Chapter 25—“And you know that peace can only be won, when we’ve blown ‘em all to kingdom come!”
It was early 1992 and Aimee was tending her garden. It was just the two of us there, and I noticed that some things were different. First, Dawn wasn’t with Aimee. This was unusual in and of itself; Dawn seemed to be a permanent fixture around Aimee when she was tending her garden, recently. Second, Aimee wasn’t singing. Third, and most striking: Aimee wasn’t really gardening, either. She was just kneeling on her little plastic mat, looking very concerned.
“Jim, I need to speak with you,” Aimee said as I approached her.
“Anything, Precious!” I couldn’t think of too many things that would bother Aimee. Maybe Aimee wanted to talk about her lack of success in conceiving. I had been wanting to talk with her about it for a while, and thought that Aimee would finally be opening up to me about it. The fact that Dawn wasn’t around would make things easier; I didn’t know how to talk about “adult” things with Dawn around, although I did try, even if my attempts usually blew up in my face.
Aimee didn’t answer immediately.
“What’s bothering you, Precious?” I prodded.
Aimee looked at me and frowned. “Something is about to happen.”
Those words gave my stomach a queasy feeling. “Can you tell me what?” I asked carefully.
That was not very helpful.
I had learned to trust when Aimee had these feelings, though. “Can you tell me anything?” I asked.
“For some reason, I’ve been thinking about how things have settled down,” Aimee said. “I can still remember when we were being pursued, and then, all of a sudden, there was no longer any interest.”
I nodded. “I remember wanting to take a wait and see attitude,” I agreed. “So far, nothing ever came of it. We can now move freely around the country—and even out of it.”
Aimee nodded. “I’m starting to get the old feelings again, but they’re different.”
Rather than be worried, I decided to tackle this head on. “Let’s assume your suspicions are correct,” I suggested. “Let’s say that we’re being followed again.”
“All right,” Aimee agreed.
“Mary hasn’t noticed anybody,” I pointed out.
“Maybe the people following us know better than to follow Mary again.”
I nodded. “The big question, then, is: Why are they following us?”
Aimee nodded. “That’s the problem. If what we were told is true, there should be nobody interested in us right now. Besides, I also have a feeling that the people following us aren’t entirely the same ones as before.”
A voice asked, “What’s up?” startling the two of us.
The voice belonged to Mary. It was unusual for Mary or any of the other women to be in the garden when Aimee was tending it. Mary had a glass of lemonade and was topless; she looked as if she were heading for the landing by the beach.
“Can you help us with a puzzle?” I asked.
“Sure,” Mary said. She looked surprised to being invited into our conversation.
I explained to Mary about Aimee’s feelings. Mary’s face turned to steel as she considered it.
“We need to act quickly,” Mary said.
“How?” I asked.
“I didn’t like running from the people following us before, and I won’t have Dawn and James put in danger now.”
I noticed how Mary only included the children in her list of priorities.
“All right,” I agreed. “What do we do?”
“We find out who is following us, and follow them back to their source.”
I didn’t like the way Mary looked when she said that.
I slept with Aimee that night. She was very worried. As the night wore on, even when she was asleep, I saw Aimee shiver in fright. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen soon.
I knew instinctively that Mary’s solution about a war of attrition would be messy: keep on piling up bodies until somebody comes to claim them. It had the advantage of being simple and effective. It was also patently illegal, unethical, and was bound to get us noticed by more people than just the ones following us.
That sort of plan would also have whomever was coming after us do so with bigger guns than we had. It was not a good solution nor was it a workable one.
I finally managed to close my eyes and have sleep descend upon me.
“Jim! Wake up!”
It was Aimee shaking me. I sighed. I had just gone to sleep.
“Don’t sleep, Jim!”
“What’s up?” I asked, a bit disturbed that Aimee woke me up.
“You’re the key to this, not Mary.”
“Mary’s way is to attack them where they are strongest. She may be successful to a point, but eventually, her methods will be unsuccessful.”
I had already come to that conclusion. “So?”
“We must instead attack them where they are weak.”
“You need to exploit their big weakness. Their lack of knowledge is their weakness, Jim! It will work!”
“Their lack of knowledge?”
“Yes. I know that their ignorance is their big weakness.”
“OK,” I said, feeling very tired. “Let me sleep on it...”
“No! Sleeping is your particular weakness!”
Suddenly, Aimee’s words hit me with their simple truth. She was right!
I sighed. “Where is June sleeping tonight?”
“Mary was going to sleep with her, but I remember that June is with Debbie tonight,” Aimee said. “They are in June’s room... Rose.”
“Get June, and have her meet me in the atrium,” I said, a plan starting to come together in my mind. “June and I need to talk... alone. I need you to talk with Mary. If our pursuers’ lack of knowledge is their weakness, then Mary can be a good part of that weakness.” I looked at the worried Polynesian. “And Aimee?”
