Market Forces – Part 1









Sunday 28th February

6 am

Morgan Fish Wholesalers, New Fulton Market


Tommy Morgan had had a good day, all things considered – a particular fine deal had supplied his clients, and he had managed to score some particularly good turbot for his contacts at the Waldorf Astoria.


So as he sat at his desk, sipping his coffee, he was in a good mood – good enough that when he heard the knock on the door, he said “come in” without thinking too much.


“Are you Tommy Morgan?”


He looked at the woman standing there, her short brown hair greying, but from the way she stood Tommy had no doubts she could handle herself.  She was wearing a grey coat over a brown jumper and trousers, her matching shoes with kitten heels.


“Yea, I’m Tommy Morgan.  Woud youse be the admin the agency was gonna send?”


“That would be right, Mister Morgan.  My name is Eleanor Ball – my resume.”


She handed a brown envelope over to Tommy, looking as he read it at the photo on the desk.


“Your family?”


“Yeah – Dat’s Annie and little Tammy.  Youse got kids?”


“Two – but they’re grown up now.  So, do I get the job?”


Tommy smiled.  “Well, youse got excellent references.  Youse want a coffee?”


“I wouldn’t say no.”


Grabbing his coat, Tommy said “well, let me shows you round whiles we grab a cup.  It’s quieter now, so youse get to see the other guys and companies.”


“Sounds good,” Annie said as she followed Tommy out of the office and down the stairs.   “I take it the main business of your day is over.”


“For here, yeah.  Annie and I run a bar as well, but I go homes, get some sleep, then helps her in the afternoon.”


“So what are my hours expected to be?”


“To be da most help, youse needs to be here with the catch – by about 3 or 4 in da mornin’.  Of course, if youse wants to hang around and get used to da system today, I can spare some time later.”


“That would be good – I need to know what to look out for.”


“Good – right, dis is the main tradin’ floor.  Catch comes into the docks there, sorted by boat and type, and then sold in auction to da likes of me.  We needs to keep records of who bought what, in case ders effer any trouble.”


“Of the health variety?”


“Exactly.  Around her you see the offices of me and the other guys – and that,” he said as he pointed across the yard, “dat’s de new guys, RoideMer.  Looks like der boss coming out now.”


Eleanor looked over at the tall man, sharply dressed, coming down from the office.


“He certainly dresses more smartly then the rest of you – no offence.”


“None taken – but it stands out like a bad fish in a catch, if youse catches my drift.”


“I do indeed,” Eleanor said quietly, “I do indeed.”




3 pm

West Central Park


“Katy?  Is that you?”


“Yeah Gran,” Katy said as she took her coat off.  “Any word from Mom yet?”


“They’re on their way back,” Katherine said as she looked out, “so the end of your time of peace is nigh, young lady.  All your assignments completed?”


“Yes, Gran,” Katy said with a sigh.  “My room is tidy, all my things are put away, and Uncle Adam could not find...”


“Uncle Adam could not find what?”


“Anything wrong with it,” Katy said with a smile.  “Did she say if they had a fun weekend?”


“Apparently so...”


“I’ll be in my room then,” Katy said as she hung her coat up, and walked to her room.  Sitting at her desk, she opened her laptop up and switched it on, before going to check if the printer was on.


When she came back, she saw a message window blinking, and smiled as Orion O’Ryan appeared on the screen.


“Hey Katy,” she said, “how’s the weather where you are?”


“Cold, but most of the snow had gone.  And where you are?”


“Wet – come on it’s Ireland,” she said with a smile.


“So to what do I owe the honour of this call?”


“I wanted to give you a heads up –I got a letter today from my agent about a Fitzstuart shoot for a junior range.  I think you’re going to hear from Missy sooner rather than later.”


“Fair enough,” Katy said with a smile.  “When?”


“During the Easter break I think – Mum and Dad have the details.  I do know it’s over here, so...”


“Mom or Gran get to take a trip – so long as it’s not the first weekend in April.  We’re all travelling then.”


“Oh – where?”


“Munich – I’m a bridesmaid at a wedding there?”


“Not the von Furstenheim-Huntingdown wedding!”


“That’s the one – so let’s hope the dates match up.”






7 pm

The de Ros Mansion


“Welcome back Madame,” Edith said as Diana came in, “I trust you had an enjoyable weekend?”


“It was – illuminating,” Diana said with a smile.  “But we all had fun, so I am grateful for that.”


“Well, if I may be so bold, you look happy.”


“Hey Mom,” Abby said as she and Tony emerged from the drawing room, “how was the weekend?”


“We all ate, drank and made merry,” Diana said with a smile.  “When will supper be ready, Edith?”


“I was planning to serve in an hour, Madame?”





8.15 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment


“Ah – here they are my child,” Klaus said as Carina and Juliette came in, “and they look as if they have had a wonderful weekend.”


“Momma,” Judith said as she slid off Annie’s knee and walked over to Carina’s open arms.


“You,” Juliette said as she took off her coat, and looked at Klaus, “are a very very naughty boy, Klaus.”


“Moi?  And what have I done to get such a statement so soon upon your return?”


“Two words – Stephen Stone.”


“Ah,” Klaus said with a smile, “from which I take it Eve made her unscheduled appearance?”


“Yes she did – and I will book a time with Stephen.


“After the wedding.”


“Hello Grammy – I drew a picture.  Wanna see it?”


“Of course I do, darling,” Juliette said as she took Judith, and Carina kissed Annie.


“Sorry – you missed out on one hell of a weekend.”


“I know – but I had fun with Judith yesterday and today, while you lot probably got very, VERY merry.”


“Oh we had fun – and we have the photos safely under lock and key.”


“And I want the key thrown away,” Juliette said with a smile, “especially on that one particular photo.”


“Oh – and which photo is that?”


“This one,” Ingrid said as she came in, and handed Klaus a print.


“Now this is a true beauty,” Klaus said with a smile as he looked at it.


“One to treasure, Moms.”


“If that appears at any time on the day...”


“Well, we did think of having it printed on the inside cover of the order of service,” Klaus said with a smile – and then he caught Juliette’s glove as she threw it at him.



Monday 29th February

8.30 am

St Angela’s


As the young Angels gathered, John lifted his granddaughter into her chair and watched as she wheeled herself over to join her friends.


And each of them was waiting for the sign the week was about to start...


"Oh GLORY! Monday morning...AGAIN!" Jeannie groaned as she wheeled herself up the ramp.

"Okay now I officially know that it is really Monday..."

"Why is that Becca?" asked Nikki.

"Because I never really believe it till I hear the first complaint from Jeans."

"I don't complain..."

"Like hell you don't Jeannie Brewster," Grace spoke from behind her, "even we teachers know it has become traditional."

"They do Miss?" Jeannie wheeled and looked at her fellow model.


"And if it isn't being too rude how was the weekend up in Vermont?" Ama asked, "my Mom certainly enjoyed herself."

"I think we all did." Grace smiled.  “But as Denny Doherty so memorable put it, Monday Monday, Can’t stand that day...”


“Go ahead, mock me,” Jeannie said, but she smiled as they made their way into the assembly hall.


The room was filled with quiet chatter, which fell silent as Miss Tennant took the stand.


“Good morning Ladies.  I am pleased to announce this morning that the 2016 St Angela’s Calendar has made a total so far of over two hundred thousand dollars for the Jamie Kirkham fund, so my thanks to all who have helped achieve this total.”


She smiled as there was a round of applause, before she said “I invite you to consider now how you can help support the fund over the next few weeks and months, and to pass your suggestions on to Abigail or Jeannie.


“And with that, to your classes...”


“Hey Jackie,” Jeannie said as she approached her classmate.

"Peps I tried to call you Friday night," Jackie Seaward replied as they met at the lockers. "I needed help with my English...Where were you?"

"She was a little tied up," Doc smiled as all the other girls broke into laughter.

"What was that?"

"Don't worry Jack...private joke," Pepsi rolled her eyes as they walked to the English Lit classroom. "How could I help?"

