but since Hilda and Stephie won’t let me see them shoot, I’m not absolutely certain.”
“They won’t let you see them shoot?”
“They frequently shoot in Change and without clothing, so they don’t want the borther watching. At least that’s what they say. Frankly I think that they are dipping into the range bins a bit for cartridges and don’t want me to tell father and have father bill them for the cartridges. Since Gretchen is a guest, it’s hard to tell. Then there are the kids, so it’s fairly impossible to see who’s shooting what. I just dump old stock at the ranges anyway and if it disappears, that’s fine. Frankly other than my wife and dancing, I don’t really care about the other ladies in Change. Theresa locked that interest a log time ago.”
Theresa grabbed Larry and kissed him, “And don’t you forget it.”
“As for my sisters, I’ve seen them in Change enough and Stephie is hardly shy about dancing around in public. Hilda is slightly more discreet, but she spends a fair amount of time prancing around in the woods with Bill. As for Gretchen here, I have no idea what her Change looks like. Though there have been strange glowing dances from time to time. In any case, I am only concerned with maintaining the ranges and keeping the farm out of bankruptcy.”
“Something that is very unlikely to happen no matter how much ammo Hilda and Stephie use,” Theresa said. “For that matter, the local bookies would be happy to give them all the ammo they wanted if they keep shooting. Now that Tom is back and aware, they are going to move on to new things anyway.”
We were driving up to the school by that point and security seemed to be mob types today along with some navy people. Robert was herding the kids inside as Mary came out to greet them along with Gretchen’s two. As we followed them inside, Telia was talking to April Day of all people. Telia spotted me and said, “Mrs. Day’s daughter is having an event and needs somebody to watch the kids. She asked around and kept getting Trillia’s name, so she called here and I came up to talk with her about it.”
“Does she know about Trillia’s tail?”
“Oh, yes,” Mr’s Day said. “Everybody made sure that I knew just how special Trillia is. The children know her already from other parties and whatnot where she has managed the kids. My only concern is that she isn’t here right now so that I can meet her.”
“She should be back next week,” Telia said. I’m not sure if she and Andy are staying for the Olympics or returning. More than likely Tony will have other children to return here, so they will be back with Tony.”
“Ok, I will check back with you on Tuesday then. I wish that I had known you and Ben when you were on the water, but he never brought the boat into our cove. I will see myself out as you have othe visitors.”
She left and I said, “That didn’t take long. She’s sharp, coopting Trillia and Andy like that.”
“What do you mean?” Adelheid asked.
“That’s Jim Day’s wife,” I said, laughing. “If she wants to put on events here, she’s going to have to make sure that our troublemakers don’t make trouble after her husband and his shenanigans with Tim and his car.”
I explained Tim, his car and the battle for the parking spot and she and the rest started to laugh. Larry said, “Does Mr. Day realize what might happen when Noro hears about this. Noro isn’t going to let him off easy. Especially after he capitulated. Theresa, does the co-op place any advertising with his paper?”
She grinned. “I will have to check. I’ll call Daisy when we get back to the hotel. The sap is starting to rise and we will want to remind people about how good our maple syrup is. Perhaps I will take the car down to the papers and get some quotes for the co-op to go over. You can take the kids and visit the bureau and the toy shop. Make sure that you get pictures for the newsletter and the family.”
Adelheid asked, “Who is Ben?”
“My bonded,” Telia said. “April knew him from the time that he lived next door. We met when we lived here until my Change. After we bonded, he joined the navy and was sent overseas where he was killed by werewolves and didn’t return. I had Trillia under sea and while she came up top to find out what had happened to her father, I stayed under sea over there in the bower. I did that even though my beloved’s parents had returned and deliberately let themselves be compelled by the evil that had taken their house so that they could protect the children and help bring an end to the Manager.”
“Where are they now?”
“Here, actually. They are the headmaster and headmistress of the school here, as well as my father in law who is cooking lunch for everybody. After the Manager was defeated there were some children that had been indentured and we set this place up so that the mothers could continue to work without worrying about their children being taken by the dark again. There are also some older chidren who have been subjected to sexual abuse to open them to the Twist. We also have some other children now from people who would like a bit of discretion and added security where the children are concerned. Then my parents and I are encouraging the children born into Change to come up here for their educations. We were cut off from up top and the people from the bower who did live up top forgo who they were to a large extent with terrible consequences. Because so many families had become wealthy and separated themselves, their young men did not understand that they should have been seeking out our neighbors and bonds. Fortunately that is changing, which will make it harder for something like the sharks to infiltrate us and Turn the young men.”
“Why did you let your daughter go up to Vermont?”
“She is recruiting, somewhat. She is also assisting two people of great value to us.”
“What can a young girl mermaid do?”
