Voyage of the Colonel Darvish

Lunch Bell
schoolday with Diego

The bell rung. Diego remembered a time when the “bell” was an electrical
powered chime, piped over a public address system, now it CLANGED outside, a
salvaged church bell. 11:00 Some of the young children all rose, “Class, Class
SIT DOWN!” Diego ordered the students, “I have not dismissed you.” The
children did as they were told returning to their desks. It was Friday and they
were anxious for the weekend.

“Alright Class Dismissed,” Diego said after making them sweat for a few minutes.
The children exploded into laughter and yelling as they swarmed from the
classroom that was instantly quiet save the ‘tick, tick, tick’ of a small wind
up clock on Diego’s desk.

Diego returned to his room, grabbing some bread and dry fish. He moved out onto
the tarmac of the old airport, the sky overcast and a bit of a chill in the air.
He moved to the shore of the Bay, and sat to eat.

Before he’d realized it the old bell gonged twelve times for noon. He hurried
off to prepare for the teenagers who would be in the early afternoon class. .

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What's the Hells's a Fecund?
Maze sees Maggie

The girl behind what used to be the bar area did not look up at Maze. The other
dungaree suited girl excused herself and exited the room through a far doorway.
Maze’s eyes flicked about the room. He’d been her before and it was always
creepy. Dr Margaret Suzuki’s “girls” were all former orphans, although
“orphans” was a loose interpretation of the word. Girls were “sourced” by
Maggie herself, refugee camps, post battle clean ups, hospitals…any place
where a female child may be left unattended.

Her main source of children were the many brothels that had become a mainstay of
San Francisco. Often prostitutes and destitute parents were more than willing
to give a child away to an organization that would look after them. Although
not widely known, except by those higher up in the organisation like Maze,
Maggie took in many more children then were actively working for her. Some
girls were cast back into the workforce of prostitution, but many more simply
disappeared.

Maggie was valuable to the institution and missing orphan girls were a very low
priority. No one ever asked or bothered Maggie about how she got things done,
results were king or “queen” in this case. Maggie produced accurate
navigational charts and had a small army of girls and young women who were
collectively known as “Maggie’s Chart Chicks” Of course this was outside of
Margaret’s earshot.

Doctor Margaret Suzuki was a stern and stoic woman who walked on a prewar
prosthesis where her left leg used to be. The prosthesis was always visible,
almost flaunted, as her bib overalls or pants were always rolled up to expose
it. Girls services were asked for by archaic words as to the type of service
you needed. If you did not know or could not pronounce the girls titles, you
would more than likely not procure their services. Maze’s uncle had schooled
him well on how to deal with Margaret

Yong girls were taken in and trained in various areas of service to Maragaret’s
community. The older taught the younger and it was told that all knowledge was
handed down by Margaret. She checked regularity that teachings were correct,
often punishing the teacher as well as the student for poor knowledge. The
first several years were mostly navigation and cartography. All of Maggies
Chart Chicks were just that, very good at cartography.

All girls were called ENATE at first, from the Latin born of and relating to the
mother. When an older girl was sent on a job, most times an enate would
accompany, like an apprentice, this was how the title was used. Depending on
what you needed from Maggie one of the two higher titles would be used. An
enate is a STUDENT or WORKER

Later as their teaching progressed, girls were chosen to specialize in areas
such as mechanics, navigation, boat handling even as guards. Maze was looking
for a cartographer, some one who specialized at drawing charts, which they all
did, but someone who had been chosen to continue studies in it.

The next level was called a THELYTOK (Thi-lee-ought-uck) again from Latin
Thelytokos Thely(female) tokos (birth). This was the biological process of
females producing clones of themselves though unfertilized eggs, such as ants
bees and wasps to make duplicate queens. In biology the duplicates, weren’t
true clones, but females born of females without male involvement, so they just
contained the genetic information of their mother. A thelytok would be a young
woman who was highly taught and skilled in a field. She would be capable of
carrying out a job to a high level of completion. Most jobs were overseen by a
Thelytok and several enates. A Thelytok is a BOSS or SERGEANT a fore(wo)man,
capable of getting jobs done.

