Chapter 057

Together Chapter 057

Copyright 2014 - 2015 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

 

Present – Jens, Liz and Bernie – the trip to the gynecologist

 

I made sure to keep myself busy today, so I wouldn't break down and cry again like I did later in the day front of Thom. I suppose I should let you know all I've done: First I worked with Gretchen and we did find a Trojan horse program in the computer system but we couldn't discover how it was installed. Cleaning it up was easy-peasy. First I made a backup copy of the virtual servers so I could analyze this Trojan horse later to see if I could determine who hacked my systems. Then I reloaded the virtual operating systems from the last known good copies and we were back in business.

 

I directed Gretchen, "Please set up a safe environment where we can load the infected virtual operating systems and examine the Trojan horse."

 

She told me she would, then I went out to the Hogan's alley to see if I could beat Inga's score. You already know about the results so I won't repeat myself.

 

I finish working with Thom on the Hogan's alley; he is doing much better but I'm still not sure he can beat Inga. I head into the tunnels, get cleaned up, head outside and walk over to the sleeping couple in the hammock. It's all I can do to keep from crying. This… This… This should be Ben and me - and it would be if I hadn't been so stupid! I can only hope to someday find Ben again and beg his forgiveness.

 

I gently rock the hammock and say, "Time for you two sleepyheads to wake up. We need to get to Denver for your appointment."

 

Liz yawns, stretches and replies, "Thanks Jens, it was so nice taking a nap out here. Do we have time for me to stop by the bathroom?"

 

I smile at Liz and answer, "Of course we do."

 

Bernie offers, "Jennifer, why don't I drive us in our new Jeep and you and Liz can catch up on things."

 

I thank him, "Bernie, that would be great, and while we're in Denver I would like to stop by my storage building and pick up my Jeep."

 

Bernie says, "No problem, I was surprised you didn't leave it here."

 

I explain, "When we're going to be gone for any length of time we always store the vehicles offsite. We learned our lesson when Ben's truck and the Cobra he gave me were destroyed during the first attack on the cabin. Now you two hurry up and I will meet you in the garage."

 

I walk into the garage but don't have to wait very long until they come back out of the tunnels.

 

Liz asks…

 

I notice the security team isn't standing guard anymore so I ask, "I guess you have the computers working again?"

 

Bernie opens the back door for me and I give him a big kiss for doing that as I climb in the back. Jens climbs in the other side and replies, "Yeah, Gretchen was right, the system had been compromised. I would sure like to know how it happened because we have a heck of a firewall to protect the system. I thought the only way we could be compromised was if someone had physical access to the systems. The craziest thing is all the video surveillance is also missing."

 

Bernie suggests…

 

I've been listening to Jennifer and Liz when Jennifer talks about someone having physical access to the computer system. I remember that we let Stacy into the tunnels. I pose the question, "Liz, you don't think that Stacy hacked the computer system when we let her into the tunnels to use the bathroom?"

 

Jennifer practically explodes, "You did what!!!"

 

Liz interrupts, "…Jens, don't go on the warpath. Stacy had been very helpful with letting me hire Samantha back and needed to use the bathroom. I didn't think there would be a problem if we let her use the bathroom in the tunnels. Besides, the way you have the computer room concealed, no one can find it."

 

Jennifer says, "Hold on a minute, let me call Gretchen."

 

Jennifer calls Gretchen and from the sound of things, the call isn't going well at all for Gretchen. She ends the call and explains, "Well, now we know who hacked our computer system. Gretchen told me she forgot to close the server room doors when she left for the wedding. Dang it to heck and back again! I leave for a week and things go in the crapper."

 

I try to smooth over the situation, "Well, if you can prove it was Stacy, can't you have her arrested?"

 

Jennifer thinks for a few moments then says, "No, I have a better idea - one that will teach that beotch a heck of a lesson."

 

Jennifer calls Gretchen again and I can't understand all the technobabble the two of them exchange.

 

Present – Bill – taking care of business

 

I make the call to Victor and he is grateful to have the chance to come and interview for the job. I make sure to tell him that the job wasn't guaranteed. Then I begin the lawyers working on the permits to remodel Samantha's castle and our new offices. Damn Ms. Summers was giving Samantha a hell of a deal, but that is one of the things I really like about working for her. She wasn't like other rich bitches I had worked for that were stingy as hell, in fact if anything she was too generous. I wasn't worried though since she had more money that she could possibly spend in three or four lifetimes.

