Mermaid Chapter 29, Part 2.

Eric gave the Colonel an hour. He apparently decided to come back instead. Was it something he read?

We all went inside and Jacob and Helen were there with mother and Helen grabbed Ed and Gretchen to catch up as I took Chrissie over to a pool that was rather full already with Misako, Suzy, Trillia, Nera, Mera and Eltra already there, chatting away. Chrissie splashed in and I left them to whatever they were plotting. I made a quick stop at the workroom where Nanami and Leo were talking while Leo was going through the Colonel’s stuff. I didn’t want to interrupt , so I ducked out again, went over to my room to change into something appropriate for the shop, grabbed my Diana coat and headed for the shop. As I was walking across the yard, Joe and Steve caught up with me again and Steve said, “Stelios and Al brought the noisemakers over this morning and we set them up all over the place here this morning. So don’t be surprised by sudden noises.” “So you think that the Colonel is coming back too.”

‘Mike, Al, Eric, Bill and Boris are sure that the Colonel is coming back. He’ll probably have a diversion someplace, but it probably won’t be constructs in town. That was pathetic.”

“The boys certainly know how to handle constructs. That was something I never knew about. Like the mermaid dancing.”

“That was your own fault. It was not as if the show is hard to find if you know to look and from what I’ve heard, both Joe and your dad pointed you at the show.” “What is your aunt going to do about them, now?”

“Nudge guys at the ladies so that they have other things than fighting to think about. Those two are good at their jobs, but oh boy, do they love to argue about everything. The probem is that if Aunt Nera were to put either one in charge, the other would just make life hell and things would fall apart. We will have to see what happens. Maybe Chrissie will take charge.”

“That will keep her occupied, somewhat. How will she handle the up top aspects.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem. She handles up top fine right now. Of course if the last couple of days are any indication she may not have the tail for a while, all too soon.”

“How do you know?”

“My sister was the same way that Chrissie has been with you lately and shortly thereafter, she had legs.”

“Along Dori following after.”

“Yes, that is part of it. Tom, you are going to be a father. Mike too, more than likely. Aunt Nera has been acting the same sort of way.”

“That’s probably what Mera is talking about with the other ladies, right now.”

“About the choices of Change, more than likely. Suzy and Trillia have some time and Misako hasn’t bonded, so for them, it’s rather academic at this point. But Mom’s sisters are going to be facing that decision and so is Chrissie.”

“How do you think they will choose.”

“Chrissie wants legs, and you. Aunt Nera wants Mike, legs and the world. With Aunt Eltra, there may be some question as she might feel that she needs the tail for her job and she very duty conscious. I think that grandfather will work on that.”

We entered the shop and I started to get the stoves lit and going. Then I started to set up tools and what not. After I was done I went over to the car, got the shotgun out of the trunk and when I went back into the shop, put the shotgun in the rack I had set up for guns that I had in the shop for various reasons next to some guns the boys had for just shooting and doing some hunting. The boys came in and Bob said, “Those ladies need some instruction, or at least need to learn to keep it simple. Those elaborate demon summoning pentagrams are good for making a flashy show of things, but when you need to get things out in a hurry, they get in the way. We’ll have to see if we can do Minotaurs for the Spring show. They were popular this afternoon.”

“Not with the Colonel, who was rather disappointed with the lack of chaos and destruction that they caused,” Steve said.

“That was the problem with the way they launched them. It took me less time to setup the net than it did for them to do the launch points. They also didn’t even look to see what I was doing. I wasn’t even trying to hide it.”

“What are you planning to do about your construct shortage issue?” I looked at them with a grin. “Now that you have a bunch of Creators to go to.”

“Well that’s going to make things easy, for a while. We also want to do some work with the projector, the golems we made up yesterday and some other ideas and see if we can animate them somewhat. Frankly constructs take energy and time, so if we can come up with something that works almost as well, but doesn’t take as much time we are ahead of the game.”

“I’ll help with that if I can. It looks like the kids are here.”

