The Tiger and Guardian, Chapter 37, Part 4 and end.

Here’s the last part of chapter 37. Some hijinks and a ship departure.

Sunday September 11, 1932.
My wife had been steady throughout this ordeal. Though the cracks were starting to show. As we sat in the hotel room after we returned from watching the ship in the morning, she sat and cleaned both her little rifle and the small pistol that she had had Larry make after the thing with the Colonel. Then she cleaned one of Tom’s 1911’s and loaded it. Consdidering that there were only twenty Yaoguai, loading a hundred cartridges into magazines was very unlike my wife. I did know that if the Yaoguai hurt my daughter, it would not be me that they had to worry about. I had reputation going back to before the turn of the century and most people over there who would do nasty things knew my reputation and knew about my family’s reputation. I knew that the Yaoguai had been told, by many people about me and Eric. I’m not sure that they had been told about my wife. I said to my wife, “Are you sure that you want to do what I think that you are thinking about?”
“If they hurt Katherine, yes. They will not die easily. In fact I will not kill them. But they will not be able to do very much and one thing, they will not be able to do at all.”
“I don’t think that Persai or Paulo would let the Yaoguai hurt the girls.”
“I’m sure that they wouldn’t. but things happen and I want to be ready. In any case, this ends tomorrow. I don’t want to spoil Tom’s birthday present.”
“What about work?”
“I called the school. The lesson plans are already done and Julia can take my classes for a week or so. Gretchen and Ed are going up with the boys tomorrow and she can take at least some of the classes.”
Noro came and said, “Have they called yet?”
“Not yet. You are here as Mr. White. Won’t they pick up that Mr. White and Mr. P. are the same person?”
“Very few people have over the years. Mr. P. is all menace and being obviously crooked. Mr. White is the mysterious and benevolent financier and philanthropist.”
“Which one came first.”
“Mr. White. I created him when I neede an alias when I was plying games on the street. Liltra started the philanthropist part somewhat. Mr. P. happened when I needed a tough guy to look for Josh on the barges. I thought that if I looked tougher and more menacing than Josh, that the barge people would just give him up. It turned out that it is almost impossible to have people betray or work against Josh and that people know that there are very few as tough and ruthless as Josh can be. I had to bring Mr. White in the picture and Liltra before they would point me at Josh and that was only because Mera told them to. Mr. P. has been useful for things after the Peacekeeper stopped the wars for things that don’t rate the peacekeeper’s attention.”
The door knocked again and it was Altris with box. “This is the dragon that Persai made that Tom put in his office. Tom probably won’t mind if you hand it over, but Chrissie will. If the Yaoguai knew what they were playing with, they wouldn’t even dream of touching this, let alone Tom’s dragon.”
I looked at Altris. “How did Chrissie get such a large reputation. Everyone here seems to be a bit frightened of her.”
“You have to understand that, after about ten or so, Chrissie was left up top with Josh when Mera went under sea. My sister tried to be there for Chrissie, but the bower was far out in the bay and father was in the early stages of his grief. So that left Chrissie without her mother, grandfather and even Josh much of the time. As a result of looking for affection, Chrissie tried to charm everybody that she encountered, including, thanks to Josh being the Peacekeeper, quite a few rather nasty characters. Chrissie being what she is, the charming worked and some of those characters started to do Chrissie little favors. No kneecaps or people disappeared and the wildest thing was the run in with Kitty, but people around here know that messing with Chrissie can mean that you may be having a rather scary discussion that you would rather not have.”
“As George discovered when Sal talked with him,” I said.
“Sal got there first and George was lucky. Chrissie is a lot more careful now and has made it clear that unless she asks for somebody to get a discussion, that people should just let her handle it. People around here know that she can.”
“Thus what went on at the Academy,” Stephie said. “A lot of people said that the Academy was rather mild for Chrissie.”
“She only made two phone calls and one of those was to the blind.”
“The people there were hardly going to let her have access to the phone.”
“They did, twice. If she had felt that she needed a phone, a phone, and a line, would have been provided.”
“What about the werewolves?”
“They wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. If Chrissie hadn’t wanted to keep things discreet, by the time the Colonel showed up, she would have taken the place over, the werewolves would have been providing security and the visitors would have been at the bottom of the lake. I am so glad that the Tiger decided to do this while Tom and Chrissie were away.”
“I hadn’t realized that Chrissie had gotten that bad,” Noro said. “I should have paid better attention.”
“Yes you should have. You knew that Chrissie was royal and what could happen. After all my sisters did the same sorts of things during the revolution and before. We let you off easy. Now we are going to make you work again.”
“With security like this morning? You were more than a bit sloppy.”
‘How so?”
“You didn’t have the ceiling shielded in the vault.”
“True. But I couldn’t make it impregnable or Tom, who did the shielding in any case, would have been rather annoyed.”
“How come you didn’t have more people in the offices and wandering around.”
“I didn’t beef up security because you would have spotted that. I did have some people on the street, but nobody saw a car other than the O’doul’s and suddenly there was that accident and the turkey chase. The boys were all busy out there at the Creator’s meeting and I just had the police who had only seen cars that they knew and the turkeys. You borrowed the O’doul’s car didn’t you? Very sneaky. I’ve been trying to convince Jim for years not to leave it at the store with the keys in it. Tom got what he wanted in any case and it is his dragon. The pictures will make great entertainment at the family meeting.”
“You have pictures?”
“Oh yes. That was part of the deal that I made with Tom. He rigged up photo electric eye cameras in the vault, the hall outside the vault, upstairs, and in the parking lot. I used a phone call to turn them on. I also had somebody down at the harbor watching for Tom’s boat and somebody at the boatyard.”
“You were ashore? None of the kids spotted you.”
“I just built a new house. I’m guessing that none of the kids thought to look to see if I had moved in. Raillia and I moved in last week. We haven’t pulled the stuff from Josh’s yet, but that is mostly books and some clothes. The tank bed was ready and the rest was easy.”
The phone rang and the front desk said that there was a Mr. Wu waiting in the lobby. We all trooped down. My wife had a sheet of paper folded in her hands.
We arrived at the lobby and there was a man waiting. I must have started to go full bear as he looked at me a bit nervously. He was about to learn that it wasn’t me that he should be afraid of. The man said, “Mr, Ravitz, I am here to discuss the terms of an exchange for your daughter and the other two children.”
I think that the bear was very close to the surface. “What does Jídiànjí want?”
“He wants an object in Mr. Benton’s possession. He tried to make a deal for the object earlier in the year. Tom turned him down and embarrassed Mr. Li. Mr. Li did not like being thrown in the trash.”
“Tom was not responsible for that, Jídiànjí’s neighbors made that call. They were tired of Jídiànjí’s behavior. Tom had come up here and went back to work.”
“Mr. Li believes that Mr. Benton set the Troubleshooter on him.”
“I doubt that Tom would care enough about Mr. Li, even when he did have him driven downtown and threatened him, something that is a whole new grade of stupid, to make that call. He didn’t need to call Sal over something he didn’t care about.”
“Mr.Benton wanted Mr.Li dead.”
“Mr. Li is still around? Because if he is, Tom didn’t think that he needed to remove him. On the other hand, Tom is loose about people who threaten him. Mr. Li has even been allowed to stay in the States. Trust me, if Tom had felt that he needed to deal with Mr. Li in a permanent fashion, Mr. Li would not have been here to do what he just did. Mr.Li tried to open a negotiation in a very stupid and poor way and Tom decided that he would rather not do business with somebody like that.”
