The Tiger And The Guardian, Chapter 37, part 2

Here’s part 2. The Yaoguai are up to something. Will it work out for them?

Alex.
Saturday September 10, 1932.
At yet another of Hwaijeon’s rather exotic breakfasts, Al came over and said, “How about you show me where the Yaoguai have been hiding themselves.”
“Why?”
“Jim at the FBI thinks that they are planning something stupid. Out near Needham, West of here.”
“What’s out there?”
“Trees and farms, mostly. Some summer places and a riding club.”
“Anything going on out there?”
“Just a horse show. I called around and the guys out there have had some reports of rather large fox or wolf like animals prowling around a bit. When the cops send somebody out, the animals are gone. The cops were going to be at the horse show for the usual things like traffic control.”
“Ok, why don’t we start with their not so safe house in Boston.”
Xing said, “Eltra and I are taking the kids to the horse show.”
“What for?”
“Stephie’s daughter is competing and we want to cheer her on. The little dragons are going to be looking after a bunch of kids for Stephie, Stacey and Gretchen. Andy, Bruce, Trillia and Verelia are going too.”
“What about some of the rest?”
“Some of them will be there too. Abby has a granddaughter competing as well and Altris’s grandsons are helping out. Eric’s grandsons are helping with Katherine’s horse.”
“Ok, we’ll meet you there.”
Al and I drove up to Boston where the only thing we found at the Yaoguai’s place was Little Tiger, looking rather mystified. I pulled over and he walked over to the car. “There’s nobody here. Uncle wanted me to keep an eye on them. He thinks that they are thinking about doing something stupid.”
“Do you know why they would be chasing around in the woods?”
“I would hope that they all went for a Run together, but they’ve never done that before. Where are they supposedly messing around I the woods?”
“West of here.”
“What’s out there?”
“The only thing out there is a horse show today.”
One of the red foxes that I recognized became visible. “Alex! The Yaoguai left earlier this morning in several cars.”
Al asked, “Have the Yaoguai been wiring home?”
“Why?” Little Tiger asked.
“Because maybe they have been communicating with their real boss.”
“We never thought to check. On the other hand, I think I see where you were going with this. Uncle was pretty firm about the Yaoguai not taking any hostages. But who would be at the horse show that they would want?”
“I think I know,” Al said. “Alex, I want to check something at the office. Let’s go.”
“We’ll get some people out there,” Little Tiger said.
I took the car to the office and we went upstairs to a more or less empty FBI office. Al looked around and found some papers. “Katherine is competing in the horse show. I’m wondering if that made the papers.”
He started to look at sports sections and found an article on the horse show. There in the piece was a picture of Katherine with ‘Nia. “I was afraid of this. Since Stephie was the champion for so long and Katherine has been doing well, I’m not surprised that Katherine would get noticed. I’m guessing that the Yaoguai saw this. Let’s go.”
“Should we call Boris at the hotel?”
“He’s probably already at the Hunt Club. I think I know how to get there, I’ll drive.”
We left the building and headed out of the city. While the traffic was light, it wasn’t exactly fast either. We finally reached the outskirts and Al sped up. Unfortunately he made a wrong turn in Needham and that delayed us more than a bit. It was eleven o clock by the time we reached the hunt club. Al said, You head for the course, I’ll check the office.”
“Will do.”
I walked quickly toward the course. There was a bit of a hill that had become an impromptu stand for the spectators and the competitor’s families. I looked across the course and the competitor was a 16 year old girl. I suspected that the juniors had already finished and I looked around. There was a tent that seemed to be a press and office booth and I headed there, walking through the crowd. Suddenly there was chaos as several large looking foxes ran through the course and the crowd. They ran toward the woods and people stood around in amusement until firecrackers started to go off. I continued toward the booth through the chaos of scared horses and people trying to chase them. Xing called out “Alex! Here we are!”
I went over and said, “Where’s Katherine?”
“I don’t know. She was supposed to come over for her score and didn’t show up. Stephie is looking for her. What are the Yaoguai doing here?”
“Going after Katherine, Al and I think. Have you seen Boris?”
“There he is.”
There he was, actually. I went over and said, “We need to find Katherine. Our foxy friends may be doing something stupid.”
“Why?”
“They may have read the papers. Katherine had her picture in the paper with a report that she was competing here. Mostly because of Stephie.”
Boris frowned. “Did the Yaoguai go after kids before?”
“It’s one of their favorite tactics,” Xing said. “But the Tiger doesn’t.”
“Al thinks that the Yaoguai may have contacted their real boss. I imagine that Jídiànjí is rather frustrated with the Tiger’s actions.”
I could almost see the bear behind Boris’s eyes. He looked around and headed toward the stables. Eric and Greta spotted us and came over. Boris said, “Katherine is missing and we have the Yaoguai here. Alex thinks that they may have taken Katherine.”
“She didn’t have a gun, did she?” I asked.
