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Thread: "Love on the Run"

  1. #11
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    Chapter 10

    Sitting in our little cabin we finally had time to make some plans. Despite the fact that I was doing everything under the most extreme of duress I chose well. Each had their own reasons for coming along. Friendship was a big factor. I had know these people most of my life. One had only been a friend for a ten years but the others went back with me much further.

    Neal Bailey had been my buddy since junior high. His profession was electronics engineer but he was also an inventor with some patents to his credit. He was tall and slim with the kind of looks that remain youthful for almost a person's entire life. Because of that he got into martial arts young and just last year attained his first black belt.

    He was a pleasant guy with a quick wit. He and Mike worked together well. I once watched him put down 2 big drunks in exactly 4 seconds. Having him around had always made me feel secure and I was very glad he came along. He wore his brown hair a little shaggy in an attempt to add a little 'danger' to his look. Never worked but we never told him that.

    Franklin 'Frank' Ames had known me since high school. We met the same year he won his first pistol competition beating out people twice his age. He had a MBA and knew pretty much everything there was to know about finance and all things business.

    He was average build with short blond hair. Not a bad looking guy but he always said girls liked him more for his money than his face and he was ok with that. He competed in combat course competitions as well as long distance shooting. He could bullseye a target at a range normally reserved for rifles with scopes.

    Frank had always wanted to really test himself. He was not some psycho who wanted to go out shooting people but he still had the desire to know what he could really do. He was one person that I was sure was going to come along.

    Wynton 'Wyn' Ellis had only been a friend for about a decade. I might him in college. Born in Texas he still had a touch of the accent. He also had an insane IQ and a Masters in Sociology. Except when Wyn was around I was always the smartest guy in the room. Wyn did a couple of tours in the military and unlike Kat he had found plenty of combat.

    When he decided that the military life was not for him he entered college. He shaved a whole year off the normal time to get a Masters. He was good.

    Sandy brown hair and western good looks made him a popular fellow.

    So the 6 of us sat around an empty table. Hard to know where to start but I knew it was up to me.

    “Lets start with what we know and see where that gets us.” I say.

    “Hokay boss. We know there are aliens on this planet masquerading as humans. We know their purpose is to encourage us to pollute so they can steal our resources. They have the ability to program human beings and we assume they are in every level of government along with business. Unlimited resources and eyes everywhere basically. And finally we have a potential world wide disaster in 10 years or so because of whatever it is the aliens are doing.” Wyn summed everything up smoothly.

    “We have about 50k in cash and a handful of guns.” adds Neal with a touch of bitterness.

    Our enemies had handed us our first defeat that afternoon. Neal and Kat had traveled a couple of towns away and tried to access Neal's bank accounts. No luck, they were all frozen. This was a blow because he could have easily quadrupled our cash.

    The scary thing about this little event is that it meant they knew Neal with with us. That was fast work and it did not bode well for our chances.

    “On the positive side I think we have a lead on how to find what we need to know.” Wyn says and gets everyone's attention.
    “A few years ago a friend of mine did a paper on the 'Middle Rich'. These are the families that do not get attention but play a vital role in business. They are not the Gettys or the Rockefellers but collectively they hold quite a bit of power. There was some weirdness my friend found that made no sense at the time but now I am thinking I know the answer. Some of these families are our thieving aliens.” Wyn explains.

    “What kind of weirdness?” Kat asks.

    “Well they avoid publicity like the plague. They give plenty to charity but always secretly. Most rich people love to see their names on things, 'The Estelle Getty Library' and such. Not these guys. They also almost always give money to medical-related charities. Again the norm is to spread money around a bit because there are a lot of worthy causes.” Wyn explains further.

    “Sounds promising.” Frank interjects.

    “Yeah it does. There was more that I cannot remember but the one that originally caught my eye is really strange. These people never build mansions. One of the hallmarks of great wealth throughout the ages is the building of a personal palace. The people my friend was studying buy existing homes and estates. Again the point seems to be a low profile.”

    I am frankly amazed. I expected us to have to work really hard to get even the beginnings of a plan. But not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I say, “What do you need to dig deeper?”

    “Just some time Mark and Neal have us up and running on the net. I can do most of what needs to be done that way. I think I can at least narrow down the list to some real probables.” Wyn says with a touch of self-satisfaction as once again he proves his intelligence.

    “We need to make someone talk.” Kat voices something we all know.

    “We will get one and they will talk.” I promise.

    “Fair enough.” she replies.

    The discussion gets into details and eventually winds down. At least now we have the beginnings of a plan.

    Last edited by Alexander Tau; 06-09-2009 at 08:56 PM.

  2. #12
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    Chapter 11

    The next three days went by in a blur. Mark and Neal took a day trip and bought a few more laptops and pretty soon all of us were Wyn's research assistants. The picture started to take shape. We found certain key indicators that lead us even deeper.

    The only person who's eyes were not red from staring at a screen was Kat. She said that somebody had to keep their eyes on the outside world.

    There were two other people around us at this time. The cabins were owned by a pair of Sisters. Although the oldest was just 19 they did a pretty good job running the place. They had lost their parents just a year ago. Seven days after the oldest daughter had turned 18. If it had been before her birthday they would have lost this place.

    Sonya was the older, and her 17 year old sister was Abby.

    I should not have let them hang around so much. When Kat wanted to invite them to dinner she told me it was probably a bad idea and if I said no she would understand. She gave me the out and I did not take it.

    Kat and Sonya were all shy looks and smiles when they were together. Never seen Kat act like this and it was frankly kinda disturbing. I needed Kat the scary killer bitch not a love struck teen. But I said sure why not.

    The sisters hauled over a big grill and they and Kat fired it up. Mark and Frank headed into town and came back with raw meat and a big slab of salmon for me. They also brought a whole lot of booze.

    Night falls.

    Food is cooked, people eat and drink, we laugh. Yeah for a little while we forget.

    I think it was the first time since this all started that I relaxed. At one point I did think of Isabelle but only of the good times. We had a lot of those and I did so love her. The kind of love that made every damn thing she did the very definition of good. Nothing will ever touch those memories or sour those feelings. Love is an absolute in a world painted in shades of grey.