Telia smiled. “Keep Andy and his friends in check. That poor Colonel. The minute Andy and Bruce heard about him, they were making plans. First, in case he showed up here, and then when he took Chrissie. Bruce and Andy are hoping that the Colonel takes them hostage and puts them on a boat. Then Trillia is supposed to phase aboard and they are going to take over the boat with the help of people from the bowers, depending on where the boat is. They had been aboard Joe’s big yacht and found some books on marine steam engines. They were also planning to subvert the engine room telegraph. They had practiced a bit with Angelo’s fishing boat. Fortunately I think that the Colonel will not take Andy or the others hostage.”
“Since Bruce is his grandson, he might take Bruce,” Gretchen said. He may think that he can bring Bruce into the wolf Change.”
Telia grinned. “That will not work out the way he expects. You did ask to make sure that Bruce could not drown on that little fishing trip.”
Gretchen was grinning. “I did, didn’t I. Strange how I also told Bruce to jump into the water at the first opportunity if his grandfather should get his hands on him. That is the first salt water.”
“You didn’t!” Adelheid said. “Gretchen, how could you!” She also had an enormous grin. “I thought that those amulets had to be attuned to somebody and that they take a long time to make.”
“They do,” Telia said. “There were several of my cousins that had the amulets made, but closed the deal before they needed them. So there are several just waiting to be tuned to some special people. Bruce will probably have a tail in his future soon enough and Gregor and Cindy will be dealing with Cindy’s Change all too soon, so things will work out.”
“Cindy?”
“My younger daughter,” Stella said. “She hasn’t gone through Change yet.”
“How do you handle being under sea and being near her at the same time?”
“By not living under sea? The navy had a pool built at the house and I Swim in the river and harbor as well as my other work in the navy yard. Sal having the house and being able to take Mike on Swims has helped our weekends immensely. So I don’t have to abandon my life just because I Changed.”
“How do you hide your tail?”
“By the use of glamor somewhat. Frankly most of the time, I don’t bother. Our neighbors all sort of know and don’t care. Neither do most of my friends. As for being in public, most people see me as having been ill and overcoming rather than having a tail. The people that do see the tail are either amazed by it or just ignore it. That is the case for many of the families here. You just saw Mrs. Day and Telia is not wearing anything, so it’s not as if Mrs. Day did not know. But that wasn’t the important thing and in this neighborhood, Telia is hardly the only lady with a tail.”
Mary came in and Gretchen introduced her to her mother. Then Telia went to get a dressed and Mary and Gretchen took the rest of us on a tour of the school. Several kids asked Gretchen, Larry and I how Tom and Chrisse were doing as well as about the kids up at the farm. Adelheid saw this and said, “Tom must be fairly important to them.”
“They want to know what he’s going to do to Jacob,” Gretchen said. “The kids that went up had better bring pictures back or they are in real trouble.”
“What are you teaching these kids? The teachers here seem fairly unconventional and you don’t seem to have real classrooms.”
“We don’t have enough students all of the same age to be able to use a real classroom and the the big thing that we teach is the basics and getting the kids out in the real world as much as possible. The former residents are being encouraged to find everyday jobs and deal with the real world on a face to face basis. We want to show them that the real world is not as sick as the monsters said it was. So we do things like take the kids out on a fishing boat or to the market. We are also learning as we go along. The end goal is that none of the kids here will Turn to the dark. If we achieve that, we will have won.”
“That explains some of it, but shouldn’t you be more rigid?”
“Ask Robert about the lady who ran the ‘school’ for the indentured’s kids that the Manager had. Or any of the other ‘schools’ that were the same way, all rigid and structured, with the kids locked away and told that they were ‘special’ without developing their gifts. We aren’t going to tell the kids that they are ‘special’ but we will give them the tools they need to develop what they have.”
The tour passed the range, where some kids were shooting and the shop, where even more kids were cooking up trouble for Tom, apparently. Gretchen said, “Ever since Chrissie was taken, the favorite activity here is making more trouble to send to the kids upstate and Tom to make father’s life miserable. So this shop gets a lot of use.”
We walked through the kitchen where some of the older kids were helping Albert with putting the finishing touches on lunch. The smells were amazing and Adelheid and Ilyse asked Albert what was coming.”
“Nothing particulary special. I’m starting this bunch off fairly easy. I think that you will enjoy it nonetheless. Lunch is about ready, so why don’t you go to the dining room and sit down.”
As we reached the dining room, the kids were starting to come in, including Larry’s and Ilyse’s kids. I turned to Adelheid and said, “That didn’t take long for young Mr. ‘There’s no such thing as mermaids.’ He does seem to be a charmer though.”
She smiled as Heinz was pushing a young mermaid in a chair to the table. “He is that. He’s also fairly flexible. The young lady doesn’t seem to mind being peppered with all those questions he’s asking.”
“She doesn’t, does she. Not that she isn’t asking her fair share. Watch out or she will drag him under.”
