Chapter 71: Target Sighted
I sank lower into the water, letting the cool splashes coat my fur as I purred in pleasure. The pond was truly my favorite part of my new home; although it was a mere shadow of the beaches and oceans I had become accustomed to, it was enough. The heat of the day disappeared as I moved under the waterfall, letting the water course over my neck.
When I settled in the calm spot behind the falls, I felt my neck move as little Renee stood up and shook herself off. Panthers were excellent swimmers, and my little cat loved being in the water with me. She was riding like a kit would, her paws around my neck with her tiny claws giving purchase. There was a splash nearby as Gary jumped into the water and started dog-paddling towards us. Even though he was only six months old, he had been shifting for a month now. This was new ground, as the full-blooded wolves didn’t shift for a few more years. The panther part of his parentage had pushed this up quite a bit, since panther kitts are able to shift from birth.
Gary pulled himself up onto a rock protrusion that left his head and shoulders above water. He yipped at his sister, who playfully batted at his head with her paw. Soon the rest of the children in our Pack were in the pool, finding the shadowed areas where the air was cooler. There was a mix of human and animal forms. There was a yell of “CANNONBALL!!” before Gunny jumped in the deep end, the splash nailing a bunch of kids who shrieked in delight and splashed him back. Craig jumped from on top of the falls, nailing Gunny and the kids again, and it turned into a splash war.
By Luna, I loved my life. Another few months and I’d go into heat again, and I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again. I giggled inside as I thought back to myself in high school, swearing off mating and being a “baby-making machine” when now? I was still pissed that I missed two years in lockup when I could have had another baby with my mate. Every time Craig asked me how many babies I wanted, my answer was the same. “More.”
I sank slowly below the water, forcing Renee to let go and swim over to her brother. Shifting underwater, I used powerful strokes to come up behind Craig and grab him from behind. I loved the feel of my nipples against his back; I couldn’t look at him without my cat and I getting all hot and bothered. Darryl and Mitch were taking turns being flipped into the water; they would stand in Craig’s hands and he would pull up and flip them backwards as they screamed. I moved next to him and we sent both flying on the count of three. Soon, a line had formed and we had to add Gunny and Mark to the mix.
I saw Shelly bringing drinks to the table by the pool, so I climbed out and joined her. Everyone was naked, the pool was private and there was no danger of passing boats seeing us. It was easier, too, since we could shift at will. Tom and Shelly had slowly gotten used to being around werewolves and cats, and nudity no longer bothered them. She smiled as she watched their adopted girls, Sharon, Sara and Sally, as they played in the water. When the war ended, they found a werewolf-friendly therapist who was helping them work through the loss of their family and Pack. They were doing much better, and there was hope that they would be ready and willing to become panthers in a few more years.
“The RV is gassed up and ready for your trip, Ella,” Tom said as he sat down and kissed his wife. When the Pack had to flee, the RV was put into storage; now that we were back in the States, they had driven it down so we could use it. Tom had completed some business back in North Dakota and was happy to be down south before winter hit.
“All right, we’ll eat and get going.” I called to Gunny, he was going with Al and I to pick up William Post at the airport and then we were going to drive straight through to Washington, DC. After all these months, it was time for us to go on the offensive.
Craig was staying behind with the Pack, as he wasn’t needed to do what needed to be done. We said our goodbyes and were gone with the sunset. William was happy to see us, he was now our lawyer and would play a key part in the day ahead. His mate, retired FBI agent and now Gila Pack Beta Melody, had decided to come along to help with security. Both were recently changed and recently mated, so we offered them the bedroom for the overnight shift. I drove until one in the morning, then we gassed up in Texas and Gunny took over. “Your turn, Rico.”
He glared at me as he climbed into the seat. “It’s Gunny, always has been and always will.”
I smirked, ever since I had sneaked a look at his driver’s license while he was getting gas I had been waiting for the right times to needle him. He thought Rico sounded weak, like some backup dancer on TV, not a rough-and-tumble Marine Sniper. “Whatever. I’m going to get some sleep on the couch, you wake up Al at four and let him drive a while.” I got settled as Al snored lightly in the recliner next to me. Just before he turned onto the freeway I had to do one more thing. In a nasally voice, I called to him. “Reee-ko! Reeko Suave-ey!”
“Shut up, Ella, or I’ll leave you on the side of the road.”
We pulled into the Alexandria, Virginia suburbs about eleven that night and parked in a church lot near our target’s house. Melody got set up with the communications equipment, her radios were tuned to local frequencies for the police and Secret Service, the attached scramblers ready to interpret the noise everyone else would hear. Gunny had to stay with her, since we could only link within the Pack. We grabbed our bags, and Al and I led the way to the walking path in the park behind the target’s house. William grabbed a seat at a table to wait and listen, he wouldn’t come in until we had disabled the alarm system.
Getting in to the “highly secure” home was a joke. Josh had hacked into the alarm company and found the back door into the system, a code left behind by the installers so they could remotely access it for service. Michelle entered the code on her laptop before we got to the back fence. The security fence was high and electrified, but that didn’t even slow us down. We shifted, taking our small bags in our teeth, and climbed up a large oak tree before jumping into the backyard. Pulling on clothes from the bags, we walked to the back by the kitchen. I took out lock picks, making quick work of the back door, and we silently entering the house. I headed up to the master bedroom while Al went out and opened the gate for William.
