The Ides of August – Part 2
Saturday 15th August
1 am local time
Charlotte sat in the darkness, a set of headphones over her ears as she listened in.
“We are ready to go on your mark,” a female voice said.
“Go – for the Heart and the Strength.”
“For the Heart and the Strength. Pride this is leader, in position?” Charlotte listened in as her girls on the ground awaited their target.
“Red in position.”
“Blue is too.”
“Green all set.”
“Where are you Yellow?”
Charlotte listened as static buzzed.
“Where are you Yellow?” Pride Leader sounded worried.
“I’m here Leader, sorry took me longer then I thought it would to get here.”
“Leader I can hear trucks…”
“Copy that Red…Leader to pride, good luck and good shooting ladies.”
Back in Johannesburg Charlotte said a silent prayer to the Goddess as she listened.
“Let the first truck go round the corner.” Leader whispered…”NOW!”
Charlotte could hear the crackle of small arms fire, punctuated by grenades going off.
“Leader the lead truck is on fire…they are not going forward.”
Charlotte heard a loud explosion.
“Oh crap Leader, that last truck must have been carrying petrol.”
“I can see the blaze Red…Good Job.”
Inwardly Charlotte smiled as she listened to the firefight.
“Those men from the second truck, they are in that ditch in front of you Green…”
“I can see Yellow, but I’m pinned down here…can you clear them?”
“Use a couple of grenades - see if that will move them?”
“Got that Leader.”
Charlotte heard the explosions as the grenades did their work.
“That’s moved them Yellow…”
Charlotte heard a burst of machine gun fire.
“Oh crap I think I just took a bullet in my buttocks…”
“That will teach you to keep that big fat ass of yours down…”
“Thank you for that Leader.”
From Johannesburg Charlotte suddenly heard silence.
“Well done ladies…” Leader called out. “Casualties?”
“I have one dead one wounded.” Red reported.
“One dead here as well.” Green reported.
“We are all okay.” Blue radioed.
“Just my damn arse.” Yellow called.
“I have two lightly wounded.” Leader spoke. “Their side.”
“I got a prisoner…one of the slit eyes.” Blue reported.
“Make sure you finish off the rest…”
Charlotte stopped listening; her people were in no position to look after the other side’s wounded. It would be hard enough getting care to her own people, as well extracting the prisoner for interrogation – and she had no stomach to hear what they were doing.
Standing up and looking out of the room window, she was pleased the first blow had been struck. Now she had to let Piet see what was going on…
8 pm Local Time
Ninja Akasaka, Tokyo
“I really must thank you again for inviting me to join you, Yoshimi-san,” Louise said as she sat at their alcove table, Victoria and Charlene sitting on the other side of him. All three were wearing cocktail dresses and high heels, showing off their legs as he looked at each of them.
“Please – call me Taki,” Yoshimi said as he put his hand on Louise’s leg. “And the honour is mine – I feel I need to protect you, as this can be a very dangerous city.”
“Somehow,” Louise purred as she looked at him, “I feel I am safe with you.”
Yoshimi smiled as he looked at his other two guests. “What do you say ladies – after we go dancing, we return to my place for a private drink?”
“Sounds delightful,” Victoria said as she and Charlene looked at Louise, who smiled in return as she looked at Yoshimi.
“So tell me, Taki,” Louise said quietly, “why do those big strong men make sure nobody else talks to us?”
“For your own protection and mine,” he said with a smile, “After all, those I cherish, I wish to keep safe.”
Louise nodded, she understood that well enough.
11 pm Local Time
“You dance extremely well,” Yoshimi said as he opened the door to his penthouse apartment, Louise looking round as she walked in with Charlene and Victoria.
“And you live extremely well – business must be good,” Louise said as she stroked her gloved hand over the furniture.
“I cannot complain,” Yoshimi said as he went to a well stocked drinks cabinet, and poured spirits into four glasses, handing them round.
“So I was wondering,” Louise said as she stood in front of Yoshimi, “how I could begin to repay the kindness you have shown me?”
Charlene and Victoria looked at each other as Yoshimi said “You are already repaying me in many ways, young Louise, as you can tell if you wish to.”
“I can see you are indeed pleased with me, but how much?”
“Enough,” he whispered as he put his glass down, “to show you my skills. Can you tell how ready I am?”
She walked over and stood in front of him, Yoshimi nodding as she looked into his eyes.
“Mmmmmm not bad by the feel of it.” Louise ran her hand across the front of the Japanese gangster’s pants, drawing instant daggers in her back from the eyes of the other two.
“I don’t think you’ll be disappointed Louise.” He pulled her lips close and kissed her gently.
“Okay,” Lou thought to himself, “this is the hard part girl, you have to convince him he’s the greatest thing ever.”
Slowly Louise’s black gloved hand ran itself up and down his fly, he felt the Japanese guy harden even more, then using both arms he pulled the man close and kissed him, his tongue exploring the gangsters mouth, his gasps of pleasure not merely acting.
“Ahhh,” Yoshimi said as he looked at her, “come with me.” Looking at the other two, he said “do not worry –your time will come later.”
They watched as he pulled Louise into an inner room, and pulled the screen across, before he took her and kissed her again, his hands caressing her bottom as she started to undo the fly of his trousers, and then stroked his member with her gloved hand as her tongue played with his.
“So, Taki,” she whispered, “what would you like to do to me?”
“I think you know,” he whispered as he started to unfasten her dress.
“I think I do,” Louise whispered back, as she started to kiss him again.
3 pm local time
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
“Not a bad crowd in today John.” Piet said as he looked down at the beautiful dancers in the blue outfits, performing on the field before the main game started.
“Yeah not bad,” John said, “but it helps that the Bulls are playing some decent rugby this year.”
“I saw the game a couple of weeks ago, they gave the Lions a real working over.”
“I saw it on TV,” John nodded, “this pack can dominate opponents totally.”
“Ja, you are telling me man.”
“Tempted to get your boots back out Piet?”
“No,” Piet said with a smile, “I quit playing at the right time, too hard balancing playing, training, and my work.”
“Let alone having a social life?”
“Ja, it was one of the reasons Charlotte booted me out, I never saw her. I was always busy doing something else.”
“I took her out for dinner Wednesday night…”
“Still trying to find out what she’s involved in John?” Piet interrupted.
“Yes, I’m still a bit curious.”
“That makes two of us.” Piet stood up and applauded as the Free State Cheetahs took the field.
“Here come the Bulls.” John applauded heartily as the home team made their entrance.
“You see the Free State Number 5 John? He’s the bastard who means I need to wear a partial denture.”
“I was at the game, he should have got a longer suspension for hitting you like that.”
“Ja, you are telling me man.” Piet shook his head.
“So I take it you’ve met Shirley Xavier yourself?”
Piet nodded as the teams lined up for the kickoff. “Impressive woman, very no nonsense, and John Hammond her partner is a nice guy, he lost out on an Irish cap you know by having to go take on the Argies, rather than go on Ireland’s summer tour the year of the Falklands war?”
“No I didn’t know that.”
“Ja, sheer bad luck.”
“So do you buy Charlotte’s story about her company having an interest in the security of Mogolan drift diamonds?”
“To a point…” Piet stood as the Blue Bulls moved the ball through their backs.
“Oh – what point?”
“Well,” Piet said, “I do believe she has an interest in the safety of Mogolan diamonds – but the business in Mazengwe…”
“She said she tipped you off because of the link between Kimba and diamonds.”
“True – the question in my mind was, how did she hear about the link between Kimba and the way Mazengwean girls were sold into slavery.”
“She heard about the story from the NY Times, apparently.”
“Hmm,” Piet said, “so if she says she wants me to see something in Southern Mogola, involving diamonds, I wonder if something else is going on as well.”
John nodded. “Look, I checked a few things out, there is something unusual going down, but we have no idea what. When is she inviting you?”
“Call her – say you have a new assistant to break in.”
“Oh – who?”
“She will call you tonight to see if it is on – COME ON!!” John called out as the Bulls scored a try.
“John, is she in trouble?”
“I don’t think so no – by the way, talking of Mazengwe, have you heard anything of a group of women taking on the local warlords?”
Piet looked at John. “How the hell did you hear about them?”
“So you’ve heard of them?”
“I think I’ve met some of them – why?”
“I had a tip off they were interested in Mogola as well – they call themselves the Sisters of Maisha apparently.”
“Maisha? Shirley Xavier has a girl called Maisha who lives with her – she was one of the girls sold into slavery. Probably just coincidence.”
“I’m sure,” John said, “well, we shall see…”
“Welcome,” Diana said as Julianne stepped out of her car, Helen and Doc getting out with her. “Where’s Carina?”
“Coming with the others – she wanted to make sure the kids were settled, and needed to find out from Jan where she and Cassandra are going to be.”
Juliette came into the farmhouse and poured herself some coffee.
“Are you sure this will do it?”
“I really hope so. Once Sandy is here, we can go and collect the guests. Did they bring the cars?”
“In the barn – Heather will work on them once she’s here.”
“Good,” Juliette said as she played with the ring on her finger, “let’s now hope everyone plays ball…”
Sitting in her den, Shirley smiled as she looked at Charlotte.
“I listened to the recording of the fight.” Shirley spoke. “Tell your team well done, and pass on our condolences and thanks regarding the two dead on our side.”
“I’ve already done so.” Charlotte answered. “Agnes was Ndebele, she was a widow with no children thanks to Mugabe’s thugs. Sarah was only 15, but she joined when we freed her in Mazengwe, I’m trying to trace any family that are left.”
“Two very brave women. If you find them, ensure Sarah’s family know of her sacrifice.”
“So who was the Leader?”
“The Zulu princess?”
“Yes, Itsy came to us a few months ago, I don’t know if it’s the fact she’s a university graduate, or inherent respect for the Zulu royal family, but her compatriots there voted for her to command.”
“Well she’s very good at it.”
“I know, I’m sorry she had to deal with their wounded like that, but in African jungle warfare, the Geneva conventions mean nothing.”
“Yes I understand as well, I don’t like it, but yes in the circumstances…”
“Itsy is smuggling her prisoner south across the border, where I can get a chopper to them, we should have him here in Johannesburg in 72 hours…can you send me a Cantonese speaker please?”
“I’ll send Helen, her business here will be done by then, and get Penny to you as well, you might appreciate her expertise in obtaining information.”
“That sounds like a good plan to me Madame.”
“Now, of the other matter?”
“I’m meeting Piet tomorrow for him to be taken by two contacts to the site. He’s asked to bring a photographer with him – a young woman called Elizabeth.”
“I smell a plant, Charlotte.”
“As do I Madame – but my hope is as she sees this, she can help bring some more powerful forces to bear on this situation.”
“Very well then – I trust your judgment on this one Charlotte, but watch your step.”
“I will Madame – and thank you. I’ll make reservations here for Penny and Helen.”
“Good luck,” Shirley said as she ended the call.
“Well, the kids seem happy enough to be sleeping over,” Rick said as he put the car keys into the bowl in the kitchen.
“True – and it gives us a night to work on things,” Cassandra said as she came in. She and Jan were both wearing polo shirts and shorts, while Rick had on a t-shirt and jeans.
“We’ll go through to the den,” Cassandra said, “you can start sorting out some food.”
“Yeah, yeah – I get to cook,” Rick said as he went into the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he saw some steaks and took them out, when there was a knock on the front door.
“I got it,” he called out, and went to answer the door. In the porchway stood two women, both of whom pushed him back in as they came inside. They were dressed identically – black high necked jackets and knee length skirts, with blue scarves tied as cravats around their necks, dark stockings and black leather pumps with four inch heels.
They also wore black leather gloves, and dark stockings over their heads, which held their black hair down. One carried a sawn off shotgun, and the other a small bag – and both had brooches on their jackets in the shape of cats.
“Quiet, asswipe,” the one with the gun said as the second woman pushed Rick into the main room, and pulled his hands behind his back, securing them tightly together with some rope.
“What the hell is going on here,” Rick said quietly as the woman tied the ropes off.
“We do the talking mister big shot screen writer – I’m Miss Panther, and this is Miss Puma. Heard of us?”
“I may have,” Rick said, thinking this was another game.
“Now where is Miss Hollywood?” Miss Panther said as she held her gun against Mike’s head.
“Oh come on Cassie, twice in one week is once too much…”
“What’s once too much?” Cassandra asked as she wandered in from the den with Janice.
“Oh…” Rick’s voice dropped.
“My…” Janice put her hands up.
“God!...” Cassandra all but fainted.
“We hear that you’ve been enquiring about us bitch?” Miss Puma said as she grabbed the actress and threw her into an armchair.
“You mean these are the…”
“The real thing…yes we are.” Juliette allowed herself a smile under her mask as she looked at Rick. “Our friend said you wouldn’t stop asking – now see what’s happened.”
Cassandra watched as the woman called Miss Puma pulled Jan’s wrists behind her back and secured them with rope.
“You wanted to know what it feels like to be a Pussycat,” Miss Panther purred. “Well you and the fucking FBI bitch will find out. You are both going to help us do a little bit of work. Hubby here will be put on ice, you both co-operate, he lives, your kids live, YOU LIVE…Now do I make myself fucking clear?”
“Yes.” Jan nodded.
“Perfectly,” Cassie was studying every detail of how the bandit spoke, how she moved, everything.
“Good – we start by all of us taking a little trip. Don’t worry – you’ll be back before the kiddiewinks if you behave. Bind the bitch, then blindfold all three fuckers.”
Miss Puma quickly bound and blindfolded Cassandra, as Janice watched her escort the other two out, and then followed Miss Panther as she closed the door. They were made to sit in the back of a black SUV, and Miss Panther sat with them.
“Not a fucking word,” she growled, all three nodding as Miss Puma drove off…
“Out, all of you – and no fucking about,” Miss Panther said as she pulled Cassandra from the car, and then Rick, while Miss Puma pulled Jan from the other side.
“Where the hell are we,” Rick said as he was pushed across the courtyard.
“You’ll see soon enough, fucker,” Miss Panther said as she and Miss Puma walked them across and into the farmhouse. As Jan felt her feet hit the wooden floor, she heard a girl with a southern accent say “Well now, sugah, look who has come to visit.”
“Miss Bobcat,” Jan said, “Shit – they’ve brought us to their centre of operations.”
“Well done, Fucking Bitch Ingrate,” another voice said as the blindfolds were removed, Rick blinking as he said “oh shit…”
“A very fair expression,” Miss Panther said as she walked round. “So, Miss Hollywood, you have your wish – we are the Pussycat Gang, and you are going to do every fucking little thing we tell you, got it?”
Cassandra looked at the nine women, identically dressed, two of them checking firearms before putting them into a bag, four of them looking at her from behind chairs, and the final one joining Miss Panther and Miss Puma. She had the most incredible high heels on, as she looked at them and said “so this is Cassandra Stone – I thought she would be taller.”
“Patience, Miss Lynx,” Miss Panther said, as Cassandra looked at her. This was the one rumoured to be the true psychopath – yet dressed as she was, she could not quite believe it.
“What are you going to do to us,” Jan said as she looked round.