Ilsye laughed at that. “That would make Gunther’s aunt rather upset. She lost her Karl to a tail years ago and since she came to the domain we have never heard the end of it. She has never forgiven him for going under sea with a tail. I think that she is the one that started the ‘no such thing as merfolk.’ Gunther visited with Karl and his bonded before the collapse and they were very happy. Mother wanted to find them and bring them to the community, but they had disappeared. We don’t think that they are dead though.”
“What was the mermaid’s name?” I asked.
“Lelia.”
“Then we will see her later,” Gretchen said. “They live in Mrs. Macdonald’s building. Karl drives cabs for his company.”
“Karl is a cab driver?” Ilyse looked rather shocked at that. “He should be doing better than that.”
“My son says that Karl is not good with money,” I said. “That being said, he owns the company that he drives for and I suspect that the money goes to other merfolk that he brought over. My son does trust him implicitly with sensitive things, so there is more going on there that I haven’t looked into. I don’t think that Karl is just a cab driver.”
“Being a cab driver would annoy his mother enormously. Her other son is our Creator and she has always doted on him and spoiled him more than a bit. On the other hand, until the Colonel took him for his mission, Hans’s mother kept him on a tight leash so he could never wander and find a bond. We have agreed that now that he is over here, he is not going back. None of the people that the Colonel brought over from the community are.”
I looked closely at Adelheid and realized that she had been bearing a keystone that was shielding itself very tightly. Gretchen’s mother was carrying her community with her and there must be a very good reason for that. If they were not sending key people like a Creator back, they must be concerned that there would soon be no community to go back to. I looked at Gretchen who was looking more than a little frightened. I turned to Adelheid and asked, “Why keep the people here? That seems like a great sacrifice.”
“Hitler. The Master’s newest pet. It is likely that they will have a dictatorship in our country and will set off on a huge war that will be very destructive. We already have the Russian Master’s pet, Stalin and his depopulating the Ukraine and other madness. Hitler will be as bad and my goal is to get the domain away before it becomes a pawn in the Masters’ battle. I told my husband that, but he insisted that he could resolve things. So he came here to collect for the Masters, as if the Creators would not die before serving the Masters. Why anybody would feed the lady in Transylvania or any of the other Masters escapes me. But I am not my husband and he has sunk too far into the dark.”
“What happens if your husband is killed?”
“The other Masters will hold off, for a while. My husband made an agreement that the domain would be untouched even if he failed to obtain the Creators. How long they will hold off is a question. They also will not want to be the first to strike and take the losses that it would take to destroy the domain.”
Lunch was served by the enthusiastic teenagers that we had seen in the kitchen and the soup was a lobster bisque that was excellent and there were sandwiches and apples along with cider, coffee and tea. The lunch disappeared rapidly and then Adelheid said to Gretchen, “So what next?”
“We leave the kids here, and go next door to the Manager’s place, and Sal’s, see Lieutenant Magelleno and Mrs. Macdougal and Lellia before picking up the kids for dinner.
“Frank is here,” Mary said. “At least he will be. His wife insisted that he go on a Swim.”
“I didn’t see his car when we came in,” I said.
“He was promoted to chief of detectives,” Albert said, grinning. “He can’t use the wreck anymore.”
“How did that happen?”
“The big case with the sharks and that child brothel. His boss had been wanting to retire and Frank had been reluctant to step up. So his boss took advantage of Frank being in the papers, got Frank promoted before Frank could turn it down and retired. So Frank was stuck. Claudia is ecstatic about that.”
“She’s probably not letting him wear those dumpy suits anymore.”
“Nope. Frank has to look like he’s important now and an inspiration to his people.”
“I bet that that is Claudia’s idea,” I said.
“Well yes, along with the Chief and the County Supervisor’s They want Frank to be more in front and in the public eye.”
“So he’s stuck in a new job and can’t play his old games anymore.” I grinned. “Now if he wants to play those games, he will need to educate officers and send them to do the work.”
“Yes, which is what his boss wanted the whole time anyway. Frank is good at what the does, but he is still just one officer. Now he has to teach as well as investigate. He also has to let the younger officers share the glory.”
“OK,” Gretchen said. Tell Frank that we will take him and Claudia for dinner after we gat back. Kids, we’ll come and get you later. Robert is going to start to teach you to shoot and take you to the scary house a bit later. I am just taking you mother and grandmother to meet some old ladies, so we will leave you here with the rest of the kids.”
The kids all seemed to be enthusiastic about that. Larry said, “I’ll stay here with the kids and help Robert on the range. I’ve seen the Manager’s house, Sal’s and the rest of it already. I don’t think that Stephie left any noisemakers, but I bet that I can get the kids on noisemaker hunt at the manager’s house. Theresa hasn’t and I can deal with the kids for a while.”
