The Desert Nexus
This was the year that Murphy and his Law got a major hardon for me - as bad as he had shafted Mr. Scott, the Sheik's agent in Australia. The difference was that there was no one to pull me out of the shit - I had sink or swim on my own.
The year started just fine. The new governor was the candidate that I had supported - actually, that I had pulled out all the stops to get elected. And since much of my help was funneled through my shadow employee, Bonnie Fields - the first girl that I had sent to Vietnam for loyalty training, just to give the unnamable a name - she was now a major member of the new governor's staff. It looked like she would be, someday, the shaft that hit the mark. I had already engaged Jean, in France, to continue building her phony past to the point that it should stand even heavy scrutiny.
My other plan was progressing very well also. I had two girls, Zee and another Vietnam 'graduate', securely ensconced as confidants of Penelopy Elsenburg, the now fabulously wealthy heiress to the Elsenburg energy empire. Even Katja was a part of the in-crowd of the woman, although not full time as were the other two girls. But, so far, my plans with Penny were just barely out the gate and, despite what my inner circle suspected, had nothing to do with selling her on the open market.
Another and minor item, was the reopening of the divorce settlements of my one time internal information embezzler, Tom Harmon. With a new judge on the bench, this one with no female vendetta against men, my legal office got his liabilities cut way down. Of course, it didn't hurt that the young judge got his position because of the efforts of a concerned citizen. Well, me, if you didn't recognize the description.
Then, all that went on the back burner.
My bedroom, not long after the election.
It had been a long night and I was sleeping in. Actually, I had long since woken up, but was just enjoying the feeling of relaxing in a warm bed on a cold and blustery day. Then...
I looked up to see Rita suddenly appear at the door. One look at her, and I had the .357 pulled out from under the pillow, and was on my feet. She violently shook her head, and began to sign so rapidly that I had to tell her to slow down and start over. She did, and in seconds I was out the door and heading for Sally's office, one floor below mine. I passed Brinker at the door, and waved him to follow me. Apparently, he was the one to bring the news to Rita to take to me.
Chip had just hung up a phone, as I stormed in the door. The look on his face wasn't pleasant. As soon as he saw me, he stood up and said, "Sally has been arrested! She's at the downtown jail! We have to..."
I waved both hands to get him to stop. "Whoh! Back it up and start from the beginning."
He shook his head. "I can't. I don't know what happened. I just got the call that she is being held. We've got to get down there."
Chip was my Chief of Staff, and as level headed as they come, but Sally was his woman, and that was overriding his judgement.
I shook my head in turn. "No we don't. Sit down!" This last with emphasis and with me pointing to his chair. He did and I continued. "I know what Sally means to you, but you're my squad leader and we aren't going to charge until we know which direction the shots are coming from."
I saw him take a deep breath and relax - somewhat. "Ok, Sarge. You're right."
"Good." I sat down, motioned to Brinker and said, "You got any contacts in the downtown pokey?" I asked.
He shook his head. "No. You want me to see if I can find one?"
I nodded. "Yes, but don't go into any enemy territory, yet. Just see what you can find out from afar." He nodded and left.
"Do we send a lawyer down there?" Chip asked.
I nodded and pulled my phone out of my pocket. "But not one of ours. We don't want her connected with us, and definitely not where it looks like we are considering her so important that we send a corporate attorney to a jail. Remember, to the world, she is just a nobody computer geek." A call and the spending of a stored up good-old-boy chit later, and I said. "Now we wait. When we get some intel, we move, but not before."
My question was - did her arrest have something to do with me? Say, an important woman escaped from some third world country and is now back and blowing the whistle? On reflection, that didn't make sense. The cops would be knocking down my door, not Sally's. No woman we ever captured even knew of Sally's existence. Other than that, she wasn't working on anything particularly illegal at the moment as far as I knew. In fact, during the last week she had just been reviewing security of the R&R network, downstairs.
A bar on the northeast side of town
A few hours later, Chip and I met the selected attorney at a place of his choosing. This wasn't a corporate attorney, but a rock crawler who specialized in finding every loophole that his client could crawl through, innocent or not - and usually not.
"...in the middle of a sting. The CCTF was..." He stopped and amplified as I shook my head, "...Computer Crimes Task Force... had the coffee shop wired and watched. They hauled her in for an ATM cracking scheme they they've been chasing for a long time." He spread his hands to invite me to comment.
I did. "What the Fuck! ATM hacking? At a coffee shop?" I looked at Chip, who immediately rose to her defense, naturally.
"Sarge! She visits that place all the time! She practically has her own reserved table." He looked back and forth at us. "The joint has high speed Internet and her college girlfriends are always in the place."
I turned back to the legal eagle. "The cops have to have gotten something mixed up. This isn't making sense."
He nodded. "Thats what she said, but we'll just have to wait until the bail hearing tomorrow to see what cards the other side is holding."
The next day.
Same bar, but just me and the attorney. "They claim to have proof that she was involved in the scheme, but that it is in several encrypted files on her laptop that they can't decipher, or whatever it is you do to secret computer stuff."
Uh oh. A light was beginning to dawn - sort of like the glow from a nuclear explosion.
"They've asked the judge to require her to give them the key, or code, or whatever."
"Can they? I thought that was Fifth Amendment stuff."
"For computers it hasn't been cast in stone yet. The courts are still sorting it out. To the computer world, it's the same as requiring a person to incriminate themselves. But, and it's a big but at the moment, law enforcement - all over the country - hates the idea and is doing everything they can to make sure that computers don't fall under that protection." He spread his hands, then finished his drink. "It's a toss up. The judge could rule either way."
"Ok. Keep me posted."
A major thunderstorm was parked over the city and giving quite an impressive display - which none of us were watching. Chip, Zee and myself were sitting around the table and I was filling them in.
"Here's what happened - I think. Frankly, Sally was in the wrong place at the wrong time." I waved Rita away at the door. The last thing I wanted right now was snacks or alcohol. "The cops have been chasing a ring that is hacking into banks or ATMs and apparently using Internet connections at shops and hotels to do it. Sally apparently has used her favorite Internet hangout at about the same time as they claim to have logs of the illegal activity."