They were, and I got started helping them with the projects they had started when Chrissie had started the shop at the Academy and the things that our bunch here had been working on. The surprising thing was what the three menaces had started in on, with Joey giving advice, water tube guns. Well maybe for two of them, it wasn’t a surprise, but Jimmy?

“Jimmy, you aren’t fae,” I said with a bit of a frown. “That gun won’t work for you.”

“I can’t make the tubes, but I shot Joey’s gun last night just fine.” I was new at this and I thought that I needed to talk to Mera about Jimmy’s parents. On the other hand, I had made the tubes so that purely physical energy could set them off and there wasn’t any reason that the gun shouldn’t work for everybody. In any case he went right on making it and I wasn’t going to stop him.

I turned to Steve and asked, “When did father say he expects the Colonel to hit us?”

“He thinks that things will go off during afternoon milking when the Colonel will think that most of the people on the farm will be in the dairy and unarmed.” The dairy had been father’s project two years ago. It was a modern concrete and cinderblock building with stalls for the cows and milking machines. The cans were kept in a pool of water to keep cool until the creamery truck picked them up and took them to the creamery at the railroad. The whole thing made milking fast, clean and relatively easy. Still, getting all the cows in and out and milking them took a lot of people and effort. As for the unarmed part, the dairy had a mudroom and double entrance and just like about every doorway on the farm, there was a gun rack next to the door so that people could put the guns they had been carrying from someplace in a safe place while in the dairy working on the milking. As was also typical, there were always three or four guns in the rack, because people would go off to dinner after the milking and forget the gun until the next time that they wanted to hunt or shoot. Typically after a week or so, the owner would come looking for it and take it home, but by then there would be another gun in it’s place. If a gun stayed in one of the racks for too long, Larry would collect it and mail around a list and tell people that they could pick the guns up in the armory. In any case there were always guns around even if we were not expecting visitors.

Chrissie brought Ed and Gretchen to the shop to see what was going on, along with the camera and father who dropped them off and headed over to the dairy. Ed and Gretchen went over to where the three menaces were cooking up trouble and made noises over what they were doing and then came over to talk to Chrissie and I. Gretchen was smiling as she said, “You’ve managed to corrupt them. Or at least divert them.”

“It just sort of happened. It’s mostly Stephie’s fault.”

“What’s my fault.” Stephie had just walked in with Hilda. “I haven’t done anything to you Tom, recently.”

‘You were putting the word out about me for years. So all these kids knew about me.”

“As if that little book that showed up everywhere didn’t have something to do with that. You were the one that had copies made. Gretchen, is this Ed?”

Gretchen introduced Ed to my sisters, with hugs all around and Hilda said, “Gretchen, why did you hide him for so long?”

“I was afraid that his being a werewolf would hurt you.”

“It wouldn’t have. The one thing that I wanted was for Brad to escape his monster. Mike and Boris had me in New York and we were going to intercept Brad and get him away from the Manager, but Brad was drawn in up here and we didn’t realize it until too late and the monster was loose.

In any case, am glad to meet you at last, Ed. Mother and father have said great things about you. Of course that you do know that we will be inflicting the three menaces on you from time to time.”

“I think that I can handle three boys.”

“Along with their girlfriends and a boat? Be prepared to get wet.”

“Bruce has a girlfriend?”

“Tail and all,” Gretchen said. “According to Telia, the girl had never spent a second up top until Bruce showed up.”

“They grow up so fast. You haven’t been down in the city for a month, How did that happen?”

“Trillia has been encouraging her somewhat reluctant friends to come up top to the school and Bruce took her to the range. Apparently it was bond at first shot. Of course it didn’t hurt that her dad was killed in the war and Bruce knew some things about the war.”

Ed laughed. “Well at least that nixes the wolf Change in Bruce’s case. That only leaves Leonard. I think that Amy’s Change is going to be more like yours.”

Tony came into the shop and said, “Tom, grandfather wants some of your water tubes.”

“How many?”

“He didn’t say.” “Ok, I have ten pieces of tube. I will make them up and take them over.”

