“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 37

Twenty minutes later, Frank’s team rushed into his room only to find it empty. A franticJWM Serialization search of the hotel and grounds turned up nothing. Not even a fingerprint was found in a short check of a few of the usual places fingerprints are always left in a hotel room occupied by normal guests. A housekeeping maid on the floor said, when questioned, she had seen a guest carrying a small bag go down the back stairs about 30 minutes ago. She looked at the Professor’s picture and said, “Yes. That’s the man. He was a good tipper and had very good manners.”

A check of the hotel’s surveillance cameras confirmed the maid’s report. There was no question the Professor went down the back stairs as the team from Frank’s office was coming in the front of the hotel. The team chief called Frank at CTC and told him the Professor was gone. Frank was furious and asked, in an icy tone, what had happened? The team chief said he didn’t know. The Professor must have been scared off by something the two women, who were sitting on him, did.

Frank said, “The woman you talked to has more experience than your whole team combined. She is the best I have ever worked with. I’m sending her back to the hotel to find out what happened, since you can’t tell me. Report immediately to my office. You and your team get the next flight to Washington.”

As usual, the team chief was left with a dial tone.

Frank called Kathy when he cut off the team chief. Kathy and Kelly had just arrived back in Georgetown to eat, rest and resume coverage of Hankins.

Frank asked her what could have happened to make the Professor disappear.

Kathy said, “Frank, I’m surprised. I can’t tell you what happened. The team leader refused my offer to help. I offered to go over his plan and he blew me off. He is without a doubt one of the most condescending son-of-a-bitches I have ever run into. I was surprised at how they were dressed, all in dark suits and ties. They looked like a Government team in a sea of tourists, beach people and golfers. It’s hard to find a group of young men in suits at Broadway at the Beach. That’s about all I can say. Is the Professor’s Cadillac CTS still there?”

“I don’t know. Please go up there, show your badge, make it a criminal law thing and find out what happened.”

“Okay. I’m on my way.”

“Kelly, you have to cover Hankins on your own. Frank wants me to find out how and why the Professor got away from his team. Remember no risks, no confrontations, and do not get made. It wouldn’t hurt to use a different car.”

“Got it. Call me if I can help.”

On the way back to Myrtle Beach, Kathy wished she had a siren. This speed limit driving was making her crazy. The return trip took her 40 minutes, not bad considering traffic conditions. She left her Ford Taurus in valet parking and flashed her badge at the attendant and told him to keep it handy. The front desk was clear when she walked up, flashed her badge and asked to see the manager. The manager came right out and asked her to come into his office. She showed her badge again, along with a picture of the Professor coming into the hotel.

Kathy said, “This is important but no need to upset the routine of your hotel or its guests. This man had a room on the fifth floor. I want to know what name he used, how long was he here and whether he had been here before. Also what ID he used. After that I want to see his room. Please put it off limits for a few hours. Lastly. I want to know what our team did when it came into the hotel early this morning. I’ll need all the relevant camera coverage, starting with this man coming into the hotel last night and going up to the fifth floor. Coverage of him leaving by the back staircase is especially important.”

Kathy smiled her sexiest and told the manager she didn’t want to take much of his time. He called an assistant manager and passed on Kathy’s requests and told him to make it his top priority.

While she was waiting, Kathy went up to the fifth floor, checked camera coverage and walked down the back stairs. When she opened the outside door, she saw the route the Professor must have taken. He wouldn’t have stashed a second car in the hotel lot, but in the shopping strip mall adjacent to the hotel lot. She walked over and checked camera coverage. It was not extensive but, if operating, it should show cars coming and leaving, as well as foot traffic in most of the parking area. Again flashing her badge, she checked in with the small rent-a-cop mall security office.

“Sure you can see our camera take. We record over it every other day, so if you want today, you got it.”

“Show me starting from 6:30 this morning.”

“Can do. Just sit over there at the other monitor. Tell me if you want to stop or blow up a frame.”