Highest on the list an rare were the FECUND, also from Latin relating to a
females ability to produce innovative and original ideas. These were PROBLEM
SOLVERS. The few women who ascended to this title Margaret treated as equals.
A Fecund could come and go freely unlike the other classes. A Fecund could even
chose to leave the organisation, something that Maggie seemed to encourage,
although few left.

A bell jingled and two dungaree suited young women entered the room through the
door that the previous had exited. Both were armed with Mendoza HM-3 sub
machine guns, a common weapon of Mexican police before the war, as Mexico
descended into chaos it was built in great numbers due to its ease of
manufacture. Somehow Dr Suzuki had acquired quite a supply of them including
the “Bulldog” model a compact version made for bodyguards.

A few seconds later a business suited female followed and walked toward Maze.
Maze stood slightly at attention, knowing Dr Suzuki’s protocols. “Greetings”
she said, “I am Thelytok Diara, I understand you wish to see Dr Suzuki. I will
be acting as her liaison. Of what do you require of the doctor?”

Maze told her of the Sea Horse striking an underwater hazard that was not on the
charts. Diara replied “this will not do, no not at all, ring for Doctor Suzuki.”
One of the armed women retreated through the door. "Diara asked Maze a few more
questions about how, where, when the Sea Horse was holed. After a few minutes
of conversation, Dr Suzuki appeared.

Dr Margaret Suzuki limped from behind the guard who led her into the room. Her prothesis was clearly visible and produced a limping gait. “You are Masahiro McConnell correct?” she spoke and Maze slightly bowed and said, “yes mam” “The girls tell me you have managed to crash into something not on the charts.” Margaret continued and Maze replied, " yes we have worry that other boats may encounter it, and we’d like to get it on the charts and buoy it as well."

“Was it you who piloted the boat?” Margaret asks and Maze answers “No it was a….” Magaret interrupts “Would like to talk to the pilot, but no matter. We’ll want to get this updated on the charts. I will expect payment as usual.” Maze just let her talk. Once Margaret got her mind to do something you just let her go. She’d get the job done, maybe in a round about way, but once she got onto something there wasn’t any way to deviate her off her course.

“We are doing this today, at what berth and boat shall I have the team?” Maze instructed her where the Sea Horse was berthed. “Fine, we can be there within an hour, I’ll have a team of 5 there, I have 3 divers that will be taken with you.” Maze thought about holding his tongue then said, " I have already requested another dive team." Margaret starred and said “that is of no consequence to me, take my divers and yours, or pay yours to go away. MY DIVERS GO WITH YOU.”

Maze bowed politely and said “as you wish” knowing that Margaret was not to be trifled with. He would figure out what to do with the Rock Twins later, or maybe a team of 5 divers would be overkill, but, well whatever he’d figure it out later.

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Looking under Rocks
Charlie tries to recruit divers

Charlie headed away from Maze’s place, down to the edge of Japanese territory.
Much like pre war gangs, territory was marked with graffiti. Some of it was
obvious red circle with numerous radiating lines of the rising sun was pretty
obvious, but these were replaced by the red wavy line over a blue wavy line of
the Korean area got Charlie on his toes.

The Koreans and Japanese still hated each other, racism that even a nuclear war
couldn’t staunch. But they were on better terms than the Chinese were with
either. Most Japanese and Koreans had been products of westernized culture,
either in South Korea or Japan or born in those communities in America. The
Chinese had come from a different political system before the war, even someone
fleeing that life, carried some of it with them.

Even after the bombs, whites, blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
organized into their own communities, Even though there were several it was
still a white man’s world mostly due to the fact that most Military officers
were white and they were the one running the show now.

Over the course of time some of this broke down as humans banded together to
survive, but it also reared its head as groups of like skinned, like minded,
like religioned preyed on groups who were unlike them.

Charlie knew were the Rock twins lived and was able to move to their bungalow
near the Bay. The house was incredibly secure with a post war build of salvaged
cinder block and brick encasing the entire first floor, no way in or out, no
windows. Charlie knew the Rock Twins didn’t build this. They had said they
found it unoccupied this way, but the rumor was they removed the previous owner.

The second floor had an expansive deck that overlooked the bay and wrapped
around to the front of the house. Access was by rope ladder lowered by someone
inside or by a hand cranked cargo crane, it’s basket currently suspended 20 feet
off the ground, lowered like the rope ladder by someone inside.