“She doesn’t carry one during competitions,” Eric said. “The judges get nervous and there are too many with poor judegment. Since she is twelve, we didn’t press her and these events have always been safe.”
We reached the stables and Two of Katherine’s cousins were watching over ‘Nia and another horse. Tony saw us and said, “Aunt Stephie was just here. Katherine left with a new friend. She hasn’t come back.”
“What kind of friend?” Boris asked.
“Another girl about her age. This is her horse. They went to get their scores together. The other girl hasn’t come back either.”
One of Eli’s great grandsons came over. “Tony, Sally didn’t come back, did she?”
“Vince, this is my Uncle Boris. Uncle Boris, Vince is Sally’s brother. He’s looking after her horse, the same way I am for ‘Nia. Since he’s local, it made more sense for him to look around for the girls, so I’m watching both horses.”
Abby came by, looking around. She saw us and said, “So you are missing a girl too.”
“My daughter, Katherine,” Boris said.
“Then you are Boris, Stephie’s husband. I’m looking for my granddaughter.”
Stephie came by and saw us. “Abby! You haven’t seen the girls either?”
“No.” She looked at me. “There’s something more going on, isn’t there?”
I frowned. “The Yaoguai may have been looking for Katherine.”
“Why didn’t you look out for that?”
“The Tiger had ordered Jídiànjí not to do anything like that for Josh reasons. Apparently they didn’t listen or their boss gave them new instructions. Al and I realized what might be happening but didn’t get out here soon enough.”
“I think that we need to get organized,” Boris said. “Eric, you round up, Roger, Andy and Bruce. I’ll go talk to the local police.”
“I’ll round up my family,” Abby said. “There are a fair amount of us here. Do you think that you want guns?”
“Not here,” Boris said. “At least not yet.”
The two little dragons must have used their Change to chase the Yaoguai as they discreetly came up in Change and ‘D elia said to Xing, “The Yaoguai had cars on the road waiting. They went through the woods to the road after leaving the firecrackers.”
“Get dressed and come back,” Xing said. “We need you.”
“Why can’t we stay in Change?”
“We’ll explain later.”
The two disappeared again. Abby looked at us and said, “They went after those characters, didn’t they?”
“Yes they did, not that they caught any,” Xing said. “The Yaoguai dropped the firecrackers and went straight to their cars.”
“That will be a first for a fox hunt. The foxes use things like firecrackers and have cars.”
“I expect that they thought that at least Alex and I would be here.”
Abby left to round up her family and I said to Xing, “I want to check in with Al.”
“You don’t need to, he’s right here.”
There he was, with a local policeman that he obviously knew, talking to Stephie. Xing and I walked over and Al said, “This is George. He’s the police chief out here.”
“So what’s going on?” George asked.
“The short answer is that a Chinese gang wants something from somebody and probably took the two girls as hostages.”
“What do they want and who do they want it from?”
“A jade dragon and Tom Benton.”
“That’s nuts. First of all he isn’t here and second, none of the gangs here would dream of pissing Chrissie off, to say nothing of her dad. Who was the second girl?”
“My granddaughter, George.” Abby said.
“Is Eli here?”
“No, he had a job come in.”
“Well that’s one relief. Let me get on the phone.”
He strode off fairly quickly.
Al turned to me and said, “They took another girl?”
“My granddaughter was with the other young lady,” Abby said. “Of course the Yaoguai don’t like my father very much in any case.”
Eltra came over and said, “Have any of you seen Andy? Trillia was looking for him and he was supposed to come right back. He wanted to get Katherine’s score for the girls and the other ladies.”
I turned to Al and said, “You don’t think that he-“
“Arranged for himself to be taken hostage? He has a gun, and there is an aversion on the holster. I wouldn’t put it past him, especially with his cousin involved. Of course there are very few fae around here that would be stupid enough to take either one hostage.”
“The Yaoguai seem to be reaching new depths of stupidity,” Xing said.
Andy.
Saturday September 10, 1932.
Katherine had been trying to get me onto a horse for some time before the Changes in my life and me being dragged under. We hadn’t had horses of our own, but we used Aunt Mary’s from time to time and exercised it as well. I had never been head over heels about horses, but I like watching Katherine and ‘Nia. Trillia and I had been at two of Katherine’s competitions already and I think that Katherine thought of Trillia as her tailed good luck charm. In any case, once the junior competition was over, Trillia sent me to chase Katherine down and see how well she had scored. When I was approaching the tent Katherine had another girl with her. “Hi Andy! This is Sally! Sally, this is my cousin Andy. He’s famous for being kidnapped.”
“Hi Andy, are you really?”
“It was in all the papers last year.”
We headed toward the tent where the judges were when suddenly there were firecrackers and big foxes all over the place. The girls went stiff and I felt a compulsion that I could have broken, but didn’t. A Chinaman came and told us to march to car that was waiting on the road outside the club. I wasn’t sure if there was more than one, so I didn’t reflect. The girls collapsed and I acted as if I had been put to sleep. I was planning to escape, but I wanted to make sure that these characters weren’t going to hurt the girls. I figured that as long as I played along, they wouldn’t realize that I had a gun and some abilities that most kids my age didn’t. There were some advantages to being bonded and able to Change.