    Those feelings gave me power. Raw strength that burned in my limbs. It gave me purpose and focus. Odds? Bah! Bring 'em. All of them. I do not believe in god but I do believe in Love. For her I will bring them down.

    Yeah I was a little drunk. But I still mean those words now stone cold sober. Even after what happened that night.

    We were all inside. Fires were out. Everyone was drinking a little.

    B O O O O O O O M

    A flash of red light and then the shock wave rattled the entire front of our cabin.

    Kat flew up and out of her chair. I knew her bag was next to her so seeing the mp5 in her hand was not a surprise. She flew to the window.

    “They just took out the empty cabin we rented under our actual names.” she turns and shouts to me.

    “Oh fuck. I see the guy and damn it looks like a fucking RPG! Are we in Iraq now?” she says in a voice that is calm but loud.

    Kat pushes both of the windows open. She had taken off all of the screens the day we arrived.

    She sights down her rifle for a moment and says, “I might be able to scare him but he is too far. Frank!”

    Franklin has his pistol in his hands but unlike me he has not moved to the window. I hover behind Kat and to her right. The guy is well beyond the burned out cabin and I can see him pulling a second round from a backpack on the ground.

    Frank moves to the other open window. He extends his arm and lines up on the target. I expect him to shoot. One second ticks by.

    “He is reloading. They must know we are here.” I say as calmly as I can manage.

    “That is not a target. It's a man.” Frank says in a low voice.

    “He dies or we do and you get to choose Franklin.” Kat says in a cold voice.

    The pistol shot is painfully loud in the enclosed room. The man drops.

    “Everybody grab your shit and get out the back door.” I shout with my ears ringing.

    Sonya and Abby. Crap.

    Kat is way ahead of me.

    “You two come with us. You can break off part way and head into town. Go to a friend and say you were there all night. Forget everything about us except me renting the cabins and you will be ok.” she says quickly but clearly.

    Sonya snorts and takes two steps over to Kat's chair. She reaches down and pulls out the short barrel shotgun that Kat completed this afternoon. With a touch she opens it to eye the 2 unfired shells inside and then snaps it closed with a one handed flip.

    She then pulls the barrels almost straight up with her other hand. I am impressed.

    “Fuck that. I have waited my whole life for a woman like you to come along. Abby and I been shootin since we were 6 and those ain't no cops. We are going with you.“ she says in a her sweet voice.

    She takes 3 steps and keeps the gun pointing up but lets go of the barrels to put that arm around Kat. She kisses her hard for about 3 seconds.

    “Now lets git!” Sonya says as Kat reels from the kiss.

    We git.

    Gunfire rakes the front of our cabin as we exit.

    I am the last out the back door. We are not all that heavily loaded down. All the clothes and misc stuff was left behind. We had the computers and notes, the cash, and our weapons. The 8 of us head right into the woods. No actual path here but we know where we are going.

    There is a farm on the other side of the woods. Owned by a family that Sonya and her sister had known all their lives. The sisters had arraigned for us to park our vehicles there for a small fee. The large barn had been perfect to keep them all under cover.

    Once we got deeply into the woods Kat called for us to stop.

    “Boss I want to go back and take a look.” she asked much to my amazement.

    “Why do you want to do this insane thing?” I had to ask.

    “We know nothing about them. Like what kind of vehicles they are using or how many they sent. I can double back take a look at meet you at the vehicles. A quick look and you will hardly have to pause at all to wait for me.” she explains in the calm voice of someone who has been in combat before and knows what needs to be done.

    “I second that idea boss and I want in. No solos Kat.” says Wyn.

    She nods and looks at me.

    “Go. Make it fast.” I say.

    Before they head out Kat says to Frank, “You are on guard duty buddy. Stay alert. Us or them. Remember that. They blew up that building without warning.”

    He nods with a very serious look on his face. He hand rests on his pistol at his hip.

    The pair take off and we move towards the farm. The Barn is not locked so we do not wake up the family as we move inside. We get everything put into the vehicles and I tell everyone who drives and who rides where.

    “Just be ready to get in and go as soon as they get back.” I finish up.

    Frank is at the door watching outside.

    I get Abby alone for a moment and tell her, “You do not have to come with us just because Sonya is. Just go to the house and stay there. I am sure they will be willing to cover for us. I will come up with what you need to tell them so they can do that.”

    She starts shaking her head and keeps it up until I stop.

    “No. If Sonya is going them I am going. She is the only family I have. Just tell me why is all of this happening?” she is pretty strong willed for a teen I note. Not nearly as rattled as I would have expected.

    “There are some... people doing a very bad thing. I know about it and I mean to stop it. They intend to stop me.” I explain in the simplest possible terms.

    She eyes me for a moment with one eyebrow a little higher than the other. Who is this kid?

    “Okay but we will have to talk about this 'very bad thing' sometime. I am not 12.” she says and walks away to find her sister.

    I am watching the time. 10 minutes pass very slowly before Frank says he sees them heading in. We open up the doors and everybody gets in. Vehicles fire up and the pair follow my wave into the Van with me.

    “Lets go.” I order and Mark pulls out. The other two vehicles follow and we head off down the road.

    I have the sisters in the Van as well. Kat goes right to Sonya who had of course been worried the whole time about her. Wyn fills me in.

    “Four big black SUVs. Stealthy these guys are not. Counted 9 plus the one Frank tagged. They have military grade weapons too. Kat got a license plate.”

    “Laptop 5. Icon DMV. Take about an hour. Just start it and close the Laptop.” Mike calls out from the driver's seat. My people had been busy these last few days. The dinner had been our first real break. Hopefully that would not be a pattern in the future. Take a break, get attacked, that would suck.

    “Well done Wyn, you too Kat.” I say.

    Kat separates enough from Sonya to smile and nod at me.

    “How far til the first split?” I ask Mike.

    “About 10 miles. Once we are past that I think we will be clear.” he says. And that is what happens.

