The Tiger and The Guardian, Chapter 35, Part 2

Merry Christmas. Here’s part 2 of Chapter 35.

Altris.

Monday August 8,1932.

Before leaving, Chrissie had had a meeting Sunday with Julio, Mac, Paulo and I over the Dragon. I wasn’t sure why she was so concerned but apparently the thing had been making noises at her. Helmut and Greta had both called about the werewolves being kidnapped on Sunday. I told local law enforcement to keep an eye out for them, but other than that, there was very little I could do. I did know one thing. If things started to get a bit sticky, I was handing the Dragon over to one of the girls at Joe’s restaurant since they were hanging out there with the sound boys so that it could be taken down to the bower, if not deeper.

After getting Chrissie and Tom off on their way to the train, the rest of the morning was the typical day until I got a very interesting visitor. Persephone, my secretary asked if I could see him and since I was curious, I had her send him into the office. What entered was a rather tweedy man in his mid forties who was either a normal or very weak fae. “Mr. Posidenitus, I am Arnold Stiller. My mother wanted me to speak with you about her boys.”

“I don’t know your mother or her boys.”

“The boys in question are the werewolves left over from the incidents last winter.”
“Weren’t you a bit concerned about that?”

“A bit at first, until my sister and her husband visited the farm and said that the boys were a good thing for mother. She is getting old and a bit feeble. We have offered to hire hands from people we know, but she insisted that she could manage on her own.”

“You mentioned that you knew that they were werewolves. Aren’t you concerned about the monsters getting loose and eating your mother?”

“My sister talked to them and they are very concerned about that as well. They spend the full moon in the barn with some old sheep that would be sent for dog food anyway or have hunts with Edward Martin and some others. They also insisted that the control compulsions not be removed. The boys have an affliction, but they never chose to become monsters.”

“That is an interesting attitude to take.”

“Growing up where we did, not really. Because Eric is what he is and the fact that there are two fae communities right next to each other, the monsters tend to come to the neighborhood and they do not just prey on the fae. My brother was taken and killed by a vampire when we were young just because he was walking from school with Donald Benton and was running ahead of him as they were playing. The vampire was after Don and went after my brother to get him out of the picture so that he couldn’t tell anybody that Don had been taken. That cost him as both my brother and Don had rifles and Don shot the vampire in the knee and ran. The hunt started right after that, and the vampire and the rest of his tribe were destroyed.”

“This must have been before Tom killed his brother.”
“Actually this was just before Tom was born. Don is the oldest son of Eric’s brother. I was about eight at the time and my brother was fourteen, as was Don.”

“This was before Bill’s wife was taken, then.”

“Yes. He was just one of Eric’s hands and didn’t seem to be fae.”

“So why come to me?”

“I work for the wool bureau as a forecaster. So I deal with probabilities and information. Mother and the boys had my family up after the shearing was done, which was a different thing from previous years because mother would be trying to get the kids up to help with the shearing. In any case, the boys and mother went through everything the Colonel had done and who might be interested in the boys. I also talked to Eric about the same sort of thing and made some rather discreet inquiries to some people that Eric recommended as well as some people I know. Looking at how things went, I came to the conclusion that if somebody wanted the boys, they wanted them for something close to home for full moon reasons, and for the same sort of thing that the Colonel wanted them for.”
“Did you serve in the war?”

“Yes, as a staff sergeant, where I turned blood into numbers. That was not fun. I knew about the dirty dozens and some of the rest of it. A bunch of the people that the Colonel went after had been friends and schoolmates of mine, including Brad Benton.”

“Tom didn’t know about that.”
“We didn’t tell him and his crowd were not in the war because they were too young. But Boris and Eric wanted us to keep quiet about what happened to Brad after Tom gave him his final mercy. If we had known that Hilda was coming, we would have taken steps to contain Brad for a few months so that Hilda could tame him. Brad was hardly the only one to come back with an affliction.”

“Eric didn’t mention that.”
“We didn’t talk to Eric about it. We were not fae for the most part and Eric was not likely to talk with us about certain things. Brad was one of us, fae and normal, and we would have taken care of him. We never got the chance as Tom gave Brad a way out.”

“So you think that the boys are going to be sent here?”

“Here or New York, but after the thing last week, here is more likely.”

“You know about that?”

“The story was going around the office this morning. It’s hard to keep things secret inside the office and we live on information. A dragon showing up at the fish market is going to attract attention.”

“This is all very interesting, but how does it concern me?”

“Just about everything fae and a lot of things that are not fae around here somehow has your family involved one way or another. I don’t know what is going on, but the boys were sure that the Colonel was after Tom for some materials that he had collected. I know that the War Department and the Navy gave him a lot of material as they asked me about where he might have things put away, just like they asked everybody else they could find that had lived in the county. The story about the diary was going around in veterans’ circles for years until it finally showed up.”

“You are not connected with Army intelligence are you?”

“Other than knowing some people and talking at events and what not, no.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Just to ask that you don’t shoot the boys on sight, to let me know if they show up and you lock them up so that I can arrange to discreetly get them home.”

“I’m not likely to shoot anybody, especially this time of year. Shooting makes noise and we have guests.”

The man smiled. “A lot of guests.”

“Now what do you offer for this?”
“A discreet line to some people that doesn’t go through Eric or Helmut in case the other side is watching and some connections on the waterfront that you don’t already have. My people and I talk to just about everybody in shipping and not just about wool. Also my son is one of Tom’s little group of apprentices, but that connection probably won’t be obvious.”

“That is a fair trade. Of course, you do know that you will be talking to my father after he gets back.”
“It won’t be the first time. In fact, if he gets in the habit of talking with me, it will be easier because I won’t have to play games with Josh to get him into the office for an appointment. How did you keep him off the boat?”

I grinned. “We took it away from him and since Chrissie is married, he can’t weasel his way back on very fast. So we have him off the boat for a couple of years.”

He grinned back. “Then talking with the old man will not be a problem. That is if it helps keep him up top.”
“How come you didn’t offer to help with that?”
“I live in Plymouth. The last thing I want is somebody monkeying around with the weather who is totally out of it because he’s in a funk. Tell your brother to keep him out of certain places down at the bower.”

“That goes without saying. This was a very interesting talk, Mr. Stiller. I hope that we can get the boys home if they show up.”

“One last thing, and this is directly from Fritz and all the boys. If it looks like they are going to be sent overseas and they have no other choice, they will release their monsters on the ship taking them and not stop until they are dead. They know what awaits them on the other side. So do I, and I agreed with their decision. I do not want to give the monsters over there the potential to make more of the same kinds of weapons made from human beings like the Colonel did in the last war.”