“In any case Mr. Li has your daughter and wants the object that he approached Mr. Benton for.”
“Here is Mr. Posidenitus with the object that has been in Tom’s office.”
Altris came forward and opened the box. The fact that the object was inert in Mr. Wu’s presence said that the dragon in the box was not the real thing. Mr. Wu looked at it and said, “This not the object in question. There is another one that we have been told was in your vault.”
“That may be more difficult,” Altris said. “The vault was raided by some associates of yours this morning and one box was removed. The box was one that Tom had put inside the vault some time ago. At the same time, all of Tom’s offices and homes here and in New York raised very strong shields and disappeared. You have to discuss with your associates about the object that they retrieved and what the path forward is.”
Noro said, “My name is Mr. White. Mrs. Benton is my granddaughter and it was my building that Mr. LI’s associates took Mr. Benton from while I was discussing business with a tenant. My people called me about the abduction almost immediately and my tenant sent some people to collect Mr. Benton. They did, and Mr. Benton went to lunch with my granddaughter and then returned here to the Cape. He hardly had the need or the time to call the Troubleshooter and have him deal with Mr. Li. Nor did I. Frankly I forgot about the incident by the end of the day. But my tenant told me that Mr. Li had been making a pest out of himself in Chinatown and the fish market and other places for some time. I suspect that the people there called upstairs and upstairs called the Troubleshooter and said that there was some trouble that needed to be told that it was in danger of being shot.”
Stephie handed the sheet of paper that she had been holding to Mr. Wu. “Apparently nobody has told you about my sister and I and our little contest. You were up in our neighborhood recently, but apparently were not paying attention. I just wanted Mr. Li know that if he continues the bad habits that people have told me that he has in the past and even thinks of touching my daughter or the other girl, he should look at that and think again.”
He looked at the paper. “What is this?”
“A target. One of many.”
He held it up. There were two holes about three inches apart. “This would not appear to indicate that you are an exceptional shot. Why are you handing me this?”
“Look more closely. I didn’t just fire two rounds at that target. We were trying multiple aiming points as fast as possible at that point. I brought that with me, along with others to show Kitty what I could do because mother wanted me to discuss shooting with her. I figured that the aiming points on that target are about the same distance that two things that Jídiànjí likes to have and that this would remind him that keeping those things relies on the fact that my daughter and her friends are returned to me intact and happy. If they are not returned or not returned untouched, I would feel that I would have to take steps. Mr. Li should think about that and the fact that he has a lot of enemies in his country who would probably be willing to help me. I want him to think about that as long as he has my daughter.”
“I will take this and tell him that. In his current mood that will probably not influence him. As for the object, one way or another it must be in his hands by tomorrow afternoon or he will feel that he can do with your daughter what he wills.”
“That will not end well for him, trust me on that,” Stephie said. “I have not performed the dance of death for a while now. Not since the thing with the Manager, in fact. I guess that the Manager was not a big enough splash. I would remember that all of you of you are now carrying my touch of death.” She touched Mr. Wu lightly on the forehead. “Do not make me want to pull the trigger on the touch.”
He left, looking more than a bit frightened. I turned to Stephie and said, “I think that he got the message. I just hope that Jídiànjí listens.”
“It doesn’t really matter because Persai is on board and she won’t let the Yaoguai touch the girls.”
Noro said, “I have to go. I suspect that Mr. P. will need to discuss things with his wastrel grandson and provide support to an associate about dealing with some recaltitrant associates.”
He left and I said, “We should go back to the ship as well.”
The little meeting broke up and we returned to our vigil.
Captain Golfinho
Sunday September 11, 1932.
Little Tiger, who belied his name and I were watching as Mr. Wu strode up the gangway, up to the promenade deck and over to Jídiànjí’s cabin. A vigorous conversation started and Little Tiger said, “I wish that we could hear what they are saying.”
“We can.”
I put out a sense string to the door and suddenly we had a string of rather frightened and rather angry Chinese. “I’m guessing that Mr. Wu did not have a good time with Boris and Stephie.”
Little Tiger said, “Stephie threatened to shoot Jídiànjí’s yīnnáng off if he touched the girls.”
“So she told him that she would make him a eunuch. I imagine that Jídiànjí would miss those parts. What else?”
“She mentioned a touch of death that all the Yaoguai now all carry and performing a dance of death. Can she do that?”
“There are stories from the thing with the Manager and they were scary for both Stephie and Hilda. I wasn’t involved with that, so I don’t know the details. What I do know is that a bunch of Twisted died very quickly and almost silently.”
“I will ask Number Two son. He saw some of it as a result of the thing with the Black Dragon.”
The conversation went on and Little Tiger said, “Wu is telling Jídiànjí that the Bentons said that the box had been taken from the vault this morning. I suspect that the timing was not an accident.”
“The box was supposed to be removed at some point this weekend. It was a game between Altris and Noro, with Tom making his contribution.”
“He isn’t here.”
“That is part of it. The box and the puzzle he built is his birthday present for his sister Stephie, the same Stephie that Jídiànjí is messing with and who is probably not only upset that Jídiànjí took her daughter, but that Jídiànjí is forcing her to waste her time so that she can’t play with Tom’s gags.”
The conversation broke off and Wu went back to his cabin. Little tiger was laughing and I asked, “What was so funny?”
“Wu just told Jídiànjí everything that Uncle and Number Two son have been telling him for weeks and apparently he still doesn’t believe it. Uncle told him straight out that if he took hostages that the Bentons would be looking to kill him and that the Dragon was no longer in the box in the vault. Jídiànjí has been angry with us because we didn’t rush in where he had already failed once and the young man made the Yaoguai look as stupid as they are. He can’t get it out of his head that the last thing he wants is Mr. Benton’s attention.”
“Sal dropped him in the trash once. Sal is up here this weekend for the Creator’s thing. The poor fool.”
I went back to the bridge with a smile. Shortly afterwards, ‘Hǔ and Kitty and showed up and walked in. “Hi captain. We’re wating for Jean and a special addition to the cargo. It is something that you will need for some third class passengers who will be arriving tomorrow.”
The derrick was over the side and lifting a large crate of bleating sheep. I looked at it and said, “The old lady wants to make sure that her boys have all the comforts of home. It is a good thing that we have acquired a new boy with experience with farm animals. We can set up a pen in the foc’sle.”
‘Hǔ laughed. “I imagine that the boy does. Both of them, in fact. Where are the young ladies.”
“With my wife, the last time I checked. I think that all of them are in the galley.”
“Anything else happen?”
“Mr.Wu went to have a discussion with somebody about the acquisition of something. It did not go well. Something about something being removed from the vault this morning. I imagine that Julio is in trouble.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Kitty said. “I’m sure that we will find out all about it at the family meeting next Friday.”
“How is it going together?”
“Amazingly smoothly. Everybody is coming, even Ben and Lucy. Nobody has been obnoxious or acted up all. Abby is coming, even if Uncle Eli doesn’t.”
“Do you want him to come? George still tells stories about the last time that Noro and Eli were in a room together and that was an accident.”
“What happened. I missed that.”