I looked through slitted eyes as the car headed to Boston and the piers. The car stopped next to a ship and the Chinamen carried us aboard and put us in a cabin, not unfortunately, below the waterline. The girls groggily came out of the effects of the compulsion. Katherine looked around and then at me and said, “We’ve been kidnapped, haven’t we?”
“Looks that way.”
“Why haven’t you escaped?”
“I wanted to make sure that you will be ok. Especially Sally.”
“Why, Andy?”
“Because Sally isn’t fae.”
“Yes she is. She’s Noro’s great niece, but her family doesn’t like Noro’s”
“That’s greatgrandfather. The rest of us get along fine, pretty much,” Sally said. “Of course this little piece of idiocy will not work out well for these characters.”
“Why not?”
“I’ve heard about Andy and his mom and grandmother says that your mom is the same way, Kathy. Then there is greatgrandfather. He is not going to be happy and These idiots are already on his bad side. Andy, Katherine and I were riding, I don’t have a gun and I bet that Katherine doesn’t either. Do you?”
“Mother doesn’t let me leave without it unless I’m underwater. Trillia is even worse.”
“Good. Who is Trillia?”
“My bonded. She latched onto me right after the kidnapping last year.”
“She has a tail, doesn’t she?”
“Yes.”
“Then it’s good thing that we are on a boat.”
“Strange how that works.”
The Tiger (Chen Hǔ)
Saturday September 10, 1932.
Since my son, his bonded, Little Tiger, Fritz and Jimmy were all at my door, It had to be something fairly bad. From the expressions on their faces, something very bad indeed. “What happened?”
“The Yaoguai took the Bear’s daughter, Eli’s great granddaughter and the boy that had been kidnapped last year as hostages.”
“Where do they have them?”
“We don’t know. They cleared out the place they were staying and never came back. They haven’t shown up at any of their usual haunts.”
“I assume that the Bear knows already.”
“Yes. He was at the hunt club where the competition was being held.”
“What about Mr. Hancock? I will take it for granted that Eric and Greta know.”
“I think that Mr. Hancock’s family told him.”
“What about the boy’s mother?”
“She is in Europe right now.”
“That is one piece of good news. Kitty, what do you think that your uncle will do?”
“String the Yaoguai out. You’ve played games with him before. He was probably already planning something for the Yaoguai. What do you think that their demands will be?”
“Jídiànjí wants Tom’s Dragon. More as part of his petty revenge than for what it is.”
My son grimaced. “You told him that it wasn’t going to be that easy, Father. Didn’t you explain what was going on?”
“I’ve tried. He doesn’t understand that somebody can’t just march into the vault and take the Dragon.”
“I don’t think that the Dragon is even in the vault,” Kitty said. “Tom is too clever and wants to make sure that Stephie has a nice present. I think that he also wants your burden removed and everything is setup for that.”
“I’m not sure how he’s going to do that.”
There was a knock on the door and Noro was there. After he walked in, he said to me, “Chen Hǔ, I in no way hold you responsible for this. As far as I know, you told the Yaoguai not to take any children hostage, and gave them a stack of perfectly good reasons not too.” He grinned. “On the other hand, perhaps we can use this to our advantage.”
“How so?”
“We do want the werewolves to die in a spectacular fashion. The Yaoguai just gave us an opportunity to make it work.”
I grinned. “They did, didn’t they. By the way where are the Yaoguai? You seem to know where they are.”
“They booked passage to China. They are on the ship.”
“A ship you bought, more than likely.”
“I didn’t need to. I already owned the company after the Colonel and am using it for other reasons.”
Captain Golfinho
Saturday September 10, 1932.
My passengers had arrived. They trooped up the gangway with six of them carrying three unconscious children. I recognized all three of the chidren. One was Andy, one was Stephie’s daughter Katherine and the third was my niece, Sally. My sister had bonded with one of Eli’s grandsons about twenty years ago and had three kids. Sally was the middle child. I was going to have to make a discreet call to my sister as soon as possible. For now, I went down to greet Mr. Wu, who was Mr. LI’s Interpretor. When I strode up I acted as if his compulsions were working and that I saw nothing out of line. “Mr. Wu, Mr. Li’s cabin and yours are ready, as well as a cabin for the children that you told me about. It is a good thing that you are transporting them to their mothers.”

“The mothers live in Hong Kong and requested through one of Mr. Li’s relatives that we bring them. We are pleased to perform this little service. Is everything ready for departure?”
“We have some more passengers coming and some students who will be joining us for a weather and sea scientific research voyage.”
“Students?”
“Yes. There is a professor on the Cape that sends his students with us on voyages. They take weather readings and water samples.”