Charlie pulled on a rope that was tossed over the side rail, known by everyone
as the “doorbell” it was connected to a bell inside and took a bit of effort to
pull, GONG, went the noise inside. “Rock Twins you home? Got job for you.”
Charlie yelled up hoping the call of work would bring them forth.

View
Cut the Blue Wire
Levi disarms traps

Jose sat in the front room, his HK across his lap. He was on watch while Levi
worked to try and get through to whatever was behind the basement door. He had
been here about an hour, watching as several people passed, a few carts, a half
dozen bicycles, not a one looked his way. “Hey,” came Levi’s voice behind him,
“anything going on up here?” Jose answered that outside of seeing a couple
stray dogs humping in the neighbors yard it had been pretty dull.

“Hey I need a hand.” Levi said as he motioned Jose to follow him to the stairs.
The two descended through the hole and the stairs. Levi pointed out the
pressure plate, "don’t step on that. I need a boost up, so I can pull the
detonator out of the claymores. but we CAN’T waiver and fall on the pressure
plate.

Jose readied himself, he set his HK against the wall and straddled the plate.
His one foot braced against the wall by the door frame his other the lowest
stair. Interlacing his fingers he readied for Levi to step a foot into his
hands. “Ready?” Levi asked Jose saw a crazy looking multi-tool in Levis hand as
he said “as I’ll ever be”

Levi stepped and Jose boosted, snip, snip, click, click. “All done, remember
the plate” Jose strained as Levi stepped down. Jose felt a surge of adrenaline
as his brain briefly had the idea of them going down atop the pressure plate,
but it was just a bad thought, not real danger.

Levi held two detonators connected together by a wire. He had cut the two
weights and placed them on the shelf beside the claymores. They could retrieve
the claymores later. “Kick ass,” Levi said.

Now that the Claymores atop the door are safe, Levi turns his attention to the
door. Hinges are inside. Only a simple pull handle out here and a solid
looking inset key lock, probably a dead bolt.

Levi’s observation leads him to believe that the pressure plate may just lead to
an alarm. Levi did a meticulous inspection of the door and wall, no hidden chambers, no camouflaged firing ports. There is no direct danger at his immediate front. A shotgun or
explosion would have to blast through the door, rendering the security of the
“bunker” worthless by breaching them.

Furthermore, someone who thought about setting up the claymore + C4 explosion in
the stairwell, would know that debris would probably fall on the pressure plate.
If it is connected to another explosive device that would blast through the
door, it would more than likely just be blasting debris or those killed by the
claymores and C4. In addition to wrecking what may be the last line of defense,
this metal door.

All the while Jose has been watching Levi work. “Pick it.” he suddenly says. “I do know a bit about this. Locks are designed to prevent the untrained from getting in, but a trained individual will have little problems getting in. As this is a potential home and this is a secure door, if it can be opened through less damaging ways, it means that there is a secure are to store stuff.”

Levi had just begun to think about using some of the C4 to get it open, “Yea my way
would have left a mess.” Jose told Levi he had to get back over to his side of
the bay and his wife. “Cool with me,” Levi replied “I have a few errends to
run, but I can keep an eye on this property for you. You back for the weekend?”
Jose said yes he would try to get a locksmith over here on Saturday or Sunday and
would let Levi know when they came.

Jose will head home and Levi will watch over the house, although not
neccessarily in it

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The Roost
Maggie's place

Maze had sent Charlie off to recruit a couple divers called the Rock Twins,
while he set off to round up a mapmaker from Dr. Margaret ‘Maggie’ Suzuki.
Margaret’s “shop” was down near the fleet docks and she was usually there
pouring over charts and maps, compiling this and that, correcting, always
correcting.

Maze was quick about getting his day together, K-Bar, Beretta, baton, everything
in place and was shortly at the map maker’s. There was a guard stationed out
front, always, plenty of people who’d love to get their hands on some of the
items inside, or Maggie herself. Maze recognized the guard, a newbie 18 years
old if by a day. This area was far enough into Japanese territory that it would
take some real balls to get this far. Kids with shotguns, no matter how green,
were usually enough to keep honest people honest.

