My NaNoWriMo 2013.
Two mercenaries need to escort a mutant cross country while being chased by assorted members of different factions who want this man for themselves.
Alyson Packard checked the gun again. Fully loaded. Ten magazines on deck. She looked to her brother, who had to one-up her, with two pistols in both hands and ten magazines ready to rock.
Earl was show. Alyson was tell.
“It’s going to be locked,” said Earl Packard, regarding the door they headed toward.
“I’m ready,” she holstered the single revolver and pulled out a package of lock-picking tools.
“They teach you that in the Army now?”
She smirked at him, which contorted her features and made her look cruel. “Amazing what you pick up if you actually pay attention, Earl.”
“I pay attention just fine.”
“Good, then cover me while I do this.” They had reached the doorway. She knelt on one knee on the floor and pulled out the thin rods. She began to work.
Earl aimed both pistols out to the direction of the hallway, vigilant for anyone coming down it. Alyson bent to the lock, and listened for the tumblers to fall into place.
A door opened at the end of the hall. Earl took aim, waiting. He heard Alyson whisper, “Gotcha.” The door snicked open.
Hissed Earl, “Someone--”
Alyson tugged Earl inside. She very quietly shut the door. She waited, they both waited, not making a sound, trying to not even breathe. After some time, Alyson negotiated her way in the dark, as Earl put on his night goggles, which where just like sunglasses.
He could see, with a sickly green haze, a couch, a bed, and someone lying on it that Alyson stepped toward. The person was asleep.
Alyson was chosen to best wake up this persoon. She tapped on the person’s shoulder. The person, a girl, let out a small shriek, but Alyson covered the girl’s mouth so she couldn’t make any further noise. “We’re getting you out of here,” Alyson whispered, eyes wide. “Don’t make a sound.”
The girl nodded, eyes wide.
The door knob jiggled - Alyson had thought to relock the door. They all held their breaths. Eari aimed at the door frame.
Nothing. Footsteps away, and a door shut.
Alyson said to the girl, “Your mother sent us to get you away from here. I’m going to take my hand away. Don’t scream.”
The girl nodded, and Alyson took her hand away. The girl gasped. “How come?”
“Are you in danger here?”
“No. The Dominus loves me.”
Earl made a noise of derision. This always happened when they had to get people out. People were always the wild card, they were always not doing what they were supposed to. They asked questions, balked at orders,. They were supposed to flow along, do what they’re told, not ask questions. They were not supposed to fight the ones who meant to help them. He had run into too many people who did just that.
Their policy was usually to leave the person to their own devices. Bt Alyson never followed policy.
“How does he love you?” Alyson asked.
The girl pushed aside the blankets. She had a wide protruding belly.
“Ah, shit,” whispered Earl.
“Who’s that?” The girl asked in a panicked voice.
“That’s my partner. Don’t worry, he’s safe.”
“The Dominus won’t let us be in the same room as other men. It’s a sin.”
Earl wasn't going to argue with this...thirteen year old kid. “You coming with us or not? We have 22 minutes before extraction. We don’t have time for this.”
“The girl got out of bed. “My momma wants me back?”
“Yes. Now get dressed, preferably in black.”
She dressed quickly as Alyson used ASL to speak with Earl since he had the glasses, “She’s not going to move fast.”
“Twenty minutes,” he said verbally.
“We didn’t know she was pregnant.”
“I'm ready,” she said, and walked toward them, barely missing the couch. Earl nodded, knowing no one could see.
He peeled open the door, checking outside. No one.
Eighteen minutes before the guard would cross the courtyard. They had to get there before the guard did, or they would be wait until dawn.
Earl supposed he could take the guy out, but not before he notified the rest of the men. This Dominus protected his harem like some people would protect their money.
They went back down the hall, the girl wearing loud flip-flops. At least she had her head covered, as he supposed all the women did in the harem. Alyson kept a hand on the girl as they walked to the hallway door which led to the stairwell.
“Take off your flip-flops,:”’” Alyson finally said.
The girl did so as Earl opened the door. It led into a stairwell. There were guards at the top and bottom of the stairs. The top led to the Dominous’ apartment, while the bottom led to the courtyard.
He moved quickly and quietly, skirting in the shadows and among them. The two girls - Alyson being one, - followed, staying close. The girl had no shoes now, the noisy flip flops left behind.
The guards would be changing right about now. They had seconds to get across the lawn to the main gate.
Earl waited his hand up to stop the other two from advancing. He turned to the girl and said, “Follow me.”
Alyson gave the girl a little push and she moved up to Earl. Earl started walking, and then dashed across the lawn. The girl froze.
Alyson came out and gave her another push but it was almost too late. Searchlights came on in the area, barely missing the girl - who dashed in the dark to the other side where Earl stood. Earl grabbed the girl and whipped her into the hedges.
Alyson was on the other side. They could wait until the next guard change, but then it would be dawn. He slipped on the night goggles again to see Alyson hug the edge of the building. There was a spot with searchlights, but only one. If she could outrun the light and get to the wall, she could dash to the bushed where he was and she’d be free.
