Night of Syn

syn - scarecrow

From the 1964 television show “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow.”

“The character Hellspite only appeared in a 1963 television series based on the Russell Thorndike Doctor Syn novels. As you know, Thorndike created the fictional Christopher Syn and his alter ego, The Scarecrow in a book series he authored between 1915 and 1944, which was subsequently adapted for a 1937 movie and the aforementioned TV show.”

“Thank you Danae, but we already know this. How does it pertain to Fleming’s current location and where he is holding Sienna Thomas?”

Geoffrey Colins and Mikiko Jahn had arrived late last night and were currently running on determination and caffeine. This early morning meeting, jet lag, and the time change on top of lack of sleep had rendered Colins surly.

“Quite, but I need to relate the background so that my report will make more sense.”

This was essentially Danae Parker’s meeting since she’d done most of the research and believed she had located the most likely whereabouts of the assassin known as Hellspite. This time, the team Mikiko had worked with just a few days ago here in London were meeting in rooms within an abandoned power station, which was ironic since they had to bring in a portable generator to power the electronics including a projector, wireless internet modem, and the heaters which were preventing them from freezing.

“Very well, Danae. Continue.”

Danae thought she was making progress in crafting a more civil relationship with Colins, but he seemed to be showing her his usual impatience and lack of civility.

“Very well. Thorndike’s stories were loosely based on actual events involving a band of 18th century smugglers and robbers known as the Hawkhurst gang. They operated throughout Southwest England from 1735 through 1749 when they were disbanded due both to capture and execution. As you may recall, we had previously discovered that both Richard Singleton’s and Amanda Thomas’s or rather Clarke’s families had been associated together with various criminal dealings for the past half century. I did a bit more digging and thanks to additional data provided by our American counterparts, I found that history to go back quite a bit further.”

“Wait. Are you saying…?”

“Both Singleton and Clarke can trace their ancestry in a direct line more than two-hundred and fifty years ago to Hawkhurst members, specifically Thomas Kingsmill in Singleton’s case and Jeremiah Curtis in Clarke’s. It should be noted that all of the gang were eventually killed, either in ambush or by hanging after capture except for Curtis who escaped to France. As near as I can tell, and it’s not easy since the history is well concealed, the descendants of the original Hawkhurst gang continued a criminal association that has been unbroken since the late 18th century which eventually joined the multinational group known as the Organization.”

“Outstanding, Danae.” Colins seemed to have perked up at this unanticipated news. “But what about Fleming?”

“Fleming’s mother Eileen Fleming is from Dymchurch and of course, Fleming himself was born there.”

“Wait, Danae. Is there any possibility that Eileen Fleming might have some sort of Hawkhurst connection?”

“If so, it’s well hidden, Colins but I can continue to investigate.”

“Yes, please do.”

“Moving on, since Fleming is from the area and since he chose to craft a persona based off of the television interpretation of the Doctor Syn novels, it makes sense that, if hunted, he’d go to ground in familiar haunts, especially if he’s holding a hostage.”

“He must have had help.” This was the first time Mikiko had spoken but ever since they’d arrived at the meeting, she had been pondering how Fleming had managed not only his escape but traveling to England undetected.

“I’ve been considering the same thing as well, Mikiko.” There had been a mole in “Williams’s” team in Chicago who had been instrumental in Mikiko’s kidnapping. Colins wondered could there have been two or even someone inside Chicago P.D.? After all, the local police did provide most of the personnel guarding Fleming. But after he’d left hospital, there had been a city-wide alert for him. How could he have managed to get on an international flight undetected?

“Excuse me, Sir.” Ellis was sitting just to the right and ahead of Colins and Mikiko. She reminded her of many of the boys she had gone to school with. He was quiet, polite, eager to please, but not always sure of himself.

“Yes, Ellis?”