He kissed his wife, collected all the kids and he and Robert headed for the range. Gretchen turned to us and said, “Ladies, I guess it’s just us. Theresa did you arrange that with Larry?”
“Our kids made him promise that he would teach Ilyse’s kids to shoot when Amy found out that they didn’t know how to shoot. Amy has absorbed the family shooting religion from her grandmother and wants to be as good a shot at her aunts Stephie and Hilda by the time that she is fifteen. Since she is twelve she has a bit if time. But her trophy wall has already started. She hasn’t had the courage to ask her Uncle Tom for a custom rifle, yet. She did start hints and wants to go down the Cape next summer with some of the others. She’s was also there with the rest of the kids over Christmas.”
We went back the Cadillac and started over to the manager’s house. Gretchen and I went over what had gone on there unseen for years and what the Manager had been doing. We also went over to the ‘school’ and Gretchen pulled out the lesson sheets that she had put on the shelf. “The indentured’s children were just given these and nothing else. The same things over and over. The children were kept in this gilded cage and forbidden to leave and not allowed to experience the world. That is one reason that we avoid the kind of structured classes that schools have. Of course Tony and Robert insist that the kids do at least one ‘fun stuff’ thing a week as well as doing some sort of real job. That was some of the things that you saw at the school. The main goal is to make sure that the fae kids don’t just drop into a bubble and get into the habit of abusing their abilities to salve all their problems. Also that they grow beyond their abilities and become as strong as they can. Let’s go on to Sal’s, where the oher ladies are expecting us.”
We went back to the car and drove over to Sal’s where things were a hotbed of activity. Vicky waved as we drove up and went right back to handing packets out to a group of state police officers from five states. As Gretchen and I herded Theresa, Ilyse and Adelheid toward the poolhouse, Adelheid said, “She’s not a maid, is she?”
Vicky had been wearing her typical maid’s dress, with her badge and gun over it.
“She was one of the Manager’s compelled. She works for the bureau now, with her husband. She was a maid in the Manager’s house and I think that she and the other ladies keep wearing the uniforms because they want to poke their families in the eye a bit. She had been emslaved as house staff by the Manager and married one of the other house staff members who was not in the sam social status as her family. He’s actually taking advantage of that by drifting around truck stops and discreetly looking for some trucks. In any case, they have wonderful partnership and love each other very much. Now That the Director is almost finished, they plan to start a family.”
We went into the poolhouse and Gretchen showed Adleheid and the rest where the cage had been and the marks in the pool. As Gretchen pointed them out she said “The sharks used this pool as the place where they brought new members into the pod through sex and then fed them the fae children to stabilize the Change. The sharks had rented this house as their clubhouse.”
“The shark Change is not a long lasting one,” Ilyse said. “Unless the fae is very strong, the Shark takes over and the fae returns to the sea or dies. Gunther discovered this when he tried to find out what had happened to the merfolk.”
Vicky came down to the poolhouse and joined us. “Hi! Gretchen. You brought them!”
“Vicky, this is my mother, Baroness Von Wulf and my sister, Ilyse.”
“Welcome. I can’t give you the tour today because your husband’s activities have stirred up some things, milady.”
“What has my husband done?”
“He took two fae communities in Pennsylvania. Some people down there are rather upset because of who was taken and they want their people back, soonest. We’re working on that, but it’s a mess and we don’t have a full staff today because of the the thing in Lake Placid and the ladies being taken. Hopefully that can be resolved today.”
“I was just showing my mother the pool where the sharks had eaten and created Change,” Gretchen said. “We need to move on in any case.”
“Ok, We can talk later and we will, but right now, we need to track down some trucks.”
“What will you do when you find them?” Adelheid asked.
“That depends on what they do. If they do as we expect, we’ll just tail them. If they go someplace else, we have roadblocks set up near the Canadian border. So far they have been doing exactly what we expect and we are keeping an eye on them. We don’t want to push and risk losing the people they have taken. Especially the kids. On the other hand, if an opportunity presents itself, we will take it.”
“What if they are fae and Change?”
“The agents and officers tailing them have all been through the ‘enhanced adversaries’ training recently and the lead agents are fae from the bureau. We have assistance from the Cape bower and fae in Connecticut from the community there. The communities in Pennsylvania also sent people up with the State Police. So we can probably deal with something like a werewolf pack. So far they haven’t sensed that they are being tailed and none of our people have sensed any shields. There were two werewolf packs that attacked some farms, but we tracked them heading North and they are not with the others. I need to go. Gretchen, Theresa, we’ll talk later. Ladies, it was nice to meet you and I would like a very long chat, but we don’t have time for it today, I’m afraid.”
She marched back to the house as we returned to the car. As we got into the car, Adelheid said, “That is a formidable woman. Especially for somebody who is not fae.”