“How long do we have?” I asked.
Aimee thought very hard. After a couple of minutes, she answered, “Twelve hours or less. It might be more, but I am thinking that it will be sooner rather than later.”
Shit. I wished Aimee’s talent for spotting trouble would have given us some more leeway. It was no use worrying about that now, though.
I had come up with a germ of an idea, but I needed to work with June on it.
I then asked Aimee to do the most dangerous thing that I have asked anybody ever to do.
“If you say so, Master,” Aimee said, frowning. She did not look happy at my request.
I walked slowly downstairs to the atrium. June was already downstairs, having used the back stairs. She looked confused. “What’s up, Jim?”
I moved close to June and whispered, “June, do you remember how you got me out of that place in my head where you told me that I hide?”
June nodded, whispering as well. “I just told you to blink.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to do it again?”
“Aimee is getting a feeling that things are going to get a little weird here,” I explained. “She told me that sleeping was my weakness, which got me to thinking. You have seen the actual danger of me sleeping, and only the two of us—and maybe Aimee—know about it. I think I figured a way to turn that weakness into a strength. Aimee tells me that we have less than twelve hours, so they will probably hit us when they think we’re all sleeping. Most likely first thing in the morning. That would be my plan.”
“And you want me to help you out if that happens?” June asked.
“Of course,” June agreed.
“You’ll have to ignore what is going on around you,” I warned June. “Aimee told me that sleeping is my weakness. Aimee didn’t mention any other danger to me. Please remember that.”
“All right,” June said.
“Are you carrying?” I asked.
“I felt it might be necessary for some reason when I was called out of bed so early in the morning.”
“Good. If you need to do something, do it quietly.”
June looked at me and then understood. She nodded.
A couple of hours later, Aimee found me in the atrium. “Jim, it’s going to happen in less than an hour,” she whispered.
“I figured that,” I whispered back. “You need to get upstairs and make sure that Mary, Dawn, and James are in the Orchid Room. Send Debbie down here.”
“Debbie? Not Mary?” June asked.
I smiled at June. “Debbie,” I repeated. “I have an idea for something and Debbie would be perfect.”
Aimee had already left. She did not wish us luck, nor did she say good-bye. These were both very, very good omens.
“What’s up?” Debbie asked, coming down the stairs, feeling groggy.
I whispered my response. “Shh, quiet. If James is hungry, Aimee can feed him from the mini kitchen in the Orchid room. Please stay down here with us.”
“What’s going on?” Debbie whispered back. “Everybody is wound up tight as a string!”
“We almost screwed up royally,” I said. “People are still watching us.”
“Shit! What’s happening now?”
“Aimee says it’s about to come to a head.”
Debbie looked a bit frightened. “Shouldn’t Mary be here instead of me?”
“No. You are the one I need here. Mary is upstairs with Aimee, Dawn, and James. If my plan fails, Mary will prevent anything from happening to the rest of the family. There are two stairways, but Mary can position herself so that she can defend both. She’s a dead shot with both hands, so I imagine she has two automatics with her. The circuit breaker for the dumbwaiter has been off, so that can’t be used easily. Mary will prevent anything from happening upstairs. The children are paramount—to us and especially to Mary. Trust me, we need Mary upstairs with the children.”
Debbie didn’t understand my reasoning, but at least I had the air of command that my training had instilled into me.
There was still some time. “Debbie, are you feeling tired?”
“Huh?” Debbie asked. “Um, yeah...” She yawned.
“Good,” I said, entering her mind. “I want you to go to sleep.”
I signaled to June, and then I started talking softly to Debbie, punctuating my words with powerful mental probes into Debbie’s mind. I needed her to feel tired, tired, tired...
Debbie started to nod off.
“Everything is normal, Debbie,” I said. “Nothing is going to go wrong. Everything is under control...”
It took a few minutes, but then I felt it. There was an air of sleepiness and confidence that started wafting through the room.
June and I quickly moved Debbie to a couch in the atrium that was close to the approach to the stairway. It looked like she fell asleep on the couch. It was easy to see her from the front door. It made sense that this would be the initial point of entry.
I had experienced Debbie’s infectious moods for nearly four years, and had come up with bit of a defense against it. I quickly taught June the trick mentally, as I saw her start to succumb to Debbie’s exhaustion radiation.
As I did that, I kept pushing the thought of tiredness into Debbie’s mind. Tiredness and confidence. I needed the exhaustion to be complete.
The strain was getting too much for me... I felt myself giving in to the slumber myself...
The voice came from within my mind. I looked around and I was on a lonely road. Shit!
“Open your eyes!”
I opened my eyes, and I was now in the kitchen.
June had pulled me far away from Debbie. The moods and emotions that June and I had implanted into Debbie’s mind were far stronger than I had ever encountered, and I almost succumbed myself, even knowing that the emotions were there.