“I discussed this possibility with the team last night and I ran an analysis of the passenger lists of all flights from Chicago to London, including adjacent areas within the relevant time frame and correlated them with names of people traveling to Kent. I came up with only one match. Marquessa O’Shaughnessy.”

“Only one alias, Ellis?”

“It’s not an alias, Sir. I’ve located detailed files on Ms. O’Shaughnessy, birth records, driver’s license, apartment lease agreement, school records. The most interesting piece of information involves her association with Timothy Fleming.”

“O’Shaughnessy and Fleming know each other?”

“You could say that, Sir. They graduated the same year from the University of Chicago and according to several personal sources, were romantically engaged for sometime while students.”

“Careless of her to use her real name in that case.”

“Maybe she had no choice, Colins.” Danae was still standing at the head of the room in front of the projection screen. “If she had to leave the U.S. in a hurry, she may not have had time to acquire alternate identification, assuming she didn’t travel abroad covertly as part of her work for Hellspite.”

“That’s assuming she does work for him and isn’t more along the lines of a personal friend, Danae.”

“I wonder, Colins.”

“What is it, Mikiko?”

“Mary? Marquessa?”

“Are you suggesting that O’Shaughnessy might be the woman who captured and interrogated you in Chicago?”

“Yes, the same woman you said escorted Sienna before she was taken to Fleming’s condo.”

“Ellis, you said O’Shaughnessy was on a flight from Chicago to London and then traveled to Kent. Where is she now?

“She’s staying in Dymchurch at the…” He took a moment to consult his tablet. “…Waterside Guest House.”

waterside

Waterside Guest House – Dymchurch

“That makes sense, Colins.”

“How so, Danae?”

“In all versions of the Doctor Syn saga, Syn was a church vicar by day and the infamous smuggler The Scarecrow by night. The 1963 television series was filmed in St. Clement’s 12th century church in Old Romney. The church was in desperate need of renovation at the time and the television production company paid all the expenses. The following year, St. Peter and St. Paul’s church in Dymchurch needed roof repairs and in order to fund them, Russell Thorndike lent the name of his most famous characters to a festival called “Days of Syn”. Since that time, the Days of Syn has been a bi-annual affair held every other summer. Local charities set up booths and sideshows to raise funds. The next festival is set for August of 2018 and there’s one more item. A month ago, St. Peter and St. Paul’s suffered a fire. There’s been sort of contention regarding how it got started and the insurance company has yet to provide funds for repairs, leaving the church unattended and unused.”

“The perfect hiding spot for the Hellspite?”

“I believe so, Colins.”

“Uh, Sir?”

“Yes, Ellis?”

“The Waterside Guest House is less than half a kilometer from St. Peter and St. Paul’s.”

“Ellis, can you provide a description of O’Shaughnessy?”

“Sure, Mikiko.” He tapped on his tablets virtual keyboard and the display behind Danae, who was still standing at the head of the room, changed, showing O’Shaughnessy’s Illinois Driver’s License. Ellis read it still looking down.

“O’Shaughnessy, Marquessa Helen. Date of Birth 2 September 1987, Height five foot five, weight 152 pounds. Eyes green, hair auburn, Race Caucasian.”

“The general description could fit Mary.”

“There’s only one way to find out, Mikiko.”

“Yes, I know Colins. A personal visit. Can you get me to Dymchurch?”

“As a patron of the Waterside Guest House?”

“I don’t want to be tied to a specific location like I was in Chicago, especially that near a suspect. I need something more incidental.”

“I’ll see what we can arrange.” Colins looked up at Danae and nodded. She smiled slightly, looked down at her own tablet and began searching.

“Good morning. Have a delivery here for you.”

“You aren’t the usual JDL person. Where’s Fred?”

Mikiko placed the parcel on the counter in front of the gentleman inquiring at the Waterside Guest House.

“The missus took ill and he had to stay home and watch the little ones. I’ll be needing a signature, please.” She handed him the electronic pad with attached stylus.