"Oh don't worry,” Jackie said as they sat down, “I found my answer in the text."

"Now that is what I like to hear," Sarah sat on the edge of her desk, "just remember that ultimately the only real authority is the text itself."


“Yes Miss Nightingale,” Pepsi said as they opened their books.


“Right – we’re going to start on our next text today, and the good news is it is a more modern text.”


“Yes,” Doc said under her breath.


“So if you will distribute the copies of 1984...”


9.30 am

Complete Style


"That was one hell of a weekend girls." Mary smiled as she caught Alexis and Janine about to go up in the elevator.  While Mary was in her usual skirt, blouse and waistcoat, Janine was wearing a pair of blue culottes and long socks with a blue jumper, and Alexis a green pinafore dress over a black jumper, black tights and a pair of black suede ankle boots.

"It sure was," Alexis smiled as the door closed.

"Alexis doesn't feel quite as much an 'outsider' any more." Janine spoke.

"No,” Mary said with a smile, “I think the Sinners accepted you as one of them Alexis."

"I guess,” Alexis said, “I had sort of thought I was being kept at arm’s length, when both Janine and Marina got invited to events."

"Our floor," Mary replied as the doors opened, "and no you weren't being excluded Alexis."

"No, just being watched to see if you 'belonged'," Janine giggled, "Just like I was,"

"Well whatever, it was nice to get such a great weekend."

"There will be others to come, but just remember you have to hold the fort Lex while we all go to Florida."

"Yay for me!" Alexis laughed.

"Don't worry girl I'll be here to hold your hand." Mary laughed back, "racing cars doesn't interest me either."


“True – but Florida on spring break week...”


“Even more reason to stay her,” Mary said as they walked into the bullpen, heading to their desks as Juliette appeared from her desk.


“Sorry we’re late Boss,” Janine said.


“It’s all right, I’m early,” Juliette said.  “Janine, get you get Cathy on the phone for me in Hong Kong?  Alexis, I need the proofs for the next issue.”


“You haven’t seen them yet?”


“No – why?”


The girls looked at Mary, as Juliette said “What am I missing?”


10 am

FBI Field Office


“Oh my,” Jeanne said as she sat in her chair, “it sounds as if you had a wonderful weekend.”


“It was fun – if a little sober at the end,” Jan said as she sat back.  She thought of asking Jeanne if she had heard the story of Diana and the events leading to the death of her husband, but thought better of it.


“Well, I spent an – interesting weekend with the older teenagers,” Jeanne said as she held her back.


“Oh lord – did Katy behave herself?”


“Oh she was fine – they all were.  It was just interesting seeing the younger teenager at work – planning for...”




“And suddenly the day takes a wonderful turn,” Jan whispered as the large frame of Alberto Moletti appeared in the doorway.


"I thought I warned you feds off of my murder case?" Lieutenant Moletti hollered as he entered the Pussycat Gang task force offices.

"And a very pleasant Monday morning to you too Moletti." Jan smiled.  “Would you like some coffee?”

"It aint you Carter that I got a beef with...It's him," he pointed a finger at Adam.

"Hey,” Adam said as he looked up, “what did I do?  I only just got in!"

"Oh don't play like youse don't know Ball," Moletti glared as he stood over Jan’s partner.

Adam put down his pen, calmly lowered the screen of his laptop, and said "Know what?"

"That your mother has suddenly hired on at the Fulton as a clerk..."

"She has?" Adam sat to attention as he heard that.

"Like you didn't know!"

"Actually,” Adam said quietly, “I didn't Lieutenant."

"Yeah,” Moletti sneered, “and pigs can fly."

"She told me she had retired." Adam whispered to himself.

"What?" the NYPD man asked.

"What he means Moletti," Jan reduced her voice to a whisper, "is that Captain Ball, used to be, or still is, with Naval Intelligence."

"Oh shit,” Moletti screamed as he raised his arms in the air, “now I got the military on my case?  Freaking great!"


None of them had seen the door to Tom Callaghan’s office open, or saw him standing in the doorway, his arms folded.




All three turned and looked at him.

"Carter, Ball, can you bring the Lieutenant to my office? You come too Inspector Marais," Tom Callaghan said, "I have some people you all need to meet in here."


“How do they get in without us seeing,” Jan said as they walked in.  She recognised the man sitting there, but not the woman sitting there, dressed in a blue jacket, dark trousers and a blue blouse.


“Hello Carter, Ball,” Rupert Brookes said as she stood up, “how are things?”


“Can’t complain, Brookes,” Adam said.


“I heard about that Buffalo business – never easy when something like that happens.”


“No – no it’s not,” Jan said.


“Did AD Baughman ever surface?”


“Nope,” Tom said.  “You’ve met Jeanne Marais before of course, Rupert.”


“Of course – after the Boston Depository raid.  How long?”


“I’m due later in June – and it can’t come a moment too soon,” Jeanne said with a smile.


“Albert, this is Lieutenant Alberto Moletti, NYPD – the Fulton Market is in his precinct, and he’s looking into the murders there.  This is Commander Veronica Joyce, CGCI.”




“Coast Guard Criminal Intelligence – Commander Joyce, Agents Adam Ball and Janice Carter, Inspector Jeanne Marais of Interpol, and you have already heard Lieutenant Moletti.”


“Pleasure,” Veronica said as she looked round. 


“Now,” Rupert said as he looked at the room, “I know you have been investigating recent events at the Fulton Fish Market from different angles.  You, Lieutenant Moletti, have been investigating the recent deaths, while Agents Carter and Ball, with the help of Inspector Marais, have been looking into the new company at the market, and possible connections.”


“This RoideMer group?  I know the other market people don’t like them.”


“Well,” Veronica said, “we in the CGCI had received word from the French forces to look out for word of this company’s activities.  I understand Inspector Marais has received similar orders.”


“Indeed,” Janine said, “my superiors at Interpol are concerned they have connections with the Marseilles gangs.”


“We got the same intel,” Brooks said.  “Whatever is going down at the docks is bigger than just an attempt to muscle in on the fish trade.  Commander?”


“Our sources have told us that the man in charge of RoideMer is one Philippe Aumont, but he had been delegated this task by the true head of the family.”


“Do we have a name?”


“Not yet – we need your help, Inspector Marais, to fill that gap.”


“So why are the CIA interested,” Moletti said as he watched Brooks clean his glasses.


“Oh, we have our reasons,” Brooks said as he put his glasses back on, “all you need to know, Lieutenant, is you are being ordered to work alongside Agents Carter and Ball on this, with Inspector Marais and Commander Joyce providing expert input.”


Ball and Moletti glared at each other as Jan shook her head.


“This is not going to be good,” Jan said quietly.


“Life rarely is,” Brooks said as he stood up.  “Thank you for your cooperation, ladies, gentlemen.”


“Albert,” Tom said as he opened the door and showed him out.  Closing the door, he said “Okay – I know you do not get along, but this is a time for professional approaches.


“AM... I... CLEAR?”


“Yes, Tom,” Adam said, “but is it true about my mother?”


“Director Callaghan asked me to find someone who could go undercover at the market,” Veronica said.  “Your mother’s name was the first that came to mind.”


“She and I are going to have words,” Adam said quietly.


“Do it off the clock – Lieutenant, I want daily updates, and we will update you in return.  Get to work, people.”


“I’ll talk to you tomorrow Director,” Veronica said as Tom escorted her out.  Jan and Jeanne looked at Adam and Moletti, before Jeanne said “Well now, I need to contact my sources in Marseilles before they leave for the night.  If you will excuse me?”


“I’m going back to the precinct house,” Moletti said as he stormed off, Adam looking at Jan as she shook her head.


“What did you ever see in the guy?”


“Animal magnetism,” Jan said quietly before she stood up.  “Come on – I need a coffee.”





12.30 pm

The Faculty Room, St Angela’s


“Hey,” Annie said as she came in and sat in one of the armchairs, “recovered from the weekend yet?”


“Just about,” Sarah said as she sat with Harriet, “those ladies know how to party – and some of the stories we heard...”


