“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-eight

When they stopped four hours later for a quick lunch, Jack said, “Until you and your feet are trail hardened, you must, repeat, must stop every four hours for a foot check and whenever you feel the slightest twinge of foot discomfort. So off with the boots and socks.”

Kelly had a small red spot on her left heel that Jack covered with a piece of tape right over the red spot. Fifteen minutes later they were back on the trail. So far Kelly was able to follow the trail Jack had marked on the map. There were several places when the route required trail changes and one where they needed to make their way cross country to connect with another trail. Kelly paused before moving off the trail and asked Jack for help. He said, “Good. Never be too proud to ask for help. Shoot an azimuth, estimate the distance, and then just follow your azimuth. If the terrain causes us to deviate, keep track of the paces we moved off the azimuth and then count back to the planned route. Orienteering is simply about trusting your compass and keeping track of where you are.”

An hour before nightfall, Kelly led them to the small valley Jack had marked on the map. Jack refused her first two choices for a campsite. When she asked what was wrong, Jack said, “The first site you picked was too close to the trail. People besides us may be using it. The second site is an excellent campsite. It is too good. Several people may know of it and use it. Pick a place off the trail that most people would not even consider.”

Kelly picked a site Jack liked and asked, “Should I gather some firewood?”

Jack laughed and said, “No fire. The wind is steady west to east, smoke and sound will move toward our target, Jake’s cabin. The smell of smoke could easily be picked up as far away as his cabin. People who live in isolated places like this will notice the smell of smoke and its direction while city dwellers would be oblivious. But you can go down to the small stream we crossed and fill our canteens.”

Jack gave Kelly a ten-minute start, then shucked his pack and started after her. He wanted to see if she had any of her mother’s uncanny ability to be aware of everything going on around her. He hadn’t yet decided on the role he wanted her to play to tomorrow. The east slope of the tiny valley caught the afternoon sun and mixture of stunted cottonwoods and larger pine trees was thick enough to give good cover. From his concealed position, he watched Kelly pause before she walked from cover to the bare creek bank. Keeping her rifle in her right hand she filled both two-quart canteens, dropped the purifying tablets into each canteen, looked around carefully, and moved back into the cover of the scrub growth. Jack left his position and hurried back to the campsite. He was sitting, leaning back against a tree when Kelly moved quietly into camp.

Kelly handed Jack his canteen and said, “You followed me. I heard movement in the bush a few times. You weren’t resting here. Your breathing is faster. Like maybe you hurried up the slope to keep ahead of me.”

“You are amazing. I made very little noise.”

“I had an advantage. When Kathy was teaching me about surveillance. She followed me once without my seeing her. I swore that wouldn’t happen again. So I expected the trip to fill the canteens was a test of some sort. Right?”

“Yes.”

“Did I pass?”

“Yes. Very good. Only one observation. When you are out in the open, like filling canteens from a creek bank, pick a place where you don’t have to bend down and reach. Pick a spot where you can squat and look around while filling the canteen. You still get an A+.”

Jack produced a small can of sterno, a jellied substance, that burned without giving off much of a smell or light. “We can have some hot soup and tea with our trail mix while we talk about tomorrow.”

Jack mixed up the soup and gave Kelly a cup. Jerky and dried fruit with the trail mix would keep them going. When the soup was replaced with a cup of Lipton’s tea, Jack said, “We need Jake alive. I don’t know any other way we can find a link up the chain to the people behind this ring of snatchers.”

Kelly said, “Before we left McLean, Kathy said to keep my eyes open for the tracks of someone powerful and rich enough to control an international ring. I think she is right. Just look at the organization that is required. People in several cities to spot and report on likely victims, watchers to provide the snatchers with information about the victims, the snatchers themselves who are not easy people to control, the people who move the victims to some international transportation. Add to that the marketers who find the buyers and deliver the product. A large, efficient logistical organization is needed. Lastly, where do you find people with all the skills required? Some training is necessary. They would even need bookkeepers and bankers. To manage the individual pieces takes management abilities. Just think what it would take to run the whole thing. What Kathy said started me thinking and I’ve a strong minor in business from Pitt.”