“Yes, of course.” The harried desk clerk scribbled something on the appropriate line and then handed the object back.

“Thank you, kindly. Nice place.” She pretended to look around the lobby but she had already detected Mary’s scent strongly. She was in one of the nearby rooms. Probably hadn’t come down for breakfast yet.

“Yes, we like it. Will that be all?”

Mikiko acted as if she had been startled at the clerk’s, Roger Billingham according to this signature, comment, . “Yes. Sorry, Gov. Just thinking I might put in as ol’ Fred’s relief driver. Could fancy a bit of a change.”

“Quite alright. If you’ll excuse me, though…”

“Yes, just leaving.”

It would have been the wildest stroke of luck if Mary or rather Marquessa had come into the lobby while Mikiko was there, but it was enough that she had detected her unique odor. If she were here, that meant Fleming and Sienna were very likely in the nearby St. Peter and St. Paul’s church. There was only one way to be sure.

Mikiko drove away from the Waterside and continued a short distance up Hythe Road which turned into High Street. She feigned engine trouble directly in front of the church, giving her an excuse to make a right onto New Hall and pull over less than eight meters from the quaint, old structure. Yes, it was unmistakable. They were both inside. Mikiko pretended to fiddle with the engine as she focused her senses. Timothy Fleming and Sienna Thomas were both in the old church. She couldn’t tell precisely where, but she had found them.

“Can you hear me, Colins?”

“Loud and clear, Mikiko. You’ve found Marquessa obviously. What about Fleming and Thomas?”

Colins and his team had established a temporary center of operations at nearby Ashford and they’d been monitoring Mikiko’s open mike since she left in Maidstone in the JDL delivery truck. The company had been very cooperative in allowing her to replace Fre” and deliver his route this morning. It hadn’t taken long for her to get used to driving the van and pick up the general routine of the job.

She slammed down the hood, having apparently fixed the malfunction. “In the church as we suspected. Have surveillance set up so we can track their movements. I don’t want to lose them now.”

“Already moving in, Mikiko. How’s your schedule?”

“Still three more deliveries in the area, then I’ll be heading back.” She got into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“Fine. You’ll have plenty of time to get ready for tonight.”

She put the van into gear, pulled away from the curb, and turned around so she could get back on High Street. “I just hope this works, Colins.”

church - dymchurch

St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Dymschurch as seen from the South.

“It will. We’re close on this one. In less than twenty-four hours, it will all be over.”

She stopped at the intersection for traffic. “I hope so Colins, and by over, I hope that means Sienna will finally be safe again.”

“Roger that, Mikiko. Colins out.”

She pulled out onto the main thoroughfare again proceeding to her next stop wondering even if the op went perfectly, would Sienna ever feel safe again.

By day, Marquessa played the tourist, though this wasn’t the ideal season to visit the old haunts of Dr. Syn. At least it wasn’t raining like it was in Chicago just now, but it was colder. She didn’t much care to go to the local amusement park or go hot air ballooning alone, but she did visit Martello Tower and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. She spent a fair amount of time at the Lower Leas Coastal Park and discovered that just those three activities took up most of her day. She wished she’d had time to visit the Crypt of St. Leonard.

Late in the afternoon, she bought some supplies at a local food market, but it wasn’t for her. Timothy and Sienna would probably expect something for supper and breakfast tomorrow morning.

But what did Timothy have in mind? They couldn’t stay here forever and sooner or later, whoever had been pursuing them in Chicago would think to look here. This was the last place they should be given the family connections to the area he had described to her. Was Timothy insanely clever or had he finally lost it?

Marquessa had known him a long time and better than most. They had been lovers once, but that part of their life together was over. When he formed his small group, she agreed to work with him before he informed her of the scope and methods of his project. He never explained how he had acquired the highly specific skill sets that qualified him to be an assassin nor the connections to so quickly gather an exclusive clientage.