“Nothing, so long as you do as we say,” One of the women at the guns said as she came over, and then hit Jan in the stomach with her gloved fist. “Apart from you that is,” she then said as she looked at Rick. “Miss Tigress, Miss Bobcat – make sure our guest is comfortable upstairs.”
“This way, dahlin,” one of the two women said as they took Rick by the arm and walked him upstairs.
“As for you two cock suckers – sit down,” Miss Panther said as they were pushed into a chair, and she sat, looking at them with the gun across her lap. “I know Agent Carter has looked forward to this meeting without others for some time, but you intrigue me, Miss Fucking Hollywood – why are you so anxious to meet us?”
“Well,” Cassandra said, “you have heard of the film they are making about you?”
“It has come to our attention,” Miss Puma said as another woman stood with her, “and it is fair to say we are fucking angry about it.”
“Well, I don’t want it to be another blood fest – I want to try and understand why you do what you do?”
“You mean apart from being fucking badasses?”
“Yes,” Cassandra said as she wriggled round, “why do it? It can’t just be about the money, so I need to know – and now, I’m just scared shitless you’re going to kill me.”
“Kill you?” The final woman laughed as she said “if we were going to kill you, we would not have brought you here.”
“You’re – not going to kill us?”
“Not unless you give us a good reason to – no,” Miss Panther said, “you and FBI cow here are going to help us, and then if you behave, hubby gets to be safe and sound. You’ll use the same codenames as two of our members, and take their places. We have clothes upstairs for you to wear, and you will look fabulous – or you’ll be a fucking fabulous corpse for your children to see.”
“Look, I’ll do whatever you want, just say the word.”
“Well I won’t,” Janice said, “I won’t be a killer for you.”
“You’re not going to be – we’ll explain later, so quit your moaning, and shut the fuck up.”
Jan looked at Cassandra, before she said “all right, what do we have to do.”
“Well,” Miss Panther said as she sat back, “why don’t you go and get changed first? Miss Lynx, Miss Cheetah – escort our guests to the room, and make sure they see her mother fucking husband first.”
“Let’s go, shitheads,” the two women said as they pulled Cassandra and Janice to their feet, untied their wrists, and walked them up the stairs. As they looked in one room, they saw Rick lying on a bed, his arms and legs apart as the two masked women secured him spread eagled to the bed, a large strip of tape covering his mouth.
“Just stay calm, Rick,” Cassandra said as she and Jan were pushed into another room. Laid out on a bed were two outfits, identical to those worn by Miss Lynx and Miss Cheetah, as well as stockings, shoes and two black wigs. Makeup was also arranged on a side table.
“We’ll come for you in a little while,” Miss Lynx said before she closed and locked the door.
“Fucking hell, Cassandra,” Jan said as she sat down, “what kind of shit have we landed ourselves in?”
“I have no idea,” Cassandra said, “but my god, they know how to make an impression. Rick…”
“And the kids – Cassandra, I don’t think we’ve got a choice in this, but if we do this, it must NOT get back to my superiors, or Adam.”
“No – no of course it doesn’t,” Cassandra said as she started giggling.
“What the hell’s so funny?”
“I’m sorry – it’s just – can’t you feel the buzz? I immerse myself in a role, and this…”
“Cass, they’re the Pussycat Gang – it could end up a massacre.”
“I know – so let’s pray it’s not, but we don’t have a choice, do we? They have Rick – and I want to see my kids tomorrow.”
Jan nodded and stood up, looking at the clothes. “They look like they are our size – bet that bitch the Hand told them, or took some photos of us.”
“We’d have known.”
“Not with her,” Jan said as she started to remove her top. “Well, sooner we do this, sooner we find out what crock of shit is going down tonight.”
Miss Panther looked up as the two women came down, dressed identically to them, the black wigs on their heads, putting the soft leather gloves on their hands.
“Excellent,” she said as they came to the bottom of the stairs, “you look just like us, as is the idea. Just remember who is staying here, and what that means.
“For tonight, Agent Fucking Bitch Impossible, you will be known as Miss Wildcat, and you Miss Hollywood will be Miss Serval. Now, let us review the plan for tonight. Miss Leopard?”
“Bags are packed and checked.”
“I have everything I need primed and ready to go,” Helen said, feeling part of the team as she looked through the mask.
“Miss Puma, Miss Cheetah?”
“Vehicles are primed and ready to go.”
Cassandra watched as they talked, and noticed Miss Panther’s hands, but said nothing as she listened.
“Very well then – as you know, our target is the State Street Diamond Centre. To effect entry, we have two preliminary targets.
“First target – Miss Cheetah, Miss Bobcat, you will take Miss Wildcat with you. When we depart, you head to 14 Chappie Street in Boston. Make sure the lady of the house knows just how much trouble her husband has got into.”
“Understood,” Miss Cheetah said, “and if there is trouble?”
Miss Panther merely raised an eyebrow under her stocking mask, as Jan looked nervously at the group.
“The rest of us head to 131 Orange Street in Chelsea, where we will have an evening of pleasant discourse and discussion with the family.”
“Really,” Cassandra said.
“No of course not you stupid cow,” Miss Lynx said in a slightly angry tone, “we make It very clear to the head of security what will happen if he won’t do exactly what we say.”
“I want both groups,” Miss Panther continued, “to converge on the diamond exchange for seven thirty. By then, the two gentlemen should be in work, with the very definite message that if they do anything to raise the alarm, their families die instantly.
“At seven thirty we enter from the rear entrance, and begin to secure all staff. Miss Bobcat, Miss Cheetah – security issues?”
“Plan in place and ready to roll, sugah,” Miss Bobcat drawled.
“As we do this, Miss Civet and Miss Oncilla will be preparing our little surprise. That will happen at eight thirty, and then we have thirty minutes to clear everything out, and depart the building by the rear. We all return here.”
“And what will we be doing while all this is going on,” Cassandra asked.
“You’re the fucking actress,” Miss Leopard said, “so you’ll have a gun – act the part and impress us.”
Cassandra swallowed and nodded as Miss Panther stood up. “Final preparations, ladies – I want us ready to move out at 11 on the dot.”
“Looks like I’m getting the lighter load,” Jan whispered as she watched Miss Cheetah open a small case, and take out a hypodermic syringe.
“Who’s that for?”
“Your fuck buddy, Miss Serval,” Miss Cheetah said as she took a bottle, and out some of the clear liquid into the syringe, “we’re going to have him sleep for a few hours. He’ll live – just be stiff and sore.”
“Let me go with you, to tell him it’ll be all right,” Cassandra said as she stood up. Miss Cheetah looked at Miss Panther, who nodded as she said “very well – come with me.”
The two women walked upstairs, Cassandra nodding as she came into the room and Rick looked up.
“It’s me darling,” she said as she sat on the bed, and stroked his head. “They’re going to make sure you sleep until I get back. When you wake up, we’ll talk about this, but I’m really sorry you got caught up in this.”
Rick nodded as he watched Miss Cheetah put the needle into his arm, and then his eyes flickered as he slipped into unconsciousness.
“Right,” Miss Cheetah said with a smile, “let’s check everything is ready.”
As Cassandra and Jan watched, the other Pussycats checked and re-checked everything, and then ensured it was all packed.
“All right ladies – final checks on each other. Make sure you have left all personal items behind, and that nothing is out of place.”
They watched as the women checked each other, and then Miss Bobcat checked them.
“Very well, blindfold them.”
Cassandra nodded as the black cloth was tied over her eyes, pulling the stocking against her closed eyelids, as Jan slipped her stocking mask off, along with the others, and put on the dark glasses.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” she whispered to Juliette.
“We do – good hunting,” she said to Jan, Heather and Jo, while Diana grabbed Cassandra’s arm and helped her to stand.
“Don’t move until we say, arse licker,” she growled as Juliette said “all right – let’s go to work.”
Sunday 16th August
10 am Local time
“How are you,” Natalya said as she came into Louise’s room.
“A little sore, but for a Yakuza head he was surprisingly gentle – the other two may wish to make me commit seppuku though,” Louise said as she sat down.
“So what is the outcome from your night out?”
“He’s asked me to move in with him and the girls.” Louise said as she sat drinking his coffee.
“That was what I was both hoping for and fearing Lou.” Natalya sat down next to him and poured herself a cup. “On the one hand, it gives us access, on the other it goes above and beyond…”
“Well it’s your decision what I do.” Louise sipped his/her drink, “but something big is happening at his apartment tomorrow. He’s told us all to make sure we are out shopping, and he’s even provided credit cards to make sure we have plenty to spend.”
“Now that is interesting news…”
“Thought it might gain your attention,” Louise said with a smile.
“I need talk it over with the others…shit I really need to ring New York as well...”
“You look worried,” Louise said with a smile.
“I take it you’d like me to plant a few listening devices?”
“Yes….but they can’t be bog standard bugs, his people are bound to sweep…As I said I need to ring New York and hope and pray that Madame can get what we need here in time.”
“And if he calls?”
Natalya sat back and looked at her watch. “It’s just after eight in the evening there. Give me an hour.”
“As you wish darling,” Louise said as she went back to her room, and opened her laptop.
She waited a few minutes until Shirley answered her call.
“Natalya – what news from Tokyo?”
“We have a possible in on Yoshimi, Madame – but I wish to discuss the matter with you first?”
“Ah – so the bait has been taken.”
“Indeed – our operative has been invited to move in with him and the other two.”
Shirley sat back and thought for a moment. “Is she willing?”
“She is – but I am unhappy to send her in without an exit strategy.”
“I understand – and approve. Issue her with a panic device.”
“She also has found out a major meeting is taking place tomorrow – she has, I believe the expression is, been told to clear out with the others.”
“So we need to monitor. I anticipated the possibility – call Niki, tell her I have authorized distribution of pack C. I also want the purse radio on constant monitoring as a back up – and tell her to be careful.”
“And if an exit is required?”
“Natalya, I authorize the use of any means you deem necessary.”
“I understand Madame – I will keep you posted.”
“Good hunting Natalya – we will talk again.”
Ending the video call, Natalya dialed a number on the cell phone.
“Nikki? I have been authorized to draw pack C – can I have it here in an hour?
“Thank you – I will see you then.”
1 pm Local Time
“Okay Louise, these are the gizmos.” Niki Abata said as she reached into her Jameson bag and handed over a small box.
“They aren’t very big are they?”
“Exactly, position these in the living room and the kitchen. Make sure they are out of sight,” Niki added as Louise looked at the devices.
“The signal suppressor you can hide in your room.” Natalya added, “That ensures these are invisible to conventional scanning for bugs.”
“Just make sure no one sees you planting them.” Niki smiled. “You know I don’t know who makes these. But damn they are incredible.”
“Aren’t they just?”
“Natalya do these do both visual and audio?” Louise asked.
“Yes so point them like this so we see who is in the room and not just a wall.”
“Now this,” Natalya said as she handed Louise a gold bracelet, “is your lifeline. As you know, your purse has a transmitter in the clasp, and that will be on at all times. This, however, is a panic button. If at any time you are in danger, press hard on the identity plate – it contains a beacon, and we will come and get you out.”
“In what way,” Louise said as she looked at Natalya.
“With extreme prejudice.”
Louise nodded as she looked at them. “Well then, I had better pack and prepare. Pray to God you never hear this go off.”
2.30 pm Local Time
Lobby, Hilton Tokyo
“There she goes,” Niki said as she and Natalya watched Louise check out, and follow the man carrying her suitcase to the waiting car.
“Nice bracelet,” Natalya said, “and so useful.”
Niki nodded as she dialed a number. “Begin tracking and recording of target,” she said, and then ended the call.
“Now – we wait, and I hate that,” Natalya said as she sipped her drink.
“Amen to that,” Nikki added.
“Invite Miss Tanaka to join us for lunch tomorrow – she needs to know the steps we have taken.”
Chappie Street, Boston
“I still wish you’d given me some warning,” Jan said as they pulled up outside the house in the stolen black car, “Juliette nearly made me crap my pants.”
“And Sandy didn’t,” Jo said as she looked at the three storey building.
“No comment – especially with Heather here.”
“We needed to surprise you, so that Cassandra did not think you were part of the group,” Heather said, “at first, we were going to leave you behind, but in the end…”
“What did you do to Rick anyway?”
“A sedative – it lasts for about fifteen hours, so we should be back by the time he wakes up.”
“So, who’s in here?”
“On the second floor,” Jo said, “lives Donald O’Shea and his wife Mary. Donald has been a very naughty boy with the local bookmakers, and is in heavy to one of the local bosses.”
“And he is about to discover,” Heather said with a smile, “that the Pussycats have bought his debt out, and they have a job for him.”
“Let me guess – he’s the security guard for getting in?”
Jo and Heather nodded as they pulled the stockings down over their heads. “Ready for some fun, Jan?”
“Oh hell yeah – what will you tell Cassandra?”
“That you were made to stand guard while we had our sick little way,” Jo said. “Shall we?”
“Oh yes,” Jan said as she picked up the sawn off shotgun, “I have some things I need to get out of my system.”
The three women got out onto the dark street, and made their way up the fire escape at the side to the second floor, waiting as Jo forced a window open and they entered the main room.
Heather switched on a torch, and motioned to the other two to follow her as they went to the main bedroom. As she opened the door, she saw a young couple lying on the bed. The man was wearing a grey t-shirt and checked shorts, the woman a white vest top and knee length cycle pants.
“Aw, they look so cute,” Jo said as she leaned over and whispered in the woman’s ear “wake up sugah, ah’ve got a surprise for you.”
Mary O’Shea mumbled something and slowly opened her eyes, looking into Miss Bobcat’s stocking covered face as she smiled back.
“Surprise, sugah,” she said as she pointed the gun at her stomach, “now wake that pisspoor fucking excuse for a husband up, there’s a good gahl.”
Nodding, she slowly sat up, taking in the other two shadowy figures as she said “Donald… Donny, for Christ’s sake wake up.”
“Whaassitt,” Donald said as he reached over and turned on the bedside light, and then sat up suddenly.
“Hello asshole,” Miss Cheetah said, “I’m Miss Cheetah, this is Miss Bobcat and Miss Wildcat, and we are part of the Pussycat Gang.”
“What that means,” Miss Wildcat said, “is if you make any noise, you die. If you make the neighbours come and complain, they die. In fact, if you do anything other than exactly what we tell you, you and your wife die. Am I making myself clear, fucker, or do I need to draw a diagram?”
“Oh god,” Mary whimpered as she held her husband’s arm, “no, not us…”
“Ah think they got the message,” Miss Bobcat said as she aimed the gun in her hand at them. “So, face down on the bed, hands behind your back, and once we have you nice and tight and compliant, we’ll all have a little chat. Won’t that be fun, sugah?”
“Miss Bobcat gave you an order,” Miss Wildcat whispered as she ran the barrel of her gun down the inside of Mary’s leg, and then said “Move, fuckers.”
Orange Street, Chelsea
“Nice house,” Miss Lynx said as she looked at the peach coloured wooden exterior, “shall we say hello?”
“I think we should – take the blindfold off Miss Fucking Hollywood.”