The two just nodded. "The problem is, when they took her in for questioning, they found some encrypted files on her laptop." I shook my head. "I leave it to your imagination just what those might contain, but I doubt it is anything that we want known. Her problem..." I started over. "Our problem along with hers, is that she has two choices, neither of them good. If she gives them the keys, she goes free but whatever is in those files, probably comes to roost on us. If she refuses, she goes up the river, if the prosecutor can manage it."
"Do you have any pull down there," asked Chip.
I shook my head. "I never cared about local politics since it was too far down the ladder. All my contacts are at the State and National level." I wondered how Chip would take the next news. "Her problem is that the judge has agreed to refuse bail until she gives up the keys. I don't have any doubt that we can beat this thing, but I don't want Sally to spend five years behind bars while we run it through multiple courts."
I could see Chip's blood pressure rising even as he drew breath to demand that we storm the jail with our men and sprung her. Not really, but he was going to want to know what I was going to do, chop chop.
"Ok, for now we are in intel mode. Chip, I want you to visit Sally as her boyfriend - and for moral support. There is nothing you can do but I want her to know that her problems are now ours and all measures will be taken to get her free. And she will know why I don't show up in court or at the jail, but tell her anyway - I need to pull strings without being associated with her. And remember, no matter what they say and post on the wall, don't believe for a minute that the conversation won't be recorded. By the way, I've given her attorney a message to the same effect and he can deliver it verbatim."
A month later
Nothing had worked. The local prosecutor was one of those career climbers, all too numerous, who only cared about getting a conviction for his record - the guilt or innocence of the accused was of no matter to him. I was going to have to solve the problem outside of the legal system.
One piece of information that the prosecutor didn't have was that I would personally hold him responsible if any slightest harm came to my employee, and again, my response would be outside of the legal system. Even if she came through unscathed, he was going to be unpleasantly surprised at his next campaign for reelection, as his opponent came at him with anything we could dig up - and quite possibly everything we could make up - including an unlimited amount of money.
Brinker was a godsend and was going to be stunned by the size of the bonus that he was going to receive after this was over. Using skills developed during his pre-Army days - "Don't tell me about it, just do it" - we had several contacts in the administration section of the downtown jail, and several more on the outside. He even managed to get a hooker arrested and held long enough to deliver a message in the exercise yard. She didn't need to work for several months after that.
His expense account was cash and unlimited.
Sally had refused to divulge the keys to her encrypted files to the grand jury, and the judge had waxed wroth, to quote Zee, who retrieved the micro recorder taped to the underside of a bench in the courtroom. He decreed that she would sit in prison for three months, then would be asked again. According to her attorney, she would have to be charged or released when the term of the grand jury was up. Unfortunately, he also dashed our hopes by educating us with the fact that all the prosecutor would have to do to keep her was to resubmit the case to the next jury.
The ball room lounge.
I looked around the room at my employees - friends and buddies, actually. Jean, Brinker, Chip, Telly and several members of his team. Not all - half of my crew of grunts were on the ocean trolling for pirates, and were too far away to recall. Besides, I didn't need that many for this operation.
Jean had flown in and had been driven from the airport by Brinker. His skill in seeing flaws would keep emotions from clouding the plan of the op, and would also keep any rose colored glasses from being used.
Rita had just left with her serving girls and with orders to allow nobody near the room until I called. I stood up. "My friends." Friends hell - these were blood brothers of the closest kind. "Ever since I started this organization, I have developed plans and had resources on standby for the inevitable day when one of us got arrested or detained for following my orders. But, I have to say, this situation with our female cohort caught me by surprise. I never in my wildest fears expected one of us to be hauled down for something that we didn't do and not be able to prove our innocence because of something else we were guilty of." I shook my head.
"Sally is going to be held in prison for an indefinite time, because she refuses to release information that would clear her, but that would also compromise the organization. I am going to attempt to alleviate her sentence, but in this operation, your participation is totally voluntary. If it works, everything will be great. If it fails, it could be bad - really bad."
I looked around the room, but nobody seemed to be particularly concerned. "This isn't a third world operation against drug dealers or mobsters. We can't and won't use lethal force - not against men only doing their jobs. It has to be a soft op."
I could have been talking about the upcoming company picnic, as far as any concern that I could detect on anyone's faces. "I know that all of you here, except for Jean, have been trained to kill, not play nice against an enemy. This kind of thing is not what you hired on for. So, if you wish to sit this one out, there will be no repercussions - and in fact, if you think your reactions would be a problem in a soft op, I want you to sit it out. The fact of participation or no, will have no bearing on your future with me. Now, if..."
Telly stood up and raised his hand. I nodded for him to speak.
"Sarge," he began, looking around the room. "You're wasting valuable time with this volunteer bullshit. Let's get on with the plan." A murmur of agreement rumbled around the room.
Goddamn! Except for Jean, I couldn't have hired a more unsavory group of outcasts if I had scoured the railroad yards and neon bars. I would also never be in the company of finer men than were in front of me tonight.
I nodded, trying to keep my face under control. "Ok, here it is. Anybody sees a problem or a better way, don't ask. Just talk."
When the meeting broke up, Jean and I relaxed with a drink. He was looking at me without saying anything, until I blurted out, "What?"
He just shook his head. "Mon Ami. I would sign any reasonable pact with the Devil to have just a portion of the... charisma?... yes, charisma that you have in abundance." I crinkled my brow, trying to figure out what he was talking about. He continued with a wry smile. "To have men willing to follow me into Hell - no protests, no exclamations - not even questions about how to get back out. Just... lead the way." He raised his glass in a one-sided toast. "I salute you, my friend."