The money was good, very good, and she wasn’t particularly altruistic and certainly wasn’t motivated solely by nostalgia.

But she was somewhat driven to help by nostalgia. It was why she had arranged for his escape, with the help of a confederate placed within Chicago law enforcement. It wasn’t so much that she was still in love with him. Her feelings about Timothy transcended sex and romance. He was almost a cause unto himself. He had always seemed a little larger than life to her, even when they were undergrads at the U of C. Marquessa always knew he was destined for great things, but this wasn’t the sort of greatness she’d envisioned.

Tonight, she’d stealthily make her way to the church, deliver the goods, and then demand Timothy reveal his complete plan to her. If he didn’t, she would pretend to accept after some resistance, but if that were the case, she’d be leaving Dymchurch in the morning. She’d been updating her airline reservations so she could be out of England by mid-afternoon. She could never go back to Chicago, but she had enough money socked away to start a life elsewhere. She’d been forced to use her own passport to leave the States because of the timing involved, but would board her flight at Heathrow as a completely different person.

Throughout the day, Marquessa hadn’t noticed the older couple who had just checked into Dr. Syn’s Guest House not from the Waterside taking in the same tourist attractions as she was. She hadn’t noticed the service truck upgrading the webcams on several traffic stops in the vicinity, including one near Waterside and another directly across from St. Peter and St. Paul’s. For that matter, she hadn’t noticed the assistant grocery clerk inserting a small device in the lining of her shopping bag along with the food stuffs she’d ordered.

It wasn’t that she was unobservant or had let down her guard. Quite the opposite. She was actively looking for suspicious people and circumstances and had been ever since she’d arrived. Marquessa didn’t like it in Dymchurch for reasons she’d already considered at length. However, the environment was so much different from what she was used to that she didn’t have a very accurate picture of what was considered ordinary and otherwise.

Colins’s team on the other hand, knew exactly how to look and act to blend in. The grocery clerk was from a temp agency, the regular fellow having called in sick, but Marquessa couldn’t know that and the grocer wasn’t unaccustomed to the practice. The signal light service crew typically didn’t live in the immediate area, so no one thought it strange that they weren’t recognized. Of course, the tourist couple by definition were strangers to the community, just as Marquessa was. In every way, they had the advantage over her.

It might have been different with Timothy, but he’d been away for a long time. So much was the same but so much, including so many people, were different. He did notice one of the several nearby web cams being serviced, but was only mildly interested. He and Sienna would be staying indoors and Marquessa wouldn’t return until after dark, so being observed wasn’t high on his list of worries. If he’d been out and about like his former lover, there was always a chance some long-term resident might recognize him, even though he hadn’t been back home since he was a boy. However, seeing the sights or looking up old acquaintances (for the most part) wasn’t part of his game plan.

He was going to give her a little more time. He thought probably three more days ought to do it. After all, they couldn’t simply barge in. They had to plan their approach. In the end, it would be her again. She was the only one who might stand a chance at taking him without the girl being hurt.

Timothy thought again of the drugged and semi-conscious Sienna. He really did feel some affection for his half-sister but not as much as he had led her to believe. Like everyone else, she was a pawn, just like Marquessa was a pawn. He had only one goal and that was to bring down the Organization. He had planned to do that alone, but then he discovered just how vast it had become. Even Hellspite with his reputation and his connections couldn’t accomplish such a task unaided and his own group was far too small, though he’d planned it that way to minimize the potential that anyone who knew anything about him would be detected and possibly captured.

However, he was confident that she would be up to the task. After all, she’d discovered him in Chicago at the very center of his web. He had come to the very place where he was sure she could find him, which is what he wanted. This time however, he would be ready for her and with a proposition he believed she could not refuse.

Marquessa O’Shaughnessy was quietly arrested as she walked through the shadows moving down the sidewalk leading in the direction of the church. More accurately, a dark panel van pulled up next to her and strong arms reached out and grabbed her. She was immediately restrained and gagged.

