A Life Not My Own Ch. 04byFinalStand©
(Thanks to Shawhollow for editing my blather and Talenwolf for story creation - he doesn't get enough credit for all the stories we have worked on together)
*Doing evil for a good reason is still evil -- so don't let it be all you do*
(Late that night)
"We have a problem," Winnie touched me. I opened my eyes and started looking around. Aya Yen was about a fifteen inches away from the foot of the bed. She wasn't moving and I figured out why as I saw her eyes flit to either side of me. Jen was up, breasts bare, pointing an MP-5 with a sound suppressor at Aya. Winnie was reclining with a small pistol that was most likely a .38 or 9mm with a silencer.
I sat up and Winifred followed suit. My hand went up, requesting silence, before I pivoted to Winnie, tapped my ear then made a circling motion to indicate a sound search of the perimeter. Winnie nodded once then slipped out of bed, heading off to get our 'sonic gun' and looked with IR goggles to see if our host had set up another listening post.
Aya stood still as Winifred did her rounds.
"We are clear," Winnie informed us when she was done. I soon heard the padding of two sets of feet coming my way --Echo and Lydia. Aya seemed a bit perplexed.
"I would like to talk with you alone," she finally requested.
"Oh hell no," Echo announced, "That is not happening."
"I guess I came for no reason then," Aya nodded and turned to leave.
"Wait, do you want to know if I know who she was or how I found out in case others try to pick up the same trail?" I countered. Again, she was conflicted.
"Never mind," she growled.
"Ladies, I need a few moments with my client," I requested of my ladies who allowed me this madness grudgingly.
"Isn't this the moment you tell me that there are numerous copies of what you have done to ferret out my weakness and in case of...blah, blah, blah," Ms. Yen mocked me
"Nope," I stared at her, "the only knowledge trail I haven't annihilated is in my brain and it's not going anywhere willingly."
"If you are tortured?" Aya met my gaze.
"I'll wail like a baby," I responded instantly.
"I have no illusions I would hang out for long. I'd spill my guts after they ripped off the first fingernail because no one will be coming to rescue me and they might just shoot me once they have what they came for."
"You are annoyingly honest," she informed me.
"You aren't paying me to sugar-coat my results," I laid it out for her.
"How did you find her?" Aya came to the side of the bed, sat down and moved until our faces were only inches apart.
"Your dating is 30% below normal in Kuala Lumpur," I began. "I tracked your personal movement into a one block radius once I saw that pattern.
I checked out all the buildings in that area but you had shielded the money trail so I tracked down all consumer complaints to the building manager for the past three years and located all the apartments that didn't have any -- only one," I told her calmly.
"You didn't want people to discover who she was so you used specific contractors who kept to a limited schedule.
I went to Interpol and searched their records for someone at that address and with work hours that matched food deliveries. They weren't work hours; they were a school schedule," I was concluding. "She is the daughter of your patron inside the Triads. She is personally close to you or you would be hiding her away inside a wall of security like a Triad member -- you are hiding her activities from the man who is your patron. The most probable supposition is that the relationship is of two secret lovers."
"So you can kill me whenever you want," she numbly muttered.
"You don't matter but she deserves better than being murdered because she's an embarrassment to some other fuck-nut I don't know or care about," I related.
"Why are you telling me that you know about her then?" Aya strained to understand.
"One, I had no idea what my investigation would dig up when I started out and two, you don't get to inquire into my motivations," I responded.
"Whatever else happens, if something happens to -- her," Aya locked in my gaze. "I will have enough left to make you pay."
"You work on a daily basis with drug smugglers, slavers, murderers, thugs and thieves and you are worried about me?" I chuckled. "Get over yourself. I'm a glorified bean counter; taking you down doesn't do me any good; I don't hate you that much and I don't want your job. My main focus is to survive long enough to develop my exit strategy."
"Do we have to be enemies?" she gives off a subtle sexual undertone.
"I don't much like myself and I haven't broken any laws yet but the moment some person overdoses from some drugs I've helped sneak in, or someone dies in a container ship crossing the Pacific, I'll hopefully still hate myself for that. You have already passed that point and since you are sitting in my room capable of smiling, you are a threat."
