The Desert Nexus
Inside a dark box
The hours passed slowly. Most of the team were taking the chance to try to sleep, but, of course, always with two of us on alert. One watching the rear doors on one monitor and the other watching an external camera pointed mostly toward the house. Right now we were like fish in a barrel if anybody suspected something. All they would have to do is stand off with automatic weapons and riddle the trailer to handle all of us. That wasn't a theory - in this country, stuff like that happened all the time. Katja was the calmest of all of us. She just leaned back and napped. Of course, that meant that the guys had to act casual, also.
A few hours earlier
We watched the forward camera as Sanchez drove the eighteen wheeler up to the rear gate of the compound and waited for someone to appear. In a few seconds, a couple of submachine-gun toting yoyo's came out, talked for a few seconds, then opened the double gate. We felt and watched the truck lurch forward, stop, then back up to a platform. We were in a large crate at the front of the truck, concealed by all the other cargo, but still in a position to drop through the floor of the trailer though a specially constructed trapdoor. That was a last resort, since the appearance of eight armed men - and a very dangerous woman - in the compound, and in daylight, would result automatically in a massive firefight.
The crate had been specially constructed for our one time use, and had wiring to concealed cameras all around the vehicle - with sound on two of them. We heard Sanchez explaining his tardiness with a tale of engine problems all day. In a few minutes, I would push a special button that would back up his tale of woe.
The back doors opened and the trailer wobbled as a bucket brigade of men began to load the illicit cargo into a container in the center of the trailer. When I assumed they were about half done, I pushed the button. From the front of the truck came a bang and some clanking, then quiet as the engine stopped. Sanchez hurried up to look, and in a few minutes delivered the bad news that it was dead. The goon in charge was not happy, but stood by as my man called someone on the phone. Of course, I knew that someone would be Chip.
Shortly, he delivered the news that another cab would immediately be sent down, and a local tow truck to haul off the bad tractor. I crossed my fingers. The acceptance of the next suggestion would rule our next actions. Sanchez suggested that they wait for morning - he didn't want to cross the border at night. It was much safer during the day when he could merge into a whole line of trucks going that way. He could sleep in the cab for the night. Some more back and forth, then the honcho went to apparently consult with the big man, then came back and agreed. And warned my man not to leave the vicinity of the vehicle for the night.
So far so good. We settled down for a several hour wait.
The wee hours
It was close to 01:00 and the team was awake and waiting. We had brought night vision equipment, but the compound was lit up like a mall parking lot and so it wasn't needed. And in fact, would be useless even if we wore it. A few minutes ago, I felt, or imagined, a slight tremor at about the time Sanchez should have been leaving the cab. The tension was rising from high to almost unbearable when we heard the three knocks on the trap door.
"Ok. Showtime." I announced, totally unnecessarily. The trapdoor was immediately opened and we began dropping to the ground. Under the truck was a prone shape - the guard for the front yard, now out of service - courtesy of Sanchez. He quietly said to me, "There's another one who just went around the corner of the house there. It'll take him about 40 seconds to make the turn."
I pointed to Dolby and Bummer. "One guard, walking around the house that way. Go." In a millisecond there were just two holes in the air where both of them had been squatting. They split up and went both ways around the building. For everyone else, I pointed toward the rear of the truck and we moved out.
It was like daylight everywhere, and that single fact put everyone's taut nerves on a razor edge. If there was a guard inside watching video cameras of the outside, things would go to hell in a hurry.
Over the past few weeks, most trucks that were diverted to this place had recording cameras at strategic places. Using those recovered videos and also pursuing satellite images, we had a general idea of the layout of the grounds. Of course, we had no idea of how the inside was laid out. I was expecting ten or fifteen men - almost all just young punks who thought that carrying an automatic weapon made them a fearsome warrior. They weren't my worry. I had to assume that there would be at least a core of professionals running the goons. George, or Jorge, whatever the scumbags name was, would be a fool if he didn't have at least one.
We were carrying automatic rifles in case things went south and we had to shoot ourselves out of the place, but for this operation only the low velocity silenced pistols were to be used. Or, even better - naked blades.
A side door was locked, but Jonesie shoved a crowbar into the jam and slowly pried it open. Inside, the first order of business was getting an idea of the layout, all the while being on the watch for wandering insomniacs. We had four sets of sleepy guns with us since I knew we would encounter females, all of whom I assumed would be the squeeze of somebody. I didn't particularly want any captures, but we couldn't afford to have screaming women running out of the building.
One thing was in our favor. Unlike an operation like this in the normal American city, if there was a moderate amount of unavoidable gunplay, few people on the outside would notice, and even fewer would want to investigate. We had already heard considerable gunfire from the city - that was just a fact of life for cities close to and on the wrong side of the border.
It was a big house - two floors at least. I guess everybody who was in a line of work that might be violent wanted to have at least one floor between them and intruders. Come to think of it, I was no different. Hmmmm. I would have to think about that some... I froze as Telly gave the closed fist, standby for the shit hitting the fan, sign. I waited for him to give the signal to approach, very cautiously. He backed up and pointed into an open door.
Millimeter by millimeter, I slowly looked around the door frame. God almighty damn! Son of a bitch! And so forth. Inside was a guard room, floor to ceiling with monitors giving images of the compound, including the door we had busted in. Not only that, but the door that we entered we had idiotically left open and it was as obvious as a missing front tooth on a beauty contestant. Fortunately, both of the guards were watching a porno flick on a laptop, regaling each other with the high points of the action. I pulled back, and let my head settle against the wall. Our luck was incredible, since an entire squad of men, and a woman, hadn't been seen crossing under the lights, nor had our entry into the building, even though in full view of a camera.
I nodded to Telly and Katja, made the left/right sign and both pulled their knives out - Telly with his standard KBar and Katja with her favorite long bladed dagger. I gave one emphatic nod and they swiftly entered the room together. In seconds, both guards were laying on the floor, no longer a problem. Time to move. More inspection of the downstairs, then behind us, a loud "Unnnnkkkk." Katja was lowering a body to the floor. He had picked the wrong time of night to need a piss. I waited, looking down the hall at two others who were also waiting. Shortly, Sanchez appeared, gave the thumbs up sign, then a single finger. I turned around and continued down the hall. At the end, I had found no room with anything of interest, so I turned around and motioned for my followers to reverse direction.
By now, the whole bottom floor should have been covered. Time for the... "Bam!" That wasn't one of our silenced pistols! Then two more. Then silence. The three of us ran to the end of the hallway, looked around the corner, then headed down another.
Dolby appeared. "Brinker is down. Everybody else ok. Nine tangos in all. Dead." Shit. A man shot. But, the mission had to be completed first, or more of us would go the same way. Everybody was there except Brinker, hurt or dead, and Sander, whom I assumed was looking after his comrade.
I barked out orders. "Active mode now. Upstairs." We took the stairs, four steps at a time, in rush formation, always checking our corners. A woman appeared, started a scream which cut off as Dunkelberry clocked her one in the stomach. There was a short kerchunk as he pushed the sleepy gun into her neck and pulled the trigger. Now the room she had come out of erupted with more female shrieks. "Dunk!" I ordered. "Do em!" and pointed into the room. On the rest of us went, searching as fast as we could. Finally, a big set of double doors indicated the probable sleeping quarters of the man himself. The problem was, with all the ruckus, by now he had either disappeared through an inevitable escape route, or was waiting with an AK-47 for the doors to open.
Whatever. One thing we couldn't do was just stand by and see what happened. I kicked the doors open, and aimed into the room, all the slack taken out of my trigger. Then I dropped my arm. No rush. The drug honcho and his nightly squeeze were asleep. Still. That had to mean that they were either out on drugs or alcohol. Nobody could have slept though the noise in the last minute or so. I pointed to the woman and shortly, she was injected. More orders. "Search the entire compound. Look for more goons, women and his stash." They left on a run, I stepped up to the bed and saw Katja looking intently at me. I nodded. She raised her pistol and put a silenced round though the man's heart.
