The Golden Butterfly, Chapter 40, Part 4 and end.

All the various participants head home. Other things happen.

Tuesday November 28, 1932.
We were packing the car with our bags when Hans showed up. “You are responsible for this!”
“Responsible for what?”
“The house was robbed last night. No,not robbed, but stripped!”
“We were here all night, the Truppfuhrer was watching us all night and we were here.”
“He was supposed to be watching the house.”
“Well, you can see the house from here and there was apparently some sort of large animals prowling around.”
“He said dragons.”
Eric strode up with the Truppfuhrer. “There were some large animals out there last night. There are tracks all over the place. They were into everything and made a mess. Herr Steiger, your people are fast workers. The house is empty and the morning has barely started.”
“They weren’t my people!”
“We didn’t call anybody. You were monitoring the phones, I am sure of that.”
“That is another thing! What was that terrible music going out over the phone!”
“So you admit to tapping the phone Herr Steiger? You are lucky it was just Stephie playing and not Tom. Tom would probably bring the entire local phone exchange down to make a point. You should ask your people in Berlin what they think of Tom and phones. Make too big a stink here and Tom might make sure that all your embassy’s communications for the next month are made public. Everything. Again you can ask the people in Berlin about that.”
Hans looked rather shocked as the two dragons got into the car with Adelle and Jim. Eric got in the driver’s seat, I got into the front seat with him and we drove away. About an hour later, we crossed into France, heading to Paris.
Wednesday, November 30, 1932.
Glinde and I had a surprising visitor on our trip south when we reached Genoa. The Unbonded entered our compartment. I looked at her and said, “I guess that the news of your death was a bit exaggerated.”
“You know why that was. I understand that you are looking for me. Well, here I am.”
“The Red Lady wants us to find the Hunter and the thief of her property and destroy them. I am going to my sister’s with my newly bonded here and then we can get to work. Knowing the Hunter, it is more of a case of him finding us than us finding him.”
“And the Cat?”
“Probably gone or heading to a port and away.”
“Tell me what happened at the castle.”
“I was sent to investigate some noises which turned out to be exploding boats and other Tom gags. That was how I met Glinde here. I fell into the lake. She called me an idiot right off the bat, but she did rescue me so I must have been worth salvaging. In any case, in the process of following up on some shooting from the woods above the castle we discovered that the castle had been attacked. We returned and all of the lady’s guards and family were dead, the staff were, for the most part, rendered unconscious, with a couple of exceptions. The property was removed and whoever did it disappeared. There were some crates used to bring the chests in and it appeared that the chests had been returned to the crates and the crates driven out in the truck that they were brought in with, but that turned out to be a ruse. The attackers left no traces behind. Some children and some stolen trucks were found later, but the children could not identify the men they saw and the trucks were empty when they were found.”
“So it was a clean tight operation. Typical of the Cat, but she’s never done anything this big before.”
“The crates had White Farbenwerk markings on them. Heretofore the old man has not been involved in the Cat’s activities. Now he is. If you think that the things we saw happen were a big deal, consider that he is just getting started. I think that I hear the conductor coming for tickets If you don’t have one, I would get along before he catches you.”
“True. I will take my leave.”
She left. Glinde said, “She looked rather frazzled. Usually from what I have heard, she was so competent, that it was frightening to be on the other side even it you escaped.”
“She went up against her sister and her family directly.You’ve seen some of them. Consider how they handled the Red Lady and the keystones. The people we saw never actually had any contact with the stones and were never in the castle. At least that anybody else saw. The people we didn’t see disappeared.”
“My brother and my cousin saw them in the water.”
“With the keystones?”
“They separated themselves from the keystones almost immediately. That was the secret to the success of the whole thing. Most fae would not let the keystones out of sight. They would have circled around them to protect the prize. Now it is almost impossible to track which party has the stones.”
“Who do you think has the stones?”
“At a guess, Boris and Stephie who were never near the castle. It could be Eric and Greta, but Eric and Greta have been the focus of attention by the Unbonded and I doubt that they would want to attract attention to the keystones by having them at hand. Of course it could be the two that have not been visible at all.”
“If we run into them, I will tell you. They may not be here at all.”
Wednesday, November 30, 1932.
The maid here in my room was familiar. I smiled and said, “Hello Theresa.”
“Hello Stephie. I take it that things went well at the meeting.”
“Yes they did. Of course they have no way of knowing how I found out about it. Thank you for that.”
“We have been having fun with this. The Director and his people tended to be better than the characters about keeping things tight. We know a lot more about the Masters and have found a lot of the lost fae.”
“I am glad that they weren’t as dead as we thought. My family, for instance.”
“They seem like nice people. Eli and I poked in after you left. The guildmasters were very impressed by Tom’s present.”
“I’m not surprised. At least I’m not responsible for it anymore.”
“Eli and I loved it. We were ignored going through customs. It made things so easy.”
“That does happen. We’ve considered leaving a surprise in Jim Miller’s office, but it was as much Tom’s fault as Jim’s. Mother will be right behind us. Since Brad and Lili have been born, my parents don’t have to rush back because Josh and Mera can handle the grandparenting duties this time. So they are visiting Paris with Jim and Adelle, traveling through France and crossing the ferry to England. I wonder how long it will take Steiger to figure out that the cars are not coming back.”
Theresa laughed as she left.
Thursday December 1, 1932.