    Last edited by Alexander Tau; 06-09-2009 at 08:56 PM.

  3. #13
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    Chapter 12

    I kept us on the road for a while. Since we had started out slanting southwest we went a little northwest now. Well after nightfall we spotted a camp grounds and I decided we needed a break.

    The guy that rented us the spot barely seemed to wake up let alone take any real notice of us.

    We had been attacked a little before midnight and it was now nearly 9pm. Exhausted was just not the word.

    Sonya, Abby and Mark make a campfire and broke out some sleeping bags. Between the Van, the truck and the bags everybody had a place to sleep. Kat and Wyn took off to recon the place. This was the first night we did something that would become standard from now on.

    Whenever we stopped for any length of time someone would print up small maps for all of us. Folded in half they fit inside a paperback book. They gave us a common reference that turned out to be handy for quite a number of times.

    Once we had looked the place over and gotten settled in a bit we started to talk. I knew that Mike, Wyn and Neal had been busy while we were on the road and I was anxious for information. I knew almost nothing about my enemies and that haunted my thoughts. You cannot fight what you do not understand.

    “So guys have you learned anything I can use?” I asked with any preamble. Being shot at tends to make one want to get to the point of things.

    Mark and Neal both looked at Wynton. He nods at them and says, “We have expanded our original list and worked up two distinct profiles. Us and them basically. The us people seem a nice varied human lot. They do not avoid publicity they simply do little to merit it. They do not generally have the sort of money it takes to endow an entire hospital or anything of that size. Frank found one interesting angle we had not checked.”

    Frank was not paying as much attention as he should have been but he catches up quick. “Oh, yeah, right. I was looking over the lists of traits that the profiles have. I started thinking that the them one seemed like... well not unknown for humans but very rare. That many rare things seemed something in and of itself. So I did some research and I was right. All the things that define the them class are rare psychological traits in human beings. And if you get that many of them you should end up with a person who acts very differently in every aspect of their lives.”

    He seems to grope for an example for a moment.

    “Let me put it this way. You cannot be Gandhi and shoot machine guns as a hobby. Not calling these people Gandhi but they are that different from the rest of us. Yet to the casual observer that are nothing special whatsoever except a bit rich. I think we can be pretty certain that anyone who fits the them profile is not human.” he finishes sounding pretty confident.

    “Or someone trying to be like them. Right? People do copy others.” says Sonya.

    “True.” says Wyn, “And we need to know more about their race to be sure of who we select. But we are thinking that a little direct observation and horribly illegal surveillance might help. “ and he finishes with one of his trade-mark smiles at the young lady.

    Kat stands up. She looks around the circle at all of us.

    “I want to say something to everybody. Robert had me register the cabin under my own name with his right under it. We figured they would just see that and head towards it. They did.”

    She looks at all of us again. She starts to talk, and pace, around the circle.

    “Then they blew it to hell. Our music was low. If they had shouted 'Police. Come out with your hands up or whatever they say these days then fine. That is not what happened. These are not the forces of law and order coming after us. These are alien scumbags.”

    “They would have killed Sonya and Abby along with us. Think about that.”

    I had thought about that. Accepting it would take a while but facts are facts.

    “This is not Robert on the run from the Law. We are not criminals. We are an army and we have a mission. There are rodents on our planet. Time to stomp on 'em.”

    “So here is the way it goes... Robert is our Captain. What he says goes. This is his mission and I know he will get it done with our help. I am the Sargent and you will all curse my name before the sun sets 7 more times.” this is said with a smile. Not a nice smile though.

    “Three Rules. Nice and simple for ya. Rule number one. The buddy system. Nobody does anything alone ever. A single person is vulnerable. They can be taken and used against us or turned against us if that whole mind control bit is true. Rule number 2. Teach & Learn. We all need to learn to do the things that the others do. Everybody with a mission useful skill needs to pass it on to someone else along the way. I know that sounds long term but no matter how intense the mission there are always downtimes. Use 'em. And rule number 3. You are always on duty. Always. Never be without at least a weapon.”

    “We were stupid and we should be dead. We had a party and forgot to watch outside. That will not happen again. Everyone except Abby and Robert gets guard duty slots from now on.”

    “I guess that is all I have. Back to you my Captain.” she finishes up and sits back down.

    “Alright. Here is what we are going to do. We leave tomorrow morning. We are going to keep zig-zagging our way west. Wyn I guessing a fair number of the families on your list live in California.” I start.

    He nods and I continue, “So that is where we will end up. But to keep our pursuers at bay we will take our time about it. We have a side mission to complete first, a couple really. First we need more money. Then we need to spend that on gear.”

    “Mark, Neal, remember that night around my kitchen table where you two got to talking about the security around small town banks?” I ask my buddies.

    “Sure.” replies Mark.

    “Well then you said with 20 mins on a direct terminal you could set-up a hidden tap. After that you could manipulate the system remotely to do anything. Can we do better than that 20 mins?” I ask with a sly smile on my face.

    “I am not going to ask if you are serious cause I know you are. What exactly do you want to do?” Neal asks me.

    “Get a large amount of money as painlessly as possible.” is my answer.

    Mark has been thinking and says, “If I knew a few things about the system I could do a virus. Load it onto a USB launcher and we are down to 5 seconds. It would have to be plugged into one of their machines but it would take a few seconds at most. The virus would open a door for us. Still need that 20 mins but we could do that remotely.”

    Neal nods, “Yeah that is simple enough. Virus would take a couple of days to write and I assume you would want it tested somehow. But yeah. Yeah. We could do it. Damn it is cool to think like a criminal. For a good cause Sarge.” nodding to Kat.

    “So we need to put someone with the launcher next to a computer inside the bank. Then we need to get them a very short time to do the job. I cannot plan without seeing the actual place but I have some ideas. Start putting the virus together guys. We need a lot of money and I see no other way to get it. I am not going to walk into someplace with a gun looking for money. Not even worth discussing.” I say.

    “So we get a bunch of money and then what boss?” this from Sonya. She was picking up a number of habits from Kat.