Killing in cold blood wasn't my thing, but this man - all of the men in the building - were a pestilence on mankind. They would shoot a school bus full of children on orders without question. And enjoy the pleasure of the terror of the victims as they pulled the trigger. I would lose no sleep over them tonight, assuming that I was still alive then.
The loot we obviously would take. I didn't particularly want the women, but couldn't leave anybody behind to tell the tale of a gringo attack on a local... well, businessman. I didn't want to start cross-border tit for tat retaliation raids. So with us they would go. Actually their profession wouldn't change that much, just the part of the world they practiced it in.
We had the drugged women in the truck, and it was running - Sanchez having disconnected the gadget that gave the phony breakdown. Jorge's stash was being loaded now. He was very wealthy, but by now, stacks of cash and gold coins didn't awe me at all. The entire property had been searched high and low for any survivors. We needed to exit clean from this place and leave no slightest hint of who hit it. It would be automatically assumed that another gang had made the raid - if we could get out of town without notice. Brinker was in a bad way, shot though the lung, but stable. Battlefield medicine was something that all of us were unfortunately proficient in, and, of course, I had brought a full medic kit. None the less, we needed to get him over the border and into a hospital.
Finally, the doors were latched, everybody piled in and we were off, not forgetting to close the gate behind us. We were packed in the forward cab and sleeping quarters like sardines, but only for a short while. We got to the place where our two cars had been dropped and everybody left in them heading for the border. Except for Sanchez, Katja and me.
There was no way we were going to try to cross the border with the load we had in the back. An inspection would cause headlines that would hit every news site in the world. Instead, we waited for daylight and merged with a line of trucks heading south toward Mexico City. Eventually we pulled into the secondary airport. Not by coincidence, a cargo plane from a private carrier was waiting in a hanger.
When we landed in Saudi, I finally got word that Brinker was stabilized and his prognosis was good. All it would take would be time and he would heal. That was a relief. I had lost men before, and more than once, but it wasn't something I was ever going to get used to. The plane was being unloaded in Hassan's private hanger, customs being avoided again, which is the reason I took this route. A few hours later, both Sander and myself were collapsed in our beds at the Sheik's home. Katja was in mine with me, but if it had been Helen of Troy and Cleopatra together with her, I wouldn't even have looked under the covers.
I sent everyone off on a months vacation. I told Brinker to get well, then take his. As it turned out, we had collected a truckload of women - apparently, everyone in the place had one or more available. They were all at least pretty, of course, but I found none that I wanted, and neither did the Sheik. Of course, Tarkan was ecstatic at receiving a passel of prime female flesh. I told him to expect two more as soon as the package service came through. I had sent Jonesie back to his Brownsville office until I could hire a real replacement. While he was there, apparently two of my female employees quit. One morning they just didn't show up and were never seen again.
The raid on the compound, as big as it was to us, didn't even make the back pages of American newspapers or news sites. A few men had been found dead in a private house near the border, but so what? Jorge, after all, wasn't a big, or even a little, drug lord. He was just a tiny snake trying to bite off a piece of the action. I'm sure that his slack was taken up before the women were even processed at Tarken's. As it turned out, he did have a nice stash, most of which I split up between my crew - and of course, the Sheik.
Rita and I relaxed at Jean's, enjoying the spring weather in France. While I was there, Jean told me about his meeting with Bob, the aide to the governor. The one with 'the wife is a bitch and I can't get rid of her' problem.
He had met with Bob at a hotel room and presented himself as an agent for a female training service - for wives and significant others. As it turned out, the Sheik had an associate who actually did just that. I was having trouble believing some of what I was told about the service, but eventually I would see it for myself.
Rita stayed behind at Jean's. Tarken's place gave her ambivalent emotions - I think in the back of her mind was the fear that somehow she would be trapped in the place again and sold to some old man in the Orient. Besides, Jean and her really enjoyed each other.
Tarken met me with his usual ebullient style. First, relaxing in his office with a glass of his horrible rotgut while he expounded on this and that, then a tour to view the latest imports. The cheerleader wasn't here. Apparently the Sheik had plans of his own for her. But Rita's sister-in-law was. She was occupying a room right next to the one that Rita had originally spent months in. There were three other English speaking women with her, obviously from some other agents of the Sheik.
The ex-doctor's attitude had definitely been adjusted - any trace of the affluent high class woman was gone. She would instantly do anything required of her - anything. I know that to be a fact because she spent the night in my bed and I ran her through her paces. She still belonged to me, so she still had her voice, but knew better than to use it other than a "Yes" or "No" on occasion, coupled with the word, "Master."
The stash of girls from the border operation were still in the basic stages of training. I noticed the two ex-employees of my Brownsville office among them but I don't think they recognized me. To Tarkan's question, I told him to do whatever it took to bring their value to the highest level possible, then put them on the block. I didn't want any of them reserved. Exactly what he wanted to hear.
Back at Jean's
We were waiting for news from one of Jean's team members that Bob, the governors aide, and his wife had checked into a particular chalet on the outskirts of the city - on a vacation, supposedly.
We waited, enjoying ourselves by the pool and watching some of his girls, and mine - Rita - sporting naked in the water. It was wonderful. The pressure was off, nothing was happening, except a minor operation with Bob's wife as the target. Life is good if you are male, young and rich, and have several beautiful babes at call.
Ring! Ring! Jean picked up the phone, said a few words, and hung up. He nodded to me. "Done." Bob's wife was now on her way to what I thought of as a Stepford Wife Clinic - at least, that is what I had been told that it was. But I wanted to see it before I believed it.
As it was explained to me, the operation went like this. We couldn't just take his wife like she was a capture. Actually, we could, but he could never get her back. If the training didn't take, and at this point I was skeptical, when she was released from the training center she could make beaucoup trouble for her husband by claiming that he had her put away. He needed to have at least a plausible innocence in the story. Like this...
They decided on a month in Europe, it being the off season for politics. Eventually they checked into a particular chalet, prearranged by an agent of Jean. Late at night, a trio of thugs would then break in on them and demand to know where the drugs were. Obviously, the pair would be terrified and would disclaim all knowledge of any drug stash, and insist that the men had the wrong house. But a single container of pot would be pulled from under the bed, and the pair would be accused of stealing the other two suitcases. Bob didn't know it, but he would be pistol whipped for the answers - for real, but obviously not severely. He needed a real set of bruises and cuts to show the gendarmes. Eventually, she would be hauled away in the thug's car, after they warned Bob that he had better come up with their merchandise if he wanted her back. That same night she would be packaged up and mailed off to her new 'education' class.
Bob would hang around the city and the police station for a few weeks, before heading back to the US and the commiserations of his cohorts. Jean had waited for a major news story somewhere in the world before tripping the switch and lucked up with one at about the right time. The kidnapping of a wealthy American citizen certainly made the news, but quickly moved to the back pages over the latest Middle East setback.
Things were back to normal. Nothing major was happening on the shadow side of the business, although several females were being investigated for being possible shipping box stuffing. Zee was back and concentrating on a particular mission I had given her.
So, I ran the R&R business most of the time, hosted and attended boring political meetings, and relaxed between the legs of my girls. Sometimes Rita and I would both lay back, each with a girl between our legs. By now, all remnants of a civilized upper class woman had sluffed off of her. She lived to give and take pleasure. I had no doubt that if she was offered a magic switch that could rewind time to prevent that night, years ago, when she was drugged and hauled off to the clinic, she would stab the offerer in the heart and stomp on his switch.
She was probably the most unique slave in the world. She had to instantly and totally obey me at all times, of course, but she could do anything she wanted, otherwise. Spend money, go places, and, if one of the young grunts happened to be in the building and caught her eye, she could sidle up to him and offer her treasures for fun. And no young man, or old one, for that matter, was going to say no to a stunning and experienced redhead standing there with her magnificent tits and hourglass body outlined under a flimsy silk gown. At least, not after they knew that it was ok with the Sarge.