After leaving the Red lady screaming in her railroad car, we headed to Romania where Bill had a rather visible ceremony and a rather more discreet training class where another of the Lady’s children and its family left us. Then we headed south to Greece where the same sort of thing happened. We hit the family in Yugoslavia on the way back. And hitting the family to the south of the lady’s castle that we hadn’t hit before. Then we headed west across Italy. We were expected in Rome today and we had a police escort all through Italy to make sure that we had no problems making it. There we collected another bounty and a title and headed back north with some police specialists eager to deal with monsters and free kids which we did. Steve caught up with us as we pulled into Florence. We were staying at the same hotel and I asked him, “Why didn’t you come down through France?”
“Leo wanted to check in on some people he knew because they were victims of the Colonel. We were also not taking a straight path so that the Unbonded’s people wouldn’t pick up on us. She’s active, by the way, for real.”
“What do Leo’s friends think?”
“Ask him yourself. He just walked in.”
“Leo, what do your friends think about the Unbonded returning to life?”
“They don’t like it very much, but they admire the way she pulled it off. In our business, being able to exit the scene is considered an asset.”
“Where are Kitty and ‘Hǔ?”
“Making some people happy by taking the ship with Boris and Stephie. So what have you been up to?”
“The usual. Collecting Colonel money, getting awards for getting rid of him, training police in pest control, removing some pests and getting kids rejoined with their parents. That last part makes the rest worthwhile. Any sign of my aunt?”
“I was talking with some people and she got off the train in Genoa. She was apparently tracking Tony and Jeanette, but they spotted her and when the people she arranged showed up, it turned out that their boss was part of Noro’s family that Josh had exiled. He ended up in Genoa, bonded with a seafolk lady and was working for one of the gangs to pay off his father in law’s debts. Since David and Micheal were traveling with Tony and Jeanette, the conversation must have been interesting.”
“John is here?” Steve said. “We’ll have to make contact, if we can do it discreetly. We could have used him in this. We still can.”
“Why did your father exile him?”
“This was right after the night to remember. John and his buddies had taken the job from Kitty to be her escape. The problem is that Joe insured that they couldn’t, which was embarrassing and even worse they were not paid for the embarrasement. So they go after Joe. So far, so good. Joe knows how to play. But they did some things at the yard including trying to start a fire in that boathouse that Joe and Tom were living in until recently. Dad has a few rules about our fun and games and the biggest is, don’t mess with business. So dad told John to take a year or so and see the world. It sounds like it worked out for him and we wondered why he never came back. I think that I will talk with him. There may be some opportunities here.”
Friday December 2, 1932.
The last part of our cargo had started to arrive. Considering the lack of security with the trucks arriving you would never know that was being transported was essentially a well stocked museum. Greta’s family had lived at their estate for centuries, had been well travelled and had been bringing things back the entire time. The manifests had told the story and George was in a bit of a panic over getting everything stowed. Especially when dealing with things like Greek statuary, a Micheangelo and a DaVinci bronze. To say nothing of the Ming and older Chinese vases. George had help as Jimmy’s boys and Little Tiger showed up with the first Trucks and had helped load it all. My wife was also assisting with the loading and making sure that everything was secure with the assistance of Jeanette and Tony, who were her runners.
Namani and Haruka were going over setting up tank beds and a man from White Farbenwerk who had been with Little Tiger as cover for their adventure was going over the requirements with the ladies. That too was going well and I expected that there were going to be quite a few happy ladies before too long. Stelio’s people had returned and they, David and Micheal were going about with David’s brother looking for Sharks. Stelios came bounding up the gangway, and said, “Is there a discreet shipfitter here.”
“I know some, why?”
“I want to rig some of those spears with shotgun shells. I think that when Steve gets back, we will be going on a Shark hunt.”
“Have you found them?”
“No and since the bowers were smashed it’s harder to find where there are couples closing the deal. On the other hand we’ve been looking into the police departments and they have found some strange shark attacks. They’ve been spread out, but once you know what to look for, they’re there. When Steve gets here, I want be ready.”
“Ready for what?”
Stelios turned and saluted. “I think we have Shark issues, sir. I’ve been doing some checking and the signs are there.”
“Let’s go talk with my cousin. You’ve been talking to him, rigtht?”
“Yes. We’ve been using his boat a bit. His father in law has been talking with us and his boss is cooperating.”
“Why don’t we find him. Paulo, can George spare you?”
“I think so. We’ve never loaded a cargo like this.”
“Impressive, isn’t it? It’s too bad that Greta doesn’t have a house to put it in.”
“I think that somebody will build a home for this. At the very least a hall. I think that George can spare me for a bit. There’s Sal.”
He had driven up in the Bugatti. The car was one of the last things we were going to load before we departed on Monday. Steve waved and Sal came up the gangway. Steve said, “We were just going to look for you. Stelios thinks that we could have Shark issues.”
“There probably are. Certainly the Witch is running the kind of places that the Sharks used to recruit and water seems to be more her element than the others and Creating the Change seems to be more in her skillset than the others that we’ve seen. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the Sharks feeding off seafolk here. The seafolk might come here even if they were from someplace else for beach purposes. This place is also a natural for degenerates to have their little clubs away from home.”
I looked down the deck forward looking for George and my wife and spotted them together and said, “Let me tell George and Persai what we are up to and we will get going.”
Steve said, “We’ll go with you. I want to let her know to tell my wife and Nanami to be careful in the water. If we have Sharks, at some point they will try to come after us.”