Aimee had told me that the people after us weren’t entirely the same as before. If that were so, then there was a good chance that these people probably had more than a suspicion about our powers.
My hope, then, was that the person or persons that came through the front door would include at least an Empath or two. If so, the thoughts that Debbie was emanating would probably knock him or her down before they realized it. Due to June’s and my continuous strengthening of Debbie’s emotional transmissions, maybe even non-Empaths would feel it. That was my hope.
When Aimee convinced me that we were once again being followed, I realized that it could only be William Voder. He knew our secret. He also insinuated that he felt Debbie’s emotional broadcasts. I had realized in the few years since that it was mainly Empaths that felt Debbie’s radiations. That meant that William was one of us, despite his continued denials. His denial of any ability was how he tried to convince me that he wasn’t interested in the powers, except academically. If he was indeed an Empath, it followed that he did have more than a passing interest in our situation and our abilities.
How could I have been so trusting? Mary never really trusted him, and I now realize that he never really got close to Mary. Of course, there was no use crying over spilled milk. We just needed to clean it up and move on.
Another thing that I had realized was that William had been tracking us all along. He had known when we returned to Falls Church, and he gave us a package that contained a new alias for June. How could he have known June’s elevated status in our family if he hadn’t been monitoring us somehow?
How many other clues had I carelessly ignored in the last few years?
“Master,” I heard Aimee’s voice in my mind.
“Yes, Precious?” I sent back to her.
“The back door is unsafe. The danger is different there.”
“Thank you, Aimee,” I said. Why hadn’t I thought of the back door? I started to improvise a secondary plan, and came up with an interesting diversion.
The connection to Aimee broke. I felt bolstered by Aimee’s confidence, hoping it wasn’t the false confidence that Debbie was exuding.
I signaled for June to head out of the kitchen toward the back. There was a chair in the laundry room that would come in handy.
I felt a foreign presence somewhere nearby. I knew it wasn’t any of the people that I lived with.
Some part of my mind indicated that I had felt that particular presence somewhere before.
Ah... Patricia! She’s part of this!
I pictured her in my mind’s eye. Was she an Empath? Perhaps. Aimee didn’t pick up on it when she talked with her, but she had come back from her meeting with doubts about her.
Patricia was getting closer. I probed the outside of her mind and I saw something very familiar. Inwardly, a part of me was laughing. This was so funny!
“June?” I whispered.
“Do you remember how we got Debbie to go to sleep? How we pushed the thoughts into her mind?”
“Can you try to do that when I ask you to? Push a single powerful thought into somebody’s mind? There’s somebody just outside the back door.”
“It will be easy. Horniness.”
“Quick... move back a few feet do what I tell you to do!” I whispered. “Meet me on that lonely road.”
“Huh?” June asked.
“Just do it!” I said.
June moved back, and stared at me.
I sat on the chair.
Patricia was so close now. I could feel the beginnings of a very weak mind probe.
I closed my eyes. It was all up to June, now.
I took a deep breath...
I was now walking down a lonely road... the moon was out and the stars were of a familiar pattern.
Suddenly, June appeared on the road. “Blink your eyes!”
“Not yet, June. Stay with me. We’re dead to the world of Empaths right now.”
“There are people nearby!”
“People will think we’re unconscious.”
“When should I project the horniness?”
“After we leave here. You’ll feel the horniness, and that will be your cue,” I smiled.
“There are people nearby,” June said. “There are at least four people unconscious in the foyer and in the atrium.”
“How can you tell?”
“I don’t know how. I just know!” June sounded frustrated.
“Let’s wait a little bit more. How many are near me?”
“Her name is Patricia. She’s the private investigator that was following us at one time.”
“She seems confused.”
“All right. Get back into your own mind and wait for me,” I said.
“June!” I called out, ignoring the Polynesian woman that was near me. “Suck me now!” My tone was commanding.
My eyes were open but unfocused.
June moved quickly between my legs. She already had her robe off and placed it on a pile between my legs before kneeling on it. June was extremely horny, as she is every time I give her an order like that.
Patricia looked at us, confused.
I entered just the periphery of Patricia’s mind. I could feel the horniness that June and I projected into her, and despite the danger, my member hardened. I could feel Patricia’s envy... deep down, she was a submissive. I had recognized the similarity to June when I had probed her mind when she was outside. Patricia secretly loved to be ordered like I had just ordered June.
A man suddenly entered the laundry room, and looked at the impossible scene in front of him. His weapon was already cocked. He raised his arm...
June’s right arm moved like lightning, pulling the knife from its location within her robe underneath her and into the bicep of the man holding the gun.
A shot exploded!
My eyes widened, surprised that a shot had gotten off. June was not slow with a knife or any other deadly weapon.
When my eyes focused, I saw that Mary was behind the man in the kitchen. Apparently, she came down the back stairs. She had a smoking gun in her hand, a bit higher than the center of the mass of his head.