It was a happy household, I think. Rita's girls were having a much better life than fate had originally planned for them. Rita was strict with them as to the performance of their duties, but she was never cruel just for the sake of being their taskmistress. Many times, unobserved, I watched them when they were off duty. They would watch TV and silently laugh and sign to each other about the actions on the screen. It was no different than any group of female friends all around the country, except that it was much quieter.
Even Butterball was content with her lot. How did I know, you ask? She was getting along in years - probably approaching fifty - and I really didn't want or need an old woman on my staff. She had been a good servant, so I offered, through Rita, to send her back home and guarantee a certain income to live on. Butterball had long since learned of the spoof that her old employer had blamed her for his misfortune. Surprisingly, she immediately dropped to her knees and silently bawled and signed a plea to be allowed to remain. What the heck. I shrugged and told Rita to tell her not to pack.
I guess she had thought that I had been displeased with her service, to date. From then on, she was the most diligent of all the girls. I thought it might be an interesting experiment to threaten to send all of the rest home.
A relative of the Sheik - Jameel was his short name - had flown over for an appointment. I cleared my schedule, invited him into one of the sky lounges, waited till Rita had served us, locked the door, then gave him the floor. He handed me a flash drive, I stuck it into a laptop and decrypted it. For a few minutes I read the missive from Hassan with growing surprise and excitement. Wow! This would be a good test run for my future plans.
We discussed certain aspects for a couple of hours, then agreed on a plan. Rising, I offered him a bed for the night, and a warmer for it, but he politely declined and headed back for the airport. I rode the elevator down a few floors and dropped in Dr. Bennett's office. His business was doing fine and we had become friends. Part of that was gratitude for helping put his life back together, but some was the fact that I held the mortgage on his business. We weren't drinking buddies since our lives were so disparate, but there was respect between us. I discussed an item with him, then there was nothing to do on that front except wait for circumstances.
A week later, I had a new woman installed in a suite on the floor below mine. Sent over by the Sheik, she was off limits to all - my people would be friendly to her, but any questions and discussions of her were strictly verboten. They could easily detect that she was German, and her name was Greta, but that was it. I took her down to the surgeons office, along with a flash drive containing a massive number of photographs and other data. This was going to be interesting.
Somewhere in Vietnam
Jean and I had slept the night and part of the day away making up for about twenty nine hours of travel time to get here from Texas. First, breakfast, and then a flunky led us down the hall to the owner's office, one Dr. Ngheim Thao by name. Because of our position as being also affiliated with Sheik Hassan, he asked us to call him Thao. As a note, names in that country are backward - that is, the family name comes first. In other words, if he moved to the States, he would become Thao Ngheim. Very polite, and much younger than I expected. Even more than me - younger, I mean. That was explained later when I found that he was the second generation owner of the operation - his father having essentially retired from the business a few years before.
Thao's place wasn't a compound, nor was it particularly secure. It was more like a very nice, if large, clinic in a rural part of the country.
Security wasn't a big deal, since there weren't any hallways lined with rooms filled with chained beauties. Also, nobody moved very far around that country without showing a valid ID many times, and all patients had their passports and IDs secured until they were released. And, there was the fact that all of his patients were there voluntarily - at least, that is what the paperwork said.
It was a beautiful place - the jungle was just outside of the neatly kept grounds. The first afternoon, I explored it somewhat, with a guide lent to me by Thao. Jean stayed inside in the air conditioning. He wanted no part of the stifling, humid climate of a country not far from the equator. For myself, I had long ago learned, both in Texas, and later in the Middle East, to ignore heat.
Then I saw what went on in the clinic, and I never thought of the jungle again.
We were looking at a monitor at the object of our trip - the wife of the governor's aide. She was wearing a simple armless, shapeless pullover - white - and had a simple collar, like a thin donut - also white. The room she was in was almost out of some future utopian movie. He had showed us an empty one a few minutes before. It was pure white, but the lighting was through the translucent material so that it wasn't blinding and made no shadows. There were no corners on anything - even the ceiling and walls flowed into each other in a curve without corners or edges. The bed was a curved soap bar holding up a mattress and a pillow - also pure white. When the door was closed, there was nothing for the eye to focus on, not even the cracks where the door merged into the wall invisibly. Even the commode, just a hole in the floor, had a spring loaded cover that merged into the floor as invisibly as the door to the room. The only indication of it was the small indentation for a finger to be able to lift it.
A person's vision would just skid and slide around trying to find something to look at. All in all, it was the most benign torture chamber I had ever seen.
Thao was explaining in English better than mine. His French was better than Jean's, also. "Obviously, she is still in the first stage of conversion. With an educated woman, it usually takes from one to three months before her mind begins to turn in on itself, in rejection of the total lack of stimulation. When she begins to reach that stage, we have to watch carefully. Some women will try to injure themselves, just to try to get some change in their environment. The collar is a dummy, just to get her used to wearing one while she is here." What the hell is the difference between a dummy collar and a real one, I silently asked myself. As we watched, the woman stood up walked back and forth a few times, tried to feel where the door was, then apparently tried to use her fingernails to open it. Then she slapped the wall in frustration, and sat back down on the bed.
Thao continued. "Since the lighting never varies, she already has lost all sense of time. Her circadian rhythm will be completely disrupted. Even her meals and occasional cleansing is done at random intervals. Of course, the reason for this stage of treatment is to change the patient into a blank slate that can be written on."
I noticed that in this place, there were no such people as slaves, bound women, cunts, bed warmers or the like. Everyone not on the staff was a "patient." I assumed that to the outside authorities, they were patients also. Not only that, but they were patients that brought vast sums of foreign currency into a very poor country. I suspected that Thao was immune to any accusations that he was harboring unwilling slave girls.
He pushed a button and another woman appeared on the monitor, sleeping. "This one is at stage two. Notice the yellow collar. It can inject certain drugs into her system on demand and in precisely metered amounts." To our questioning looks, he continued. "The chemicals are synthesized from female hormones and can be tuned to make a woman's emotions move to any point on her compass of feelings. Those are the real secret to our work. They were developed by my grandfather years ago in the days of the cold war and my father brought them to the current perfection."
Holy shit, I thought to myself. I had heard of brainwashing, but this was taking it to levels that were unbelievable.
He pushed a button again and yet another woman appeared. This one was watching TV. "Another one in stage two. She is allowed entertainment during the day, but it is carefully choreographed so that her medication stimuli and the movie are in sync." Once again, to our incredulous expressions, he amplified. "A particular movie may be a love story - in fact, it probably is..."
"A chick flick," I injected.
He stopped for a minute and thought over my slang. "Chick flick. What an interesting piece of American colloquialism." He smiled. "Chick flick. I shall remember that for our next staff meeting." He continued. "At points of the movie where the woman is engaged with the man in a friendly or amorous activity, the patient's bloodstream will receive a medication that will make her feel the same way, and metered to the level that matches the action. If it is the climax and the part where, as you Americans say, 'They live happily ever after,' then her dose will be increased to the point that she will probably weep with joy. On the other hand, if the female on the screen is in conflict, or in actual disharmony with the male, she will be pulled down into a depression that may make her weep also."
Jean and I looked at each other. Neither of us could believe what we were hearing. Could this be true?
"Dr. Ngheim," Jean said. "The lights in her room seem to be changing, or is that just the monitor?"
Thao smiled. "No, it is happening. The room is totally translucent like the one you looked at. The appropriate color is displayed along with the drug injection. As you can tell, it isn't an intense hue normally. If she is being depressed, the color will redden. During happy sessions, it will be blue. If she is having a catharsis of unhappy tears, it will be a fairly deep red hue. If she is crying with joy, the room will glow in a sky blue. It is obvious to an outsider watching, but she will be totally oblivious to it."
We watched for a while, and sure enough, as she wiped away tears, the room slowly changed to a light blue, then gradually returned to white as she smiled and recovered.
"Now, here is the final process - stage three, where all the training is permanentized." That was the only time I caught him misusing an English word. Another button press and another woman - this one sleeping also.
"A blue collar," noted Jean, and we waited for the explanation.