“What was said in Stowe stays in Stowe – so ask Carina later,” Harriet said as she sipped her coffee.  “But it was an – interesting experience.”


“I can imagine,” Annie said as she bit into her wrap.  “So long as Cari behaved herself with everyone there...”




“Nope, not going to talk about that,” Harriet said with a smile.


12.30 pm

West Central Park


“Tonia?  You busy in here?”


“Not too busy to take a break,” Tonia said as she came out to meet Sandy in the hallway.  “What brings you down here partner?”


“I need to take measurements for some beds and furniture – I managed to lose the original notes I took, so I have to take them again?”


“Go ahead,” Tonia said, “I’m supervising the kitchen fitting anyway.”


“Thanks,” Sandy said as she went into the bedroom, putting her slipcase down and opening it to take out a tape measure, pen and pad.  She spent the next few minutes taking careful measurements, writing them down and nodding as she looked round the room.


“We need to find somewhere for a secure store in here,” she said to herself.  Looking at one of the built in wardrobes, she opened the door and nodded as she made some more notes.


“Hey – got time for coffee?”


“On my way,” Sandy as she went through, looking at the newly fitted cabinets.


“I like it,” she said as Tonia handed her a mug, “modern looking, with plenty of storage.”


“Well, you said you wanted it for two young women.  Got what you needed?”


“I think so.  Listen – you’re sure you don’t want room for a games and entertainment system?”


“Trust me Tonia – neither of these two young ladies are gamers, so a music centre and the television should be enough.”



12.30 pm

Complete Style


As Mary Thomas walked into the bullpen, her face was set with purpose, descending on the two desks outside Juliette’s office.


“Hey Mary – what’s up,” Alexis said as she raised her head.


"Girls do you want to come out to lunch with me?" Mary asked with a smile.

"We both brought in sandwiches," Janine indicated.

"I repeat myself, do you want come eat lunch?"

"But we have...Oh!" Alexis checked herself as Mary made a gesture indicating they should reply in the affirmative.

“OF course we do Mary – these can keep,” Janine said as both girls grabbed their coats and followed Mary to the lifts.


As they went onto the main street, the obvious question came to mind.

"Alright why do you need us?" Janine asked.

"Basically as bodyguards,” Mary said as she looked round, “I'm going to Tiffany's to pick up the bling for the wedding, and I didn't want Juliette knowing."

"Okay...Gotcha!" Alexis nodded.


“So we go there, take a cab to the apartment where Klaus is waiting with Sigi, and then it leaves by courier tonight.  Clear?”


“Clear,” Janine said as they walked to the store...


5 pm

FBI Field Office


“You’re not heading out are you Jan?”


“Not just yet,” Jan said as she looked at Tom, “why?”


“Meeting in the conference room – we’ve invited Tommy and some of the other owners in to brief them.  One of them is been a bit – old fashioned, and Moletti is – escorting him in.”


“Oh – what do you mean,” Jan said as she and Adam stood up.


“Come and have a look,” Tom said as they made their way to the conference room, where Tommy and most of his colleagues were waiting with Jeanne.


“Good, I’m glad you could all make it,” Tom said as the door opened and again, and Moletti appeared with one of Tommy’s colleagues.


"Why is he in handcuffs Lieutenant?" Tom asked as the cop brought Nicky Marino into the conference room, "he's not being arrested..."

"That's what I told him," Moletti shook his head.

"Hey humor me youse guys, it just don't feel right comin' inter the FBI voluntarily.”  Nicky stood up and said “at least like dis I can keep my pride."

"Whatever you think Nicky," Tom shook his head and smiled, "but just remember in this you are a victim not a perp."

"I know, but it still don't feel right, just walkin' in here like dis.”  Looking round, he said "my farder must be turnin' in his grave at the sight of us all in here bein' chummy chummy wid de feds."

"Your pop aint in his grave Nicky," Tommy laughed, "he's in an old folks home in Queens."

"Well he'd still be shamed  us all just walkin' in here like dis."


"We are just as entitled to help from the Feds as anyone." Tommy looked at his fellow merchants, "we all pay our taxes...well at least sum of us do," he looked at Marino.


"Can't yer at least ruff us up a little bit?" Marino asked Adam.

"We don't do that any more Nicky," Adam smiled.

"It just aint right," Marino looked at the other fish merchants, "they aint even goin' to do us the courtesy of givin' us black eyes."

"I know, hard isn't it?" Janice placed her hand on Marino's shoulder.


“On the other hand,” Tom said, “we may just stop you lot doing something stupid with regards to RoideMer – so listen up and listen good...”


As the traders sat down, Tom said “through no fault of your own, you have found yourselves in the middle of an investigation that doesn’t just involve us or Lietunant Molleti – it also involves the Coast Guard and other parties.  So we have a code name – Operation Popeye.”


Moletti grinned as Jan saw the pain in Adam’s eyes on hearing that name.


“So does we get free spinach?”


“No,” Tom said, “you get our help on site and here.  We’ve placed an undercover operative at the market, and she will be our primary point of contact.  You’ll be able to feed any information to us through Tommy, who will be your point man in this.  He’ll also liaise directly with Carter and Ball and pass any information on, through them, to you.”


“We are still investigating the murders,” Moletti said, “but we need to maintain a cover of getting nowhere – so feel free to vent my way as well.”


“On no account,” Tom said, “are you to engage with RoideMer or any employee of them except for normal business.  Let us deal with them – understand?”


The group looked at each other round the table and nodded.




“Tommy – a word,” Adam said as he indicated with his head. 


“Get outta here,” Tom said as Moletti whispered “good luck Olive” into Jan’s ear.  She stared at him, as Adam took Tommy into a side room.


“Lemmeguess,” Tommy said with a smile, “why the feck is your mother working for me?”


“Oh I know she’s the plant,” Adam said, “just – take anything she says about me with a pinch of salt, all right?  We don’t exactly get on that well.”


“Oh don’t worry Ball,” Tommy said with a smile, “we’s staying strictly proefessionel.”


“Good,” Adam said as they walked out, Jan looking at Adam with her arms folded.


“Okay, okay – it was my childhood nickname.  Happy?”


“Amused – but if I get called Olive again, my stiletto goes where it hurts the most...”




2 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“Some down time at last?”


“Oh yes,” Mary said as she looked at her father, “a rare thing, but a day off today.  In a way.”


Dave smiled as he looked at the yellow and black book she was reading.


"What is the book Poppit?" Dave asked as his daughter read.

"Russian for Dummies." Mary held it up, "with so much work coming my way from over there, I sort of thought I ought to learn a little of the language."

"Well it's not a bad idea."

"No, and Missy agrees with you on that.  It’s difficult, but fun."


“So what is your diary like this week?”


“Well, I’m not walking any shows, but I have that Vogue shoot on Fisherman’s Wharf tomorrow and Wednesday.”


The knock on the door took them by surprise, as Dave went out, returning with a brown envelope.


“What’s that Pops?”


Opening it, he took out a set of dark purple passports.


“Looks like we’re coming to France,” he said with a smile as he held them up.


“Heh,” Mary said as she looked at them, “the girls are going to kill us.”


“The girls?  Look at David...”




8 pm

New Haven


“You two go, have fun,” Carina said as David and Jude left their rooms, Natalia laughing softly as they closed the door.


“Ah young love,” she said with a smile, “I remember it well.”


“I think it was slightly different for you and I, Aunt Natalia.”


“Oh yes, but the memory,” her great aunt said with a smile.  “Now, however, we have another matter to consider.”


“This filmmaker?”


Natalia nodded.  “As you can imagine, Carina, families stay in the area we come from for generations.  You remember you saw in Lexa’s diary mention of the disappearance of a young man called Jakob Breitz?”


Carina stood up and fetched the copy of the diary she kept.  “Yes – here he is.  Local post boy, disappeared in 1933, his body found two weeks later nearly decapitated.”


“Indeed – what did your friend the Hidden Hand manage to uncover about Edwin Breitz?”


“Well, she found his family tree – and Jakob was something like a great great uncle to him – or would have been.”