“It happened in New York. George told me about it. This was just before Liltra was killed. There was some sort of thing going on at a hotel near Grand Central in New York and Eli went. White’s had a dinner at the same place on a Friday night. This was just after the building on Park Avenue was finished and Eli probably didn’t know that the company wasn’t still downtown. So Noro is giving a little speech to his people, Eli walks by and Abby can’t stop him from going off about what a creep Noro is. Really hits Noro with everything and hits hard. Liltra comes over and Eli takes after her, which gets him kicked out real fast. But Eli was pushing Noro’s buttons and knew exactly which ones to press. George said that he’d never seen Noro like that until Liltra was killed. In any case we want to prevent Eli from going after Noro again if we can.”
“How did Uncle get back at Eli.”
“As far as I know, he never did. He just stood there and took it and then when Eli was kicked out, went right on as if it had never happened.”
“I will have to ask George and Abby for the details. There’s Jean, so why don’t we get our werewolves transferred.”
I went with them as they went down to the gangway and went down to the pier. Down on the pier was somebody that I hadn’t met. Kitty said, “Jean, this is Captain Golfinho, who will be your captain on this voyage.”
I looked at him with more than a bit of a frown. “So you can tell me why you are taking the long road to Europe.”
“I felt that it would be more discreet.”
“So you are risking my crew by aflicting us with werewolves for three months.”
“I am taking steps to avoid the risks, for instance the animals that I have acquired. Mr. P. has approved this.”
“Very well. I will also take steps. Let us go to the office and get the paperwork squared away. As we walked up to the office I quietly said in French, “Is he gone?”
“Qui,” Kitty said. “He is heading back up the gangway.”
We strode up to the office and when we were inside we started to laugh. I stopped laughing to say, “I don’t think that he figured out that we knew he was following us down from the bridge. He probably saw you come up the gangway and followed us back down to figure out what was going on. I hope he got an earful.”
“By the way, captain, Eli says fifteen minutes,” Jean said.
“So how did their show go? We were supposed to go, but the Yaoguai played their games with the kids and we had to stay here.”
“It was amazing. So many new things that they were doing. One thing I found amazing was how they mixed the new and the old.”
‘I’m sorry that I missed it. I hope that we can make a good show with the werewolves. I need to talk to Mr. P. about ‘preparations’ for the monster that suddenly get loose.”
“Talk to me about what? The guns you already have and the canvas sacks that just happen to be the same size as a body?” Noro had just walked in with the Tiger.
“Those things and the hoses that George’s people have left out. Jean just said that Eli said fifteen minutes.”
Kitty looked a Noro. “Speaking about Uncle Eli, Uncle, how come you didn’t bring the family together and tell them about what Uncle Eli did to you at your company dinner. That was inexcusable.”
“Who told you about that?”
“It doesn’t matter. Somebody should have said something about it a long time ago.”
“I didn’t say something because Eli was there by accident and I didn’t want to make it worse than it was. He was kicked out of the room and Abby called and apologized later. Eli is what he is. He was trying to transfer the hurt he has on to me. After losing Lili, I think I understand why now. I think that that was his way of not letting the hurt overwhelm him. Since we hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, he never actually expressed why feels the way he does directly to me.”
“You didn’t even get back at him.”
“Lili was killed right after and I went deep into the same sort of grief that Eli has been suffering already. I didn’t want to start a family war over that in any case. I was somewhat responsible for what happened in any case.”
“How? By having the company have a dinner next to the office. I’m going to talk to Abby about this.”
Noro looked rather miserable. I don’t think that Kitty knew about Noro’s relapses yet. I made a note to myself make sure that Altris told her about them as soon as possible. I turned to Kitty. “We have more important things to discuss right now. Let’s get the boys dead and the kids ashore or under the water. Then we can talk to Eli about this and maybe get it cleared up. Right now, the boys and the kids are more important than old family arguments.”
“You are not even family, Paulo?”
“My sister married Eli’s granddaughter and my niece is with Katherine. So I have an interest in this and a family interest. There are bigger things at stake here.”
“You’re right, Paulo. I’m sorry.”
A man and a woman came into the office with Boris and Stephie. Boris said, “Paulo, Kitty, ‘Hǔ, Chen Hǔ, this Ed and Gretchen Martin. Their son seems to have disappeared and they want to make sure that he doesn’t end up on a boat to China by mistake.”
“Is that Bruce?”
“My engineer put him to work when he showed up in engineering rather wet. There is a tail under the ship that seems to be attached to him. He’s keeping an eye on Andy for Andy’s tail. Since we don’t have provision for the tails, I will make sure that the boys are ashore or in the water before we leave, or at least as we are clearing the point on the way out. I’m surprised that you didn’t know about this.”
“We came up from New York with some others and were going to the Creator thing with some friends and meet up with Eric, Greta and the rest. We didn’t hear about the kids being taken until last night, but we knew Andy. Andy was at the Creator thing and we didn’t know that Bruce went back to the ship with him. Actually I am not surprised that he did that. Bruce and Andy were planning to pull the same stunt during the Colonel, with the same ship, in fact.”
I grinned “That meant they were planning something against me then as I was captain then too. That was before I knew how much trouble those two were.”
“We were able to stop them that time, though we had to stop the Colonel to do it,” Gretchen said. “They got away this time. The problem is Ed’s affliction and we went up to Lake Placid and then back while Andy and Bruce have been swimming around down here.”
“Ed, may Mr. P. borrow you for a bit?” Noro said. “I think that you can deliver a bit of menace when Paulo and I have a little performance for our poor foxy friends. Chen Hǔ is going to be discussing certain things with Mr. Li at the same time.”
“We’ll stay here,” Boris said. “Stephie might shoot something and we don’t want to do that quite yet.”
Stephie slapped her grinning husband on the shoulder. “Boris, I am not going to shoot Jídiànjí and Wu, even though they deserve it.”
Noro said, “Paulo, Ed let’s go.”
As we marched down the pier, Noro said, “You handled Kitty very well. Did you tell her about my encounter with my brother?”
“It slipped out. It was something that was a long time ago and I was trying to warn her off being too enthusiastic about you and Eli being in the same room. George told us at the last morning meeting Friday. He wanted us to know about certain concerns between you and Eli. Kitty ran with it more than I thought that she would. The scary part is what is going to happen when Chrissie gets back.”
“I know. What are these morning meetings?”
“Once a month, Julio, Daisy, Jean, Tony, Millie, Mac, George, Joe and I along with George now at Helen’s and catch up with the business.”
“You didn’t mention Altris or Josh. Do they attend?”
“No. Josh was there one time at the same time, but he didn’t talk with us or participate. This is mostly the business staff finding out what Julio ran into at night. Mostly we talk about things like the mermaids looking for tank beds and loose werewolves that might show up on the boats. Or any Jacob Martin issue that happened.”
Ed laughed, “My father wasn’t THAT bad, was he?”
“Yes, he was, but it was some of your nephews that were worse. I think that you know which ones.”
“I do and they are being kept at home and on a very short leash until they learn that using compulsions and other things is not something that you do to people. They are also spending a good deal of time out on the road working for the county to pay my father back for the fines he’s paid for them all these years. If Bob and Scott can pay their fines, my nephews can pay theirs the same way. If they don’t like working for the county fixing roads and digging ditches, most of them have expensive college educations and can add. The business office needs work and it’s there if they want it.”
“If they want work, they can come down here and find it, after they prove that they can work. Tom, for instance, gets a lot of credit here because people here know he can work a boat and make a living at it if he has to.”
“Nobody ever said anything to me about Jacob,” Noro said. “I didn’t even know about him until he walked up at the parade and proceeded to put his foot in his mouth with every word.”