Tony left again and I started work on soldering ends to the tubes and filling them. Once the first ten were done I cut some tube and prepared the ends so that I could quickly make up some more. Chrissie came over and helped with filling the tubes and foiling the ends. Once the tubes were done, I reached out with my senses for father’s location. Perhaps not too surprisingly, he was in the dairy’s workroom. I turned to Chrissie, kissed her and said, “I’ll take these to father and come right back.”

I walked across the farmyard to the dairy workshop. Father was alone there. The surprising thing that was that he was in Change and wearing a sort of leather breastplate with a harness over it. The harness had a holster for his pistol, and sheathes for knives and a pair of what appeared to be short swords There were also loops with various things hanging from them. He looked up as I came in and said, “It still fits. I haven’t felt the need for this for a long time.” “What is it?”

“Something your aunt made up and Diana has improved over the years. Bill has one as well. Most of the dark do not think of how you can get an advantage from using tools as well as your Change. So they don’t think to wear something like this to protect themselves from bites and have guns, knives and things like pepper and chalk to blow around prevent somebody from being invisible without using your senses and giving your self away. A werewolf would never think of carrying a bag of small caltrops unless they had children that left jacks around or a bag of marbles.”

“Ball bearings might work better. They aren’t glass and won’t break.”

“Breaking actually helps if your opponent has bare feet, even if they are as tough as mine.”

He held up one of his hoofed feet and the hoof was covered by a sort of steel shoe. There were small spikes on the bottom. I looked at the breastplate and said, “That breastplate is not bulletproof.”

“It’s tougher than it looks, but you are right, it won’t stop a large caliber pistol round or most rifle rounds. But the things I fight with this aren’t carrying guns for the most part. The dark fae rely on the abilities of their Changes and not on enhancing those Changes. This is certainly proof against claws and bites.” “How are you going to carry the water tubes?”

“I have some loops for throwing and climbing spikes. I”ll put them there.”

“Can you use them?”

“I’ve been practicing with them somewhat. I won’t be as lethal with them as you or Chrissie would be, but I can make a hole and startle someone with the shot. Especially as they won’t be expecting it. How many did you make for me?”

“Twenty. I had ten tubes made up already.”

“That should be more than enough. I’ll have ten in the loops and the others in the bag with the toys.”

“Do you want any of mine?”

“I took advantage of the children making so many and took some. I have some things that Bill and I came up with some time ago that I will share with you later.”

“I think that I should have asked for your help when I was doing my gags.” “I wouldn’t have helped you. I needed to be as neutral as possible and you didn’t need it. Not that I didn’t nudge you a bit to start going to Bill’s in the first place when you demonstrated your interest. That has paid off in so many ways.”

Bill came in and saw us. “Good, you made the tubes for Eric. Andy and the rest made up a stack for me earlier this week. They make nice little surprises.”

“What do you want from me, father?”

“Stay in the shop until milking. Keep an eye on our menaces. They will probably want to come up with something. Steve is putting some people in the millpond, so you don’t have to be there if you don’t want to be.”

“It’s frozen over anyway.”

“Steve didn’t think that was going to be a problem,” Bill said. “In fact he was counting on the werewolves thinking that the ice meant that there wouldn’t be any surprises in the pond. There will be.”

“Has there been any sign that they are showing up?”

“Yes. The harpies have been flying over, trying to be discreet while they were doing it. We’ve been studiously ignoring them. Katherine went out a while ago and there are signs that there are some people up on the cliff, but they are being very discreet and hiding very well, at least they think they are. They’ve spotted Tony and the kids, but I don’t think they have a handle on just who is out there on the farmyard. They haven’t caught on yet that the crews getting the feed ready for the cows have twice as many as they should and that there are too many other crews going around with tractors and doing things.”

“I should get back, then.”

“Keep an eye out.”

I went back to the shop and the kids were still working away. The three menaces and Joey had finished their water tube guns and recruited Vince and Noro’s car to to take them over to the range to try them out. They came back about fifteen minutes later and I asked Andy, “Why didn’t you shoot them at the barn?”

“People in the barn and in the pond. You didn’t notice, Uncle Tom?”

“I knew about the people in the pond, not about the barn.”

“One of the big trucks with the machine guns on it is in there. Dan and some guys put it in there this morning.”