For this operation, we were using temporary help, so to speak, for the exposed parts of the mission - that is bribing and anything internal to the jail. While I would trust my men with my life, and knew they they wouldn't deliberately disobey orders, I was worried about their automatic reactions to an unforeseen event. During the whole of their professional lives, and some of their young ones, they had escaped tough situations by immediate and automatic reactions - reactions that usually left bodies on the ground. I didn't want that to happen here. What was planned would be a headline grabber for a couple of days, but if an innocent person or a uniformed officer was harmed, it would turn into a massive manhunt by every state law enforcement agency that could get on the scene.
The keystone of the plan was a bribe to an insider. If he got cold feet, or ratted, or just screwed up, the op was history. With the amount he was being paid, I doubted that he would willingly welch - given that he was otherwise looking at a lifetime of almost minimum-wage-slaving and no education to rise any higher. Of course, with Jean in the middle of the operational planning, there were multiple places that we could call it off and evaporate to leave the authorities wondering what didn't happen.
The key to timing was knowing when the action was planned. We had an idea, but for this to work we needed timely info. To that end, Telly had a team member installed in a fleabag room, overlooking the garage door to the back of the jail complex. We ran the route over and over, with Jean playing the part of Murphy and throwing monkey wrenches at us during each run. Finally, when we got word that the time was just about nigh, we stopped the practice and waited at our respective kickoff points.
Jean had produced a diagram showing the risk factor of the mission, at all points during the operation. For now, we were low on the curve. If it blew up now, not only was nobody at risk, but the powers-that-be wouldn't even know they had been targeted. Over the radio came the word for the start and shortly thereafter the word 'one.' Excellent. So far so good. The team member in the apartment confirmed that the numbers and the vehicles were as we expected. Since it passed right under his window, he could also confirm that the bus wasn't stuffed with SWAT team members, lying on the floor. It would be dark in an hour, but our plan was made to accommodate either day or night.
The next node of our strategy was determining the route they would take. The usual one was down highway 46, but on occasion they took the Interstate. The latter would have been better - the massive traffic would have easily submerged our few vehicles. However, this wasn't a transfer of dangerous criminals, but a dozen or so low-risk female prisoners. The usual vehicle, as it was this time, was an old school bus, and not even a full sized one. It was one of those shorties and bought by the prison transfer system because it was old and cheap. It was also not a vehicle in which you wanted to try to keep up with traffic on a crowded Interstate highway. So, usually it took the more leisure alternate route, and as it turned out, it did this time also.
The next node of the operation was a little more dangerous, but still nothing compared to later. The bus was always followed by a van or a car with two or three armed officers as escort. If this one failed, all bets were off also. I waited for word from the trigger car, which would initiate action as soon at the short convoy got out into the deserted countryside.
Of course, listening to the radio was an exercise in nail biting patience, with each minute lasting about forever. We were using encrypted radios - only a fool would try something like this with cell phones. Given the snooping capabilities of current phone technology, you might as well email the cops a copy of your plan.
Finally, came the nonsensical phrase, "Bobble head is swinging." I crossed my fingers and waited. A couple of hours later in perceived time, which was actually only about five minutes came the welcome, "Warp speed, Captain."
Apparently it had actually worked in real life, just like it did in the practice tests. A van driven by Bummer, with Jonesie literally riding shotgun, but laying prone where the passenger's seat normally was, would have come up behind the following escort car, normal like. The marksman would have sighted through a specially modified hole in the front of the van, and put a single silenced round into the tread of a rear tire. Then, Bummer would have slowed down for the next turnoff, made the turn and waited for the escort car to disappear down the road. Back on the highway, they would head for home - one crew safe.
Unless the tire blew out on impact of the low velocity round the escort car should have gotten a mile or two down the road before they driver noticed they were getting a flat. But by now, another car was behind them, waiting for a chance to pass. This one had Dolby and Sanchez - and a very powerful cell phone jammer. We assumed that once they realized they had a problem, they would put calls to both headquarters somewhere and to the bus now disappearing into the distance in front of them. With the jammer going full blast, there wasn't a chance.
As the escort car pulled over to stop on the side of the road Dolby courteously slowed down, almost to a stop, to wait for an oncoming car to pass, then pulled into the opposite lane. As they passed the now stopped officers, Sanchez handed Dolby the jammer, who then dropped it out the window into the ditch opposite the escort car. It was camouflaged as a crushed beer can and probably wouldn't be found until the next aluminum can collector happened along. It was so powerful that the battery would last less than thirty minutes, but that would be plenty of time. While they were changing the tire, no calls would be made or received.
Another team zoomed off into the dusk - just two innocent guys driving down the road.
Next was the major node. Here we would see if we had been double crossed by the driver, who supposedly was firmly in our pay, thanks to Brinker's temporary agent - said agent who was now paid off and far away from what he knew was going to be a stirred up hornets nest. Telly and I were waiting down the road at a rest stop - actually just a wide place in the road with a memorial plaque. He sudden stirred, leaned over to look out the external mirror, and said, "Here it comes, Sarge."
The peeling yellow bus zoomed past us at it's maximum forty five miles per hour. I waited to let it get ahead, then said, "Let's go." We followed it for another five miles till the critical point approached. If he turned off here, the the plan was still in progress. If he kept going, I would give the signal for everyone to evaporate. By now it was almost dark.
"There's the brake lights, Sarge. The bastard is going to do it." Sure enough, he turned right on an oil top road, and kept going. Now he was behind another car that had been waiting for him. We turned also. Eventually we saw them turn off the road, and followed them up a dirt lane among some mesquite trees. By the time we pulled up behind the bus, Dunkleberry was outside giving the thumbs up. I knew that both he and Brinker had jumped on the bus and, using a couple of injection guns, squirted everyone on board in the neck, except for Sally and the driver. Now was easy - only the driver was still conscious.
All of us had ski masks on and were fully clothed, covering every inch of our bodies, including tattoos on a couple of arms. And gloves. Not exactly comfortable attire for a hot night in Texas, but necessary - at least until the driver was taken care of.
As I came to the front - and only - door of the bus, I heard Brinker giving his canned speech.