“That was my fault,” Ed said. “I was under compulsion to keep certain things discreet, had my father under compulsion, had to deal with my affliction and told father to just push what I thought was Eric and Greta away. It thought that the worst that would happen was that the Director would have to send some Twisted for Bill to kill as a distraction and things would return to normal. Then you all show up, take over the Olympics and the rest of it. So what do you need me for?”
“Just to growl a bit,” Noro said. “I think that should be enough.”
“It’s too late now but we should have stopped at a butcher shop. You can do wonders with raw liver cubes and some hints.”
Noro grinned. “I will keep that in mind if we ever do this again.”
We went up the gangway and when I was fairly sure that Mr. Wu would hear us and follow I started to yell, “MR. P. I KNOW THAT YOU LIKE YOUR FURRY PET HERE. BUT I DON’T LIKE WEREWOLVES ABOARD.”
Noro looked around and said, “Captain, you shouldn’t insult Edward like that. After all, the full moon is this week. He’s very good with his monster, but things do happen.”
“That’s my point. If you won’t let me delay departure until Friday, at least send me some guns.”
“Mr. Tobaire assures me that he has made preperations, including providing live food. The passengers are to be delivered in Marseilles on the 2nd of November. If we delay departure making that timetable will be very difficult.”
“I can make the timetable with the delay.”
“If that is the only delay. Those laggards in the docks at shanghai always slow things up.”
“I can find a crew to help get the tea loaded. Your new friends have been very helpful and have connections.”
“NO! No delays. You will depart on schedule.”
“Well get me the guns, then.”
“I can do that. Have some people at the office in two hours.”
We walked into my cabin and Persai was reading a book to the two girls. She looked up and said, “Paulo, who is this?”
“This Ed Martin,” Noro said.
“Hi Uncle Ed,” Katherine said. “Bruce is below getting greasy and dirty with Andy.”
“So what are you all up to now?” Persai asked with a grin.
“I’m asking the disreputable Mr.P. for a delay in our departure. For some reason he won’t give it to me. He will send some guns as protection against werewolves though.”
“Ed I don’t think that I have met you yet, though Paulo and I ran into Gretchen at Bennie’s when were there recently. All I’ve heard about you is good things though, with the exception of your affliction which was hardly your fault. Do not let this old fool and my husband get carried away, will you?”
“I’ve been on the other side of that once already, Ma’am,” Ed said with a bit of a loopy grin.
“It’s Persai, I hope, and since you cured your father, you have a lot of slack down here and below. Tell Gretchen that I should have the things ready for the benefit next year if I can get Alex and Xing to stand still for a bit.”
“Alex and Xing?”
“I’ve been doing dragons and I want live models.”
“Why don’t you recruit the Little Dragons, Persai?” Noro said.
“Who are they?”
“I will introduce you before you depart if I can. Paulo, we need to make the arrangements.”
We left and as I looked down the deck there were Kitty, ‘Hǔ, Chen Hǔ and Jean were confronting Jídiànjí and Wu. I quietly said, “we should listen to the this.”
I put the sense string out and Chen Hǔ was saying, “Fools, I got the box, just like I planned.”
Wu was translating for Kitty. That was useful as my Chinese was at best, limited and very rusty. “Then you have the Dragon?”
“I do not.”
“Then we should keep the hostages.”
Chen Hǔ held up the key, “This what was in the box. Tom set up an elaborate puzzle for his sister with the Dragon at the end so that I would assist. The same sister whose daughter you took. The problem is that it will take time to open the lock and the only person who can open it more quickly will not be here for another three weeks and you are departing tomorrow.”
“We will take the girl with us.”
“And do what you have done with girls in the past? You must have supreme confidence that Mrs. Ravitz would never find you and dispose of you. I doubt that you will be allowed to leave with the girl. Either girl. The boy can probably take care of himself. Watch him very carefully. In any case, I cannot afford the strain of working with people who my associates have angered.”
“Then I will end my association with you and pursue my own path. I have been in contact with my brother and he recommended that when I told him that your son was consorting with the other side.”
“Very well. Then I accept no responsibility for your past and future actions.”
We continued to approach the group and Wu looked at us and said, “Who is that?”
Noro managed to look very menacing with just a tiny change in his stance. “Ed? He does thing for me from time to time. Ed these are some former associates that have overstayed their welcome. They kidnapped some girls yesterday.”
“I heard. Along with a young man that nobody in their right mind would take. At least to keep alive. I hope that you have him secure.”
‘He is secure in the brig.”
“I put him there,” I said. “I haven’t checked on him, though. His meals go in and the plates come out empty. Ed here says that he knows how to pick locks and the door on the brig is not that sturdy.”
Wu looked at Ed. “How do you know that boy?”
“He used to live up in my neighborhood and hang around with my boy and another friend. We used to call them the three menaces. They had access to Tom’s book long before it was published. They are actually making contributions for Tom and the next book.”
Suddenly there was a bit of a bang forward. Ed laughed and said, “Captain I think that your brig was not as secure as you thought it was. Why don’t we get this business finished and you can check up on Andy and my son. I doubt that they will try to sink your ship, but you will still want to keep an eye on them. Put them to work taking care of Mr. Tobaire’s provisions for his special charges. The provisions are looking tasty. Captain, I should have the things you wanted in about an hour. Send some people to pick them up.”
Noro and the rest strode off to the gangway as Jídiànjí and Wu looked at me rather nervously. When Noro and the rest were well out of earshot, Wu asked, “Who was that fellow?”
“Mr. P.’s pet enforcer. He uses him to put the bite on people occasionally. Just the fact that Ed is around keeps them in line.”
“He has a boy and he might be aboard?”
“A boy showed up this morning, below, in engineering. Raphaelo is keeping him busy. Not busy enough, it appears. I need to see what is going on.”
I left the two rather scared looking men and went down to engineering. The door on the brig did not seem to be locked. Raphaelo had a crew working on boiler startup and when I walked up said, “We should have steam soon.”
“At least Mac caught most of the problems.”
“Yes he did.”
“Where are the boys?”
“Running errands for me and Roger. As well as keeping our foxy passengers entertained.”
“So you know what they are doing?”
“Yes, were the foxy passengers entertained?”
“Bruce’s rather furry dad showed up wih Mr. P. Our foxy passengers were scared silly.”
“Ed? I bet that that was impressive. Did he do the gag with the peanuts?”
“What gag with the peanuts?”
“Back when Ed was compelled by the Director, he used to meet in railroad stations and buy a bag of peanuts from the snack machine. The first time he pulled the gag, he bought some chopped liver at a butcher shop and told the Director that it was kid’s liver. After that he just used peanuts. Scared the willies out of the Director for years.”
“Ed came with Boris and Stephie and we didn’t have any liver or peanuts. Ed wanted too though. In any case, our passengers were scared silly. I need to chase down the boys.”
“Send them back to me. I want them to check around in the water and make sure that thing are ship shape with the girls. As long as we have them, I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them.”
“I’ll do that.”
I followed the occasional bang and found the boys discreetly setting up yet more little noisemakers. Andy spotted me, looked around and became visible with Bruce. “Hi captain. We’re scaring the Yaoguai.”
“As well as getting greasy and dirty in engineering. Raphaelo wants you. He wants you and the girls to do a look around at the ship.”
“We can do that. Bruce let’s go.”
“By the way, Bruce, you should have told your dad where you were going.”
Bruce frowned. “He was here?”
“He and your mother were a bit concerned that you were planning to take over the ship.”