We all went forward and I said, “Dear, we think that we have Shark issues.”
“I’m sure of it. I was going to talk to Steve and Leo about it when they got back. Andria said that several couples had gone to find a beach and never come back that she knew of. Eloise became rather concerned when I told them what had happened with the Sound bower. She knows that not everybody that comes here is the nicest sort of person.”
“We’re going to find Steve’s cousin, John, Georges, a shipfitter I know and Leo and see what we can do to deal with it.”
“Good, We missed the ones at home, but if we deal with the ones here, we won’t have any there. Take Jeanette and Tony. I have Paul and Gisselle today and you can use Jeanette and Tony. Phillip should be back soon with his friends.”
My son had been having a good time with his friends enjoying the Riviera. Of course as yet another more or less anomynous group of Americans, they had been poking into things. Consdering that tails were in the area, we were sort of hoping that Phillip might find one. I said to my wife, “If we run into him, I’ll send him to you unless something else comes up.”
“Let him enjoy himself a bit. He’s going to be wet and miserable all too soon.”
We left my wife, collected Tony and Jeanette and headed to the cars. Stelios took us to the dock in the harbor where John’s boat had been discreetly parked for the last three days or so. Leo was there already talking to John and we joined them. Steve sent Tony and Jeanette to find Mike and David. Leo said, “We have shark issues. The problem is tracking them down.”
John said, “I was warned that you were going to show up, Steve.”
“Who warned you.”
“Your wife. She doesn’t want you playing any games while you are supposed to be working. My brother says that I missed a lot last year. Nera and Eltra bonding? What are their husband’s like?”
“You’ll find out. Now that we know where you are, your mother is going to want you and the family over.”
“There may be tail issues with my mother in law.”
“Not really. We have found that to be a smaller issue than expected and even then we have fixed it somewhat. You must have been on the ship already.”
“Yes and I see. The beds there have all been taken though.”
“Not a problem that can’t be overcome. In any case, we have a bigger deal dealing with your upstairs.”
“Not my upstairs any more. My boss cut them off when I told him that he had Peacekeeper issues coming his way. He’s negotiating with the Committee for an agreement even as we speak. He put the word around that dealing with the witch might cause difficulties in that direction.”
“What about the Unbonded?”
“She’s around, but she seems to be frazzled and confused. She gave me a rather nasty chewing out because I let my brother go even after I told her that my brother had been with the targets, the target had demonstrated that A. compulsions wouldn’t work and B. that he had that MP18 in the bag he was holding and could have shot all of us in seconds. Then there was the issue of dealing with the girl’s dad, who everybody in the area knows can be unpleasant and the other side of my own family.”
“Her sister and the rest of us have been using her as a bit of a play toy. When she was going up against Aunt Kitty by herself it’s one thing, but Aunt Kitty, me and Stephie and she can’t cope.”
“That’s why we have family rules. So that a bunch don’t gang up on one. As for that MP18, why did you give it to him?”
“Because of nasties that the various people around here are throwing around. We haven’t run into a Necromancer yet, but give it time. Have the boys invited you to a Construct shoot yet?”
“No. What is a Construct shoot.”
“Just what it sounds like. Shooting Constructs.”
“There are that many to shoot.”
“I’ll let Tony fill you in on how they work.”
“I go away for a bit and everything gets weird. Fun though, it sounds like. Did the Colonel really take Chrissie hostage?”
“Yes he did, in spite of everything that I and a bunch of people tried to do to convince him that doing that was a bad idea. I screwed up. I knew that the doppelgangers were out there, but they had been essentially used up and I didn’t think that the other side would want them in the shapes of two Japanese guards who had just been involved in a kidnapping. It turned out that they didn’t care because they were going to kill them anyway.”
“He should have spent more time where we live. At least ten minutes maybe. Somebody would have told him that messing with Chrissie would be bad news. How long before she took over?”
“A day, maybe. She used the phone to call the people we had watching the place so that they would pick up some rifles left in the cellar and take them away and when she was annoyed at thevisitors using the library as a bar, cut off the liquor supply.”
“Since you and probably Joe were there, what happened to the rifles?”
“As one of Tom’s relatives said, a gun cabinet left open and empty is an invitation for any sort of gun to just walk in, so it is better to keep the cabinets full and closed, so we put the rifles back.”
“How did you do that?”
“Phased in and discreetly went down to the range and put the guns back when we were supplying Chrissie with fresh water. My wife was in that pool to and I wanted to make sure that the ladies were comfortable.”
“How did you phase in? It’s sort of hard to walk in without legs.”
“We learned a trick from Dad’s parents.”
“Now that is somebody that I want to have a talk with. Where were they all that time?”
“Looking for dad while being paid big money to spy for the Director. Of course they also work for big money for other people, the Company being one of their clients. So Lou sends them up after Grandfather and the rest smell something rotten in Lake Placid and Grandfather and dad take over the Olympics to make sure that the bills are paid. Your lucky you weren’t home or you would have been stuck working.
In any case my grandparents were a bit skittish about dad after that incident on the barges with that Necromancer and stayed away from dad as much as they could. My grandfather snuck in to a place as dad was being dad with the Committee in charge of the Olympics and that scared them somewhat. But after Tom heard about Ed, he had my grandparents come to the house for Christmas and gave dad the best Christmas present ever.”
“So your dad has mellowed out a bit.”