It took a few minutes for Kathy to orient herself to the camera angles. There were a few overlaps but more gaps than multiple coverage. Right at 6:55 AM, she saw a figure entering the southeastern edge of the parking lot. She had Terry blow up the image. It looked like the Professor to her. She then tracked the figure to a green car two rows in from the street. Blowing up the image, she saw it was a VW Passat with a South Carolina license plate. She watched as the car started out and got a license number. Thanking Terry and getting him to make her a copy of the tapes, Kathy went outside and called Frank.

Kathy told Frank, the Professor had a clear view of the coffee shop used by the team that morning from his balcony. The doorman told her all the suits came in together. Kathy told Frank there was a half-full coffee cup and a burned down French Gitane cigarette with the full ash intact. Kathy said she believed the Professor was sitting there early this morning, having his coffee and a cigarette when the team came en masse across the street. It looked like he left abruptly. The hotel camera time confirmed his departure. She added, “I visualized the route he must have taken. The natural escape route led to an adjacent strip mall parking lot. I checked with the security office regarding camera coverage and now have coverage of the Professor walking along the edge of the strip mall and getting into a late model green VW Passat, South Carolina plate SIT 301. I don’t think he’ll keep the Passat very long. Finding the Passat quickly is our best shot at locating this slippery bastard. One more thought, if we can keep the whole affair quiet, the Professor won’t be sure the danger was real or just his paranoid instincts kicking in. If he isn’t sure, he may keep to his schedule.”

“Kathy, that is a first class bit of police work accomplished in an amazingly short time. I wish you would come back and work for me.”

“Frank, thank you. It’s nice to be wanted. Anything else I can do before I head back to Georgetown and Mr. Hankins?”

“No. But I want you to know that I’m sending your pompous friend back from whence he came when he shows up. I pulled you off because I didn’t want you getting mixed up in a possible high profile arrest with all the media coverage. This administration is so hungry for positive press that they will leak anything that makes them look good. I’ll be in touch.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 36

Kelly and Kathy were sitting in their car focused on the front entrance of the hotel. Kelly said, JWM Serialization“How are we going to make sure the Professor doesn’t leave by another exit?”

“With two people we can’t. But, being the smart operatives we are, we have located his car. I can see it from here. It looks like he’s playing the role of a well-to-do businessman. If I’m right, he’s locked himself into that role. He wouldn’t be slipping out another entrance into another parked car or going out an entrance to the rear parking lot and walking around the front to the overnight valet section. Hotel people would notice that. Not in keeping with his cover. A good cover is necessary but it also has some built-in problems, such as required behavior. Knowing the behavior required allows hunters like us to predict some of the target’s actions. Unless he suspects some hostile group knows where he is, he will not leave the hotel dressed as a cowboy or a golf-playing tourist from Minnesota. So be patient and watch the front door. Of course, we don’t want to miss Mr. Hankins’ departure. If he doesn’t come out in the next 20 minutes, you will have to check if he’s still in the bar. We also have his car in sight.”

“What if Hankins leaves and kills some young woman?”

“This is a tough business. We have to try to prevent the greatest threat. And right now that’s the Professor. He’s already killed more Americans than Hankins ever will. If the car bombs had succeeded, dozens or more could have been killed or badly hurt. We were lucky that time. We need to be a step ahead of the Professor. We don’t need to build a legal case against him. He’s an enemy combatant trying to kill us. If we can pin him down anywhere, he’ll be picked up, interrogated, and imprisoned or executed under the jurisdiction of a military tribunal. All we have to do is keep him located until he can be grabbed. No one will be reading the Professor any rights. There now, do you have any more short questions that need long answers? If not, go check on our pervert.”

Kelly was barely in the lobby when Kathy saw her come out and hurry back to the car. She opened the car door and said, “Hankins was paying his bill. Look for him to come out any minute now.”

“Okay! When he drives away, we’re going inside. I want to have a drink in the booth he just left. You go first and make that happen.”

When Hankins’ tail lights disappeared going back toward Georgetown, Kelly and Kathy walked into the lounge. Kelly asked the hostess for a booth and pointed to the one near the back of the lounge. Once they ordered drinks, a soda and bitters for Kathy and a draft light beer for Kelly, she asked, “Why are we sitting here?”