“Not from you, captain. We just want to keep the Yaoguai too nervous to be thinking about certain things. We don’t want them hurting the girls.”
“Don’t worry about that. I think that your dad made them very nervosu indeed.”
The boys headed toward the comnpanionway and below. I headed back to the bridge. George was watching some activity forward and I said, “In about an hour or so, send some people to the office for some hardware.”
He grinned. “Werewolf insurance?”
“Yes. The big good wolf was here, looking for his son and I had a discussion and made some arrangements.”
“We had insurance already, but I’m guessing that you wanted to make visible arrangements.”
“Mr. P. did. He also wanted our passenger a bit scared. Ed did that.”
“Did he do the thing with the peanuts?”
“Am I the only one who hasn’t seen that?”
“Probably. Of course you haven’t been working the boats this year. If it happens you will enjoy it.”
Sunday September 11, 1932.
The wonderful Creator’s meeting wound down and Xing and Eltra took the kids and the rest to Joe’s for dinner. Al and I were going with the little dragons to meet Kitty, ‘Hǔ, Stephie and Boris at the ship. Xing had insisted that I take the little dragons after Kitty had called and said that she wanted them to meet Persai. Persai had Swum into the pool and introduced herself when we took the house. She had known Eltra for a long time and had just returned from hosting a cruise with her husband, Paulo, who was captain. Now they were taking a world cruise and disposing of some trash. Since Persai, who was a rather famous artist, was doing dragons, Xing and Kitty wanted to see if we could convince the little dragons to go on the cruise with her and come back with their parents on the return trip. At the very least, the two troublemakers could make the Yaoguai’s life miserable.
We arrived at the pier and went into the office. Boris was there with ‘Hǔ and Kitty.
Kitty smiled as we walked in. “You brought them, Alex!”
“I’m not sure why you wanted this much trouble, but here it is.”
“Uncle wanted to introduce them to Persai. Persia wants live dragons as models and ‘Delia said that she wants to learn to paint when we talking together, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did. We have a painter at the kingdom who has been teaching me, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do here. Eveything here has been new and more experience than I am used to.”
“You’ve been having fun, haven’t you?”
“We’ve been having a lot of fun, Haven’t we, Ming?”
‘Yes we have, but the responsibility in your kingdom is larger than I expected when we came. Aunt said that it was just you and my cousin and we were needed. It turned out that you had a large family and I’m not sure that I am ready to manage something that size for you. I need to go and bring back some records so that we can arrange for me to go to college and learn how business is done. I also need to let my parents see me and make plans for the wedding. So now is a good time for a voyage because you have people that can handle things.”
“I see. So the family sent you because they thought that I would need a manager of my household essentially.”
“My father and uncle, as well as Jim, sent messages back and forth and decided that I was the best candidate after you and aunt Xing joined. I spoke English and my siblings do not. I also have been involved in Jim’s business as a messenger and other tasks.”
“Xing and Hwaijeon didn’t say anything about this. Nor did Xing’s parents.”
“We have been tied up with the bonding with the Beras and dealing with the Yaoguai. Aunt and grandmother probably haven’t had time to meet and get things organized. But this is a good chance for ‘Delia and I and I don’t want to waste it.”
“I suspect that this will be a working voyage for both of you.”
“We expect that, don’t we, ‘Delia?”
‘Delia was all smiles and charm. “Yes we do. We will also get to meet some of the people that we’ve heard about and see grandfather’s house.”
“Why don’t we see the captain and his wife?”
The office became crowded as Ed arrived with Scott and a rather large crate. Ed saw Al, opened the crate and said, “What do you think?”
The crate had four carbine sized rifles in it. Al pulled the rifle’s out and checked them, one by one. He put them back and said, “These should do the trick. You can get good rate of fire with the semi-auto and the 1910 has a decent sized cartridge.”
“That’s what I thought. The French liked these somewhat during the war and for werewolves, getting the next shot out is more important than hitting power. Paulo has some 1911’s and Thompson as well. These are mostly for show.”
“Where did you get them from? Will I have to sign for them?”
“Eli’s, Al,” Scott said. “I think that the guns are yours already, Al. At least your office’s. Eli said that Bill sent them for work and had Eli sit on them until the new building was finished so that they weren’t moved twice. There was quite a stack of stuff like that.”
“Was Eli upset about it?”
“No, he knew what the score was and has the space to keep the guns. He’s annoyed at how slow the construction of the new building was going, but so is everybody else.”
“I’ll talk with him anyway. I think that we need to put together a list of outstanding items and make sure that they all get dealt with.”
Paulo and two of his crew came in. He saw the crate and said, “You opened it. Good, this works better with real guns in the crate. Who are these two?”
I laughed. “This is Ming and ‘Delia. They are prospective passengers willing to work for their passage.”
“What can you do?”
“Model for your wife,” ‘Delia said, “as well as keep a check on your rat passengers. Ming can handle accounts and help with loading in China. My dad is joining you in Hong Kong in any case.”
“Interesting. I presume that you have correct documentation?”
“Not an issue. We just arrived from Hong King fairly recently and we have visas and British passports.”
“Excellent. Why don’t we talk with my wife?”
Paulo and the dragons, Al and I headed to the gangway, while the seamen took the crate to a waiting cargo net. Unlike most ship, the captain’s cabin was on the maindeck rather than behind the bridge It also had a rather large unusual bed inside. The cabin was empty and we went to the other side of the ship where Persai had a fishing pole out and the girls with her. Paulo laughed. “What are you fishing for, dear?”
There was a flash of silver, a splash and some giggles. The girls were winding up the fishing reel and writing on a piece of paper. Persai said, “We’re fishing for mermaids. We’ve caught some. We’re scoring dance moves for them. So why are these two here?”
“They have a proposal for you, dear. They would like to be the live models that you want for your work as part of working for their passage.”
“Wonderful! May I see your changes?”
‘Delia said, “We’ll be right back.”
They ran around the corner and came back in Change. The girls went Ooh and Andy and Bruce must have been lurking nearby as they showed up around the corner. Persai said, “You two will do just fine. When you come back, I will want photographs of you. Now get dressed and come back.”
The dragons disappeared and Persai said, “I think that they will work out very well, dear. Certainly they will help fill the voyage. Noro did say that he would introduce me, but not that they would travel with us.”
“I don’t think he knew, Persai,” I said. “I think that Xing and Kitty were discussing it and Xing and her mother were looking at sending these two back to China. Xing’s mother had them come over when she thought that the family was just me and Xing and when the rest of my family found me, having extra hands wasn’t as important and the kids need to collect some things and, as Ming said, get ready to go to college and work on their lives, since the need is not urgent.”
“They will certainly be entertaining,” Paulo said. “They can also help with the Yaoguai.”
There were two hands on the wrong side of the rail and Trillia’s head popped up. “What’s going on, you two. There were three leaps and you didn’t catch any of them.”
“Trillia, the little dragons showed up. They are going to China with Persai.”
“I don’t see any dragons!”
“They just left, Trillia,” I said. “The girls can get back to work.”
“Ok, I’ll tell everybody. Andy, I see you. If you and Bruce aren’t working, you should be with us. I want to see you in five minutes or you will be in trouble, buster.”
Trillia pushed off and disappeared. Andy and Bruce started to walk very quickly to the companionway as the rest of us laughed. The dragons came back and ‘Delia said, “What was Trillia fussing about?”