Ellis handed Mikiko Marquessa’s shopping bag as she stepped out of the van. While in the guise of a delivery person she had worn the appropriate uniform and as usual, altered the appearance of her hair, skin coloring, and facial features so she no longer resembled anyone Marquessa and Timothy were familiar with. Now, disguises didn’t matter. She wanted him to know she was coming, to know that it was her. This time, Mikiko hoped to negotiate for Sienna’s safety with violence being the last resort. Of course, knowing who and what Fleming was, the last resort was also the most likely.

As she approached the rear entrance of the church grocery bag in hand, Mikiko felt a little like the main character in the European children’s tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” except she was taking a basket to feed a kidnapper and assassin rather than Grandmother. She was also no little girl and could kill a “big bad wolf” with her Glock 17 in an instant, and with her bare hands within several seconds if she had to.

dymchurch by night

The Dymchurch – Romney area by night

Hellspite was far more formidable than any forest predator.

Something was wrong and as she walked closer to the church she realized what it was. She whispered into her open mike, “Colins, there’s a problem. Fleming is inside the church but Sienna isn’t.”

“That’s impossible, Mikiko. We’ve had this whole area under surveillance ever since you marked the two of them in the church. No one has gone in or out since then. She has to be inside.”

“I can’t smell her. There’s a residual odor, but she hasn’t been inside for hours, maybe most of the day.”

“Well somehow he got her out without using a conventional exit. This is very likely to be a trap Mikiko.”

“How could he know we were coming?”

“Well, he did pick a location we would easily be able to determine. Perhaps that was a lure. Abort, Mikiko. You can’t help Sienna if you don’t know where she is.”

“Wait. Something’s happening.”

As Mikiko watched while standing in the midst of the old cemetery, the rear door to the church opened. The scent and the image she saw in infrared was of Timothy Fleming. He was wearing something on his face. Most likely night vision glasses. He could see her as well as she could him.

“He’s at the back door. He sees me.”

“Get out, Mikiko.”

“No. He’s got Sienna. He was expecting us and I think me specifically. If I leave now, we may never be able to find Sienna again. This is our only hope. Besides.”

“Besides what?”

“He’s waving me in.”

“We’ve got the place surrounded. If you aren’t out in fifteen minutes, signal from you or no, we’re coming in.”

“Don’t worry about me, Colins. Just wait and listen.”

She walked forward slowly. Fleming didn’t move. He stood there waiting for her. She could see him smiling. Yes, he definitely expected her, but he must know he can’t escape and that the church is ringed by black ops agents. Even if he killed her, it would do him no good. The only card he had left to play was Sienna. If she could get inside, get close enough to where the teenager had been held, maybe she could figure out where she was and how Fleming had gotten her out.

“Come in. As you no doubt have guessed, I’ve been expecting you.” He stepped aside to let her enter, then closed the door behind her. “Come with me, please. Oh, you know my name. What should I call you?”

“Mikiko.”

“Lovely name. Let’s go inside.”

Taking off his night vision glasses, he walked into the church’s interior, his back to her. She could attack him right now and he would never be able to respond in time. He must be incredibly confident, but then again, he had reason to be. Capturing him wouldn’t give them Sienna, not in the short run.

Besides, he’d taken precautions. Fleming had apparently rigged up a radio signal jamming device in the church. Mikiko was getting nothing but static over her earpiece and was certain that Colins could hear nothing from her mike as well.

He walked into the sanctuary and up to the lectern. He wasn’t dressed as the Vicar Dr. Syn, but he was certainly assuming his position.

“Straight to the point, Mikiko. I have Sienna Thomas hidden in a place where you are highly unlikely to ever find her. In the unfortunate circumstance that you or your confederates do, she has been wired with an explosive device, a small one, however its detonation will shatter her skull killing her. It can be set off by a remote radio trigger or via a proximity fuse, meaning get too close to her and you will kill her.”