Since we had been clearing the barn door so that we get my files out of there over Christmas and had only had one snow storm, the road into the barn was still clear. So you could hide a truck in the barn. I suspect that there were other surprises. I turned to Chrissie and said, “You were a bigger distraction than I thought, this morning.”

“I was trying. I didn’t want you chasing after the Colonel.”

“I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have to. I was right. Of course challenging father here doesn’t make sense. The Colonel probably thinks that father and the family is like the people that the Masters destroyed over there. That isn’t what’s going to happen here. Over there, the Masters had the advantage of surprise and overwhelming force. Here, the Colonel has lost those advantages.”

“Thanks in no small part to what you put together, Tom.” Mike had just walked in. “When we started, we didn’t have the patterns and the Director and the Manager could hide what they were doing. By looking at the werewolves and the rest, you found the patterns and brought them to light.

So are you clear about what you are supposed to do? It looks like things are about to start.”

“Stay with the kids. Watch out for loose werewolves.”

“We’re changing that a bit. Tony is taking the kids to the dairy to watch the milking and out the back door through the dairy barn. We put a bus on the other side of the barn where you can’t see it from the road and Tony and the kids are going to be off to their train. Chrissie, you go back to the house after they leave with the rest of the kids and Stephie and Hilda. You and the other ladies get to watch from the porch and shoot any werewolves that get to the house. You, Hilda and Stephie also keep an eye on the farm kids at the house. Including our three menaces and Trillia.” “Trillia isn’t going down with Tony?” Chrissie asked.

“She’s going down with Gretchen and Hilda tomorrow with Andy, Bruce and Gregor.”

“Ok, I can deal with the kids.”

It was starting to get dark as it got toward five o, clock and I expected that things were going to start soon. Bob came over with my truck to collect Chrissie and the farm kids and Tony marched the kids over to the dairy. I picked up the shotgun from the rack and racked a shell. As we marched across the gloomy farmyard, I could feel the eyes on us from the cliff across the street. We reached the dairy and Tony marched the kids in as milking was starting. As I started to enter the dairy there was a sudden, BOOM! and a car swerved off the road and hit a tree. There was another loud shot and another car lost a front tire and rolled over. Both cars had fast moving shapes emerge into the darkness. A third car swerved around the other two and screeched to a halt in the front driveway, flooding it’s load of werewolves out into the farm yard. Boris called out, “THIS IS THE COUNTY SHERIFF! DROP WITH YOUR HANDS OVER YOUR HEADS OR WE WILL OPEN FIRE!”

The werewolves ignored him and the shots started. The hills and the area around the house flared with light as the noisemakers that Steve had planted earlier went off. Werewolves started to drop rapidly as they approached the house and as a werewolf approached, I lifted the shotgun and fired, dropping him. I racked another shell and went inside the dairy barn to make sure that Tony and the kids were ok. They had reached the bus, but werewolves had shown up, which turned out to be bad for the werewolves, or at least painful, as the kids opened fire with the guns from the Academy and the werewolves were filled with holes. They dropped to the ground and Tony and I started to shoot the bottoms of their heads to make sure that they stayed down.

After that was done, I quickly reloaded the shotgun and covered Tony as he changed magazines in his pistol. Brian was driving the bus and covered the other side with a BAR. Once the werewolves were down, Brian put the bus in gear and the Duesie showed up with Sal driving and Sillia being the gangster moll complete with Thompson, which she held as if she knew what to do with it.

As the bus left, I turned back into the barn. The lights were on and I could sense that there was something there, but I couldn’t locate it. Roger showed up beside me and started to growl. His head went moving back and forth, but he apparently couldn’t locate whoever it was, either. I could hear the bursts from the big Brownings outside as they were being used to chew up werewolves. I looked at Roger and said, “Roger, Come.”

Roger followed me as I walked not toward the door, but the wall. The concrete wall on the dairy side of the barn. As I reached the wall, I shouldered the shotgun, grabbed Roger’s collar and phased both of us through the wall. There was a roar behind us and something heavy slammed into the concrete wall. Roger looked at me curiously and went out through the door. I unslung the shotgun and held it under my arm. The milking crew was still doing the milking and Bill was covering them from the door. He heard the roars on the other side of the wall and said, “I don’t think that he was happy that you did that.”