 

While waiting for the permits to do the real remodeling work on the castle, I know I could get a crew in to clean the place without incurring the wrath of the zoning commission. Dealing with the zoning commission in Leadville was worse than getting wisdom teeth pulled. To them everything was historic so you didn't dare mess up anything without the proper permits.

 

I am looking over the 'sketches' that Ms. Stevens did and am still amazed. I pull out a ruler, began to measure things and determine the drawings were exactly to scale. This was going to make my job easier because we could bypass hiring an architect to make the drawings.

 

My phone rings and interrupts my thoughts, I answer it and hear, "Bill, this is John. We need you to come to the building immediately."

 

John was the foreman of the cleaning crew so I ask, "What's going on?"

 

He says, "It's better if you see this; make sure to bring your camera so you can document everything."

 

Shit what the hell is going on? I yell to my second in command, "I'm going to be up at the castle for a bit."

 

I grab my Nikon, hotfoot it up the hill, enter the castle, walk up to John and ask, "Okay, what do I need to document."

 

He answers, "Bill, one of the guys moved some loose floor boards and we discovered these underneath the floor. They look old so we didn't want to move them until we called you."

 

I walk over to the missing floorboards and see two Katanas and one Japanese bow. I confirm, "John, you did the right thing." I begin to take pictures of the bow and the Katana. Once I'm done I start to reach in the floor to retrieve one of the Katanas, then I remember the zoning commission and decide differently. Hell for all I know this could be some sort of historical Japanese bullshit.

 

I take out my phone and call the Sheriff. He answers and I say, "Sheriff, this is Bill, I have a cleaning crew working on the old castle building. They came across some items that I don't want to move until you have a chance to document what we found."

 

The sheriff says, "Okay, I should be there in about ten minutes."

 

I look at John and order, "Why don't you guys move to a different area and continue since I'm going to have the sheriff take control of these items."

 

John moves his crew into one of the turret rooms and I continue to visually examine the items. The Katanas look strangely familiar - I know I've seen pictures of them before but I can't remember where.

 

The sheriff shows up. Unlike my boss Ms. Summers, Sheriff Jim and I get along fine. He says, "Okay Bill, what the hell did you find?"

 

I take him over to the missing floorboards, point and say, "There's a couple of Katanas and some sort of hybrid Japanese bow."

 

The sheriff squats to get a better look and says, "Hell, I recognize one of the Katanas and the bow. They were the property of a couple of prisoners I had at the jail. The other Katana must belong to the sister who freed them."

 

I finally remember where I had seen them and ask, "Don't tell me you had one of the Sedankina twins locked up in your jail? If you did and lived to talk about it, I'm impressed. They are two of the most cold-hearted assassins I have ever studied."

 

Jim replies, "Yeah, I wasn't there when their sister showed up for the rescue. She beat the hell out of my deputy and let the other two out. Thanks for calling me on this. I’m going to take these back to the station and put them with their other gear."

 

I ask, "What other gear?"

 

Jim continues, "You remember the crime scene at the next building, the one at the top of the hill?"

 

I nod my affirmation and Sheriff Jim continues, "According to the CBI, it looks like a known human trafficking ring captured the whole lot of them. All that was left was their gear, about a hundred used condoms and ten empty bottles of lube."

 

I whistle and remark, "Damn, I didn't think those two could ever be taken."

 

Jim takes the two Katanas and the bow and says, "Well, the CBI has contacted the FBI and they are looking for not only the human trafficking ring, they are also looking for the Sedankina twins."

 

He looks around and asks, "I thought Stacy was moving her offices to the building at the top of the hill?"

 

I reply, "She is and we are working on that, but Samantha Stevens is going to renovate this building for her personal dwelling."

 

Jim cautions, "Don't forget to get the proper permits or the zoning commission will have me on your ass."

 

I laugh and say, "Yeah I remember what happened with the brewery. Don't worry, I've got the lawyers working on the permits for this building and the one on the top of the hill as we speak."

 

Jim begins to walk out, turns and says, "I sure like what Stacy is doing since she's come to Leadville." He grins and continues, "But don't tell her I said that."

 

I laugh and answer, "Your secret is safe with me."

 

He leaves, I pull out my phone, call Ms. Summers and explain the situation to her. It's a load off my mind that the Sedankina twins are out of the picture for right now…

 

Present – Samantha and Stacy – the flight to NYC

 

I am amazed as I watch Samantha! She pulls out a ruler, a normal pencil and a yellow legal pad and begins to work on her ideas for her castle. If Sam wasn't such a good reporter, I would say she missed her calling. She's working on the façade of the castle while I'm watching over her shoulder and ask, "What's that?" pointing to something on the drawing.