“The girls weren’t scoring the leaps and the mermaids wanted to know why,” I said. “It’s your fault.”
“No it’s not. Girls did we make you stop or did things just get busy here?”
“It was busy with all these people. We’ll get back to work.”
There was another splash and We left the three to their work. As we headed to the gangway, I said, “I hope that the girls don’t enjoy being hostages too much. Thise is more as if they are visiting and aunt or something.”
“That is exactly what it is. Sally is my niece as well as Eli’s greatgranddaughter. So she is visiting her aunt. How she arrived was rather poor and I imagine that my sister will want to have words tomorrow with the Yaoguai when she picks my niece up, but I don’t see any reason that the girls should not enjoy the experience.”
“They are still wearing their riding habits.”
“I don’t want to make it too obvious to the Yaoguai that they are not in control of the girls and haven’t been since my wife arrived.”
“I notice that she has been with them all day. When did she get wet?”
This morning and after lunch. She did the same thing Trillia just did. The girls were there at the same place. If the Yaoguai had approached the girls, they would not like what my wife would have done to them. After all, my wife was trained by Nera and Eltra.”
Paulo left us at the gangway and Al and I went back to the office. The dragons came with us. I expected that arrangements for packing had been made already.
Stephie had joined Boris, Kitty and ‘Hǔ. Stephie said, “Other than dancing mermaids, how did things look?”
“Fine. The Yaoguai seem to be rather nervous, Trillia was dragging Andy under and the girls were fishing for mermaids.”
“I know.” She held up a camera. “I took pictures from the air of the whole thing after spelling Persai for a bit. Katherine is having a good time. I just hope that she doesn’t end up going to China, this trip.”
“I wonder if the Yaoguai realize that the only thing they accomplished with their fun and games is getting two of my uncles working in the same direction and out of their funks,” Kitty said. They’ve both been enjoying themselves this time. Noro is playing all his favorite games and Eli is making stuff with his new friends at his place and all of them are playing with those poor Yaoguai who don’t have a clue.”
“Noro does seem to be having fun,” Stephie said. “I just wish that the Yaoguai hadn’t taken my daughter to poke my brother when the whole thing was pointless anyway. At least I haven’t had to shoot any Yaoguai to make my point.”
“Let’s go to dinner. I think that there are some people wanting to knowhow things went.”
When we all arrived at Joe’s things were still going on with people watching mermaids dance from Joe’s back dock and various things in front. We went in and grabbed some plates and filled them from the buffet tables. Xing caught up with me as I was at the end of the buffet and asked, “How did it go?”
“The two dragons are going to China and coming back with Jim and Adelle.”
“Good. Mother will be happy that we got that resolved. They needed ot go back and resolve some things and bring back some paperwork. ‘Delia loves to paint and Persai is very good, so they can entertain themselves on the voyage.”
“I didn’t know that Ming was supposed to be my manager. I didn’tknow that I needed a manager.”
“You would have, regardless, even if the family hadn’t existed. You had those businesses already. Fortunately Abe and Roger do that for the family already. So our two dragons could go back.”
“Ming seemed to know what his role would be.”
“He has been told from birth, essentially that he would be the right hand of whoever I bonded with. That many have been a bit of a restraint on him, but he understands responsibility.”
“But he bonded with Jim and Adelle’s daughter and I haven’t seen them be very responsible here.”
“Yes they have, morning dashes in Change across the Kennedy’s lawn notwithstanding. Of course Andy, Bruce and some others may have helped that a bit.”
“Is that what Hwaijeon was nattering them about yesterday morning? I know that it involved the Kennedys, but I wasn’t quite sure what they did.”
“Considering the time, I doubt that anybody who wasn’t in on it saw them, but who knows. In any, case having them away from temptation will be a good thing. At least for us. My brother and Adelle might think a bit differently.”
We laughed as we had a wonderful dinner.
Sunday September 11, 1932.
After hearing the news, Mera and I decided to come up Sunday rather than Monday. At least we were home, at last. As I rolled Mera up the platform we were trailed by happy redcaps with our bags. I was expecting to be met, and one of Noro’s Cadillacs was there, but inside was Kitty, who I hadn’t seen since the night to remember. The redcaps loaded the bags, tipped them while Bill put Mera in the car and her chair away. As the car was pulling away, I said, this is a bitof a surprise, Kitty. Did Noro send you?”
“I asked to come. First of all I think that you want to make a stop at the ship first, right?”
“I hadn’t really thought about it, but yes.”
“Good, let me tell you what happened and what’s going on.”
Kitty gave us a brief on how the Yaoguai had taken the girls and Andy, gone to the ship and the plans for the girls to disappear during a dramatic fight where the werewolves ralease there monsters and die. The puppet werewolves, that was.
Mera said, “You skipped the important part, Kitty. You and your bonded have been involved in all of this, haven’t you. Have you been enjoying yourselves?”
“Very much so. Even more importantly so have Uncles Noro and Eli. They are getting back to their old selves again. How come you didn’t tell me about the Director and the Sharks.”
“You were out of the country when that happened,” Mera said. “You’re right and we should have told the rest of the family.”
“Especially about Josh’s parents and made sure that everybody had met Tom.”
I grimaced. “Noro showed me the telegram about you and Lucy. Was she really that bad?”
“When Tim and your parents, along with Aunt told me about the Sharks and all the rest of it, I tried for three days to contact my brother at his office. His office ignored me, his sister. Finally mother told me about the party, ‘Hǔ and I went to visit, with Tim driving us out and there was Lucy insulting you, Nera, Tom and Chrissie. When she finally ran into me, while I had finally met with my brother, she threw me out of the party because the kids lit off some of Tom’s gags.”
“She blamed you for that,” Mera said.
“I will admit that I did make some suggestions to some kids. I was rather annoyed at Ben at the time. But the kds were going to do the gags in any case, set up bigger gags than I would have thought possible and the mermaid dancing was next door where the fun party was. The party where the hostess insisted that everybody be in Change to make it more fun and where my niece went boy hunting because my idiot sister in law forgot the most important thing you need for a bonding and didn’t want to expose her dear Dorothy to improper bonding opportunities like random farm boys from Vermont.”
“What were you going to do about it?”
“Greta and I have talked and I’ve invited Dorothy here. Unfortunately the best prospect was grabbed at the horse show where the kids were taken by a predatory girl from France trying to get her family out from under the Masters by spying on the Bentons.”
“Why did she think that would work?”
“Greta’s sister, who anybody who has run into her, including both me and ‘Hǔ, is scary, competent and effective, but obsessed with Greta and her family.”
“Greta hasn’t mentioned her.”
“Greta doesn’t really care what her sister tries. She’s dealt with or diestroyed it all for years or Eric and Bill have. The Unbonded did try for Roger and Mary, but they kept moving and alert, so the unbonded couldn’t put something together, Larry and Theresa went to Virginia for their honeymoon, Boris and Stephie went to Maine and had Katherine on the way already, and Tom and Chrissie went with you on the cruise and the farm for Christmas so she never had a chance at them.
In any case, Jeanette went looking for Bentons and found one, right off the bat. Greta likes Jeanette’s spunk and her ambition. I suspect that she talked with you about Chrissie and may have visited the Cape and seen Chrissie long before Tom even met her. Poor Lucy doesn’t understand that she blew the chance for the most desired bond around because of her prejudices.”