"Again, she is entertained by movies, but in this case, movies produced by us - and in eight different languages. If you watched one, it would be the most pitiable and sickeningly sweet pap you ever had the misfortune to sit through. But to her, it is real. She will also interact with actual men, and with videos and pictures of her male significant other."
He pointed. "That collar not only has all the injection capability of the last one you saw, but it also can directly stimulate the Tri-Gemitorial nerve - the main nerve stem that connects the brain to the rest of your body. By giving certain impulses at the correct time, while she is reacting to both the external stimuli and the injected drug, we can make the synapses of her brain retain the reaction." He smiled again. "It is sort of like loading a program into a flash drive. The data can remain there forever, unchanged."
He flipped off the monitor. Neither of us made a comment. What was there to say after this demonstration? I thought I was an expert in enslaving a girl. Hell, compared to Thao, I was a little boy trying to bribe a little girl with candy into letting me look at her panties.
Finally, Jean asked. "What is your success rate, if I may ask?"
Thao made a wry face. "Sometimes I think it is too high. On at least six occasions that I know of, after her male companion with which she had been cohered, passed away, from accident or naturally, the woman immediately suicided. As far as information that I have, none have... shall we say, deprogrammed on her own." A pause. "A bigger problem is that the man may not realize that what he asked for is what he really wants. On occasion, the woman becomes absolutely cloying and he wants her to stop. If he pushes her away, she may break down into depression, or again, commit suicide. That is why I, much more than my father did, always intensely interview the male to make sure that he knows what he is about to have created."
Flying back, neither Jean or I hardly said a word to each other. Our minds were absolutely transfixed on what we had seen over the last three days. I was still having trouble believing it. On the last day, we were allowed to watch a live performance with a man on the staff. Unless the woman was acting for our benefit, which I didn't for a moment believe, she was a total emotional slave to her view of him. Just a frown on his face would cause her to break down and bawl. A smile, and she would jump from foot to foot like a little girl that had just been given a desperately wanted doll.
I wondered if Bob was going to like what he paid for. Actually, even though he was aghast at the cost, what he didn't know was that he was only paying for a fraction of the service. I funded the bulk of the treatment because I wanted to see the results.
A day or so later, Sally asked. "Are you ok, Boss?"
I was somewhere else and it took a minute for the question to sink in. "What? Yes... Ok... I'm fine."
"Boss," she continued quietly, not quite certain of her ground, "What did you and Jean see over there?"
I hesitated for a moment, then asked, "Sally, did you ever see the old movie, The Stepford Wives?"
She looked at me with a stunned expression. "Are... are you telling me that they can be... that such a place actually exists!?"
I shook my head. "Sally, if I told you a tenth of it, you would walk out the door thinking your boss is a psycho." I waved her away. "Later. When I can get my own beliefs wrapped around what I saw."
Rita knew something was wrong, also. More than once, while inserted into her and pumping away, a flashback to the jungle clinic would suddenly cause a wet noodle to flop out of her twat. It wasn't that I was suddenly impotent, just that the intense memory and resultant thought took all the blood away to the other end of my body. It was several days before I got back to a semblance of normality.
Greta, the Sheik's girl, was slowly being transformed. Her starting facial features were fairly close to the pictures that she was being changed into. I have no idea how many operations she had, but within four weeks, they were through and she was recovering - an exact duplicate of the woman in the pictures. Shortly thereafter, the plane returned and off she went to... somewhere.
Jean was on the same plane at the Sheik's request. Obviously a major operation was starting up, somewhere, and probably with the woman that just left.
Meanwhile, Telly's team had hosed down another set of freelance socialists, trying to share the wealth on the high seas. Just another bunch of kids with no clue about actual combat, all of them thinking that an AK-47 made them immortal. The four that started climbing the ladder together were shot off first, then their skiff was sawed in half by the fifty cal. Shortly, the high seas were a tiny bit safer for trade.
A couple of weeks later, Katja was called back to the desert. But before she left, we went over the security of my building. Napoleon had said that he who stayed in a defensive posture, had already lost the battle. I myself had reduced two heavily guarded and armed fortress houses with one hundred percent casualties on one side and almost none on mine. I knew that my home was no different. Nobody can stay on full alert 24/7. Rather wasting effort by having someone falling asleep in front of security monitors month after month, I just needed a system that would give me just twenty or thirty seconds of warning. Or, conversely, slow down an assault by that amount of lead time.
We slowly refined a new system.
I was sitting in the top glassed in lounge, knocking back some forbidden scotch. The Sheik had asked me to come over for consultation. Earlier, in the same room, were Jean, Katja, Zee and Willi Schmidt, his agent from Munich. We discussed a new operation in progress for hours, then Hassan called a break until later in the afternoon. To me he said, "Rodger, a moment with you please."
When the door closed, he said, "I fear that I have plagiarized your idea, my friend."
I just made a dismissive gesture with my free hand. "What the heck. This will be a real validation of the idea. Besides, mine will be considerably more complicated if it occurs. This will give some much needed insight on the method."
"What do you think about it?" he said. "The plan, I mean, not the idea."
I looked through the amber liquid at the light. "It is going to take some crackerjack plann... sorry, some split second timing, and not a little bit of luck, but it looks valid. I can see a lot of Jean's work in it."
He nodded. "This is my operation, even though it is in Willi's territory. He obviously has to be included, but he has nowhere the finesse of Jean in planning, so yes, Willie is in nominal command, but will be following Jean's script."
He smiled. "You are my youngest and newest agent... And my most versatile." He held up his hand as I began to speak. "You have an innate ability to... to... what is the American idiom? ... to think on your feet. Jean can plan an operation better than Machiavelli. Dr. Ngheim can mould a woman to fit any shape. My other agents are very competent or they wouldn't be on my team. But you have the capacity to instantly react to a rapidly changing situation - even to an engagement that is descending into chaos - or one that is falling apart at the seams, as you would say. You won't have a working part in the operation, but I want you to... monitor it as it happens, looking for the unexpected. I will give orders that you will have the authority to make changes and give orders at any moment, when it starts.
Two months later. Dusseldorf, Germany
God only knew how much this op was costing Hassan. It wasn't overly complex - no enterprise put together by Jean would be allowed to grow cumbersome. But it was big, involving much pre-op work and preparation. As it turned out, I did have a couple of working parts in the op.
The night finally rolled around. Zee, Katja and I separately entered the building - with invitations courtesy of Hassan's money - after passing multiple security checkpoints that didn't quite reach the level of strip searches, but came close. That fact showed the genius of Jean and his, as the Sheik called it, "Machiavellian mind." Normally, our target was guarded like a major national leader, but... for this political ball, all of the security was on the perimeter. It was assumed by the powers-that-be that everybody inside was on the up and up. Nobody wanted gun toting security jocks roaming around amongst the swells.
I only had two jobs - the first was to watch the mark and call a preprogrammed number on my cell phone when I saw her enter the huge ladies room. My second would come when the balloon went up. Zee and Katja, being young and beautiful, naturally drew young, and not so young, men like flies to honey. But they also always circulated within a short distance of the women's loo or the mark, herself. I had a young man, a helper, whose sole purpose was to talk to me while I casually watched - his purpose on the op being so that I didn't stick out like a sore thumb as a man who, for some reason, just stood there looking around. I relaxed and practiced my German on him.
The night wore on. Dancing, eating and, I am sure, deal making were rampant - no different than the get-togethers of the rich and famous all over the world. But... Damn - the woman was born with a male bladder. Any other normal female who had been drinking alcohol would have already left to sit on the can three times by now. Then, finally! I saw her look around, say something to her hangers on, and head for the ladies room. The two girls saw her and immediately headed for it also. Katja entered first, ahead of the mark. Zee followed right behind. I pulled out the phone, put my finger over the icon, and waited. The girls would wait for her to get settled in a stall, and start doing her business. By now my heart was pumping - the next few minutes would tell the tale.