“A bit. We have other people to chase monsters, all his kids are married, Grandfather is back up top, and he has Tom to take some of the load of him and Lou.”
Tony, Dave and Mike showed up with Jeanette and David said, “We have a clue. Would you believe that they used the same name for the club they have?”
Sal and Steve both said, “The Alopias?”
“Yup. I thought about what the members of the club that the Long Island sharks were like and Etienne talked with chef and asked if there were any places with the same sort of bad boys that caused trouble. The chef had a little list and there it was, The Alopias.”
I grinned. Steve asked, “Do they have a boat?”
“Funny that you asked, they do.”
“Have there been any strange kidnappings?”
Not recently. At least not enough to attract real attention. The problem is that you have the same sorts of things happening that happened in NewYork. By the way, Tim’s book is out and the chef bought a copy from the english language bookstore.”
“Who is Tim and why is that relevant?” John asked.
“Tim is my cousin,” Steve said. He’s dad’s brother’s son and Sal’s brother in law in six months. The important thing here is that after Tom essentially shot the Sharks to pieces, Tim started to track the Sharks as they started to kidnap kids to stabilize the Shark change. He put a lot of it in the papers and put together a book when somebody suggested that he should. The fae and weird and strange stuff was probably left out, but I bet that the patterns, the police reports and the rest were in there. Since Tim knew everybody involved and had everything, the book is probably pretty comprehensive.”
“So where was your dad’s brother?”
“Running the Rockaway bower’s up top businesses until he was drafted and wounded, went under sea with his wife when their daughter went through Change because his Change would kill him if he released it and when Tim didn’t look like he was going to be taking over, went right back to handling the up top businesses.”
“Under sea?”
“Up top. He has an office and the people come to him. Nobody seems to mind, do they, Sal?”
“Not that I have ever seen. Of course going to meet with Joe means eating at Bennie’s so there are benefits to that. Meria is the biggest complainer since she thinks that Joe isn’t spending enough time in the bower.”
Steve frowned. “Ok, I think that we need to put things together. Stelios, you and Paulo go to the shipfitters and have some bang spears made up. We didn’t think to bring any and we should have. Have a blood and guts mortar made up too. Dave, Mike, Tony and Jeanette, start hitting markets and talking to people. go to the flower market and the vegetable market first. Act like tourists looking for scary stories. John, you, me, Sal and Leo talk to the boat, casino and hotel people. We’ll go to Etienne first. We want to be looking for compulsions and hotels like that one that you like, Sal. Places that seafolk have either set up or that the people that run the place more or less set up for seafolk. Like the places back home. Stelios, ask around at the shipfitters and the metalworking places for somebody who made a cage or something to hold kids that the Sharks want for dinner. Folks, I think that we should get going.”
I took Stelios to Georges shop and old man Georges smiled when Stelios and I walked in. “Captain! We haven’t seen you for a long time!”
“We had kids come along and I had to leave the sea for a bit. We settled near Boston while the kids grew up. Since they have, my wife and I wanted to do some voyaging from time to time.”
“Your wife has become rather famous with her work. Is she well?”
“Other than losing the use of her legs, yes. She turned the third class dining area into a studio for the voyage since we did not have any third class passengers.”
“So what can we do for you today?”
“This young man would like some special fishing equipment.”
“It must be very unsual or you would be going to a specialist. So what is it?”
Stelios said, “I need some spears for sharks. These spears have shotgun shells in them so that the shark is killed very quickly We have been conducting test against mass shark attacks.”
“Very interesting. Do you have a drawing?”
“I brought a print.”
Slelios handed the man a print andGeorges asked, “So, how many do you want?”
“Twenty five. That should cover all the needs we have at present.”
Georges turned to me and said, “You always bring the most interesting jobs. When do you need them?”
“Tomorrow, if possible.”
“I am not busy so we should be able to do it this afternoon. Anything else?”
Stelios handed him the print for the blood and gut mortar, “Just this.”
“What is this for?”
“Baiting sharks. We can’t test the spears without them.”
“Is it ok if I make someof the spears for others?”
“I will have to ask my boss,but what do you need them for?”
“Some of the hotels here have occasional shark issues going after their swimmers and having something like these could help when they show up.”
“That sounds interesting. We’re just getting started and my boss would like to know where the sharks congregate. Which hotels have the worst problems?”
“Here are some of my customers that have come me looking for enclosures and other things to keep sharks away. I think that they will want to know about people doing shark research. Who are you with, young man?”
“I am with the Woods Hole Oceanagraphic Institute in Cape Cod. We are taking advantage of the captain’s company doing an around the world voyage to gather samples, take weather readings and look into things like sharks. I am actually in the navy and have been detailed to help with this research as part of our ongoing research into sharks and other sea creatures.”
“It sounds like a very interesting thing for a young naval officer to do.”
‘It has been, and the man in charge at the institute is very good at planning expeditions and sending us on them.”
“Georges, we have other stops to make, so we will get going.”
As we left and were out of earshot, I said to Stelios, “You must have been thinking about a cover before we went in.”
“It was mostly true. After all, I have been helping with things with the Woods Hole people, Ilutra did send people out and Spiro at the yard will want a report, especially about sharks. So now what?”
“We hit some other shops and ask about the same sorts of things. I expect that the hotels where it is a problem are the hotels where couples come to close the deal.”