With that, he bid me good day. I was going to have to get my brother to join me for dinner so that we could have yet another laugh about ‘the secret.’ A man that we didn’t even know knew all about things happening here. In his case, it was a bit understandable and he had grown up with Eric’s kids. So keeping an eye on fae affairs was probably something that came naturally like it did with Helen or John. With that in mind, I called my brother’s office in Woods Hole. “Ilutra, are you available for lunch?”

“Why?”

“I just had an interesting talk about our missing werewolves with a man named Arnold Stiller.”
“Arney got to you? I was hoping he would.”

“You know him?”

“We are both in forecasting and like playing with math. His kid was in my class a year ago. I know him from that, if nothing else. He came to me about his mother’s werewolves and I told him to talk to you.”

“He seemed to have his eye on the bower and things going on.”
“That’s not so unusual. Most people who know about the fae keep their eye on things going on. Because of father if nothing else. So, what did he say about the werewolves?”

“That he expects them to show up here and that if it looks like they are making a one way trip overseas, the boys are going to make the trip as unpleasant as they can. The rest of it was just telling me about some of his connections.”

 

“He knows Hank.”
“I figured, but I wasn’t going to come out and say it. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Meet at Helen’s?”

“That will work and we can get John and Jake in on this.”

“We don’t want to shoot the boys if we can avoid it. Old lady Stiller will make Greta’s life miserable.”

“That is something we want to avoid, bye.”

I hung up and called John and Jake to invite them to lunch. That was easy because they were already planning to go to Helen’s anyway. When I got there, they were already there as I walked in, Jake said, “The people on the bridges saw our friends the Yaoguai poking around again. We want to make sure to entertain them properly.”

I grinned. “The Yaoguai have a new boss. The old one sort of got himself burned last week.”

“We know. Helmut called us and told us. Sal and Alex found a use for that left over thermite that they had.”

“Dad also fired George.That didn’t take as Tom hired him right after he was killed. Turns out that dad fired Puppet George.”

That sent laughter around the table. Jake said, “So is Puppet George or real George working for Tom. Pat is getting annoyed at mermaids showing up on the beach.”
“I can talk with the girls,” I said. “I’ll call Pat and find out who’s causing the problem.”

“It’s not locals. It’s ladies from elsewhere who don’t know that Tom’s plant in Plymouth isn’t on the same side of the Cape as the bower and just go to the long beach. Chrissie deals with most of them, but she’s going to be away with Tom for a month and a half. Most of them come in cars and are only on the beach to get wet before heading to their hotels.”

“I think I see what’s going on. I’ll call Lou and see if we can set up some sort of showroom system near the larger bowers and find a discreet way of letting the ladies know where it is.”

“Some of these ladies don’t have a connection to a bower. Their parents came over and never found one, they buy a house on the water and just live without one. The ladies heard about the beds and want to check them out. Chrissie has people keeping a list and she’s talked with some people about arranging for discreet places to stay.”

“I’ll look into it and see if we can’t make a better arrangement. Josh and Chrissie should have let me know about this already, but I expect that Josh has been too busy in the city and the other things going on and Chrissie has been buried under the work and getting ready for the baby.”

“Well, now you know. So what did you want to talk to us specifically about?”
“The Yaoguai’s new boss and any friends he may bring. They took the werewolves from the old lady over in Vermont and she is rather upset about that.”

“We know,” Jake said. “She’s been making calls to all the police departments near fae communities in the area to keep an eye out for her “boys.”

“I’m surprised that she isn’t letting Boris handle that.”

“She’s doing it for Boris. Hilda is in New York and can’t make the calls, so the lady volunteered.”

“Her son paid a visit this morning and said some interesting things, not least of which is that the boys are concerned that they may get shipped overseas and handed over to some nasty people. He was more concerned that they may be unleashed here as a distraction and that you, though he didn’t mention you by name, might shoot them on site.”

“My people wouldn’t have done that in any case. As for being unleashed, other than the full moon and the monsters being loose, my people would probably pick up on them and have the compulsions pulled one way or another. Boris should have done that already.”

“There was some concern that the boys have a control over them in case things got out of hand.”

“In my experience the best way let things get out of hand is to have somebody else pulling strings on somebody. How many times have we had to deal with that over the years?”

“Too many. We’ll pull the compulsions if we can and give the boys a ticket home if Arney can’t drive them up,” My brother said. “The guys on the other side won’t expect us to just do that. They probably don’t know us very well.”

“What if they show up during the full moon?”

“We have their pictures already and if we see them entering, we’ll pull the car over and detain the boys for a bit,” Jake said. “Boris did pull the suicide compulsions, so that isn’t a problem.”

“Arney thought that taking the boys was going to be part of something bigger. I think that we had a clue when we were hit by that notorious Little Timmy gang the week before last.”
“The character that you essentially handed the goods to?”

We all grinned. I replied, “I wanted to keep the dragons from eating me.”
“Alex and Xing weren’t going to put mermen on their diet.”
“I know, but Xing’s parents are Chinese and who knows what they might do.”

Helen was serving and said, “You all are cooking something up, aren’t you?”
“Somebody took the werewolves last Saturday.”
“The old lady’s boys? That will piss her off. She brought them down here a month ago and they came in with her son and his kids. I think she was trying to drag the boys around for the ladies to look at. Some of them did.”

“They already have a Change, so they can’t be dragged under,” I said.

“Not all the fae here are seafolk. We have landfolk too and some of the ladies would like a nice husband who can be a monster when he needs to be. We have had so many real monsters and a lot of people who came over dealt with the monsters over there too. I’ll keep an eye out for the boys.”

“We think that the people that Little Timmy was playing with are behind things.”
“Now that’s just foolish. They have been coming around here and poking around.Tim was running rings around them. If he could do it, what do they think you will do?”
“The boss had a run in with my father back in the last century.”

“And Noro had his usual fun and games with him. I need to go.”

She left and we talked around things as we ate and schemed. Father was going to be upset that he missed this. After we finished lunch and our scheming, I headed over to check on the house. Since I was spending so much time up top, Railia had wanted a house as well as our bower and frankly she made a lot of sense. Since we weren’t trying to dodge Josh and Mera, having a house and not playing games made sense. Railia also had friends and things she wanted to do up top and it was easier to do that from a house. Both my sons already had houses up top and my daughter did as well. Now that my sisters were married, they both were living up top and would be for some time with the new kids in the family. The house was almost finished and my contractor looked up as I drove up. “Hello Mr. Posidnenitus. We’re just putting the finshing touches on the pool. That little poolhouse is going to be nice and cozy and your wife has access to the kitchen and the rest of the house from there. When are you planning to move in?”