“The compelled have all turned out to be rather formidable and competent people,” I said. “I suspect it has to do with being under the compulsions for so long and exposed to the Manager’s Twisted as well. They went through hell and after that, dealing with things since they can just seems to be easier for them. Then they have true reasons to hate the dark and what it does. So they are motivated and don’t let the typical things bother them or get in there way. Where to next?”
“Sylvia’s house of terror,” Gretchen said. “Then we have chat with Mrs. Macdonald and see what’s left of the Chemist’s house.”
“Does May know who’s coming?”
“Yes. I called ahead yesterday and today.”
“I didn’t realize that you knew her.”
“Tim made the connection for the school. Now that we have funding, we want to do some recruiing from neighborhood fae for next year. Stella, Mary and I have been working on that. The goal is get the fae communities to get together and stop isolating from each other. So we are working on that.”
We drove over to Sylivia’s house of very ill repute and since I had been there during Sal’s raid I gave the tour. I showed the rooms where the kids were forced into sex, the graveyard in the back and the rest. Neither of the ladies seemed to want to ask very many questions until it was over when Ilyse asked, “Why did they do this? It doesn’t really make any sense.”
“The lady responsible was the seed for the sharks. She had this place and it’s entertainments to attract the young fae that had not bonded and could be Turned to the Dark and the shark Change. She enticed the young men and encouraged bad habits and the mistreatment of people until they were ready to accept the shark Change. When we see Frank Magelleno, we can ask hime about the young men.
The other side was that the fae abused, taken from their parents, placed in those schools and then in a place like this, were vulnerable to the Twist and becoming powerful Twisted who would prey on the rest of the fae. That was why they were doing this.”
“We had never known the orgins of the Twisted,” Adelhied said. “The Twisted maintained their own domains and how they became what they wer was hidden. I’m surprised that they did this in the open.”
“The Academy, the place like this to the North was very well hidden,” I said. “Eli and I along with others, could not find it. We only found it because Scott was Ed’s heir and Ed revealed the Twisted guarding the Academy and Jacob threw Scott right out in front of the place.”
As we got into the car, Adelheid turned to Gretchen and said, “I think that you, I and Theresa should go up to Lake Placid and see what is going on for ourselves. I want to see how the domain was infiltrated and if necessary have a rather severe talk with Heinrich. That is if he is not dead by the time we get there. Theresa, can you make the arrgangements?”
“I’ll call Sarah and have her make the arrangements. Ed might not want Gretchen up there.”
“I will speak to him about that,” Gretchen said. “I understand his desire to destroy his monster. But we have lived with the monster for a long time already and we may need his strength. Since father wants me the same way that the Manager wanted Hilda, He’ll get me, the same way that the Manager got Hilda. Any of father’s werewolves that come into my sight had better be ready to die, because I know just how to kill them. As for father, he has two choices if he wants to talk to me, release all of Edward’s compulsions, and I mean ALL of them or I will shoot father and release the compulsions that way. In any case I am not going to sit idle while my father tries to destroy my friends and family. To say nothing of the rest of the Masters, who will probably follow father when he fails.”
“You seem very sure that he will fail,” I said. “He has already taken two communities.”
“Along with his people being tracked. I don’t know about the fourth community, but I imagine that Tom, Al, Eric and the rest are coming up with something to make taking Doug’s family unpleasant one way or another. So father has set himself up to fail. He made such a spectacle of himself by taking Chrissie and the others that he did the one thing that he could not afford. He let anybody who is interested know that he is here. It’s only a matter of time before the likes of Murder Inc. start looking for him. That’s even without wanting to do the Peacekeeper a favor.”
“The Peacekeeper?” Ilyse asked.
“Now, I’ve only picked some of this up from Tara and Sillia, but about eleven years ago, there was war on the water up in Boston over the smuggling trade. Suddenly nobody could get anything shipped. Then Josh Claytor comes up and declares peace on everybody. Since then the word in the outfit is that nobody pisses the Peackeeper off. So taking Chrissie, Josh’s daughter is getting the attention of the entire mob. Actually killing Chrissie, or Tom now, would probably make my father the target of every crime family in the world. Father probably doesn’t really understand what he’s involved himself in this time.”
“I imagine that the people here have told him some of this, Gretchen,” Adelheid said. “I imagine that they are aware of some of it.”
“Definitely,” I said. “Josh has reputation for destroying every Twisted or dark fae that he encounters. Every fae in the region knows who he is. He can be so frightening that Eli and I were more than a bit skittish about getting too close to him and we were fairly certain that he was our son. So your husband was probably told about Josh before he took Chrissie. Certainly the Director was well aware of what Josh was likely to do. Ed was as well.”
“Yet, did father listen to any of that?” Gretchen cried. “No! He put’s together the most public kidnapping that he can think of, takes not only Chrissie but the other three, two of which were popular public figures and the other is Josh’s daughter in law. Considering Steve, you can believe that Haruka’s family is not low status either. As for the other two, poor father has set himself up for the full wrath of Suki.”