Pistols had appeared in the hands of the milking crew and I asked Bill, “How come he didn’t phase through the wall after me? Other than the fact that I was ready for that.”

“He can’t. Using your abilities takes concentration and a werewolf when the monster is loose doesn’t have the abiltity to concentrate above an animal level. So things like phasing are impossible for him. He can do things like make himself invisible because shields are pretty instinctual, but phasing or manipulating things he would have to release his Change and the monster won’t let him.”

“So that’s why I couldn’t locate him. Not that I was looking that hard. I wanted to keep moving and keep ahead of him, so that he had to come to me where I wanted him.” “That’s the way to do it. Here.”

Bill handed me a small leather bag that looked familiar. “Father had one of these.”

“He had Diana make this up for you. It can save your life. Your father and I want to go over some ideas with you after this is over.”

“That is if we are all alive when this is over.”

“We will be. If it were Ed I would be worried a bit. He keeps his monster under control and even when its loose he thinks and acts sneaky. He’s had to constrain and control his monster for a very long time and the monster cooperates. This character just lets things run loose. That makes him dangerous for people that aren’t prepared for the monster, but a lot less dangerous for people who know how to deal with monsters and easier to hunt.”

“So, now that he’s shown himself, what should we do?”

“He’s probably looking for Gretchen and Bruce, even though he’s been told that Bruce has Change and a bond already.” “Where is Bruce?”

“Where do you think?”

“The mill pond or the river. They’re sitting under the ice right now with those water tube guns they made up today waiting to surprise somebody.” “Good guess. They are hiding in the ruins of the bridge that Andy broke. They also spread a bunch of your little toys around.”

“And Jimmy?”

“Probably up in the loft of the barn, being very quiet. Loaded up with that mixture that Ralph came up with to mask his smell. Works better than wolfsbane because wolfsbane tells you that something is there.” “Ok, so now what?”

“Well Puppet Bruce is going to panic and run across the farmyard from the shop to the house where Ed is. Ed and Gretchen are going to be screaming at him to go back.”

“The menaces had a Puppet made?”

“While they were at Doug’s. Since they were such a big help, Doug was glad to do it when they told him what they wanted it for. They got the idea from you and the Colonel’s puppet. They brought it over in the bus and hid it while you were in the shop. They went over and got the Puppet when they went to the range.” “That should draw the Colonel’s attention.”

“We hope so, Let’s get by the door.”

The milking crew joined us as things seemed to have quieted down out there. A scattering of bodies, all of them nude lay about and the farmyard was lit by lights from the machine gun trucks and lights from a trailer with a Delco generator running on it. The cars that most of the werewolves had arrived in were smoking from leaking radiators and small gas fires. The noisemakers had all shot their bolt and were no longer making any noise. Bill turned to me and said, “If we get a shot at the Colonel, let me take the shot.” “Why?”

“Because I’m more or less anomynous. You aren’t any more. So if the Masters come after the person who dealt with one of theirs, it’s going to be a lot harder to find me than it is you. Also, Eric and I have reasons for wanting this character and we have more experience dealing with characters like this. So you get second shot, if it’s necessary. By the way, your wife insisted.”

“Then I have been given my orders.”

“Why don’t we discreetly head over to the shop? Through the door, I haven’t quite got the knack of Eli’s “phase out of Change trick” yet. Have you been practicing?”

“When Chrissie was taken and at night. Plus, you know my sisters and what they get up to. I need to be sharp and able to get the most of what I have or I’m in real trouble. You seem to be safe, but Al and I are fair game.” “I’m not safe, but Hilda puts limits on it. I also live here full time, which sort of means that I have more opportunities to return the favor. In any case I need to practice the trick some more.”

