The Lady in Blue Ch. 17byWine_Maker©
Chapter Seventeen: The takedown.
Hawk's point of view
Jordan had just gone down when I heard a shot behind me and a slug exploded into the ground beside my head. I rolled madly to my left as more shots rang out. Arthur didn't seem smart enough to have fooled us, so the bad guys must have tailed him. Too bad they weren't as stupid as Arthur.
When the firing paused, I stopped rolling and fired once toward the corner of the house. It had no noticeable effect. So I waited, keeping an eye on both sides of the house in case the shooter tried to sneak around. Inside, I was worried about Ted and Lisa. Did they get away, was someone holding them at gunpoint now, or worse?
I gathered myself to charge the corner when I heard a shout on the other side of the house. "Police! Drop your weapon! Drop it! Do it! Now!" Then I heard a shot. It sounded like a different gun than the one that had been firing at me. Then there was the sound of someone running. I aimed and waited.
"I'm coming around the house. Don't shoot," the voice that had identified itself as police said. After Jordan, I wasn't sure I was buying.
"Slow and easy," I shouted back. "Keep that weapon pointed away."
When the man came around the house, I couldn't help myself. "Shit. Why did it have to be you, Digger?"
Sure enough, there he was, funky mustache, hat and all. His pistol was pointed straight up. "So, are you gonna shoot me or listen to what I've got to say?" Digger asked. "And you'd better hurry up and decide, because they have your friends."
I jumped up and ran over to him. "Let's go." When I rounded the house, I saw another crumpled form, a man, lying near the bushes. This was going to be tough to explain. In the distance, I could hear a siren wailing, getting closer.
Digger led the way to his car and jumped in. I slid into the passenger seat and we took off even while I was belting in. He consulted a handheld device and drove. "You okay, Hawk? Not shot are you?"
"Where did that hokey accent go? Why shouldn't I just pop you one right in the mouth?" I asked with some heat.
"Well, I kin a get 'er back iffin that's what you want," he said with a grin. "Or I can just cut the crap and fill you in. Your call."
"I bet you think you're clever, Asshole. Give me the details," I said with resignation.
"There's good news and bad news. The good news is that you've been cleared in my investigation. Not the shooting, but the real investigation."
"Real investigation? What real investigation? Do you think my investigation isn't real?" I managed through clenched teeth. "Let's not even discuss that someone's been trying to kill my friends and me, too. Or did you miss that part?"
"Now, now..." Digger started.
"Don't placate me, Dick Cheese! Why are you really here?" I demanded.
"Police have been suspected of 'losing' drug money in vice and homicide," he said, "both in Houston and Galveston. Not just from the cities, either, but from both counties as well. I suspected someone in the DA's office was involved in both places, too. When the shooting took place at the vineyard, I didn't know if you were part of it or not, so I had to keep you in the dark."
Digger swerved out onto the main street and upped the acceleration. He slapped a bubble light on the roof and we took off.
"Why the hokey accent and being an asshole?" I asked.
"The accent was to make everyone disregard me as in inbred defective that wasn't a threat. The asshole is natural," he added with a grin. "Ask anyone that works with the Rangers. I called in the shooting back there and told them officers were in pursuit of kidnapping suspects. I was watching when it all went to shit and came in as fast as I could."
"You were watching? Shit. Well, maybe that might help me some. Captain Jordan was one of them. He's dead back there," I added. "The Galveston DA is part of it, and some guy named Bill Tanner. Older white guy."
He nodded. "I'll run the name and see if any likely bolt holes pop out. I tagged the van with a tracer before I knew what they were going to do. Looks like they are fifteen miles or so up road."
"What the fuck is with that, anyway. You broke into my house and planted one on my bike," I said with a suspicious look.
"Look in the glove box."
I opened it and looked inside. Under the Twinkies there were several folded pieces of paper. I pulled them out and gave them the once-over. A warrant for my house and vehicles, and the same for Ted and Lisa. All signed by a judge out of Dallas. It included wire taps and vehicle traces.