“Suki is down here,” Ilyse said, grinning. “Father is at least safe from her. He did do one smart thing. He made sure that he didn’t kidnap Suki too. Consider what would have happened up there if he had.”
“She went up anyway,” I said. “You are right that she would have had them sending her back very quickly. Not that Chrissie isn’t doing her fair share by all reports.”
“Does anybody know what father wants other than me?” Gretchen asked. “If he had really wanted to talk to me, there are better ways than kidnapping my friends and family. As for Bruce, does he think that I would just hand him over.”
“According to Eli when he called in last night, the Colonel wanted Brad’s war diary,” I said.
“Hilda, Stephie and I have been looking for that for a long time. So has both Army and Navy intelligence. Tom has been absolutely silent about it. As for finding it, Bill, Hilda, Stephie and I couldn’t and we frankly had reached the point where we thought that Brad had destroyed it.”
“When Tom heard about your father showing up, he pulled the diary and all the other material that he had collected out of where they had been hidden. According to Eli, Brad had collected a lot of things about the Colonel’s activities. Tom had more.”
“That’s Tom playing his usual games, something else my father probably did not consider. He was probably responsible for the Director giving the School all that money through Hilda. He wanted everything he could get about Tom, but never thought about how that information would be available. Information is something that is provided for father, not something that he collects for himself.”
“That will put him at a disadvantage. I haven’t been with Josh and his kids for very long, but from what I have seen, they grab every piece of information that they can to solve problems. Our little get together on the same day that Chrissie was taken seems to be typical of them.”
“That’t true of the Bentons as well. Certainly they are willing to collect information about the things sent against them or that they have had to deal with. Eric actually has quite a large set of files on all the Twisted, the Dark fae and werewolves.”
“Why didn’t Tom use those files? I didn’t see him go to his father for anything like that”
“Theresa, Tom has been separate from the family and the family worked very hard to keep Tom in the dark about certain things. So Tom doesn’t go to his father about questions involving Twisted and so forth. When he came back to the farm, he never said anything about what he had been dealing with in Washington and Mike and Al didn’t tell Eric or Greta very much either. So none of us knew what was going on until Chrissie’s party and we started to talk to the people that knew him in Washington. If we hadn’t been talking to Suki, Tom would still be hiding things even more than he is.”
“Tom is lucky that Suki didn’t find her way to the farm all by herself.”
“I think she would have if she and Tochi had not returned to Japan. Then when they returned there wasn’t a real way to track Tom down. Since he was living on the Cape, he wasn’t in real contact. Sumitomo did track him down and he and Tom were talking about setting Stephie up for the wedding. According to Suki, she and Tochi didn’t find out about the wedding until it was too late to change their schedule. They did start to talk to Miss Vicky and some others about a party for Tom and Chrissis when Chrissie started to send party invitations out. Don’t tell Tom, but he’s going to be expected down in Washington in April.”
I giggled. “I imagine that his friends want to see what they can get up to now that Tom is back in circulation.”
We arrived at Tim’s old neighborhood and Vince parked the car in front of May’s building. Sal’s Cadillac was there and I suspected that Stella was visiting May as well. That turned out to be the case as May let us in, there were, Stella, Maria, A lady that I did not know and a young girl of fourteen or so. Stella introduced us to Lelia and young Anna who had just returned from school. When she was done she said, “May and Lelia wanted us to explain certain things to Anna here since she will be experiencing some Changes in the next couple of years. I’m also doing some prospective recruiting.”
“I want to be sure that I can finish school,” Anna said. “Mrs. Del Vecchio has been explaining what her daughter and some other have done after their Change and how it worked out. Dad is also looking for a new place for us and we are hoping that mother will not have to be in the bower full time because I have a younger sister who is ten.”
“So you are interested in the tank beds?” I asked.
“We probably can’t afford a place with a pool at first, Lelia said. “In the old country most seafolk were born into Change, at least the high fae were. So we did not spend time up top. When I bonded with Karl, my parents insisted that when we had children that we stay up top. I didn’t know the reason why until the disaster hit and my parents had Karl and I take some others and as many children as we could here to America.”
“What happened to the rest of your family?” Adelheid asked with a frown.
“Karl went back and contacted his cousin right after the war. My family and the rest of the bower were gone and the bower destroyed. There may be some, but they are scattered and hiding.”
“Who is Karl’s cousin?” Adelhied asked.
“Gunther Reidel. He lost his community shortly after Karl visited with him. We lost track, but Gunther sent a message that he was coming here. Karl was supposed to meet with him today, but Gunther sent a message that he had an urgent obligation concerning his father in law.”
“Then you are my cousin,” Ilyse said. “Gunther was supposed to meet with his cousin today but had to go upstate and deal with my father and some others as well as recover Karl’s brother.”