The guard straightened his back up as he saw Maze approach. Maze stopped in
front and looked the boy up and down. His military style gear was in decent
shape, Mossberg shotgun held at the ready. “Weapon!” Maze barked extending his
hands. The guard complied handing the shotgun over to Maze. Maze checked the
safety, on…good, then racked the slide back expelling a shell into his hand.
Most guards were to be locked and loaded at all times. Maze checked the inside
of the action, clean, lightly oiled…good. He squeezed the sides of the
plastic shot shell, making sure it was a good load, it was sound.

Maze racked a new shell into the chamber and flipped the weapon over sliding the
expelled shell back into the tube. He made sure the safety was still on and
handed the weapon back to the boy. “good work soldier” Maze was easier on the
newbies than most, it was seasoned soldiers who got sloppy that worked him up.
Newbies could continue to be trained, but veterans tended to “forget” and needed
much more prodding to “remember” how to do things correct.

Maze took a step past the boy toward the door and the boy’s voice croaked
“business sir?” This was actually exactly what Maze wanted to hear and he spun
to face the boy. “Sinharo,” Maze used the boys name “You know who I am
correct?” “yes sir,” Shinharo answered" but I must ask everyone their business
here before allowing them inside." Maze smiled “that is exactly what I wished
to hear, you will make a fine soldier.” he told the boy. “Thank you sir, but
business please.” Sinharo was following protocol correctly.

Maze let the boy know what he was there for and the boy replied that he would
ring for an escort. Sinharo turned and pulled on a rope near the door, the
tinkling of bells was heard inside the building. Shortly the noise of a locking
bar scraped behind the door and it opened. A young woman appeared, dressed in
rugged dungarees and looking anything but ladylike she also asked Maze his
business, after he replied she led him into a large front waiting room.

The building used to be some kind of recreation club. There was a large front
room and a reception desk, probably used for posh parties before the war.
Behind the desk sat another yongish woman, also in rugged clothing, but with an
pistol slung at her hip. There were tables and chairs about and Maze took a
seat and waited for his audience with Maggie…..

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Diego's bell rings
morning class

A nightmare had awakened him, but the memory of it quickly faded. Diego swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood, hearing his joints crack from yesterday’s hike. He groaned and shook his head to clear it and arose to start lesson plans and breakfast. Diego hurried through ideas of what he would tach the youngest of his students early, pronunciation, sentence structure……

More crusty bread a handful of almonds, some smoked fish and out the door to his classroom. Diego taught in the same classroom mostly, “his” classroom. He had plenty of time until the 8-12 year olds arrived. Diego sketched a few lessons on the blackboard and went through a few books.

MISTER DIEGO!” the first student a bubbly 9 year old named Quawn burst through the door, Quawn was almost always first to class, smart and far ahead of his age, he had learned Diego’s first name and as the other kids usually called him Mr. Acosta, no amount of correction by Diego had gotten Quawn to call him anything but Mister Diego.

The rest of the children filed in, about 30 on any day, some from miles away, walked by an older sibling who would be in a later/older class. Diego droned on through pronunciation lessons. Years of the same thing, trying to get youngsters to pronounce things correctly, lunch couldn’t come soon enough

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A truck rolls by....
Levi and Jose in the morning

Levi awoke as Jose shook him awake. Dawnlight streamed in through the windows as Levi took up a position overlooking the street. He strained his eyes a couple times looking for the remains of the cigartte tossed by last nights visitors, but could not see the butt from up here. Jose stoked an early fire and made up some more of his “coffee:”

With a warm cup of coffee and as decent a night’s sleep as one could expect, Levi moved back into the basement stairs as Jose took up a position in the front room watching the street. As sunlight began to warm the night’s chill away Jose saw a bit of traffic pass by. A few bicycles and some foot traffic. Most paid no head to the house in the middle of the block, passing by on their way to wherever.

Jose heard an engine nearby, the sound growing louder then roaring by, moving quickly. It was a large pickup wiht a cap on the back. The whole of it painted olive green. Jose saw it for just a second as he ducked back into shadow as it passed. There were two military dressed men in the cab, probably a reaction team headed somewhere, there would be more men in the bed. He then moved near to the window, listening as the engine droned out of earshot. It had not stopped. He moved outside and looked down the street, the truck was gone but he heard the ‘BRAAAAP’ of a far off machine gun, then a muffled explosion, several klicks away. There was no other indication, but he surmised that was where the truck was headed.