"...real good. Your money is exactly where we agreed. Remember, leave it alone for at least a year and when you finally start using it, don't buy a goddamned red sports car and a fur coat for your live-in cunt." He turned as he felt the bus move as I climbed the steps, then continued with his warnings. "They're going to put both you and the guard through the ringer, so... You were driving along normally, got somewhere south of the crossroads, then the next thing you knew, you woke up here. Got it?"
The driver was scared, but nodded, hoping that we were really going to pay off and not just dispose of him, next.
"They will find the reason on board as to why you were knocked out. We aren't going to tell you what, because as an innocent driver, you don't know. Give me that hose."
The driver turned to pull on a plastic hose dangling out the window, and Brinker shot him in the neck with the injector. Even though he knew what was coming, he tried to protest, then slumped over the wheel. In the far back, I could see the officer that had been riding herd on the prisoners, lying on the floor.
Now, speed was of the absolute essence. The plan was to be back in the city before the word even got out and roadblocks started getting set up. The team member back in the Dallas apartment was monitoring the enforcement radio channels, waiting for the shit to hit the fan. When it did, he would call us. He would have to use a cell phone since we were far out of range our radios. But, both he and I had a pair of cheap throwaways.
By now, Telly and Dunkleberry had cut the chains on all the females in the bus, and were hauling them bodily to the back of the small panel truck parked outside the door. No finesse - we just dumped them in the back. In a few minutes, we were all sweating bullets, but it was far more important to get the warm bodies transferred and gone from this place than take time to undress. I removed the driver's phone, then walked to the back to get the guard's.
Finally, we removed a canister from under the drivers seat, and replaced it with another, more complicated one. The driver was laid in the floor and the last thing done was to totally smash out a side window. With that, Brinker started the van, and roared off. Dunkelberry took Brinker's car and Telly and I got back in ours.
Total time after the bus stopped. Less than ten minutes.
On the road.
Instead of turning back toward the route we had arrived on, we followed the oil road on to an intersection. There, we passed another small truck, which, after we passed, turned on its headlights and began to follow us. I smiled as I remember Jean pointing to a timeline of the proposed operation and saying, sarcastically, "Ok, you are here, with a truck full of wanted women and 'Bang', you blow a tire. Are you going to pull over to the side of the road and call Triple A? Or change it yourself." Ok, so we had a spare vehicle following us in that unlikely case.
Another intersection and a better road, then finally we came to the Interstate. There we merged into traffic, heading north. Just some more innocent vehicles using the nation's highways - well within the speed limit, of course. I kept pulling the cell phone out of my pocket and making sure it was still on. I was expecting any second for it to ring with the word that somebody somewhere finally realized that something was wrong.
Finally, we pulled into the city, and turned on the road leading to the airport. Telly looked over at me and exclaimed, "Christ, Sarge! Did the cops shut down for the night and go home?"
I was wondering the same thing. Apparently, sending a group of prisoners off into the distance wasn't something that concerned anyone of rank. "Don't complain. Just keep hoping that the phone doesn't ring."
Dunkelberry had zoomed ahead and made sure that all employees of the terminal were gone for the day, as ordered. The Sheik's plane was fueled and waiting, but the crew was hiding on board. We pulled into the open hanger doors behind the truck and waited for the motors to slowly grind them shut. Then, once more, a hurry up job of getting the cargo on board - a much harder task, this time, going up fifteen steps with each, than just dumping them into the back of a low truck as before.
Dunk already had the tractor hooked to the front landing gear and, as soon as the hanger doors hit their open stops again, pulled the plane out. Shortly, it was started, and taxiing for takeoff - two pilots, Chip and thirteen women. Now, all of us had our adrenaline collapse, and, exhausted, closed up the terminal and headed for home. I called a number on the phone and told our watcher to haul ass. He would fly out tonight to Europe and meet the anti-pirate team when they came ashore. I wanted him gone for a few months, just in case someone wondered who rented the apartment down by the jail - for only two weeks. The two trucks we dropped off at a remote warehouse - just two more among several others.
My home. Western lounge
Jean already had the girls prepared for us. Waiting were drinks of all kinds, hamburgers, fries, snacks and any girl they wanted, with the exception of Cinnamon. Brinker would share anything with a buddy - ammo, rations, or blood, but not his squeeze. As the alcohol flowed, so did the remembrances, and each item was discussed over and over - all of it being the normal reaction to a tough, dangerous and successful mission. For myself, I just mostly smiled, listened and drank. And thought about the future.
I was totally exhausted. I didn't even wake up until 1100 hours the next morning, and even then I felt like I had been dragged behind a HumVee for a couple of miles. Rita was obviously checking up on me because she immediately came in with breakfast. As I relaxed, she asked questions of the last night. Being a intelligent woman, she was naturally impatient to hear of the adventure. So, I slowly ate and filled her in.
Unbelievably, the authorities didn't even begin to suspect something was wrong until morning. The cops in the escort car fixed their flat, and took off down the road but never caught up with the bus, obviously. Once they got to the prison, they called back to the station to report that the bus hadn't showed up, but for some reason, it didn't seem to cause any concern. Only when the driver and guard of the bus woke up and drove to a phone did the shit hit the fan. Hell, we could have stopped for dinner and a drink.
"...no. The driver already had the canister of sleepy gas that we gave him. He put it in his overnight bag and carried it on." "...well, I got the idea from the capture cab that the agent in Australia had used. In this case, when he reached down and turned on the gas valve, he pushed a clear air hose out the vent window and breathed through that." He had worried about somebody noticing, but was assured that it wouldn't make much difference. The guard in the back was much too far away to see it, and everybody else would be keeling over in a few seconds. For obvious reasons, all the windows of the prison bus were permanently sealed shut and the only incoming air was from the insufficient air-conditioner - which he turned off just before gassing them.
"...oh yes. It was important to give him an alibi, since, if they suspected him, then the next question would be, who paid you? And the question probably wouldn't be asked in a polite tone of voice." It wouldn't have mattered that much, but Jean said that it would be just another wall between them and us. We had replaced the original canister with another empty one, but this one had a radio controlled valve. Obviously, the bad guys had triggered it from beside the road as it drove past, followed the bus until the driver fell unconscious, then broke their way into the bus via the window when it rolled to a stop.