    “More guns, computers, vehicles, whatever we need. It takes money to make things happen and so we are going to get it. We will have to work our deals as we get closer to California. I hear Vegas is a good place to get guns.” is my answer.

    “We will work on the plans more tomorrow. I am going to get some sleep.” I say and wander off towards the truck.

  4. #14
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    Chapter 13

    A few days pass. We work on our plans and visit new campsites each night. Well into the southwestern part of the country now.

    We have been planning our days to make stops in a lot of small towns. We take a look at their banks and compare notes on each. After a couple of days we start to see patterns in layout and security.

    A town bank is selected. 2 days of observation and we decided this will be the one. Now we settle in a bit. Our campsite is 2 hours away but we rent some rooms in town as well. Watching, recording, creating maps, we are rather busy. We get to know people by name. Learn whatever we can about them without drawing attention to ourselves. Wyn opens an account.

    Our plan comes together with one small hitch.

    “Not only am I not wearing that two phrases just come SCREAMNG to my mind. One is of course 'Go to hell' but the other is 'I have a gun'.” Kat explained her feelings to all of us.

    The 'that' in question was the dress that Sonya had purchased to my specifications.

    “But honey...” Sonya began.

    “Don't but honey me little girl. I am not amused.” Kat says evenly with still with heat.

    Sonya was prepared for this reaction and does not let Kat's tone slow her down, “You are gonna look hot in that so what is the problem?”

    “The problem is that my part of the plan is to let some guy stare at my boobs! That is the freaking problem!” Kat exclaims.

    “Kat. There is only a 50% chance that we will be able to erase their video surveillance when we do this. Do you want Sonya to do it? 10 seconds. All you have to do is get him away from his desk and looking your way for 10 fucking seconds.” I explain in a very reasonable voice.

    “No dammit I do not want her to do it.” Kay retorts.

    “I will not let Abby do it. That leaves you. Are you really telling me you won't do this? I need you to do this Kat. And think of it this way. If something goes wrong you might get to punch the guy.” I offer.

    Kat does brighten a bit.

    “But that would be bad and would mean we would not get the money. If you are going to do it Kat do it right.” I caution and I am not kidding. She and I lock eyes.

    We have not had a moment like this since we first met. That night my attempt to pick up her girlfriend almost ended in a fight. I backed down that time because I was in the wrong. I was not going to do that now.

    Two long seconds tick by.

    “I know. I know” she says in a more muted tone and looks away.

    Moment pass. Sonya leans in and whispers something in Kat's ear.

    “Ok. I'm in.” Kat says with a faint smile. Sonya hugs her. I take a deep breath and get back to work.

    Day 6 in the same place. I am more than a bit worried but we had to wait until today to take our shot. Monday 1 pm was the best window we were going to get. Everyone was in place and ready when it was time to go.

    For this operation everyone was wearing non-matching ear pieces connected to cell phones. The phones all connected to a computer server of our very own. Abby was sitting at that computer and would act as communications switcher for me. She could easily connect any number of us together or run multiple channels as needed.

    Neal, Sonya and I were in a Van 3 blocks south of the Bank. We had a nice view of the front. Neal was in a car down to the east. Kat and Wyn would both walk to the bank from a cafe and a bookstore nearby. Mark was with Abby back at camp.

    I watched two of the bank employees leave for lunch right on time. That leaves two. One cashier and one assistant manager.

    “Abby link me to everyone please.” I say touching my earpiece to send.

    “You are on boss.” she says after a delay of a few seconds.

    “Everyone is clear. Wyn you are up. Good luck buddy.” I say

    “On my way.” is his response.

    “You ready Kat?” I ask

    “Yes.” is all she says.

    “Abby link me to Kat and Wyn only for now.” I say.

    “You have them, and me now.” she says.

    “Fine. I am just listening now Wyn, lock your mike open.” I say

    “Done.” he says in a muted voice.

    I see him go into the bank. Don't hear much for a moment. Then the creek of the swinging wooden gate separating the floor of the Bank from the offices.

    “Mr. Ellis. Good to see you again. What can I do for you.” says Albert Gilroy the assistant manager.

    “Well I was thinking about some investments and I had some questions.” Wyn says. His voice sounds very normal to me.

    “Of course. Of course. What sort of thing did you have in mind?” Albert asks.

    I hear the sounds of a chair moving and I hope that means Wyn is sitting down now.

    “Kat. You are up. Good luck.” I say

    “On the way.” is her reply.

    I listen as Wyn asks some basic questions about what the Bank can offer in investment support. Things are sounding good.

    For just a moment I cannot believe I am doing this. I am robbing a Bank.

    Me, Robert Milton, former officer of the law.

    I graduated with a BS in Criminology. Joined the next session of the Police Academy. I was not the top of my class but I was in the upper 10%.

    Like most of the new officers on the force I was filled with the desire to do some good. I knew the laws we supported were not perfect but they are what we have. Working hard is second nature to me and I applied myself to my new life with zeal.

    After a couple of years on the force I had done some good work. Then one night I responded to a call of 'Officer down'. We got serious when that call came and I was lucky enough to be close. My partner and I were on the front steps of a small apartment building within minutes.

    The one officer on the scene said his partner was just inside. He had gone first and gotten gunned down. He had seen the shooter go upstairs and called for back-up.

    I told him to hold this entrance and wait. We went around to look for other exits. More cars arrived by the time returned to the front. Six us went through the front door together, guns out. Our brother officer was alive but in bad shape. The Ambulance was coming. Two of us stayed behind and the rest moved after the perp. The radio told us where his apartment was located and we headed that way.

    Now about this time a friend of our shooter arrived on the scene. He was spotted looking things over by more than one officer. Somehow he got around everybody and climbed up a fire escape to enter the building.

    My group reached the proper floor and as soon as we did we took fire. Four pistol shot rang out and we ducked for cover. I saw the guy go left down a side corridor. We split up and moved forward.

    I ended up getting almost to the perp's apartment when I heard a sound. He charged around the corner arms reaching for my throat. I fired.