“Two things. I want to see what he could see sitting where I am now, facing away from the entrance the way you said Hankins was facing. I want to check the seating area, just to be sure he didn’t leave a note, mark or signal of some kind for the Professor. When the waitress left, I checked the underside of the table and the edges of the bench.”

“I didn’t see you do that.”

“You weren’t supposed to, nor was anyone else. I don’t see how Hankins could have seen the Professor or the Professor him. And nothing was left in this booth. I doubt Hankins used the men’s room. You would have seen him. So now I’m reassured this was a coincidence, not a scheduled meeting of any kind. Also I assume Hankins did not use a cell or hotel phone while he was here. So now let’s get situated so we can watch the lobby for the Professor.”

Just after midnight Kathy signaled for the bill. She explained to Kelly that it was unlikely the Professor would be coming down to the lobby to meet anyone, and they were too exposed to hang out any longer in the lounge. Back in the car, Kathy said she would take the first watch and for Kelly to get in the backseat and get some sleep. If any cops came by when Kelly was on watch to wake her, and she would use her badge and tell them they were okay.

Kathy’s cell vibrated at 6:30 AM. It was the head of the unit Frank sent to take over the coverage and taking of the Professor. She agreed to meet them right away in the Piccolo Coffee Shop near the hotel.

They had pictures and a brief on the Professor from Frank. Kathy briefed them on the Professor’s car and its location. She didn’t know the room number or what name he was using, only that he was probably on the fifth floor. Kathy asked if she and her partner were needed any longer. The team chief said no, they would take over from here. When Kathy asked if he wanted to go over his plan, he acted as if she wasn’t cleared and told her she could go now. They had to move quickly.

Kathy and Kelly were on their way back to Georgetown within the next five minutes. The Professor, following a lifelong habit of getting up at five AM and was now enjoying a cup of dark French Roast coffee on the terrace off his sitting room. His one light bag was packed. This morning he planned to leave the Cadillac CTS in the valet parking and take the VW Passat he kept stashed in the shopping center parking lot in the next block. From long practice he constantly scanned his surroundings. He was just finishing his most recent check of the front of the hotel, when he received a cell call. The caller told him to leave immediately, a team of counter terrorists knew where he was and would soon surround the building. Looking from his balcony, he saw a group of young men in suits come out of a coffee shop and walk directly toward the front of the hotel. In all his checking of the hotel environment, he had never seen a group like that. They surely weren’t tourists and, if they were well-dressed businessmen, they would not have had breakfast or even coffee in a place like that. No, trust his instincts and his inside source. It had been a few years, but he knew his spy was dependable. He had used this source for years.

Without another thought, he picked up his small bag and walked down the back stairs and across the back of the hotel parking lot to the shopping mall and drove off in his VW. In his business, there was no such thing as over-reacting. There was only being alive or being dead. Always take the safest action and forget convenience or inconvenience.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 35

When Kathy cut off, Jack called to check on Lou and Storm. After a couple of rings, Lou JWM Serializationpicked up. Jack said, “Can you talk now?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

Jack asked, “What do you think of the Aryan attack? What are people, especially biker folk, saying?”

“Storm and I’ve talked about these attacks over and over with several bikers and have some general insights but nothing specific and no leads. We have been to and talked with bikers in Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Surfside, Savannah and Columbia. They’re all talking about the raids and who could be doing it. These people aren’t cold-blooded killers. No way would they be part of burning churches and killing innocent people. We believe the attack bikers aren’t from or part of organized biker groups or gangs. Sure, some of them are hard people, some have records and they won’t be pushed around but killing innocent people isn’t them. We think the attackers are their own group with a political objective justifying the unprovoked violence. None of the people we talked to would send a note to the media justifying the attacks as revenge for the actions of Templars during the Crusades. This has to be a Muslim political fringe group behind these attacks. I don’t think we can do any more running around on my bike. We’ve given out a phone number to a few people to call if they hear anything about the biker raids. Jack, I think we might as well come in.”