"What the hell? What probable cause could you possibly have on us! This is bullshit!" I shouted, waving the warrants around.
He glanced over at me. "You really need to see someone about those anger management issues. Police corruption, prosecuting attorneys on the make, county funds disappearing in both Harris and Galveston Counties. You all made yourselves valid subjects for a warrant. You'd have done the same, so don't bullshit me. You do what you have to do to bring down the bad guys."
He picked up the microphone for his radio and called dispatch. "Dispatch, 2431. I need a records check on a Tanner Tom-Adam-Nora-Nora-Edward-Robert, first of Bill or William, license unknown, DOB unknown. I want connections to any separatist or militia outfits. Also, run plates on a van, gray, tag number Boy-24-John-3-Tom. I also need any addresses in this area."
"2431, standby," the woman on the other end said.
"Now," Digger commented as he sped onto the interstate, "that tracer on the van isn't quite legal, but we'll just keep that to ourselves, okay?"
"What's the plan, then? They have Ted and Lisa. They have more than a few members and are anxious to use violence. If you can't admit to tracing them, you can't call for backup."
"Easy as pie," he said. "We track them and scope the place out. If it's on the property list, we go from there. If not, I'll improvise. I'm real good at improvisation, Little Lady."
"Don't call me that or I'll pound you."
He grinned as he swerved around a semi. "After you sent me tracking the Hells Angels, I think you deserved a little payback. I thought they were going to chase me all the way back to Houston. That wasn't very nice."
"Fuck you," I said genially.
"Not with a stolen dick," he sneered conversationally.
The drive led us north of the metro area and toward a northern rural zone. While we drove, I filled him in on what we had learned. Dispatch called Digger back with a listing of properties connected to Tanner, William, associated with a splinter group of an organization called the Republic of Texas - a militia group seeking the independence of Texas from the United States. One of the properties was just ahead of us in the direction we were traveling.
Digger cut the siren and lights and went quiet. "They might spot us in the rear view mirror, so we go silent. I'd rather we take them before they get into their hole. They probably have weapons and all kinds of crap in there. If they beat us, we can wait for backup and smoke them out or go right in."
I felt a chill run down my spine. "If we let them hole up, they'll keep the hostages and likely kill them. If they make it in, we go in fast with backup on the way."
He nodded. "I'd do the same. You should reload. I have a spare piece under the seat and some shotguns in the trunk. I have a vest but only one. You take it."
I laughed at him. "I'd fit inside it like a supermodel in a barrel. Keep it." I took the spare piece and slid it into my belt. Then, I swapped out the partially used magazine for a fully loaded one.
We took an exit that led off into the boonies towards Tanner's property. There was no sign of the van, but that didn't mean squat with all the twists and turns the road was taking. Five miles or so, I thought. "Punch it. We need to be right on their ass when they get there. With any luck, we won't have any more - company. Let's not let them get a lever on us."
He nodded and kicked it. We flew around curves like an Indianapolis 500 driver. "The turn off to get to the place should be less than half a mile in front of us."
We popped over the last hill and saw the van make the turn onto a dirt road. "Do it! Run up their ass and I'll call for backup."
I grabbed his microphone and started calling in the location and details. I used his call number to keep the questions to a minimum. They told us to hold for backup and I just shook my head. Right. Like that was gonna happen.
When we slammed into the dirt road, I thought the axle was going to rip off. The trees and shrubs were seriously overgrown and a pall of dust obscured the uneven ground. That didn't seem to bother Digger. He just powered into it and bounced along the road.
The bright flash of brake lights in front of us gave a bit of warning just as Digger screeched to a halt and rolled out. Through the haze of dirt, I could see two men yank open the back doors of the van. One of them pulled Lisa out and started dragging her back towards a cinderblock building that reminded me of a fortress. No way he was going in there with her.
"Take the other one! I'm on Lisa," I shouted to Digger and ran across the road. The shouts and then gunshots behind me were his problem now. I had at least one hostile to take out and a friend to save.