“The end of September, probably.Josh won’t be back until then and my brother and I need to pull a bunch of stuff from his place.”

“That gives us plenty of time to finish this up. Mr. Benton’s place won’t have to be done until a bit later. Have you got staff lined up?”

“We have some people in mind.”

“I’m not surprised. Your family does a lot of good around here and people were probably lining up once they knew you were coming up top more or less full time. We’ll get this done, no problems.”

“Thanks Sergei. I need to get back to the office or we will have people hunting me down.”

He laughed as I got back in the car and drove over to the office. The rest of the day was the usual crises that go on dealing with a bunch of businesses and services that the family provided. At the the end of the day approached, two of my grandsons showed up. Mike and David had been born into Change but spent most of their time up top and spent far too much time making night runs as far as their mothers were concerned. They were both about Bob and Scott’s ages and were glad that my father was back to himself, that they had some new relatives to create trouble with and Tom. They had been spending the summer teaching Bob and Scott boat handling and the fine points of night running while Bob and Scott had been sharing their not inconsequential skills in engines, cars and guns. Of course all four of them had been recruited by my father for his superboat project and whatever other fun and games that he could come up with, including being down in the city playing around with Little Timmy and his gang of troublemakers. Father had used Bob and Scott as the troublemakers that the other side knew about while keeping my grandsons as the troublemakers that the other side didn’t discover. As they walked in, I looked up and said, “What have you two got yourselves into now? It can’t be too serious or Jake would have told me.”

David grinned. “We haven’t caused any trouble for Jake all year. He never said that we were such good boys.”

Mike added, “We’ve been busy anyway.”
“So what brings you here?”
“We want to borrow a truck from time to time and don’t want there to be a fuss if we just take one.”

“Why is that a problem? You never have had a problem finding a truck before.”

“Uncle Ilutra’s old truck never came back from the Colonel and neither did George’s. Most of the family is a bit leery about loaning us a truck and Daisy won’t let us use a business truck without your permission.”

“What about your Uncle Josh’s truck?”

“He’s been using it more than he used to because he hasn’t spent any time on the water. Alfred and Aldie have been running his boat and using his truck to help with that when Uncle Josh isn’t using it.”

“Why don’t you just buy a truck? You can afford it with all the night work that you get up to.”
“We have our own trucks already, but using them might cause us trouble if we need to be discreet.”
“You know how to use glamors. I’m sure of that.”
‘If we were doing things against normals, that would work, but we think that we will be dealing with high fae and having a glamor fail at the wrong time could mess things up.”

“Is this something I should know about?”

“Great grandfather knows about it. It has to do with an old adversary of his. We’re working for great grandfather.”

“Doing what?”

“Keeping an eye on some visitors that Bob and Scott are not going to be able to for the next few weeks.”

“The foxes sort of had a bit of a bloody nose last week according to the reports that I have, from your great grandfather in fact. So why are they a concern?”
“That Tiger character wasn’t caught up in the crash. We were watching him because the other side didn’t know about us. Nor did Little Timmy or Alex because great grandfather had us stay in the background and we were not supposed to show ourselves. We did get together with Xing’s relatives and help them out.”

“Do you think that the other side has people doing the same thing?”

“The Yaoguai characters, no. But the Tiger was slippery and while he’s hired people around here, he doesn’t seem to have any people of his own. Then the boys were taken and there were strange tracks around.”

“You knew about that?”

“We worked up there last winter, made some friends and since we were high fae and could keep an eye on the boys, we helped out. Brian called us about them in case they need somebody to back them up down here who already lives here. Since we know people, that was easy.”
“It sounds like you are getting the same vibes that a lot of people are about those lost wolves. You get the truck for a month.”

“Thanks, grandfather.”

They left the room as I picked up the phone and called Daisy. “Daisy, I’m giving the truck they asked for.”

“I figured you would. The Boys had a pretty good story and Noro gave them the Ok too, but he hasn’t been up top very long and I wanted to make sure that the boys weren’t just taking advantage. What about some of the other things they wanted?”
“They just asked for the truck. What else did they want?”
“Guns and ammunition for them, being able to charge things to the accounts from Keith’s shop and some other related things.”

“They probably talked to Mac and Al before they talked to me and got what they needed. They’ve been working with father on the superboat with Bob and Scott and they’ve known Mac and the rest for their entire lives. As far as that other stuff goes, I don’t have a problem using the accounts for this.”
“That’s what I thought.”

“Did you ask them what they were up to?”

“No, and you didn’t either, did you?”

“As long as they don’t plan to burn down a hotel, I’m not really sure that I want to know. Bye.”
She laughed and hung up. The boys working on this without being told to was a bit of a relief. They had been doing good work upstate and with father on his projects and it was about time that they were more involved with family and the business. So even if they wrecked the truck, we would be ahead.

 

 

 

Alex

Monday August 8,1932.

After my rather crazy week last week and getting moved into the house, I was looking forward to a nice easy week at the desk. Things didn’t turn out that way, because as soon as I walked into the office, Mary said, “Helmut needs to see you.”

“Ok, I’ll go right in.”

I walked through the office to the boss’s office and went inside. He looked up and said, “Good. I need you for an asignment. It’s an extension of what you’ve been working on.”
“What did the Tiger do?”

“Well he, or more than likely, some family, made off with the werewolves from Vermont last weekend.”
“That’s not good. Are you sure that the old lady isn’t panicking again?”

“Eric and Boris are sure at this point. Eric sent people around and the boys didn’t show up at any of their usual hangouts and the truck and tools were left out at the fence they were working on. There were also tracks from cat fae being discreet and evidence that the boys were picked up by a truck. Nobody saw the truck and Boris thinks that they left the area very quickly. Also, some hands and drifters that had hired on disappeared about the same time.”
“Were the hands fae?”
“Eric and Boris think that they weren’t. But they may have had Asian ancestry.”

“So they were like Jim. I can talk to him about that. The Yaoguai don’t think that nonfae are useful for anything other than farm work, but Jim said that the Tiger has recruited non fae in the past. The Tiger has also dealt with both Xing’s dad and Noro.”

“I’ll take the desk with Mary and you go up and talk to Boris and the old lady. We want the boys back before things cut loose. Also, there is something bigger going on and the boys were taken for a reason. The red lady over there would just love to get her hands on some wolves that she can turn into pets. We saw some of that when we were chasing Brad’s pack across Europe. That may be why the Colonel used Brad as his chief diversion and troubleshooter. The lady couldn’t influence Brad like she could some of the Colonel’s own people, so the Colonel could use Brad in her territory when he was poaching.”