She stood up and looked at me with deep suspicion.
"What are you doing here if you think that little of us?" Ms. Yen demanded.
"I repeat; you don't get to ask that question," I replied dryly.
"We aren't getting off to a good start," she noted.
"I am hardly heartbroken by that news and I'm growing tired of our conversation," I explained. "If you want to talk again; how about we try something in the daylight with advance warning?"
"I'll take that under advisement, Mr. Umstead," she frowned before turning away and heading off to the balcony next to the bed I had started the night in.
Jen intercepted Aya but no words were exchanged; she merely waited for Aya to slip out of sight before joining everyone else. The other three women closed in on me.
"You have to stop tossing yourself out there," Echo chastised me. "People like Ms. Yen have no real empathy; she would gut you and laugh about it over your corpse."
"Right until we ventilated her," Lydia pointed out.
"What did you two talk about?" Winnie inquired.
"Not something I would feel safe telling any of you," I replied, "and trust me when I say that; I don't know what you will put into your report and until I know I can trust any of you, I'm going to keep some things compartmentalized."
There was a pregnant pause until Jen showed up and then,
"That's not how things work, Dominic," Winifred said authoritatively.
"Oh," Jen sighed, "He's holding the conversation for his use alone?"
"Yes," Winnie answered. "I was trying to get him to..."
"What are you going to do; tell his boss, his Mother or beat him up?" Echo gave Winnie a steady stare-down. "He volunteered to help the rest of us out and he will leave when he wants."
"So Ms. Portsmouth," Lydia remarked, "how are you going to make him give up what happened?"
"I thought you were going to be cooperative," Winnie refocused on me.
"I am doing more than that Winnie," I met her look. "I barely know you but you've come through in a very competent manner. I don't know who you report to so until I trust them, I only relay information that is key to your immediate survival or something I think will help you at work. This has ceased to be a matter of discussion -- it is how it is. What your bosses don't know they can't fuck us with."
"I could go on about security clearances but I now imagine this is what they meant by you being 'eccentric' and 'paranoid about security'," Winnie nodded. "Your sexual escapades on the plane followed by stunt at the airport should have prepared me for this."
"This is why I'm not using his name when things get kicked upstairs," Jensen added. "He's a total prick but we have an unprecedented opportunity to put hundreds, if not thousands of bad guys away."
"Now you are making it sound like we work for him -- on his team, despite all of us having years of experience over him," Winnie pointed out.
"Wrong," Echo sounded decisive, "any criminal organization requires manpower, money and resources. Current law enforcement efforts have centered on manpower and that isn't working."
"With our little pal here," Lydia put an arm around my waist, "we have the opportunity to take a bite out of all three. We'll take away the money all these criminals make, we'll expose the suppliers and give us access to the key players in the networks."
"And all this was brought about by Dominic being a bit of a dick when he met Michael Harrow," Echo added.
"The moment Harrow came back at Dominic for round two, I realized that we were inside his ego and this was personal to that son of a bitch. I thought this crazy plan deserved a chance." she continued. "It is key to our plan that Dominic thinks the way he does and acts the way he's learned to over the years dealing with people who have consistently underestimated his genius."
"I'm not a genius," I corrected her. "I have an eidetic memory and am familiar with the principles of mathematics. I'd point that Winifred has impressive language skills, all of you far exceed my martial abilities plus all of you have vastly superior skills in criminology and criminal psychology. I would never attempt this without you, believe me."
"All this 'around the campfire' stuff is touching, we need an effective night's sleep if we are going to be up to playing our best game tomorrow -- Everyone to bed," Jen insisted. No one protested and we were soon back to our late night sleeping arrangements. As for my part, all I had to do was figure out why Michael wanted me here and to keep one step ahead.
Our morning was interesting to say the least. I was convinced that running with even a sidearm would be cumbersome and throw off our pace. The girls were convinced that I could do better running inside an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier). We compromised. Jen carried a goodie bag with several 'non-lethal' grenades, an MP-5, two spare 9mm and plenty of ammo -- in case the Zombie Apocalypse started in the next hour.