“Yeah, I agree. It sounds right. Come on in. Check back into your hotel rooms. You may be needed by Kathy in the Georgetown area to help with covering a few people. Call when you get a decent sleep and are settled in.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 34

Robert Huxley, formerly Joel Hankins, was growing more comfortable with his newJWM Serialization surroundings and identity. His apartment above the three-car garage was old and rundown, but it was better than where he grew up. He must have been nuts to get involved with al Qaeda. Very serious people with no sense of humor. Set up a good business cover for them, and they trash his business and him. His growing Oriental rug business was over. He hoped changing his name and car would be enough to keep those scary people from finding him. If they knew his main interest in life was hunting and killing young girls and not living the life of a Jihadist, he would be dead.

In just a few days, he had found work as a painter. It didn’t pay much but it was a start and he didn’t need much. He still had thousands of al Qaeda dollars. Too bad he couldn’t collect the insurance on his shop and contents. Well, it wasn’t worth his life. The cops were just as far from catching him as the Muslims. No fingerprints on record. No credit cards and no social security. Robert Huxley would just have to make it alone. With the Jihad business out of the way, he could concentrate on his research of the instant of departing life. He had to keep away from his study of martial arts for a while. That scary old dude from Herat would be looking for him when he didn’t see the recontact personal ad in the local papers. Tonight would be a good time to go hunting. Help get his mind off his worries. He had always been lucky on Thursdays.

Just a block away in a parking lot with a clear view of Hankins’ apartment, Kathy and Kelly were sitting in one of the two cars they were using today, and talking about their target. The file Frank provided contained Hankins’ daily Georgetown activities, pictures of people he met, and locations of his painting jobs. No one had been inside his garage or living quarters. There were a number of other pictures of his apartment, car and restaurants he frequented. Nothing to indicate he was trying to get in touch with al Qaeda. Kathy believed Hankins was frightened and wasn’t cut out to be a mainline Jihadist.

Before they left the condo in Charleston, Kathy showed Kelly the pictures she found in Hankins’ apartment of dying or dead young women. Kelly was just as angry as Kathy was when she and Jack first saw the pictures. Kelly said, “At the first opportunity, let’s get him. The little weasel shouldn’t be breathing the same air.”

At six o’clock, Hankins backed out of his garage. Kathy gave the Explorer a block lead and pulled out behind a small red sedan. Once he headed north on Route 17, she dropped back another quarter mile. Other than a few gated housing developments, there was nowhere he could go until he got to Pawleys Island. Hankins’ right taillight was brighter than the left one making the car easier to track at a distance. Kelly also had the car in view through her binoculars. As the traffic increased, Kathy moved up. For the next 45 minutes, they cruised along fifty plus yards behind the five-year-old gray Ford Explorer. Kathy mentioned during a stop for a traffic light, “This surveillance is, so far, as easy as it gets. Hankins isn’t even checking for anyone following him. When he parks, be ready to get out quickly and follow him, while I find a good place to park our car. Keep in touch with your cell. Remember, no eye contact.”

Kelly said, “He’s driving like he isn’t sure where he’s going. He’s heading toward the bright lights just ahead.”

“Yeah, he’s going to Broadway at the Beach, a big tourist area. You know, the bastard may be hunting again. He barely got settled in Georgetown. The creep’s hormones must be flowing. Get ready, he’s turning into the parking lot beside that upscale hotel. I’ll drop you just past the entrance to the parking lot. I’ll go on down and come in from the other direction.”

Five minutes later Kathy parked in a space near the area reserved for valet parking. She had a clear view of the front entrance and got her camera ready. Looking out through the windshield she had a perfect view of the front entrance. Kelly called in and said, “He’s sitting in the bar nursing a drink. I can see him through the glass window. Don’t think he can see me.”

“Okay, where did he park?”

“Just to the left as you come in the entrance. There were several open spots facing Route 17. Not a good place for him to do his chloroform stunt and drag some young girl into the Explorer. Not enough cover. He must be doing some recon or what do you call it.”

“We intelligence types call it casing, my dear.”

“Hey, Kathy, I’m trying. What do I do now?”

“What do you think you should do?”

“Come back to the car?”

“Yes. I’m parked just to the left of the valet area.”