Cassandra blinked as the pressure was taken off her eyes, and she looked out of the SUV window at the darkened street, and then at the stocking covered faces with identical black hair.
“You’re with us, Miss Serval,” Miss Panther said as she got out of the vehicle, holding her gun as Miss Leopard pulled Cassandra out. “Hold that fucking gun as if you mean to use it, and keep fucking quiet. Miss Leopard?”
The three women walked up to the front door of the house and waited as Miss Panther opened the screen door and rang the doorbell. She kept ringing it until she heard a male voice saying “all right, all right, I’m coming,” and the inner door was opened by Ron Esmond, an old checked dressing gown wrapped around his body.
“Yes, what is it… oh shit,” he said as the three impeccably dressed women walked in, one of them putting the business end of a sawn off shotgun against his belly.
“Good evening Mister Desmond,” Miss Panther said, “and how are you this evening, you fucking little shit?”
“Hush,” Miss Leopard said as she placed the end of the gun in his mouth, and Miss Panther signaled outside, while Miss Serval looked round. He watched as five more women, identically dressed and masked, walked in, the last one closing the door behind them.
“My name is Miss Panther, we are the Pussycat Gang, and you are going to do exactly what we say, aren’t you dickhead?”
Ron looked at the eight women, and then nodded slowly as Miss Panther said “Good – Miss Serval, secure him while Miss Leopard keeps him quiet. Miss Puma, Miss Tigress, Miss Lynx, and Miss Oncilla – invite the rest of the family to join us. Miss Civet, disconnect the phone and any security devices.”
The other women nodded as Cassandra laid her gun down, opened one of the bags that had been placed on the floor, and watched as Miss Leopard slowly made Ron turn, before she grabbed his wrists and pulled them behind his back, using the rope to bind them tightly together as the gun stayed in his mouth.
“Don’t move, mother fucker,” she growled as she pulled his arms into his sides with more rope, as upstairs she could hear muffled screams and movement, before Soo Esmond was forced down the stairs, wearing a white knee length nightdress, by Miss Puma. Miss Tigress followed with Wilma, in a pair of black silk pyjamas; Miss Lynx forced Jade down the stairs at gunpoint in her green combat patterned top and shorts, as she looked round, her eyes wide in fear; and finally Miss Oncilla brought down Carol, in a pale blue vest and shorts, who was sobbing as she held herself.
“Shut the fuck up, you bunch of mewling quims,” Miss Panther shouted as Miss Serval tied off the last knot, Miss Leopard nodding as she removed the gun and pushed Ron towards his family. “We are the Pussycat Gang, and if you’re really good and really fucking lucky, you’ll get to tell people you met us – a rare privilege.”
“And if you’re luckier still,” Miss Lynx said as she stroked Jade’s cheek, “we’ll be really nice to you.”
“Phone and internet disconnected, and alarm disabled,” Miss Civet said as she walked in.
“Oh shit,” Ron said quietly, “what are you going to do?”
“Who knows, the night is young,” Miss Panther said, “but right now, your four whores need to be kept secure. Take care of it ladies.”
“Hmmggdddd,” Mary O’Shea said as she knelt on the floor of her front room, her arms pinned tightly to her sides by the tight ropes that had been wrapped around her upper body, above, below and between her breasts. Her wrists were pinned together behind her back, and the rope that ran from then down and between her legs was rubbing against her body, the knots driving her crazy as they pressed on her clit.
Her legs were tightly bound at her ankles, knees and thighs, but that wasn’t the worst thing. Not even the fact that the woman that called herself Miss Wildcat was kneeling behind her, caressing her thrust out breasts in her leather gloved hands as she squeezed and teased.
No – it was watching the other two intruders, Miss Cheetah and Miss Bobcat, as they took turns to punch Donald in his stomach, his gasps as they did so growing quieter. He also had his arms bound tightly together behind his back, and ropes holding his arms to his sides as he knelt on the ground.
“Your fucker is a strong man,” Miss Wildcat whispered into Mary’s ear as she closed her eyes, unable to stop herself from groaning now as the leather gloved hands squeezed again.
“Enough, enough,” Donald said, “what the fuck is it you want?”
“Well, right now dickhead,” Miss Cheetah said, “we need you to shut the fuck up and listen.”
“Enjoying yerself sugah,” Miss Bobcat said as she knelt in front of Mary, and put her hand between the bound woman’s legs, smiling as she felt how damp the young woman was. “Wahl I see you are – would you like me to help you along?”
Mary looked up, the white tape covering her mouth as she nodded.
“I have a better idea sugah,” she said as Miss Cheetah made Donald stand up and shuffle over to his wife, before she pulled his pants down.
“Oh god, no don’t make her…”
“Shut up, arsekisser,” Miss Wildcat said as she yanked the tape away from Mary’s mouth, “give your fuckbuddy a real good time, honey.”
“No – please don’t make me…”
She felt the barrel of the shotgun as it was inserted into her bottom, pressing on the rope, as Miss Wildcat said “do it, cocksucker – and do it right.”
Nodding, Mary slowly began to kiss and lick her husband’s cock, shivering as she felt it harden under her teasing, and then slowly began to suck on it, hearing his moan as he grew in her mouth.
The three women all watched as she soon brought him to a climax, and swallowed, as Miss Cheetah tape gagged Donald. Pulling him back, she threw him onto a seat as Miss Wildcat re-gagged Mary.
“Now, fucker,” Miss Cheetah said, “let’s talk about why we’re here, and why if you love your wife, you’re going to do exactly what we say…”
“Listen carefully,” Miss Wildcat said as she slowly pulled the crotch rope to and fro, sending Mary into a frenzy as her climax quickly followed.
“And you know why you’re going to do this,” Miss Cheetah purred as she held Donald’s chin up. “Because we own your ass, that’s why.”
“Be brave,” Soo said as she looked at Carol, her mouth and head covered by the band of silver tape that was wrapped round her head, holding in a pair of her own used hose. The eighteen year old was kneeling with her sisters, all of them gagged in the same way, with their arms bound with bands of rope that held them to their sides, and forced their chests out.
They were also frogtied, their ankles lashed to their thighs and ropes above and below their knees, watching as Miss Lynx took a pair of scissors and cut their pants away.
“Please,” Ron said as he sat on the chair, Miss Serval and Miss Leopard covering him with their guns, “they’re just children.”
“Oh I know that,” Miss Lynx said as she slowly turned and looked at Soo, “but that does not mean their cocksucking mother and ass licking whore fucking father have to protect them all their lives. They need to be exposed to the many experiences life has to offer.”
“Observe, Miss Serval,” Miss Leopard said, “The Beast is here.”
Cassandra watched the woman as she smiled and stood up, heading upstairs before she returned with three electric toothbrushes. She passed one to Miss Tigress and one to Miss Oncilla, before she turned hers on and ran it across Jade’s breasts, Miss Tigress doing it to Wilma and Miss Oncilla to Carol.
“Oh god, please,” Soo said as Miss Panther and Miss Serval looked on.
“Oh be quiet, pissdrinker,” Miss Puma said as she stroked her gun along Soo’s sides, and then between her legs as she sat there, “time for your little girls to become women.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Ron cried out, “don’t – I’ll do anything.”
“I’m sorry, fuckface,” Miss Lynx said as she looked at Ron, “were you telling me to stop?”
“Remember – Daddy did this,” Miss Lynx said as she rammed the electric toothbrush into Jade’s passage, watching the blood seep out as she closed her eyes and screamed.
“Now isn’t that better,” she said as she moved the toothbrush to and fro, Jade starting to shake as her body responded.
“Now that’s an idea,” Miss Oncilla said as she thrust her toothbrush into Carol – and then said “Well now, little sis has been popped already. I wonder when that happened?”
“HMMMGDDDDDD” the young girl said as she started shaking, and then screamed as she had an orgasm, Jade not far behind her.
“What about you, big sis,” Miss Lynx said as all three converged on her, “ready?”
“Oh shut the fuck up,” Miss Tigress said as she thrust her toothbrush in, Miss Lynx walking behind and thrusting hers between her butt cheeks as Miss Oncilla watched.
“Oh my god…”
Miss Panther and Miss Puma looked at Miss Serval, before the leader smiled and said “is there something you wish to say Miss Serval?”
“I…” She moaned again as Miss Leopard turned and looked at her.
“What do you wish to do?”
“Take this,” she said as she handed the gun to Miss Leopard, and then walked in front of Soo, kneeling down and looking at the young woman’s face.
“You are a very beautiful young woman,” she said as she stroked her cheek with her gloved hand, “and you speak very well. Tell me, are you skilled with your tongue?”
Miss Panther, Miss Leopard, Miss Puma and Miss Civet watched as Soo slowly nodded.
“Blindfold them,” she said quietly as she looked round. Miss Panther nodded as cloths were produced and tied over their eyes.
“Use that tongue, those lips,” she cooed as she slipped the top of her hose and her panties down, and positioned herself so that Soo felt Miss Serval’s clit on her lips. Miss Leopard handed her back the gun, as she pressed it against the mother’s head and said “do it.”
“You need to enjoy yourself as well,” Miss Civet said as she opened Ron’s pants, and pulled his dick out, while the others stood and watched Miss Serval slowly smile and start to moan…
8 am Local Time
“Good Morning Sir,” John Vosloo said as he entered the office of the Chief of Operations, came to attention and saluted.
“Ja Good Morning.” General Hendrik Botha returned the salute. “How was the game?”
“We played well and won comfortably.” Colonel Vosloo smiled.
“Alright now we have the civilities out of the way,” Hendrik said as he sat down and indicated John should do the same, “why did you ask me to come in on a Sunday morning John?”
“Well,” John said as he crossed his legs, “I spent last night talking with some old acquaintances on the phone, Russian Intelligence, MI6, and CIA. We swapped some notes and I think we have some sort of answer to my questions on Charlotte Gordon.”
“And those answers are?”
“The CIA think that a group of female police and intelligence people, joined with certain elements in the criminal fraternity last year to bring down that whole Mazengwe and slavery mess.”
“I seem to remember that being said at the time.”
“Well, the CIA also think what was at the time a marriage of convenience has evolved into something more permanent, that there exists a shadowy coalition of women dedicated to ending the abuse of women and children in certain parts of the world.”
Hendrik say forward. “You mean a group that acts outside the existing structures…”
“And outside the law Hennie.”
“And it’s your thought that both Charlotte Gordon and her employer are part of this coalition?”
“I think they are part of its public face yes.”
“So why Mogola? It might not be perfect, but its standards of human rights and freedom are higher then a lot of its neighbours.”
“That is where I get into the realm of pure conjecture Hennie, but I think something is happening somewhere in Mogola, somehow word has got out to this group of women and they are acting to close it down.”
“Any idea what?”
“Our Russian friends have heard whispers about some Chinese elements having gone into free enterprise, but using their governments resources. MI6 has been watching some slightly shadowy Japanese businessmen who have been using London as a staging stop on visits to Mogola.”
“So if I get this straight,” Hendrik said as he sat back, “the Oriental’s are pulling some kind of shit in Mogola, and these women are trying to stop it?”
“That’s my best guess currently Hennie.”
“And Charlotte Gordon?”
“If you want to expose wrongdoing…”
“Make sure that an internationally respected, and trusted, journalist breaks the story.”
“It’s only a theory Hennie,” the captain said, “but the pieces all do seem to fit.”
“Well it’s a pretty good theory John, the question is do we need to take any action?”
“I was hoping you might have a word with our political masters and ask what action they wish taken. In the meantime, I’ve put someone next to Piet van der Byl, and I’m maintaining surveillance in London.”
“Just in case you are wrong John?”
“As you say Sir, just in case I’m a mile wide of the mark.”
“Alright. I’m seeing the Minister and the Chief tomorrow morning, let me have all this on paper John and I’ll show them.”
“Thank you Hennie.” John stood up and said “Tell me, off the record, what if I’m right?”
“Off the record?”
John nodded as he looked at his superior officer.
“Then good luck to them – if it’s the same women who brought old man Kimba down, then these bastards deserve an ass whipping of the highest magnitude.”
8 am Local Time
“So you’re my new junior,” Piet said as he looked at the dark skinned woman, sitting with him at the roadside café. She was wearing a short sleeved blouse and shorts, and looked like an eager cub reporter with her shoulder bag and glasses. “So what do I call you – Liz, Lizzie, Elizabeth, or Lieutenant?”
“What works best for you, Piet?”
“Liz it is then,” Piet said as a car drew up, and Charlotte Gordon got out.
“Hello Piet,” she said as she reached down and kissed him, “so is this the eager office junior?”
“Liz, meet Charlotte. Charlotte, Liz.”
“Well, I hope you got those coffees to go,” Charlotte said, “we need to get you to the airport. Get in the car, both of you.”
“Yes, boss,” Piet said as he picked up his rucksack, getting into the car as Liz followed him. She sat next to a young woman, who looked at both her and Piet.
“This is Maria,” Charlotte said as they set off, “she will accompany you to the plane, and be on the flight with you. We’re going to fly you to just before the border, and you will be taken from there to see what you need to see.”
“All I know is it involves diamonds and some Eastern influences. The rest is up to you, Piet – and Liz of course.”
“We’ll have you at the border by nightfall. I’ll be informed when you are on your way back – but trust these women. They will keep you safe.”
Piet nodded as the car came to a halt, and they got out, a small plane waiting on the tarmac.
“Go – and good hunting,” Charlotte said as they climbed in, the plane taxiing off as soon as they were strapped in and the door closed. She watched as the plane took off, and then looked at her phone.
“Penny,” she said as she answered the call, “Helen is heading over as well – I’ll meet you both at the hotel tomorrow…”
Mary could hardly believe what she was hearing as the masked women talked to her husband, while Miss Wildcat was searching their bedroom.
“You mean, you bought my debt out?”
“That’s right arsefucker,” Miss Cheetah said as she stroked his leg, “so now we own you, and you are going to do what we say. Do this, and the debt is written off.”
“And your sweet little fuck lives, sugah,” Miss Bobcat said as she looked at Mary, and ran her hand between her bound legs, pulling the rope between them as she moaned.
“Oh – there she goes again,” Miss Bobcat drawled as Mary shook, then fell over onto her side.
“That’s the deal – you go to work as normal, and at seven thirty, you open the rear entrance and let us in. The Security Chief won’t stop you – in fact, he’ll be right with you.”
“Esmond? That’s where the rest of you are, isn’t it?”
“That’s right – so there’s five women you need to keep in mind while you do EXACTLY what we say, understand?”
Donald slowly nodded before Miss Bobcat shove a sponge ball into his mouth, and wrapped tape tightly round his head. “Now sugah,” she drawled, “why don’t we pass the time telling your dahlin little fuck here just what a naughty boy you’ve been, hmmm?“
“Well, Hollywood,” Miss Panther said to Miss Serval as they stood in the kitchen, “think you have a better idea of why we are what we are now?”
“Oh fuck yeah,” Miss Serval said quietly, as she saw Miss Lynx looking in a bag, “it’s not just the money is it – it’s the power, the feeling that you are in total control - that’s a lot to do with it as well, right?”