“Hans is here? How did his mother let him so far from her. He didn’t like the fact that Karl had bonded with me and he didn’t like me at all. His mother was especially upset that Karl and I bonded and that Karl went under sea. But the bower needed somebody like Karl, who knew how to deal with the land. My brothers had been too arrogant for too long, wrecking ships and pillaging the wrecks. We had no friends on land and no protection. So when the sharks took my brothers and father, the trawls started through the gardens and even the bowers and the keystone was weakened, we had no one to turn to. Karl and I are not going to let that happen to out people here.”
“Joe alwya has said that Karl is not good with his money, but there was more to it than that wasn’t there, Lelia?” Maria had a frown on her face. “Why didn’t you ask us for help?”
“In the beginning we weren’t sure who we could trust. We had all those children. Then the sharks returned and we did not want to reveal ourselves to them. We should have said more, to you, Joe and May, but you seemed to be struggling as well.”
“Some of that was our own fault, as Joe did not want to drop the cover. A cover that was so good that Tim thought that he had to drop out of school and work. Not that that hasn’t paid off in so many ways.”
“Lelia, perhaps we can help each other,” Adelhied said. “We are going to need to discreetly move family and others here as fast as we can. Having some family over here already will help with getting things settled.”
“So what will we do about Hans?”
“Are there any tails that he could meet?”
Lelia and the other ladies grinned. Maria said, “I think that there are some tails that would just love to meet a Creator.”
We had a very interesting discussion and took a look at the remains of the Chemist’s house before it was time to recover Larry and the kids for dinner. I had called Sarah and made arrangements for Gretchen, Adelheid and I to travel on the overnight train to Burlington when we arrived at May’s. Theresa recruited poor Larry for tour guide duty for Ilyse, his and Ilyse kids, along with Gretchen’s two and probably some more from the school. Since we didn’t tell that to Larry until after we got back to the school and he was surrounded by some rather dirty but happy looking kids, he was a little miffed, but the kids dragooned him into a tour of radio row and other Tom hotspots, so he was stuck with it. Not that he minded as we collected the kids and the Manager’s scary car and headed down to Bennie’s.
On the way down we collected Telia and Frank Magelleno and his wife. Ilyse and Theresa joined Robert in the Manager’s car to keep an eye on the kids. Frank was perfectly willing to tell Adelheid and Ilyse the story of the sharks and who they were and how the pods were created. When he finished Adelheid said, “The sharks are a new Change that the Masters had their Dark Creators develop it. They even sacrificed their daughters to the first Changes to created the first pods. Not that the daughters were not all too happy to gain the power the Change gave them.”
She went on from there, describing the Masters degenerate creations and constant need for power. When we arrived at Bennies she said, “These things needed to be said. I don’t think that we need bother the children with this sort of thing.”
“I can agree with, mother,” Gretchen said. “We will need to go over what the Masters have done and what they might do. Especially with some of the people upstate. That is another reason to go up.”
We arrived at Bennies and Joe, Maria and Stella were there with Mike and the girls, who seemed none the worse for there chastisement. They looked at poor Heinz and Rachel said, “Do you believe in mermaids now?”
He gulped and said, “Yes.”
“Good, you need to look for surprises and magic,” Kathy said. You never know where it might appear.”
Sarah came in and saw me. “Good, you’re here. I have the tickets. Eli hasn’t sent a message yet, but they were going to be busy this evening. There haven’t been any reports from anybody else so far. I think that the reports will be out on Monday.”
“Are Chrissie and the other ladies out yet?”
“Sal and Tom were pulling them just before Jacob’s thing, so they should be out. You can get the story when you get up there tomorrow.”
“Any news about my father?” Gretchen asked.
“Other than the fact that he is there and turned some of Tom’s friends into zombies last night when Tom met with him, not really.”
“Tom met with the colonel?” I asked.
“That was where he ‘died’ after some strange werewolves showed up. The Colonel was trying to get the diary and where Gretchen was without releasing the ladies, which didn’t work out the way he expected. Of course Chrissie ‘killed’ the Colonel last night as well.”
“She killed my father?” Gretchne asked. “Or was my father playing tricks. With a puppet, probably. That is one of his favorite.”
“That made the meeting funny as the Colonel was a puppet and so was Tom. Doug made Puppet Tom and the Colonel’s Ctreator made the Colonel’s puppet. According to Eli, the Colonel’s Creator was stashed right next to Doug’s place. Andy and Trillia found it.”
“That won’t make Hans very happy,” Ilyse said. “Especially when Gunther tells him who Andy is. Poor Hans is going to be put out by that.”
Karl came in with Lelia and three children. He sat Lelia down and turned to Ilyse and said, “Hello Ilyse. How is Gunther? He was called away to the North with the rest of them, apparently because of a mess my big brother got himself into.”
“Well it was not entirely Hans’ fault, but yes. Apparently young Andy his friend Trillia found him.”