As Kathy was watching for Kelly to come out, a black Cadillac CTS pulled into the valet area. Kathy was admiring the car when she had a full front view of the driver emerging. She was astounded! Training took over and she snapped several pictures. She couldn’t be mistaken. It was the Professor. Was he here to meet with Hankins? She called Kelly who answered on the first vibration and said, “Don’t leave yet. Find a place where you can disappear, if Hankins comes your way. There is an older, well-dressed gentleman in a dark suit, no topcoat or hat coming in now. I’m interested if he and Hankins meet or see each other. Be very discreet. Okay?”

“Got it.”

Kathy called Jack and said, “Get Frank on the line right now. We have the Professor under surveillance in Myrtle Beach at the Beach Combers Hotel on Route 17 at Broadway at the Beach. He just entered the hotel. Hankins is there at the bar and Kelly is in the lobby, watching to see if they meet. I got several good pictures of him as he got out of his car. I’m sending them to you now.”

“Stand by, Frank is coming to the phone.”

Seconds later Frank was on the phone. He said, “Kathy, are you sure it’s the Professor?”

“One hundred percent. You should have the pictures soon.”

“What are you doing in Myrtle Beach?”

“Kelly and I followed Hankins up here. We thought he was going hunting. He showed no sign of checking for a tail. I’m going way out and say I don’t think this is a planned meeting. I just don’t think it’s the Professor’s M.O. to risk meeting a dingbat like Hankins in a hotel lobby.”

“All our tradecraft lore tells us this cannot be a coincidence, but you may be right. Let’s see what Kelly has to report. Try to find out if he is staying in the hotel. I’m sending a team right now to Myrtle Beach. I’ll tell you where they locate. I want you to brief them before you go. I know it will expose you. Try and keep Jack and Kelly away from them. I don’t want them exposed as well.

“The pictures have just come in. No doubt you caught the Professor. Kathy, that is wonderful work. Now keep him under surveillance until you can brief the team, and then you get some rest.”

Jack was still on the line and said, “Kathy, it’s great to be very good and very lucky as well. Looking forward to Kelly’s read. Remember, Hankins knows what you look like. I’m coming up tomorrow with Shadow. There is nothing we can do here right now. Okay?”

“Great! I really want you to come. I’ll bribe the motel guy to let Shadow in my room. Kelly is just down the hall. See you later, depending on what the Professor does and when Frank’s team gets here. Love you, bye.”

Kelly called Kathy and said, “The Professor got in an elevator by himself. The elevator went nonstop directly to the fifth floor. He did not meet Hankins. I don’t think they could have seen each other. The Professor wasted no time. He went directly to the elevator. Hankins never left the bar and his back was to the Professor the entire time. What now?”

“Stay cool and out of sight. When Hankins leaves, we stay here and make sure the Professor doesn’t vanish.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 33

When the news of the attack on Black churches first broke, Jack called Frank at his office. JWM SerializationFrank was also watching the news unfold. He immediately said, “Jack, this is undoubtedly the work of the Professor. You can be sure more will follow. Unless his rug shop guy gets in touch with him, we will have a hard time finding him. Do you have anything from Lou Washington?”

“No. Not yet. I’ll call him as soon as we’re finished. Kathy and Kelly checked in. They are sitting on Hankins right now. It’s hard for two people to do a 24/7 surveillance.”

“I know, but I’m afraid of using more people. Kathy is one of the best I’ve ever seen. She won’t be tempted to be too aggressive, and she won’t make stupid mistakes. It’s also more than probable that Mr. Joel Hankins has no intention of recontacting the Professor. After the fire, he may have had enough. He’s more interested in killing young girls for the thrill than being a true Jihadist for a cause he probably doesn’t believe in. I’ll give him two more weeks and, if there’s no attempt to contact the Professor or al Qaeda, you can take him down. Tell Kathy she can put a beacon back on Hankins’ car. That should make it a bit easier to keep track of him.”

Jack knew the conversation was over when he heard the dial tone. Frank is consistent. His telephone manners hadn’t changed.