She didn’t even wake up as the two men joined me in the room. When I turned the light on and shook her shoulder, she opened her eyes slowly. Her eyes went wide as she recognized my face, and she screamed before I covered her mouth with my hand. “No need for that, Miss Giovanni, we’re here to talk to you and we don’t mean you harm. Is it all right if I call you Lisa? Or would you prefer White House Counsel?”
“Lisa’s fine,” she said nervously, looking around at the others. “Mister Post, what are you doing here?”
“It’s another mess for you to help us clean up, I’m afraid.” Her face dropped and paled, the last time they had talked it had caused her huge headaches; luckily, the information never leaked.
“Now what? Does it have to do with Ker here?” She looked at me, then back at him, fear still in her eyes.
“Yes, it does.” He reached into his briefcase and removed some papers, handing them to her she put on her reading glasses and glanced down at them. “What you have there are sworn statements by Ella Grey and Al Hogwood relating to their treatment by CIA and Government officials.”
I snorted. “Hogwood? No wonder you never told me your name. This trip is comedic GOLD.”
“Shut up, Ella, we’re on the job.”
“Ella was known to be human, yet was arrested and held for two years without charges or a court hearing. During this time, she was deprived of her civil rights and was the subject of medical experiments without her consent.” He turned to Al. “Al was a CIA Deputy Director, who ran an off-the-books group under the direct supervision of the CIA Director. During a field operation, his team was blown and he was attacked and nearly killed by a contract CIA hit team. He has been forced to remain in hiding for years, unable to clear his name.”
“I see. Is that when Black Ker here went rogue?” She flipped through the pages, then settled back to read.
“Yes,” Al replied, “But she isn’t Black Ker. She was brought in by me to complete a single mission while Ker was in her last month of pregnancy. Someone decided to take her out and make everyone believe she did it, but if you look at the dates, it’s not possible. She was in confinement during some of the known Ker activities, and she isn’t old enough to have done the first ones.” She nodded and read on.
“Lisa, would you like some coffee or tea?”
She looked at the clock, it was one in the morning. “Please, this looks like a long night.”
I returned ten minutes later, she had nearly finished her first read of the affidavits. “This is a good start, but I need an investigator on this and we need to tape your statements. Can I bring someone in?”
“As long as it is someone you trust with your life,” I said. She grabbed her phone and dialed a number, and a few minutes later she was talking to the Inspector of the Government Crimes unit. “She’ll be here in about twenty minutes, can you bring her up?”
“Gunny can do it.” I linked him to wait in the driveway as I walked downstairs to open the front door. Lisa took the time to use the bathroom and get dressed.
When he came back to the kitchen where we were waiting, he was pale and clearly shaken. The woman who entered before him was dressed professionally, about forty years old, with long blonde hair in a ponytail. She was broad shouldered and muscled, like a swimmer, with sparkling green eyes. Gunny couldn’t keep his eyes off her, and was fighting back a shift.
“What’s going on?”
I shook my head, it was a hell of a time to find her and she looked like she was too busy for the burly ex-Marine right now. “Ella Grey, Al, this is Rose Conspiell, FBI Senior Agent-In-Charge.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” I said followed by Al. She quickly got her bearings and Al set up the video camera while she read our statements. She and Lisa filled a few pages with questions, and we spent the next few hours laying out everything we knew about what had gone on.
The sun was rising as Rose finally shut off the video camera. Lisa looked at us and sat back, they were in trouble and they knew it. “So what do you want, William?”
“Eventually, we want their names cleared so they can travel and live freely again, of course. Before that can happen, we need to know who in the CIA burned them and why.”
“That can take a while,” Lisa said.
“We know. No action will be taken on our side during that effort. But,” he leaned forward, “WHEN you find out who did it, we want them brought to our territory, to face Pack justice.”
“You’ll kill them,” Lisa said.
“If they deserve it, yes. On the other hand, it will be quiet, out of the press, and won’t raise any questions. We’re really saving you a lot of headaches by doing this.”
“Anything else,” she asked.
“Twenty million dollars in restitution for the imprisonment and time spent avoiding extra-judicial assassinations. Cheap, really, compared to what would happen if this went to trial. Ella sitting there, young and surrounded by her five children, would have the jury ready to order much more.”
“I can’t promise to deliver the CIA men, not until we’ve identified them and have had a chance to interrogate them,” she said. “BUT, if what you say is proved out, I have no objection to Pack justice and I don’t think the President will either.”
“That’s good enough for now.” He stood and shook her hand as we all rose with him. We walked towards the back door, I nearly had to shove Gunny in front of me. The poor man had been staring at Rose all night like she was a steak, it was a wonder she hadn’t noticed. We walked through the gate and back towards the RV.
“I have to stay,” Gunny said. “She’s the one.”
I gave him a hug. “Way ahead of you. Melody already booked you a hotel near her house, and a rental car will be delivered tonight. Josh ran a complete background check on her and forwarded it to your phone. You’re relieved of all Pack duties until you can bring her home.” I gave him a quick hug. “Just don’t screw it up by scaring her off, she doesn’t need creepy stalker guy.”
“I’m a Marine Sniper, Ella.” He smiled. “She’ll never see me, and I always take my objective.”
“Just don’t end up walking to the parking lot naked this time,” I said as I laughed.