“Greta had been down here before and talked with Mrs. Coolidge about Chrissie and Tom. I called her as soon as things were obvious and we were frank and friendly. We both knew that the stakes were high and that Chrissie had made the biggest fae catch on the East Coast. Things were a bit rockier than we expected, including a certain boathook that Tom pulled on Chrissie when they met, but the bond was too strong and so were they.”
“Greta didn’t mention the boathook. What did Chrissie do to deserve that?”
“She showed up in Tom’s boat and he thought that she was some kind of monster,” I said, grinning.
“That was justified. I want to meet Tom. He has a very sharp judgement, even if he doesn’t listen to it.”
“Chrissie came crying to me and Tom made the mistake of looking to me for answers when Chrissie was crying on my shoulder. You can get the whole story from them.”
We arrived at the company’s piers and parked where the car was more or less discreet. Since the car was one of Noro’s black car and not one of the white ones, I could use the Peacekeeper persona anyway. When we went to the office at the front of the pier, Eric and Greta were sharing the office with the security guard. Eric said, “Josh, you’re back. We’re watching for Stephie and Boris so that they could get to be early. We’ll head over to the hotel at midnight or so.”
“Where are the girls?”
“In the cabin next to the captain’s cabin, in bed. Paulo has a crewmemeber watching the deck and they would have to get past Persai, who had a nap earlier.”
“What about Andy?”
“He’s probably under the ship with Trillia and the others. I doubt that Trillia would let him sleep in the brig as much as he wants to. Andy and Bruse were working a bit to get themselves thrown in the brink by harassing the passengers, but the crew didn’t seem to care very much.”
Eric and Greta gave us an overview of what had happened and when they were done, Mera said, “Josh, I’ll stay here under the pier tonight. You go home and talk with father in the morning. Then we can resolve this.”
“I could stay here as well.”
“Just get here in the morning. Father probably needs you to help with coordinating law enforcement and you need to find out what father wants and how things are supposed to play out.”
Mera made sense and we could work faster separately than together. So Kitty and I returned to the car and Bill headed south. I said to Kitty, “You were more than a bit of a surprise. Of course you have wanted to get back at Chrissie since the night to remember. Do you want me to ask around and find out how Chrissie did it?”
“I did some of that after I finally realized what she did, the sneaky little minx. She horse traded access to Steve for setting me up. Steve did some clandestined Swimming that you probably don’t know about for some people and Chrissie traded favors.”
“What are you planning?”
“A surprise. Let’s just say that Chrissie did some rather silly things chasing after Tom, there were pictures and her birthday was coming up. Don’t tell Chrissie.”
“I won’t even mention it You were not the only one rather annoyed at Chrissie after the night to remember. So how is the thing with Altris going?”
“We went in this morning and got the box. The box did not have the Dragon inside. Then all of Tom’s places suddenly disappeared evne his boat after we finished using it. The whole thing is a rather elaborate puzzle. Stephie is taking a week off from work to work on it and she, Eric and Greta are stying through the family meeting next weekend.”
“I’m sorry. We should have had one some time ago about what went on. Betweent the Olynpics, the company, the big meeting with all the bowers on the east caost and other things, you all were neglected.”
“Yes we were. It didn’t help that we weren’t paying attention. My brother lives in the same neighborhood as the Manager and the Sharks and the whole thing went off and he was the only one in the neighborhood who never had a clue. I mean, seriously, the manager was running Twisted in and out of his place for years, the Sharks had three clubhouses, all in that neighborhood and the rest of it. Ben and Lucy missed all of it until Tim took them around and showed it to them after I demanded that Ben talk with Tim and Aunt about it. At least he went for the long version.”
“So you’ve met Tim. I know that you know my parents. Did you meet my brother?”
“Yes, along with some other interesting characters. Getting the Troubleshooter story right from Sal was fun.”
“I’m surprised that you didn’t bring your bonded with you.”
He’s in Boston helping some people get ready to leave in the morning and some other have a very visible death.”
“He has some people heading back to China and the werewolves are setting up for handling some Puppets I suspect.”
“That is about the size of it.”
“Since the Tiger has people leaving, youmust have broken into the vault, finally. Was it easy?”
“No. It could have been more difficult. Cousin forgot to shield the ceiling.”
“That was Tom, probably, one way or another. I imagine that Tom wanted Stephie to have the box and the Tiger to work with her. This is going to be fun to watch.”
“Aren’t you going to be part of it?”
“You’ve handed Mera and I another rather large job and we have to get it done. This meeting of yours is not a small thing. The hardest part is that we probably want Eli involved and he’s going to be his typical self.”
“As far as I know, you’ve never talked with Uncle Eli, Josh. How do you know him?”
“I sort of had to know about him, because he would be involved in some of the things that showed up. I suspect that he did sell some Constructs to the things that showed up, but I didn’t really know about Creators or that Eli was one at the time. He also had things shop up at his place and Donald Kelly, his police shief called me in to deal with them. Mera and Abby kept in touch, so I knew what Eli was like. George also told me what happened at the dinner where Eli showed up, because I had to know why George wanted dinners scheduled away from things like machine tool shows. Altris also told Joe and I not to send any family boatwork his way. So I knew about him.”
“Talk with him. Have Mera call and go down and talk with him. I don’t think that the family can afford to have him on the outside and poking at us the way he has. Of course what happened Saturday should have been a wake up for him.”
“How did that happen?”
“You will have to ask Eric, but Chen Hǔ told Jídiànjí to not take any hostages but they must have found out that Katherine was participating. Katherine had met Sally at previous competitions and were planning to go on picnic together with Stephie and Regina. Andy and Trillia were with Katherine and after she finisher her run, Andy went to find Katherine and get her score for Trillia. So they were all together and the Yaoguai romped around in Change, lit off some firecrackers and Wu compelled the girls and thought that he compelled Andy, who went along for the ride, looking for an appropriate time to get the girls and escape.”
The car dropped me off at my place and Kitty said, “Be ready for tomorrow.”
I dragged the bags in and went to bed.
Monday September 12, 1932.
Xing and I were at the pier first thing in the morning with the little dragons and their steamer trunks. When we arrived , there were rather more immigration and some Federal Marshalls already there. I went up to Harry, who I knew from New York and said, “What’s going on?”
“The Deportation orders finally came through on some characters and we are issuing them here to make sure that the captain here knows that some people are not to come back under any circumstances.”
“Not these two, I hope?”
“Their paperwork is all in order. Both coming and going. It’s those Yaoguai clowns. Somebody checked their visas finally and discovered that they had never had any from the Embassy in Nanking or Hong Kong. For that matter, there doesn’t seem to be any record of their entry. We’re fairly sure that they entered through San Francisco, but we have no record of any of them there, or any other port, East or West coast. So by all rights, they should never be here in the first place. Is this one of your things?”
“Yes, and we should have talked with you about them earlier. We didn’t think to check their immigration status.”
“If it’s one of yours, I’m surprised that they are alive to go back.”
“There are people where they came from that might get upset if they didn’t go back. Though why they want them is beyond me.”
“Here’s Wu, so let’s have a bit chat with him.”
We walked over to the door and Harry said, “Mr. Wu, this is a deportation order. Under no circumstances are you to attempt to reenter the United States upon service of this order. You are to proceed to the first transporation to China and not return to the United States.”
He slapped the envelope with the order and the paperwork into Wu’s hands. “The Marshall’s here willmake sure that you’re your people stay on the ship until it’s departure. George take the man back to the ship.”
A Marshall pulled Wu back out of the office. Harry said, “He didn’t even try to pull anything, not that it would have helped.”