“Tell me,” Natalia said, “does the name Erik Breitz appear in his tree?”


“Let’s see...  Oh.”


“I suspected as much,” Natalia said.  “it was 1982 – the urge got too great for me...”


“It’s his uncle,” Carina said.  “I think we need to let them talk.”


Nodding, Natalia and Carina both closed their eyes, breathing deeply for a few minutes before they looked at each other.


“Hello, Cousin,” the older woman said, “so you have heard their discussion as well?”


“I have,” Carina said, “and it worries me greatly.  This man – Breitz – his family and ours have crossed paths twice now.  Three times strikes me as more than a coincidence.”


“I am forced to agree – but we must do nothing to draw attention to ourselves, or to cause any of our families more grief than necessary.”


“So we must work softly?”


“Indeed,” Natalia said as she glanced at a paper.  “We must encourage our resources to find out more...”




“This report – is it possible another of our cousins has appeared, in a quiet way?”


She handed the paper to Carina, who looked at the report of a woman trussed, gagged and whipped before she was robbed.


“I do not know – but I will find out...”


9 pm

Park Avenue


Shirley looked up from her chair as Maisha came in.


“Aunt Shirley, may I speak to you for a moment?”


“Of course,” Shirley said with a smile, “what can I do for you?”


“I have had a message from Charlotte – Little Mother.  She has invited me to come and visit the Sisters at their training compound.  I would like to do this, but only if you give your permission?”


“Yes,” Shirley said as she took her glasses off, “Charlotte called me about it today as well.  As she explained it, the plan is you would go to South Africa, visit with her, and then return to join me and John in London before we go to Munich.  Have you told Ama?”


“I have, but she is already visiting Spain at the proposed time for my visit.  Also, she is The Heart – the place Charlotte suggests visiting is not for her.”


“I agree – very well then, Maisha, I will make the necessary arrangements with Charlotte.  And I pray the Goddess guides and protects you.”


Maisha smiled and nodded as she left the room, Shirley putting her glasses back on and smiling herself.



Tuesday 1st March

10 am

Hobart William Smith


As Jo walked across the quadrangle, she smiled to herself.  She’d had a good tutorial first thing that morning, and spring break was only a week and a bit away.  Even though she was going to be working for most of it, at least it would be a break before the exams started.


“Hey – Jo!”


“Oh hi Candy,” Jo said as one of her English Literature group came over, “what’s up?”


“I just heard – we’re up for leading the group discussion on The Great Gatsby this week.  Will you be ready for it?”


“Paper done and dusted.  I spent some time at Curragh House last year, so I was able to work in some local flavour.”


“Great – see you tomorrow night for a run through?”


“No can do – I have training.  How about we all meet for lunch instead?”


“I’ll let them know,” April said as she went off.


“Ah, the busy life of the athletic student.”


Jo smiled as she turned round and saw Alice MacKinnon standing behind her.


“And what brings you to my place of rest, Bats?”


“Checking you’re still okay for Ireland,” Alice said with a smile, “but also wondering if you can spare five minutes.  We’re putting something together for Ju from her bridal party, and I need your input into it.”


“Well, I’ve time now – buy you a coffee?”


“Sounds good – once I’m done here, I’m heading down to Yale to see Cari.”


“So what is it we’re doing?”


“Using some of the lace I have left over...”



1 pm

The National Arts Club


“Ah, John, there you are,” Klaus said as he stood up, “thank you for joining us today.”


“well, you did say this was the only time we could guarantee we could all be in the same place before we gather for the big day,” John said as he shook Klaus’ hand, “so, where are they?”


“Right here,” Klaus said as he showed John into a private dining room.  He smiled as he shook the hand of Willy du Grechy, and sat down.


“So, for those who do not know each other, this is Sir John Hammond, who has done the honour of agreeing to be my best man.  You already know Willy du Grechy, Dieter and Will Fitzstuart, of course, and you and Adam Cabot are old friends.”


“Glad you accepted the invitation Adam.”


“Well, Klaus can be very persuasive,” Adam said, “so who is your last attendant?”


“Well, that would be me.”


“George,” Klaus said as he shook the hand of George Graham, “thank you for doing this.  Shall we eat?”



1 pm



As Adam walked into the bar, he looked round, and then made his way over to the side booth.  He looked slightly incongruous in his shirt, suit and tie, while Eleanor was wearing a jumper and slacks. 


“Mother,” he said as he sat down, “you’re looking well.  Obviously the new hours are suiting you.”


“Hello Adam,” Eleanor said.  “You look like you’ve had an interesting day.”


“I’ve had an interesting week,” he said as he sat down, “which started by learning you were working undercover.  Have you retired?”


“Yes, I have retired – publically and on record.  That’s why Veronica suggested I do this – I know the way shipping works, and the docksides, so I don’t look out of place.”


She smiled as Adam shook his head.  “Don’t worry darling – this is a favour to a friend.  Nothing more, nothing less, and I’m not going to get into any trouble.”


“Fine,” Adam said as the waitress brought over a drink and a sandwich, as well as a refill for Eleanor.  “So, why did you want to meet me?”


“Can’t a mother have lunch with her son?”


“Yes – why did you want to meet me?”


“Well, I wanted to talk about Jan...”


“Here we go,” Adam mumbled as he took a drink.  “So you’re still digging into her files?”


“Now would I do that?”


“Yes, yes you would.”


Eleanor smiled as she sipped her coffee.  "I found rumors reported in her files relating to her joining the FBI that some of her friends maybe thought Jan had done some whoring while she was in college darling..."

"Mom,” Adam said with a sigh, “I know you don't like her...but to accuse her of that."

"I'm only telling you what is in the files Adam."

"Well I don't believe it." Adam stood up.


“Sit down, sit down,” Eleanor said quietly, watching as Adam slowly sat back down.  "Well she certainly has had several other boyfriends then you."

"I know...and Katherine told me that she nearly married Moletti."

“She told me about young Katy’s father – that was tragic.”  Sipping her drink, Eleanor then said "Of course you know about her other daughter?"

"YES MOTHER," Adam almost shouted, "she told me all about how Nicola was born, and the circumstances.  It’s amazing she is such a wonderful person, given everything that has happened.  So let’s cut to the chase."


“Okay,” Eleanor said quietly, “are you going to ask her to marry you?”


“I don’t know,” Adam said as he finished his drink and stood up, “but if I do, you will be the fifth to know – right after Katy, Katherine and Eve.”


Eleanor watched as Adam walked quickly out, and then rubbed her eyes.  This – this was the act which was hardest to keep up.



6 pm

Seventh Avenue


“Thank you Mrs Carter,” the photographer said as Katherine stood waiting for Katy to come out, “as promised, we’re finished early on a school night.”


“But it means I have to take the make-up off at home,” Katy said as she came out, pulling her coat on over herself but still wearing the deep eye shadow.  She paused to check the fit of her auburn wig in the mirror, and then said “right – good to go.”


“Thanks again Katy – we’ll let Missy know the results,” the photographer said as they walked out into the cool evening, Katy turning up her collar.


The shoot had been for teenage party wear, so she had wor a variety of low cut dresses, crop tops and tight pants, looking the older teenager than the young girl she really was.  So when she saw the slight upturn on her grandmother’s mouth, Katy grinned and said “go on – let it out.”


"Katy you look like a slut," her grandmother laughed, "I didn't say so inside in case I annoyed the magazine people, but that is far too much makeup for a girl like you."

"Even I know that Gran, but I suppose if I'm wearing outfits like that for a photo spread..."


“Then you have to look the part – but honestly...”


The young model suddenly turned round and looked hard back down Seventh Avenue.

"What is wrong Katy?" Katherine turned and looked too.

"Nothing, I just thought for a moment..."

"That is two sentences you've left unfinished young lady.”

"Sorry Gran," Katy laughed, "What was I saying?"

"First about the photo shoot?"

"Oh, yeah it was for a Polish fashion magazine, they told me girls even my age wear huge amounts of makeup."

"And secondly, why did you turn round?"