Karl laughed. “Hans is going to hate that. Mother has never forgiven me for going away and then bonding with Lelia. On the other hand, if she had been the least bit reasonable, we could have worked something out before things went bad and I had a bunch of high fae children and young families to take care of. Along with a limited supply of funds and no contacts or connections when we got here. Joe thinks that I’m not very good with money and, to certain extent, he’s right. But I had some responsibilities that I didn’t tell him about because it wasn’t until recently that I knew that he had the connections that he did. It was good thing that I discovered the truth about Maria and Kathy two years ago and could get some women into the bower before their Changes became obvious. Then the attacks started all over again and there didn’t seem to be very much that any of us could do. We did get people up top and safe before the storm hit, but I didn’t have the connections to deal with the sharks and Joe didn’t either until Sal showed up and Tim joined up with Suzy. At least the sharks got us talking to each other.”
“So what are your plans now?” Adelheid asked.
“Make sure that Hans and my mother don’t find out that Lelia and I are still alive and up top. Since Gunther brought you all, his mother is probably not far behind and my mother won’t want to let Hans out without a leash. If I can figure out a way, get Hans bonded before mother shows up and stashed someplace. Tom’s shop, maybe, unless Joe has a better idea.”
“I don’t and that sounds like a great idea.”
“Nera was complaining that her head dancer and up top business manager were always fighting the last time I drove her out to Sal’s. Hans likes dancers. So Hans can work at Tom’s shop and go to the dancing shows.”
I didn’t know Hans, but it seemed like just about everybody was in on than plan. It was something worthy of my family. Of course with Nera and Tom involved my family was in on the fun too. I was grinning as I said, “Do you think that Noro would help?”
“It would be like getting Mera and Josh together,” Meria said. “maybe even more fun if Hans has a prejudice against mermaids.”
“He’s been jealous of me ever since I bonded,” Karl said. “That and the fact that mother got so bound up by the fact that Lelia had taken me someplace that she couldn’t go.”
“Where are your sons, Karl,” Ilyse asked.
“Marcus, my oldest, is at the Naval academy. He was recruited through the bower. Adam, my next oldest is working right now, driving one of my cabs. He’s actually outside right now with his girl, down on the dock while Miss Sarah eats and talks with her boss. She’s been using us to get people around.”
“Like the Director?” I grinned as I asked the question.
“Actually the Director calls us for the most part. I handle his runs for obvious reasons. I was lucky that the Colonel didn’t ask the Director for a good cab company. He knows who I am from the first time he came after Hans and I was forced to kick him out of town. That was before I left and started to wander. If he had got in my cab, it might have had unpleasant consequences and ended up with me driving him into the bureau.”
“Dropping him in front of Mary would not have ended well for him.” I said. “I wonder how long it take him to realize just how much trouble he would be in.”
Sissy brought our orders and we all started in as the talk continued. Considering the way Kay had been bearing a keystone, I looked closely at Lelia and she was, as well. When this was over, Mary, Meria, Mera and Greta and I were going to have to have a talk about getting the various keystones settled. Having the keystones and the potential communities unbound could have severe consequences. Eleven loose keystones in New York alone could creat some problems. Especially if the established communities were budding off keystones as Tom and Chrissie’s bonding indicated was about to happen. As dinner was ending I walked over to Meria and whispered, “Lelia is bearing a keystone.”
“I know. She is hardly the only one. With the attacks on the bower we haven’t been able to give these newcomers the attention they deserve. I think that it may become a priority to get these keystones settled and the communities stable. Otherwise we all become vulnerable to the Dark and wars may start over territory.”
“I want to get together with Mary, Mera, Greta and you and see if we can come up with a plan to resolve this.”
“That is a good idea. We have the meeting coming up in April and that may be a good time. Where are you going this evening?”
“Gretchen and I are taking Adelhied to see what’s happening upstate and talk to Mary, Mera and Greta. As well as help deal whit her husband.”
“That poor man. I don’t think that he knew what he was getting himself in for when he took Chrissie. You weren’t here when Mera was young, but Chrissie takes after her in so many ways.”
“Well I need to get going or we will not be traveling tonight.”
“Let me know what happened. Especially what my brother go up to.”
“I will. But getting things out of Noro can be tricky. What do you think that he is up to?”
“Something that this Colonel character probably isn’t looking out for. The Colonel has taken the Creators, now he has to deliver them. Having to take them someplace and put them on a boat puts the Colonel right in Josh’s and Noro’s territory. That poor man doesn’t know what he did to himself when he took Chrissie.”
“Well I need to get up to the station, so we will talk later.”
Robert took the kids back to the school where they were staying overnight and Larry, Theresa and Ilyse saw us off at the station where we caught the train North. We kept Adelhied entertained with Tom and Jacob stories until we retired and rested for the busy day that was coming.

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