Ilutra had a class starting Monday. On the other hand there were some graduate students who were taking advantage of the opportunity, including my son Phillip. All of whom knew how to shoot and had been through Bill’s ‘enhanced adversary’ course. You can hide a lot in instrument cases and the leftover MP 18’s from the Colonel had been put to good use.
Once the Yaoguai were aboard, I went to make some calls at the office on the pier. The first was to Altris, where I told him that the Yaoguai had brought hostages. After hearing my report he said, “They took the kids at the hunt club. We weren’t sure where they were going to end up.”
“They are here. Let Stephie and Boris know. I’ll look into them in a bit.”
“Is Andy above or below the waterline. A certain mermaid would like to know.”
“Above, but I can fix that. Young Andrew may be too much trouble and I may have to put him in the brig.”
“It sounds as if you have things under control. I will let Stephie know.”
“I’m going to call Regina right now.”
“Do that. Abby has been keeping a lid on Eli, but if your sister knows that the kids are all right, it will be easier.”
He hung up and I called my sister.
“Regina, It’s Paulo.”
“Paulo, I’m glad you called. Watch out for strange fox characters.”
“They are already here. They booked passage on my ship for China.”
“You were going to China? What is Persai doing?”
“Coming with me. We’re making a discreet round the world cruise.”
“Did the fox characters have Sally?”
“Yes they did. Along with two other children.”
“Andy and Katherine, right? Katherine was the one they really wanted. According to people that saw them, Katherine and Sally were going to the headquarters tent when they joined up with Andy. The fox characters ran through the crowd and lit off firecrackers. In the confusion, they took the kids. I’ll let Paul and the rest know when they get back. They are going around hoping that they get a scent, along with Eric’s boys and some others. Bye.”
I went back to the ship. Since I figured that the kids were awake so I went to their cabin and opened the door. Sally ran over and hugged me. “Uncle Paulo! We saw you through the porthole. Is Aunt Persai aboard?”
“Not yet. She’s coming on Monday.”
I turned to Andy. “How are you about black eyes?”
“I’ve had my share, why?”
“You are going to bite my hand, pull that gun I know that you have and I am going to have to knock you around a bit and put you in the brig.”
He smiled. “I think that a certain mermaid will be annoyed if she can’t get to me. Do you want to do this now?”
“At dinner time. I’ll have a steward come with dinner and I will be with him, you will try to escape and I will have to deal with that.”
I left the cabin and headed to mine.
Jean.
Saturday September 10, 1932.
We had arranged Friday night to meet the Tiger’s son at the horse show in the morning, so we took the train out to the show. Olivia and Ray joined us with Eli and Theresa. When we arrived at the little station, there was a lady and Chinese gentleman waiting for us when we stepped down. Theresa called out, “Hi Kitty! ‘Hǔ, this is Jean and Jeanette, from France.”
‘Hǔ looked at me and said, “You are here to collect the boys for the unbounded aren’t you?”
“Supposedly. I understand that a fatal accident may be arranged for them.”
‘Hǔ smiled. “We are working on that. Actually there are quite a few Creators here doing that and other things.”
“How many Creators?” Jeanette asked. “My brother is a Creator, but there is only him where we are. Uncle Jean, we must see this. Where are they?”
“I’m not sure. On the Cape or nearby. I would go to the mermaid dancing on Monday. It is the last one of the season and I imagine that they want to do something special.”
We walked into the Hunt club and the usual things were going on with horses. Jeanette was distracted by something and ‘Hǔ and I were alone, so I asked, “So what is the plan?”
“Father and Noro are working something out. We need to have the werewolves die and a distraction so that we can get into the vault and remove the box that supposedly has the Dragon. The big problem right now is that Jídiànjí may be taking independent action in his usual style.”
“Has he learned from his mistakes and the events surrounding the Black Dragon?”
“Not that I have seen.”
“Then he could be going after kids again.”
“That’s what we are afraid of. Especially that girl there.”
There was a young girl riding the circuit and she and her horse were obviously comfortable with each other and she had an eye for the course. She sort of felt fae, but since she was about eleven or twelve, it was hard to tell. “Who is she?”
“Katherine Ravitz, Boris and Stephie’s daughter.”
“The Bear’s daughter?”
“Yes.”
“Why would they want to take that risk?”
“They want revenge on Tom and the Troubleshooter. Since father hasn’t been as aggressive about taking Tom’s Dragon as they think that he should be, they may be thinking of more forceful methods.”
The girl finished the course, dismounted and joined another girl as they headed toward the stableyard. She must have been the last of the young girls division as the next rider was older, about Jeanette’s age. About the time that the third rider in the next group had gone by, a group of large foxes appeared, fircrackers went off and the foxes were pursued by two rather small dragons that were more or less discreet. ‘Hǔ looked at me and said, “Jídiànjí apparently decided to take things into his own hands. What an idiot.”
“I think that we need to find out if he took the girls or not. We don’t want any girls near him for very long.”