We talked with some other shops that I knew and had a pretty good list of hotels and villas that had had problems, had sea gates or other barriers built and taken other measures. We also found the shop that had made some rather interesting things for the Alopias in the past. When we returned to John’s boat we had quite a list. We actually ran into my son Phillip and his friends at one shop and told them to ask questions about sharks. They had been having some reenforcements made for the weather instruments that hadn’t held up the way they wanted. Facing the North Atlantic, they wanted to make sure that something didn’t fly overboard if they could avoid it.
Steve and John were chatting on the boat when we arrived and Steve said, “You’re back. How did it go?”
“Very interesting,” I said, “and you?”
“Some of the hotels have had shark issues. Not too many disappearances, but sharks trying to poke their noses into beaches or swim through gates into pools.”
“We found some places that had set up shark prevention and the shipfitter was interested in the spears that Stelios wanted. We have a list.”
I handed it to him. “I think that I should get back to the ship. I’ll ask the crew if they ran into any of the things we saw today.”
I went back along the harbor to the ship. When I arrived at the top of the gangway. George said, “Captain, the harbormaster was looking for you.”
“Ok, I will get a cab to his office. Did he say why?”
“No, but he said to call the office and he would send a car.”
“Ok, I will do that, then.”
I went back down to the dock and found a phone booth. I asked the operator for the harbormaster’s office and the officer on the other end said, “Captain Golfihno, we will send a car right away.”
“Is there a problem with one of my crew?”
“No, but you had some things commissioned for sharks and we have a case that your young man might be interested in. We had something commissioned from Georges and our man was talking about the things that you had commissioned. The car should be there in ten minutes.”
The car showed up about seven minutes later and I said to the officer inside, “I think that it will save some time if we make a brief stop.”
“Where monsieur? I am Henri, by the way.”
“At the old harbor next to a dock. That is where I left the young man who commissioned those spears.”
“Ah, I see. I think that you are right.”
We headed to the old harbor where the boat was and I got out of the car and headed to the boat. “Steve, the harbormaster called me. He had heard about the spears we had made from Georges. I think we have a feeding.”
“Let’s go. Stelios and I will go with you. John, we’ll tell Leo about this when we get back.”
I introduced Steve and Stelio to Henri as we sped away. We traveled west past the docs and along the coast to a bathhouse with a beach behind a breakwater. There were cars from the police and van from the coroner’s office. The people there saw us drive up and get out of the car. The harbormaster, who had been in the office for a very long tine and knew me said, “Paulo, good we got in touch with you quickly.”
“What is it Andre?”
“You had a young man with you, a naval officer who was apparently looking at dealing with sharks. We have another shark attack here, very similar to the strange cases in that book that was just released.”
“This is Steve Claytor and Stelios Delios. They were involved in that case for the navy.”
“Mr. Claytor, I am Andre Bolaires. So why are you and this officer here.”
“It was my Admiral’s idea of a joke. I met my wife at Pearl last year and we were married out there. Because of the cases in New York, I had left some things at Pearl that needed to be cleared up, so my wife and I had an extended honeymoon while dealing with those things. My Admiral found out about the science people on Captain Golfinho’s ship, sent Stelios and some people out to Hawaii and cut orders so that we go west instead of east, get some experience visiting Hong Kong, Bombay, Alexandria and here while on our way back to our station in New York. We get the samples that our science guy in New York wants and go the long way on the slower boat. The company and Paulo get some free hands for the deal. Since my grandfather owns the shipping company and he and the Admiral are old friends, they could put this together. So what happened here?”
“We get one of these about four times a year, just like the book. The sharks attack a couple swimming in the water.”
“Did you see any boats?”
“Many. But there was no way to single one out.”
“May we see the bodies.”
“I hope you have strong stomachs.”
“We’ll risk it.”
We went to the coronor’s truck and the bodies had feet. Steve said, “Was this couple the only one swimming in this cold water?”
“It is strange. There was another?”
“Do you have an identification on either of them?”
“Not yet.”
“Ok.You may have another attack soon. If you see any strange shark activity, let me know at the ship. Paulo, I think that we should get back.”
“I will take you, monsieurs,” Henri said.
Henri took us back to the ship and Leo and John were waiting with George. “So why did the harbormaster want you?”
“We had a feeding last night, which was a bad thing. The good thing is that there were normals in the water and the sharks went for the normals by accident instead of the seafolk, so they will still be hungry.”
“So there were other people in the water. Have they figured out where they came from?”
“Not yet. They are checking hotels.”
“I wish that we knew who the seafolk couple was,” Stelios said. “I bet that they closed the deal, Swam around a bit and then left the water again and went someplace else.”
“Maybe we don’t have to.” Steve said. “We use John’s boat and stake out Alopia’s villa.”
Steve turned to me. Captain, could we borrow the launch?”
“Yes and me as well. What do you want it for?”
“I want Mike and David to get into the water ahead of the Sharks and see if the couple can be convinced to exit the water with us. If we can do that maybe we can get some answers. There may be more than one shark pod out there and I want to know more about the habits of the seafolk here. So you have Mike and Daid with Tony and a shotgun and keep an eye on us off shore while we keep after the Sharks, maybe we can keep the Sharks from feeding tonight.”
“Where do we start.”
“That bathhouse and beach we passed when we were driven to the scene. It seemed to be a convenient place to close the deal after dark.”