“Do you want me to go up to Vermont?”

“Just to talk to Eric and Boris. Take a couple of days up there and take a look at things. Bill and Hilda will be taking the same train tomorrow morning.”
“I’m surprised that they weren’t already on their way.”

“Hilda wanted to talk with Tom and Chrissie when they came down today. There isn’t much that Hilda can do that isn’t already being done up there and Bill and Hilda might be heading down to the Cape about this. Boris and I think that the people that you were dealing with might have taken the boys for some sort of Colonel diversion or a deal with the Masters.”

“Ok, I will start in on this.”
“Talk to your father in law and Jim about this. They may have some insights.”
“Ok, I will.”

I went out front and Cally had already put together a synopsis of what had gone on so far. Boris had wired down a fairly complete report and I went through it. It was fairly clear that it was probably the Tiger that behind taking the werewolves. At least whoever did it had planned things very well and been very careful. Sneaking anything past Eric in his own territory was not easy. Whoever was responsible hadn’t left very many traces either.

With that in mind I called Noro’s office. His secretary put me through and I said, “Noro, are you available for a discreet chat?”
“Let me guess. You have been put on the trail of the werewolves.”
“Yes. Did the old lady call the office too.”

“Surprisingly, not here, but she did call the business office at the Cape.”

“I was hoping that I could talk with you and my father in law about the Tiger and what he wants.”
“He wants Tom’s dragon. Chrissie called and talked with me before she left this morning. She and Tom are coming down here today and getting ready to leave with us on the train on Friday. Where would you like to meet?”

“Somewhere on Manhattan or nearby. Bennie’s is a bit out of the way.”

“I think I know a good place that is discreet. Why don’t I pick you and Jīn long up at the bureau in about an hour.”

“Ok, I’ll call him and let him know.”
Noro hung up and I called Jim’s. It turned out that Xing’s parents were at the house so I called there and Xing said, “Father will want to talk with you and Noro about the Tiger. Mother and I want to do some shopping so we will come in with father and meet you for dinner.”

“I need to go up to Vermont for a couple of days.”

“I suspected that. Father and mother want to meet with Eric anyway, so we’ll all go.”
“We might also end up going to Boston or the Cape.”

“That will make a nice trip and father hasn’t been up there yet.”
“This won’t be a vacation.”
“No, but we can make some time for us along the way. We’ll be right there.”

She hung up and I went back to the front desk. “I’m going out to talk to Xing’s father and Noro about the Tiger. He seems to be fairly slippery and I want to get a better feel for how he operates.”
Mary said, “Ok, Alex. I’ll let Boris know that you are coming up with Xing tomorrow.”
“My in laws as well. Xing’s father wants to meet Eric and have a chat with him.”

“I’m not surprised. He probably wants a better feel about things here. He probably also wants to talk about Tom a bit.”
“I’m not sure. In any case it should be a nice trip.”
I went back to my desk and about half an hour later Xing and her parents walked in. Xing’s father said, “So the Tiger is poking around again. He didn’t waste any time.”

“He took the werewolves away from the old lady. At least some of his family did.”

“The Tiger likes to have quid pro quo arrangements. He actually made some with me before he found the Black Dragon a more congenial associate.”
“He wants Tom’s dragon, do you know why?”

“It goes back about two hundred years or so when his brother and his family were murdered and his domain raided by some dark fae. He managed to store his brother and his family in jewels and he wants to bring them back.”

“As Constructs? The dragon can do that?”

 

“Yes, among other things. But the results are not good. The dead degrade very quickly and the result is never the original person. With the right materials, yes, a semblance can be restored, for a while. But the materials may be hard to obtain and involve murdering children. That is if the dragon would accede to doing something like that. I suspect that the dragon is making a very strong statement that it will not.”

Mary called and said, “Noro is here.”

“Ok, we will be right out.”

Surprisingly, Noro wasn’t wearing one of his outlandish suits today. I grinned and said, “Dressing down?”

“After the events of the last few weeks, the suits were starting to get in the way. At least when I was trying to be discreet. Since we are going to a place that I have not been for some time, I decided to go a bit incognito. Why don’t we get going.”

We went back downstairs and rather than the Cadillac that I expected, there was a rather conservative Buick. Xing kissed me on the cheek and said, “I will see you later.”

We got in the car and Noro slipped into the driver’s seat. As we pulled out of the garage, he said, “I need to do this more often. It’s nice to not rely on somebody else to take you around.”

I looked at him and said, “This is a bit of a change for you.”
“Not really. Mr. White is a bit of a front that I use here in the city. Of course for the last few years I have been stewing under sea and then we have all been involved in the mess around new years and Josh and Mera have been watching me, as well as George, so I couldn’t dispense with the Cadillac and driver. Since George is going to be on the Cape and Josh is on his way to Hawaii, I can relax a bit.”

“George is going to be at the Cape?” Jīn long asked.
“I want him keeping an eye on Tom for a while. There was a lot circling around him at the beginning of the year and he tends to acquire powerful adversaries. Since my granddaughter is married to him and is expecting, I want some extra eyes on who shows up.”

“I can understand that,” I said. “Of course those adversaries that get Tom’s attention don’t tend to last very long. But it’s safer that they don’t get his attention in the first place.”
“There’s also the fact that George slipped up a bit and missed the Yaoguai lying in wait for Tom a couple of months ago. That was rather distressing for Chrissie. She would prefer that Tom not have to shoot somebody because they were an idiot and didn’t know who they were messing with.”

“Tom didn’t shoot anybody that time. There were people going to pick him up almost immediately.”

“I know, but George should have had his people do a sweep before Tom left the building and kept Tom distracted for a few minutes. Jídiànjí’s idiots could figure out when Tom was going to leave every day and set him up.”

“Tom is not unconscious of security concerns. Rather the opposite, in fact.”

“I’ve seen that. Still, George was a bit stuck in the routine. Prissy wanted to move to the Cape anyway once the kids were grown.”

“So it was George’s wife behind the move. I think I see whats going on,” Jīn long said.

“That, and my son in law. George is senior enough and knows how Josh acts and isn’t afraid to tell him to sit back and let others handle things. My sons find it hard to restrain Josh and I hadn’t realized just how bad the monster hunting had gotten. When I was at Chrissie’s party just before the Olympics, just about everybody was telling me to get Josh to stop chasing monsters. Fortunately the monster supply is slim after the Director’s operations were shut down.”