“A very great deal with it,” Miss Panther said as Miss Lynx said “Ah – here it is. I hoped we had brought it with us.”
The two women looked as she picked up the double headed dildo, and looked along the line.
“No, I think you girls are suitably subdued,” she said with a smile, “but you, mommy dearest, I think you deserve a fucking reward for helping Miss Serval to feel so relaxed.”
Soo was pushed over onto her back, her frogtied legs pushed apart as she said “whtrudngg” before Miss Lynx eased one end into her passage, moaning softly as she did so, and then looking at the mother.
“Oh you so fucking deserve this,” she said as she moved between the older woman’s legs, and then smiled as she heard the muffled scream when the other end of the dildo was forced into her.
“Shut up, fuckface,” Miss Tigress said as she hit Ron in the stomach again, “and enjoy what you can hear.”
“Yes,” Miss Leopard said with a sigh, “the control, the power is exhilarating, and you feel it as well, don’t you?”
Miss Serval nodded looking at Miss Civet as she reached under her skirt, some of the others following suit.
“Oh I understand now,” she moaned, “but why did you start?”
“I leave that to the fuckers giving you this job to decide,” Miss Panther said, “the truth will never be known.”
Hearing Soo’s muffled screams, Miss Serval nodded – she really did feel she understood them better now.
Mary looked at her husband, still trying to digest how much trouble he had placed them both in, as he finished putting on his uniform,
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” he said as he went to stroke her cheek, but she turned her head away, looking instead at the three masked women.
“Miss Wildcat will drive you to work in your car,” Miss Cheetah said, “if you raise the alarm, or call the police, we will know – and she will die, and the other women will die. Just remember that, and the fact you debt will be paid in full.”
Mary just shook her head as Miss Wildcat took Donald out, and they heard a car driving away.
“Now, sugah,” Miss Bobcat said as she looked at Mary, “we need to get you really cozy – and we have a little present for you. Our way of thanking you for been such ahn ahmazing fucking host. Miss Cheetah, if you would be so kind?”
“My pleasure, Miss Bobcat,” the other masked woman said as she took a vibrator from the bag, pulled Mary’s crotch rope to one side and thrust it in, making her call out as she put the rope back, and then rolled her onto her stomach, pulling her ankles and hogtying her.
Mary shook and then screamed out again, as Miss Bobcat and Miss Cheetah smiled, then started to play with themselves.
As they both worked themselves into a climax, a cell phone buzzed, Miss Cheetah looking at it.
“Time,” she said as she took a black case from the bag, and injected the sedative into Mary’s thigh, watching as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“He dies doesn’t he,” Jo said as she removed her stocking mask, and put on her dark glasses.
“Oh yes – she deserves better,” Heather replied. “Come on – we have a rendezvous to keep.”
Jade screamed as the rope was yanked tightly up by Miss Oncilla, pressing hard on the joggers she was wearing and rubbing on her crotch, which was still sensitive after the events of the last few hours. Her arms were pinned together behind her back, ropes holding them together around her elbows and her wrists, the crotch rope tied between her elbows.
The ropes around her chest were also pressing on her body, her breasts throbbing as they rubbed through the t-shirt she had been allowed to put on. She looked at Wilma and Carol, the two sisters looking back at her as they had the same feelings.
The three girls turned and looked as Miss Panther and Miss Leopard escorted Soo down the stairs. She was wearing a short sleeved blouse and a black leather skirt, but from the way she was walking, and the way her chest was forced out and encircled on all sides with white rope, they knew she had the same torture they were going through.
“They look so cute,” Miss Puma said as she ran her gun across their breasts, the touch of the metal on their sensitive nipples making them shiver even with the cloth stretched tight over them.
“All right fucker,” Miss Panther said as Ron walked slowly down the stairs, dressed for walk, “you will go in your car with Miss Puma and Miss Leopard. Your fuck sows,” she said as she looked at the tape gagged women, “come I our vehicle with me and the rest of us. If we see any sign of the police or the alarm being raised, if you do not have that door open at seven thirty, they die – and you die when we come in as well. Understand?”
Ron slowly nodded as they were all blindfolded, and Cassandra was surprised to find herself blindfolded as well.
“All right,” Juliette said as she put her dark glasses on, “move out.”
State Street Diamond Exchange
“Well,” Miss Oncilla said as she looked at Miss Civet, “they should be getting started in there. Excited?”
“Oh yes,” Miss Civet said quietly as she poked the barrel of her gun into Carol’s ribs, making her squeal through her stuffed mouth and the tape.
In the car, Miss Wildcat, Miss Cheetah and Miss Bobcat were checking and rechecking their weapons.
“He went in the front?”
“As did Esmond – Miss Panther is moving out.”
In the SUV, Miss Panther said “Miss Oncilla, Miss Civet, wait a moment until we secure the entrance, then bring the ladies in before you get to work.”
They nodded as they all removed their dark glasses, and pulled the stockings back over their heads, before Miss Lynx removed the blindfold from Miss Serval’s eyes.
“Pussycats, move out.”
As six emerged from the SUV, three emerged from the car, each carrying a sawnoff shotgun, half carrying bags as well.
Donald slowly turned as he saw Ron Esmond approaching him as he stood by the back door.
“What are you doing here?”
“I think you know sir,” Donald whispered, “I… I had a visitor during the night.”
“You as well?”
Donald nodded as he said “Boss, they have my wife…”
“They have my family,” Esmond said as he looked round. “Do what you have to do, and may god have mercy on us both.”
As he turned and walked away, O’Shea looked at his watch, and then typed in the security number for the rear door, standing back as it opened and nine of the she devils walked in, their hips swaying in the skirts, their faces covered, their looks alike.
“Thank you, fuck face,” Miss Panther said as Miss Cheetah and Miss Bobcat grabbed Donald by the arms. “Miss Tigress, stand guard for the moment.”
The tall Pussycat nodded as she stood by the door, the shotgun nestled in her hands as they walked onto the floor of the exchange. A number of security guards turned as they heard the shot fire into the air, and Miss Panther called out “ATTENTION FUCKERS AND WHORES – WE ARE THE PUSSYCAT GANG, AND IF YOU WISH TO LIVE TO SEE MORNING COFFEE, DO EXACTLY WHAT WE TELL YOU!”
“No fucking way,” One of the guards said as he drew his gun – only to fall to the ground as Miss Leopard fired her gun, his head exploding as the bullets hit.
“ANY MORE FUCKING HEROES? GOOD – ON THE GROUND NOW! MISS BOBCAT, MISS CHEETAH – SECURITY ROOM.”
Two of the Pussycats peeled off and walked to a side room, Miss Bobcat kicking the door open as Ron Esmond looked at them.
“They know,” he said quietly, “they won’t stop you, and the alarm has not been raised.”
“Good fucker,” Miss Cheetah purred as Miss Bobcat threw a large roll of duct tape at Esmond, and then pointed to the two security men. “Tape them up Dahlin – and then tape your own legs.”
On the shop floor, the remaining guards and the staff that had arrived were on the floor, their arms been secured behind their backs with zip ties and their ankles forced together, before tape was pressed firmly over their mouths by five of the Pussycats.
“Guard them,” Miss Panther said to Miss Wildcat and Miss Serval, the two women looking at each other before they looked round and started to poke the captives with their guns.
Hearing the whimpering of two women, Miss Serval stopped and said “If you two bitches don’t shut the fuck up, your brains will decorate the floor, understand?”
“Miss Leopard, inform the others they can come in please. Miss Lynx, Miss Puma – greet the staff as they arrive. Everyone else, make sure the floor is quiet.”
The group walked round as Miss Oncilla and Miss Civet dragged the Esmond girls and their mother in, and took them to the open area in front of the vault, forcing them to lie down before binding their legs and then hogtying them.
“To work,” Miss Civet said as she opened her bag, and took out several packages. “Take these and attach them where we discussed previously.”
On the street outside, everything looked normal, as one or two at a time the Exchange staff arrived at the front door, rang the security buzzer and then passed in – only to be grabbed by Miss Lynx and Miss Puma and propelled to the floor, where Miss Panther and Miss Leopard secured and gagged them.
Miss Serval and Miss Wildcat looked at each other, understanding they had no choice as they stood guard, while in the security room Miss Bobcat and Miss Cheetah were destroying records and disabling cameras while the security man and Esmond watched, tightly taped and gagged.
Miss Tigress watched through the rear door, which had been almost closed to, before Miss Puma came to her.
“Take my place at the front entrance – you deserve a little fun as well.”
As Miss Tigress walked in, she noticed Donald O’Shea fiddling with the hasp on the zip tie securing his wrists together. “Don’t even think about it,” she growled as she looked at him, and then pressed the gun into his back as he loosened the tie.
“Problem, Miss Tigress.”
“No,” she said as the front door opened and another two women were thrown to the floor, “not any more.”
The blinding pain was the last thing O’Shea felt as the lower part of his spine was blown away, as well as most of his stomach.
“That fucker thought we didn’t mean business,” Miss Lynx called out as Miss Wildcat stared at her, “discussion? No? Good – now shut the fuck up and keep quiet.”
“Hmggdddd,” a young woman said as Miss Serval looked at her.
“God? God’s not here,” she said as she looked at her, “we’re the Pussycat Gang, and we’re God’s nightmare.”
In the vault, Miss Oncilla and Miss Civet moved Soo to be with her daughters behind a set of desks, before Miss Civet ran the wires from the various devices to a control box. Wiring them in, she crouched behind the desk and nodded to Miss Oncilla.
“Fire in the hole,” she called out as she walked into the front, Miss Panther nodding as she looked at the others.
Miss Civet looked at the clock. “Five… Four… Three… Two… One…”
The bang was barely heard in the street outside, while inside Miss Leopard fired a shot into the air and shouted “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!”
“Alarms,” Miss Cheetah said to Miss Bobcat.
“None triggered – we blocked them all sugah,” Miss Bobcat said as she turned and looked at the other captives.
“Excellent work,” Miss Panther said as she joined Miss Civet, and looked at the three open vaults. “Ladies – take a bag and grab everything. We are on the clock. Miss Tigress, Miss Lynx – lock the front door, and take over guard duty while Miss Wildcat and Miss Serval assist us in here.”
“Go and help,” Miss Puma said as the other two women walked in, and took a bag from Miss Oncilla. They entered one of the vaults, looked at each other and started to empty the diamonds into the bags.
They worked as a well oiled machine, three pairs in each of the vaults, handing the bags to Miss Oncilla and Miss Civet as they placed them in larger canvas holdalls. As they filled them, they took them through the trading floor to Miss Puma, who took them and loaded them into the SUV alongside Miss Cheetah.
Eventually, the last of the diamonds were tipped into the bags, and the Pussycats left the vaults, Miss Wildcat and Miss Serval carrying the last bag between them.
“Nobody move,” Miss Panther called out as Miss Bobcat came down from the security room, “or we come back and find you – and we have copies of the staff records.”
The masked women walked out of the exchange, loading the last bag into the SUV.
“Miss Leopard, take Miss Wildcat, Miss Serval and Miss Puma in the car,” Miss Panther called out, “everyone else in here.”
The two vehicles moved out along Chatham Street, turning right and heading along the front of the exchange on State Street as Cassandra felt the blindfold over her eyes again, Jan nodding as the cars went onto Court Street, then Cambridge Street, and south on the I28.
As the car pulled up outside the main building, Miss Leopard turned and looked at Miss Serval and Miss Wildcat.
“The blindfold stays until you are inside,” she growled as the doors opened, Miss Wildcat and Miss Puma walking Cassandra inside and then removing her blindfold.
“We’re back,” Cassandra said as she and Janice removed the stockings.
“Go and get changed, Miss Hollywood,” Miss Leopard said as she indicated the stairs, “you will all be returned safely, as promised.
The two women slowly walked up, and looked at each other as they removed their wigs.
“Never tell him what you saw or did today, whatever it was,” Janice said as she sat and removed the heels, “I just regret the two deaths.”
“But… Oh my god Jan, the power I felt…”
“Yeah – yeah I felt it too in the other house,” Jan said, “but now I have to go and try not to anticipate the call that is coming.”
“I won’t say anything,” Cassandra said, “if you won’t.”
Jan nodded as she said “let’s get changed and hope Rick is awake.”
“Ah there you are,” Miss Panther said as they came down, “here – a glass of champagne to toast your night.”
“Are you not having some,” Jan said as she took the glass.
“Later – drink now, I insist.”
Jan and Cassandra looked at each other, and then drank the champagne – Jan instantly feeling light headed as the glasses were taken by Miss Lynx and Miss Tigress.
“Do a good job, Hollywood,” she heard Miss Panther say as she and Cassandra sat down, “or we’ll call again…”
“You know she’s going to kill you,” Sandy said as she looked at Juliette.
“Possibly – get the three of them into a car and back to Cassandra’s place.”
“We’ll do it,” Helen said as she and Doc removed their masks. “I’ve had a text from Madame – I need to be on a plane to Joburg tonight to deal with something at that end.”
“Helen, thank you for all your help,” Juliette said, “we’ll be in touch with your share of the takings in due course.”
“My pleasure – come, Anna, I need to consult with Catherine before I head off, and you need to talk to young Kylie.”
“Good work,” she said, Doc smiling as the two of them went upstairs.
“I’m going to cook some lunch,” Diana said as she walked off, and the others removed their masks and wigs.
“Not a bad send off for your Freshman year, Jo,” Cari said as she looked at her friend.
“Yeah – we’re heading back Tuesday so that I can start packing. I have to report to campus on the 28th.”
“Well, I’m back on the 30th, and you start back on the Monday Abby.”
“Yeah – summer’s coming to an end,” Abby said as Helen and Doc carried Rick out of the farmhouse, “let’s help with the two sleepyheads.”
“Hey there,” Doc said as she walked up to where Chet was sitting with Harry and Sarah, “Sorry I’m late – I had to take care of something with Juliette before I came.”
“Oh yes,” Sarah said as she looked up through her glasses, “anything interesting.”
“She asked if I’d help with an upcoming shoot,” Anna said as she sat down, and unfastened her shorts, pulling them off to reveal her bikini briefs. “Right now, I just want to relax and soak up some rays.”
“You may not get the chance,” Harry said as he looked towards the road, “the rest of the gang is arriving.”
“Hey,” Nikki said as she walked over, carrying a drinks cooler with Pepsi, “this was a fantastic idea, a Sunday afternoon on the beach.”
“Yeah – glad we thought of it,” Jeannie said from the arms of House, as he laid her down on a blanket that Barbara put down, before she, April, Annie and Caroline took a picnic table a little way away and left the youngsters alone.
“Dad still at home Becky,” Doc said as Becky and Ama carried over a picnic basket.
“Yeah – he heads back in a weeks time.”
“So do we,” Chet said, “once we see Blair settled in. Hard to think the summer is nearly over…”
“It’s hard to think the summer is nearly over,” April said as she sat at the table, “I need to take Pepsi to be fitted for a new uniform next week.”
“So do I – well, for Ama,” Caroline said as she poured a cold drink.