I had George use the derrick to put the launch in the water and while we were doing that, Mike and David joined us. Georges delivered the bang spears and Stelio’s people checked them to make sure shells loaded and then left with the spears, some shotguns and a box of grenades for John’s boat. Since Tony and Jeanette had not returned, Mike, David, my son Phillip and I took the launch out. All three of them could Change and all three were experienced with nightwork and boats. They also brought guns, Mike and David, shotguns and Phillip one of the MP18’s that had been leftover from the Colonel and he had brought aboard in case it was needed to handle the Yaoguai.
We moved out in the launch along the harbor toward the bathhouse. As we arrived at the bathhouse, David stripped, Changed and dropped into the water. An hour or so later he popped up with two additional heads. He climbed aboard, the young man fallowed him and then both of them pulled the girl up. he turned around and said, “Mike, Phil, Captain, this is Claude and Brigitte. They were out last night and went deep when the scout shark showed up and then left the water. They didn’t know about the other couple.”
“Let’s get the boat out of here,Phil,” I said. “We want these two to disappear.”
Phil turned the boat around and we moved quickly along the shore toward the harbor.
Claude said, “Who are you people?”
“The people who kept you out of the water and out of the Shark’s mouths,” I said. “The Sharks are hungry. Girl, I think that we should talk with your parents. How old are you?”
“And Claude?”
“Are your parents seafolk?”
“Non. We have a villa up in the hills and father has businesses in Alsace. We winter here and I met Brigitte two years ago. My parents do not approve of her. But we had to get together.”
I was beginning to see the picture now. Brigitte was high fae from a bower that had been destroyed, was born up top and had made some sort of arrangement when she and her mother Changed. The boy was high fae and the family had some money and pretensions. Without the Sharks we could leave them to deal with it. With the Sharks, the thing would become a tragedy. I looked at Brigitte, “Did your mother tell some things about sea folk and Joining?”
“Mother told me that I should take my bonded away from other seafolk and that we should expect to be in the water and enjoying ourselves for a week or so. She also told me to take the car and go someplace else if we saw sharks. We did that last night.”
“Then why did you come back here?”
Claude said “My cousin said that he was holding a party tonight at the bathhouse. But there was no party. We were going to surprise the party, but there was no party and you arrived.”
“There was a party and you two were the entree. Your cousin is a Shark.”

This was two kids in bond fuzz. I imagined that Persai and I hadn’t been much better and we hadn’t been kids when we bonded. But the Sharks hadn’t been sniffing around and we were far from the sound bower’s “set.” John’s boat came alongside and Steve crossed over. “The Sharks ran around for a while, It looks like they had a Scout in the water, but either they spotted us or they didn’t find the couple and they quit and went back to their clubhouse. Who are these two?”
“This is Claude and Brigitte. Claude’s cousin said that they were having a party at that bathouse this evening.”
Claude looked at me and said, “If somebody doesn’t explain what is going on, I will be talking with the police!”
Steve said, “This isn’t the place to discuss this. Brigitte, where is your home? We need to talk with your parents.”
“We have a house in the fishing village up the coast. My father is a fisherman and mother lives with the boat after my sister’s Change. My sister and I live with her.”
Steve turned to me. “Paulo, I think that we want Persai involved in this. Sillia too, but Persai has a tail and that might help.”
“That sounds like a good idea. I’ll run the launch by the ship and pick her up and take these two home.”
“Ok, I’ll take my people back to the dock and talk with the Harbormaster. Tony and Jeanette are at Etienne’s”
Steve returned to John’s boat.
I turned to Claude, “We will explain. Just be a bit patient. Let’s go pick up my wife and then we will talk with your parents.”
The two looked a bit nervous at that,which was perhaps a bit understandable. The launch moved up the harbor to the ship and Persai came to the rail and called out, “Good, you found them!”
“Yes! I think that we want you!”
“Let me tell George and I will be right down! Wet or dry!?”
“Wet, I think!”
She disappeared and then a bit later suddenly a silver splash dropped into the water and my wife flipped into the boat. The kids seemed rather awestruck at the whole thing. Brigitte said, “So how do you live on the ship, madam?”
“Easily. We will explain. So Paulo found you. What happened?”
“Brigitte and I bonded and my parents were against it so we joined anyway.”
“It was the same sort of thing as the Sound people,” I said, “with the sharks being the same too. I suspect that the Witch was responsible for the first Sharks anyway. I think that we should take the kids to the girl’s family tonight and have chat with them. ”
The kids were looking worried, so Persai said, ‘Nothing bad and we want to help.I In America, we had the Sharks and they killed a lot of couples like you and took a bunch of kids as food.”
“What happened to the Sharks.”
“Steve there dealt with one pod using boats and some grenades and his brother in law, who was doing the same thing you were had a shotgun with him while he was out on an island and shot most of the Sharks, which exposed them to the seafolk and others. Once they were exposed they were destroyed. So, Brigitte, where is your house?”
“In the village on the other side of the old harbor.”
The launch went down the docks and past the old harbor in the dark to bridge with the fishing village in and around it. Brigitte pointed a house outside the bridge with a fishing boat ashore like so many others. The house was lit up and there seemed be police and other cars around it. I ran the launch ashore and a woman’s voice called out “Brigitte! You are safe! Why did you two go off like that.”
The woman came charging out, so it couldn’t have been Brigitte’s mother. She turned on poor Claude and said, “What were you thinking young man!”
“Why are you here mama. I didn’t think that you got along with Brigitte’s parents.”
“You fool! We got along just fine. We just wanted to be discreet about things and set up the joining properly because of the other people disappearing. You two had to rush into it and you almost were taken.”
