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©02 The Media Desk

the RIB of theHunter

ch 18
     Keia had become the right arm not only for me, but she was carrying the weight of most of the research division of the organization. She had been well paid for her efforts, and had bought her family out of debt back home and set them up in a better house in a small city. She had also put away a decent savings since I paid for the majority of our household bills.
     But she still regarded me as something between her landlord and stand-in father. Only occasionally did the barrier between us come down and the closeness we had experienced a few times return.
     Her family, 'back there', was in good shape. In fact. Keia was paying part of her younger sister's way to college in California. But she still acted as though at any moment the slave traders might show up and take her back to terrors I could only imagine.

     In the research wing, she had risen to the top of the pecking order nearly overnight. She had the gift of understanding a complex picture and pointing out the seams in the entire scenario. Her common sense and ability to see right through layers of BS had her working many hours a day following up on work done by others.
     But even so, she was always doing things for me. Including things I didn't want done.
     For example. I came back from a particularly nasty assignment in what seemed to be the very armpit of New York City with bullet holes in my car, blood all over me and my overnight bag, and a trunk load of some of the hottest, nastiest, most garlic loaded sausage you have ever smelled, packed in dry ice. Even frozen this stuff made your eyes water.
     Well. Keia sorted, cut and repackaged the sausage and put it in the freezer. But she labeled it in Chinese or something, so I couldn't find my sausages when she wasn't home. She burned my favorite bag and ordered me a new one. And she had my car fixed and painted a shade of red I didn't like.
     She meant well, and I couldn't stay mad at her. Although I wanted to.

     And then one day, I got a note from the Bishop. He had a special assignment that needed a delicate touch and an expert shot. I was flattered, but knew there was others in the organization that were far better marksmen than I was. I got on-line and requested a chat with him.

     Bishop42: There was another angle to it. A personal angle.
     theHunter: ok tell me or do I have to guess
     Bishop42: Keia's father is being threatened by one of the 'businessmen' we closed down.
     theHunter: I thought her family had moved to another city and had a small business now
     Bishop42: They did. The individual that is terrorizing them is working on his own.
     theHunter: a personal vendetta
     Bishop42: I am afraid so.
     theHunter: So if this person gets lead poisoning nobody is going to scream?
     Bishop42: There would be an official inquiry. But I can almost guarantee you nothing will come of it. As long as it is done neatly, with finesse, and style.
     theHunter: I'll offer him a cigarette.
     Bishop42: I'm sure you will. And Keia cannot come with you. If she is spotted in town, it will blow your cover. But I can send Thunder with you as backup.
     theHunter: When do we leave?
     Bishop42: The airport limmo should be there within the hour. She will meet you at the airport. Check your hardware through in the show case. We cannot guarantee resources for you on the other end, and since you will be in another quadrant, you're on your own. We can get you in and out, but on the ground, it's up to you.
     theHunter: The secretary will deny all knowledge...

     Keia had my bags packed right down to having the revolvers disassembled and packed in grease. The ammo was in its airplane box. She told me to tell her family she loved them and left it at that. Then my ride arrived and I was on my way.
     I hate long plane trips. I read a book, chatted with Thunder, and fixed a salesman's laptop when he complained his trac-ball didn't work. I had seen the movie, and the drinks in the lounge weren't very good. Fifteen hours. Then a short layover in Tokyo, and another flight. Jet Lag? You bet.
     At the airport I signed for a car that reminded me of a coffin on wheels I saw once.
     The map was of no use at all, we got lost like nobody's business and only found the hotel by the picture on the brochure. There Thunder regrouped, I put my guns together, and studied the map better. After a short jet lag induced nap we went looking for Keia's parents.
     Their house was over a small shopping complex. They were expecting me and treated me like one of their family. The father spoke very rough English, but made it clear that the guy that was squeezing them was going to come back looking for more money sometime that evening. I shrugged and told them I'd wait with them, I wanted to meet this guy. The mother adopted Thunder and towed her to the kitchen.
     For the next hour her father told me how proud he was that Keia had a job with what he called 'American Research College'. Then he ran down their entire extended family. Somewhere between his brother in law and somebody named Carmainleata I fell asleep.
     I heard the knock on the door and instantly woke up. A very short very heavy man with his finger waving in the air was lecturing the father. Behind the man were three muscular enforcer types. I didn't speak the language, but it was painfully clear the man was telling the father his next birthday may be canceled. I slowly got up and walked toward the front door, the short man ignored me, intent on his target. Thunder slipped out the side and went around the building.
     The father was trying to get a word in edgewise, but to no avail. The short man was getting louder and louder. Then they grabbed the father and started out the door and down the stairs.
     So far they had ignored me. I followed at a mildly discrete distance.
     Thunder was on the other side of the group. She looked my way, we nodded at each other. The tall good-looking woman tapped the first guard on his shoulder as he was looking elsewhere. He turned and seemed to smile at her. She whipped her arms into the air and I heard a slapping sound. The man went down.
     There was a general commotion. One of the other rent-a-thugs reached for Thunder. She did something equally painful to him.
     The third body guard still had hold of the father. He looked to the fat man for instructions.
     I moved closer to the group, the fat man finally seemed to see me. He looked my way then at the father.
     Then the short fat man made his last mistake, he pulled a small funny looking pistol from his waistband and turned toward Keia's father. I shouted, he looked.
     I let him get a real good look at the .454 in my hand.
     The last bodyguard turned toward the massive noise, and fell backward with an unbelieving look on his face and a huge hole in his chest.
     One of the other bodyguards staggered to his feet, I turned toward him but Thunder got to him first. She leaped almost to the sky and put the edge of her foot against the base of the man's skull gently and with great reverance. He slumped to the sound of breaking bone.
     The father couldn't believe it. Three dead men lay at his feet, the other was moaning loudly.
     "We'll take it from here." A voice said in clear English from the edge of the street.
     A uniformed police officer stood there. A mild surge of panic rose in me. He looked at Thunder, "You are very good. Please leave. This was a hit by a rival gang."
     I didn't argue. We took the father back upstairs and told the family to stay inside the rest of the night. Then we beat tracks back to the hotel.
     Thunder was very energized by the evening's events.
     Very. Energized.

     I didn't get my revolver broke down and cleaned until the next morning. Thunder made the calls for our return flight. There wasn't space available for another two days.
     Stranded on a tropical island with a model and a sky's the limit credit card.
     It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

end 18 rib

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