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Smells of Montague and Capulet

“Do you think that the police don’t have someone in their arsenal who can figure out where that video came from?” Becca asked. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or how powerful. Technology is more advanced than you. And smarter.”

“Is it?” Zachary replied, looking at the phone in his hand. “I want you to think of all the ways cyberterrorists and white collar criminals are caught. IP addresses. This phone is anonymous. It has no record of this location. Paid for in cash.”

“Does it have GPS?”

“I disabled the GPS before we got here. There is a sheet behind you in the video, revealing nothing of your surroundings.”

“I could have used a code. A non-verbal signal.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No. What about fingerprints on the phone?”

“Seriously? Fingerprints? A simple wipe-down is the remedy for that.” Zachary took a white handkerchief from his coat pocket and placed the phone in it, wiping every nook and cranny of the device. Once he was satisfied, he wrapped it in the kerchief and placed it on the floor. “Mr. Baxter… a sledgehammer, please.” The man left the room and a few moments later, returned with the requested sledgehammer and gave it to Zachary, who proceeded to swing it high above his head and bring it down, striking the bundle on the floor. Plastic and metal cracked and splintered as he swung the hammer several more times. He bent down, folded the cloth back over the bits of phone where the repeated impacts had unfurled the package, scooped it up and handed it to Mr. Baxter.

Becca sighed, her shoulders sagging with defeat. Then, a thought hit her. “Are you using your real names? You said you were going to let me go after you gather your army. What’s to stop me from going to the cops and giving them your names and descriptions?”

“The mayor’s a friend of mine. The police aren’t going to touch us.”

“What about the SBI? The FBI?”

“They won’t believe you. And when they call the local police, they’ll find that there’s a warrant for your arrest.”

“For what?”

“Oh, I have a large and active imagination. I’ll come up with something very creative.”

“You’ve just thought of everything. Haven’t you?”

“I’ve never lost a chess match, Ms. Kasey. I don’t plan on starting now.”

“I hate chess.”

“Will you shut up already?” Baxter yelled, slapping Becca hard across the mouth.

Her face turned to the side, her blonde hair fell over her cheek, partially covering the red fingers she now wore on her skin. She was strong, though. Stoic like her father. Instead of tears, she turned to face Baxter and smiled, her lips and teeth painted with blood.

“Mr. Baxter, do you remember that sword I had you run through my gut because you doubted me?”

“Yes, sir. Would you like me to get it for you?”

“Heh. Your arrogance will be the death of you, I’m afraid.”

“Excuse me?”

“Would you like to know what it felt like? The sword in my belly, that is.”

“Not particularly.”

“Too bad,” Zachary said, the sword materializing in his hand just a split-second before he thrust it into Baxter’s abdomen. “It pinches a little. Doesn’t it? If there is such a thing as reincarnation, and I don’t think there is, but if there is, I hope you come back as a girl.” Zachary planted his right foot on Baxter’s thigh and pulled the sword out. “Costantino, dump him in the river.” Not even bothering to wipe the blood off, he dropped the blade on the floor. The clanking of metal on concrete echoed for a full thirty seconds after the sword was stilled.

“Was killing him really necessary?” Becca asked.

“I promised you wouldn’t be harmed. I apologize for him striking you. And I apologize for you having to be witness to his punishment.” Zachary removed another kerchief from his pocket and wiped the blood from Becca’s mouth. Jade brought her an icepack.

“Thanks,” Becca said as she put the ice on her cheek. “I never did like you. But I never thought you’d go dark side.”

“Yeah, well… politics.”

“Now, what the hell are we going to call ourselves?” Gidget blurted. “Unless we find someone else to take his place… The Pieces of Seven just makes no sense.”

“Miss Gidget, the name that you have chosen,” Di Corvo commented. “The Pieces of Eight, is just that--a name. It’s clever because we are in the coastal region where pirates once roamed. ‘Pieces of eight’ were bits of Spanish dollars pirates used to pay the ship’s crew. The initials also spell P.O.E., which is who brought us all together. If the rest of you survive longer than I think, then, we can talk about adding more members. But I wouldn’t worry about the name too much, Dear.”

Turning to Jade, who was standing by the door, Zachary said quietly, “I’m going to Greenville to meet with someone. I’ll trust you to manage things here.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Hopefully, I’ve given a good example of what will happen when my instructions aren’t followed.” Zachary turned back to the rest of the group. “Jade is in charge. I will be back soon.”

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