Another woman’s head popped up out of the water and said, “Don’t be too hard on them, Clarice. Newly bonded don’t pay attention. On the other hand, you two should not have just gone off like that without telling us where you were going. At least the sharks did not get you? Who are these people?”
“I’m Captain Golfinho and this my wife Persai. We came on my ship”
“How did you work things out with your wife? You obviously came a long was, from America, at least.”
Persai said, “Do you have a place where we can sit and talk. I think that we should talk. Dear, leave Phillip and take the launch back with the boys. I will call for a car later. I think that Steve will want a report and I can keep things discreet.”
Persai kissed me, dropped off the launch, I backed the launch out and the boys and I returned to the ship. I moored the launch astern of the ship as we would probably want it later and Steve must have been waiting because he and Leo were there as the boys and I reached the top of the ladder on the wharf. “So how did it go with the kids?”
“We had some very anxious parents and Persai is talking with them. Apparently they wanted the kids to wait before going into the water and the kids thought it was because the parents were opposed to the match.”
“We tailed the Alopia’s boat and they headed over toward that bathhouse where the shark attack happened yesterday. Why did the kids show up there?”
“Their cousin said that he was having a party there.”
“Did you tell the kids what kind of party it probably was?”
“Yes. I’m pretty sure that the cousin was doing the same sort of things that Billy Boy was.”
“I think that we should have Sal or Bill check that bath house for compulsions in the morning.”
“I’ll do it,” Leo said. “I’ll take these two and poke around as stupid American tourists.”
“That will work. Why don’t we get together in the morning.”
I went on board and George and I went over the manifest. The insurance people were going to be rather boggled when they saw it. Noro probably had an idea of what was coming. As we were wrapping up, I sensed my wife and went to the side, She waved and called out, “I brought Claude and Brigitte with me! They can have the tank bed tonight! You and I, are going for a Swim and finding a cozynook on the breakwater!”
So that is what we did.
Saturday December 3, 1932.
I came back to the car and sat inside. I was waiting in front of the hotel that we were staying in and more or less using as a headquarters. Sillia was a bit behind me this morning as she was talking with out maid. A maid that was a bit familiar, but I wasn’t paying too much attention to that. The funny thing was that there was somebody in the front seat when I got into the car. “I’ve been trying to figure you out.”
“Hello Milady Hannah. I’m Sal by the way. What do you mean?”
“You don’t seem to be working for my sister, yet she just up and gave you my car.”
“It was there and I was going to need a car, so I asked about it.”
“Did you know that it was my car?”
“Not at the time. We figured that out when we arrived at the estate.”
“Most people would hesitate to use something of mine without permission.”
“You were dead at the time. I could hardly ask you for the permission.”
“Who are you working for?”
“The Committee at the moment.”
“There’s not somebody bigger than that?”
“There is, but one group you wouldn’t believe and the others I can’t talk to you about.”
“My employers are rather put out by your activities.”
“I hope so. I have been trying hard enough. Succeeding too. The Cote De Azure is a much nicer place already. That’s good for business.”
“Aren’t you the least bit afraid of me?”
“Not particularly. I don’t think that you use a gun, at least the rather voluminous file we’ve been collecting on you has never shown that you have in spite of what your brother does. You don’t have any people watching the car or I would have spotted them, I’ve blocked you from Slinging anything and it’s very doubtful that you could compel me in any way since you have never completed your bond and don’t have the support of a keystone any longer.”
“What would it take you to back off?”
“That is an interesting question. My contract has some clauses about that. There are fines for leaving the job more or less unfinished. Then I would have to deal with Bill and Hilda being unhappy with me. I doubt that there is anything your employers could pay to compensate for that. Staying on their good side is usually considered a good idea. In any case we should be wrapping this up shortly.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can figure it out. I think that you should go before you get in trouble.”
“With that big Construct of yours?”
“Tony, no. He’s not here.”
“Where did you get him?”
“He worked for your employers for a long time and hated it. You should have known that. During some things last year we ran into him and hired him and his brother. That has turned out to be a good decision. Having good help makes things go much easier. In any case, if you don’t leave now, you will be in real trouble. My wife is almost here.”
“She doesn’t scare me.”
“That’s a mistake.”
The car door suddenly opened and Hannah was thrown out the car and up against a tree. Sillia had her Browning in her hand and said to Hannah in an even tone, “I just want to make myself clear. If you bother my husband again you will be swimming with the fishes. Since you are not seafolk, milady that might cause you some problems. So be very careful. You don’t want to mess with me. Trust me, you don’t. Good day.”
Sillia sat down in the car and I drove off. “Weren’t you a bit rough on her, dear?”
“Not at all. I’ve been hearing so many stories about her. I just wanted to make it clear that messing with you would not be good for her health.”
“What did Theresa have to say.”
“That lady’s employers are rather concerned with events lately. They are also starting to look at each other’s throats. The loss of most of her children and the keystones has cost the Red Lady. Our activities have cost the French witch. The others see weakness to exploit. Stephie sending the minions of the German Master all over the place didn’t help. The fact that Adelheid’s family took out the Danzig and Hamburg Children simultaneously wearing SA uniforms and using guns from the arsenals has messed things up for them. The local SA people are taking credit for destroying some witches rather loudly. Of course the German master hasn’t noticed that the Master’s are now blind in all the major ports.”