Of course, Earl could shoot out the light. He thought about that a Alyson started to run his way. The searchlight was inches away from her feet as it followed and tracked her.
She crossed one beam but was through it like a jackrabbit. The beam flew back to where she had been, as if doing a double take. Then all the beams focused on that spot, and bled out from there.
Earl let go of the girl as Alyson jumped the hedge. Earl lifted the girl over the hedges and said, “Let’s go.”
“The Dominus,” she said, turning back.
“No time for this!” Earl pushed her toward the gate. The guard they bribed let them sneak out, the little girl in tow.
Earl Packard was factual when it came to his reports. “Returned subject to Patron at 2100 hours 13 JUN 2013.”
He didn’t go into the emotional impact the reunion had been. He didn’t go into how the girl was shacked by the reception of her mother, who was both horrified and happy to see her.+ Earl was glad that was over, and if he had his way he would have gone through the place to free all the girls there.
But that would have been impossible. The Dominus was an evil man, taking 13, 14, and 15 year olds as “wives” and then impregnating them.
It was a great honor to hathe Dominus’s soul - a simple peodophile known as Richard Thomas. Mr. Thomas knew this young subject, Juliet Ashardi, through a mutual friend. This mutual friend, who Earl would find and beat the living crap out of someday, “sold” Juliet to the Dominus.
He finished the report, emailing to Alyson for her signature. He knew Alyson wasn’t at the office. Alyson was probably doing her own thing to forget about the cult too.
Earl did paperwork. He signed orders for more guns. He checked on the time off requested by one of his four other employees, Jakko. He was looking for three months unpaid leave to take care of his father. Earl, as the human resources director as well as the president of the company, signed off on it.
He took both papers and brought them out of his office to his secretary, who had just arrived for work. She worked from 9 to 2 without stopping for lunch - her choice, though, as human resources director, he wanted her to take lunches and breaks. She smiled up at him, as she put her purse into the desk. “Good morning, sir,” she said, even though he had told her time and time again to not call him sir.
Stephanie was shorter than he was, and shorter than Alyson. She was Alyson’s secretary too. She wore high heels to work against her height, so she came just up to Earl’s shoulders with the heels. She was small in every way, and not immediately attractive, which is why Alyson had hired her. Alyson believed that men looked at women’s boobs, not their eyes, and Stephanie here had nearly none. She was straight as a stick, with no hips or waist to speak of.
“Good morning, Steph. I signed the FMLA papers for Jakko.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll get those filed right away.”
“I didn’t see anything else. When you get settled in, I’d like to see any messages.” Earl didn’t believe in voice mail. “I’m going to look for Alyson.”
“She’s at the range, sir.”
“That’s just where I was going.” He took the stair down two floors to the employee entrance, and the entrance to the range. Old habits die hard; even though she was in the Army and he was in the Marines, waking up at the crack of dawn or even earlier was common to them. When he arrived in the morning, the alarms were off, so he knew that Alyson was already in the building. And he also knew, from experience, that after they finished a job, she would always be at the range, beating herself up.
He grabbed a pair of headphones to dampen the noise of the gunfire, and went into the range. Alyson was popping off shots in a rapid fire from a semi-automatic handgun, her weapon of choice.
He waited until she was finished and had pulled off the headphones before approaching. “Aly,” he said.
She turned her head to him. “Earl,” she said, and pressed the button to bring the target to her. He approached, saw from a distance that all the shots had blown the paper dummy’s head off.
She was dressed in black again, but this time in sweats. She had run her version of a marathon - run three miles on the treadmill, pumped some iron, and then came to the range. Her next item on the agenda would be to shoot with a rifle, then go back to running, and finish off with some gymnastics.
Earl picked up a pair of pistols, and wordlessly went to the bay beside her. As he put the paper target on the pin, his phone rang with an alert. He looked down at it.
He mentally slapped himself. He had forgotten to check his calendar, and lo and behold, he had a meeting at 9:30. “Shit,” he spat, and Allyson raised an eyebrow.
“Chickening out on me?”
“No, I have an appointment. Want to come?”
“You’re the people person of the two of us,” she said “You go on ahead.”
“Yes, but you ask all the questions that bring them to their knees.”
She sighed, went to put the pistol on the rack. “All right, then.”
He glanced at his phone as he took the elevator up. “Huh.”
“What is it?”
“Steph didn’t get any details. That’s not like her.”
“Maybe she was busy.”
“That’s really not like her.” They got to the top floor of the warehouse where their business was, and both headed toward their offices.
“I don’t look very professional,” Alyson said, walking through the glass doors that separated the office from the elevator.
“Nonsense, I think you look very business-like.”
“Depends on the business.”
They turned the corner and saw two men standing across from Stephanie’s desk. Stephanie got up saying, “Sir, they keep saying they have an appointment…”
Earl looked from them, to Stephanie, and back to them, “Yes, it seems they do. If you’d come with me…”
Alyson took up the rear and shut the door behind them as they all entered Earl’s office. It was decorated in typical manly style, with guns along one wall and knives along the other. He had a sign over the guns, “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.”