    It was not our suspect it was his friend. The other officers shot and killed the actual perp. At first I was afraid I had killed an innocent man. He had come at me but maybe that was somehow a mistake. Reading what we had on both victims made me feel a bit better. They were friends and had committed crimes together. Best of buddies it seems.

    The guy was coming to help out his buddy. He attacked me because he could not get to the apartment. There were a number of weapons inside which he probably knew about. He attacked me I shot him. I felt as good about that as you can when you kill another human being.

    Someone felt a lot worse and I was sued for a wrongful death. The Department cleared me there were no criminal charges. But they claimed their lost son was innocent.

    I lost.

    The Jury believed the story that the guy I shot was just going over to see a friend. The fact that he dodged cops and climbed up a fire escape to get in did not seem to matter. What really hurt was the lack of support from the Department. Sure they cleared me but that was about it. They were afraid of the public heat focused on my trial and decided a 'low profile' would be best.

    Best for them, not for me. I felt abandoned and a few weeks after the verdict I resigned from the force.

    And now I was robbing a Bank. Life sure is odd sometimes.

    Kat entered the building. Now things would happen fast. Wyn and Albert were still talking. I hear Albert say “Miss?”. There is no response. Wyn is silent and I hear a chair being pushed back.

    “Miss?” Albert asks again but I can only barely hear him. I look down at my watch.

    10 seconds. Keep his attention for 10 seconds Kat.

    Seconds tick. I hear Kat respond to Albert. Tell you the truth I have no idea what they said. More seconds go by. Close now.

    “Well I think I have what I need.” Wyn says. That is the signal that means he got the job done.

    “Neal get going.” I order in a soft voice.

    “On the way.” he replies.

    I hear Albert saying goodbye to Wyn. Everything looks good. Sonya and Frank want to whoop it up and I tell them., “Quiet! This is not over yet!”

    A car pulls up directly in front of the bank. A man gets out. He looks familiar but I cannot see him all that well. No time to grab the binoculars before he is inside. Crap.

    There is a long moment of silence and then I hear. “Hey just a moment you two.”

    Then I hear a loud ZAPPP sound and more movement. Kat and Wyn come flying out the front door. Neal veers around the car in front of the bank to slam to a stop just past it. Kat and Wyn jump in and he takes off.

    “Off duty fucking cop. He recognized us somehow. I do not believe this!” Kat exclaims.

    “We got the job done and they did not notice.” Wyn replies in a voice that still has adrenaline running through it.

    “Yeah but now they are going to be suspicious.” Kat shoots back.

    “Abby?” I ask over the mike.

    “Yes sir?” she replies instantly.

    “Tell Mike to call in the big honking distraction and then the two of you get moving.” I order.

    We had planned a couple of different distractions in case something went wrong. They all would lead at least some of the local law in the opposite direction. The big one involved recorded gunshots and Abby screaming like a little demon. I wanted all the help I could get.

    “Will do.” she replies.

    “Everybody. Follow the plan and get. We did it but now we have to put a whole lot of gone between us and this place.” I say and flip off the phone.

    I just robbed a bank. Technically we had not taken anything yet but we would. The clock was ticking already. One off duty cop in the whole town and he had to walk into that Bank. I cannot fault the guy and I am still pleased that Kat did not kill him but still. Damn.

    Greater Good.

    I like the sound of that. That is why we are going this. Sometimes I just needed to remind myself.

    Last edited by Alexander Tau; 06-04-2009 at 10:23 PM.

  5. #15
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    Chapter 14

    How long will it take them to figure out what we did?

    This was not an abstract question. I needed to know and I had to be right. If I was wrong they would block us before we could do anything with the Bank computer systems.

    With the distraction Mike called in I figure it would be a good hour before anyone got to looking at the tapes. They would care for the stunned officer and then talk to everyone. Then they would go for the video. Probably.

    After that they have to get someone who can figure out what we did. At least one more hour could be much longer but play it safe. Up to 2 hours now.

    Mark, Neal, and Wyn had lined up to tell me that it would take someone skilled a minimum of 2 hours to find the virus and close the open security breech.

    So 4 hours minimum. 60 miles an hour for three and a half hours gave me 210 miles. We were in four different vehicles on 2 different paths. Everyone had headed out on their pre-assigned route without any problems. The original plan would have brought us all together about an hour later.

    I flipped open the phone and called Abby. I told her to pass a message to all the drivers that would would be using an alternative meeting site. As Frank took us in the proper direction I thought about what Kat and Wyn had told me about the final moments in the Bank.

    “He walked in and just stopped. He stared at me and then at Wyn. We kept moving forward but we both just knew he was going to make us.” Kat explained.

    “Shit boss the boy went white. He made us big time.” Wyn added.

    “We got to about 5 feet from him when he asked us to stop.” Kat continued. “I want the record to show that even in this damn dress I had two options, my Glock or the Taser.”

    “Three options my amazon, you could have broken his neck.” Wyn tosses in with a small smile.

    “True.” she acknowledges.

    “Umm... The Taser was in that tiny purse. Where exactly was the pistol?” Wyn cannot help but ask.

    “No place you will ever see.” Kat says with a glare.

    “You two were perfect. The bitch that is Fate threw a curve and you still got it done. I do appreciate you not killing the young guy Kat. When we get some money I will buy you both a car.” I say. Everything except that last bit was very serious and heart-felt.

    “Yeah new cars to drive for a week before we dump 'em. Great. Wait. Actually I like it. Toss them before you use up the new car smell!” whoops Kat.

    No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. But this was looking like a victory so far.

    Three hours and about 15 minutes later we pulled into the motel.

    I exited the van and went over the the truck. Mike and Abby had about a 15 minutes jump on us when we left so they had been there for a bit. Neal, Wyn, and Kat had pushed the speed limit more than I liked and we also already there.

    When I climbed into the truck heads all turned to look at me. Mike, Abby, Wyn, and Neal
    all stopped whatever they were doing. They were all clustered around Mike who was at an open Laptop.

    “If I have to tell you to start hacking I am going to be pleased at your discipline and really pissed at your stupidity.” I say, kidding, mostly. I was tired.