"I'm not sure,” Katy said as she looked back.  “It was just like for a second I thought maybe someone was following us."

"Now why would they do that?"

"Well I am semi-famous."

"But in that wig and looking like that?"

"Or it could just be a perve?" Katy turned and looked again. "Something though is triggering my spider sense."


“Well, young lady, let’s get you home before a super-villain sweeps in and attacks you,” Katherine said as she put her arm round Katy’s shoulders.



7.30 pm

West Central Park


“Better,” Jan said as Katy came in, without the make-up, and wearing an old sweatshirt and jeans.


“Much thanks – that smells good.”


“Well, eat this, and then get your assignments done,” Jan said as Katy sat at the table and started to eat the casserole.


“So the shoot went well?”


“Apart from Gran thinking I looked far too old?  Yeah, it was fun.”


“Well don’t eat so quickly,” Jan said as she sat down.  As soon as she did, however, the phone rang.


“Keep eating,” Jan said as she went into the hallway.


“Carter residence?


“Oh hi Missy – what can I do for you tonight?


“Ah ha


“Ah ha...


“Hang on,” Katy heard her mum say before she looked in.  “Missy wants to talk to you.  Don’t take too long.”


“Hey Missy,” Jan heard Katy say as she went to make some coffee, “what can I do for you?”


“Really?  Tell me more...”


Jan took her coffee back to the table and waited until her daughter came back in.


"What did Missy want darling?" Jan asked as Katy sat back down and started eating again.

"She asked if I could do a double with Sistine Stallone for 17 this coming weekend."


"On the Rutgers main campus...”  Taking a drink, Katy said “I told her it depended on yours and Grans schedule if you could take me and that you'd phone her back."

"Okay, well I think I'm free, especially if I get to meet her father."

"Well that isn't for sure he'll be there."

"Well Jennifer Flavin her mom is also a celebrity."

"True," Katy laughed as she finished her meal.


“Okay, I know that look Katy Carter,” Jan said, “what’s on your mind?”


"Mom?" Katy said as her voice got serious.


"Oh it’s nothing..."

"You never say anything for nothing Katy," her mom interrupted.

"Well...  Do you ever get the feeling you are being followed?"


“This isn’t the model’s radar I heard Abby talking about once?”


“I don’t know – I just had this funny feeling when I was walking back with Gran someone was following us, but I didn’t see anyone.  Does that sound strange?”


Jan looked at her daughter, before saying “it’s probably just nerves.  You go finish your assignment – and can you look after yourself until Gran gets back?”


“I’m a big girl Mom – of course I can.  Where are you going?”


“I want to see Ju about something...”



8.45 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment


“There you go,” Juliette said as she handed Jan a glass of wine.  “So Missy wants Katy to tag team with Sistine?”


“Apparently – do you know her?”

"I have known Sistine all her life," Juliette reflected, "luckily in looks she takes after Jennifer and not Sly."

"So it's a good job for Katy to do?"

"Oh yeah, and 17 is a great magazine. I did so much for them way back when."

"Okay then I'll agree it with Missy then."

Juliette sat back and looked at her friend.  "You could have asked me that on the phone...why did you really come over Jan?"

“It’s probably nothing but...”


“Come on – out with it.”


"Katy is getting feelings she is being followed."

Jan put her glass down and sat up.  "A stalker?"

"Who knows,” Jan said with a shrug of the shoulders, “but in my FBI line of work, as well as hers and mine other career, I don't like what I am feeling."


“Well, we need to eliminate the obvious.”


“Welch?  I know – I thought of that too, but Buffalo is still radioactive.  I need to call Corben up and find out what’s happening on the QT.”


“In the meantime, be extra vigilant.  I’ll spread the word as well, make sure if any of us are around, we watch too.  With luck, it’s just a bad feeling.”



Wednesday 2nd March

4 am

New Fulton Market


As Eleanor looked on, she realised there was a reason Tommy Morgan was known and respected in the market.  She knew from her own experience that the way to get people on your side was to do what they did – so as she watched him helping the fish gutters, she admired the way he used the knife and worked as efficiently as any of them.


“Tommy – got a minute?”


“Sure fing,” he said as he put the knife down and came over, “whassup?”


“I need you to sign off on this receipt for the Waldorf.”


She waited as he quickly wiped his hands on a rag, and then looked down the sheet on her clipboard.  “Yeah dats good – get a copy to Gerry willya as well?  He’s got some good crayfish today dey can use?”


“Hey Tommy – if you wants dis on the plates tonight?”


“A guys work’s never done,” Tommy said with a grin as he went back and picked up the knife.  As Eleanor was about to leave, however, she saw the door open and three men come in.


The fact they were wearing sharp suits was enough to tell her who they were, even if she didn’t recognise Philippe Aumont in the middle.


“Pardon,” he said as he looked at Eleanor, “this is Morgan’s Wholesale Fish?”


“It is,” Eleanor said, “can I help you?”


“I wish to speak to the owner – Thomas Morgan?”


“Hey Boss,” Eleanor called out, Tommy looking over and nodding as he said “dooty calls.”


“Am I speaking to Thomas Morgan?”


"I'm Tommy Morgan," The Fish held out his hand, then noticed the mess on it and wiped it clean.

"Hello Monsieur Morgan," the Frenchman reluctantly shook hands. “My name is Philippe Aumont, of RoideMer.”


Looking at his hand, Tommy smiled.  "Yeah,” he said, “I'm sorry 'bout der fish guts, but not alls of us can come ter work here in sharp suits."

"I understand."  Philippe took out a handkerchief and slowly wiped his hand.

"I like ter get my hands dirty,” Tommy said as he looked round, “reminds me just what my biznis is.  On which note – what can I do for youze?"

Philippe smiled as he said "Can I maybe invite you to lunch..."

"And now would youse do that?" Tommy interrupted.

"Let me just say that I would like to make you an offer Monsieur..."

"That I can't refuse," Tommy laughed as he broke in again.

"No, shall we just say, an offer that might benefit both our companies."

"Okay - Let me think about it and ahll get back to youse."

"I can ask no more," the Frenchman said as he sniffed the air, and walked off.


“So dats de enemy, eh?”


“So it would appear,” Eleanor said.  “Right – get to work, dear.”



2 pm

Xavier International


As Shirley looked over some papers, she heard the knock on the door and said “come in.”


“Sorry to disturb you Madame,” Susan said as she came in, “but we have received the updated offer from AMININCO in writing?”


Putting her pen down, Shirley said “the Janet and John version?”


“Twenty percent increase on the previous offer,” Susan said.  “I’ve asked the others to let me know if they receive individual communication, and I’m setting up a meeting with Alan and the AMININCO team.”


“Okay – well, this was not unexpected,” Shirley said as she removed her glasses, and cleaned them.  The sound of an e-mail arriving caught her attention, Susan watching as she read it.




“It would appear RoideMer are interested in Morgan Fish Wholesalers,” Shirley said quietly, before she looked at Susan.  “Can you spare an hour or two tonight?”


“I can ask Clint to babysit.  Why?”


“I need your assistance, Susan – and your trust.”


“My trust?”


“I need to meet someone, and it is important you are there.”


“Before I forget,” Susan said as she nodded, “Lily has confirmed the enquiries you asked into the Middle East connection are underway as we speak.”


“Good – anyway, be prepared for eight, and come suitably veiled and disguised.”




7.30 pm

38th Street


The barman looked over as the two women came in, and walked up to the bar.


“What will it be ladies?”


“Two Glenmorangie, green label, straight up.”


“Got it,” he said as he put two glasses down, and poured the amber liquid into them.


“We’ll keep the bottle,” the taller of the two said.  She had brown hair tinged with grey, and wore a black leather jacket over a grey jumper and slacks.  Her companion wore a long black coat, the leather boots visible underneath.


The barman nodded as she handed over a hundred, and took the bottle over to a side booth, her friend following with the glasses.


“Nice place, Eleanor,” she said as they sat opposite each other, “classy.”


“We’ve been in worse, Veronica,” Eleanor Ball said as she held her glass up.  “To the honoured dead.”