We went through the door discreetly and started walk along the dairy wall across to the stable. Things had settled down to the occasional werewolf running from one cover or another and people taking shots at them and sometimes dropping them. As we were passing the range, two werewolves came charging out of the dairy barn toward us and we could sense a more powerful werewolf right behind them. One of the werewolves flitted across a spot of light and took several shots for his trouble and dropped in the light. The other werewolf stayed in the darkness until it apparently tripped a switch and was suddenly bathed in the light from some of the press gang and some lights that switched on and stayed on, leaving the werewolf, startled, somewhat blind, in the light and without cover or any way to conceal itself. Before the werewolf could escape, it was shot several times and dropped.

The third werewolf, the Colonel, continued to move in and out of the light toward us, avoiding the shots that came in its direction. Bill turned to fire and tripped on a body that had been there in the dark. I unslung the shotgun and started to bring it to bear when Ed called out, “Bruce, No! Stay there!”

The werewolf turned it’s head and saw ‘Bruce’ come running out of the shop, heading toward the house. The creature turned away from us toward what had been after all along and as it approached ‘Bruce,’ ‘Bruce’ lifted his water tube gun and fired it, putting a hole in the Colonel. The werewolf roared and ‘Bruce’ drew Andy’s ‘toy’ pistol and yelled, “Stay away!”
The werewolf ran forward and ‘Bruce’ fired the pistol, which seemed to have no effect. The werewolf struck ‘Bruce’ with it’s claws and ‘Bruce’ fell face down. It was then that the Colonel realized what he had just done and howled in anguish. He turned to us again to charge and father called out, “I don’t think so! You must have forgotten me!”

A spike suddenly appeared in front of the Colonel as father stepped into the light. He had a leather helmet that had holes for his horns and boiled leather on his arms as well as the breast plate I had seen earlier. In the light, father looked huge an dangerous.

The werewolf looked at Bill getting up, me standing there, gun pointed and father, who slung a spike which stuck in the werewolve’s shoulder. That did it. The werewolf charged father, who dodged and slashed with one of the short swords, cutting a long slice in the werewolve’s leg. The werewolf roared and limped away a bit to regenenerate. Bill said, “It looks like I won the bet.”

“What bet?”

“That the Colonel wouldn’t even get your father to sweat. Your father has a hard time finding good opponents. Now that Ed is out in the open, Greta is going to have to work hard to keep your father from going over there on the full moon and having some fun with Ed. Not that he hasn’t already, but Ed probably doesn’t remember. This Character is no challenge at all.”

That proved to be the case as the next five minutes was an amazing dance as the werewolf tried to attack and was cut and injured for its trouble. Father danced and weaved, slicing and making small cuts. It was obvious that father could have ended it at any time and chose not to. The whole battle was father’s skill against the Colonel’s ferocity and the Colonel was being worn out and slowly destroyed, cut by cut as he was taking longer to regenerate. He even called on other werewolves from the pack that had attacked us as the fight weaved around the farm and the other werewolves were just destroyed off handedly by my father. Finally, Bill looked at his watch when father and the werewolf passed in front of us and said, “It’s time.”

Father managed to get the werewolf to stop in place and suddenly backed off as Bill took one shot and the werewolf was dopped, dying and the Change released as Adelheid ran out and held him. She was crying for the man that had been, holding him as the monster took him and died.

Father came over and handed a gold piece to Bill, “Here’s your twenty. You were right about the challenge that he would be. Of course, ‘Bruce’ dying probably helped, but I gave him every opportunity to be clever and he didn’t take any of them.”

Tim came over and took the Colonel’s picture. “So it ends. He wasn’t as scary close up as I thought he would be.”

“That is because we were ready for him,” Father said. “His victims were not and paid the price. Tom, at least your burden should be over.”

“I don’t feel any different, father.”

“You won’t, but now that Brad has been avenged and the source of the werewolves destroyed, you will not feel the pressures to discover more about them and seek them out. I think that Chrissie will put enough on your plate. Go to her so that she can see that you are ok. Hand me the gun, I will take care of it.”

Chrissie was waving, so I handed father the shotgun and headed toward the house and the porch. When I was close, she grabbed me, pulled me down and kissed me. “I hope that you weren’t taking any risks.”