    Everybody laughs.

    “Already inside boss. The bitch is ours!” Mike proclaims.

    “Just considering which order to do this in. We have a number of tasks.” Neal says.

    “Get my money first.” I say.

    “Right. Money transfers. Neal, ready?” Mark says.

    “How long?” I ask.

    “20 MINUTES” everybody except me chanted.

    I shake my head and close my eyes briefly, “Do we have rooms?”

    Abby tossed me a key. Exiting the truck I wondered if we were far enough. The bank had one external camera and it was out back. They should not have an image of us. They might get lucky and get a description from someone but it would be general. Guards? Kat would set things up. Two people would be on guard tonight.

    Sleep called and I was happy to answer.

  6. #16
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    Chapter 15

    It took the Bank 8 hours to close the hole and kill our virus. All traces of what we did were buried in a rather clever way. We had dumped a whole lot of transactions into their system along with the ones we actually needed. Most of their business accounts had money flipped around as if we were playing a prank.

    For example we took 10,123 from a gas station account and put it in the drug store account. Buried in hundreds of things like that were our 10 money transfers. Many of the harmless transactions involved over one million dollars.

    Not a single personal account was touched. I just feel like I should mention that. Frank picked the accounts we stole from. Mostly they were investment funds the Bank maintains. All were covered by insurance. We committed a major felony I freely admit it. But we did not hurt anyone.

    Robin Hood I am not but there was no reason to cause any one problems. The Bank would sort it out and everyone would be find in a couple of days at most.

    All of the money transfers went to cities west of us. Frank had explained how there were ways to move money around that we could use. If the amounts are big enough you can get anything done. So our transfer goes to a Bank that produces a cashier's check. Along with the transfer is a code. Anyone with the code can get the money. From temp services and courier companies Frank arraigned to have the money move towards PO Boxes in other cities.

    We made the first two pick-ups in the next two days.

    'So this is what it feels like to be a successful criminal.' As I sit and look at over 1 million dollars in a small set of piles.

    I suppose most people would have been pleased. I was pleased with my team. They had done well to get us this far. Mostly I did want to let them down. Money gives you choices and I hoped I was making the right ones.

    We dumped all the vehicles except the big truck. That we had repainted. This time we went with a large minivan and a 2 door sedan. More upscale this time as both of the vehicles were almost new. The big truck got a very slick although not dramatic paint job. Now we looked like a successful dirt racing team.

    When Mark wanted to get some riding gear I agreed. I was a bit worried about my buddy. Most of my friends had some sort of experience in high stress situations. Mark was a dreamer and more of a big kid than he would ever admit. So far Frank and Kat's attempts to teach him to shoot were.. let's just say not going well how about that?

    He has skills I can use. But if I can find a way to get him out of this cleanly I should take it. But will I?

    Heading north Frank and Kat got to work setting up some meetings. They would cross over into Canada and get some things that are hard to find in the US.

    Guns of course.

    Most of what we bought went into a little cabin we also purchased. I did not want to have an armory on wheels with us so we took what we needed for the time being. Fully auto MP5s and an array of pistols for everyone who could handle them. Kat got some special autoloading shotguns for Sonya and Abby over my objections.

    At least I tried to object. The three girls had formed a tight unit already and their arguments were fast and well coordinated.

    “Hey people are shooting at us too!” Abby objects.

    “I know how to handle a gun just as well as you mister.” from Sonya

    “They are staying boss and they can handle the weapons.” tosses in Kat with a sly smile.

    I threw up my hands and said, “Fine!”

    We got a few other little surprises for later use as well. As a former cop I was distressed to see what could be obtained if you only had the money. The price tag was well over $300,000.

    They asked us if we wanted a tank. T-72 Soviet made, one owner. I'm not kidding.

    I said no.

  7. #17
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    Chapter 16

    I had all the pieces I needed now. Money, weapons, people and enough data to start doing something.

    We needed to know more than we did. To find out what we needed I had two plans. The first was simple. I was going to hand Mike, Wyn, and Neal more computer power than they had ever seen and set them to hacking the crap out of some specific places. I felt certain that the effort would yield quite a bit but even the most optimistic assessment was not going to be enough.

    We were going to need more and that could only come from a person. One of them. The models that my team was using to identify potential alien families seemed to be pretty good. But without a way to test it we could not be certain.

    What we did know was that Isabelle's family as one of our targets. They were east of us and I did not want to go after them, yet. But her father had a brother and he lived in Seattle. His family matched the profile exactly. Even better the man had a son who was about 26 years old. He had been arrested twice for beating up two different women.

    Just perfect. Maybe I am just old fashioned but men who beat on women make my trigger finger itch.

    I hoped the guy did not run with a lot of security. That could get messy. But he was the perfect target so we were going to look for a way.

    Days roll by...

    Life has settled into a sort of normal. Sonya had pulled Kat into her domestic web along with Abby. The three of them laid claim to the truck. It was my command vehicle any time I said so but otherwise it was their little mobile house. Mark was sort of their mascot. He treated Abby like a sister and Kat mellowed towards him.

    Wyn, Neal, Frank and I became 'the guys' although Mark was includes sometimes. Kat and I spent a fair amount of time together. But other than her when nothing was happening it was Frank I found myself talking to.

    We had been friends for a long time. He got married then he got divorced. Only 3 years separated the two events and the were both very dramatic times. I was there for him for both.

    I knew he was my friend but it was not until I just asked that I found out why he was with me now.

    “Buddy you discovered a whole aspect of life that I knew nothing about. When I was a kid I picked up a pistol. Less than a decade later I was the best in the State. Top of my class, always. Went into investment banking and made serious money. In a specialty it takes 10 minutes to explain I was one of the best.” he explained over drinks in some tiny motel bar.

    There were 4 other people in the place. All looked local and none gave a damn about us.

    “I thought I had won the game of Love. But you know how that went. Since Sherry I just cannot get attached. Love women but just never connect. Shrink says I am fine and I just have to wait to meet the right woman.” he continues.

    He snorts. “I do not think I have another 10 million that I want to give away.”