“What do you want, Fleming?”

“Your services. From all reports, you are an extraordinary person, one possessing skills I scarcely believed possible when I was first told. I want you to use those abilities to track down the person known as Mzimu, the Organization’s unseen and unknown head, and to cut it off.”

“How am I supposed to do that? I have no idea where this Mzimu can be found or anything else about him or her.”

“If you’ve raided and analyzed the information sources from my professional locations as well as my home, then I can’t believe what you just said is true. I will make a bargain with you. A life for a life. You kill Mzimu providing unequivocal proof, and I shall let my dear half-sister go free. Failing your mission means Sienna Thomas dies.”

“You told her you loved her, that you just wanted freedom from the Organization for both of you.”

“With Mzimu’s death, we will both be free, figuratively and literally. The part about loving her was exaggerated. I suppose I do have a small amount of pity over what she’s suffered, but I’ve killed too many times to particularly value human life, hers or anyone else’s.

“Why do you want Mzimu dead? The Organization will still continue. You can’t end something that large and intricate by killing one person, no matter who that person is.”

“It was Mzimu who recruited Richard Singleton into the Organization citing his lineage going back to the original Hawkhurst gang. Amanda Thomas was also recruited and for the same reasons. The relationship between my Father and Sienna’s Mother goes back further than Father’s marriage to my Mother and ran much deeper. Deep enough for Father to eventually spawn Sienna, which effectively ended my parents’ marriage.

“Father paid off Mother handsomely, so much so that she had made certain arrangements with a minority faction of the Hawkhurst descendants, yes they are criminals as well, but the operate independently and do not traffic in human flesh.”

“What did Eileen Fleming have to do with the Hawkhursts?” Mikiko has learned the answer to that question hours ago, and it was an answer she believed Fleming didn’t know.

“As you are aware, I am related to this area not just through my Father but also through my Mother. She learned certain things through her association with him, names, contacts, and such that she used to our advantage after the divorce. She brought me back here for a time before we moved to the States. Mother knew that divorce might not be enough, especially for Mzimu. If the Organization considered Mother and I too great a liability, they could have us eliminated, made to look like an accident, just as Amanda had done for her own husband.”

So we come to the part of the story about your training, how you acquired your unique skill sets.”

“My Mother’s training and mine. She had no intention of being caught unawares, and when I got to be old enough, she told me the reason she had me tutored in martial arts, intelligence gathering, marksmanship, and the like. She also made sure I was acquainted with her contact among the Hawkhursts. It was through that contact I was able to create a small group of my own, just a few trusted partners to perform certain tasks in order to get Mzimu’s attention. I thought if I provided my services to Mzimu and the Organization, eventually I would be granted high level access, but it didn’t happen that way. Mzimu is too cautious, too careful, so I needed another way.”

That’s when you decided to kill Singleton and to kidnap Sienna so her mother would be lured in.”

“My Father’s death was the wake up call, and Amanda was to be the lure. I had Sienna brought to Chicago as an insurance policy, in case the unforeseen happened, and it certainly did.”

“So what went wrong?” Her fifteen minutes were almost up. She was surprised Colins’s agents hadn’t stormed the place the second communications were cut off, but she supposed he was playing for time, hoping she would learn Sienna’s whereabouts through one process of another. Now that she was inside, her scent was much stronger, but she was confused. Sienna wasn’t there but there was a part of Mikiko’s brain that was telling her she hadn’t left. Normally the interface between her augmented senses and her cognition provided at least adequate if not excellent interpretations of what she detected, but this time it was as if she were metaphorically running around in circles.

Hawkhurst

The original Hawkhurst Gang raiding the Customs House at Poole in the 18th Century.