We drove onto the West Side Highway and headed uptown. After passing the oceanliner piers, Noro pulled us back off the highway and onto the streets until we arrive at a rather shabby looking place on the water. We got out of the car and headed inside. The man behind the counter looked up and said, “About time you showed up, Noro.”

“Why Quill? Was there something wrong?”

“No, but you could have saved yourself some trouble by talking to me about some things.”
“I was under sea for some of it after Lilli was killed.”
“I know and I’m sorry about that. She is sorely missed. Who are these two and what are you sucking them into?”
“This Alex Draka and his father in law, Jīn long. Alex, Jīn, this is Aquilla Bera.”

“You two better watch out when you involve youself in this character’s shenanigans.”

“We’ve discovered that,” I said. “Especially when he’s on your side.”

“That goes without saying. Noro, why didn’t you check in with me about things.”

“I was busy and we had what we needed for the most part.”

“Considering that your new grandson in law had already talked to me some time ago, that shouldn’t have been a surprise.”
“Tom talked to you?”

“Before he went upstate and met you all. A friend pointed him at me when he wanted to talk about werewolves. We traded some things.”

“Tom didn’t know anything about the fae.”

“No, but he did have things about the big bad wolf across the sea and a good picture of the clown hitting things here. He also had those tricks of his.”

“We dealt with the big bad wolf.”
“I know. I owe Tom’s father for that. The big bad wolf and the clowns here arranged to get one of my grandsons drafted, taken and Turned. He died in those outfits the army had.”
“You never told me.”
“You were too busy playing bigshot and I didn’t want to bug Josh about something that I wasn’t sure about. Then Lili was killed by the Sharks and I couldn’t get to you before you went under sea and Josh and Eltra were tangled up with trying to deal with the bower under attack and the splash from your dropping everything up top. I didn’t want to bug him with my problems. Tom, on the other hand, was on the path of sacrifice and working the problem. So what brings you here?”
“I wanted to introduce Alex, who will soon be one of the people to go to about things like werewolves and his father in law to you. Alex works for the bureau that deals with the dark.”
“Then your one of those people downtown. You’ve been doing very good things lately, though you were fumbling a bit for a long time.”

“Tom set us straight,” I replied. “He dealt with some Sharks that were trying to mess up his bonding and gave us everything he had been collecting. We were rather busy up until recently and have been trying to catch up.”

“Along with bonding with interesting ladies. I’m sorry about your father. He was good people. I expect that your aunt didn’t tell you about things until after you bonded.”
“My father didn’t tell me about her, probably to protect me and them. How did you meet them?”
“They came to me when they were looking to plant your keystone across the river. They wanted to know that I wouldn’t object.”

“Then you must have a keystone over here.”

“Yes I do. Since we are neighbors and if my grandson gets any closer to your cousin, relatives, you probably should know about me.”

“Barbara didn’t tell me that one of the girls had bonded.”

“They haven’t told her yet. It may not be more than a fling anyway. At least it was before you bonded. My wife will probably be in touch with your bonded and your mother in law. Do you have the new phone for the house?”

I wrote down the number for the house and the address, though apparently he already had it. I wasn’t sure if I remembered him before my parents died. I pulled out a car card and handed it to him. “This is the bureau’s number.”

He looked at it. “Thank you. I already had the number and contact with Mary. So, Noro, you must have brought these two up for lunch. What can I get you all?”
“That thing you used to do with sausage. I want to compare it to Bennie’s”
“That’s not fair! Bennie has been getting a lot of attention and hasn’t found out that he should have made the food a bit sloppy to keep a low profile. Now I have to make it right so that you don’t forget me. Sit down and let me get started.”

We sat down and my father in law said, “Mr. Bera has a keystone here in Manhattan and has been here for a long time. How come he doesn’t have a big place?”

“He has several “big places” but he doesn’t like to live it up and attract attention. He’s as old as I am and he’s been here a long time. His whole kingdom is rather spread out over the island as it grew in all sorts of businesses. But they all operate independently and he just has this place as a business for himself. So shall we discuss our old adversary?”

I frowned. “You both have been dealing with the Tiger before. He doesn’t seem to be as steeped in the Dark as the Black Dragon was.”

“He isn’t,” my father in law said. “He is on the path of sacrifice because of a promise that he made long ago and the promise itself was a mistake. So he is single minded about his purpose but not the kind to seek power for its own sake. He isn’t even tied to his domain any longer. That may be part of the problem. His bonded certainly wants him home.”
“What resources can he bring to the table. He must have had somebody to take the boys.”
“That was probably his son,” Noro said. “His number two son, that is. The number one son is in charge of the domain while the number two son works with the Tiger to help him or at least keep him safe.”
“Is the number two son bonded?” My father in law had a bit of a grin. “He hadn’t when I was dealing with the Tiger.”

“As far as I know, no, he isn’t. That puts the Tiger at a bit of a risk, doesn’t it?” Noro had the same grin. I thought about it and started to grin myself. My aunt had been looking for potential bonds right from the start and another of my father’s sisters had never bonded at all. Both Noro and Meria had girls with tails and Helen had extra girls as well. Waving somebody around who was probably at the top of the “hunk heap” was probably going to attract attention. Even if the potential hunk had been around for a long time. I looked at my father in law. “Does number two son have Change?”

He grinned. “Actually, I have never seen him in Change. His brother is bonded and has Change. Even if he does, that really won’t matter unless the bond is with a girl from undersea.”

“That won’t matter either,” Noro said. “If he were to bond with a sea girl, his Change would be forced to the mer Change at least partially. It wouldn’t be the first time. In fact it happened to me long ago when I bonded with Liltra.”

“That explains some things,” I said. “You seem far more comfortable up top than some of the other bower kings. You have also been pushing the Cape bower up top for a long time.”

“That was a necessity. I could see how vulnerable Liltra’s bower was when we met and her brothers were not paying attention. When I was gifted with a keystone by Liltra’s mother, I came here to establish a place where we would be up top as well as below and brought friends that had land Changes as well as seafolk when we established the bower. That saved us from the Dark fae. You know what happened to the bowers over there. I will not let that happen here and fortunately for me, my sons and son in laws will not either.”

Mr. Bera came back out with our lunches and sat down. The place was actually busy, but there was another cook and some waitresses handling the business. Quill said, “I thought that I would sit down and talk for a bit. My grandson can handle things or he shouldn’t be here.”

I had the feeling that Noro had called ahead and if he hadn’t, Mr. Bera wouldn’t have been out front. I said to him, So how much do you know about recent events?”