Kathy picked up on the first ring. She was also watching the breaking news of the attacks along Route 17 just south of where she was in Georgetown. The nearest burning church was just south of the Santee River within 20 minutes’ fast driving. Jack told her of his conversation with Frank.

She said, “Okay, only understand that sick bastard is not going to kill any more young girls as long as Kelly and I are sitting on him.”

“Just don’t jump the gun. The professor is still our number one target. And get Shadow and me a room. We’re coming up Saturday.”

“I hope that’s a promise. Kelly can do double duty for a day. She’s really doing well. I almost believe Anita is guiding her daughter. She was the best. See ya soon.”

Kathy put her iPhone in her pocket and went next door to tell Kelly what was going down. Frank suspected an al Qaeda high official called the Professor was the mastermind of all the recent terrorist activity, including the failed car bomb plan. Kelly asked, “What if the Professor comes tonight, while we’re resting in our motel?”

“Two reasons I don’t want him to come tonight and, with everything going down, the Professor is not going to come calling Mr. Hankins. We can’t cover him 24/7 by ourselves and, if we did, the target might make us or the Professor would for sure. Switching cars and clothes makes us harder to spot, but not impossible. If Hankins and the Professor make contact, it won’t be a one-time thing, unless the Professor kills him. I believe the emergency contact procedure is a personal ad in a local paper. That’s why I’ve been scanning them every day.”

“How will you know the ad, if you see it?”

“I’ll be able to smell it. The ad will be a little different in language. It will be innocuous and the phone numbers and addresses will be bogus. So, if I suspect an ad, we’ll have more work checking it out without spooking the bad guy.”

“Kathy, can anybody learn all this stuff?”

“Not everyone can. But I’m your teacher and Anita is your mother. You’ll pick it up. I’m counting on it. Remember, I didn’t teach that naked shooting stuff. If you had taken the time to grab some clothes, both of us could be dead now. Mission first.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 32

For days after the fire at the rug shop where the Professor’s car bombing teams were hidden, JWM Serializationhe waited for word from Hankins who, he knew from the media coverage, had escaped the fire. He searched the news tirelessly looking for the bit of information that would give him a basis to judge if it was an accidental fire or something more sinister. He had a lot invested here. Even at his level, he had to produce results. Not everyone had bought into his plan to stir up the American “melting pot” to weaken the Americans by turning them against themselves. He had had a good start but the car bombing fiasco hurt.

Tomorrow his white Aryan bikers with KKK hoods would be turned loose on Black communities. Some would be in pickups, the others on motorcycles.

As dedicated and disciplined as most were he couldn’t keep them sitting around waiting for action. Myrtle Beach was a perfect place for bikers to gather at any time of the year. This time his raiders would be armed. If they had to fight to escape that would be good. Being captured at a road block along Route 17 between Murrells Inlet and Mount Pleasant was a real possibility, if the police were alerted to use their radios and block a few roads. Some of his soldiers would die, if not this time, certainly on the next attack. If captured, there was not much they could tell under interrogation to endanger him. They were all good Jihadists. Capturing them would not be easy.

The attack was scheduled for 8:30 PM. By then it would have been dark for nearly three hours. No one will confuse the attackers’ organization. They will be wearing Aryan emblems on their jackets, KKK hoods and dropping racist Aryan pamphlets. Two pickup trucks and four bikes in all. Trucks north of Charleston and bikes to the South. Columbia and Savannah were the designated recovery points. The raiders had picked, studied their own targets and done drive-bys. No one left their ride. The passengers throw gasoline and soap cocktails. Both drivers and passengers shoot targets of opportunity. Speed and surprise were a must.

Secure in his upscale motel suite, the Professor was intently watching the TV news on two separate channels. He also had a local news station on the radio. 8:30 passed, 8:45 and still nothing. At 8:50, a TV news flash stated they had reports of burning churches and gunfire along Route 17 north of Mount Pleasant. Good, the party had started.

By ten o’clock it looked as if the attacks exceeded his best estimate. Six churches were badly burned. The fire fighters were stretched very thinly on the burning route. No one had died in the fire, but ten people were killed by small arms fire and 25 more wounded. The content of the Aryan pamphlets, dropped by the attackers, was displayed on the news channels and talking heads were running to the ramparts to explain what all this meant.