Levi in the stairwell was oblivious. A thin rubber mat was laid atop what he surmised was a pressure plate. He remoived his M11 bayonet, an explosive ordinance issued bayonet with a few extra tools for a demo expert The M11 was designed specifically for issue to Military EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Technicians. The M11 bayonet was just a modified M9 – having a straight crossguard with lashing holes and a solid, hammer style pommel. He wore a special tool pouch available that is custom fit to the scabbard. The tool pouch held the essential working tools of the EOD Tech – including a special EOD Multi-tool. It used to hold a small tactical flashlight, but batteries being scarce, this had been discarded long ago.

Levi gently ran the tip of the M11 around the rubber mat. It was not secured or anchored down. The weight of it seemed not heavy enough to pop a reverse pressure plate, that is if the rug were removed it would trigger. It appeared that it was just in fact a camoflage cover for the pressure plate.

Levi folded back one corner exposing the plate. It was a diamond plate piece of metal, set into a frame in the floor. “perfect” levi said aloud as he noticed that there was about a half inch between the plate and the frame. Big enough to get a look inside there, big enough to wedge something under there.

Levi spent several minutes slowly examining the plate. It was he surmised pressure only, he cautiously removed the rug…..no explosion, that was good. Looked pretty easy and he had a good plan. If they stick the head of a crowbar in the crack between the frame and plate, they can hold the thing up. Then try to get through the door or disarm the claymore above the door….

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Maggie and the Chart Chicks
Maze goes to get a cartographer

Maze awoke before dawn, swung his feet off his bed and arose to make breakfast. “Same old same old,” he thought as he started a fire as he went through his usual routine of breakfast and calisthenics. Charlie came the same time every day, just as Maze had the food ready. Maze had tried to vary the time of putting the food out, and somehow Charlie was always there just as the food was set to be dished out.

A knock at the door as Maze was bringing bowls of fish and rice to the table, he set them down and let Charlie in. “Charlie, I’m gonna send you to look after the catch as it gets to market. Stay low there’s nothing I really need you to do, if there is trouble don’t get involved let me know about it I’ll handle it later. Be my EYES Charlie nothing more.” Charlie answered, “You going to look for whatever snagged the Sea Horse yesterday?”

Maze had a plan all worked out, the Sea Horse would head back to the area with the Chart-maker and 2 divers on board as well as Maze. They’d take a buoy and some good nylon rope. The divers would hopefully be able to secure it to whatever caused the damage, while the chart maker added it to the charts. In addition he could see if the captain had strayed into dangerous waters.

“Yea. I’m going to grab one of Maggie’s ‘chart chicks’ and head out to see what’s what. Any of the girls in particular need of a day out on the water?”

Dr. Margaret Suzuki—“Maggie” to her colleagues; “The Chart Queen” to just about everyone else—was responsible for maintaining the Organization’s charts and maps. Like many of her ilk, the passion for maps and map-making that manifested at an early age bloomed into a life-long obsession with all things cartography. Though the LIDAR, side-scan sonar, and all other sorts of high tech gadgetry of her pre-war “day job” were a distant memory, she had a couple of lifetime’s worth of knowledge in her head that, unlike most of either her left leg, survived the war more or less intact.

Originally a cartographer with NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, Maggie was one of the countless civilian technicians who found themselves hastily attached to the military to help plug holes in their capabilities. Like most survivors, Maggie didn’t talk much about the events that took her leg off above the knee. Maze knew she had been surveying new war-related hazards along the US Pacific coast when the ship was blown out from under her, but she never indicated if it was accident, combat, sabotage, or just plain bad fucking luck. All were equally likely candidates in those days.