The man was still standing, startled by the explosion and the fact that his arm was bleeding profusely. He had dropped the gun as his the muscles in his upper arm stopped working.
June had another, identical knife pointed at the man’s groin.
“Mary missed!” June whispered, incredulously.
I didn’t answer.
Patricia had her hands in the air, afraid to let them go anywhere near her weapon.
“Everybody is accounted for,” Aimee projected to me. “There was one other person, but that person drove away before the people entered the front door.”
“Fine. Wait before coming downstairs. I’ll send June in to take care of the men in the atrium.”
June did as I silently directed. Mary had picked up the intruder’s gun, and also disarmed Patricia. She looked at me, confused.
I just smiled at Mary.
“Clear!” June said in my mind.
I sent a message for Aimee to come downstairs with as many pairs of pantyhose as she could find, but to watch out for Debbie’s emotional broadcast. “Be careful, Aimee, Debbie is radiating exhaustion!”
Aimee told me she understood.
It was lucky we were in the laundry room. There was a cabinet that had some rags in it. I got one and started to apply direct pressure on the wounded man’s bleeding arm.
Apparently, every person that was sent into our house was an Empath. Patricia was the weakest, but she was to come in from the back and to stay there and avoid trouble. Her job was to make sure nobody escaped.
Nobody had anticipated my using Debbie as the human equivalent of an ultrasonic weapon—walk into the room and find yourself almost immediately unconscious. Since Debbie radiated emotions naturally, the confidence that she emanated was felt first, probably while they were still outside the house. Our would-be attackers thought that their plan was going perfect.
Once they entered the doorway, however, the urge to sleep deeply was too consuming... all but one collapsed quite suddenly. The one other saw what was happening and managed to get out of Debbie’s range.
Debbie continued to lay there; she was always a difficult person to arouse from a sleep. That was something that these men would all share that day.
Patricia entered the house from the back and saw me, apparently unconscious with no visible signs of life other than a steady and deep breathing. A probe of my mind didn’t show any signs of life at all.
Patricia also noticed June nearby, but she, too, was dead to the world.
All of a sudden, Patricia heard my voice come out of nowhere... and everywhere...
My voice reverberated throughout Patricia’s body, and almost immediately afterward, she felt it ripple through the nerve endings of her sexual organs. The rippling became more and more intense in a manner of milliseconds... Patricia could barely move at all.
Patricia felt a desire to be June. To feel the ecstasy that my organ was obviously generating for June...
Somebody else came in through the kitchen, but almost immediately, everything shifted and Patricia heard an explosion. She blinked, and saw Mary holding a smoking gun against her accomplice’s head. The man had already dropped his gun and his arm was bleeding profusely.
Patrice wondered why her accomplice wasn’t dead.
Everything was happening now, and it was nothing like they had planned. Patricia found herself still unable to move or speak. She was feeling very sexually frustrated...
We had six bodies to deal with. Five men and Patricia.
They all had radios and weapons, and Mary stripped all of our prisoners—including Patricia—and collected the contents of their pockets. None of them had any identification on them, but she hadn’t expected them to have any. When she was finished, she had a number of handguns complete with silencers, all their clothing, their underwear, a collection of six hypodermic syringes, and even a small bottle of chloroform. Mary used one of the men’s shirts as a rag, poured the chloroform onto it, and placed it over the noses of each of the unconscious men for a few seconds each, to ensure that they would not wake up any time soon.
I saw that the wounded man was pale; he was starting to go into shock. Mary and I moved him so that his head was on the floor and the rest of his body was raised onto the bodies of the other unconscious men. Despite the danger to the wounded man, Mary also chloroformed the wounded man, who didn’t even try to struggle. “If he dies, he dies,” Mary said, showing the amount of mercy one would expect from a mother toward somebody who had threatened the life of her child.
Mary indicated to June that she was to watch over our prisoners and led me into the kitchen.
“When did you trick up my gun?” Mary demanded in a whisper.
I shook my head. “I didn’t. I had it done. I knew that your way of dealing with danger is lethal. Neither Aimee nor I saw that being needed.”
“Aimee,” Mary said. “I never would have suspected.”
“I needed to keep you from killing somebody.”
Mary didn’t answer, but nodded.
“Only the bullet that was in the chamber of those two guns was replaced with a blank,” I emphasized. “The rest of the bullets in your guns are live.”
Mary’s eyebrows raised up. “Really?”
“It was not my intention to actually endanger Dawn or anybody else,” I assured Mary. “Not in a million years. If you killed that guy, there would have been questions. Uncomfortable questions. If things didn’t go the way I planned, you would still have a full magazine, minus one bullet. I suspected you might come down when you noticed danger down here and not up there. Believe me, Mary, your way was plan B.”
“June didn’t use her gun,” Mary said.
“I told her that if she needed to do something, to do it quietly. She had two knives and two guns in her robe. She was quite prepared. My suggestion made her favor her knives instead.”