 

Sam smiles and says, "I know you told me that I couldn't have a moat around my castle, I was just dreaming of someday putting one in."

 

I look at the rendering and say, "Sam, I might have been wrong. Now that I see the way you've drawn it, I think it looks like a possibility."

 

Then Samantha proposes a crazy idea, "Do you think I could put alligators in the moat?"

 

I remind Samantha, "While that might work in the summer, alligators are reptiles and they would either die in the winter or sleep so I don't think it would do any good."

 

She laughs and agrees, "Yeah, I guess you're right. I just want to be safe when I'm in my castle."

 

I remind her, "Well that's what security teams are for."

 

My phone rings - it's a secure call from Bill. I go secure, answer it and hear, "Ms. Summers, it appears they have discovered the virus you planted in Jennifer's computers."

 

I ask, "Is there any way for them to trace it back to us?"

 

Bill makes me feel better when he says, "There is no way to trace it to us so don't worry. I just wanted you to know."

 

I end the call and the pilot announces, "Please fasten your seatbelts we are approaching the airport."

 

Present – Ben's back – the sheriff's office

 

What a fucking mess! I can't believe what's happened! Apparently Mira told Glen that she was carrying my baby (which is impossible because I never slept with her). Jens went ballistic, wouldn't believe me and ended the honeymoon – hell, for all I know she's already filed for an annulment. I'm back in Leadville with Destiny (in her wolf form) waiting in the sheriff's office for Jim to arrive. I need to find Mira and make her confess that we never had sex so her baby can't be mine.

 

Jim walks into the office, carrying two Katanas and a hybrid Japanese bow. He sees me and comments, "Damn, you're a sight for sore eyes! Is that a wolf that's with you, and what are you doing back here, shouldn't you be on your honeymoon?"

 

I frown at Jim, then give him a blow by blow of the whole situation. Jim looks at me and I can't believe it when he asks, "Ben, could it be your baby?"

 

Destiny releases a low growl at his stupid comment and I swear, "Jim, I can't believe that you of all people would dare to ask me that! I should kick your ass for even entertaining that thought. There's no fucking way that's my child because I never had sex with that fucking bitch! I'm sure she did this to mess up my marriage."

 

Jim eyes me and Destiny (who continues with the growls), takes a couple steps backward and says, "Sorry Ben for asking you. But since I've become a sheriff you wouldn't believe the things I've had to deal with."

 

I reply, "Apology accepted, just don't ever ask that again or I won't hold back. Where did you get those Katanas and that hybrid Japanese bow?"

 

Jim walks over to me, hands me one of the Katanas and asks, "Have you ever seen this Katana before."

 

I immediately recognize it and reply, "This is the dragon Katana that I gave Mira's sister Ira." Jim hands me the other one and I say, "And this is Mira's tiger Katana, where did you find them?"

 

Jim answers, "Ben I hate to tell you this, but if you're looking for Mira, you might not ever find her again…"

 

I interrupt, "…What in the fuck are you talking about?"

 

He explains how a known human trafficking ring has captured them and some other people that aren't identified. He finishes by saying, "Ben these are real bad-asses that might have already sold them into sexual slavery."

 

I pet Destiny on the head and say, "Don't worry, we will find them and when we do they are going to fucking die."

 

Jim wisely suggests, "Ben, before you go off half-cocked again and get yourself in trouble with the law, let me swear you in again as one of my deputies."

 

Before he starts I ask, "Is there some sort of procedure for making my wolf Destiny a police animal?"

 

Jim thinks for a moment and says, "Yeah, I can come up with something official looking. We do have some bullet proof dog vests in the back room, but I'm not sure they will fit her. Why don't you have a look?"

 

Destiny and I go back to the room Jim pointed out. I do find a vest that barely fits her, however she growls at me when I try to put it on her. I order, "Destiny calm down! I'm only doing this while we're in Leadville so one of the fucking rednecks up here can't shoot you."

 

She lets me put the vest on her and we head back into the office. Jim swears me in as a deputy, makes me sign some paperwork for me and for Destiny. He bids us goodbye with, "Good hunting to both of you."

 

I walk out the door, Destiny pulls me into the alley, changes into her human form and complains, "Ben, don't you ever do that to me again."

 

I apologize, "Sorry about that, but I wanted to make you look official. Please tell me you have some idea where this fucking human trafficking ring is located?"

 

Destiny gets a faraway look in her eyes and answers, "I'm not exactly sure, but I do know they left Leadville. So the most logical place for them to be is Denver."