‘Hǔ looked at me. “He does have some bad habits. I’m surprised that you knew about them.”
“I was with the Black Dragon for nine months and he had me looking into his associates before we left Hong Kong. I was also looking into his adversaries and there had been encounters.”
“If I get the chance, I will tell him that it is in his very best interest to leave the girl alone. I have been up in Vermont and the girl’s mother and her sister have reputations.”
“The whole family does. I think that I must find my niece.”
She had gone off wandering on her own and I hadn’t been paying attention. I noticed Alex and some others, along with Tim and his mentor, so I headed in that direction. It turned out to be a group of people setting up a search for two girls and a boy that had gone missing. Jeanette was there, holding the girls horses. I went to her and asked, “So what happened?”
“Two girls were taken by a Chinese man. There were also those strange foxes.”
“Why are you watching these horses?”
“So that the boy who was watching them can help his family. I said that I would watch the horses.”
Alex must have spotted me because he came over and said, “Jean, it looks like our old friends are up to things again.”
“Who is the girl they took?”
“They took three kids in all. The one they really wanted was Eric’s granddaughter and Boris’s daughter.”
“Here? Is Noro back from Hawaii?”
“Yes. Who is this young lady?”
Jeanette smiled. “I am Jeanette, Jean’s niece. I came here from France for a trip.”
Two young men came over and one of them said, “Thanks, Jeanette, for taking care of ‘Nia and Stacey. I didn’t want to just leave them alone.”
“It was a pleasure, Tony. Of course you owe me a date now.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem. Where are you staying?”
She told the young man where our hotel was and he took one of the horses and headed toward a parking area with horse trailors. I turned to Jeanette and asked, “So who is he?”
“Tony Benton. I was looking to see if I could talk to the girl who had the very nice horse and see if she knew where she had been bred and he was taking care of her for his cousin. Then his cousin disappeared and his grandfather needed him. He promised me a date in exchange for looking after the horses.”
“Did you know who the girl was?”
“I’m not going to say. There was a list of competitors at the hedquarters tent. You did mention that the Bentons would be here.”
“You are certainly not wasting any time.”
“When an opportunity presents itself, why waste it. Right now it is just a date anyway.”
Alex.
Saturday September 10, 1932.
After a while, it was fairly obvious that the girls and Andy were taken. George’s people had found several people that had seen the girls and Andy get in a car, but thought that the man taking them was some sort of servant. Considering my rather chaotic family, I wasn’t too surprised. Xing was talking to the two little dragons and I walked over to where Boris was with some of Eli’s family, Al and local police putting a search plan together. ‘Hǔ and Kitty were talking to Eric and Greta before heading to a car. I went over and Greta said, “They are going to find little Tiger, Fritz and the others and check out the known places where the Yaoguai have been known to frequent.”
I looked over at the horses, who were being watched over by a young lady that I had not seen before. “Who is that young lady?”
“Tony found her, or she found him. Her name is Jeanette and she is visiting from France.”
Jean must have known the young lady as he went over and started to talk with her. I went over and we had a nice chat as I told Jean that the Yaoguai were up to their old tricks again and he introduced me to his niece, who wasn’t wasting any time with young Mr. Benton apparently. As she was distracted, Jean said, “We want to get the girls out of the Yaoguai’s hand as fast as possible. Especially Jídiànjí’s. He has a history.”
“I know. Xing told me. Of course the only reason that Jídiànjí is still alive is that Xing doesn’t want to make a rather indiscreet splash and Jídiànjí isn’t worth the effort. He’s trying real hard this time. The Tiger told him, “no hostages” and that the dragon is not in the vault. Yet he pulls this, which pisses Eric off, Josh off when he gets here, Eli off and Noro off, to say nothing of Stephie.”
Xing came over with the two little dragons and Jean asked, “So who are these two?”
“This Cordelia Yang and Míngliàng de lóng, our two little dragons.”
“’Delia asked, “Uncle Alex, you said that you would explain why we couldn’t stay in our Changes.”
“Did your Aunt Xing explain what happens when there are fae children and you are in your Change?”
“Yes she did.”
“Well, according to Stephie, a fair amount of the competitors here are fae. So you would not be able to hide and I didn’t want you making a scene. On the beach it would be different, but here is a bit too public.”
“We understand. The foxes got away anyway. They must have expected dragons.”
“I think they were looking out for your Aunt Xing and I as well as Boris and the rest.”
Hwaijeon caught up with the two and chivied them off with a lot of “Yes grandmothers” in both English and Chinese. Jean looked at them in befuddlement and said, “How did that happen?”
“Adjustments were made, I am told. It apparently wasn’t the first time.”
“That was Jim Yang’s daughter, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, along with his mother, who is taking care of all of us whether we like it or not.”
Xing must have heard that, because she said, “You like it, Alex. You know that.”
Al came over and said, “Alex, we’re not going to get anything done here. Let’s head back to the office.”