“Look at them,” April said as she glanced at the group, “they’ve grown so much over the last year, haven’t they?”
“I know,” Barbara said, “we’d only just arrived in New York this time last year, and since then our lives have changed completely.
“That’s true of all of us,” April said. “I mean, last August I was just a florist, so proud of Nicola for getting into the school, and now I advise leading families, Grant is part of a racing syndicate and happy as Larry, and Pepsi – well, Pepsi is happy, has a boyfriend who is British aristocracy, and has great friends.”
“They all do,” Annie said, “and we’ve all changed as well.”
“Amen to that,” Caroline said as she sipped her drink. “So when will we start meeting for coffee again?”
“I’ll ask Sandy about Friday – it’ll be good to start meeting again.”
“Anna can I ask a personal question?” Sarah asked.
“Sure,” Doc said as she looked over and raised her sunglasses, “what is it?”
“You and Chet…how often do you…?”
“Not as often as I think we’d both like…it’s the penalty of him living in Chicago and me in New York…Why?”
“Because I want Harry to…well you know what…and while I’ve given him chances, he’s not taken any.”
“Oh?” Doc sat up and looked at her friend.
Sarah looked at the other girls and said “Is it because I’m not slim like all of you, do you think?”
“Sarah,” Doc said as she sat up, “have you looked in the mirror? That puppy fat of yours has all but gone. You are gorgeous.”
“But I’m still no pinup like you.”
“Only because you don’t wear makeup, and well that one-piece does nothing for you.”
Sarah sat up and looked down at her bathing suit, “I know, but its all my mom will let me have.”
“Look I have an idea, while the guys and the others swim, let’s shoot over to the Richmond house, you are about Heather’s size and I know she has some amazing bikinis.”
“Are you sure she won’t mind?”
“No, look I’ll tell the others we will be gone an hour, I won’t say why, but I want to see their faces when you come back.” Anna giggled.
“All right then,” Sarah said as they stood up, Doc going to talk to the other girls before they walked to the road.
“Hey – where are you two heading?”
“Annie, any chance you can drive us to Sandy’s place?”
“Sure – I want to catch up with her anyway,” Annie said as she stood up. “Back in a little while?”
“Take your time,” Caroline said as they headed off.
“Ohhhh,” Jan said as she slowly opened her eyes, and sat up, “I am going to kill her later…”
Rubbing her eyes, she looked round and saw that they were back in Cassandra and Rick’s holiday home. They were on the couch opposite her, sitting side by side with their eyes closed.
“Hey,” Jan said as she slowly stood up, “wake up, both of you.”
Rick stirred first, opening his eyes and then looking wildly round. “What the hell… We’re back? Jan what happened last night?”
“Rick, it’s best you don’t ask,” Jan said, “have you got any bottles of water in the icebox?”
“Yeah – yeah,” Rick said as he looked at Cassandra, and gently kissed her on her lips.
“Hmmm do that again,” she whispered, and then opened her eyes, looking round as she said “Oh thank god – we’re home? It’s over?”
“I think so,” Jan said as she came back in and handed them each a bottle of water. “And we’ve survived – you can’t say that about many people who meet them.”
“What happened? I saw you dressed like them, and then I woke up here.”
“They put you to sleep for the night – and, well, I saw what they do, and I have a better idea now of why they do it.”
“No I didn’t kill anyone,” Cassandra said as she held the bottle of water, “but I don’t want to talk about it just now, Rick. Can you forgive me for putting you in danger like that?”
“Of course I can – we’ll talk about it when we’re ready,” Rick said as they hugged, while Janice went to answer the knock on the door.
“Hi mom,” Katy said as she hugged Janice. “I had so much fun last night. Did you have fun?”
“Sort of,” Janice said as Orlanda showed Cassandra’s kids in. “I hope we’re not too early,” she said as she looked round.
“Not at all – we were just going to have lunch. “Rick said as he went into the kitchen, and whispered “once I throw these steaks out…”
The Richmond Holiday Home
“Hey Annie – when did you get back in town?”
“This morning,” Annie said as she hugged Sandy, “I’m meeting up with Cari and the others later, but right now for some reason these two wanted to come here.”
“We need a favour,” Doc said as Sarah looked round, “is Heather around?”
“She’s out back with the kids – why?”
“I wondered if I could borrow one of her outfits?”
“Sure – I’ll tell her where you are.”
“Thanks,” Doc said as she dragged Sarah into the bedroom.
“Wow – this is their holiday home? Where do they live normally?”
“Fifth Avenue – that’s Alexandra Richmond.” Doc said as she looked through Heather’s clothes.
“All right, Anna Carlton – why are you going through my sister’s things.”
“Oh hi Jo,” Doc said as Sarah started stuttering, “I want Sarah here to look fantastic, so I was going to trade up her outfit.”
“hmmm – you’re a very good looking young woman, Sarah.”
“Bbbuuttt you’re Jjjjjj…”
“Yes, this is Jo Smith, the Fitzstuart Woolens model, and we are going to look after you. Jo, what do you think?”
“Hmmm – with her skin tone, the Electric Blue, but come here and sit down, Sarah, and we’ll see what else we can do…”
“House flies back tomorrow?” asked Nikki.
“Yeah I was just lucky they let him fly home from training camp for this weekend.” Jeannie smiled at her boyfriend as he trod water in the sea with Chet and Henry.
“And you fly out to the coast yourself…”
“Yeah but I’ll be in LA while he’s in the Bay Area.”
“Tell me about it.” Jeannie rolled her eyes.
“So what are you out there for?”
“I’m shooting a layout for Vanity Fair, and doing a little TV.”
“Or in other words she’s having another day at the office.” Becca said as she plumped herself down on a towel.
“Yep.” Jeannie smiled. “But it’s so worth it…”
“Looking forward to school starting Jeans?”
“Yeah in a way, but it’s going to be strange without Jo there.”
“Agreed.” Nikki nodded. “I think the whole school will miss her.”
“Ah, but we are Sophomores – all those lovely little freshmen to lord it over…”
“No we won’t Rebecca Morse,” Pepsi said, “they will be Angels as well, after all.”
“I know, I know – I guess.”
“Well Abby should be in the air right about now…” Jeannie looked at her watch.
“Still envious Jeans?”
“That she’s flying to Barbados to do a second Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot?”
“Not really,” Jeannie said with a smile, “I have sort of heard through the grapevine that I might get an offer next year.”
“Hey well done that girl.” Both Becca and Nikki high fived their friend.
“Another trip to LA, Barbara? Think of those air miles.”
“I’m thinking of those miles in the air,” Barbara said with a sigh, “do you know going out to LA for the wedding was the first time I actually saw some of the city despite been there every two months for the last year?”
“Ah but what a wedding,” Caroline said.
“Wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there,” April said with a smile.
“Ah sorry April…”
“Hey - I was up at Curragh supervising the Italian garden. Trust me – Grant and I had just as much fun there.”
“Hey – did I miss much?”
“Nah – just discussing… Who is that with Doc?”
“Chet,” Henry said as he looked up the beach, “who is that vision with Doc?”
Chet looked up from the shoreline, and started to grin. “Oh come on Henry – can’t you tell?”
Henry stared at the two girls walking down, his jaw dropping as he said “Sarah?”
The young girl was wearing a blue bikini, and as she got closer Henry could see the carefully applied make up, her hair combed out and falling over her shoulders.
“Oh my goddess,” Pepsi said as she saw them walk over, “so that’s where you went to?”
“Hi H,” Sarah said as the two boys came up, “Sorry, I felt I had to change.”
“Well, I’m glad you did,” Jeannie said as she looked over, “You look good girl.”
“Thanks,” Susan said with a blush, “what do you think H?”
“Henry thinks you look fabulous as well,” Chet said as he looked at his friend, “and he wants to tell you about it as you walk along the beach. Isn’t that right H?”
“Yeah – yeah, if you want,” Henry said as he took Sarah’s hand.
“I’d like that very much,” Sarah said with a blush as they walked off.
Sarah want the makeover?"
H has been a little bit slow in coming forward if you get my meaning?"
looks incredible..." Chet mouthed the words.
Remember you are MINE!" Anna dug him in the ribs with her elbow.
is a little over protective."
"Well her mom needs get used to the fact that Sarah is becoming a gorgeous girl...and if I think she gets her way, a beautiful young WOMAN."
“You’ve never met her mom,” Chet said with a smile.
State Street, Boston
Adam looked over as Jane pulled up outside the diamond exchange and got out.
“Hey – sorry to pull you away from Katy.”
“It’s all right – Cass said she would watch her until I got back. How bad is it in there?”
“Two dead, both security guards, but the people are really shaken up.”
“So what did they do this time?”
“Let’s see,” Adam said as he looked at his notes. “After midnight last night, three of them broke into the home of one of the security guards and held him and his wife hostage. At the same time, the rest of them took over the home of the security chief, and held him, his wife and his three daughters hostage.”
“Not the manager?”
“Nope – first he knew as when he walked in this morning and was forced in by two of them. From what Ron Esmond, the security chief said, they came and went by the rear entrance – and access to that…”
“… is controlled by security,” Janice said as they went in. “So they forced the security guard to open the back door, and Esmond to disable the security system?”
“That’s about right – but they seem to have brought in an expert this time. They arrived here at seven thirty – with Esmond’s family – overpowered everyone, then blew the doors to the three main vaults simultaneously. Whoever did it was good – minimal noise, and minimal damage, but they emptied the vaults.”
“So who died?”
“The security guard they forced to open the back door, and one other – looks like they tried to fight back. Police found his wife trussed in their house – apparently they bought out a gambling debt he ran up.”
“Alive,” Adam said, “but – well, Miss Lynx was at their house.”
“Let me guess – no clues?”
“Unlikely – you should have brought Cassandra here, let her see the aftermath.”
“She’s not authorized to visit a crime scene,” Jan said quietly as she looked at the blood stain. “Have you called Tom?”
“Yeah – 0900 tomorrow for briefing. Right now, I don’t think there’s a lot else we can do here.”
6.30 pm Local Time
“Welcome to Barbados ladies.” The limousine driver smiled a warm friendly greeting as Abby and Diana stepped out of the terminal building.
“It’s nice to be here.” Diana smiled back as the man took their luggage.
“You been here before?”
“Not in many years, and my daughter never has.”
“Well the place has changed a bit…”
“But the people are still as friendly.” Diana watched as Abby paused to sign a couple of autographs.
“Sports Illustrated have you booked into the Royal Westmoreland…real nice place.”
“Well, I for one am looking forward to a few hours down time,” Abby said as she got into the back of the car.
“My poor daughter,” Diana said as she sat beside her, the driver grinning as they set off.
As the car swept up the drive to the main buildings, Abby smiled and said “well, it looks nice enough.”
“It is,” Diana said as the car stopped, and the young man opened the door for them, a maid coming out of the villa.
“Countess de Ros, Countess de Ros, on behalf of Sports Illustrated welcome to the Royal Westmoreland. We hope this villa is to your liking.”
As they walked in and looked round, Diana nodded. “Oh yes, very much to our liking thank you.”
“A private chef will call later to cook for you tonight, but for now please, relax and unwind – there is a private pool through there.”
“Sounds good to me,” Abby said as she removed her linen jacket.
“allow us to unpack for you,” the maid said as she and the young man took the bags to the bedrooms, Diana selecting a wine and pouring a glass as Abby went out and sat by the pool.
“I could get to like this place,” she said as her mother came out.
“Indeed – very acceptable for your last week before school.”
8 pm Local Time
The South Africa/Mogola border
The jeep pulled up into a compound, surrounded by trees, and as Piet and Liz got out they could see groups of women carrying supplies out of a number of trucks.
“Oh my god,” Liz said as she looked round, “who are these people?”
“They call themselves the Sisters of Maisha,” a woman with a New York accent said behind them.
“Hi Jane,” the big man said as he embraced the American journalist. “They invited you along on this shindig as well eh?”
“A certain well-known hacker, who shall remain nameless, told me where to be and when. From the reading material she supplied for my in-flight entertainment, it looks like we have another Mazengwe type situation going on…”
“We do?” Liz asked.
“Oh I better do the intros,” Piet said, “Elizabeth this is Jane Molloy of the New York Times. Liz is my camerawoman Jane.”
“Greg, the big guy over there is mine.”
The man waved as the women went about their business, taking no notice of the group of journalists.
“So this is the Sisterhood I have heard about,” Liz said to herself as she watched.
“They look like they know what they are doing.” Piet nodded at the women unloading weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
“I overheard one of them saying they lost two dead a few days ago.” Jane looked sad. “Apparently they attacked a supply convoy – whatever it is going on down here, they’re fighting a guerilla war.”
“I hear accents and languages from all over the southern half of this continent.” Piet observed.
“Do you think they have political aims?” asked Elizabeth.
“Beyond bettering the lives of other women, and stopping the abuse of children?” Jane shook her head, “No I think it isn’t a political thought that has brought these women here, it’s been the sights and sounds of suffering and death. These girls simply want to try to help stop that.”
“Most of them have lost husbands, children, other relatives to the cruelty of men,” a tall woman with a well educated English voice spoke, “They simply want, for the first time, to fight back. They follow The Heart and The Strength – the core of our movement.”
“And you are?”
“Your guide for the next part of the journey, we have to progress on foot from here, at night, for reasons that will become clear.”
“We are unloaded Leader,” a woman called out.
“Alright we move out, and you,” she pointed to the four journalists, “please keep your bloody heads down.”
A group of twelve women approached, each carrying a rifle and a backpack, as the tall woman picked one up herself. She signaled as they started to move into the jungle, six in front of and six behind Piet, Jane and the two photographers.
“Lovely,” Greg said, “a nighttime yomp through the jungle.”
“Bear up,” Piet said, “could be worse. Could be under fire.”
9 pm Local Time
Great Westmoreland, Barbados
“Hey Countess…Hey Stick.” Esther Lowenstein stood and kissed both women as they came into the bar.
“Hey Essie…long time…” Diana smiled.
“I know,” the veteran model said, “but with me based in Atlanta, I don’t get to New York much.”
“You’d never know,” Diana said as she sat on the stool, “you still have the strongest Brooklyn accent I ever heard.”
“Yeah,” Esther smiled, “when your Mom and I were both still modeling Abby, she always swore she needed an interpreter to talk to me…”
“Or for us to talk in French…at least I understood your French.” Diana laughed.
“So who is the photographer Esther?” Abigail asked.
“Oh no!” Abby groaned…”anyone but him.”
“Yeah I sorta hoyd about Fiji last year, that’s why I’m here, make sure he doesn’t fry your ass this time.”
“GOOD!” Mother and daughter replied in unison.
“Hey Stick!” a tall brunette came in and kissed Abby.
“Hello Olga.” Diana spoke as the model kissed both other women.
“Did Esther tell you who our photographer is?”
“Yep…I take it you…?”
“Two years ago in Minorca,” Olga said as she shook her head, “worst shoot of my life.”
“What is everyone talking about?” a tall blonde with an Australian accent said as she joined them.