Fleming had most likely heard reports from Marquessa both through her direct observation and any video feeds that had been present in the warehouse, of her strength, capacity to kill with extraordinary efficiency, and even the possibility that she had better than normal night vision, but he couldn’t know the extent of the rest of her sensory abilities. He couldn’t know she could smell Sienna’s presence.

“Again, I underestimated Mzimu. I expected him or her to supervise the rescue or execution of Amanda. All of the pawns who had been running the operation in France were killed outright by the Organization but I had other methods of observing the environment. A high level operative was sent to oversee the incursion and execution, but one not on my list of verified suspects.”

“Suspects.”

“Quite. Mzimu is known to have been at certain locations during certain time periods. By comparing that information with the whereabouts of individuals on my suspects list, I could eliminate those who were elsewhere when Mzimu were making an appearance say in Oslo or Singapore. Dame Evonne Whitemore had been eliminated from my list over six months ago. Oh, she was on site to directly order Amanda’s execution.”

“Does Mzimu know who you are?”

“Not originally, but probably by now thanks to the interference of your band of coverts. Another reason my direct pursuit of Mzimu is no longer an option. However, someone as resourceful as you…”

“I was given fifteen minutes to locate Sienna if I could. That time is about up and if I don’t go back outside where I can be seen alive and well…”

“I thought something like that might be the case, however if I am captured and fail to send a signal to the device attached to Sienna within a certain time period, she will die. You’ll have me sooner or later, but I want Mzimu first. You are the weapon I intend to use to get my revenge. Now if you’ll stand up and return to the door you entered through, we can assure your protectors that you are hale and hearty.”

Mikiko stood and retraced her steps with Fleming right behind her. “Good. You can pick up the groceries I brought.” It was as good an attempt at humor as she could make right then.

As she left the sanctuary, her mysterious sense of Sienna’s presence began to fade. The secret to where Fleming had hidden her must be in that room.

“Your mother died of cancer, Fleming. You didn’t begin your activities as Hellspite until after she was dead.”

“Actually it was a slow poison. Mzimu and the Organization didn’t consider Mother a threat but even years later they did want their retribution. They didn’t want to lay it directly upon my Father since they needed him for the UK division of their operation, but my Mother’s death would send a message to him and to everyone else.”

“Did she start you on this futile mission?”

“Quite the contrary, Mikiko. She told me to walk away and let it go. I couldn’t though. They deserved to pay, Mzimu most of all. Ah, we’re at the doorway. Wave to your comrades.”

Her earpiece came alive again. “Mikiko. What happened? Are you okay. Wave with your left hand if you’re alright.”

She waved with her left hand and wished she could tell them what she’d found out. She thought she might know how Fleming has gotten Sienna out of the church, but she had to check with Danae first. She was also torn about whether or not to tell Fleming the truth about his Mother, though even if she did, unless she could prove it, he’d call her a liar.

“You’re free to go, Mikiko with the provision that if I don’t see proof of Mzimu’s death in one month or less, Sienna Thomas will die.”

This story is the immediate sequel to The Protector and reveals a lot more about Timothy Fleming’s background and the long association between some of the Organization’s major players (two or more of whom are now dead). Mary or rather Marquessa is in custody but Fleming mentioned having a contact within the latter-day Hawkhurst gang, someone unknown to Mikiko and the rest of the Agency who could be anyone in or around Dymchurch.

How did Fleming get Sienna out of the church without anyone seeing and what does Mikiko suspect but can’t prove without the help of a computer research expert? You’ll find out in the next chapter.

Here are other stories in Mikiko’s overall saga in the order I wrote them but not in chronological order:

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair
  4. Five Years On
  5. Woman in the Shadows
  6. The Search for Armageddon
  7. The Swimmer
  8. Murder at 900 North Michigan
  9. First Flight
  10. The Man in the Dark
  11. Hellspite.
  12. Pursuit.
  13. The Vengeful
  14. The Most Dangerous Predator
  15. The Protector.

See you in the next chapter.

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