“The honoured dead,” Veronica said as she raised her own glass, and they both drained it.


"Okay Eleanor,” Veronica said as Eleanor recharged their glasses, “why are we here?"

"Because there is someone I'd like you to meet,” Eleanor said quietly, “and she prefers quiet, out of the way places..."

"You make her sound like a criminal..." the Coast Guard officer stopped and looked at her friend’s face.  "Oh tell me we aren't here to meet a criminal?"

"Commander,” Eleanor said with a smile, “you know very well that sometimes to stop a greater harm, we have to bend the rules a bit."

"OY!" Veronica looked skyward, "what are you getting me into Eleanor?"

"I want a good look in some of RoideMer's delivery trucks,” she said as she sipped her drink, “see just what they are taking away from the Fulton."

"I can maybe get search warrants?"

"That takes time, and alerts the Frenchies...  No I think getting this lady to get her people to use their 'professional' expertise might just work out better."

"Eleanor you are skating on thin ice."

"Ah here she comes..."


Veronica looked over as the door opened...






“Ah here she comes.”


“Hey there,” Gale said as she walked over to join the other two women.  Carina was wearing a denim jacket and jeans, a red wig on her hair, while Natalia wore a black sleeveless jerkin over a white jumper and brown pants.


“Hey,” Carina said as the tall blonde walked over and sat down, “thanks for joining us.”


“Well, you said it was important,” Gale said as three drinks were brought over.  “Are we hunting tonight?”


“No – not unless you need to be satisified?”


“I don’t think I need to seek something out – so drinks and chat?”


“Indeed – allow us to sound you out on something as we drink...”






Veronica looked carefully at the two women who joined then, their dark veils obscuring their faces as they descended from their hats.  Both women wore dark jackets and knee length skirts, black over the knee leather boots and short gloves covering their hands.


“Good evening Mermaid,” the taller of the two women said in a deep, rich voice that had a slight American accent, “I see you have company with you.”


“As do you Madame – may I make the introductions?”


As she nodded and sat next to Veronica, Eleanor said “Commander Veronica Joyce, this is the lady known to the world at large as Madame X.”


“Commander,” Madame said as she inclined her head.  “Mermaid, may I introduce an associate of mine, code named Miss Jaguar.”


Susan inclined her head in response as the waiter came over.


“Two Long Island Iced Teas, with straws,” Madame said as she looked at Veronica.  “You appear ill at ease, my dear Commander?”


“You must forgive me,” Veronica said, “Part of my role is to investigate maritime crime, so sitting with a person of your reputation.”


“Ah – I understand,” Madame said with a smile, “but I can say, in my own defence, there are some lines I do not cross.  Also, I was one of those who assisted in both the Mazengwean slave scandal, and the more recent release of slave girls from Mogola.”


Veronica raised an eyebrow as she looked at Eleanor, who smiled and nodded. 


“Is this one of those ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ scenarios?”


Shirley smiled as she saw Susan slowly shake her head.


“Allow me to explain,” she said as she lifted her veil to allow her to take a drink, “the people who are in charge of RoideMer – the ones really in charge – are the sort of people I believe need to be reminded even our branch of society has morals.”


“Well, those slavery...  Hang on. I remember seeing a report of a boat disappearing before the west coast scandal broke last year, which was due from Mogola.  Was that...”


“We rescued women who had been treated worse than cattle, then removed the immediate cause of their pain, as part of our operation to close down the operation.  It was necessary, and just.”


Veronica looked at the other three, before she emptied her glass and held it out for Eleanor to refill.


“Okay – so I’m at the same table as one of the most infamous crime leaders in the world, and one of her associates, as well as a friend who I suspect works in some way for her.  What else could possibly happen?”


“I’m so glad you asked,” Eleanor said, “because you’re going to love what I’m about to suggest.”




“We have another cousin out there?”


“It would appear so,” Carina said as she looked at Natalia and Gale.  The three of them had allowed their inner beasts to come forth and talk.  “But we have a greater problem at the moment.”


Natalia looked at Carina and nodded.  “We have both realized that a filmmaker, who is currently planning a documentary on Furstenheim, has ancestors who have met at least two of us.  We fear he has an ulterior motive for wishing to film us.”


“That is worrying,” Gale said quietly.  “Perhaps I can use my host’s husband to find out more?”


“If that can be done discretely, it would help,” Natalia said as Carina noticed the quartet sitting in a booth on the far side of the bar.




“Have you taken leave of your senses?”


Veronica looked at Eleanor as she smiled.


“Come on – we’ve done this sort of thing before, both of us,” Eleanor said, “it’s just in a – different way.”


"Let me get this straight Mermaid, you would like to accompany some of my people on raids to see what is being carried by these trucks?" Shirley's eyes shone behind her veil.

"I would Madame."

"And I'd be expected to let you ride along with my crews?" Susan asked.

"Yes me AND the Commander here."

"You do realise that you'll be committing robbery?" Shirley asked.

"Armed robbery," Susan added.

"I do." Eleanor downed her drink in one go.  “But we need to find out exactly what is going on, quickly.  Events at the Market today indicate they are ready to move to the next stage of their plan.”


“Taking out Mister Morgan and his fellow owners?”


“A possibility we had foreseen,” Madame said quietly.  “Very well then – I think we can accommodate your request.”


“Excuse me a moment – nature calls,” Susan said as she stood up and made her way to the powder room. 






“Will you excuse me a moment,” Carina said as she stood up.


“Shall we have another drink or move to get something to eat?”


“You decide,” Carina said with a smile as she went into the powder room.  Checking nobody else was in, she closed and locked the outer door, waiting until she heard the sound of running water and Susan came out, carrying her gloves in her hand.


“Can I help you,” she said as she looked at the small dark haired woman. 


“I just wanted to say hello,” she said as she removed her dark glasses.




She nodded as she double checked the other stalls.  "Okay we are in here alone." Carina then said as she leaned against the door, "Why the veil Susan?"

"I could ask you why the wig and dark glasses?" Susan replied as she washed her hands, "and how the hell did you recognise me?"

"Oh come on,” Carina said with a smile, “how long have I known both you and Shirley?"

"Well we are here doing business,” Susan said as she dried her hands, “and I suppose I don't need to know what YOU and your friends are doing here?"

"Not really," Carina smiled as she replaced her glasses, "but having heard from Annie the state you left that jeweller in after working him over with your brass knuckles last year, I'm almost tempted to ask you to join us."

"That was business,” Susan said as she folded her arms, “you dear Cari do it because you like it."

"True," Carina reflected.  “So – business?”


“Indeed – but you have a wedding or two to prepare for, true?  Well, I will leave you to your fun, while I return to business.  Try not to make the papers?”


“Moi,” Carina said with a smile as she followed Susan out.



7 pm Pacific Time



“Well,” Mike Babbage said as the lights came up in the viewing room.  He looked at Brian Goldstein, who was sitting with his fingers under his chin.


At the same time, Cassandra Stone and Rick turned and looked at the producer.


“When are you ready to start on Ladydown,” Brian eventually said.


“Doing casting calls now,” Cassandra said, “why?”


“Because,” Brian said with a smile, “I think we have an amazing film on our hands that is going to divide opinion completely.  When will the final edit be done?”


“We have a few weeks post-recording to do, and we’re looking for a July opening slot.”


“Not really a holiday film, but a couple of weeks later, once Schumacher’s out of the way...”


“Do you want to see the first teaser trailer?”


“Go on,” Brian said as he sat back.  Mike signalled to the projectionist, as the room went dark. 


The scene opened on a bedroom, as a woman walked in.  She could only be seen from the waist down, but her stocking covered legs, the fitted skirt with the slit at the back, and the four inch heels were clearly visible.


As the music played quietly, the woman sat with her back to the camera, as she put on some makeup.  She had short black hair, and wore a jacket that matched the skirt.


She then put the lipstick down, as the camera shifted focus to her putting on a pair of short black leather gloves, and then tying a folded black silk scarf round her neck.  The camera moved along the table, to a jewelled brooch in the shape of a cat, which she picked up in her gloved hands before she turned round, her head still hidden.