We got into the car and started back. Al asked, “Who were those two from France that were hanging around.”
“The man is the Master’s agent. He came with the Black Dragon. We want to free his family, if we can. It looks as if the family is trying to get at least some of them out from under without making too much of a fuss.”
“She latched right onto Tony, didn’t she?”
“I’m not surprised. I imagine that she is fairly motivated to find a good bond as fast as she can and the Bentons are proven very strong protectors. I’ve also been hearing things about Greta’s sister lately from Kitty and ‘Hǔ. They apparently both had run ins with her over there and the encounters were not pleasant. Of course Jeanette may be trying to be another Sphinx for the lady as a way of staying over here without ruffling too many feathers over there.”
“I haven’t had a chance to talk with Kitty yet. How is she with guns?”
“Used them during that battle the family had a long time ago and not since.”
“Noro said the same thing. I think that I should talk with her about that. Her life is going to change, she probably won’t be doing her old line of work for some time and ‘Hǔ probably has enemies. At least she has been shooting in the past. Eltra and I can also show her about the water tubes.”
“That is probably a good idea all around. At least Kitty isn’t as bad as Stephie was.”
“Don’t remind me.”
We arrived at the office and started to call around to police departments until Altris called us and said that the kids were on the ship with Paulo. Al looked at me and said, “Do you want to take a discreet look?”
“Why don’t we?”
With that, we drove over to the company’s pier and nothing much seemed to be happening until Joe showed up in Tom’s Cadillac in a suit worthy of Noro and Moria in the front seat with him. Joe strode up the gangway and went up to the bridge. There was shouting and Joe returned seemingly angry about something and drove off. Al and I laughed as we headed back to the car. Al said as we got in the car, “I guess Paulo told Joe something he didn’t want to hear.”
“We’ll have to find out.”
“Since it looks like things are more or less contained here, let’s talk to Altris and Noro.”
Captain Golfinho
Saturday September 10, 1932.
At about four o:clock, Joe showed up in Tom’s Cadillac. He looked the perfect playboy with floozy Moira waiting in the car. He strode up the gangway and up onto the bridge. I sensed to more fae on the dock and looked more closely. Al and Alex were more or less hiding discreetly on the dock, watching the ship. Altris had probably told them about the kids. Joe came into the bridge and I grinned. “Did you enjoy your Hawaian vacation and cruise?”
“Yes we did.”
“Where’s Josh?”
“New York with my mother. He’s checking in at the company and mother is going down and talking to Aunt Meria. They should be up Monday. Moira and I decided to come back so that she could see the doctor.”
“She’d getting red.”
“On the voyage back. We couldn’t exactly tell the ships doctor about it, so we came up as soon as we could.”
“Well welcome the dad club. It will be worth it.”
“So what’s going on here?”
“The Yaoguai took Katherine, Andy and my niece Sally hostage this morning at the horse show and brought them here.”
“That’s raising idiocy to new heights.”
“To be honest, I don’t think that the Yaoguai have figured out that I and most of the crew are fae and the rest are immune to compulsions.”
“This isn’t the same crew you had back at the beginning of the year?”
“Since we are going to China for real, I can’t draw down on the family like Altris and I did then. We need Jean for the boats for a week or so, Mac has to keep Tom’s shop running and a bunch of the rest have jobs doing various things. It wasn’t hard to get a crew anyway.”
“Persai is going with you, isn’t she?”
“Yes. The tank bed has already been installed.”
“So what’s supposed to happen with the kids?”
“You will have to ask your grandfather. I’m not sure other than the werewolves are going to run wild here.”
“Ok I’ll ask him. Did the Yaoguai happen to have the girl’s paperwork ready to go?”
“Strange that you mention it, they didn’t.”
“Ok then. CAPTAIN, YOU WILL MAKE SURE THAT ALL THE CREW AND PASSENER’S DOCUMENTS ARE IN ORDER, DO YOU UNDERSTAND. WE ARE NOT RUNNING SOME SORT OF CLANDESTINE IMMIGRATION SMUGGLING OR A SLAVER RING. YOU PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SLOPPY AND IT STOPS NOW. FROM NOW ON WE RUN A TIGHT SHIP WHEN IT COMES TO DOCUMENTS. I DON’T WANT A PUBLIC SCANDAL.”
“That should do it. I think that they probably heard some of it. So what is the excuse?”
“Joe Clayter, that spoiled fool is spending his grandfather’s money and running for office. His grandfather handed him this sketchy company and now he’s stuck with it and its gang of captains that are more like pirates.”
“I like it. Noro will too when you tell him. As long as you don’t really run for office. Is Mr. Claytor crooked?”
“Dad would kill me if I ran for office. Mom and government is bad enough. As for Mr. Claytor being crooked, look at who his grandfather and father are. He grew up crooked. I need to get back to my partying, drinking, crooked deals or whatever it is that I do in exchange for real work.”