A long-time San Francisco resident, Maggie eventually came to the attention of Uncle, who brought her in early on during the Organization’s early efforts to organize the fishing fleet. Maze recalled the fondness in his Uncle’s voice whenever he related the plain-spoken woman’s grouchy observations on fleet captains’ shiphandling abilities—usually followed quickly by assessments of their general suitability for remaining in the genepool. With Uncle’s blessing, Maggie quickly established a small “department” by taking in young women and training them in fundamentals of cartography and illustration. Known universally among the fleet as “The Queen’s Chart Chicks,” they handled a lot of the grunt work on tasks such as the one Maze was planning for the day. Maggie or one of her most trusted adepts would confirm the data, update the master charts, and oversee the junior personnel who then updated the dozens of sets of charts for the captains.

It was an effective if notoriously inefficient system for handling the activity. Maze always suspected Uncle was more sentimental than pragmatic when it came to Maggie’s staff, but he learned early that vocalizing that thought within Uncle’s earshot would only earn him a cuff on the back of the head and a guaranteed week of shitbird duty. Fortunately, they’d become far too well established for Yesuda to even think of trying to rein in Maggie or her cartography cabal.

“And,” Maze continued as he waited for his morning tea to cool, “the Horse’s captain didn’t get a good feel for whatever it is out there, so I’m also going to need a couple of guys in case it’s big enough to need a bobber. You know if the Rock Twins are free today?”

At this, Charlie puffed out his cheeks and sat back to think about the various Organization and freelance divers likely to be mooching around the docks in hopes of a day’s pay or just something new to do. Maze was asking specifically after a pair of Korean divers who earned their spot on the Organization’s payroll thanks to coming to his attention a few years earlier. Kun Lee had been a repair diver in one of the big ports in South Korea; his compatriot Park had been an underwater EOD tech for the ROK navy. During the long trek from their shattered Korea to the US, the two refugees had become an inseparable pair. Maze had nicknamed them the Rock Twins because one, Lee, was “the size of a mountain,” while the other, Park, was “deaf as a stone.” They were both excellent divers, though, and among Maze’s most favored in the Organization’s stable of specialists.

Legend also had it that they were allegedly the last guys who managed to kick Maze’s ass in a bar-fight, which was how they came to his attention in the first place. It annoyed Charlie no end that this was one of the few pieces of local intelligence he’d never been able to track down and confirm in any conclusive way. Any time Charlie poked around the subject, Maze would just adopt his inscruitable “Buddha smile.” This was, admittedly, better than the Koreans, who would just stare at him as if he had just sprouted three extra heads.

Maze scratched his chin and contemplated skipping the shaving mirror this AM yet again. As the hint of a scowl formed on Charlie’s face, Maze knew what he was thinking about. “What, little brother? Don’t tell me you STILL haven’t found out how I met the Rock Twins? I find that hard to believe…” he said with a laugh.

Charlie’s scowl deepened for a second and then passed. “Yea, that might be true Boss, but I DID finally get the whole story of your adventures with that soju girl that earned you the lifetime ban from the Seoul Club. I thought only sailors knew how to tie knots like that!”

Maze immediately cursed the gaijin blood coursing in his veins as felt the heat rise in his cheeks at the impertinent whelp’s mention of that particular night and that particularly “boisterous” young woman. Even after 4 years and a whole lot of bowing, scraping, repainting, and outright paying, that Korean club owner still gave him the stink eye every time their path’s crossed.

He tried to nail the boy’s hide to the chair using with his best “dead eyed sergeant” stare but just couldn’t hope to overcome Charlie’s irrepressible good-humor. “Bastard,” he finally conceeded with a laugh. “She told me that beam could take the weight. I couldn’t have expected the WHOLE roof to just come down like that. But that’s enough nostalgia. Round up a deserving Chart Chick and find me a solid pair of divers and have ’em meet me at the Sea Horse. Also, keep an ear to the ground about the mate on the Laughing Eel for me?”

“That the guy who tried to get himself killed by gambing the fleet charts away? He getting out of line again?” Charlie asked with a frown.

“No, no. He’s been in the hole long enough. I’ve heard good things, so I’m thinking of offering him a boat of his own again. We got a couple of captains getting a bit long in the tooth to go out every day and I don’t want any boats down at all if we can avoid it.” When it came to talking about Organization politics, Maze wouldn’t think of voicing voice his concerns about Tim’s management abilities. He also knew Charlie would pick up on the subtext of the request anyway.