The brooch was pinned to the lapel of the jacket, before she turned again, her face still unseen as she picked up a black stocking and pulled it down over her head, tucking the edges under the scarf.  She then picked up a sawn off shotgun, pumping it as the camera pulled back to reveal Cassandra looking at the camera, smiling as she said “My name is Miss Panther – and you are going to do exactly what I fucking tell you.  Understand, mother fucker?”


The screen went black, as the title “The Pussycat Gang – pray you never meet them” appeared.


The lights went up, as they saw Brian smile.


“Let me know when the final cut’s ready – and get that out,” he said as he stood up and walked out.


“I think he likes it,” Mike said.


“Yeah – I think he does,” Cassandra said with a smile.


Thursday 3rd March

10 am

Xavier International




As she looked up, she saw Pamela standing in the doorway with Alan Kennedy.


“Ah – thank you Pamela.  Would you inform Shirley that Mister Kennedy is here.”


“Of course Susan,” Pamela said as she turned to leave.


“Oh and Pamela – I need to see you at two.  Make sure you’re back from lunch by then, will you?”


“Sure thing Boss,” Pamela said as she walked off, and Alan sat on the other side of Susan’s desk.


“So, phase two?”


“Phase two,” Susan said as she passed a white envelope over to Alan.  “I received this in the post this morning at my home address.”


“Ah yes – I suspect you are not the only one,” Alan said as he opened the letter and glanced down it.  “This was going to be the next move – present the case to the individual shareholders in the hope of getting one of them to sell.  I have to say, however, it is rare to see such a united front as the one you are putting up in the face of this.”


“Does it make your job easier or harder?”


“Yes,” Alan said with a smile.  “Easier in one way, harder for me to convince the other side in another.  Tell me, with the exception of Miss Lu, will the shareholders be free for a group videoconference tomorrow afternoon?”


“You do not know Catherine – if I set it up for about four our time?”


Alan nodded as Pamela came back in.  “Miss Xavier is free now Susan.”


“Good – Pamela, book a telecom for four tomorrow.  Myself, Shirley, Maddie, Charlotte, Penny, Caroline, Juliette and Catherine Lu.  Tell them is it is urgent company business.”


Pamela nodded as Susan said “shall we?”



2 pm

Xavier International


“Hey Boss,” Pamela said as she came into Susan’s office, “you wanted to see me?”


“I do,” Susan said as she stood up, “but not here.  Come with me please.”


“This isn’t a one to one then?”


“Nope,” Susan said as they walked to the conference room.  As they walked in, they saw Shirley sitting there with three other girls.


“Ah good – welcome Pamela,” Shirley said as Susan closed the door.   “You know Andi, Rowena and Zoe?”


“Of course,” Pamela said as she sat down, “does this mean the time has come?”


“It does indeed,” Susan said, “Shirley?”


“We have reason to believe that a shipment of goods is being smuggled into the city by a group operating as RoideMer through the New Fulton Market tomorrow,” Shirley said as Susan passed round folders.  “We are going to intercept the delivery tomorrow morning, under the guise of an armed robbery, and examine the contents for ourselves.”


“Can I ask the source of the information,” Rowena said as she looked at the top sheet in her folder.


“The information was obtained from the person who arranged the shipping, and was obtained by our team at the UK farm.  Penny has reviewed and verified the information about the shipment, and our contact at the Market has provided times for when RoideMer shipments leave the market.”


“We know from this information the truck will leave at about four tomorrow morning.  You four, under Susan’s supervision, will hijack the truck with two others and take it to one of our secure areas for disposal.


“The two others will meet you at the time and place in your packages tomorrow.  You will be armed, and you should expect there to be some form of armed opposition.”


“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this,” Shirley said as she looked around the table.  “Do your best, follow orders, and do what is necessary.”


“Be here at two am tomorrow morning for briefing and equipping,” Susan said.  “For now, go home, rest – you have the rest of the day off.”


Friday 4th March

3 am

Fulton Fish Market


“Hey Tommy,” Gino said as Tommy went to the shop floor, “where’s your partner today?”


“Ellie?  Told her to come in late, we need to sort the books out for the week,” Tommy called in reply as he watched the RoideMer crew beginning to load their truck...



32nd Street


“Tell me again why this is necessary,” Veronica said as she blew into her gloved hands, Eleanor standing with her.  Both women were wearing black fleeces over jumpers, jeans and boots, with leather gloves on their hands and woollen hats covering their hair and heads.


“Think of it as a raid, Vicky,” Eleanor said, “but with us riding with the bad guys for once.”


“That’s what bothers me – if we’re caught...”


“So we don’t get caught,” Eleanor said as she looked round




"Well I know the company does some unusual things," Pamela shook her head as they rode in the panel van, "but hijacking a fish truck?"

"If our guesses are right” Susan said from the driver’s seat, “then it might be carrying something a whole lot more valuable then fish..."

“I don't know - have you bought fish recently?" Zoe asked.

"I know, it's not cheap." Andi added.

"Focus ladies," Susan smiled.

"And what do we do if it's not carrying bad stuff?" Rowena asked.

"WE keep hitting their deliveries till we do find something." Susan nodded.  “Right, masks down ladies, we’re nearly at the pickup point for the last two.”




“Pull it down,” Eleanor said as she saw the van approaching, “they’re here.”


Both women reached up and pulled the rims of their hats down, covering their heads so only the eyes and lips showed, standing in the shadows until the van came to a stop.  The masked driver looked over and said “get in,” waiting only for Veronica and Eleanor to jump in before the door was slammed shut and she drove off.


“P, Z, A and R,” the driver said, “meet E and V.  That is all you need to know, that is all you will be told.  Weapons are in the canvas bag – open and check them.”




3.20 am

Fulton Fish Market


From the black car, the two dark clad women looked out of the windshield.


"Why am I up at this ungodly hour?" Katy yawned as her mother watched the market exit.

"Because Madame wanted backup from people not afraid to use these," Jan pulled two .44's from a holdall, "if an operation she has going on gets out of whack."

"Then we step in and whack someone ourselves," suddenly Katy was all business as she checked the guns were loaded.

"You got it kiddo of mine...and how are you so cool about killing people?"

"I'm naturally evil I guess," Katy smiled.  “So what’s the op?”


“A hijacking.”


“Madame wants to pay less for her fish?”


“I think it’s more a case of what else may be in the truck as well as fish.”




"So what is the setup?" Veronica asked as they rode along.

"A driver, who is an employee of theirs but we think a civilian. The guy riding shotgun however you can expect to be armed and dangerous." Susan replied.

"So try to deal with the driver as gently as possible." Eleanor smiled as she looked at the masked faces.

"That is the idea." Susan nodded.

"The other guy though – if he gives us trouble we deal with him as we see necessary?" asked Zoe.

"Just like you've been taught Z." Susan nodded.


“God these guys are professionals,” Veronica whispered, Eleanor nodding in agreement.


"So where do we take them?" Veronica asked nervously as the van came to a stop.

"In the alley behind Hotel Row," Susan checked where they were, "we have a blocker car that will seal in front, we block in from the back..."

"Deal with the RoideMer people," Eleanor added.

"Yes...then all three vehicles disappear, and the two men are left bundled up."

"Sounds good boss."


“Right – final checks.  I’ll get word when the truck is on the move.”



3.45 am

Fulton Fish Market


Jan saw the white truck, with the crowned fish on the side, as it moved out.


“S – we are on.”


“Roger that,” Susan said as Veronica started to take deep breaths, controlling her breathing as she looked at Eleanor.


“Let’s go,” Jan said as she started the car adn followed from a distance as they drove along E Bay Avenue.  The truck turned onto Legget Avenue, then west onto the Bruckner Expressway.


“We must be heading for the 3rd Avenue Bridge,” Katy said as they drove along.


“That would be my guess – if they’re heading for Hotel Row, they’ll go across and then south on the far side of the island.”