“Well, you people and Eric dealt with the Colonel and released Mr. Martin from the mess that he had. You also helped with Noro’s sister and her bower. This character came up with that Trobleshooter using the young man who used to do those things with his friend who was killed on a beach. Young Tom bonded with this character’s granddaughter and with the Colonel gone, is working for Noro.”
“Actually, I had nothing to do with the Troubleshooter,” Noro said. That happened while I was still more or less out of it.”

“Then why is he living in your house?”

“Because the company rented it to the wrong people and as long as Sal has it, that can’t happen. With Lilli gone, I don’t need the house and Sal and Sillia are wonderful people.”

“It also keeps him up top, which might be important since he is taking over the Rockaway bower.”

“That was a consideration. There’s also the fact that we need Sal to be doing what he is doing rather publically.”
“I can’t argue with that. Things started to go bad in Brooklyn when he left the scene. Alex, I should have talked with your bosses about that.”

“I don’t think that my bosses realized what we had at the time. At the point that he was recruited, Sal was a NYPD detective that had just been attacked by a Construct and was fae like the rest of us. I don’t think that my boss looked into Sal as deep as he should have until after his sister Changed and then things started to happen very quickly when the Rockaway bower royals were killed or hurt and we didn’t know anything about it until my coworker hooked up with Noro’s daughter when Josh went down there with her.”

“How is that working out? Noro, your daughters had some strong opinions about certain things. At least they said they did.”

Noro had huge grin.“With Eltra, it was never a problem. Nera is a bit more interesting and after Josh showed up, Nera was playing games until Mike showed up. She’s been enjoying Mike and her new life immensely.”

“At least you have new grandchildren to subvert.”
“That’s going to be fun as Nera doesn’t want her boys, when she has them, to be dunked and there are a bunch of relatives who will want them dunked, for their own good, of course.”

“It sounds as if you have interesting things coming up. Hopefully you won’t go back into that funk again.”

“My relatives and friends are trying very hard to not let me go there again. So how has your family been?”

“Pretty much the same. We are doing better, now that the Twisted supply is short. At least we won’t have that to deal with for some time. My Creator is happy that the only people in the Construct market are Eric’s grandsons. Have you been to one of their shoots? My grandsons found out about them when they went up looking for work at the Olympics last year and say that they are a blast.”

“Chrissie had the boys set one up right after Christmas when Tom handed her his address book and she realized that Tom had left out a lot of friends when Mera set up the wedding.”
“Mera sent us an invitation, but I couldn’t make it for a wedding and didn’t get the word that there was more involved until it was too late to change my plans. Mary did get back to me later with the summary. From what I saw in the papers, that little party was a real blast and hit poor Jacob right where it hurt. Not that he didn’t deserve it. Did he really start a fight with Tom when Tom was talking with the Preisdent?”
“It was worse than that. Tom had the White House office mom on the line and was delicately apologizing for not telling her about the wedding as well as clearing up our biggest sticky after the games were handed to me.”

“Somebody made a big mistake.”
“Actually it was worse than that. I had Josh with me and he was not happy with the way things were going anyway. So he took over and handed some things to Tom to resolve. He did, but there was Jacob, making an ass out of himself and Tom stomped him.”

“He will do that. I don’t know him that well yet, but I did some checking after he came to me and he made the Capitol tremble. There were huge sighs of relief when he decided to leave and bigger ones when it was obvious that he didn’t want to run for office.”
“When he showed up on the Cape, we had no clue, other than being able to tell that he was an unattached Royal fae, what he could do. I was out of it, and Josh was trying to juggle getting Tom and Chrissie together and all the rest of it, the Olympics being part of that. Then Nera bonded and Josh had to go down with Mera to look into things down at the Rockaways.”

“Whiile you were playing with weather magic in front of the storm.”
“I was out of it and my children probably thought that playing with the magic was about the safest thing I could be doing until they could get things resolved. But I kept pouring more of myself into the thing and it took Josh coming back to shut things down.”

“Josh having to go back left Mera to play with my boss,” I said. “They had fun and pointed Sal in right direction at last once we found out what was happening at the bower. But since Noro’s brother in law was killed, we lost our discreet contact and we had a rash of Twisted and whatnot that started up about the same time that the bower attack was starting up.”

“That was probably a distraction and a diversion,” Quill said. “The boss sent the Twisted out to make a splash while he was quietly destroying the bower.”
“That was exactly what was happening,” Noro said. “The fact that Nera and Mike joined right there on the dock and were not occupied with themselves for several days made the problems clear and Mike and Mera put Sal to troubleshooting again. At the time they didn’t know what Sal had done with his friend Vinnie. Sal didn’t really like to talk about it and his bosses at the NYPD were just glad that he found a new job and was out of their hair, so they didn’t say anything about what he had been doing either. But when Sal started to show up at outfit places again, they were glad to see him doing the job again.”

“Who’s paying him to do that? He has a rather splashy lifestyle.”
“I am, at least I handle the cover. That way Alex and the rest of his bosses can keep him while he keeps the outfit and other things clean. Of course he has a cut in the top shelf liquor business and some other things, but we don’t talk about that.”

“All part of the Troubleshooter mystery, right. Of course at this point, people know that when he shows up, interesting thing happen and most of the dark fae in the area are scared silly. I think that I will talk to his people about getting the Troubleshooter on retainer, just in case.”

We talked through lunch with Quill, getting his insights about what was going on. When lunch was over, Quill took the plates and we talked about the Tiger and Number Two son some more. Other than taking the werewolves, the Tiger seemed to be working fairly quietly. Noro and my father gave me a good overview on how he had dealt with them in the past and how he had been clever enough to escape when things went bad for him. After Noro drove us back to the office I said to my father in law, “I didn’t want to involve Noro in this, directly, but how hard will it be to track down Number Two son.”

He grinned. “That may be the way to go. He was always willing to talk with me. Even when we on opposite sides of things, he always respected his opponents. He’s also very sneaky and flexible. Here are the ladies. I think that they have plans for us.”

There they were and Xing said, “So what did you two get up to?”

“Not very much,” I replied, grinning. “We talked with an old friend of Noro’s and he may be a relative soon. Apparently his grandson and one Barbara’s daughters are looking into each other.”

“That’s Daisy and Ralph. She brought Ralph to the house warming. Ralph is starting college in September. Barbara and the boy’s mother are talking to each other. So you were talking to Mr. Bera. Good, since they are our neighbors. I was hoping that we could talk with them soon.”

“He seems to have a handle on things. Let me check in with Mary and then we can head to the house and get packed.”

We went upstairs and Mary said, “Where did Noro take you?”
“To a rather shabby place run by a man named Bera. He can give Bennie a run for his money when he wants to.”
“So you were talking with Aquilla. Good. It’s about time that you were introduced to him anyway. He likes to keep things a bit ragged looking so that he isn’t bombarded with Noseys. I should have expected that Noro knew him and would take you to his place.”