 

We head to my truck, which I had already rescued from storage, jump in and begin the drive toward Denver…

 

Present – Thom, Jack, Inga, Masha and Jens – dinner time

 

I continue to work on the Hogan's alley and finally tie Inga's score, all without doing the fancy flipping that she did. I look at the time and realize it's close to dinner so I head back to the tunnels and stow my weapon in the weapons room - I will clean it after dinner.

 

I head to dinner and the mess hall is buzzing like a beehive with activity. I understand why when Mabel serves up a big portion of Yankee Pot Roast with all the trimmings. Hell, there's those little onions that practically melt in your mouth, carrots that are sweeter than any carrots I've ever eaten before and potatoes which she roasts in the oven first. She loads up my plate then I look around the mess hall and notice Jack and his family along with Inga. I saunter over to the table and ask, "Is this seat taken?"

 

Jack smiles and says, "It is now, park your rear."

 

I realize that he restrained his language because Ivan is here, sit down and dig in.

 

As soon as he breaks from shoveling in the food Jack taunts, "I can't wait until I get those two free bottles of Knob Creek bourbon tomorrow."

 

I look up from my plate of food and offer, "You wouldn't care to increase the wager would you? How about triple or nothing?"

 

Jack replies…

 

I knew that Thom had been working on the Hogan's alley most of the afternoon, but the old fart must have had some success if he was willing to increase the wager. I didn't dare back out of it, otherwise Thom would tease me forever so I up the wager, "Why stop at triple or nothing, how about quadruple or nothing?"

 

Inga interrupts…

 

Thom is uncommonly (for him) bold so I need to determine if this offer extends to me so I ask, "Thom does your bet also include me."

 

He looks at me, gives me a silly grin (now I know something is going on) and replies, "It sure does."

 

Masha holds up her fork and says, "I'm not sure I will have the time tomorrow to spend on this game, besides it was boring today."

 

Thom insults in reply, "So does that mean that Jack is going to forfeit the bet?"

 

Jack answers, "There's no way in hell that's going to happen. Masha, I will watch the children tomorrow while you kick Thom's rear."

 

Thom smiles and says, "Good it's all settled, so what time tomorrow?"

 

We agree on ten in the morning. Thom has finished his meal and then leaves the table. I look at Jack and ask, "What do you think is going on?"

 

Jack says, "My guess is the old fart figured out the Hogan's alley and he thinks he can beat you."

 

We're surprised when Jennifer walks up to the table and says, "I hope there's room for me in your little contest tomorrow."

 

I smile at her and reply, "Jennifer, it's your Hogan's alley so we would be honored if you would join us."

 

She smiles, looks at Jack and requests, "Jack, we're having a quick meeting in the conference room. Will you please join us?"

 

Jack says, "No problem I was finished anyway so give me ten minutes to brush my teeth."

 

Masha requests, "Jennifer if this is about Ben, I would love to attend."

 

Jennifer replies, "Masha it is about Ben and you are always welcome."

 

I ask, "Jennifer, I would also like to attend."

 

She looks at me and says, "No problem, the more the merrier."

 

We all begin to leave and prepare for the meeting…

 

Present – Jens, Jack, Masha and the cabin team – after dinner meeting

 

I call an after dinner meeting with the team because I am flummoxed, by a happenstance this afternoon.

 

I patiently wait, finally everyone shows up and I begin, "This afternoon, I was in Denver with Liz and Bernie. When I went to get my Jeep out of storage we found Ben's truck was missing. I checked the video feeds of the storage building and Ben was there and took his truck. So somehow Ben has arrived back in Denver and we weren't able to detect it. Any ideas on how he got back here?"

 

Jack says, "My guess is he bought a ticket using cash, he always carried a big wad of cash with him."

 

Masha concurs, "Yes that is the only logical assumption."

 

I ask Gretchen (who is already on my fecal roster because of the server room SNAFU), "Gretchen, is there any way to track Ben's truck."

 

Gretchen looks down and says, "Sorry Jennifer, his truck is too old and doesn't have that capability."

 

I pose a question, "Okay what are your best thoughts on where Ben is going?"

 

Everyone seems to have a conflicting thoughts, then I get an idea. I look at Inga and ask, "Inga can we pull the TSIFFTS in on this and have them watch for Ben's truck?"

 

Inga replies, "Certainly Jennifer, I will contact all the teams as soon as the meeting ends."

 

We throw around some other half-baked ideas but nothing really sticks. I close the meeting by saying, "I know I really messed things up so I really want to find Ben and make things right."

 

Everyone begins to leave the room, Inga comes up to me and I'm surprised with what she says…

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