All in all, We wound up with twelve girls, in addition to Sally - a dozen ordinary cunts that I had no interest in, but if we had just snatched our girl, and left the rest, the fuzz would be going berserk to find everybody she had ever associated with. Now, she was just one of a dozen others that had disappeared. Of course, the police would be going over and over every girl's past to see which one was important enough to warrant such a massive kidnap operation. I expected to be interviewed about Sally, but we had long established her cover in my building as just another low paid part time computer techie - one who did server stuff and cleaned viruses off PC's. Her office had already been altered by Chip to look like the parts mess of the just described computer junkie - no records or papers were left, and of course, all PC's in upper floors were scrubbed clean of important data.
Besides, what would a rich and powerful industrialist who hobnobbed with governors and senators care about a female hacker? I made more in ten minutes than even the biggest ATM held.
As the explanations ran down, I just sat back on the lounger and sipped the drink, alternating with allowing Rita to enjoy it also. She knew I wasn't just relaxing and finally signed, "Something is bothering you." A statement, not a question.
I emptied the glass, then put my arm around her. "I think we're about through with the capture business - at least, actively." She just widened her eyes and waited. I was still marshaling my thoughts. "We have excellent friends and comrades, but we've been lucky, too." I looked at her. "Remember the parable of the pitcher that went to the well too often?" She nodded. "Why risk all this for money we don't need, and girls that we can buy if we want? I think we'll confine our business to pirate ships and politics. And the import business, downstairs."
I flew over to brief the Sheik on my decision to move the business into another realm, wondering just what he would think of an agent making decisions like that on his own. As it turned out, I needn't have worried.
"Rodger, you continue to astound me. I don't know why. I knew that when it was time for you to take off the training wheels, just to use the American idiom, that you would recognize the correct time to do it." He refilled our glasses with his forbidden liquor. "Of all my agents, except for Jean, you are the only one to recognize that the female side of our business is just the icing on the cake." He shook his head, and continued, "I fear that my association with you has permanently changed my command of the English language. I seem to be unable to avoid colloquial terms.
"My other agents would never believe it, but my family's wealth has never come from the women themselves, but from all of the outside interests connected with them. Madem Dupont, of your first operation, was a woman who would have brought a million Euros on the open market, but her business interests that I acquired were worth far more. The same with Fraulein Hauffmann from Germany. High valued that she was, the amount paled into insignificance before the power and money that I acquired from her double.
"But..." he waved his finger at me. "You have been curious about another associate in your country." He pushed a button. "I have never spoken of him - he is a friend, not an agent and his secrets are not mine to reveal - until he gave me permission."
What the Fuck! How in hell did the Sheik know of my researches? Only Sally and myself were privy to the secret and that thought brought up extremely unpleasant ideas. I continued to flounder in my mind in total confusion until the Sheik smiled and continued. "Relax, my friend. You have no mole in your camp, and I have no secret cameras in your building. I have known that a man of your intelligence would have wondered from the start about certain anomalies - such as how I got two American movie actresses in my seraglio, and how Tarkan came by so many upper class females from your country. If you had been the type not to wonder, I would never have associated with you." He looked over my shoulder as I heard the door open. He pointed and I turned around. "Rodger, may I present a compatriot of yours, Bill Tatum."
A trim and healthy man, and a beautiful younger woman were entering the room. He was several years older than me, and the woman was probably close to my age. He walked up an offered his hand. "I am glad to finally meet you, sir."
I took it - firm it was, no wimp this - and replied. "Rodger, Mr. Tatum."
He smiled and returned, "Bill."
I turned to the smiling woman, who bowed and said, "So, this is the famous Mister Sergeant?"
Abashed, I replied. "A moniker from a previous life, I'm afraid."
Mr. Tatum - Bill - put his hand on her shoulder, and said, "This is Teema. My wife." I nodded said something appropriate - I hoped - but I was looking at her neckwear. It was a wisp of blue cloth - probably worth more than my suit.
Blinking, I just stared as my mind assembled pieces of information from the past, and tried to reject the result. I looked over at her husband, who laughed quietly and said, "Yes - she is the only living Blue Silk girl, at the present."
I swallowed in preparation to say something probably asinine, but the woman waved her hand and said, with amusement, "Relax, Mr. Sergeant. I do it just like all other women - just better than most."
Better! A trainee at Suliman's with a yellow neck band could make Cleopatra seem like a frigid cunt, and, I knew first hand, that a green silk girl like Colette could leave a brass monkey with sore balls just by a gentle massage - let alone by doing anything sexual. What in hell would a woman like this one be capable of?
Fortunately, I kept my thoughts to myself. "My pardon, Ma'am. But until now the idea of a girl with blue silk has been just a legend. Frankly, I wasn't ever sure that the tales were true."
The Sheik was enjoying the interaction. He waved, and said, "Sit down my friends. Let us get acquainted."
For hours, we talked. Bill told me of his start into the female business, although not where their stash of girls were kept - I told him mine. Even of my research to figure out if there actually was another organization that mirrored mine.
Bill was into bondage, pure and simple. He had started as a teen and carried it on through life. Like me, he only cared enough about money to live comfortably and to get whatever he needed done. Teema was introduced into his world by an uncle or the like in Europe somewhere, but she said that was a separate story that would have to wait for another time. She cared nothing for the B&D scene, but was apparently bisexual. The drumbeat she followed was sex, pure and simple, and the search for perfection in the subject. I gathered that neither of them was monogamous - something that I thought interesting, until I thought of Rita. Come to think of it, neither were we.
They had a young son, now asleep downstairs, that I would meet in the morning. Finally, late at night, we wished each other a good night, before which they invited me to their mountain home at any time - insisted that I visit, actually. Teema smiled and said, "I want to meet Rita - Mr. Hassan tells me that she is a stunning and intelligent woman..." - she winked - "...and that he has offered to purchase her on more than one occasion."