“I had Bill watching me and Roger. The only time I was alone was right after Sal and Tony took the kids and Roger was with me. In any case I phased through the wall and the Colonel couldn’t. Bill was probably right behind the Colonel anyway, but diverted when I went into the dairy. So I wasn’t taking any risks. Father was the one taking the risk and from what I saw, that wasn’t much.”

“That was amazing. He danced the Colonel to death.”

“Apparently he has a problem finding good opponents for his fun and games. He wants to play with Ed’s monster now that Ed is out in public again. I don’t think that Gretchen will like that.

In any case, I was taking no more risk than you were. How many werewolves did you shoot?”

She pouted as she looked at that rifle leaning against the porch rail. “Some. Five or six, maybe. They stopped coming this way for some reason.”

“I can’t imagine why.”

“It wasn’t just me. Aunt Nera, Aunt Eltra and mom were all shooting too.”

“Your mother shoots?”

“Pistol. She started when she worked for the government.” “I’m not surprised. Does she want one of mine?”

“She hasn’t said. It’s something to think about for next year.”

“Speaking of things to think about, up top or under sea?”

“Steve said something to you, didn’t he?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because he happened by while mother was talking to us earlier. Up top, of course. With you and the world. My aunts are both up top as well.” “Steve wasn’t sure about Eltra.”

“She figures that grandfather can come up with a boat and a big part of her work is up top any way. That is if she doesn’t just let Velt run things. She hasn’t had any time to herself since grandmother was killed and now that she has Al, she wants more time for the house and Al. Also she wants her kids to grow up and go to a proper school. So it’s up top for her as well.”

“The kid part bothers me a bit. What if I’m not a good father?”

‘You will be a great dad. I can tell already.”

“Babies scare me.”

“Well we have it easier than mom and dad did. Steve was something that mom wasn’t ready to deal with and she managed, diapers and all.” “I’m surprised that your mother came up top.”

“It worked out better for her that way. Now roll me into the house.”

I did and mother was there saying, “I think that we will do dinner at Antonio’s at the inn tonight. I turned off the gas before things started and there will need to be an inquest tonight and in the morning, so the kitchen is going to be out of commission for a while.”

Mother started various family members and the hands toward getting the cars and trucks that had been stashed during the fight, bringing them back to the house and getting the various vehicles filled with people and off to the inn.

Father showed up, dressed and outside his Change with the judge and Boris, along with Hilda and most of the deputies, taking pictures and looking at the bodies and the cars for identification. Noro came over and said, “That was quite a show. Chrissie, why don’t we get you and Tom over to the inn. Eric says that Boris will get your statement later, Tom.”

I rolled Chrissie over to the car and Mera, Nera and Eltra were already in the car. I put Chrissie in the back and went up front with Vince as we drove over to the inn. There hadn’t seemed to have been a fight here as well and when Bob and Scott came out to meet the car, I asked, “Did anything happen here?”

“There were some werewolves that showed up about ten minutes before they hit the farm, but they tripped the noisemakers and then split as things got loud and the lights went off.”

“So much for a diversion. How many werewolves?”

“Between ten and fifteen. I don’t think there were more than that. They tried to come right across the field we used for the shoot. We even had them covered and had they not split when they did, they were going to end up like the constructs when the lights went on.”

I rolled Chrissie into the inn and the dining room where Tochi, the Admiral, Mabel, Vic and Doris pounced on us, with Chrissie’s grandparents right there with them, wanting to know what had happened. Chrissie and I told them about the werewolf attack and father’s fight with the Colonel. We sat down to dinner and drinks as we wound down from the exciting day. I noticed that Leo and Nanami ate dinner together and commented to Chrissie, “Leo’s been talking a lot to Nanami. I hope that she’s ok with being talked to by navy intelligence.”

She replied, “Don’t tell Leo how old Nanami is, Tom. At least not yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because that was one of daddy hang-ups with mom.”

“Oh. They make an interesting couple. Getting Nanami and Leo’s mother together is going to be fun.”

“She’s under sea, isn’t she?”