They would alternate who carried the bag over each leg of the trek. Everyone also carried one sidearm, usually in a shoulder holster. Even I carried a piece -- a nine millimeter -- so that they would have a spare pistol if needed. At least the guards didn't seem all that put off; they were Christians, not Islamic fundamentalist.
As we ran down the beach toward the farthest guard point we saw several dozen families coming down to the beach from the resort.
"I count six," Winnie panted over to Jen. She meant criminals wanted by Interpol. I wasn't even working hard at playing this game.
"I only count four," Lydia wheezed alongside me.
I saw five," Echo was breathing heavily but kept running steadily.
"I saw eight," Jen made her final assessment as we approached the hacienda that contained our quarters. "That similar-looking couple are the children of La Tortuga. A little over a year ago, their old man got into a fight over Bolivia with Harrow. La Tortuga ended up dead -- slain by some deranged hooker and the son and daughter ended up working for Harrow."
"Any guesses on your part," Lydia prodded me. I shook my head.
"I was looking at their wedding bands; they are all the same and I'm willing to bet the inscriptions on the inside have some dark meaning to the wearer. Also, only two women had them who were unaccompanied; the La Tortuga's daughter and a woman none of you seemed to have noticed -- the one with the blue bikini," I noted.
"The heavily tanned one -- Spanish or Italian decent," Echo recalled, "With that conservative electric blue bikini, but she didn't set off my threat radar."
"She's probably so good she hasn't shown up on Interpol's lists yet," Winnie concluded. We climbed up to our apartment, stripped out of our sweaty clothes and waited for our rotation in the shower.
First it was Lydia and Jensen, then Echo and Winnie and lastly me. I insisted that I could take a shower with either group but they argued that I was sexually irresistible and thus had to be kept on a tight leash. Man, I expected some kind of security to monitor me during this so-called vacation but I didn't expect it to be no fun at all.
As I was rinsing off, Echo escorted a member of the staff into the bathroom; there were no doors inside the apartment which continued to annoy the crap out of me.
"Senor Umstead, you presence is required for breakfast at the central surf-side cabana at 9 o'clock sharp," the flunky for the regime announced to me.
By the rules of etiquette that Winifred had provided, I mimicked the proper response carefully. That seemed to satisfy him. Since the ladies had gone over the place with a fine-toothed comb, we were relatively bug-free for a while.
"Well, does anyone have an idea where this is going?" I inquired. "Besides the basics of making them more and more readably accessible finances," I added. "That is my opening supposition."
"Isn't this too soon for a face to face with the major players," Echo worried.
"Maybe not," Lydia countered, "Harrow wants to corrupt Dominic, get him addicted to the rush of easy money and then destroy him."
"Right now Harrow has nothing to offer these alternate powers he's dealing with," Winnie postulated to everyone, "so he must have discovered something new in the past few weeks that makes them think that he has a way around their problems."
"Product in -- money out," I muttered.
"So, can you mask the movement of monies as well as you can ferret them out," Jensen questioned me.
"Sure but it would require three dozen major banks and thousands of accounts at those banks. Remember that no system is foolproof but a hydra based model could be created," I concluded.
"What do you do about the terrorist organizations?" Lydia worried.
"Don't worry, I've got an angle," I smiled at her and was met with a cacophony of groans.
Echo rustled my wet hair,
"So you have no clue?" she chided. I didn't have to confirm her guess; they all know the truth.
(The first meeting)
We went to the central cabana a few minutes before nine and we were the only ones there.
We were approached by a man I imagined was the head of Harrow's security force at this estate. "Mr. Harrow wishes you to come down the sea's edge and talk with him and his associates," I rose and motioned Winnie to come along.
"Only you," the man insisted. I guess he expected some sort of resistance because he let out a sigh of relief when I picked up my lemonade-mango drink and let him lead me away. Winnie followed at a discrete distance.
There were ten men and one woman, Dee Harrow, present sitting in a semi-circle with each end touched by the soft, gentle surf. I was apparently the last one to arrive and the conversation died as I took my seat at the closest end chair. I had no shoes on since they might slow my flight for life if it came to that. Some jack-ass made a comment in a language I couldn't understand.
I casually put on my headphones and put my smart phone on the chairs arm.
"We don't record these meetings," Michael sneered.