"Certainly," I replied. "When you get down my way, stop in for a few days. I have plenty of room and Rita will love the company. And, of course, I'll bring her when I get up your way."
"Excellent," she replied. "I want to hear the stories, first hand, about her adventures when you rescued her. And I know it would be a waste of time asking you to tell them."
I laughed. "She'll bend your ear for hours on the topic. But," I shook a finger at her, "be sure and discount much of what she says, otherwise she'll have me striding into the compound on seven league boots and tearing the building down with my bare hands like Samson."
"How is Penny?" I asked.
Zee was sitting and looking out the window. "About normal, when I left. The shakes and dizzy spells are definitely getting worse and more often."
"And her doctors?"
"Not a clue. She's had every Cat Scan, MRI, and blood test available. Not only that, she's pe'ed in more cups than I've ever drunk out of." A pause. "I don't like this, Rodger."
I looked at her. "Do you want to call it off? She's your friend and I will, if you want."
She shook her head. "I don't feel like a friend. More like a traitorous bitch. A friend doesn't poison a friend."
Hmmmm. I very much doubted that Zee would revolt, but I needed to put her mind at ease. What she and Julia were feeding Penelope drop by drop and at random intervals wasn't poison and had no long term effects. It just caused epileptic like seizures for a short time, and according to Dr. Thao, it metabolized so rapidly that the minute amount of drug was almost impossible to detect. Especially if tests weren't run immediately, and the girls knew never to put the drop in her drink when medical help was close by.
Zee was her father's daughter, with all that implied in a family business based on female slavery, and world-wise beyond most senior citizens, but, she was still a young woman, with all the feelings and hormones that went with that state of being. "Do you think she would be amenable to the suggestion now?" I asked. It was months early according to the plan, and her partner I wasn't worried about - if I ordered it, Julie's neurological conditioning would allow her to strangle her friend without a qualm, but Zee was an unaltered woman and her feelings were starting to worry me.
"I think she will. Can I try?" That was obviously an opinion based on hope, rather than rational thought, but so be it.
I nodded. "Ok. Ask her over for a pajama party, or something, and see what she says. Do it in the blue room so I can listen in." That suite had long been fitted with mics and cameras, but I had never had reason to use them. "Be sure and clue Julia in to the plan, so she can give her two cents worth."
I was watching and listening to the girls from my desk, with a small window on my desktop, while I did normal work on the computer. So far, the scene had been a normal evening get-together with the three girls and Rita and Colette, sitting on the bed and floor in various stages of undress and exchanging clothes and girl-talk. Anyone watching would have assumed that I was enjoying the scene as a voyeur but that was far from the case. With the exception of Penny, I could view any of the girls I wanted in the privacy of my bedroom, in any state of undress and pose I wanted - including prone and under me. No, I was waiting for Zee to pop the question.
Meanwhile, I missed having Sally on my staff. She was still at Jean's, relaxing and enjoying herself, from all accounts. Of course, Chip visited her often, and to maximize the time he could spend with her, I used him as my courier at the moment. She was still doing work for me, just long distance, but it wasn't the same. Jean was carefully putting together a new past for her in the hope that someday I could get her back. She had minimal plastic surgery planned to alter her face, and she was amenable to a boob job - apparently a good percentage of the female population of the western world craved bigger tits than they were born with. Of course, that was the fault of men like me that drooled over being able to bounce jugs and pull nipples as we played.
However, naturally, Jean was on top of the problem, as usual. For one thing, he pointed out, Sally wasn't a criminal - she had never been charged with a crime, let alone tried or convicted. The assumption would be that she was kidnapped, so she wasn't guilty of escaping from custody. By American law, she was still innocent. And, if she wanted to hang around Paris for five more years, the statute of limitations would expire and she was home free.
Unfortunately, it would take more than a new look and passport to allow her to come back to my building before the five years was up. The appearance of a new employee, doing the same work as the fugitive one, and on the same floor with the same disability wouldn't pass scrutiny, even by an Inspector Clouseau quality flatfoot. And her fingerprints were a problem that I hadn't figured out, yet. Telly's suggestion was that we just hack into the FBI fingerprint database and erase them, which showed just how clueless he was about things outside of weapons and tactics. However, the Sheik was, as always, a fountain of information on things illegal and how to get them done. He assured me that problem could be fixed, although the procedure wasn't exactly minor outpatient surgery.
Whatever. Time would tell. One thing that had definitely changed since we got Sally sprung, was that she had put an entirely new procedure in place for secure data. It was all stored overseas, on a server in a country highly unfriendly with the West, double encrypted far beyond any rational security expert's dream, and only decrypted after loading onto a machine that had no connection to anything else. After use, the entire hard drive of the machine was securely erased, and reloaded with the Operating System. No incriminating file was allowed off the premises, or even on them for very long. I doubted that...
I moved my attention to the video window, then maximized it and turned the sound up. Zee was speaking. "... had an employee with the same symptoms as you. Rodger sent him to a specialized clinic in the Far East. In a few months he was back and cured. In fact, he still works downstairs in the import company." Julie nodded as though she had just remembered the same thing. Of course, Rita and Colette weren't in on the scheme, but would always agree that their mentor could work miracles.
"Really," Penny asked. "The same... whatever it is... shakes and dizziness?"
Zee nodded. "Why don't you allow me to ask him?"
"Yes. Yes. Of course. Thank you." I'll be damned! The stupid little plot was actually working. And months ahead of schedule.
"I think he's in his office right now. Get your clothes on, girls - I'll see if he can come down here."
I closed the monitor window and waited for Zee to appear. Shortly she did, and asked, "You heard?"
"Yep," I answered. "That was an excellent job." I stood up and we both headed down the hall.
A week later, we were motored to the entrance of Dr. Thao's clinic. He was waiting for us at the door with a ready and warm welcome. I introduced the young woman and we retired to his office. He knew all about her, obviously, since he was a major participant in the scheme, and, in fact, he had procured the chemical that had given her the phony symptoms. She wouldn't get the full course that my interns had received, just enough during her 'cure' to to regard me as lifesaver to whom to be eternally grateful. And to have an undercurrent in her thoughts that I was the guru of problem solving. Other than that, she would enjoy a normal life.