“I’m fairly sure of that. Leo said that she was a recluse who never left home and while his dad came down to Washington, she never did. Of course at the time, Leo didn’t tell me about tails any more than anybody else told me very much about the fae. But Leo is from Maine and his dad runs a lumber schooner, so you can add things up for yourself.”

Dinner was breaking up and I rolled Chrissie over to Misako, Tochi, Sumitomo and Umijiro, who had come over this afternoon to be with his released sister and incidently shoot some werewolves if he got the chance. I said to Tochi, “It looks like Nanami has caught somebody. I’m not sure how appropriate that is. After all, it is Leo.”

He looked over and smiled. “That may be inappropriate.” “My father will be pleased, though,” Umijiro said. “He’s been wanting his sister to find somebody for a very long time. Especially somebody who would take her to another bower very far away.”

“I think that Maine counts as far away,” I said. “At least until Nanami gets legs and Leo wrangles a stay at the embassy in Tokyo.”

“I can have him declared persona non grata,” Tochi said. “I can even give the foriegn minister examples.”

“Do you really want your father finding out about certain things?”

“Good point,” Sumitomo said. “Of course it’s all Tom’s fault.” “Why is it his fault?” Chrissie asked. “Even though I am sure that it is.”

“We wouldn’t have gotten in so much trouble and gotten involved in those games in the first place if it hadn’t been for Tom. He was the one who was playing with the army and the navy. We were just lowly diplomats.”

“What would Suki say about that?”

“I don’t think that you need to talk about this with Suki, Chrissie,” Tochi said. “She has a rather distorted view of events.”

“A true view of events, probably.” Chrissie giggled.

“That’s a matter of perspective.” “Well nobody tell Leo how old Namani is and I won’t ask Suki too many questions.”

“I don’t think that any of us want to raise that issue if Nanami doesn’t.” Sumitomo said. “On the other hand, Leo is fae and probably has relatives with the same issues. This will be interesting.”

Noro came over and looked at us. “You all are plotting something.” “Leo and Nanami,” Chrissie said.

He looked over at them. “Now that is interesting. There is some potential for some fun here. Does Leo know yet that Namani’s brother and sister in law are on their way?”

“I haven’t said very much about that,” Tochi said. ‘Misako’s father should be here shortly. Her mother, about the second week of the Games.” He smiled. “Now, he doesn’t speak English. At least he wasn’t speaking English when he left.”

“That probably changed on his way over.” Noro said. “Does Leo speak Japanese?”

“Yes.” Sumitomo said. “I taught Tom Japanese so that we could put things over on people and it didn’t work with Leo.” “Leo is going to be tricky,” I said. ‘Hank is easier, but Leo is pretty sharp. He kept Sumitomo and I on our toes.”

“The ladies are going down to the Cape Wednesday night with Tom and I,” Chrissie said. “We want some open water time after our ordeal. Tom, you and I have to be up in the morning and there is a tank bed with our name on it, so it’s time for bed.”

“I’m not tired. I’ll join you later.”

“Now Tom! Don’t make me upset.”

Everbody was laughing as I rolled Chrissie to our room. Our things had finally caught up with us and we had a room to ourselves as Chrissie undressed. “I’m so glad that our things are here. Even though we spent a lot of time in the pool, our clothes were getting rather bad.” She slipped into the tank. “Well What are you waiting for?”

“I’m not sure I’m ready for bed.” “I’ll make it worth your while, trust me. On your way over, bring that book.”

I bent to the inevitable and she did. After our session, I started to sketch some ideas as she started to read. I turned to her and said, “Testing the features of the tank bed?” “I asked Jacob for some books and he never brought any. So I’m going to catch up. What are you doing?”

“Sketching up some more ideas for something I want to make for the rescue Swimmers. Father had a harness that he carried all sorts of things for his battle with the Colonel and I want to talk to my sister about that. We can’t use leather under water, but maybe some canvas or there may be a cloth that an artisan makes that we can use.” “We can talk to people in the bower on Thursday. That is a good thought. If I had had a float for the kids, we could have floated and I could have used my energy to swim ashore. It’s time for lights out, so turn out the light.”

I did and she kissed me and we made love again in the dark.



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