When he was about ten feet from the door with the struggling Lisa, I shot the door. "Freeze! Let her go!"
The old man whirled around and slapped a large military-style knife to Lisa's throat. "Well, Lieutenant Hawkins, once more we meet with your friends between you and me. Put the weapon down or I slit her throat."
I didn't budge one inch, my pistol sight framing his face just beside Lisa's terrified eyes. I forced the fear in my gut back down. Lisa's terrified face ate at me. "Give it up, Tanner. We have you, and your associates, dead bang guilty. There are other police enroute here, and you won't get away. We know all about the money. Drop the knife and make it easier on yourself. Zed is already in custody," I lied.
Tanner smiled nastily. "Unlikely. You seem to be under the mistaken impression that you're in control here. One flip of my wrist and your little friend bleeds out. Drop the gun," he said, his eyes hard and just a little crazy.
"If you kill her, you die here and now. If I let you take her in there, she's as good as dead, too," I said firmly, trying to quell the sick rolling my stomach was doing. "You have two ways out if this. Giving up or in a body bag. Your choice."
"I don't recognize your authority," he sneered. "This is my state and I'm the duly elected President of the Republic of Texas. You are committing treason and the penalty for that is death. Put down that pistol and I'll commute that sentence to life in prison."
Yeah. A whack job.
"Is that your final answer?" I asked, sounding a bit like Regis.
"Do you think you can take me out without me killing this pretty young woman? Those are your options. Kill me and her, or let me go with her. Decide," he said.
"Okay. You win. I'm putting down my..." My weapon bucked in my hand as I fired. His throat exploded in red. He dropped like a puppet with his strings cut as Lisa screamed and ran to me, her face and body splattered with his blood. I held her and watched him blink, listening to the choking noises he made. His spine was blown out and he was dying without being able to move. Lisa clutched me, weeping in shock. I held her close and whispered in her ear that it was over. She was okay. My own eyes misted. I had been sick with worry that she would be hurt or killed. I felt almost like throwing up with all the worry that had been bottled up inside me. I felt so much relief that they were both safe that it made me feel weak.
I turned when I heard a noise behind us and saw Digger looking on. "The other bad guy is down. I've called for an ambulance for Stansbury, just as a precaution. He's awake and asking for Lisa."
"It's over, Lisa," I said quietly, holding her close. I let Digger take the crying Lisa into his arms and approached Tanner. I kicked the knife away from his nerveless fingers more out of habit than concern. His eyes glazed over and death took Calvin's murderer. I looked at the house and could see the door was locked with a padlock on the outside. No one inside.
"Let's go back to Ted and wait for the medics," I said. "This one's done." We walked back to van, leaving Tanner in a pool of his own blood. Lisa sat there, stroking Ted's face, crying until the EMTs arrived just after our backup. Digger recovered his tracker and I looked the other way. He had come through, and I wasn't going to quibble. Lisa went with Ted to the hospital, hovering over him. I went with a sheriff after my statement was taken and joined them for a little while before they took me off for questioning.
The next five days were long and a bit confusing. The records inside the camp house served up quite a number of people in various governmental posts and police agencies. There was also a large cache of weapons that the government frowned on people, outside of the military, having in their possession. That didn't even begin to cover the grilling they gave me. Even with a witness, shooting a cop, your own former boss no less, can really get the police all spun up. They had me in interrogation for twelve plus hours a day, chewing on me. It was a painful change to be grilled instead of grilling. In the end, they accepted what Digger and I had told them.
When the dust settled, some of the birds flew the coop, but most of them were taken down without incident. Lisa's boss, Zed, was one of the latter. I hear he looked mighty shocked when Murphy took him into custody. Good.
Ted was admitted to the hospital for observation and released the next day. Lisa and I stayed with him overnight. The doctors assured us that he would be fine and just needed some rest. He had a nice bump on his head. Lisa and I talked into the night about everything under the sun. Ted was one lucky son-of-a-bitch.