“She didn’t throw to kill,” Mary said.
“She managed to disarm him effectively.” The fact was, June’s throw had nearly severed the man’s arm completely. The rags that we had used to stem his bleeding had been replaced twice, and the current ones were still soaked with blood. Aimee had reluctantly applied a tourniquet close to the shoulder to finally stem the bleeding. The man would probably lose his arm, but he did pull a gun on us.
There were a few moments of silence.
Finally, Mary said, “You were right. Plan A worked.”
Mary left the kitchen.
I could tell that Mary wasn’t happy, although I think that she would have regretted it if she had to kill somebody. I knew that it was not within Mary’s psyche to stay upstairs and protect the children as a backup plan. That’s why I had Aimee replace that chambered bullet in Mary’s favorite guns with blanks from June’s room. I’ll never know exactly how Aimee managed to get to Mary’s guns—I knew that Mary had been keyed up ever since we had that conversation the previous day.
I also know that there would be no way on earth that I would be able to get a empty cartridge into Mary’s gun ever again. I hoped that I would never have a need to do so.
Each of the men were still unconscious. Patricia was bound and on her stomach. “Is what I suspect true about you and William Voder?” I whispered to Patricia, knowing the answer.
Patricia didn’t hesitate, but nodded her head.
I turned her over, and she blushed red with embarrassment over her nakedness. I wasn’t sure how much of the horniness that June and I had projected into her was still there, but I knew that she had a nudity taboo. I pulled her gag down.
“Mr. Voder is your father?” I asked in a low voice.
Patricia realized that I knew that the house was probably bugged. I saw her consider yelling out, but I projected terrible fear into her mind. She looked at me, wide eyed. “I was adopted when I was fifteen,” she finally whispered. “I only learned why afterward.”
“Tell William that if we see anybody else that we suspect might be from him, we’ll send Mary on a search and destroy mission. You could not have picked a worse enemy to have. You’ve threatened her daughter. Mary will kill you, him, and anybody else that’s involved without so much as a second thought. She wouldn’t mind doing it now.”
“We had no intention of killing your children,” Patricia said, looking past me to where Mary was standing behind me. I knew Mary well enough that what Patricia saw in Mary’s eyes was even scarier than what I had just told her.
“Our plan is to dump you somewhere and alert your father. We will not kill you this time, but I make no such promise if we ever see you or your partners again. Other than your driver, are there any others?”
Patricia hesitated when she realized we knew about her driver, and I heard movement behind me. There was the cold metal click of the safety being released from a gun. Mary was very good at getting somebody to cooperate.
“Just the driver.”
“Is he or your father monitoring the bugs in this place?”
“I am not sure,” Patricia said. I entered her mind and saw that this was the truth. Patricia had no idea.
“What’s the all clear signal?”
“’Bronco Pickup’ and two numbers. The first is total dead, and the second is total wounded. The panic signal is ‘Family Down.’”
It made sense. “Where is the pick up point?”
“We’re going to have you call your man in,” I said. “You do realize that it will be impossible for you to betray us, do you not?”
I turned to Mary, and Mary picked up one of the radios. I entered Patricia’s mind. Just for good measure, I started pushing some extra fear into her mind.
“Bronco Pickup Zero Zero,” Patricia said into her microphone, her voice shaking a bit.
A voice was heard over the radio. “Roger, Patricia, two minutes.”
“Roger and out.”
I unbound Patricia and told her to put on her outer clothes. She did so, and remained embarrassed as Mary and I watched her dress.
Mary took some rope and tied false knots that made it look like June was completely bound. June had both of her knives hidden in the sleeves of her robe. Mary was dressed in one of the dark outfits that one of the men wore, with her hair up in a dark hat. The pants were a tight fit. Next, she did a false binding on me. I entered June’s mind and said, “Meet me on the lonely road.”
June understood, and we both sat down on the floor.
I was on that lonely road and saw June. I could hear faint crying in the background. “What is that crying?”
“You can hear that?” June asked.
“Yes,” I said, confused.
“You’ve never heard it before, Master,” June said. “That wailing never stops whenever I’m here.” She was about to say something else when she suddenly said, “Patricia has picked me up, and Mary has you. We are being led outside.”
“All right. Tell me to blink if you sense any trouble.”
“Will do. We’re walking to the driveway. There’s a pickup truck approaching, no headlights.”
I saw June looking concerned, but she didn’t tell me to do anything. All of a sudden, she disappeared.
What happened to June?
Shit! June woke up!
I was in Mary’s arms. June and Mary had two sets of guns on both the driver and Patricia.
I felt June enter my mind. “Sorry, Master. I forgot to tell you...”
“No problem,” I assured June.
Mary had the man’s radio, and then pressed the chloroform rag against the man’s face. He crumbled to the ground.
I turned to Patricia. “Thank you, Patricia. You’ve helped our family, and my promise is that we won’t kill you... this time. Remember my other promise, though.”