I stayed a few days, and met his young son, now back for the summer from college in the U.S. A chip off the old block - he was heavy into the idea of bio-alterations, as he called it. When I left I had plenty of food for thought, although nothing that I was going to act on any time soon. My plate was full enough at the moment, and the year hadn't been without excitement.
I was halfway around the world at the clinic, so I just kept going, first to the Sheik's desert compound for consultation, then on to Tarkan's. This time I made sure to tell him that I was under a nonexistent doctor's order to avoid alcohol before my soon-to-be checkup. That got me out of drinking his rotgut beer. That was fortunate, since I had sent him twelve prime western women and he would have insisted on us chugging all morning to celebrate.
In the back of his establishment, in a not-so-fancy room, I walked back in forth in front of the line of women. They were still sullen and didn't yet realize just what they had become, but had learned quickly how to obey orders. Tarnkan's dominitrix, and her ever ready crop, standing behind the line of cunts, had instilled a sense of discipline from the first day.
A couple of the women were fairly good looking broads. I stopped in front of a tall, thin brunette with big tits and looked her up and down. As I reached out to weigh a boob, she jumped back at my touch. I wasn't offended, but she was, as the female trainer's crop lashed across her butt with a loud crack. Then another across the back. The last one took her to her knees with a sob.
I waited for a few seconds for her reeling senses to refocus, then said, "Stand up!" She did, unsteadily. "You will have a much less painful life if you realize that your body is not yours any longer." Now I reached out with both hands and gave her tits a good squeezing, and this time she didn't object. Nice. Firm, and not phony. While she was still halfway in shock from the crop, I gently kicked her feet apart, reached down to her twat, split it apart with two fingers, then stuck my middle one up the hole. Not for any reason in particular, just to let her know that I could do it, and that her feelings were of no value.
Back in Tarkan's office, I thought about the line of girls. Prime women he called them. I shook my head, thinking about the term. Amazing how something can change so much in value, just by moving it somewhere else. These girls were mostly run of the mill uneducated street bitches. Tattoos, piercing holes, and remnants of purple and green hair - after classy females like Rita and Colette, they had no effect on me, but over here, they would bring premium prices to various village chiefs, businessmen and tribal leaders. I told him to fatten them up, put them on the block, and we would split the profit. At that, he started up with his one-sided toasting of our eternal friendship and promises of giving me his second wife's next daughter. I hoped he was kidding.
I asked where the ex-judge had gone.
"Ah," he laughed. "She is spreading her legs in a casbah in Bulgaria. Without complaint, of course, since she has lost her voice." Another swig - he must have a cast iron liver. "The Pasha is most taken with her."
France. Jean's Mansion
Sally met me at the door, and as well as she could, tried to squeeze me to death for several seconds. Of course, Chip was there, ready to shake my hand off as soon as I could tear myself away from his significant other. Along with Jean, we sat in his luxurious study for hours, reminiscing and talking about her ordeal for the past several weeks. Eventually, after a sumptuous dinner, we retired to his lounge where I asked for their attention.
"My friends", I started, 'these last few weeks have made me admit something that I have been avoiding for a long time. None of us are old and decrepit, but we aren't getting younger. We've been very successful. We have become very wealthy. But, it is time for the gambler to cash in his chips and get up from the table with his stash."
They were surprised at the direction my talk was going, but not shocked, or even concerned. I continued, "We aren't going out of business, I assure you. Our future is still full of plots and plans - just nothing that will have a chance of us going back to the pokey." I smiled. "Welllll... Maybe not totally kosher. If someone crosses us, he will wind up selling pencils and she will be staring at the ceiling on some foreign pallet."
"Here's my line of thought..."
The years pass
I am no longer a man in my twenties. In fact, very shortly I will be able to say that about my forties. My frenzied pursuit of tail has slowed somewhat, but is still at a very healthy level. My incomparable redhead is still my favorite squeeze and will always be. Especially since we have a smaller version of her in the form of a beautiful little carrot topped daughter. She gets her fiery spirit from me, but hopefully her looks will be from her mother.
With my still sexy Rita on tap, and frequent performances by others in my circle, I have no need to search the world for new stuff. Besides, as I had told her years ago, an activity that was exciting and adrenaline stimulating to a young man, comes to be a hazardous and frightening risk to an older one with vastly more to lose.
For a person who doesn't care for the pursuit of money, beyond what I need to live well on and operate, my fortune is worldwide and beyond counting. Even my crew of accountants isn't exactly sure of the sum total.
The times - they became a'different. Primary energy costs climbed through the roof, and the old days of using electricity for heating a hot tub, or gasoline for driving to the big city for a casual shopping day were mostly gone. Automobiles were far smaller, slower and in some cases, barely big enough to hold the occupant. Air travel was now exclusively for the wealthy, or, naturally, for politicians on 'official' trips. Passenger trains are coming back - a far more fuel efficient mode of transportation than individual vehicles. My import/export business has become very large, but most of our merchandise goes by water and train, not air. Ships are still massive, but also slow. Very slow. A factor - as I was told by engineers who know that stuff - is that a boat that doubles its speed, uses eight times the fuel. The reverse of that is, by cutting speeds to just above that needed to safely steer the ship, the fuel costs could be minimized. With the production of vessels with mathematically perfect hulls for the slow speeds, the fuel required for a voyage is now less than a fifth of what it had been twenty years before.
All of my grunts are retired from wearing cammies and shooting pirates, and are wealthy in their own right. A couple even have their own teams that are leased out to guard various assets around the world. Most live in town and we meet almost weekly.
Chip and Sally are married, and like Paris so much they just stayed there - still working for me - and Jean. And Katja.