The police engaged two of the motorcycles in a running gunfight north of Mount Pleasant. Two attackers were killed in the fight. Three police officers were in critical condition in local hospitals. A wide manhunt was underway for two of the attackers who escaped on foot after their pickup crashed. The attackers along Route 17 south of Charleston seem to have escaped. The number of attackers, all reported to be white males, is uncertain at this time and the police are asking the public to call in on the displayed hotline with any eye witness reports of the attacks.

The Professor smiled to himself and went to bed. Tomorrow would be a busy day. By morning the authorities should have more complete reports. Two days later, school buses between Georgetown and Mount Pleasant would be the targets. These daylight attacks will strike terror into every parent with a kid in school. He gave some thought to moving up the attack of school buses but decided to stick with his first plan.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 31

By the time the police cars slid to a stop in the driveway, everything was in place. The JWM SerializationVietnamese guards disappeared with their weapons, Kelly was dressed and Mrs. Minh was insisting she was not badly hurt and didn’t need to go to any hospital. Kathy blocked off the hallway crime scene and Jack made sure the weapons of the two dead men in the marsh had been fired. Jack told Kathy to get her badge out. He hoped their badges, even from out of town, would cut them some slack with the Charleston cops. He knew he could count on Captain Shorer to stand by them, especially since this attempt on his life was another part of the Pittsburgh attack. His gun and Kathy’s were registered with the Pittsburgh police. And Kathy’s 911 call would help them with their plea of self-defense.

Jack, Shadow, Kathy and Kelly met the police cars in the driveway, displaying their badges. When the leading sergeant saw the badges, he slowed down and took his hand off his holstered Browning nine millimeter.

“We got a 911 call about shots being fired. Do you want to tell us what happened?’ Looking closer he saw the badges were issued by the Pittsburgh Police Department. “And you might include an explanation about the badges. Are you with the Pittsburgh police?”

Jack said, “We’re both on special assignment. Captain Shorer will vouch for us, but first the 911 call. A number of armed men attacked our home and wounded a woman inside who should have medical care.”

The sergeant called for his partner, who was near the patrol car to call for an ambulance. Jack said, “You also should call for a crime scene team. There are some dead men. Three outside and one inside. They were all armed. I don’t know if there are any more. I think we finished them.”

“What! You’re kidding me.”

“No. Wish I was. Come inside. We can start there.”

As Sergeant Wilson stepped up on the porch, he saw the broken glass and blood-stained floor. Down the hall brass rounds, drywall dust and shot-up doors lined the hall floor surrounding a pool of blood and a dead body.

“What the hell happened here? Jenkins, bring everyone up on the porch and get some backup in here. Get a roadblock set up. Nobody comes in but officials that need to be here. No tramping around until the crime scene team arrives. And don’t use your radios. Call in with a cell. Let’s keep the media out as long as we can. Looks like a damn war went on in this house. Send someone to the back of the house. Be careful, there may be more attackers out there.”

Jack said, “Your officer will find a body back by the pool deck. Two more are 50 feet or so out in the marsh.”

“Who in hell killed all these people?”

When Jack moved toward the pool deck, Kathy stepped in, still holding her badge, and said, “Sergeant, we did. Me, the Vietnamese house staff, Jack and Kelly, our houseguest. I’m Kathy Grayson, the man you were talking to is Jack Brandon. Over there,” pointing to Kelly, “is Miss Marino. Mr. and Mrs. Minh are staff members and Shadow, the big black bear-like creature, is the one who gave the alarm and tracked the two in the marsh.”

“We’ll need statements from all of you. But for now we must secure the crime scene area. I think you’ll need to find another place for a few days. Can you do that?”

“Of course, we’ll help in any way we can. We have a condo in town that will hold us until you’re done here.”

When Sergeant Wilson left to walk back to his squad car, Kathy took advantage of the opportunity to talk privately to Jack. She found him back by the pool. He was just finishing a heads-up call to Captain Shorer and was starting to call Frank when Kathy came up. He put his arm around her and said, “You done really good, managing all the pieces of the attack. And we didn’t lose anyone.”