"Oh, I'm not needed then," I rose. "Call me when you require my services because I find people talking some sort of chicken-shit Third World babble to be very rude."
Everyone went quiet proving to me that everyone was choosing to be a dick. Muhammad Omar, who seemed to be here with the real terrorist mastermind, stood up and put his hand on some sort of fashionable curved knife. He said something in a condescending tone but again I didn't speak the language. Several of the members, Harrow included, chuckled.
I shrugged and pulled out my earphones before dialing up some tunes.
"Aren't you curious about what he said?" Harrow chided.
"The opinion of any man who is more comfortable mutilating defenseless little girls whose sole crime is to want an education is useless to me," I stated. "He knows I'd kick his ass if he wasn't under the Sultan's protection. He exhibits this by not talking to me in a language he knows I speak."
Omar headed my way in a cold fury, clearly looking forward to stabbing my sitting form. I waited because the Sultan hadn't spoken. That bastard was polite enough to not use a language I knew either -- fucker. Fortunately, I had predicted that might be the case. I let his arm come down, twisted in my seat and let him thump into the same beach chair.
The chair gave way but I was hardly inconvenienced. He tried to slash from his side down position; I locked up his arm and bent back the wrist cruelly enough to make Muhammad Omar cry out. The knife tumbled to the cushion and I forced him to him to a kneeling position with the added benefit of his eyes watering. People had been shouting encouragements fell silent when I picked up the ornate curved blade.
"That is his honor," Harrow sounded amused.
"Good to know," I nodded. I kicked him onto his back as I let go of his arm. Omar was furious, but also freaking afraid of me now. I didn't want his fear. I hurled his knife out into the bay.
"Go fetch, Bitch," I showed my contempt for him.
I could feel the man's rage at the tipping point.
"Harrow, I'm getting my girl because otherwise I'm going to have to school everyone here and that's going to make for a very unproductive meeting," I stated evenly.
"Get her," Harrow allowed. I waited until Omar had moved a few feet away before making my own half turn and waving Winnie over.
There was no chair for Winnie so she had to take up a kneeling position beside me.
"How many languages do you speak?" I whispered to Winnie out the side of my mouth.
"As in 'I can get by in a city' or 'I can recite the dictionary of'?" she responded with deathly quiet.
"That'll do Pig. That'll do," I told Winnie. She was going to bruise me for that but at least I'd hinting that her name was 'Babe'. Yes, that was going to be my defense. Winnie gently put her head on my thigh and reached around, pinching my ass while pulling off the mystique of looking demur and worshipful.
"We have been examining the different parts of our pipelines to the United States and Europe coming under attack, disrupting money flow and leaving product isolated and vulnerable at certain junctures. I have the solution," Harrow grinned. "Let me present Dominic Umstead. Dominic, you are going to create a pipeline governmental agencies can't bring down."
"How much does he know?" the guy who seemed to be the Aya's boss asked in a language I didn't know but Winifred pulled off flawless and obsequiously.
"He doesn't know a damn thing about what we do," Harrow grinned maliciously. He was daring me to fail. I had to think fast but I had already done the shipping schemes inside my head.
"What do you know about children's television programing?" I led off. They all looked at me like I'd lost my mind except Harrow, who seemed to have developed absolute faith in my abilities as a fortuneteller. A few of them made quiet comments which boiled down to 'who is this idiot' in five languages.
"You need a few things for a successful children's television series -- a moderately interesting show -- in this case three prime characters resisting the hordes of Genghis Kahn are going to be a female Chinese Doctor, a brave male veteran Uzbek warrior and a male Arabian thief. These three will have a large global appeal," I began to lay out my hare-brained scheme.
"You will create this show in China, build the action figures in Malaysia and do the dubbing work in the United States, France, the Czech Republic and Hungary," I kept going. "We also will train professional teams of actors with a support staff to go to Anime/Cartoon/Comic conventions all over the globe to support that series."
"You need someone with a clean record to control the production companies but the rest is golden. You get to move people all over the globe for a totally legitimate service. You move your product around inside, or in containers underneath, the toys created to support the show," I explained. "Oh yeah, you will make money in the legitimate side of this business."