“If my father comes after you again, I will not be a party to it.”
“If your father comes after us again, your life will still be in danger,” Mary pointed out. “Remember that. I know your face, and I will beat down the doors of hell as I try to find you.”
I nodded in agreement. “It is your job to convince your father that it will cost him too much to get us,” I warned.
Patricia nodded. She was staring at Mary, her fear elevated.
The driver had a pickup truck and the engine was still running. It was convenient, so Mary, June, and I put all the male bodies into the cargo area. We put a tarp on top of them, and Mary got into the back with the rag and chloroform to make sure that none of them woke up too soon.
June took the driver’s seat, and I put Patricia between June and me. June backed out of the driveway, and got on the main road and headed south.
I showed Patricia the syringes. “Phenobarbital?” I asked.
“How long will somebody be out on one of these doses?”
“Eight hours minimum.”
My blood ran cold. There were six syringes and only five adults in our house. Was one of the syringes supposed to be shared between Dawn and James?
“We have seven people and only six doses,” I said, putting that thought behind me. “Do you prefer the sleeping potion or the chloroform?”
Patricia hesitated. “I have an allergic reaction to most barbiturates.”
“Chloroform. You will wake up with a headache,” I said.
Patricia simply nodded.
We drove for about an hour until we reached Hana on the east coast of Maui. We found a dense forest along a long stretch of highway. It was early enough in the morning that the road was still mostly deserted. June pulled off the road, and as far into the dense brush as she could. Debbie, Aimee, Dawn, and James, who were behind us, passed us in Debbie’s Land Cruiser. They had instructions to return to this exact point in twenty minutes, pointing in the other direction.
Mary, June, and even Patricia helped me get the men out of the back of the truck. Mary wasn’t particularly gentle with any of them, and after June saw this, she rough handled the man she was dragging as well. Only the wounded man got any modicum of compassion.
Mary and I tied all the men to trees, while June went back to the pickup. One by one, Mary injected a syringe into each man.
“Patricia,” I said. “You will have to leave Maui. I’d suggest you leave Hawaii for good as well, but as long as we never see you again, it doesn’t matter to me where you go. You know where Debbie has property, so you know basically where you don’t want to be.”
Patricia said, “I understand.”
“I’m sorry your father chose it to be this way. He seemed like a nice person when we met him.”
Patricia sighed. “I know him better than you. He had been working on this project for years before I even met him, and it was Debbie’s father that forced him to leave the military. He’s consumed with this project. He’s spent tens of millions of dollars.”
“It seems that he has his Zulu Squad,” I said.
“Six men and one woman is not my idea of a Utopia,” Patricia said, her face disgusted. “He knows my weakness.”
I shrugged. “Your submissiveness?” I asked, smiling. “I felt that within you before you even entered the house.”
“I didn’t feel you enter my mind,” Patricia said. “I knew you had when you told me that you knew about my father, but I never felt it. How did you knock out the men?”
“You know better than to ask such questions.”
“I’m truly sorry that I was a part of this,” Patricia said.
Once again, I shrugged. “You chose your side yourself.”
“I’m switching sides,” Patricia said. “I mean, I know you don’t want me, and I don’t blame you. However, Hawaii is my home. I’m not going to Silver Spring.”
June came back. “The pickup is fixed.”
“What?” Patricia asked, confused.
June showed her the distributor cap that she removed from the engine. “It’s not going very far without this. I hid the battery as well.”
I laughed. I think Patricia had wanted us to leave her the pickup so she could escape from her father.
“Mary, June, let’s take a vote,” I said. “Patricia wants to switch sides. She’s not joining us, but she doesn’t want to end up a plaything for six men that she doesn’t seem to like.” I looked at Patricia. “Is that correct?”
“Yes,” Patricia said, her eyes cast down.
Mary and June looked at me. I knew that neither one trusted Patricia, but I had been within Patricia’s mind. I knew that she was serious.
The two women must have read something on my face.
“Whatever you choose,” June said.
“Same here,” added Mary.
I sighed. “Do you have Aimee’s email address?” I asked Patricia.
“You’ll have to work out your own transportation this morning,” I said. “Let Aimee know where you are and we’ll avoid your location. If you need to travel, just let us know in advance. If we see you around...”
“I understand,” Patricia said, sounding hopeful. “If my father tries again, you’ll also know where I am.” She sighed in resignation. “If I don’t report in to Aimee, I’m dead, and I could be dead even if I do report. May I stay on Maui?”
“No,” said Mary, firmly.
I shook my head. “It’s not a good idea.”
Patricia sighed. “I’ll need time to move.”
Mary gave her a stern look. “If I see you on Maui, you will die.”
Patricia didn’t answer.
I heard Debbie’s Land Cruiser on the road outside the forest. Mary and June headed out of the forest.