“Last I heard he’s plenty happy to let someone else do all the worrying, but I’ll poke around. Catch up tonight?”

“Yea. Grab a couple of bottles of sake from the office stash and drop ‘em in the water to chill before heading home. We’ll polish ’em off with dinner, eh?”

With that, Charlie popped up and bounded out the door. Maze returned to his bedroom to strap on the rest of his “Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children” working gear. With all that had happened since Tim popped up on the scene and a long day on the water in front of him, he doubted this was going to turn out to be a “suit” kind of day.

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Diego Sleeps

The bike ride home was uneventful. There was still a mist in the air and they
encountered little traffic. Once at the edge of the college Sam stopped the
bike allowing Diego to dismount. “See you tomorrow in class” Sam said as he
peddled off and disappeared into the night. Diego walked back into the school
compound. The same Pancho Villa looking guard was near the front door. He
nodded as Diego approached and no words were exchanged.

Back in his bedroom, Diego lit a small fire in his stove boiled some rice and
proceeded to whip up a mug of Champurrado. Slowly melting a local chocolate
given to him by a student’s mother he blended in some spices sugar, goat milk
and flour to thicken it. As it simmered he whipped it with a molinillo a
special pestle whisk combination especially for this drink.

Thick crusty bread, rice and a thick warm mug of Champurrado, he was asleep in
no time.

Dreams came of the radio towers, set not on a small peak but on a precipice, and
hundreds of feet high. Struggling to climb and whipped by wind Diego saw
Delores high above him on the towers. For some reason he had to get there
first, had to catch her and beat her to the top. Ice formed and he slipped,
wind slashed his face with sleet, yet he was catching her, nearing, just a few
feet now. Delores turned toward him her face that of a demon, she cackled and
threw her head back in a laugh as blue lightning lit the sky, in her hand a
flintlock pistol that sparked and flashed a second before Diego felt the ball
strike his chest knocking him from the tower, he was falling, falling,
falling…….

Diego awoke as light crept its way into his room.

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Three Little Pigs, huffing and puffing
three men on porch

Jose moves quietly out of the master bedroom to the top of the stairs and points
his HK 33 down the stairs. He hadn’t had to fire it in quiet awhile, but had
passed more than enough shells though it over the years to be extremely
comfortable with it. He’d probably killed many a man back in the food riot
days, but it was all a blur now, nothing but hazy memories of vague human
shapes, falling, twisting…..

It was easier when you were on a firing line with many guns firing at the same
targets, it was easier to handle. Only a few times did Jose remember faces,
when he’d accidentally let his mental guard down, focusing on the target for a
split second, blond hair, an earring, a blue bandana. Everyone deals with it in
his own way. Jose had worked to blur the edges with his eyes, just enough that
they stopped being people, just shapes.

He crouched at the top of the stairs, able to see enough of the front room to be
able to hit any target that would work its way inside. The front door was
secured shut, and they had placed debris in the windows, that would give him
ample time to aim, and fire.

Both Levi and Jose remain quiet as the flickering of what is probably cigarettes
provides a clue to where the 3 men stand on the porch, although neither Jose or
Levi can see them. Mumbled voices drift to their ears and an occasional laugh.
Tobacco? maybe something else? smells drifted to both men, definitely smoking
something out there.

Levi crouched in one of the upper windows watched for several minutes before he
saw the glowing ember of a cigarette tossed to the wet front yard. Then a
figure emerged, pulling his poncho hood over his head, followed by the other
two. The men walked back toward the street. Abruptly one spun around and
looked up at Levi’s position……

Levi knew to fight the instinct to move. Movement was easier to see in the
dark, he was reasonably sure the man would not be able to see him, he was
presenting just enough of his eyes in the lower corner of the window to see out,
Levi held his breath……

The figure turned back around and trotted to catch up to the other two, the
three men disappeared into the mist and rain…..

A few minutes and Levi turned and moved to the hallway whispering loudly “clear”
Jose answered him “clear” Within a few more minutes both men were at the front
window, it may take a bit for sleep to figure out how to wrest the adrenaline
out of their bodies.

It was close to Jose’s watch time anyway, Levi settled back against the wall
where Jose had been dozing, M16 across his lap. It was about 1am

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