“We are exchanging Rick horror stories Kooks.” Olga smiled.
“Oh don’t tell me…” the Australian rolled her eyes. “He once had me standing in the way of a Japanese typhoon till he got the shot he wanted.”
“At least he didn’t fry you on a rock Beth.” Abby shook her head.
“Alright gals the drinks are on me.” Esther beckoned a barman over. “Get it out of your systems tonight – tomorrow, I’ll be on his ass so much he won’t try anything.”
10.30 pm Local Time
“Take cover!” Piet heard the command seconds before he heard the sound of the low flying helicopter.
“Down!” Piet felt Liz’s hand on his back pushing him into the bush and to the ground.
For what seemed an eternity Piet lay there, but it was perhaps only for a minute before he heard the command to stand up and start marching again.
“They must have figured out we were using these trails,” the Leader spoke, “that’s the first time we’ve encountered one of their choppers down here.”
“We need to use the alternative routes back,” one of the soldiers said, the Leader nodding as they headed down the path.
“Who are they?” Jane asked.
“The slant eyes,” one of the women answered, her tone full of hostility.
“Slant eyes? You mean Chinese?”
“Not just, the poor Mogolan's have unwanted Japanese guests as well Miss Molloy,” the Leader answered. “These ladies can’t tell the difference so we just call them all slant eyes.”
“So what are these people doing?”
“If I told you now that would spoil the surprise wouldn’t it?” the Leader grinned. “In the meantime use this.”
“I hardly think I need to shine my shoes…” Piet said as he looked at the tin of shoe polish.
“It’s not for your shoes man, it’s for your damn face, you whiteys stand out like a beacon from above,” one of the other women laughed.
“Ja okay, I get the point.” Piet started to cover his face before passing the tin to Jane and her photographer.
“You,” the Leader said as she walked with Liz, “you reacted with instinct when the helicopter came over, as a soldier would. Where did you serve?”
“Army,” Liz said as she looked round.
“Before or now? You dress as a photographer, but you act and look round like a soldier.”
Liz looked at the young woman, before she said “and if I was?”
“Then I would ask you to watch what we show you carefully, and ask yourself – if not us, then who? I would also ask you to remember the camera you carry has an internal battery, and you do not have a charger with you.”
Liz smiled, and said “I ensured it was fully charged before we left.”
“Then I hope you find what you are looking for,” the Leader said with a smile as they moved on.
Monday 17th August
1 pm local time
“My thanks for the invitation,” Tamiko Tanaka said as she entered the suite, wearing a white blouse and a knee length black leather skirt.
“And my apologies if we have appeared to keep you in the dark,” Natalya said as she made a low bow. “We are now, however, in a position to pay the debt of honour we owe for your help and hospitality. You have met Niki before, but allow me to introduce Jill Hudspeth.”
“An honour,” Tamiko said as she bowed her head, Jill and Niki bowing in return.
“To business – We have managed to get both visual and audio scanning devices into the home of Yoshimi, and we understand he is holding a meeting in one hour – a meeting that has led to his usual entourage being ‘invited’ to stay well out of the way.”
“How exciting,” Tamiko said, “and for food?”
Natalya turned as she heard a knock on the door. “That will be it now – if you will excuse Jill and I for a moment?”
“Of course,” Tamiko said as she sat next to Niki, smiling as she watched the young woman check the surveillance equipment.
“So Miss Abata where are you from?” the Lady Yakuza asked as they sat waiting.
“Originally Hawaii, fourth generation American born and bred. I’m ethnic Japanese, but otherwise an all-American girl.”
“I guessed that was maybe the case, your Japanese is too good…”
“Yeah none of my family speak the language - I had to learn it from scratch.”
“So how did you end up in Tokyo?”
“I worked for Madame in Los Angeles…when it was decided Xavier International needed a presence here I volunteered and got the job.”
“Well a happy coincidence.”
“That woman’s smile reminds me of a snake.” Jill nodded at Tamiko Tanaka as she and Natalya brought in the lunch.
“Very observant,” Natalya said as she laid the tray down, and then handed plates out. “Fresh from the market today – I hope you approve.”
Tamiko smiled and nodded as she helped herself, the others sitting and talking before Niki said “I think his guests have arrived.”
The four gathered around the screen as Yoshimi welcomed his two Chinese guests, and showed them in, other men standing around.
“For the sake of the Russian in the room can you please translate Niki?” Natalya asked.
“At the moment it’s just social pleasantries, our man is boasting about his stunning new girlfriend.”
“I wonder how shocked they would be if they really knew what was in Louise’s panties.” Jill laughed.
“So who exactly is in the room?”
“Most of these guys are his chief henchmen Natalya.” Tamiko looked closely at the monitor. “These two Chinese though I do not know.” She pointed at the screen.
“I know the smaller one.” Jill looked hard, “his name is Wei Liu he’s with the Chinese Embassy.”
“Now what is a diplomat doing at a meeting of gangsters?” Natalya asked.
“He’s probably there to translate.” Jill speculated. “Note that the other Chinese was served first with his whiskey, I’ll give you good money he’s someone big from back home.”
“Hmm – Niki, can you do a screen capture and send to Madame for visual identification?”
Niki nodded as she froze the frame and typed, then returned to the scene.
“Do we have time to make coffee?” Natalya asked.
“Yes, these social formalities will go on for a few minutes yet.” Tamiko looked up from the screen. “There is an etiquette to a meeting like this that has to be observed.”
“Jill will you help me then.” Natalya smiled at the British woman.
“Do you think Madame can do the identification,” Jill said as they went to the small kitchen.
“If she does not know, we have two options available. The first is to run through the facial recognition software, but that would take time.”
“And the second?”
“Ask Cathy Lu,” Natalya said. “Either way, if he is known, we’ll have an answer soon.”
“Pleasantries appear to be over,” Tamiko said as Jill and Natalya came back over.
“What is being said now?” Natalya asked as she began to serve coffee.
“They just started talking business.” Tamiko accepted a cup. “Our people want to know why Mr. Big from China hasn’t used his influence to help in their purchase of an office building in Shanghai?”
“He’s explaining that he can’t be too overt in greasing the rails for them.” Jill smiled, “but his translator is being rather more diplomatic in how he explains it compared to what his boss originally said.”
“So why are they buying property in Shanghai?” asked Natalya.
“It’s as good a way as any to launder their cash,” Tamiko explained, “My father has done the same. Given both the rise in property values and rents, it’s actually a very solid business move.”
“If as a foreigner you can get permission to buy… Yoshimi is peed off how long things are taking.”
“I understand that Niki, I have certain connections who have been trying to do the same thing in various countries and meeting the same obstacles.” Natalya nodded.
“Side bar from NY, we have a name and role. Le Yi, deputy secretary for rural development in Beijing.”
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” Natalya said, “not high enough to know the benefits of real power, but close enough to want it. Things are coming together.”
“Now he’s saying that if they want him to keep financing Loadstone, then they had better see some benefits soon.”
“Did he say Loadstone?”
All three other women nodded to Natalya.
“The Chinese are explaining that one of their supply convoys was attacked, and that they are afraid to move product until they have rid the area of bandits.” Jill explained.
“Oh that’s made him angry. Look at that look in his eyes.” Tamiko pointed.
“So I see,” Natalya nodded.
“So what is Loadstone,” Tamiko asked.
“We believe he is financing someone to run a mining operation in the African country of Mogola, amongst other things. Loadstone is his little joke, I suspect.”
“And diamonds,” Natalya said as she sipped her coffee, “and other things.”
“What is this about?” asked Niki, “Mr. Big is saying that a cargo will be being dropped off at dawn local time the day after next at Tofino…Where the hell is Tofino?”
“It’s not here in Japan Niki,” Natalya smiled as her associate pulled out a map. “It’s on Canada’s west coast, on Vancouver Island.”
“Our Chinese friend is saying that 20 head have survived, that the crew have had to dispose of 12 carcasses…Are they talking about cattle?”
“I wish they were Niki.” Natalya shook her head.
“So what is it they are moving?” for once even Tamiko seemed inquisitive.
“Young women and girls…the Chinese are in the slavery business as a by-product of Loadstone.”
“Oh good grief!” Tamiko looked amazed, “And the Death Dragons know this?”
“Yes…it was our clue that something was happening when we liberated one of the girls.”
“But who would…?”
“I suspect that they have customers in both the Chinese and Occidental communities. Some see nothing unnatural in slavery, others see it as a perk of being rich that they can actually own other human beings.” Natalya smiled grimly.
“Bastards!” Tamiko said the word slowly. “I may be a gangster, but there are things even I will not do.”
“Indeed – Madame has similar feelings, but you understand now our need for caution in approaching this problem.”
“That attack on the convoy – would you know anything about that?”
“We are taking steps to get word out of what is happening in Mogola.” Natalya said, “and more than that I cannot say. I asked for your understanding, and now I ask for your help. Soon, we will be in a position to move on multiple fronts. When the time comes, we humbly ask your family to aid in our endeavour.”
“I thank you,” Tamiko said quietly, “I must speak to my father, but I personally will give all I can.”
“We can ask no more – save to ask if you care for more coffee as we watch?”
6 am local time
As dawn broke the Leader called a halt. “Put up the camouflage nets…sentries two hours on, four hours off…radio report our progress. See if we can feed our guests as well”
Quickly the women soldiers went about their tasks, four sentries taking up positions, as the radio operator got in contact. The party sat in the bush until a net was set up, and then took shelter under, the others splitting into two groups and resting.
“Well Liz are they what you expected?” Piet whispered.
“No,” the officer shook her head, “they look and sound like any group of women you might pick out at random anywhere, but they act and react like battle hardened combat veterans. Our army would long for soldiers this good.”
“Ours as well.” Jane joined the conversation sitting on the ground under the camouflage netting. “Whatever training they put these girls through, it is effective. I think they could teach the USMC a thing or two.”
“What’s that song they are singing?” Piet asked as the women started to sing a lilting little tune.
“We call it The Song of Maisha,” one of the women said as she brought the journalists some biltong to chew on, and a can of tuna each to supplement the dried meat. “It is so we remember why we are here.”
“What language is the song in?” asked Jane.
“It’s Zemba,” Piet listened, “it tells of a story of a girl seemingly abandoned and alone, but she gets rescued and adds her blade to that of others to seek revenge and justice.”
“Damn, but it sounds so sweet…” Greg laughed.
“No, it’s not sweet at all.” Elizabeth listened carefully. “It describes how they kill those who try to oppress them, to ensure the freedom of all. In this, they follow those who have gone before.”
As they listened, Jane shivered.
“Consider some of your own songs, Miss Molloy,” Liz said, “I once heard a song called Strange Fruit, by a singer called Billie Holliday. A haunting, beautiful tune – and then you read the lyrics, and realize they are talking about lynching coloured people.”
She looked through the net, and said “these are women with a mission and a cause, and the conviction to follow through on both. In a way I admire them.”
“Well,” Piet said, “I suggest we try and get some sleep. I think we still have a long march ahead of us.”
Noon Local Time
The guards were changing places quietly, Greg and Piet sleeping deeply, while Liz lay on her side with her eyes closed.
“So why are you here Leader?” Jane asked as they lay hidden from both the rays of the sun, and overhead surveillance. “I can tell you are from a different background to the rest of these women, what brought you here?”
“I’m not sure I really wish to, or can, tell you,” the Zulu closed her eyes.
“Let me make an educated guess…you were raped?”
“You must be a great journalist,” the Leader said as she sat up and removed her dark glasses.
“Not really,” Jane said quietly, “just been there, done that. It was the one thing I could think of that might drive a woman like you to do this.”
“How old were you?”
“16.” Jane shook her head. “Two men dragged me into the woods in Central Park, cut my jeans off…fucked me hard…then ran off.”
“Were you a virgin?”
“I was,” Leader said as she blinked back her tears, “Among my people, especially in my family it is important a woman goes to her husband untouched. To my father, to my family, my having been raped made me worthless as a potential bride…no man now wants me, or will take me.”
“Oh surely not…”
“Miss Molloy, Africa is not the United States, we have different customs, different ways…”
“Well why not leave Africa, a beautiful, intelligent woman like you?”
“Maybe one day, but my therapist had heard of the sisters, she knew someone who knew someone, and I was persuaded to visit Mazengwe. Among these women I refound a reason to live, a cause to fight for, and yes maybe to die for. I might not be the daughter my parents hoped proudly that one day I might be, but I hope I can maybe make them proud in another.”
“I think if they knew, they would be proud.”
“I know not – one day, but not today. Rest Miss Molloy, we move off soon.”
Liz lay still, having listened to the conversation. She liked this Leader, and had a feeling she knew who she was, but was not certain. If she was right, however, then her father would be proud…
10 am local time
“Hey Itchy, Hey Kookaburra.” Abigail greeted her fellow models as she entered the tent where the hair and makeup teams were based.
“Hey Stick.” Elizabeth Pollard said as she walked over and kissed the American.
“Right you are all here.” Esther smiled as she entered with Diana. “I have had a sharp word with Rick, I’ve told him I don’t need dehydrated or pissed off models, and he’s agreed to use one of his people as a stand-in while he’s setting up and lighting the setups.”
“Well that will help.” Olga Michikova visibly relaxed.
“There aren’t any hurricanes coming in either are there?” Beth asked.
“No!” Essie smiled, “no climate extremes.”
“So can we see the suits please?” Abby asked.
“Naturally – gather round ladies.”
“Wow!” Beth whistled as Esther unpacked them carefully. “I wore these at Bondi I’d soon have a full dance card.”
“They are pretty amazing.” Esther looked happy. “I think as usual the swimsuit edition will provoke more than a few cancel my subscription messages.”
“The moralists may not like it darling, but as you were telling me earlier, it is the magazines biggest selling edition of the year.” Diana smiled.
“Well hair, makeup girls, then let’s see how you look in these.” Esther clapped her hands, and then looked at them all.
“What,” Elizabeth said, “have I a smudge on my face or something?”
“Okay girls I hate to say this, but are you all shaved?” Esther asked.
“Armpits, legs, yep.” Abby nodded.
“I don’t mean there, I mean here.” Esther pointed.
“Not this morning.” Beth grinned.
“Well I think ya betta girls.” Esther shook her head, “These suits are going to be ruined if the odd…”
“We get the picture Essie.” Olga smiled. “Do each other?” she offered.
“Suits me Itch.” Abigail smiled.
“I’ll get everyone out while youse do it.” Essie looked serious.
“Alright everyone.” Diana pointed, “All out while the girls do this.”
The girls found some razors and cream and very carefully got to work as Diana stood guard.
Kooks, careful please, last thing I need is a shaving cut down there."
Abigail grinned as the Australian shaved her.
Essie might just about skin you alive..."
mention what my mother would do Itchy."
women laughed aloud.
things we do in the name of beauty." Beth shook her head as she inspected
her work. "Okay I think you are good to go Stick."
"Thanks." Abby pulled her panties on and gathered a robe round her. “Your turn now.”
11 am EST
St Angela’s Academy
Wilhelmina looked up as Annie came into her office, smiling as she said “Good morning, Wilhelmina – I understand you wanted to see me.”