The next morning, I went in to see Vice Chief Kruger at his request. I wondered why I was meeting him in homicide rather than in his office. I knew I'd be able to tell what was going to happen by the way the detective's bull pen reacted to me as the uniform escorted me through and into Jordan's old office. When they looked away from me and pretended I wasn't even there, it chilled me to the bone. It couldn't be good.
Kruger was in the chair behind the desk and motioned me in when the officer knocked on the door. "Come in, Hawk. You can go, officer. Thank you. Close the door behind you."
I stepped in nervously. From the blank look in his eyes, I was in a lot of trouble. He motioned to the chair and I sat down stiffly.
"I've been going over the complaints filed by everyone from some guy in a bar outside of town to the Texas City Police Department. The guy in the bar complained about your ladylike manners and Texas City is mighty pissed at you for leaving dead bodies all over the place. We won't even talk about the folks at Seawolf Park." He closed a folder and laid his hand on top of it.
He let me stew for a few moments. "I can't believe you let things get so out of hand, Hawk," he finally said with a shake of his head.
My mouth was a dry as cotton. "I... I accept full responsibility for it, Chief. It was a goat fuck and I blew it."
"I called in a boat load of favors to smooth the waters over this," he said after another long stare. "A lot of favors. I'm going to expect better from you in the future or I'll fire you myself."
My heart leapt into my throat. Did he just say....
Kruger opened the desk drawer and pulled out my shield and weapon and slid them across the desk, smiling. "Your department rep went to the mat for you with the review board. They overturned your firing based on so many reasons that I couldn't begin to go into. I want a full report of all this crap on my desk by eighteen hundred hours, Lieutenant Hawkins, and then you are on paid leave for a minimum of three weeks while the investigation wraps up. Get out of town. I'll call you when you can come back."
"Yes, sir! Your desk?" I asked with a bit of confusion. "Shouldn't that be to Jordan's replacement?"
"The mayor has decided that I will do him more good back in charge of homicide." Then he fixed me with a glare. "If you ever let things get so out of whack and don't tell me, I'll kick your lesbian ass all the way uptown. Do you hear me, Hawk?"
"Get out of my sight!" he growled with a smile.
I didn't ask twice. The detectives in the bull pen hooted and hollered when I came back out and I was mobbed by detectives all they way back to my desk. I think I was in shock, really.
Between everyone stopping in to wish me well, I managed to get it all written up and shot a copy off to Kruger. Then beat feet and got out of there. Part of me wanted to stay, but I knew Kruger wasn't kidding about the vacation. I'd go out to the vineyard and see what they were going to do in the interim.
Ted and Lisa were sitting outside on the porch, sipping on some tea when I arrived.
"Hawk!" Lisa cried as she ran out to hug me. "We just heard you got your job back! I'm so happy for you!"
I held her and smiled. "Yeah. I'm still all jelly inside thinking about it. How's Studly doing and what about your job?"
She grinned at me. "Grouchy and I'm still employed. I figure that I'm going to give him a few days to recover and then drag him off to get some relaxation away from all the media." She frowned a little. "And get away from the process servers that damned bastard Price is trying to sic on us. He's suing us!"
I gave Ted a kiss and sat down at the table. "Screw him. You'll hand him his ass. I'll have to come up with something to do, too. Kruger told me to take two weeks off before I could come back in. Maybe I'll go down to Mexico."
She looked at Ted and quirked an eyebrow. "We're making a trip to Las Vegas in three days. Can we invite her, Ted?"
He smiled. "Sure. I think it'd be fun."
"Are you sure? You two should have some time alone," I said, torn.
"We don't have to hang out all the time. Let's take a week and go see Vegas," Ted said.
I nodded my head and smiled. That sounded like just what I needed. A vacation away from all the stress of Houston to get to know my two new friends as closely as they'd let me.
"Let's do it."
With those three words, my life was about to change forever.