In seconds, Zee came back out, opened her purse, looked in it for a second, then went back inside. That was the signal. I pushed the button and unconsciously braced myself for the coming ruckus. A few seconds passed, then a few more. Shit! If that dude had screwed up the... The lights flared up, then went out instantly, followed immediately by a distant, "Boom." In a second, the emergency lighting around the room automatically came on, allowing for some sight and preventing confusion and a stampede, but not much more. My male partner evaporated as ordered, his job done.
Pandemonium began, but not panic. Some even guessed what had happened. During the past weeks, an unknown fascist group had dynamited a couple of electrical substations around the city in support of their cause, whatever it was. Probably, this was the same thing. Some guy climbed on a table and shouted to everyone to relax, we were perfectly safe here, whatever had happened outside.
I didn't bother to notice. I was waiting outside of the ladies room as the few occupants streamed out into the dim light. As it turned out, apparently the emergency lighting in the loo was defective, and the room became instantly pitch black when the power failed. I held the door open to let the ladies see which way to exit. Zee appeared and nodded. Everybody was out.
I knew that Katja had instantly opened the door to the mark's stall and jabbed her with a pressure syringe. At the far end of the room was a door leading to a janitors closet. Weeks ago, the long narrow room had been modified by adding a wall four feet away from the original one at the back. This became a hidey-hole for our female double. She had been living in the cramped, but well supplied little cubbyhole for three days now, before security had locked the building down for tonight's soiree. The mark would be pulled into the closet and quickly stripped of her clothes, shoes, purse and jewelry, which our agent would put on. With one girl holding a flashlight, the other would help our woman get dressed and inspected. Since we had no idea of what the mark's hairstyle would be for the night, they had several items to at least make it look close to the original. But, our double couldn't be blamed for tousled hair after the chaos she would have gone through. Soon she would exit the ladies room and out into her new life.
I walked to the entrance of the ballroom hall and said to a guard, "We have an injured woman here. I've called for an ambulance. Please let me know when it gets here." He nodded and passed the word on.
Now, with less rush, Zee and Katja would dress our target in the uniform of a building worker - a cleaning maid. Her beautiful long hair would be cut off, bagged and dumped in the trash. Then a black wig would be pulled over her head.
Sure enough, in a few minutes, the man hurried up to me followed by a couple of paramedics pushing a gurney. Shortly, they had the woman on it, her face covered with a compress and were out the door, into the vehicle and driving down the road. Fraulein Hauffmann was on her way to her new life, also. I waited by the ladies room as Katja and Zee did their best to remove obvious traces of the secret room being a hidey-hole. Later in the week, a building crew would remove the false wall. Soon, it would just be an unused space.
Now, it all depended on how well our look-alike could play her part.
The Sheik's compound
The four of us, Jean, the two girls and me, were feeling pretty good. The op had gone like clockwork. It might still fail, but if so, it wouldn't be because of us. The Sheik had congratulated us over and over, and was in the process of pouring us as much as we wanted to drink, while he expounded on the future. Other than the people in this room, and Herr Schmidt - and of course the pseudo Fraulein Hauffman - nobody else knew what the exercise had been about. The rest of the team members - the bribed workers at the convention center, the phony ambulance crew, the man who placed and detonated the explosives - all of them were paid to do a single job, then disappear.
I asked what he thought the chances of the female actor in a masquerade of a well known young woman. I didn't see how she could possibly pull it off. Maybe for a day, or a week, but eventually something was going to trip her up, like not recognizing a favorite childhood friend, or something. He explained that the woman had been intensively studying for her part for over a year and had every known fact about her double's life. Nonetheless, he admitted, there was always the chance of fate pointing her fickle finger and blowing her act.
Something suddenly occurred to me. "What about her voice?" I asked.
Hassan just smiled. "She has been taking voice training lessons for months. Obviously, the woman can't exactly imitate her double, but it just so happens that tomorrow she will see a doctor about a persistent cough." He gestured to Jean who took up the story.
"The doctor, who, by the way, just happens to be an asset of the Sheik, will find a small..." He hesitated, looking for the Arabic word. "...growth...?"
"Polyp," injected Zee.
Jean nodded. "Oui, polyp, on her vocal cords. She will be notified by the doctor that the operation is minor and safe, but the tone of her voice might change somewhat." I might have known - Jean would not only dot every i and cross every t of an operation that he had planned, but he would have it folded, spindled, certified and stamped ok by Satan himself.
The Sheik continued, "The plan is for her to announce that she is tired, and is going on holiday in the Swiss alps for a few weeks. That will give her a chance to settle into her role without being around large numbers of people who know her closely. If she can make it until her father dies, I think she will be ok - that shouldn't be too long. After that, with forty percent of the voting stock, she can make decisions that will insulate her from her current associates." He looked around at everybody, but we didn't interrupt. "If she is suspected, there will be chaos and we will try to get her out of it. But, if she is successful, she gets to become one of the wealthiest and most desirable young women on the planet, and I will control the major financial and political engine in Europe."
Man, like my grade school teacher always said, "If you are going to dream, dream big."
None of my crew, except for Zee, who had come back with me, knew of the operation in Germany. And they wouldn't find out, unless it blew up and hit the news. We had our own fish to fry. Zee had become a friend to Penelope Elsenburg, the heir to the Texas oil fortune, during some of the political events that I hosted in my top floor ballroom - ballroom being a misnomer. Nobody danced, they just stood around and drank, talked, plotted and looked out over the city. It wasn't hard - Zee was young, beautiful, obviously upper class from somewhere, and had all the money of a wealthy young daughter. Zee - and Katja - assumed that I was going to pull an operation like we had just concluded in Europe. Not so. I had no use for a thirty year old girl who would someday have lots of money, but otherwise had no value to my organization. Someday she might become valuable, but not yet. Besides, I had no duplicate of her and that wasn't something that you just came up with overnight.
I would amuse myself with just watching how the Sheik's latest enterprise turned out. It all hinged on whether or not the girl could actually bring it off. Plus there was another factor that I didn't bring up with the Sheik. It also depended on her not double crossing her benefactor, although she had no idea of the extent of the Sheik's domain. Loyalty was something that had to be tested, it just couldn't be advertised for. I had no idea of the level of confidence that Hassan had in the girl. After all, he didn't have a large lot to choose from, since women willing to risk such a ploy, and be close enough in looks to be altered sufficiently are fairly scarce, I assumed. Unlike my tested crew, there was no... way... to...
I stopped and stared off into the distance. A few minutes thought and I was on the telephone. Then a call downstairs to my R&R secretary.
"Shirley. Book me a flight to Hanoi as soon as one leaves."
Three weeks later
"Boss! When did you get back?" Sally was almost shocked when I walked in the door.
"Just now, babe. And I am beat. Anything I just have to do before I go upstairs and crash?"
"Yes. I have a ton of stuff for you to look at, but I guess it can wait until tomorrow." She lowered her voice. "You were at the... the... Stepford clinic, right? Can you talk about it."
I smiled and said, "Yep, but not 'till tomorrow. Good night. Or day, or whatever."
Rita, of course, bubbled over when she saw me, but fortunately didn't insist on sex before I crashed. Besides, it was the middle of the day for her - far too early to hit the sack for sleep.
Sally, Chip and Zee were relaxing in loungers, waiting for me as I entered the lounge. "Morning all," I greeted and accepted the return welcome homes. Rita's girls had already set out coffee, donuts and various other early morning snacks. I indicated to her that this meeting was private so she would know to prevent anyone else from entering without my permission.
"Boys and girls," I started. "I'm going to tell you a tale and you will need to put your sense of disbelief on hold. This is going to be hard to swallow without actually seeing it." I began with the trip that Jean and I took to the Vietnamese clinic and all that we saw. And the fact that we had an acquaintance who had actually sent a woman there. I could tell that they were awed at what I was telling them, but they had no reason to think it was all a flat out lie.
After I hit a summary point, Chip asked, "Jeez, Boss. Do you think that the results are really... kosher?"
I shrugged. "After that first visit, I had the same question. But, I have just spent three weeks deeply embedded the place, and I have to answer yes, now. I can't say what a woman's retention would be after, say, a year or so, but I can vouch for the fact that her artificial emotional attachments are real and unbreakable while she is there."