“He had also talked with Tom some time ago. Let me write up a quick report while you get everything from Xing and her parents.”
“Do that.”

I went to my desk to write up a summary for the file, including Quill’s contact information and what we had talked about. When I finished that, I started a ‘tiger’file with the discussion and everthing else we had. The boss and Mike liked to have the files started right at the beginning of a case just in case things went bad and the agent was lost. I handed the whole thing to Cally for reproduction and having a copy sent out to Sal’s. Then I went back out front where a smiling Mary said, “Apparently your cousin has found a young man.”

“I don’t know much about that yet. I expect that there will be negotiations and the rest of it.”

“Well a bonding like this at a high level requires those things. I expect that your family will have a lot of bondings now that you are into your own.”

“Did my father in law tell you about number two son.”
Mary grinned. “Now there is a bonding waiting to happen. The Tiger shouldn’t be marching him around here like that if he expects to have his son go back to China with him. It’s unusual for a man to be wandering for that long, but I expect that there were reasons.”
“There were,” Jīn long said. “The keystone was being carried by his brother and both he and his brother were working to destroy the dark fae that had taken over their domain and restore things again. So they kept very tight shields. Then there is the path of sacrifice and trying to find a resolution that does not end up in the destruction of his father one way or another. Since I was involved with the Black Dragon and Xing’s path of sacrifice I haven’t been paying any attention to what the Tiger and his sons had been up to as well as I should have been.

This is going to be interesting. The Tiger has a window of opportunity before Noro returns from Steve’s wedding. On the other hand neither Tom, Chrissie or Noro are seemingly taking any serious precautions about the Dragon.”

“I expect that Chrissie, at least, set some things up,” Mary said. “She doesn’t want Tom distracted by anything other than her, the kids that are coming and his work. So she has almost certainly taken steps. Then there is the family that is not going to the wedding. Noro doesn’t say very much about what his sons can get up to, but they have large amounts of resources, large families and both of them learned things from their father, who admits that they can be as sneaky as he is.”

“Let’s get going and get packed,” Xing said. “At least we can have a nice trip and show off Vermont to father.”

As we were going down in the elevators I thought of something. “What are we going to do about the four treasures?”
“I wouldn’t worry about them,” Xing’s mother said. “We will put them away in the treasure room and leave the copies in their place. The Yaoguai are all in Boston right now and the house has the keystone in any case. Frankly we could leave them out because now that we have moved in, the keystone would make it unpleasant for anybody like the Yaoguai who tried to break in. Since the Yaoguai don’t even know about the house, they would have some issues.”

“Jim’s mother will be there with the rest of the staff.” Xing said. “She hates the Yaoguai because of what they are and if she even gets a whiff that they are in town, the police will know.”

It hadn’t taken very long for Jim’s mother to take charge of us and the house. I wasn’t sure how things had worked out so fast, but by Saturday we had staff and Jim’s mother said when I asked about it, “Don’t you worry yourself about that. I have been taking care of Xing for a long time now. You and she have more important things to worry about.”

I was beginning to understand why Jim had been so stressed out when had shown up last week. In any case, Jim’s mother had settled right in and I suspected she was going to be taking care of us for a long time.

Jim and Adelle were heading back Hong Kong to take all the pictures and some of the Dragon’s talons back for the family. Jim was also going to take a peek into his businesses and bring some things back as part of the deals he had made while he was here. He was also going to publically take the fakes that Tim and Noro had had made back and return them to China. That should convince the people who were not looking into things that the treasures were all back in China. In any case the treasures were going to be secure.

I pulled a car from the pool and we started home to get ready for the trip. Xing said, “I want to see that place you went to for lunch. Do you think that it will be open for dinner?”

“It’s not fancy, but we can try.”
I drove up the West Side Highway and over to Quill’s. The place was still open and I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised that Barbara and her daughter were there with another lady and a young man. I turned to Xing and said, “You knew that they would be here.”

“I talked to Barbara and she said that she was meeting with the young man’s mother. I didn’t know where, but I thought that it would be here.”

Barbara saw us and called out, “Xing! You found us.”
“Noro took Alex and my father here for lunch and I wanted to see what the place was like.”

“It’s not fancy, but Quill gives Bennie competition when we can get him to work at it. This is Rose. You met Ralph here at the house warming.”

Poor Ralph was beginning to look rather nervous. Quill came out and said, “Alex, you brought your lady.”
“Aquilla, this is Xing, my fiancé. You met her father earlier and this is her mother, Chin-ling.”

“Well both of you add something to the community here. From what Barbara has been saying since she arrived to give poor Ralph here the once over, some good things. You also dealt with a very bad thing that had come to harass us a bit.”

“The bad thing had been my daughter’s burden since he ate her brother,” Chin-ling said. “My daughter learned new skills and ways to deal with the bad thing and now he is gone.”

“Well sit down and I will make something for you to eat while my daughter in law and her son keep you entertained.”

He left and we talked with poor Ralph and his mother. It turned out that Ralph had been working for one of my uncles and been sent the botanical gardens to do some work and Daisy had discovered him. They had been dating for a while, but the bond hadn’t been obvious until after Xing and I had joined. Barbara said as we were eating, “A lot of the bonds that we had been having were fairly weak until you came into your own. I hope that we start to see more.”

“Your son seems to have found a tail quickly enough,” I said.

“Yes he did. And then my daughters had to try to make things a bit chaotic when she visited the gardens for the first time. Of course, you saw what David did.”

“That blizzard was a bit over the top,” Xing said.

“My daughters did that to themselves. They insisted that Daivd learn the projectors, they knew that he had been making a lot of trips to the navy yard and about Dorothy. They should have known Bob and Scott’s reputations.”

Rose asked, “Who are Bob and Scott.”

“Bob and Scott are the grandsons of the Vermont kingdom,” Xing said. “More to the point they are Tom Benton’s nephews and two of Noro’s go to boys his fun and games.”

“Then they are such good boys.”

“You knew who they are.”
“Most high fae mothers around here do. There were some disappointed mothers when young Miss Martin grabbed Scott and Bob was grabbed by Miss Renton. Fortunately there are more Bentons coming, but I suspect that at least some of them are going to be wet after Tom bonded at the Cape. Miss Claytor doesn’t know how lucky she is.”

“Does Greta know about how sought after Tom was?”