    Frank pauses and considers.

    “Well I guess I have nothing now. But I don't care. Honestly. It was always about the challenge. Find 'em, Meet 'em, Master 'em. That is my motto.” he says before taking another drink.

    “You my friend handed me a challenge... one so big that I cannot even put words to it. I have spent the last couple of years wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. 30 years old and jaded already. But hey now I know. I am going to stand by you and shoot anybody who tries to shoot you. I. I am sorry about that first time. That won't happen again.” he says with the booze on the edge of his voice.

    “One thing I have to ask. I know it was necessary. But does this feeling of guilt ever go away?” he asks hoping for the answer he knows I won't give.

    I slowly shake my head, “No. You just get used to it.” and he nods.

    “Yeah. I knew that.” he says.

    We drink some more.

  8. #18
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    Chapter 17

    Clark. Isabelle's name. I had never seen it on a building before. Clark Enterprises was only a holding company but a very active one. Corporate umbrella company might be a more correct term. But to me it was the center of our current target. Sitting in the car looking at the place I considered our plans.

    This wing of the Clark family was involved in a wide variety of businesses. One was a major Internet provider. The one that the city of Seattle made some use of actually. My cyber team felt that if we could compromise that and get inside we could then access anyone. Hacking when you are a person's Internet provider is considerably easier I was told. Made sense to me.

    No idea how we were going to do this yet. My more immediate concern was where we would settle for the duration. I was expecting at least a week and I had one special requirement. Wyn and Frank offered to go out and find a place north of the city. A good 2 hour drive away at least.

    They took cash with them. 12 hours later they came back with the deed to a property. Middle of nowhere been empty for a while. Huge farmhouse and buildings. They were not asked for id and used a set of fake addresses we had set up.

    We settled in getting the vehicles into one of the large barns. The power had never been turned off so that worked. Water was from a private well and there was a septic tank. I liked the location. Surrounded by hills and there was forest nearby. The house was well back from the road. If we had to defend it we could do it from the house and the fall back to the barn to escape.

    Except there was no way out besides the road. At least at first.

    The fields that surrounded this farm were covered in grass and weeds. But it was early enough in the season that most of it was not that tall. The driveway came in from the south. Straight north and west were some pretty steep hills. But there was a light forest to the east. At one point it was only a quarter mile in width. On the other side was a blacktop road. The highway was not far.

    Mike suggested we rig explosives and blow a path if we needed it. “And just drive right out.”

    Wyn explained why that would not work. “If you use enough explosives to remove full sized trees you turn the ground into mush. Huge soft craters that only a tank could drive over. Sorry sounds cool but not feasible.”

    Mark made a sour face and asked, “Burn it down?”

    “Sure if you want to do it today. Takes hours to destroy big trees. And even here people will show up to investigate.” Wyn counters again.

    “I have a solution.” I say

    I explain. They hate it. We do it anyway.


    Some say the most important part of any campaign. Know thine enemy. Considering how close to that enemy we were getting I could not send any of my people inside their offices. We bought a large video camera and 2 steel cases. Took a suite at a nice hotel and put out a little set dressing.

    A call to an acting agency brought us a dozen people willing to help us with our 'Reality Show'. We put cameras on them and sent them to a few random places. Just for testing we told them. It really does not take a lot to fake something like this. Mike and Abby printed up a bunch of crap and we turned a hotel suite into our 'offices'.

    Then we sent a couple to wander around the area of Clark Internet. One was told to apply for a job and we gave him Neal's basic background. Neal coached the guy. Everyone was thrilled to carry a camera. We lied shamelessly about the 'other locations' we had camera crews in. But it was easy.

    Good news. Computers were everywhere. Bad news. Armed guards kept out of sight. We only got two glimpses of them in a whole day of watching. They look professional. Not rent-a-cops. I am also handed an option I had not expected. Neal's guy had gotten an interview the day after tomorrow. He was going to turn down the job at the end but he would be in an office with just one person for a while.

    Trying to find a way to make use of this kept most of us up until 3am that night.

    “No. And I mean no. We are not going to tell him anything.” I said emphatically.

    The suggestion that we tell our actor had kept coming up. He had a wife and a teenage daughter. I was not going to involve him, and them, in this.

    “Family or not he is human. He has a right to know.” Sonya suggests.

    “That argument is never going to fly Sonya, sorry. No matter how many times you say it. The odds are that telling him is giving him the right to die.” I say flatly.

    Sonya looks away. She knows what she wants to do but I know she feels guilty about Abby. That is not my problem right now. One dragon at a time.

    “But if we are smart as we think we are there is a way to use this interview.” I say.

    “Give him a launcher and tell him to slip it in if he can. At least that is something.” Kat suggests.

    “Almost no chance of success. Without training you cannot do things like that in front of people's faces. And what if he gets caught? We can cut and run but what happens to him? Those guards suggest people who run things their own way. They might not turn him over to the police.” Wyn offers.

    Nobody likes that thought.

    “Then you suggest something dammit” Kat spits at Wyn.

    “Stop thinking about what he could do. Think about what is going to happen at the interview. Is there any way we would use those things?” I ask because I have the germ of an idea.

    “What things exactly? Never been interviewed.” Sonya asks.

    “Simple really. You meet the man or woman who will be interviewing you. Make a little small talk about the weather. Then you discuss your resume the list of what you have done in the past. They usually have questions and sometimes you do too. Interviews can include a tour of the business.” Wyn explains stopping at the end a little abruptly.

    “Yeah. First one there. Put a camera on him and have him ask for a tour if one is not offered” I say with a smile as the idea starts to bloom.

    “They will scan anything he gives them. So a virus or other attack that way is not going to work. But they will investigate what is on the document. They will go to any of the places you list. He is being offered a fairly major position. Neal, Mark, if you can sucker someone into a specific spot on the Web can you hit them with a stealthy virus?” I ask.

    “Well you can try but normally they are going to get filtered. Just browsing the web you can be pretty secure. I think we can count on these people being fully protected.” Neal explains.

    “So how do people get hit so often with viruses?” I ask. I almost have it.