He left and I got back to work until just before four bells when I went to find Albert, the steward and take dinner to our young passengers. He already had the tray ready and we headed to the cabin. I unlocked the door and Andy charged out. I grabbed him and he bit my hand, backed away just not far enough and went for his gun. I punched him in the face with my left hand and knocked the gun out with my right. “So that’s the way you want to play it, boy? I think that we can soften you up. Let me take you down to our brig.”
I dragged Andy below and to the room next to the engine that served as the ship’s brig. I dumped Andy in there and went back to collect his gun. Then I went over to Mr. Wu’s cabin and said, “Your people should have been more careful. The boy had this.”
Mr. Wu looked rather shocked at the little pistol. “Is it a toy?”
“Let’s find out.”
I went over to the water side, pointed the gun down at the water and pulled the trigger. There was a nice little bang and splash in the water. “Nope, not a toy. I think that I will hold on to it and sell it in Hong Kong. They might like a little gun like this.”
“So what was the noise about earlier?”
“That was our illustrious owner, Mr. Claytor. He was rather upset with some of the immigration documentation that the company has been dealing with.”
“Why?”
“Because it backsplashes on him and he’s running for congress in the fall. He wants to be seen as some ‘man of the people’ and not as crooked as he is.”
“Is he crooked?”
“His grandfather finances loansharks among other things and his dad ‘arbitrates’ the liquor business, among other things. The family comes to crookedness naturally.”
“So the grandfather will not care about irregular documents?”
“As long as he gets a cut, of course not. I make sure that he gets his cut, just as an insurance policy. I’ve heard about what your boss has tried to do to others. Don’t even think of stiffing the old man. That is if you have anybody at home that is looking for you to come back.”
Greta.
Saturday September 10, 1932.
I had asked Olivia where they were staying with Jean and Jeanette. I wasn’t sure yet if there was a real bond between Tony and Jeanette, but the signs were all there. I could influence that a bit, if our keystone cooperated. I wanted to talk with the young lady before welcoming her into the family. In many ways, she was like I was, brought over here and caught up by events. On the other hand, she had been in close contact with the Masters and their associates for a long time. So I used one of Noro’s cars to get to the hotel before my grandson dropped her off. She came in and I waved her over and said in my rather rusty French. “Hello, dear, I am Greta Benton. Since we may become family I thought that we should have a chat.”
“Shouldn’t you be having that chat with Mama.”
“If we could arrange to do that, that would make things a bit easier. Jean has said that there are issues concerning your brother that would make that difficult.”
“The fact that the Chancellor would not let my brother go easily. So what do you wish to discuss?”
“You and Tony. Is it something real, or do you have another agenda?”
“And if I say that I do?”
“Then I will appreciate your honesty.”
“I do have another agenda. I think that you can guess what it is.”
“You want your family out from under the Master’s thumb.”
“Not just Master’s thumbs. The Golden Butterfly’s as well. I’m tired of the subtle and not so subtle threats, the way she goes after my uncle and the way she hurts people so casually.”
“Why come to us?”
“Because you and your family are the unbonded’s obsession. If the Red Lady were not restraining her, she would be sending all sorts of things to you domain to attempt to destroy you. She sneaks things in when she can.”
“That hasn’t ended well for her and the things.”
“That has been frustrating to her, you wouldn’t believe how frustrating. She was not happy with the director and his ‘leniancy’ as far as you were concerned and was deeply disappointed in the Colonel.”
“Was she the one who found out about the diary?”
“I’m not sure. What was the diary?”
“The diary in question was my son Bradely’s war diary. Very few people knew it even existed and most of them wanted to keep its existence a secret even as they were using subtle and not so subtle attempts to find it or convince my son Tom to hand it over. The Colonel kidnapped my daughter in law in an attempt to get Tom to hand the dairy to him.”
“The Colonel must have wanted the diary very badly, or at least to not let the Masters see it. What did the diary contain?”
“Evidence of the Colonel’s poaching in the other masters reserve of fae and sending them to his domain.”
“That must be why my cousins live in Germany. But they seem to be free of Twisted.”
“The Colonel’s bonded attempts to keep things that way.”
“She must be very strong.”
“She is, and dedicated to keeping the dark out, which brings me to the topic of this conversation, as interesting as my sister is.”
“Don’t you care about what your sister is doing?”
“Probably nowhere near as much as I should be. I think that I would like to think of her as the young lady I knew when I was tossed on a boat when I was a bit older than you were and sent far away from everything that I knew. That worked out very well for me, but it has given me a large family and certain responsibilities. Since you keep bringing my sister up, whatever you were planning must involve her.”
“I was going to have my uncle report that I had bonded inot your family and volunteer to spy on you for the Unbonded. That way my uncle’s assignment would be extended and I could keep the Unbonded from gong after my family while I was here.”