“We apologize for setting up an appointment in this way, but the less people who know about it, the better,” said the first man, dark haired with a beard and mustache. He had unnatural brown eyes that Earl took to be contacts.
“Too late,” said Alyson, walking over to Earl’s desk and sitting down behind it. Earl raised an eyebrow but did nothing, and stood behind her.
“We won’t be long,” said the second man. He was also dark-haired, but with blue eyes and also a jawline beard, no mustache. Both wore dark, non-descript suits that anyone could have gotten from Gentleman’s Warehouse.
“All right, then right to business.”
“We’re from the Department of Defense. It’s best you don’t know our names.”
Alyson said, “More like the CIA.”
“Not really, Ms. Packard. See, we have a problem.”
The other man began, and stuck a hand in his pocket, pulling out an envelope. “We have a person that we need to be brought from LA to Washington DC in one week. We already have a flight booked for you to go to LA.”
“Should be simple enough,” said Earl. “Why can’t you do it?”
“Of course, it’s not as simple as you think.”
“We will, of course, make it lucrative for you.” He slipped the envelope onto the desk. “There is your flight, and a check in the amount of five thousand dollars. That should be enough to retain your services. You will, of course, receive the balance of nine thousand when you return.”
Alyson picked up the envelope and looked inside, pulling out the certified check drawn on Bank of America.
“I don’t think you’ve done your research, gentlemen. A thousand dollars a day per person is for missing persons. We usually receive five times that amount when it comes to escorts.”
The two men looked at each other. “How much more do you need?” one asked finally.
“Fifty percent,” Alyson said. “From the way it sounds, you can’t trust this to any other than us.”
Again, the two looked at each other, and the one without the mustache said, “You will receive a check by courier tonight.”
“Good enough,” said Earl, though Alyson pursed her lips.
She was reading a paper that was in the envelope. “This is the man we’re going to get?”
“What’s so important about this man?” she asked, setting the paper aside. Earl picked it up, but listened to the conversation.
“We don’t know, Ms. Packard. Only that we are to enlist your services in escorting him to Washington.”
“Again, we don’t know.”
Earl turned his attention to the sheet of paper. James Woods, age 34, married to Caitlin, with two children, Yvonne and Leslie. A picture of him was at the top of the page. The address to their house was there, in addition to directions from LAX.
“All right,” said Alyson, “We’ll take it.”
Earl was surprised. Usually, his sister wanted to discuss things first, to get his feelings for the matter. He, personally didn’t like the smell of this, but if these guys were on the up and up, he knew what that would mean to her. He nodded, placed the paper down.
“One week from today,” said the man without the mustache. “We’ll find our own way out.”
After they left, Alyson looked up at Earl. “I don’t think they are who they say they are.”
“Whatever gave you that idea.” Earl went to his small mini-bar and poured himself a shot of whiskey, what he did after every time they got a case.
“Earl, it’s 9:43 in the morning.”
Earl knocked it back with a grimace. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” He turned back toward her. “Besides, it’s for luck.”
“You’re just an alcoholic looking for an excuse.”
“You’re putting me with all the other alcoholic ex-military men, aren’t you?” He put the bottle away. “Like dad.”
“You and dad and Paul were all the same,” Alyson said, getting up. “Hard not to compare all of you.”
“I’m not like Paul was.”
“Of course. You were a SEAL. Unlike me, who was only in the Army.”
She went to the door. “No need to apologize. You’re right, as always.”
“I’m going to finish my marathon.” She opened the door and left, without his finishing his thought to her. He sighed. No matter what he said, if he praised her or if he belittled her, she always belittled herself. It wasn’t his fault or entirely her fault that she could never get into special ops - the whole reason she had joined.
When he finished with the Navy, two years later she finished with the Army, bitter and angry. It was her idea to create Cerebus; her idea to put him in as director and her as vice president of the company. The company had been lucrative and interesting, amazingly busy enough to have actual employees. Jakko was a friend of hers who became a friend of his; Juryrig, their gadgeteer and all-around mechanic was an old pal of his from high school days worked on the bottom floor of the warehouse. Alex and Mullet, both ex-Marines, would be back next week from a job in Detroit.
He walked out of his office and glanced at Stephanie. “You still put my appointments on Google?”
“Yes, you said you wanted us all to have access.”
He frowned. “Maybe we should keep it internal.”
“People have broken into it.”
“It’s more expensive if we keep it internal.”
“I’ll talk to Alyson. Meanwhile, we’ll be gone for a week.”
She turned to her computer. “I’ll put you both out for this week.”
“Anything I need to sign?”
“My million dollar paycheck.”
“Draw it up next week. See you when we get back.”
He went downstairs and stopped at the gym. Alyson was running on the treadmill. “Going home to pack. Told Steph we were gone.”
She gave him a thumb’s up instead of speaking. He returned it, and went to his Jeep.