“I’m not sure. We are not close with them and Tom had been a bit estranged from the family and all the fae respected the fact that his parents took steps to protect him. He also moved around a lot. That didn’t stop just about every fae kingdom from hoping that he would wander in their direction and he certainly had families pushing girls at him down in Washington and up in Connecticut. There was a lot of hope that the Olympics would be a good chance for the ladies to see if they could make arrangements, but he went to the Cape and bonded before the Games.”

“According to an associate of mine, Chrissie worked hard to make it happen.”

I told Rose and Quill, when he showed up, about the entire circus that had gone on over Chrissie and Tom. Dinner was served as I went through everything including the Sharks and their attack. When I finished, Quill asked, “Where was Noro through all of this? He’s pretty good at matchmaking after Josh and Mera.”
“At the beginning Noro was moping under sea and Josh thought that he was handling it. But Josh wasn’t sensitive to the nuances of Tom not knowing about Change, being on the path of sacrifice or some other issues. He also came down here in his boat to get his sister in law and my coworker together and see what was going on in the Rockways.”
“Did he talk to his daughter about that? Stacey was on top of things down there. She was keeping me updated about things going on down there. At least what she knew.”
“Neither Josh nor Mera thought to talk to Stacey about what was going on. I think that Josh was too busy dealing with the business and the other things and Mera was down below keeping an eye on the bower and Noro. So they went down more or less blind. It didn’t help that Chrissie got Tom to a beach but couldn’t get him to close the deal and Tom got a message from his dad at the same time to go up and help with a family emergency and neglected to tell Chrissie where he was going.”

“Where was Noro in all this.”
“Being kept out of it until Chrissie was crying on his shoulder. Then he starts playing around with the weather magic because he had been kept out of things for so long that he was out of touch with things and himself.”
“He seemed to be fine when he came with you, earlier.”

“The family has decided to dump as much as they can on him to keep him occupied. Helped by the clowns overseas and the dark’s obsession with Tom, who is getting rather tired of dark fae offering themselves as targets.”

“That explains the fun and games around here lately.”

“Not entirely. Some of that was Xing and her nemisis, a young reporter and some cleaning up the monster factories that we were doing.”

“You people have been better this year.”
“Thanks to the Colonel and others going after Tom and us discovering the monster factories and having Sal Troubleshoot them, we did very well. As you said, we had been fumbling around more than a bit. It didn’t help that the other side was very good at self destructing when we would raid places. Tom gave us some of what he had, but we couldn’t quite put the pieces together and as you said, the Director was good at sending diversions and Twisted out to keep us occupied.

The biggest problem we had was that we didn’t know who to talk to. We were developing relationships slowly with people like Eric and some others, but trying to get people to talk with us before the bad hit was very difficult and we kept having to put so many fires out that we couldn’t take the time to build the relationships that we needed. Fortunately we have resolved a bunch of those issues.”

“Thus Noro bringing you to me. Of course he should have done that when he saw what a mess things were.”

“When he was first involved, he was still a bit out of it, chasing a young reporter and wasn’t too sure about us. Then things got rather hectic and we were moving along very fast as we went through the kidnapping, the end of the Sharks, the wedding and finding out what was going on in Lake Placid.”

“How is the young reporter holding up?” Rose asked. “Noro can run people ragged.”

Xing grinned. “Alex and I Chased him and he ran us ragged, didn’t he, Alex?”

“Right up until you discovered us,” Barbara said. “He is a very remarkable young man.”

“Is he bonded?” Rose asked.

“Very much so. A mermaid saw him when she was working one day at the navy yard and latched right on to him as he was chasing the Sharks.”

“He caught them too,” Quill said. “Tied them in knots and exposed them and what they were doing.”

“Sal almost took that case to the DA and only hadn’t because the Sharks were dead after taking the one kid who nobody would kidnap,” I said.

“Considering that rather dramatic photograph, that was Stacey’s daughter,” Rose said. “How did that happen?”

“Dori asked for some cookies while they were visiting the navy yard and George gave her some money and told her to go to the post exchange, which was right across the street from where George was. Instead she walked right over to a lady in the market who sells cookies that we know and bought them there. The lady had people coming to take Dori back into the yard, the gate guard had called her uncle and George and they were on their way to pick her up. Unfortunately the Sharks spotted her and sent a normal that they had compelled to grab her just as the reporter and his future father in law were leaving the navy yard. Dori knew who the reporter was and started toward the car, the normal grabbed her and the reporter chased after them and was grabbed himself. Of course, at that point we already knew where the Sharks were going to go and the reporter’s girl went into the pool that the Sharks used for their ‘feedings’ and closed the deal with the reporter so that they could all Swim out.”

“That was romantic,” Rose said. “I will have to get the entire story from Stacey.”

“How did the Sharks die,” Quill asked.

“Tom and his brother had mounted a large machine gun on his boat, and covered the Twisted the Sharks had in the back. Tom had setup a gag to cause the Sharks to think that they had been exposed to the press and some other things to think that they were being raided, Bob and Scott had Constructs to launch at the Twisted and we had a real raid ready to go in once Dori and the rest were out. The Sharks came down to the pool for their party and dinner, we set everything off, shot the Twisted and the Sharks committed suicide by going into their Change on land after the lady who was the seed for the change was shot so that she couldn’t reach the water again.”

“It sounds like Tom went more than a little wild.”

“He and Chrissie had just met his sister in law, Hilda and his nephew Andy and he was a bit upset that the other side took him the way that they did.”
“Hilda must have let him. Taking Andy was crazy, wasn’t it Ralph?”

Ralph grinned “Grandfather, According to what Bill and Vince told me, messing with those ladies is just plain very stupid. They are very dangerous and very, very good shots.
“I’ve seen them shoot and Bill and Vince probably don’t know the half of it,” I said with more than a bit of a grin. “Hilda and Stephie wanted to see what would happen when Tom went all out since he hadn’t done very much recently.”

“Not when he was up at the farm. He did other places and even helped me with dealing with a little problem.”

“He’s never said anything about that. Was it phone work or more.”
“I don’t think I want to say. I’ll let Tom tell you. I will tell you that is was fun to watch.”
“If I hint to Stephie, you could be in trouble. She will want the leftovers.”

“We can send her those. What little is left.”

“I think that I will tell Stephie that she needs to needle Tom about what he did and who he did it for if she wants to chase down his toys.”

“That’s not going to be easy.”

We all laughed and talked about other things including my trip up to the farm and the werewolves. After dinner I drove us home. Fortunately Xing had called and we didn’t have to deal with our Chinese mom complaining that she had cooked dinner for us and we hadn’t shown up for it. Fortunately Xing and her mother had to give her all the details about Ralph and Daisy and the new part of our family. I just packed the the bag.

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