“That probably wouldn’t work. Bonded become family and their loyalties change somewhat. You wouldn’t be the first to be sent to sort of spy on us and get drawn into the family. When you come up with us you will meet my niece and her husband, Tom. On the other hand I suspect that your communications are monitored and we could take advantage of that. How much does my sister know about me already?”
“Whatever she can. She was getting all the reports that the Director sent, that is the reports from Mr. Martin, she gets the New York papers sent to her and your local paper, as well as some other things. She is obsessed with you. I imagine that she will find somebody to send the things that the Director gave her at some point and send them over.”
“Would my sister take a letter that I sent to your mother or just read it.”
“I think that she would just read it, why?”
“Because I think that you are a fine girl and that my grandson is very lucky if it turns out to be true bond. How did the date go?”
“Wonderful. He took me around the city and showed me where the hitlroy of the country started. He’s taking me to see the Creators work tomorrow, since he is helping them. How did you get so many? My borther is the only one that I know of in Europe.”
“The Creators came over with their families with the rest of the fae. As to why we have so many, My son Tom is something rather unique, because he acquired the kinds of skills that a Creator has while being an unattached royal fae. So what he does attracts attention from Creators and since the Colonel put us in touch with so many and the others are connected with various close families, getting together and sharing helps everybody. Also, my grandsons and some others now need Construct for their business and buy all the jars that they can get.”
“Do you have a Creator at the farm?”
“We do not. Eric hasn’t pushed very hard to obtain one and we have Doug close by, though we didn’t tell our grandsons about him until the thing with the Colonel. Vera and I talk with each other fairly frequently.”
“If my brother were to come somehow?”
“I think that arrangements could be made. Now why don’t you go off and talk with your uncle about your wonderful date and write that letter to your mother that I am certain that you are going to write. I’m sure she will want to know all about the wonderful young man you found at the horse show.”
“Speaking of that, I am surprised that you are not looking for your granddaughter.”
“We don’t need to. She is with her new friend Sally sleeping over on Sally’s uncle’s ship as it gets ready for a voyage to China. My grandson misbehaved somewhat and was put in the brig, below the waterline, which will please his bonded. This has been a very interesting conversation and we hope to be seeing you again, even if the bond turns out not to be real.”
She left to find her uncle and I went back to the car. When I arrived at the Hotel at the Cape, Eric was waiting. “How did it go?”
“It was interesting. She wants to spy on us for my sister as an excuse to stay here.”
“Your sister will want that, since the Director and his associates are gone. Other than the boys, we haven’t had any new fae recently.”
“My sister is hardly the first one wanting to spy on us. Miss Vicky sent Tom. Of course that lasted only up until Tom ran into May and connected. Tom has been a bit reticent about his family and we never knew that Miss Vicky was family until she came to Chrissie’s party.”
“I don’t think that Tom wanted to admit that he had come up to spy on us because of our Tom, who was down in Washington. Certainly he has been a fine addition to the family and having him at the store is a big help.”
“Jeanette was offering her brother the Creator if we could get him over. That may turn out to be handy.”
“We have had Doug and I haven’t felt a strong need to have one of our own. Doug isn’t dependent on the Martins. On the other hand, a Creator can be an asset and I suspect that losing the Creator would be a greater blow to the Master’s than we know. I just hope that he is not too tainted by the dark.”
“I suspect that he is not. Spoiled perhaps, and kept in an bit of a very gilded cage. Since he is the last, I suspect that the Chancellor keeps a very close eye on him and the masters keep a strong hands off.”
“Is he bonded?”
“We could ask Jeanette. I suspect not, because Jeanette never mentioned a family attached.”
“That means that his ability to make Constructs is at best very limited. Bob and Scott can have their shoots because the Creators here all have large families with chidren that they can draw on. How many brothers or sisters does Jeanette have?”
“She hasn’t said. I don’t think that is very many. The family doesn’t seem to be tied to a keystone and I suspect that there are very strong drives to not have a large family.”
“So even if it is just Jeanette here, the Masters may be weakened significantly. So what do you think of Jeanette in general.”
“I think that she is a bright young girl dealing with significant issues that would overwhelm other fae as best she can. She is loyal to her family and wants the best for them. In general, I think that she is a fine girl and good match for Tony.”
“She will have to get used to certain things like not having servants and helping with the work. You did.”
“I did, and that has actually turned out to be much easier than I would have imagined. In any case, none of our daughters shirk from that and I don’t expect that she will either. She seems willing to struggle for something that is important.”
“I’m a bit surprised that your sister hasn’t gone after Bill and Hilda.”
“I don’t think that her mistress will let her. She may try to convince a Twisted to go after them, but unless it is a bigger thing than a single Twisted, it won’t accomplish anything. I have been neglecting my sister. I think that I will talk with Kitty and ‘Hǔ about my sister tomorrow as well as having a discussion about her with Jean and Jeanette. I think that I have been keeping my head in the sand long enough.”
“Your sister has been trying to attract your attention for long enough. I wonder what she will do now that she has it?”
“She probably won’t apologize, but I can live with that.”

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