“Ah yes – how was the Athletics camp Annie?”
“Busy,” Annie said as she sat and crossed her legs, her skirt falling to the side as she did so. “So what did I miss while I was away?”
“Well, for one thing we have appointed a new Dean of Students.”
“Really? Well, who is this paragon of discipline going to be?”
“Good morning Annie.”
Annie turned as the blonde haired woman walked into the room. “Good choice,” she said with a smile, “no wonder Cari said this was going to be an interesting day.”
“Well, this is part one of the surprise,” Grace said as she sat down, “I hope you’re ready for part two.”
“We have two new teachers who will be reporting next Monday,” Wilhelmina said, “and Grace and I were discussing the possibility of you acting as a mentor to them while they adjust to our way of working.”
“Of course – where are they coming from?”
“My old school,” Grace said, “and we’re taking an apartment a few streets from you. We’ll be arriving on Saturday night, but I’ll take occupancy tomorrow before I fly back.”
“Well then, you are coming to dinner tonight in the village, no questions asked – Caroline and Ama would love to see you before you go.”
“Thanks, I’ll call Ju and let her know. Now, while you’re here, I wanted to discuss your role on the athletics team for next year…”
4 pm local time
Penny looked up as she heard the knock on the door, and walked slowly over, drawing the shiv from the back of her jeans as she did so.
“Special delivery from New York.”
Looking through the peep hole, Penny smiled as she replaced the knife in her waistband, and opened the door.
“Here you go,” Helen said as she handed over a brown bag, “Fresh from the cutting room.”
“Domme Assassin 4 – thank Maddie for me when you see her,” Penny said as she hugged the brunette. “How was your flight?”
“Long – fortunately, I slept for most of it. I had a rather busy night beforehand.”
“So I heard from Madame – she and Catherine put the initial estimate at forty million.”
Helen let out a low whistle. “I hope Cathy doesn’t mind me accepting my share…”
Another knock on the door made both women turn, Helen drawing a thin knife and standing by the door as Penny said “Yes?”
“I come from the Heart and the Strength.”
Nodding, Helen sheathed the knife as Penny opened the door, letting Charlotte in.
“Okay welcome to Joburg ladies.” Charlotte said as she hugged both Helen and Penny.
“It’s a big city,” Penny looked out of the hotel window, “I’ve never been here before.”
“It’s a bloody, damn dangerous city as well,” Charlotte removed a pair of .38’s from her bag. “I got you both permits to carry those as well,” she handed over some documentation.
“Has it got worse since the last time I was here?”
“How long ago was that Helen?”
“Two years ago…”
“Oh yeah, it’s got a lot worse since then. Muggings, Car-jackings, Armed Robberies, Murders, this place can make the Wild West look like a kiddie show.”
“Noted,” Penny slipped the gun into her Jameson bag.
“Our prisoner should be here in the early hours of the morning. I’ve arranged for him to be taken to an abandoned farmhouse West of Pretoria, its isolated and I have it guarded, you should be able to do your interrogation in peace and quiet.”
“I brought leather fetish gear with me,” Penny spoke.
“Knowing I’d be working with Penny I bought some for myself as well.” Helen smiled.
“Well if you want to wear it fine, but I think our Chinese Soldier boy might miss the point.” Charlotte half smiled.
“I wouldn’t though….” Penny almost purred at the thought of Helen in fetish wear.
“Look you two sort it out between you,” Charlotte laughed, “Just remember this is about information, and that the SAIS have probably made you both and are asking why you are visiting me?”
“Hence the wigs, the false passports, etc.” Helen smiled. “We should be in and out of the country hopefully before they even really start asking the right questions.”
“Exactly – I’ll have a car take you out tomorrow at dawn. Right now, let’s go and eat – I’m starving.”
“What word from the raiding party?”
“Should arrive about midnight tonight…”
9 pm Local Time
“So why move only at night?” Jane asked as the party made their way along the trail, “I’d have thought with this jungle cover…”
“In this day and age of satellites and heat imaging, even moving at this time is dangerous Miss Molloy,” the leader spoke grimly, “but this at least cuts down some of the risks.”
“Are you telling me they have access to spy satellites - these people you are fighting?”
“We don’t know, but they are very well funded so we take as few chances as we can.”
“You know this begins to sound more and more like a war zone…”
“It is Liz…we are fighting a war to stop the exploitation of women and children.”
“So Leader what has these people so damn interested in this part of Mogola?”
“Just wait until you see Miss Molloy.” Leader smiled.
“She doesn’t believe in sharing information does she?” Liz whispered to Jane.
“No – but she has a point. Look at Greg – he’s worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, and he’s nervous. Something big is going down here…”
“Ja,” Piet said as he walked behind them, “this is like the time I tracked the Russians. Leader, how long?”
“Two hours – the walk will be worth it.”
“What is that rumbling sound?” Piet spoke quietly.
“What you are here to see.” One of the women spoke as they walked along.
“Are we close then?” Jane asked.
“Goddess no, we are still about an hour’s walk away,” another of the women soldiers replied with a smile.
“Dear Lord,” Piet shook his head, “this must be huge if we can hear it this far away?”
“Well let me tell you it’s not a small operation Mr. van der Byl.” The Leader spoke. “Alright everyone be on alert in case there are any enemy patrols out.”
“Yellow is reporting a contact west of here.” The radio operator spoke. “She has two wounded, but no deaths.”
“Halt,” the leader called out before she squatted and started to think. “Alright she needs these medical supplies and you as well Mabetha.” She pointed to one of the women. “You three,” she pointed, “work your way to Yellow’s position asap…we will continue on and hopefully join you round dawn.”
“Why did you send that woman Mabetha?” Liz asked.
“She’s a trained nurse, she can help the wounded.”
“And the other sides wounded?”
“They never have any wounded.” Leader smiled a trifle savagely.
“Oh,” the implication hit Liz.
Another hour later, The Leader called a halt and motioned to the other women to move to the sides. Crouching in the bush, Piet and Jane looked at the brightly lit compound in front of them, and the hillside that was as well lit.
“I don’t get it,” Jane whispered, “what are they… Oh my god, those are slave workers.”
“Indeed,” the Leader said as the water cannon blasted the hill side away, and the supervisors forced the poorly dressed workers to sift the mud.
“Oh dear Lord is that what I think it is?” Piet asked.
“It is indeed Mr. van der Byl…Welcome to hell.”
Piet looked carefully at the floodlit worksite, noting carefully those extracting the gold bearing ore from the mudslides, the armed guards watching everything. The clang of the stamping mills as they crushed the ore.
“Men, children, older women – where are the younger girls?”
“In time, Miss Molloy, please take the notes you need to take.”
Both Jane and Piet watched as the water cannons blasted into the hillside, not caring if workers were still there. Liz had to stop herself from cursing as she took shots of one poor man caught in a mudslide, slowly disappearing under the flow as his fellow workers were forced to watch.
The mud flowed down to where press gangs of men and boys were forced to sift out the rocks. Jane could see the rags that barely covered their emaciated bodies, as boys who looked to be about six were forced to carry rocks half the size of their bodies across the compound.
One boy fell to the ground and was shouted at by one of the overseers, before he took a club and started to beat him. Liz’s grip tightened on her camera as Piet said “take the shots, Liz – retribution can come later.”
The Leader nodded. “If we could, we would take retribution now, but we would not survive the reprisal – and there is much for us to seek justice for.”
“Okay from what I’m seeing, are they using cyanide?”
“With slave labour you think they are worried about health and safety issues?” Leader asked sarcastically.
“Damn…” Piet cursed silently. “Don’t they realize the damage they are doing?”
“Do they really care?” Jane asked as Greg and Liz kept taking pictures.
As they watched, the rocks were taken from the carriers by older women, who put them on the conveyor belts that took the rocks to the stamping mills, the crushed ricks sifted, sorted and carried off by more children.
“I see men, I see children, I see older women,” Jane said, “where are the other women, and where did they come from?”
“I will answer the second question first – from the local villages, if we could, we would take you to the empty villages – but they have been burnt to the ground.”
“And the other women?”
“Do you have what you need here?”
Piet and Jane nodded as Leader indicated they should follow her. As they walked round, they saw the open space where other men, women and children were sleeping in the open.
“We have picked a good night to visit,” Leader said as they stopped on the other side of the compound, “in the sense of you can see the whole depth of their depravity.”
Jane watched, and then covered her mouth as she saw the young girls and women being herded onto lorries, dressed in threadbare clothes, their arms secured and hoods over their heads.
“Oh goddess,” she whispered under her breath, “I prayed I would never see anything like this again…”
Liz and the Leader looked at her, as she said “The Mazengwe business – I was brought in after I was sent a film of an auction in New York. The girls there were treated like that…”
She looked down the line, the faces of the women soldiers barely visible, but she could see the sadness and the anger in their eyes.
“Take your pictures,” Leader said, “and then my duty is to get you both safely back over the border.”
“What do you intend to do about this,” Piet said quietly.
“For now, we can disrupt them, cut off their supplies – but we are few, and we must pick our fights with care. Others are investigating those who are responsible – but the story must be told.”
“For the Heart and the Strength,” one of the soldiers said.
“Yellow has reported,” the radio operator said, “supplies have arrived, and she thanks you.”
“Send word to meet us at the dawn rendezvous,” Leader said quietly, “come – we must go now.”
Piet put his hand on the young woman’s shoulder, to see she was crying.
“Yes – yes, we must go,” she said as they turned and walked into the bush, before an explosion made them turn.
“Dynamite – they use it when the cannon cannot move the rocks. And no – they do not warn the workers.”
Tuesday 18th August
6 am local time
As they set up camp, Piet sat with Liz under the camouflage next.
“Penny for them?”
“Piet,” Liz said quietly, “what I have seen tonight – it was all I could do not to grab a gun from them and start shooting myself.”
“But you understand why they did not?”
“I understand, but I do not have to like it,” Liz said quietly. “I do not know what role your Charlotte plays in this group – but whatever it is, my admiration for her has increased dramatically. These women are looking to avenge a wrong – and I commend them for that.”
“So what are you going to tell John?”
“The truth,” Liz said as she looked out from under the net, “and I will ask if we can support them, in whatever way we can.”
“I’m not sure he’d allow that – this is a sovereign country, after all.”
“I know,” Liz said quietly, “I know.”
“What are you talking about,” Jane said as she joined them.
“The things we saw – does it sicken you the way it does me?”
“More so – I really thought we had ended the human traffic, but even so…”
“Rest,” Leader said, “we need to return you to the pickup point by dawn tomorrow, and we have a ways to go yet.”
10 am local time
West of Pretoria
The pick-up truck pulled off the road and along the dirt track, the driver waving at a couple of women as they worked by the side of the road, tilling the ground.
The farmhouse stood next to a number of barns, an older woman coming out as the truck came to a halt outside, and the two Western women got out.
“Welcome,” she said, “come in, I have food and drink ready for you, and a room for you to prepare in.”
“Where is he,” Penny said as she and Helen walked in, carrying two small bags with them.
“In there,” the woman said as she pointed to a barn behind the house, and on the monitor screen they saw the young Chinese soldier, lashed to a chair with a black hood covering his head. Two women stood either side of him, holding sub-machine guns in their hands.
“Excellent,” Penny said as she accepted a glass of iced tea. “We will change, and get to work immediately.”
“Well, once we have accepted your hospitality,” Helen said, bowing to the woman as she accepted her drink. “Work like this should not be rushed, Penny.”
“True – forgive my eagerness,” Penny said.
“It is all right – you are young, and have a life ahead of you. I am old, and live to serve now.”
Helen and Penny nodded as they relaxed, and watched the young man.
“Thank you ladies,” Penny said as she and Helen walked in, “we are ready to begin now.”
The two armed women stood to attention and looked at the two Westerners. Penny had her red hair pulled back from her head and tied in a severe ponytail, wearing a high collared sleeveless leather catsuit with knee length laced leather boots, the four inch heels clacking on the stone floor. Black eye shadow made her eyes look stronger, while the deep red lipstick made her mouth look full.
Helen had on a black wig, cut in the style of Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, and a black leather cheongsam style dress, with long leather gloves, and over the knee leather boots. She had black lipstick on, and smiled as she brought a riding crop down in the palm of her gloved hand.
The two armed guards smiled and nodded as they stood to attention, and moved outside, Penny walking round and stroking her head over the top of the man’s hood.
“He’s demanding to know who’s here,” Helen said as she stood behind the man.
“Well, let us introduce ourselves – remove the hood.”
Helen loosened and pulled the hood off to reveal the dirt encrusted face. Walking round, she joined Penny as he looked wide eyed at the two women.
“How old is he?”
“I don’t think he’s much older than twenty, maybe twenty one?”
He shouted at both of them in Cantonese, Helen saying “he still wishes to know who we are.”
“Tell him we are from the commanders of those who he fought,” Penny said, “tell him he has been brought here to answer our questions, and if he does so he will feel no pain.”
As Helen said this, he looked at the two women, and spoke again.
“I have nothing to fear from two weaklings.”
“Oh dear,” Penny said as she stroked her gloved hand down his cheek, then drove her fist hard into his stomach, making him gasp. “Please tell him that it is women who have been fighting him, and they have gone easy, to allow for his youth. I will make no such consideration.”
As she hit him again, Helen heard him say, “I am a prisoner of war, I demand to be treated as such.”
“War?” As Penny heard the translation, she purred “But you are not at war with a country, are you? China has not declared war, as far as I am aware, on the country of Mogola.”
“But I was posted there, my orders were clear.”
“And your orders included warring on women and children? So, first question – who gave you those orders.”
“My name is…”
He groaned as Penny hit him in the stomach again, before Helen pulled his head back and pressed the riding crop against his throat.
“My friend will not ask again – who gave the orders?”
He stared at them both, refusing to say anything.
we start with something easy then?" Penny purred. "What is his name,
rank, and unit?" She carefully watched the man’s face as Helen translated.
he isn't going to tell us and that he insists on talking to the Chinese
Embassy, or our government."
"Oh dear, he really doesn't get the shit he's in...Does he? Allow me to show him."
Reaching between his legs, she squeezed hard on his scrotum as Penny said, “tell him we are not a government or a power as he understands it. Tell him he is not in the hands of a country, but of a force of nature.”
As Helen talked, the man winced and looked at both of them.
“Tell him I have his manhood in his hands, and unless he starts talking, he will never have children, because he will not have the ability to do so.”
He paled as he heard that, but replied “I demand to speak to my embassy.”
“Not going to happen,” Penny said as she squeezed hard, and the man called out in agony before she let go. Tipping him onto his back, she removed his boots and socks, trying not to notice the smell of the holes in them, before she said “tell him if he does not answer, you will use that riding crop on his feet. What is his name?”
“Go to hell.”
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,” Penny said as she looked at Helen, then took the crop and brought it down on his feet, hearing his screams.
“Tell him we have a reply who say that to us – you’re already there. What is your name?”
He said nothing, only grimacing as Penny flogged the soles of his feet again and again, the blood starting to pour from the cuts until he screamed out.