“Why not?” Xing asked.
“He wouldn’t be the first one who tried that and at this point most Marshalls are immune to certain things. Some of us also have special skills. Alex can tell you more about that than I am cleared to talk about. This is hardly the first time that we have had to deal with low lives with certain abilities and no sense.”
Boris and Stephie came in, followed by Al and Eltra. Al looked at Harry. “It looks as if you served Wu the papers.”
“Certainly did. It took a long time to get the papers though. The problem was that they must have used compulsions on the guys when they entered. The West Coast guys haven’t had to deal with that as much, so we haven’t been as aggressive about catching and pulling them. Here in Boston and New York, all the customs guys are pretty much immune. Of course it took some time before immigration noticed that they were the pests that they are.”
Eli came into the office with a woman. “This is my granddaughter in law, Regina. The clowns took her daughter Saturday and then were stupid enough to hand her over to Regina’s brother and his wife. We want to make sure that Persai doesn’t like the girls so much that they go on a around the world cruise.”
We suddenly had a stream of arriving passengers that looked rather familiar and Joe, Josh and a rather villainous Noro appeared with a bunch of rather tough looking types. Joe went to Harry and said, “I understand that you served warrants and deportation papers on some of my passengers this morning.”
“Yes I did, Mr. Claytor. At least I can be sure that Captain Golfinho can handle them.”
“I am too.”
Noro and Eli pretended that the other wasn’t there, probably because they knew that Abby and Mera would have made their lives hell if they raised a fuss now and both had parts to play. ‘Hǔ and Kitty came in and ‘Hǔ said to me, “The boys are in the pierhouse. Eli brought the Puppets over and we met with them and Jean to collect them.”
Jean came in with the ‘boys,’ along with Ed, looking rather mornstrous. They went through customs and their trunks headed down the pier with the rest of them. Al said to Josh, Joe, Noro and I, “Let’s go upstairs to the window opposite the gangway. I don’t think that we want to miss what’s coming.”
We did and somebody must have washed the window for some strange reason as it was clean. A reporter who Al and Josh knew must have had as scoop as he was there with a camera. So were Tim, Suzy, and as a bit of a surprise, Sillia. As we walked up to a crowd that seemed to be anticipating something, I said, “Sillia, you are a surprise.”
“We came up for the Creator thing. You must have missed us yesterday. Noro asked Sal to have the Troubleshooter just suddenly show up as the ship is leaving the dock. That is when the werewolves are going to have issues.”
Speaking of the boys, there they were being led up the gangway by Jean as two girls in riding habits were making their way down the gangway. Persai was in a chair at the top of the gangway greeting passengers with a seaman standing next to her and Wu had approached the gangway, took one look at Persai and didn’t even try to go down and get past the two Marshals at the bottom of the gangway. Somebody, and it sounded like Eli quipped, “They actually made a smart move for once.”
The girls mothers ran out and hugged the girls, waved at Persai and walked off toward the end of the pier. The same voice said, “It looks as if the ladies convinced Persai not to keep the girls. I don’t see the boy, but he has other options for leaving the ship and probably wants to leave certain characters a surprise with the help of some relatives.”
We watched as the preparations for departure continued. The passengers were all aboard, Persai was rolled inboard, a last load of fresh vegetables was lifted up to the deck and men and crewmembers aboar started to remove the mooring line. Smoke emerge from the stack and from the tugboats that had shown up on on the opposite side of the ship. The ship slowly started to pull away from the pier when suddenly Sal and ‘Hǔ showed up in Sal’s car and suddenly werewolves were chasing various Yaoguai and others as crewmembers chased the werewolves down and shot them. Strangely enough, the werewolves never managed to catch anybody before they went down. There were some rather frightened Yaoguai. The ship conitunued slowly to back away from the pier until it reached the end and started on it’s voyage. Noro said, “I think we pulled it off. Why don’t we all go to lunch. It’s on me. He gave the address of a place not too far away.”
The two girls joined us with their parents as we headed out to our various cars and off to lunch.
Captain Golfinho
Monday September 12, 1932.
Wu came into the chartroom as I was preparing the chart for our trip throught Boston Harbor. “We may be losing two passengers. Their mothers may not want them after all and they are staying here.”
“That’s disappointing. My wife was looking forward to having the girls for the journey. Should I keep an eye out for somebody coming to collect them?”
“We will handle that.”
“Very well.”
Wu left again, confident in the powers of his compulsions. I wasn’t going to tell him that the first thing that Persai had done was remove said compulsions from the girls, which would make it rather difficult to put them back. Of course I had never been compelled in the first place.
Later, I was watching the passengers load from the port bridge wing. Persai was greeting the various passengers as the reached the top of the gangway and giving instructions as where they needed to go. The girls were there helping with a clipboard as the various passengers boarded. There were two Federal Marshalls at the bottom of the gangway to make sure that certain passengers sayed on board. The ‘boys’ were boarding with Jean Tobaire when Sally handed the clipboard to Persai, and the girls went down the gangway as Wu and another Yaoguai charged forward, took a look at Persai, a look at the Marshalls and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. The ‘boys’ were the last passengers to board and the gangway was raised as the the final load of fresh vegetables for the galley was loaded and the lines were prepared for removal.
I wne to the other side to watch as the two tugs the company had contrated for arrived and tied on. Goerge signaled on the whistle to relareas the lines, rang one quarter astern on the engine telegraph and signaled again for the tugs to star pulling us away from the pier. As we slowly started to move backwards along the pier, The bosun who had been watching from the bridge wing said, “We have trouble coming!”
I went to the
Bridge wing and the Troubleshooter was racing down the pier with Number two son. The ‘boys’ had been on the promenade deck watching the departure and suddnenly they released their monsters, which led to a rather tense five miniature or so until they were all put down. We were luck and the only people that had been even scratched was some Yaoguai that had been in the wrong place at the wornt time. The second mate had had some crew with guns watching the ‘boys’ because certain precautions were wise when there were things like werewolves around. The ‘boys’ were being placed in canvas bags for lather burial at sea and I wne t looking for Mr. Tobaire. “You promised me that the werewolves would be under control.”
“They were. The Tiger said that his son might interfere and he had planned to keep him occupied until the boys were gone. Apparently he managed to communicate with the troubleshooter and arrive here just a little late.”
“I don’t think that I want you on my ship for this voyage. I will talk to the company and your fare will be refunded. I will also arrange for a tender and you can be dropped off at Provincetown.”
“I think that that will work for both of us. Without the boys, there is no point in delaying my return to Europe.”
Wu looked at me and said, “How could you let the girls go!”
“Simple, my wife saw their mothers and let my niece and her friend go home, like she planned. She had an enjoyable weekend with the girls, but we knew that there was no way my sister would be happy if they went on an ocean voyage. If you are going to kidnap little girls, you really should check that you getaway vessel is not captained by the girl’s relatives.”
The suicide compulsion was just stupid. I reflected and said “Dance down to our cabin and stay there until I say that you can leave, Mr. Wu. That was just stupid.”
Wu skipped out of the saloon and Jean laughed. He turned to me and said, “Do you think that we pulled it off?”
“You are the one who will have to explain this to the Masters. On the other hand we had a bunch of witnesses, photographs and a mystery story that will appear in the papers. I need to arrange for your tender.”
I did and Jean left us as the ship rounded the point, the ‘bodies’ were dumped overboard and the ship pointed south. It was good to be at sea again.

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