“Patricia,” I said softly. “You are the first woman that I met with the gift that I didn’t fall in love with. You are a pretty woman, and I’m sorry it has to end this way. You are a danger to our family, even if you manage to disassociate yourself from your father. I’m truly sorry to have to say this, but this is a final good-bye. I hope that I never see you again.”
“I’m sorry, Captain Montgomery,” Patricia said, tears in her eyes. “I’m so ashamed of how I allowed my father to manipulate me. I wish I could make it up to you.”
“You can,” I said. “Never see us again.”
I turned my back on Patricia and walked slowly back to the rest of my family.
Did I ever tell you that I hate to see a female cry?
Patricia’s sobs haunted me for months afterward.
Nobody said anything at all on the hour long trip back to the shack. I think they could all feel the emotional turmoil that was consuming me.
As we pulled into the driveway, I put my emotions aside and wondered if there were people that had infiltrated our home while we were gone. If so, Patricia had not known about them.
I looked at Aimee, but she didn’t seem to have any sense of foreboding.
Even so, June left the car running, and Aimee, Debbie, Dawn, and James remained in the Land Cruiser. Mary, June, and I went inside the house. We checked everywhere, and the three of us probed with our minds to search for any foreign presence. We didn’t find anything.
I sent a message to Aimee in the car, and I heard the engine turn off. A few minutes later, the four of them entered the house.
“Is it over?” Debbie asked, the first time that anybody had spoken in a normal volume since the whole ordeal began.
“As over as it can be, at least for now.”
Aimee went into the den and onto one of the computers. She sent an email message to William Voder explaining where his “hit team” could be found. She also repeated the threat that I had personally given to Patricia, since there was a chance that Patricia might not be sending messages to her father any time soon.
If William was smart, he’d get his Empath team picked up and out of the state as quickly as possible.
The four women and I were taking a walk in Aimee’s Garden, discussing what had happened. I figured that Aimee tended this garden nearly every day, and she would have noticed any listening devices there if somebody had managed to install any.
“You feel sorry for Patricia,” Aimee said.
“Not really,” I answered. “There’s a part of me that wanted to invite her in, but it would have been unworkable. She had already betrayed our family, and forgiving a betrayer is giving permission for that person to betray us again. I know Mary would never accept her, and that makes it impossible. Any member of our family must be an equal member.”
Mary nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“In addition, having Patricia here would always be a temptation for William Voder to attempt to ‘rescue’ her. He could tell the authorities that we were a cult and that she was brainwashed.”
“She’s an adult,” June said.
“The fact that Mary will never forgive her is enough to prevent her from being a part here. I could never accept somebody that can be seen as endangering the life of my family.”
“What did they want with us?” Debbie asked.
“We were the experiment that Larson never had the opportunity to perform,” I answered. “What happens when a bunch of Empaths live together in close quarters who know about their powers?”
“Zulu Squad,” Mary said.
“From what I got from the guy that June wounded and from Patricia, the orders were to kill Mary if necessary and capture the rest of us alive.”
Aimee shuddered, hating the thought of murder.
“What happens now?” June asked.
“It’s a Mexican standoff, like the Cold War that just ended,” I said. “They can take us out, and we can expose him. Neither of us wants to take the risk. Besides, it’s obvious that Voder already has an Empathic goon squad. He’s only a couple of years behind the family that we’ve already created. They have six people, even if they are all male.”
Mary turned to Aimee. “Is the danger gone?”
“Yes,” Aimee said, softly.
“Will it come back?”
I wished Mary hadn’t asked this in front of everybody.
“Danger can always come back,” Aimee answered, slowly. “The best we can do is make it cost too much for them to be able to get us easily. I agree with Jim’s reasoning about that.”
Everybody nodded, including Mary.
“Jim?” Debbie said, softly.
“I wasn’t aware of what you were doing this morning in the atrium. However, I have the most splitting headache that I’ve ever had in my life. Warn me before pushing thoughts that strongly into my head again, OK?”
“I’m sorry, dear,” I said, and I kissed Debbie.
“So, Voder was Doctor Larson,” Mary said, getting back to what I had figured out. “The story about him dying was just that... a story.”
“Most likely,” I said to Mary. “If he wasn’t Larson, then he was the person that started Larson on his path. He was just as bad.”
“And the rest of them?” Mary asked.
“Who cares? Only Voder knows,” I answered. “Aimee was right. His weakness was his lack of knowledge. June and I knew it was possible for us to appear dead to other Empaths. I had begged June never to tell anybody about that, and she didn’t. Maybe I had my suspicions then, but not making it general knowledge kept Voder from finding out. I also noticed that, unlike me, June was aware of her physical surroundings when she was in my dream. Voder knew that Debbie radiated emotions, but never suspected that she could be used offensively in the manner that I did. Finally, nobody ever suspected that June would be as effective a bodyguard as Mary could be.”