The female assassin is finally slowing down. She isn't now on a constant quest for violence and danger, rather, she is now the de facto ruler of the Sheik's domain. Of course, in that country a woman can't be in charge of anything, let alone own a huge desert mansion and compound. But one of Hassan's lesser sons became the figurehead, while she runs the business. All that being said, it would be a very unwise young man to assume that she was just a normal helpless middle aged female. With her at the helm, both the Sheik's vast enterprises and mine were merged together in many aspects.
The Sheik himself has retired to his bevy of beauties, and while he's still lucid, age is definitely beginning to tell on him.
Bill and Teema have become our close friends, and Rita and I visit back and forth with them very often. His - their harem is unbelievable, but unfortunately, not something that I can reveal the details or whereabouts of. Take it from me, it is a dominate person's dream.
Jean and I still visit each other and plot, but our operations are civil, not military, and are about money and power, not females and chains. That isn't to say that we haven't sent the odd female to the Sheik - I mean, Katja's - or Tarkan's, always one that had crossed us somehow, rather than a woman selected for her value. Did I say plot? More like ....
Penny had come back from the retired Dr. Thao's clinic, perfectly attuned to me and my psychic - if that is the word. Anyway, if I suggested, she agreed - on anything. Years ago she married and since then, Zee has been the CEO of the empire, with Julie her secretary without portfolio. As such, I had control of the largest industrial complex in the country, and it had only grown larger since those early days after Penny's father had passed away. Between it and the Super Pacs - that were now called PIC's, Political Investment Committees - that I controlled, enough money was funneled into the political stream to pretty well shape government business to my way of thinking - which was, leave capitalism alone - as bad as it is, the alternatives are far worse. All this isn't to say that I just got on the phone to a Congressman and ordered laws to be passed. I didn't have anywhere close to that kind of power. No, rather, my current action teams determined a path that needed to be taken, then various methods of pushing the elected officials along that direction were taken. Money, favors, political chits, both bought and paid, all according to a strict mathematical formula and...
Say what, you ask? One of my greatest 'inventions' were my current action teams - no different in principle than my older teams that shot up pirates and drug dealers in the good old days. Only, the weapons of these teams were mathematics and information - not rifles and bullets. Like my previous crew - still very close comrades - these were very well paid, loyal and tested. The difference was that, while my older teams got their education from the streets and battlefields, these were the cream from the best universities in the world.
I still lived in the same building, now in the middle of a vastly larger city, grown almost a hundred miles across any dimension. Of course, the building had been facelifted a few years ago for energy conservation, but it still had my living quarters on the top floor, but the one under it was totally consumed by my newer... ah... organization. It was populated by a group of people, both young and old, who were masters in math and societal interaction. We - and I say we because they provided the smarts and I the money - we built the science of political sociology mathematics. Psicho, was the codename. Political Science with Integrated Choreographed Humanistic Operations. What the hell, you ask? Let me give an example.
Say, A particular law needs to be passed - in my opinion, of course - to fix a problem, but a law that isn't a slam dunk, by any means. Long before one of my friendly politicians is asked to submit it, my crew starts to work to lay the groundwork. Over the months, or years, a meticulous operation is planned and started. Unlike an op that is designed to get your favorite squeeze out of the clutches of a street boss, this one can't be put together as a front to back plan. Rather, it evolves over time.
First, maybe, information about the problem is brought to the attention of certain news media - possibly even staged if necessary. Then following a rising curve on a chart, maybe an event, or a story - anything - is brought to the attention of the public. The reactions are carefully and mathematically plotted. A push here on the public awareness, a pull there by a prominent commentator to get the line on the chart to follow the desired curve. Done properly, a few people thinking that something might need to be changed, can drag along others who really believe that the change is needed. Then, with the appropriate stimuli applied at proper intervals, eventually the political hierarchy suddenly realizes that the people are clamoring for something they didn't even know existed before our operation began.
It worked with politicians and elections, also. Given enough time, we could make almost any candidate the darling of the electorate - or conversely, dump a problem legislator or troublesome candidate into the shitcan.
I don't want to give the impression that I put together a dream team of sociologists and mathematicians and we started changing the Republic overnight. Rather, it was a long learning curve, with far more failures than successes at the beginning. But, over time the science behind our formulas and methods was changed and refined and our success rate steadily climbed. It is still climbing.
We have many operations going at the present. Some are minor and take a few months to conclude. For instance, the prosecutor who had tried to burn Sally long ago lost his reelection and finally wound up representing people with parking tickets from a fleabag office by the tracks. It was one of our first tests of the idea.
Some operations will take years and a few have conclusion dates far into the future. Some are big...
On a master chart in a locked room, the three time governor of Texas, Mrs. Jessica Locklear, shows to have a 72.3 percent chance of being the first female President of the United States. An entire team of my best operatives is working full time on the project to boost even those overwhelming odds, ably assisted by Governor Locklear's Chief of Staff, one Miss Bonnie Fields, who will probably become the Secretary of the U.S. Department of State. Two other assistants, past graduates of an obscure training facility in the Far East, and beholden to an obscure one time sergeant nobody, will be also high in the administration.
All over the country, several dozen interns are working themselves up the ladder, thanks to the encouragement given to them by a person who saw that they were educated for the task in Vietnam.
I am standing in one of my many lounges, looking out over the lights of my adopted city. My red-haired squeeze is asleep on a sofa, looking as luscious and desirable as ever. Shortly, I will wake her up and we will retire to my huge bed, probably not to have sex, but to fall asleep in each other arms. She has been with me almost a quarter of a century, and I never tire of exploring her body.
I drain my glass in a silent toast to all the comrades that I had called 'buddy' and who had honored me by returning the salutation. And all the women that I had enjoyed, either with or against their will. What would the next twenty five years bring to an uneducated ex-sergeant?
The State had become my plaything years ago. The Country was about to fall into my sphere of influence shortly, unless Murphy stuck it to us. Unlikely, but I have long since learned to respect him and his whims.
I smile and tell myself, heck, I'm not even fifty yet. Tomorrow? Who knows? Maybe the World.
End of The Desert Nexus
Copyright© 2012 by Morlock. All rights reserved.