I continued. "That isn't the reason I revisited the place. We aren't going to provide a service for sending wives and girlfriends to be retrained. Of course, if a client needs such a service, we can certainly arrange it. No, here's my idea - and by the way, this is top secret." For an hour, I filled them in on my last trip, what I talked about with Dr. Thao, what I wanted to set up, and what we were going to try. That definitely got their attention. In fact, they were open-mouthed speechless.
To allow time for certain plans to ripen, I actually went along as a team member with Bummer's crew on a voyage around the horn of Africa. Of course, nothing happened, but it was a relaxing couple of weeks. I wound up in Kuwait, took a flight over the border, and spend a few days at Hassan's. He showed me his latest "cherry pick" for his harem, the cheerleader. As we watched her from above, sitting and talking with another girl, I reflected that by now I had enough data to be able to characterize his preferences. He obviously got off on big hipped, big boobed, narrow waisted American girls - and the dumber the better. The last three fit that category - an actress, a young cunt blackmailer, and the cheerleader. I had no use for that factoid - it was just interesting.
Then it was on to Jean's place and a taste of some new female flesh. We were now very close friends, having shared danger, conspiracies, and women. I filled him in on my latest idea, and, like my inner circle, he was astonished as it sank in.
"Mon Dieu, Rowjere," he finally exclaimed. "The Sheik was right - you are born to this career."
"Mr. Harris, this is Bonnie Fields." Sally indicated me, then continued, "Miss Fields, this is Mr. Rodger Harris." I motioned to the lounge area in my office and we moved over and sat down. Damn, she was a dish. Of course, that was a requirement, but still, she was one nice piece of eye candy. She didn't know it, but this was her final interview.
Sally had contracted with a research firm to construct a series of tests to find the type of girl we needed. Of course, she couldn't ask the firm to help us find women who were conniving, willing to break the law for money, and who would have no problem with a guilty conscience, but it was a simple matter to turn yes into no. We were looking for prospects that failed the tests they were given. So, Bonnie was the first of a series of young and beautiful girls who had applied to take our tests. There were some other requirements - they had to be single, not in a serious relationship, and with no close family. Oh, and stunningly beautiful. That cut the applicants way down, but still applied to a lot of women in this country.
I looked her over, wishing that I had had Rita work me over before this interview, so I could keep my mind on the case at hand. Sally was seated behind her, in a position to give me visual clues if something seemed wrong to her - or right, for that matter.
"Ms Fields," I began. "So far you have successfully met all of our requirements for the position we are offering. However, now you will need to make some decisions and you won't have a lot of information on which to make those." She just nodded, nervous, but naturally so. "The position you are being considered for is not just a job - it is a life-long career. If you accept, then your future will be much different from any that you have imagined. All I can say at the moment is that it will be a life of luxury, money, and power." Now her eyes were wide open. "Still interested?" She nodded, jerkily.
"The training will be intense - very intense, like a military boot camp, but not in the sense that you will be doing pushups and ten mile runs. It will be mentally intense and you will come out of it with a whole new understanding of life." Was that an understatement. Now, she was absolutely frozen, like a deer in headlights.
"Your salary while you are in training will be one hundred thousand a year. Afterward, it will be adjusted to your skills and duties." I talked some more, but Sally had already nodded and I had decided. The girl had very little to say or ask, but that was normal, since she had absolutely no information on which to base a conversation. The offer of unbelievable amounts of money and a career were overwhelming to a young woman with no other prospects than an early marriage to a minimum wage husband and, eventually, a mobile home filled with screaming kids. Her youth had another benefit for us than just looks. A more mature woman would have the sense to ask just what the candy this strange man was offering would cost her.
"So, Ms Fields. Are you interested?"
She nodded rapidly. "Y..Yes, sir! Definitely! Thank you."
"Great. Sally will get you signed up and make arrangements to get you sent off for training."
A night, the ballroom
Another fundraiser and plotting soiree, as I called them. This time it was the local party head hosting the leaders of a couple of powerful religious conferences. Religion was a blank page to me, so I just mingled and smiled. When I wondered why anyone in politics would care, Sally reminded me that we were in the lower end of the Bible belt and the religious leaders could shift a considerable number of votes one way or the other. Apparently it was important, since the governor had sent his chief of staff over to act as a pseudo Master of Ceremonies. So, again, I mingled and smiled. Actually, I mingled for sure, but my smile had to be constantly maintained in the face of excruciating boredom. That was about to change...
The hostesses for the occasion were rented - pretty and upright young girls, mostly college students making money on the side. Obviously, my crew of girls were totally unsatisfactory for this kind of job, especially tonight with a bunch of bible thumpers milling around and issuing platitudes. Suddenly, a movement in the door caught my eye - Rita She was standing in the doorway and dressed in ordinary clothes rather than her usual filmy silk. She looked around till she spotted me and gave a short signing phrase.
I blinked, not believing what she had 'said.' I nodded, looked around for the governor's man and quickly walked up to him. "Bill!" - not his real name - "I have an emergency in progress." To his widening eyes, I amplified my statement. "Not here. It's with a critical shipment enroute. I'll send someone up to take my place." He opened his mouth to speak, then just nodded. I headed for the door, not quite running. In the hall, I double checked with Rita and she informed me that the message came from Sally.
I ran to the elevator, waited for the damn thing to take forever, then got off and sprinted to Sally's office. She handed me a printout of an email. All it said was "Desert Oasis." She handed me another paper. "You have a ticket on Trans Atlantic in two hours. I told Brinker to tell Rita to get your contingency bag to the elevator. Sam has the car waiting downstairs. You have to hurry."
I nodded. Then remembered the party. "Is Chip around?" She nodded. "Have him go upstairs and take my place at that stupid get-together. I need a representative there." I told her the name of the governor's chief of staff. She nodded.
Three hours later, I was relaxing in the first class lounge several miles above earth and wondering what had hit the fan. "Desert Oasis" was the Sheik's code word equivalent of... well, 'The Shit has Hit the Fan' is actually a good description.
I had flown two thirds of the way around the world. My jet lag had jet lag. The stop in Saudi had been short, and in fact, Hassan had met me at the plane and we retired to a warehouse to talk. He explained the walls of all hotels in this part of the world were wired one way or another and to never discuss anything of importance while inside. So now we were sitting on two uncomfortable metal chairs in the middle of about an acre of concrete floor.
"Thank you for coming so quickly, Rodger." I nodded but just waited. "My agent in Australia has been arrested for kidnapping." He picked up a sheaf of papers. "All I know, or think I know, is that a capture was initiated, but the girl got away, exposed one of his men who then... ratted? Yes, ratted on his senior."
To me it sounded like his agent hadn't properly vetted his men. You had to have a solid foundation of trust and loyalty before you even thought about starting in this business. Again, I just nodded as he continued. "I don't know what you can do, if anything, but you are far and away my best troubleshooter. I would appreciate it if you will see what can be done. You have carte blanche."
I thought for a moment. "I'd like to take Katja with me. I might need a female operative." He immediately nodded, pushed a button and gave a short order.
So, here we were.
Had the woman been a nonentity, it would have been much easier. But, she was a very well known bitch, a wealthy... something. A trust fund baby, I guess she could be called. She owned an unearned fortune and had never worked a day in her life as far as I knew. She had been involved in many a scandal - she reveled in them, apparently. So, her every move and utterance was splattered all over the tabloids.
The Sheik's agent for the country, one Terrence Scott, was free on bail, but under orders to remain in his townhouse. The first item of business was to talk to him, but without appearing in a photograph or video by the newspersons staking out his home. We walked down the street to his residence and looked over the situation from afar. By now, the news was wearing off and the broadcast trucks had gone, but I could still see several shapes in vehicles parked along the street. Obviously, they were gypsy news hounds, hoping for a picture or a story they could sell.