“I told the Sergeant that we killed all those men after they attacked us and introduced him to all of us. He asked if we could find some place to relocate until the crime guys were finished. I told him we had a downtown condo.”

“Good. Our stance here is one of maximum cooperation without saying too much. Nothing about Hankins and the rug shop, or Frank. I think we’ll be okay, though the local chief may want to yell at us for a bit. Our answer is to ask how this could occur in a major southern city. Is our neighborhood safe?

“I’m not sure, but I think one of the attackers Shadow and I killed in the marsh was the fireman who asked so many questions at the rug shop fire. Killers on the city payroll. The media will love it. Your instincts were right again. You’re almost as good as Shadow.”

“High praise, Mr. Brandon, but no human is as good as Shadow. Thank God for that dog. Call Frank. I’m going back to talk to Kelly. She was wonderful. I saw just bit of a stark-naked Kelly lying on her side, pumping .45s down the hallway. What a sensation that would be on YouTube. We could make her famous. Seriously, she may need some TLC. She’s tough but shooting her first two people, even in self-defense, is going to give her some sleepless nights.”

Kelly had her mother’s genes. Three days after the violent attack, she told Kathy she was okay and sleeping well. She could call up the memories but her head was okay. She said that she was still in awe that she had been part of a team that stopped a surprise attack by four armed men and only Mrs. Minh had been hit in the arm requiring some tricky surgery. Fortunately, Charleston had quality medical care. She was with them now working with one arm in a sling and muttering about the scratch everyone was upset about. In her days with the PRU, she would have been on the next mission.

Jack was very pleased that they had escaped without legal problems. A phone call from Captain Shorer to Chief Lowell got them treated like active duty officers. The fact Jack and Kathy were not doing any active investigative work in Charleston eased all budding turf problems. They had weapons registered with Pittsburgh police because Jack, a Pittsburgh police sergeant, was on leave without pay while taking care of his father’s estate. Jack’s father was killed in by a team that may have been from Charleston. When the man who attempted to kill Jack, Kathy and Shadow in Pittsburgh was identified by the Charleston police as being a former city policeman fired for corrupt activities, Chief Lowell dropped all pending charges and said they were welcome to stay in Charleston as long as they wanted. The police force, to a man, admired the defenders of the Brandon house, and when they learned Kelly killed two of the attackers while naked, every bachelor cop and some who weren’t, wanted to date her.

The media coverage was intensive for three days with pictures of the house and occupants, especially Shadow and Kelly. Jack believed that their stay in Charleston was limited. With all the notoriety, he didn’t see how they could help Frank at CTC, and surely Joel Hankins would never come back to Charleston. Kathy had been in close touch with Frank, who felt the Professor was not through with Charleston and wanted them to stay in place for a few more months. Jack put his misgivings aside and agreed.

Next week Frank wanted Kathy and Kelly to take over watching Hankins. It seemed he relocated to Georgetown, SC. Kathy knew it would be a tedious, boring job but a good way to get Kelly some field experience. After seeing the images of Hankins’ killing of young women, Kathy was anxious to take him down. Before they left for Georgetown, she intended to show Kelly the images so she would know this guy was a real serial killer and to be extremely careful. Frank didn’t want to expose any of the Brandon group to his inside agents, so he sent all the surveillance reports and images to her MacAir notebook. They were scheduled to pick up surveillance of Hankins tomorrow at 11:00. He had moved into an apartment over an empty garage on the west end of Highmarket Street in Georgetown. The reports had seen him put his gray Ford Explorer in the garage. Therefore, he must also be renting the garage.

Jack hated to see Kathy and Kelly disappear for an indefinite time, even if it was only 90 minutes from Charleston. He could tell Shadow knew Kathy was going away. The big black Bouvier had bonded with Kathy from day one. He had to contact Lou who would now be reporting to him. If there was no sign of activity from the Professor in the next two weeks, he might be in the wind. At least they had stopped his car bombing attack.

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