    “Most people have sloppy security. But beyond them usually it is people allowing programs to run for what they think are legitimate reasons.” Neal says as Mark nods in agreement.

    “Porn.” says Mark and we all look at him. “You want the player to see the video. Gets a lot of people.”


    “I have a plan. Kat you are gonna love this one.” I say with a smile.

  9. #19
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    Chapter 18

    I needed to know at least a little about the person who would be doing the interview. So we had... I am going to call him Orson. His performance was never anything less than stellar. We had Orson call back and ask for the name of the interviewer.

    It was a man in his early 30s. He gained a few new friends over the next 48 hours. One of our actresses was only too happy to intercept the guy and get him to a bar. Drinks were shared. We listened of course. She got him to talk about things he was only to happy to discuss with a hot woman. And she was.

    We had not actually discussed what she would do when she got him to the hotel room we rented for her. Before they got ready to leave the bar she went to the bathroom and called me.

    “Everything cool?” she asks.

    “Yeah. We need his keys and he has to stay with you for at least an hour. Ah... think that will be a problem?” I ask.

    “You want me to screw him?” She tosses back to me.

    “Well...” I say.

    “$1,000” she says.

    “Done.” I say with relief.

    She gets him back to her place and minutes later we have his keys. His apartment is miles away but we make good time. Our interviewer had told his new friend that he lived alone, no pets. Thinking back we did not really have our actress ask about house guests. But the place was empty.

    I had Frank and Wyn with me and we went through the place carefully. It was not hard to locate his reading material. Wyn hit his computer and dumped the whole thing to a portable drive. We had what we needed and got out of the place.

    That was the first time I thought I saw them. A long black car turned a corner just as we exited the building. Not sure why but it caught my attention. They would start to turn up here and there but always just barely seen.

    We got the keys back and prepared for the interview.

  10. #20
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    Chapter 19

    After all the work we had put into it the actual interview was dull. Sure Mike and Neal went ooh and ahh over the racks of servers and massive memory cores. Other than that it was just long. Orson played his part to perfection and I was happy to see him walk out the front door.

    He and his family were about to go on a nice long vacation courtesy of the 'Show'. I felt bad hearing him talk about looking forward to watching. Plane tickets and 50 thousand dollars made me feel better.

    Too much? What he did for us unknowingly could possibly get him and his family killed. I think I was cheap.

    Now we waited. There were 3 web sites listed on the resume. Two were harmless but impressive. The third was more personal and contained our trap. We have time to have some lunch before the guy finally started to poke around.

    He hit the safe ones first spending enough time to get a sense of what they contained. Frank commented that he was doing a good job. Then he hit the personal page. It starts off normally enough. Big name and some basic info but then it leads down to one picture.

    Orson with a buxom blond we will call Gloria.

    Under that picture was a set of picture page links. Our boy wasted little time going to them. Of the three pages each got a little more racy. Orson was not even on the last one.

    No actual porn mind you. The guy was at work and probably had enough sense not to look at that sort of thing. But she was hot. And based on his reading material and web history this guy liked his women just like her. Big boobs and lots of blond hair.

    At the bottom of the last page was one final link. It was to a Video and one that was touted as 'One of the hottest moments I have ever seen.' by Orson.

    He hit the link.

    “He is looking at a request to download an Active-X applet. This is the tricky part. A lot of companies will block these. But if he hits the button we are in.” Mark explains as we sit.

    The guy hits cancel. Crap.

    What we have been watching is a simulation of what our target was seeing. As information came in from the web site our screen shows us what was happening. The guy went back and looked at a few of the pictures on the last page.

    We all exchanged worried looks. If he did not take the bait then we would have to find another way to get inside their system.

    “He has it open again.” Mark exclaims.

    In case you were wondering the part of the plan Kat loved was the taking of the pictures for the site. She has some skill with a camera and she enjoyed Gloria quite a bit. For the final bit of bait we wanted to do something special.

    Sonya made the suggestion and Kat agreed.

    “Got him!” Mark yips!

    On our screen the video began to play. Gloria winks at the camera and gives it a big smile. A figure is seen walking into the shot. We can only see her back but she is female. The two embrace and then we see them from an angle. The kiss is quite pretty.

    “Neal go!” Mark calls as the real drama begins.

    “I am in but not for long unless you can set up an account.” Neal explains as his fingers dance across the keys.

    Seconds pass.

    “Boss I am looking at government level security here. Damn. This is not going to be easy.” Neal says.

    “Piece of cake. I have a root account already. Get ready to become a legal user Neal.” Mike laughs.

    “Woaw. Impressive.” Neal mutters.

    “Good?” Mike asks.

    “Golden buddy.” Neal replies.

    “Abby, Wyn, Kat, fire up. Accounts are online and you know what to do.” Mike orders with a beaming smile. He does not get to be boss often.

    Each of the three open a laptop and connect to the Internet provider that for the moment belonged to us. We had a lot of searching to do and time would be short. Mike was going to try and break into the most secure spots he could find. Neal would take over creating new accounts in a number of places. If we were successful many of these would escape notice for quite a while.

    Home networks of our target families were high on our list. We got to quite a few.

    Abby and Kat each had specific information they were looking to uncover. Wyn was free forming his way to doing something. The specifics had been a little vague but he was working hard already.

    Minutes ticked by. Questions flowed between the members of the group. Someone would ask and the answer would come back. No chit-chat.

    “Oops” mutters Mike.

    Neal looks up. Mike says, “Tripped something. I shut it down but the timer has officially started now.”

    “Bound to happen.” is all Neal says and they are both back to work.

    I try to give them time. I wait. I tap my fingers. Nothing changes.

    “So are we finding anything?” I finally ask.

    “Yes.”, “Yep.”, “Oh yeah” & “Hell yes” are my answers.

    “Fine call me when you are done.” I say and exit.

    We got shut down in a couple of hours. But we got gigabytes of info. We also left back doors in almost 40 computer systems. Each one a place we suspected we could learn more.

    So I turned my attention to part two of this phase of our operations.

    The dirty part.

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