After contacting the Sheik, and having an email sent to Mr. Scott to expect us, we slipped in the now unlocked back gate and walked up to the back door with a minimum of fuss. We were both wearing ball caps with the bill pulled down low just in case. The door opened and we hurriedly entered the foyer. Scott was middle aged, in good shape physically - a normal prosperous business man with a nice home. After introductions, he led us to the rear of the house, out the back door and to a patio with a large pool. A large square cube made entirely of glass panels for walls sat at one end, with a view down the hill behind his property. It wasn't a greenhouse, since there were no plants in it - just a place to relax out of the sun with a view of the pool on one side and scenery in the distance on the other.
He waved us to any of the comfortable chairs in the room and indicated a low bar on one end. "Anything you want?" We selected our refreshments and he continued. "The paparazzi in this country have no qualms about trespassing to get a story, and the legal system, if not the law, is on their side. All you can do is call the police. Here, nobody can sneak up and be listening."
Man, that was a different situation than my state. If I caught one there, I would still call the police, but it would be to have his unconscious body removed from the premises. "How about pictures with a telephoto lens from that way? Katja and I don't want to appear in one while we are working on the problem."
He shook his head. "The outside glass is lightly mirrored. We're invisible - at least during daylight. When the sun goes down we can lower those shades."
I nodded. "Ok, from the top. What happened."
He began a tale of woe, in which Murphy played an unwelcome part in a big way. Scott was one of the agents who had a very small organization. Just a man and a woman on his payroll. He had been working on capturing this particular woman for months. The plan was very simple. With a lot of not exactly bribe money, his man procured a taxi license and a legitimate vehicle. Well, mostly legitimate. This one had a few special modifications, including quickly changeable number plates and light and... some other stuff. Of course, nothing about this cab or the license could be tied back to Scott - that was a given in this business.
The target, the trust fund baby, spent her entire life in the night scenes around the city. His man would park outside of whichever venue she was enjoying that night, waiting for the woman inside - Scott's woman, not the mark - to indicate that the target was leaving. He would immediately turn on his 'Vacant' light, and pull up to the curb as close as possible. For the last few weeks, just the luck of the draw meant that another cab was already there, and she took it instead, or she was delayed at the entrance and another patron engaged him. Or several other reasons for her not to enter his vehicle.
But, finally one night, the stars aligned and she was in - actually, two of them. Herself and a female friend. As he pulled away from the curb, he pressed a button to let the sleepy gas fill the interior of the vehicle, and surreptitiously brought up a rubber tube to his mouth. That would allow for him to breathe out of an oxygen tank and hopefully, stay awake. It worked in tests.
A few blocks away, with the passengers slowly falling into unconsciousness, Murphy laughed and pointed his finger. A drunk driver - one with at least a dozen citations - ran straight though the light and plowed into the cab, knocking the driver senseless, but otherwise not harming anyone. Murphy laughed again, and rolled his dice. Had this been a normal accident, the fact that a cop was almost on the scene, and just missed getting hit himself, would have seemed fortunate. But, in this case as he pried the doors open to check on the passengers, and it became obvious that something inside the cab was wrong. His head started spinning and he fell back on his butt on the pavement. To make a very long and detailed story shorter, the authorities discovered that they had found a kidnap vehicle, made to order.
Who knows how hard they leaned on Scott's man, but eventually he sang. Of course, he didn't know much about Scott's setup, and nothing at all about it being part of a worldwide organization, but nonetheless, his tale got the Sheik's man arrested on major charges, some of which were still being figured out. Fortunately, a search of his home turned up nothing incriminating. He couldn't totally disown the man, since there was too much danger of them having been seen together at some time, but he, of course, proclaimed his innocence of any ridiculous scheme of kidnapping by gas.
After several hours of getting all the info that he could dredge up, I said, "Ok. We need to get gone before a random police check on you. We'll get back when we... He interrupted me and from his expression, the reason was serious.
He hesitated, then started, "I... I have some girls I need you to look after. They have food and water for probably only a couple more days..."
Hell and gone, somewhere in the Outback
The loaded truck had bounced along the dirt road for days, it seemed. God almighty, I used to think of West Texas as a major area of badlands, but this desolation made that area seem like somebody's neat little backyard rock garden. As we used to say, nothing but miles and miles of miles and miles. How the hell anyone used to find anything out here before the advent of GPS was beyond me. I had two of them in my lap, and I still barely knew where I was. Man, I would have to be one horny dude to drive out here for a piece of ass. Then I remembered that Scott was a private pilot, or whatever they called them down under. He had his own light plane. I wish we had brought Dunkelberry. We could have flown out here in a couple of hours.
Now I wasn't even on a bumpy road - just following the tire indentations of a trail. About thirty minutes later, a bump on the horizon signaled my destination - at least according to the device I was holding. Shortly, I pulled up to a strange building - a Quonset hut, probably left over from WWII and moved here from some defunct base. Inside was a nice getaway, but nothing spectacular. It was the almost empty storage shed I was interested in. Inside, following instructions, I moved a heavy bench sideways, looked for and found a round hole in the floor under it. Then I inserted a piece of threaded pipe from a bin into the hole and screwed it in. Using that for leverage, I pulled and the trapdoor lifted, showing a ladder leading down - way down. Almost thirty feet, it appeared.
At the bottom was a door. I slowly pushed it open. Wow! Inside was a hollowed out chamber in the solid rock - big, furnished, carpeted, luxurious. Two holes in the walls indicated other rooms. I had heard of... houses? ...living spaces like this around the Outback of Australia. They made wonderful places to get away from the ungodly heat up above. Not to mention secure and totally fire, bug, and weather proof.
The room had lights, but they were off and the dim illumination came from two small florescent bulbs on two walls. Since the only power came from the solar array above and at night from batteries, obviously the occupants had to practice fairly intense energy saving. One hole in the wall was dark, but the other was showing a dim glow, so that is where the girls had to be. I could hear a... TV? It had to be a DVD player or something.
I walked quietly through the opening - it was easy. The carpet was everywhere and thick. In the back of my mind, I wondered just how you got carpet laid in a secret underground house in the middle of nowhere. Another opening, and in a room with what looked like wrestling pads all over the floor, were three girls watching TV. They were sprawled out on the mats, chatting and facing away from me, so I just stood and looked for a while.
Nice. Really nice. But, of course, who would keep ugly girls in a harem?
Finally, one looked in my direction and gave out a shriek. The three then immediately backed up to the wall in fear, waiting for whatever was going to happen. I waved her hand to try to reassure them. "Settle down. Nothing is wrong. Your master is busy and he asked me to check on you. Who is in charge?"
No answer. Again, "Who is the number one girl?"
One of them raised her hand timidly, and said, "I am, sir." Interesting. Sir. Not Master. These girls' bondage was fairly light.
"Show me your food supplies." She jumped up and I followed her back into the main living room, for want of a better term, then into the unlit opening on the other side. She flipped a switch and I saw that it was a kitchen. How the hell did they cook anything? There was no way that those solar panels would run an electric stove - not even close. Then I saw that the stove was a gas appliance. Hmmmm. Where was the propane tank?
She pointed to the far back of the room - the pantry - and the supplies on the shelves. Well, that answered that. They still had plenty of food. "Water?" I asked. She pointed to a gauge on the wall. Down to less than a quarter. That would have been the problem. But, all in all, they were doing fine.
I said, "Get the other girls. I'm going to let down the supplies that I brought. Get them stored."
Up on top, I uncoiled a hose from the truck, connected it to the big tank in the back of the truck, and stuck the end down the hidden filler pipe - I was following the instructions that Scott had written out. As the water ran from the tank in the truck to wherever the underground storage was, I began to haul boxes of provisions into the shed. I would fill up a canvas sling and lower it down the shaft. The girls would quickly empty it, and I would repeat the process.
I wasn't about to try the return trip the same day. Before I got an hour down the road, it would be dark, and the Outback was a place where it was dead easy to get lost in broad daylight. If I took off in the dark, it was a good possibility that someone would find my bones years from now, GPS or no. Besides, the hours of travel that day took it out of me. I would spend the night in the underground luxury suite.
Meanwhile, back in the city, Katja was interviewing women.