“I think he’s willing to talk now,” Helen said as Penny lifted him up, “what is your name?”
The soldier stared at them both before he said “Chau Chen, Corporal, 9th Battalion Red Guard.”
“Very good Corporal Chen,” Susan said as she stroked his chin, her smile evil, “and what was a loyal soldier of the Red Guard doing in the African jungle?”
He looked at her before screaming in pain as Helen pinched a nerve cluster in his neck. “My friend asked you a question, Corporal – what were you doing in the Mogolan jungle?”
“Escort…. Escort duties for a supply colony.”
“Was this done with the knowledge of the Mogolan government?”
“No,” he panted in pain, “we operated in secret. We were informed it was for a secret mission in the jungle – a training facility had been set up for jungle warfare.”
“Is he telling the truth,” Penny said as she looked at Helen.
“I think so,” she said as she pressed his shoulder again, and he relaxed, the pain subsiding.
“What were your orders for the convoy,” Penny asked as she walked over to the table, and opened a small canvas pouch she had placed there.
“I am Corporal Chau Chen, 9th Battalion…”
“I know who you are,” Penny growled as she walked back over, the leather of her catsuit squeaking as she knelt in front of him and took hold of his foot, “what were your orders?”
“I cannot… I cannot…. NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
The last scream came as Penny took the pliers she was holding and removed the nail from his little toe, holding it up as Helen stared at it.
“What were your orders?”
“Go to hell…”
“Did he really say that?”
“I believe he did, Mistress Penny,” Helen breathed, unusual feelings stirring in her as she watched her remove the next toenail, while she wrapped her arm round his neck and cooed “I really think you should answer her questions – she is a most determined woman.”
“You… You are committing a war crime in using torture…”
“And you are not a soldier fighting in a war, little fool – at best, you are duped, at worse you are a mercenary who is involved in the enslavement of men, women and children. You do not deserve this.”
Moving quickly, Penny removed the rest of the toenails, and then walked to the desk, returning with a bottle of clear liquid.
“My friend is serious and deadly,” Helen whispered into his ear, “what were your orders?”
He watched as Penny removed the stopper from the bottle, and allowed two drops of the clear liquid to drop on the exposed nailed – making him jump and scream in agony.
“What were your orders?”
“To… To escort the convoy to the destination, ensure the goods delivered to the local commanders, and escort the return with loads to the port.”
“And where is this port,” Penny asked as she dripped some more vinegar onto the freshly exposed nail beds.
“Ahhhhh – please, no more,” he screamed as he gave some co-ordinates.
In the main farmhouse, the older woman smiled as she watched, and then took the handset as it was offered to her.
“Yes, we are watching as well – everything is being recorded?
“She is very skilled – a pity she is a European. She could teach us much.
“Very well – for the Heart and the Strength.”
In Johannesburg, Charlotte watched on her screen, and dialed another number.
“You know who this is?
“Good – send eyes to these coordinates and inform me of what they see…”
“Now,” Penny said as she caressed the young man’s cheek, “allow me to introduce you properly to my friend. You may have heard of her – she is known as Wúshēng de Sǐwáng.”
The soldier turned his head suddenly and looked at Helen, who nodded as she said “for your continued health, therefore, you will tell me who ordered this unit to this place to carry out this work?”
“No – to say the name is to invite my own death…”
“You are likely to die anyway,” Helen said as she translated Penny, “what is his name?”
“AAAHHHHHH,” he screamed out as Penny sliced down his chest with a scalpel, “it was Lau Po – he had connections in my battalion, and paid for us to come here.”
“Is the name known to you,” Penny said as she looked at Helen. The other woman nodded as she said “middle ranking party official in the Defence Ministry. That actually makes sense.”
She walked over to Penny, and said “I am straight, but are you as turned on by this as I am right now?”
Penny nodded and smiled as she said “a pity – you look amazing in that outfit.”
“As do you – but I cannot beyond this,” Helen said as she gently kissed Penny, and then moved back. Penny sighed and smiled, as she said “a great pity indeed – it means I get to give you some pleasure instead,” she said as she walked over to the young soldier, and pulled open his pants, taking his cock out and starting to kiss and suck on his member.
“OH god – what are you doing…”
“Allowing you a moment’s pleasure in thanks for what you have said,” Helen said quietly, reaching between the flaps at the front of her skirt and starting to play with herself as Penny aroused their prisoner more and more. Eventually Helen let out a long sigh as she shook, as the prisoner finally gave into Penny’s mouth, her lips forming a tight seal as she swallowed – and then bit down with her teeth, making him yelp as she released him and stood up.
“There – you have been rewarded for your words today,” Penny said after she had rinsed her mouth with water.
Helen heard him speak and said “what happens to me now?”
“Now – tell him he has been rewarded by us, but others wish to show him their feelings for what he and his colleagues have done.”
He paled and looked at them as Penny walked to the door, and banged on it, the two armed women walking in.
“No – grant me a quick death,” he shouted as Helen looked at him.
“No,” was her quiet reply as she and Penny bowed to the two women, and walked out, the soldier shouting after them as they closed the barn doors.
5 pm local time
Penny stepped out of the shower, drying her hair off as she looked out of the window, when she heard a knock on the door.
Wrapping her dressing gown round herself, she walked over and looked through the peep hole, then opened the door to let Helen in, wearing a simple white dress.
“Hello,” she said quietly, “how are you feeling?”
“Better for the shower – you?”
“I need to ask you a question,” Helen said quietly.
“Okay – ask away…”
“How much of that was acting when we kissed Penny?” Helen asked as she blushed.
Penny looked at her, and then replied “Honestly? Virtually none, I find you both personally and sexually highly attractive Helen.”
“I sort of guessed that.” Helen smiled and blushed all at once. “Do you want to know a secret?”
“If you want to tell me one? Then Yes.”
“I’m still a virgin.”
“You mean no man…?”
“I mean no person, neither man nor woman, has ever…” Helen walked over and kissed Penny, taking her completely by surprise. “Losing my father in the way I did, channeling all my energies into my work, I’ve played the sexy roles, but no I’ve never done anything.”
“Well,” Penny said quietly, “Do you want to?”
“Yes with me.”
“Then,” Helen said quietly as she stroked Penny’s cheek, “the answer is yes…Ever since Curragh Park I’ve been dreaming about you, what kissing you would be like, what your touches would feel like.”
“And you never told me? Why?”
“Because properly I am a servant first to my Master, and now to Catherine. Truthfully in the culture I have been brought up in I should ask Catherine and his permission.”
“No…I feel for the first time in many years that this is a decision I make on my own, I don’t simply follow my orders.”
“Well that’s good.” Penny pulled Helen close and started to kiss her again passionately. “Allow me to give you some more education…”
“Tell me darling,” Penny said some time later as she lay under the sheets cuddling her lover. “If either Catherine or your Master ordered you to kill me, could you do it?”
“I am sworn to obey every command that I am given by them Penny…”
“Are you saying you would kill me?” Penny sat up in shock.
“Yes…and then I would kill myself seconds later.”
“Are your oaths that serious Helen?” Penny said as she snuggled back down into her lover’s embraces.
“They are, I owe my life, my existence, my everything to Catherine and my Master, the Honoured Father, and they command my soul.”
“You would kill the one you love?”
“I would have to Penny. But as I said it would be the last thing I ever did.” Helen kissed the other woman. “But it is unlikely – to do that, you would have to greatly upset them, and given the good relationship between your Madame and my master, as well as between Juliette and Catherine, it is highly unlikely.”
Looking at Penny, Helen said, “What if it was you who was ordered to kill me?”
“It would not be me,” Penny said quietly, “but I know what you mean. I pray that does not happen…”
“What time is your flight,” Juliette asked Grace as she packed her cabin bag.
“Out of Boston at nine, and home by noon tomorrow. I’ll spend most of tomorrow with the agent Missy and Grant found, and then packing up my personal stuff for the moving team to collect on Friday afternoon. I’m renting the house out fully furnished.”
“When do you meet with Sarah and Harriet?”
“Thursday morning - the students who sat exams are collecting their results, and I’ve been asked if I can go in then. Gives me a chance to clear my desk as well.”
“Have you made the right decision Grace?”
“Yeah – yeah I have,” the blonde said as she looked at Juliette, while Carina played with Judith in the background. “I need the change, and this will be a new challenge as well.”
“But you will say goodbye to your friends over there?”
“Oh yes – and I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me over this summer Ju – all of you.”
“Come on Palomino – this is you finding yourself again. Grab your coat – I’m buying you lunch before you drive down to the city.”
Xavier International, NY
“Well, at least we have local support in Tokyo now when the time comes,” Shirley said as she sat with Heather and Susan, Maddie on the computer screen. “Any word from South Africa yet?”
“Nothing yet,” Susan said, “but I wasn’t expecting a report until later. As we have not heard from Charlotte, I presume both that Piet and Jane are safe, and that Penny and Helen are still having a chat with the soldier.”
“Okay – Natalya reports all is quiet with Louise, which is also good. That leaves one question.”
“Which is?” Heather asked.
“This party being landed on the Canadian West Coast? What should we do?” Shirley asked.
“The logical thing is to alert the Canadian Coast Guard.” Susan looked up.
“I was thinking that as well.” Heather spoke.
“The only trouble is that we have a special knowledge of what the right questions are to ask, the Canadian authorities do not know what we know, and I’m not sure I wish to share that information with them.”
“What resources do we have in the area Maddie?” asked Susan.
“None I’m afraid, we do anything up there we send someone up from the LA office.”
“Alright - can you get staff up from LA in time Madeline?” Shirley asked.
“What about if I send you the corporate jet?”
“If it can get into the little airport at Tofino…?”
“I’m already on it Madame.” Susan smiled as she opened her own computer.
“Now uniforms, etc.?”
“I can organize all that from here Shirley. One great thing about Hollywood, you can get any uniform very easily.”
“Alright I will co-ordinate things from here Madeline…Heather will work her usual magic, and Susan will see to the jet.”
“I’ll organize the interception party.” Maddie smiled on screen.
“Jet will be in the air in 30 minutes Maddie,” Susan called out. “Landing at Ontario Airport.”
“Okay Susan. That works, it’s a bit less obtrusive out there then at LAX.”
“Alright ladies to work.” Shirley broke the video link.
“We’re going to need somewhere for these girls to be taken when we get them out,” Heather said, “somewhere for them to rest and shelter.”
“I know – which means we need to get them down to a safe house somewhere. New York is too far away and too difficult – unless…”
“Unless we can get them here directly from Tofino by plane – how hard would it be to get a charter plane out there?”
“We’ll need to keep them there for at least twenty four hours to treat any immediate concerns. Susan – see if a suitable building is available near the airport. Heather, if she finds one, can you get a booking made out for forty eight hours?”
“Or access permits – I’ll work with her.”
“Good – that gives us time to plan for the next stage.”
10 pm Local Time
They moved quietly along, the Leader and her fellow women watching nervously, continually looking up and around, while the four journalists were lost in their own thoughts.
“Well Jane?” Piet asked quietly as they pushed on through the darkness.
“I’m not sure I have the words Piet…” Jane looked up, the tear stains running down her blackened face, and said “Haven’t we progressed as a human race beyond this?”
“Well when we are back across the border and I can sit down and write this, I just hope that I can maintain enough objectivity to produce solid journalism, and not just hyperbolic outrage.”
“It’s not going to be easy.” Piet nodded his head.
“So I know this is only the sharp end of the problem. Do you think…?”
“I think more will be revealed to us. Expect a package at some point with more evidence.”
“And if one of us doesn’t get it?”
“This time, we share everything. Agreed?”
“Your friends don’t believe in non-intervention do they Piet?” Liz asked.
“From what you saw you have to ask that Liz?”
“No.” Liz looked downwards. “I’m just glad some people have the courage to confront this, despite what our laws say.”
Piet looked at her, and whispered “What is John going to say about this?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” Liz replied, “but we must do something. We must.”
The Leader held her hand up, and motioned to everyone to get into the bush either side of the track. Motioning to two of the women, they crept forward, Jane catching a glimpse of the moonlight on a blade as she watched.
“What is it,” Greg whispered, as they heard shouts and two muffled screams.
“We can progress,” one of the women said as they emerged from the bush and walked on, passing the two women as they threw the two dead soldiers into the leaves, the Leader nodding.
“Won’t they be found?”
“Not immediately – and the animals will feast first,” she said as they pressed on.
Wednesday 19th August
6 am local time
The South Africa/Mogola border.
The group emerged from the bush, the women coming and greeting the Leader and their comrades as they walked along.
“We have returned you safely,” she said as she turned to the four guests, “stay, and take food with us before you return.”
“Thank you,” Piet said as they sat themselves round a fire, accepting the coffee and food as it was handed to them.
“You have now seen what we seek to end,” the Leader said as she sat with them. “Those who sit above me wish you to tell your readers what you have seen, so that the truth may be known.”
One of the Sisters came over and handed the Leader a sheet of paper, which she glanced at. “When you reach Johannesburg, there will be further information waiting for you, concerning those we believe are behind this atrocity. As you name them, so we will move against them.”
“Can you hope to shut that mine down?”
“We can do our best,” the Leader said with a grim smile.
“May I speak with you – privately,” Liz said as she stood up. The Leader nodded as she walked to one side, Piet watching as they spoke in low tones.
“She’s not really a photographer, is she?”
Piet looked over at Jane and slowly shook his head. “Not professionally, no – but she does take a good picture.”
Nodding, Jane bit into her bread, washed some coffee down her throat and said “anything she can do to end this, I’d support her in this.”
As Liz walked back, a truck drew up.
“Your transport awaits,” the Leader said as she looked at them. “Thank you for coming.”
“No – thank you for showing us,” Jane said as she shook her hand, as did Greg and Piet. Liz stood to attention and bowed, the Leader bowing in response.
“You know who she is, don’t you?”
Liz simply nodded as the truck drew off, the Leader turning and shouting “reports, now…”
“Okay I found a boat we can use.” Susan rushed in. “It might not be a real Canadian Coast Guard Cutter, but in the dark it will do nicely.”
“Not needed – two of Maddie’s team are qualified pilots for these boats.”
“Have you got a trace on the ship Heather?” Shirley asked.
“Yeah I’m pretty sure I have the right one, it’s an old little tramp steamer, just the sort of thing I’d use.”
“And you can trace it back to Mogola?”
“That’s what makes me pretty sure it’s the right vessel Madame.”
“When will our crew be in Tofino?”
“About 20 minutes time…”
“Good Susan…and the ship Heather?”
“It’s a few hours out still, probably five hours or so.”
“I know it’s been a long hard night ladies…but WELL DONE!” Shirley smiled.
“Yeah now let us just hope everything goes to plan.” Heather looked at her screen.
“Well contact the plane and give Maddie’s team all the info.”
“Doing so as we speak.” Susan looked up again.
“Okay I have satellite surveillance set up…”
“How the hell Heather?”
“Just say a Chinese satellite is doing multiple jobs tonight.” Heather grinned.
“Right – I’m going to organise some coffee, and then we’ll see what happens…”