“There it is,” Susan said as the car and truck passed them on the corner of W129th and Malcom X Boulevard.  She started the van again and followed the two vehicles, as they crossed the island and then headed south on Henry Hudson Parkway.


“Are you feeling it,” Veronica whispered.


“I think we all are,” Eleanor said as she looked at the eyes of the other girls, seeing them nod in agreement.  They checked and re-checked their weapons, the convoy heading down the Joe Di Maggio Highway and onto 12th Avenue.


“Not long now,” Susan said as they turned onto W 44th Street.  “Move on ahead.”


“Copy that,” Jan said as they moved round the corner, Katy checking the weapon one last time as they waited.


“Arm up,” Susan said as the truck turned into the alleyway, Susan turning in before she shouted “GO GO GO!!!”


Jan suddenly moved forward, clocking the exit to the alleyway as the truck came to a screeching halt.  At the same time, Susan brought the van to a screaming halt, as the other women jumped out of the back and ran to the front.


Veronica and Roberta covered the sides of the truck as Zoe ran up and pulled open the left hand door.


“You,” she said as she pointed the shotgun at the man sitting there, “get out of the fucking truck!”


“You as well,” Pamela said as she opened the driver’s door and pulled the middle aged man out.  She pushed him against the wall as Andi took a pair of police issue plastic cuffs and used them to secure his wrists behind her back.


“Look, I just drive the truck,” he pleaded as he was turned round, “I don’t...”


“Shut up,” Andi said as she pushed a sponge ball into his mouth, and then taped it over before she made him sit down, and secured his ankles.


“You’re not going to give me any trouble, are you,” Zoe said, Veronica watching as the man turned his head and looked at her.


“No,” he said – before he kicked his leg up between her legs, and sprinted towards the rear of the truck.


“Don’t be a stupid bastard,” Veronica said as she levelled her shotgun at him, and then saw his hand reach inside his jacket.


The blast from beside her took both of them by surprise, as Rowena watched the smoke rising from the barrel of her weapon, and the man fell to the ground, clutching his leg as the handgun fell to the ground.  Veronica walked forward and kicked the gun away as Rowena and Andi between them dragged him into an alleyway, and began securing him.


“All good,” Eleanor said as she looked round.


“All good E,” Veronica said as she looked round, when both women heard the sound inside the van.  Eleanor walked round as Susan got out of the truck and looked with her at the rear doors, the shotguns primed and ready.


The two large men kicked the truck doors out, firing into the air as they did so – and then both fell back as Eleanor and Susan shot them in the side.  Eleanor then jumped into the truck and pushed them out, as Veronica came in with her.


“Move out,” Susan shouted as she closed the doors, and both women felt the truck move off.  Jan drove off as the truck came out of the alleyway and headed back up Broadway.


“Well, we weren’t needed, but they had some trouble,” Katy said.  “Let’s head home and get some coffee.”




5 am


Eleanor and Veronica looked over as the doors to the rear of the truck opened, and they saw the other women standing there.


“Where are we,” Eleanor said as Susan jumped in.


“Cold storage for one of our – contacts,” Susan said, “so what do we have?”


“The salmon looks good,” Veronica said, “did anyone die?”


“Three wounded, no deaths.  So we got fish, we got shellfish...”


“And we got happy powder,” Eleanor said as she opened an ice box, Susan looking at the plastic wrapped white blocks.


“We suspected as much, and now we know.  Be assured, this will be disposed of.  Madame does not deal in this muck.”


“I believe you,” Veronica said quietly.  “R – thanks for what you did in the alley.”


The masked woman nodded as Susan said “Ladies, take the drugs out of here, put them in the incinerator.  Madame thanks you for your service tonight – recompense will be passed onto you, as well as any fish you can use.”


“Might take some myself,” Veronica said with a smile.  “Spoils of war and all that.”


“This won’t be the last one though – will it?”


“I doubt it,” Susan said, “but we can always wait, see if they change their routes – and strike again.  Let’s find some bags and see what you want...”



6.30 am

Park Avenue


“So they were shipping drugs as well?”


“So it would appear Madame,” Susan said.  “We’ve disposed of that, and we’ll make sure the legitimate contents are appropriately disposed of.”


“I wonder how they are going to react to the news at their office,” Shirley said with a smile, “I suspect Tommy is going to hear before any of us.”


“Indeed – you know they’re going to up their game as well?”


“Indeed – be prepared.”


“The preparations are already underway Madame,” Susan said with a smile.


“And the two guests?”


“Performed admirably – who is Mermaid anyway?”


“One of our most special Sisters – and more than that I am to going to say,” Shirley said as she looked at the sealed fish packages on the table.  "Well I hope everyone loves fish and has room in their freezers," she laughed to herself as she made coffee, "we are going to have an awful lot to dispose of today."

"Fish is good for us, lots of proteins, etc," Maisha said as she walked in, rubbing her eyes.

"You look tired,” Susan said, “what time did you get in?"

"About midnight, but I have to thank Congressman Morse for a memorable day down in Washington, I learned so much about how the US government works."

"Well you will see Britain's parliament close up when you have that day with Margaret Harker."

"I'm looking forward to it,” Maisha said, “tutors and books are one thing, but I learn so much more when I actually see things."


“Indeed – there is no substitute for experience,” Shirley said as she handed Susan and Maisha mugs of coffee, and then started to put the packages into the freezer – with one exception.


“The salmon, Aunt Shirley?”


“I’m going to cure it – should be nice over the weekend...”



8 am

The Waldorf Hotel


“Better,” Eleanor said as Veronica emerged from the bathroom of her suite, showered and dressed in casual clothing.


“Much thanks – did you get the feeling as well?”


“The thrill?  It took me back a few years,” Eleanor said with a smile.  “and I have one heck of an appetite.”


“Me too – that guy was going to shoot me you know?”


“I gathered as much – so one of them saved you.  That’s why they are professionals in that sense – I wonder if the police found them eventually.”


“What about the ones you and the driver shot?”


“We both shot to wound – so they should survive.  I had a call while you were out – we’re invited to an afternoon drink to discuss what happened this morning...”


Veronica nodded as she looked out of the window.  “How on earth do they not see what’s going on Eleanor?”


“Don’t ask, Don’t see,” Eleanor said as she picked her purse up.  “Come on...”




10.30 am

St Martha’s


“Father Richmond?”


Alex looked round from the altar as his secretary came in.


“Arthur – what is it?”


“I’m not sure – can you come to the office a minute please?”


As Alex followed him into the office, he saw three large white polystyrene boxes.  Opening the top one, he looked inside and said “all three are like this?”


“Yes Father – they were just left on the doorstep.”


“All right Arthur,” Alex said, “call the shelters, tell them we have a fine donation, and to come and collect their share.  This needs to be shared with those who cannot afford a good meal – let them feast as kings at the wedding feast tonight.”


“As you wish Father...”


11 am

RoideMer, Fulton Market




Philippe Aumont looked at his two men as they stood on the other side of the desk.


“Yes sir,” one eventually said, “they stopped the truck in the city, secured the driver, and took care of the guards.”


“Even the ones inside?”


The second man nodded as he said “they are all hospitalised with gunshot wounds.  The van has disappeared, and our contacts confirm delivery was not made.”


“Whoever did it had to know what was on that truck,” Philippe said to himself.


“Perhaps it was Madame X?”


Philippe shook his head.  “If you knew anything of her, you would know drugs are one of the areas she never touches.  No, someone else must have been...”


The telephone ringing made him stop talking, as he took a deep breath and picked up the receiver.


“This is Aumont.


“Yes sir, the entire order.


“No sir – we were just discussing possible groups.  They must have known what we were doing – have there been enquiries at your end?


“Of course sir – we will make the necessary arrangements.  Do you wish me to pursue matters before then?


“Of course sir – I will see you Monday.  Until then.”


“Was that...”


Philippe nodded as he put the phone down.  “Monsieur Rey is on his way this weekend.  In the meantime, pursue all enquiries.  I am sure the police will wish to see the inventory – though who would wish to steal a truck full of fish...”







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