By now, the three girls knew I wasn't an intruder, since I had arrived with supplies for them. It was fairly obvious, even without testimony from Scott, that I was here for him. I looked around the subterranean quarters. It was a marvel of green engineering. Scott must be an engineer, or at least had some training in that field. Water was the bottleneck, of course. Apparently the water table was far too deep to make a well practicable. So, the water usage was carefully planned and metered.
I took a shower under the tutelage of the girls. First was a short wetting, then a soaping, then another spray to get rinsed. Total water usage per person was probably a gallon or so. The used water went into a holding tank, and was used for flushing the toilet. The septic sump was really just a special aerobic septic tank, and eventually the liquid was pumped up to the surface. The toilet was just a squat hole over the tank, with a baffle, like on an airliner, to keep the smells down.
The solar array on top was run by some kind of special controller. It gave preference to charging the batteries to full after the night's usage. Once they were topped off, the power that wasn't being used by lights or other equipment was diverted to a... well, it was a dehumidifier actually, up top and sitting in the open air on top of the main hut. The water that it produced ran into the storage tank, augmenting the trucked in supplies. It was an excellent way to use any excess power, rather than just throwing it away.
The electrical usage was very small, and easily supplied by battery and array. Plus, the girls were very well trained in conservation - especially since they didn't want to spend their lives in the dark, waiting for the sun to come up and supply some juice.
By bedtime, I had changed from a sudden stranger to an agent of their owner, to something new and exotic in the sameness of their lives. I relaxed on the sleeping mat while they played around with various parts of me, and tried to decide who got to go first. While they debated, I spent the time squeezing and probing three new sets of tits and twats.
Back in Sydney
The squealing scumbag was still in jail. His bond was way out of reach for him and I had no idea of the bonding rules of this country. It didn't matter anyway.
I followed the instructions relayed to me from an unknown source - just another of the Sheik's many resources around the planet. I was in the skid row section of town, definitely. I knocked on a door and when it cracked open, I just said, "Dobber?" A goon looked at me, obviously deciding whether to let me in or just knife me right there. Finally, the door opened and I followed him down a long hall to a dingy room. He motioned for me to enter, followed me and closed the door - and stood leaning against it. At a desk was the man I wanted to see, I assumed. I had no idea if Dobber was his name or just a code word.
He motioned to a chair. "Siddown." He looked me over, then continued. "You a seppo, right, mate?"
I nodded and he continued, "What kind of lurk you got going down here?" I suddenly realized that I had a major problem. By now, I spoke a half dozen languages fairly well, but apparently one of them wasn't Australian.
We conversed for a while, as he probed to see just what I was, or was pretending to be. The fact that I was even here was proof that I had some horsepower somewhere, but like any person on the edge of civilization, you lived a lot longer if you checked yourself. I decided that he might be missing an actual education, but this wasn't just some dumb goon I was talking to.
Finally, I gave it a try. "There is a squealer in the Sydney jail that is causing problems for my... principal. Making up tales, lying, causing all sorts of problems." He just looked at me, sort of a might be interested expression on his face. "I need the situation handled, but..." I spread my hands, "...this isn't my country and I have no contacts to speak of."
"Hmmmm. This bloke with the mouth. You want him bailed up, or creamed."
"Does six feet under translate?"
He leaned back. "Who's the pommy bastid?" I told him. His eyes opened in surprise. "Oh. That bloke. He's still in the rags. Going to be a hard yakka to get to him right now, mate"
"Hard? Or impossible?" I asked. "And it needs to look like a jail dispute, not an order from outside."
"Nothing's impossible, but it's going to take a pile of lolly."
I hoped he was talking about money. "Name it."
Now it was serious time. He looked at me trying to see what the market would bear. Eventually, he said, "Fifty thousand should get it done."
It was my turn to get serious. "I don't give a damn about 'should get it done'. How much to see it through? And no mistakes. Period!"
I laid a single piece of paper and a yellow ribbon on his desk. "Here's an address of a car wash. Have someone pull into it tomorrow at 11 am. In a car with this ribbon tied to the antenna." He nodded. "A woman will give him a briefcase. And by the way, time is important." He nodded again.
I stood up and said, "Thank you for your service. Maybe we will do business again. Reliable... ah... contractors are a valuable asset." As he walked me to the door, I remarked. "By the way, tell your pickup man to treat the woman with respect, tomorrow. She could... what is your term? ...barny all three of our asses and not even muss up her makeup."
A day or so passes
We did do business again. I gave him a shopping list. It was legal stuff, sort of, but I didn't know where to buy it and didn't have time to learn.
Meanwhile, the cops had obviously trashed the scumbags home in their search, but there was still plenty to choose from. The cops were long gone, so breaking in and looking around was easy. I selected some appropriate personal items that would come in handy.
A few days later
Katja brought me a paper. Not headlined, but on the front page was the news that the kidnapper cabbie had apparently had a falling out while in an exercise yard of the jail. Some other inmate had expressed his displeasure by burying a shiv in him - all the way. It was nicely done - the deed wasn't even discovered until the men were called back indoors.
One problem solved, but we still had work to do.
The hardest part was getting into and out of the selected house without being seen. The place was going to be all over the news fairly quickly, and we didn't need nosy neighbors to talk about traffic in and out of the place. It was an ordinary frame house in an old rural neighborhood, not isolated, but the next closest house was over a hundred meters away. It had been vacant for years, I guess. Run down as it was, it was highly unlikely to be sold any time soon. My recently hired gofer found it. Dobber was a good asset to have in this part of the world. I would have to recommend him to the Sheik if he came through on this.
Just before leaving, I walked in and looked over the woman again. A totally naked woman. She was chained by her extremities to eyebolts in the floor - not stretched out, but all she could to was sit up and her legs wouldn't quite close. All around the mat that she was on were empty water bottles and empty food boxes - crackers, snack cakes, jerky and so forth. Beside the mat, also, was a five gallon plastic bucket that fortunately had a lid, since it stunk like an outhouse - which it was. She had been using it ever since we had hired her.
In certain strategic places in the house were the items that I had taken from the home of Scott's problem employee. The one worrisome weakness in my plan was that none of the items supplied by Dobber would have the perp's fingerprints on them. I tried to sort of alleviate that problem by leaving several sets of gloves around. I doubted the police would check for fingerprints, but if they did, maybe the gloves would suggest why they were lacking.
I stooped down beside the hooker - ex-hooker, if things turned out right. Once more I went over the scenario. She was being paid well - very well - but only if she successfully did her part. Stretched out like she was, my johnson was wondering why I was standing around talking, rather than pumping. But, it would have been stupid of me to pump my load into her for later police analysis. Finally, looking outside for observers in the night, I left the house and a chained woman who would obviously be dead of thirst in a few days.
A day later
This time the news really hit the headlines. Big time. An anonymous call from a hunter claimed that he had heard a woman screaming in a rural house. A follow up by the local cop produced major excitement for himself - it being the first real crime that he had discovered in his dull little town in years.
A woman had been found chained naked in an abandoned house in the boonies. To the police of Sydney she was a known hooker, but in this case, it wasn't a night's game. It was real kidnapping, torture and rape. The tabloids went nuts with the pictures of the mat and chains. And with all the sicko paraphernalia on the walls - gags, whips, ropes and so forth - stuff that Dobber had procured for me. The police were more interested in the description of the man and all of the personal items found in the house. And in her tale of taking a taxi and waking up chained to the floor.
A few days later, the attorneys for one Mr. Terrence Scott petitioned to the court to have the charges dropped, it now being obvious that he had been falsely accused by his part time employee in an attempt to spread the blame. The equivalent of the local District Attorney had no objections, and Scott walked out a free and exculpated man. I had to look that last word up, but it indicated that our results were good.
The ex-hooker, after milking the sympathy of the public for all it was worth, took a short vacation to Tahiti to rest up from the horrible experience. And to check out her new and very flush bank account.
Katja flew back to brief the Sheik, and I headed home. I had my own fish to fry.
End of Book 5
Copyright© 2012 by Morlock. All rights reserved.