“So if we make a big splash here, the Domain will have a clear shot. I think that we will. Did Theresa and Eli find the witches’ daughters?”
“Theresa gave me the list.”
“We have Steve through Monday. We can hit some of the places, bait the sharks and the rest after Steve leaves. We can use John and the bower’s people to finish up.”
“I think that Hannah wants her car back. She wanted to know what my connection with Greta was.”
“I doubt that she would believe you if you told her. I don’t think that she understands friend of the family, since she isn’t even friends with her own family.”
“If your brother keeps making trips to Vermont it may be more than friends of the family.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that other than sending him an ad for the boys’ shoots. Vicky found him there when Andy took his buddies to a shoot last May. Mom’s happy that Andy won’t be dragged under and be in the army. ”
“Why did he go to West Point anyway?”
“Because he didn’t want to get wet and after your dad set up your brother, dad felt that he should have a son in the service too. It makes dad look better anyway. Andy has always liked the army, you know that.”
“True. So what else did Theresa hand you?”
“The locations of things like the Chemists and the artisans that the Masters rely on. She paid a discreet visit to the witch’s chateau and photographed some files.”
“If she took pictures and has a map, we can get Kitty and ‘Hǔ to rob the place.”
“If Kitty is expecting that won’t happen. In any case, the family should be developing new talent anyway.”
“I think we wasted some opportunities recently. On the other hand between the kids at the school, Eric and Greta’s boys and the others, I expect that we will have talents emerging all too soon. The little dragons could probably do some of it.”
“You know, that gave me an idea, but I think that it can wait until after the new year.”
We had a wonderful drive from Nice to Marseille and went over to the ship, where they were finishing the loading. Sillia and I went up to the artroom and Persai said, “Sal, This is Brigitte and Claude. They had Shark issues when they Joined. Their cousin is a member of the Alopias.”
“Are Steve and Stelios here? I want to get together and put a game plan together for the next two ‘houses.’”
Steve walked in with Leo, John and Stelios. Steve said, “Good, you showed up. We had some fun and games with the Sharks and these two last night. We just went over and cleared some compulsions.”
“Do you want to bait the Sharks tonight? It might be a bit tight, but with John’s people and what I and Bill have, we can hit another house at the same time. In fact I have the perfect place to hit. If we play this right, it should work. We put these two, or at least the scent of these two in the water, maybe someplace else other than the bath house, you deal with the Sharks and I take out one of the Witch’s daughters at the same time. By the way, Hannah is in the area. I think that she was trying to scare me into dropping the job. Sillia probably convinced her that threatening me was a bad idea.”
Sillia grinned. “I was perfectly calm and orderly with the lady after I pulled her out of my seat. I told her right off what would happen to her if she messed with you, Sal.”
“What did you tell her, Sillia?”
“I told her that she would be swimming with the fishes. That was the absolute truth. I also said that messing with me is bad news.”
“What did Hannah do?”
“I don’t know. We left.”
“I wonder what she is up to. She’s been hanging around since she tried to kidnap Jeanette and Tony. Everybody says that she is hellishly competent. We haven’t seen that, and she’s been run ragged by Stephie and Greta. Greta is up north,yet she’s here. She’s not playing with Greta anymore, she’s playing with us, we’renot family and part of her obsesson so she won’t be as distracted. I’ll tell Tony to be careful. Bill too. The fact is that we were not supposed to be this visible and active down here and have pissing off two masters at the same time.”
I frowned. “You’re right. This needed to be done and we wanted a bigger distraction any way. Having two Masters pissed at us was not in the original plan, but if we can’t adapt we are as bad as they are. Can you leave your options open for departure if we need you and the team?”
“Yes. I’ll send a quick message to the Admiral explaining what is going on. We can still evacuate with your people.”
“Good. Maybe we can evacuate Etienne and his family in your berths.”
“Do they want to go?”
“Yes, if they can make it clean and discreet. They have businesses and people that they are responsible for, but they want out from under the Masters for Roberre and Jean’s sake if nothing else. On the other hand if we finish here, the Masters are going to have a bloody nose and Etienne.”
“We’ll keep our eyes open for any surprises.”
We set things up for the evening. Claude and Brigitte were going to spend the day in the water next to her father’s house with some of Steve’s people nearby. They were priming the pump by acting like stupid kids. So far the clubmembers were staying home or at their hotels. The Committee had people watching the club and so did the police once I told them what it was. Tim’s book actually did a good job going over how the club operated as well as how the Philadelphia pod operated. So far, the police didn’t have cause, but they now had suspicions. We were going to give them cause. After meeting with Steve and Stelios and getting everything all set Sillia and I drove back to the hotel and talked with Tony and the Committee people and set up the raid on the ‘house’ that the Witch’s daughter ran.
After lunch, we set up and put the team together. As the evening approached we watched the vistor’s arrive. Then it was time for business. Mary had gone in checked to see if there was a self destruct and unbelievably there was, but the TNT, probably left over from war, had been connected to the same kind of detonator used by Heinrich in the states. After things were over,Mary dismantled it and looked at the self destruct with disgust. “Iwas making better setups when I was thirteen blowing up stumps. This was just pathetic.”
Hilda laughed. “Mary you give Steve’s people training on booms, but these people just don’t have your experience and skill.”
Etienne called and we found out what Hannah had been up to and that we all had a huge mess to clean up. The Red Lady had brought out the Necromancers and Hannah had used them as a diversion to take Tony and Jeanette.

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