Aimee said to Mary. “Jim and I knew that your plan—plan B—would be to attack Voder where he was strongest. No matter how good you and June are, you are only two people. He could hire dozens of people to overwhelm you. Instead, Jim attacked his weakness: he never really understood that the gifts manifest themselves differently to different people. No two people seem to have exactly the same gifts.”
I nodded as well. Finally, I added, “Patricia indicated that parts of our family compound are bugged, and we’ll need to get the entire property swept again very soon. We should use a different company than last time. I suspect that the company we used might have been paid by Voder to actually bug our place for him.”
My last comment drew surprise in everybody except Mary, who simply nodded. “That’s how I would have done it. I’ll watch them this time.”
Aimee and I spent that night together. “You didn’t tell them everything.”
“No,” I said. “Mary suspects, but she’s angry that I kept her for plan B.”
“There was never any plan B,” Aimee said.
I nodded. “Their instructions were to take Mary down. Even if they did so, she would have gotten many of them. I’ve seen her fight—Mary doesn’t give an inch even to June, who she thinks of as a sister. However, they wouldn’t have hurt the children or you. If I were them and I didn’t care about casualties, I would have had more than handguns and hypos. Grenades, booby traps, and other things that only Mary could imagine would have been in my arsenal.”
Aimee sighed. “Mary’s anger blinds her to the reality.”
“I refuse to allow my daughter to be without a mother,” I said. “Their orders were to kill Mary, and I can only imagine how they would do that. When I realized it was Voder, I also knew that he knew Mary’s training, since he had told me about it. I figured that at least one of those goons would have had to be at least her equal—probably better. I was not willing to risk that. I love Mary too much. There was only one reason why they wanted us, and killing us would destroy what he wanted. The only person in danger of being killed was Mary.”
Aimee was very quiet for a few moments. She then said, “I think Mary never thought that she’d need a person to save her. You did more than just save the family, Jim. You saved Mary’s life.”
I sighed. “I don’t think Mary sees it that way.”
“June is with her tonight,” Aimee said. “June knows. She shares most of your thoughts when she invades your dream.”
“I know. It’s easy for June to get beyond a person’s defenses.”
“June and you seem to be able to do that. You did it with Voder’s goon squad.”
“I guess,” I said.
“The army lost a good leader when Mary hit you with that jeep.”
“I doubt that I would have been leading much, if Larson or Voder or whomever had their way with me.”
“I hope this is over,” Aimee said softly.
“So do I,” I said. The two of us kissed for a few moment.
“You still think of Patricia,” Aimee said, very quietly.
I finally shook my head. “No, Aimee. I’m done thinking of her. I told her to keep in touch with you so we know her location at all times. I just want to avoid any situation where we could cross paths. Please keep her location confidential, Aimee. I don’t want to know where she is, and I don’t want Mary to ever know or find out, either.”
Aimee nodded. “Your heart is too large, Master. You do love Patricia. Even now, you wish to protect her.”
I shook my head, but Aimee could feel the tears on my face.
We caressed each other and fell asleep. There was no moon nor any stars in my dreams, and I hoped there never would be a necessity for them to ever appear in my dreams again.
Mary did forgive me, the very next day. In fact, she entered the room where Aimee and I were still sleeping and inserted herself between us.
“I’m sorry, Jim,” Mary said. “I understand, now.”
I didn’t answer. I just rolled on top of Mary, and we made love.
Surprisingly, Aimee didn’t leave the bed. She just lay next to us, her hands touching us as Mary and I made love.
“You saved my life, Jim,” Mary said, tears flowing down her face.
“We all saved the family, Mary,” I said. “You helped us with the person that June disabled. Even if the bullet you fired was a blank, he realized he was in your sights and very close. He was scared to death of you, Mary. Anyway, if I hadn’t had your bullet replaced, you would have killed that man.”
Aimee added, “You did save the family, Mary. Mr. Voder was so focused on trying to defeat you that he didn’t consider anybody else to be a real threat. You are the one that trained June.”
Mary didn’t answer, but nodded instead. We continued to make love.
I kissed Mary, and felt the ecstasy that I do when I kiss my wife. I sent my “emotional volcano” into Mary’s mind, letting her know that I loved her completely.
We were joined about ten minutes later by June, and finally Debbie, who left the children in a playpen in the Orchid room.
It was the first time that all five of us participated together in bed. Despite the fact that it was a king sized bed, it was only by clever arrangement of our bodies that we were all able to fit.
We all felt sexual bliss, and at the same time, contentment.
For the first time since Aimee woke me up the previous day, I actually felt like smiling.
During all the sexual activity in our bed, one thought permeated my brain: “I will love you forever, my beloved Master. You have saved the entire family.”
I refused to take all the credit. I had lots of very talented help.
When I woke up there were six of us in the bed. Dawn had managed to escape from the playpen and a “childproof” door in the Orchid room, located us, and snuggled her way between Aimee and me.
Dawn has a way of getting around anybody’s defenses, it appears.