“Again you amaze me. Your mother would be so proud of you. She hated big-picture thinking. It bored her. You’re a natural at it. I have believed from the start that law enforcement officials had to be part of this group. Recruiting cops, especially those who have a bad reputation or are in deep debt to gamblers or drug organization, can be done. But to get back to tomorrow. We leave at first light and slowly work our way toward the ridge behind the cabin.

“Jake is an exceptional shooter. I don’t think he is skilled or experienced in dealing with people who are probably better shooters than he is. Our weapons give us a distance advantage. But if we get into a firefight things can go wrong very quickly. A lucky shot or ricochet could hit one of us. The mostly likely outcome of a firefight is we will have to kill him. Our chance of using Jake to work our way up the chain is gone and the cops are not going to cut us much slack. Our badges are gone and our ace backup in Pittsburgh has retired. One more problem. We don’t know if he has a dog. If he does the scene gets even dicer. We will not be able to sneak up on dog and I don’t want to kill an animal doing its job. I have an idea but want to hear you first.”

“I don’t think he has a dog. He has to travel so much he would have to have some place to leave the dog or someone to stay in his cabin. If he’s responsible for all the shooting for the kidnappers, he would be gone more than half time. And Jim said nothing about a dog. You think if he walked over to Jim’s shooting camp he would have brought his dog with him. Maybe he doesn’t live alone. Another unknown.

“I think to capture him we have to fool him. Take away his fear of armed strangers by showing him an unarmed young girl with a plausible story why she is there alone.”

“You will be taking a big risk. Do you think you can handle him?”

“Not if he just shoots me. But I can handle him in hand to hand. We don’t know anything about any training he’s had except shooting. I doubt his martial arts skills can match mine. Jim said he was about 5 foot 8 inches and 150 pounds. I’m as tall and probably stronger. So, yes, I can handle him. I won’t let him take me inside the cabin. I assume you will have him in your sights and I’ll be careful to stay out of your line-of-sight.”

“Okay. Not a bad plan but it needs some refinement. You can carry a knife but not the SOCOM. You got a good body. Let’s show him as much as we can. Nothing like the scent of sex to put a young man off his game. You’ll hang back out of sight until you see my signal. Do not move before I’m ready. Your signal to me that you want me to move in is to use your left hand to fuss with your hair. If you need me to shoot, put both hands to your hair and keep them there. When you signal me to move in, pick your opening and put him down. I’ll be there in seconds. Got it?”

“Got it. Sounds good.”

“Okay. Get some sleep. We need to be sharp tomorrow.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-seven

On the way to the range, Jack said, “I know you haven’t fired this rifle before. But it is a simple, workable sniper rifle. The militarized version is a little different and heavier. The weapon has a good reputation for accuracy and reliability. Anything under 300 yards is doable from a good shooting position.”

“I’m not concerned about the rifle and an hour is plenty of time for me to get comfortable with it,” Kelly replied. “I’m concerned about being left behind while you go and collect this perp. I want to go. I promised Kathy I would bring you back. I intend to do that. I’ll do what you say. We made a pretty good team in the past against tougher opposition. You may need backup and I’m it.”

“Put that way, how can I refuse? Yes. Please come with me. We may be out four or five days. It will be tough going. This job will take patience. The suspect is young but his shooting and killing ability are formidable. We have our rifles and handguns, trail clothes, and good boots. Dried rations, canteens, lightweight sleeping bags, a basic medical kit, and a plastic tarp, less than 40 pounds each. Once we locate his cabin we’ll set up our own hidden camp and move it every day. You can go into town when we’re done shooting and pick up the gear we need. Check with Bobby, she may want to go with you. She liked Anita.” With planning over, the two turned their focus to the range and the weapons.

Twenty minutes of shooting and Jack was satisfied with the accuracy of the weapons and Kelly’s consistency in shooting tight groups at 100 yards. Jack took off his ear protection and said, “We bored enough holes in the air. We’re good to go. Is the 700 okay with you?”

“Yes, at this range I feel good with it. I’m ready.”

While Kelly and Bobby were shopping for the things Jack said they would need on the trail to find Jake, Jim said, “I’ve some questions about your going after my friend’s son.”

“I thought you might.”

“It looks to me like you and Kelly are prepared to kill Jake. And I don’t like that.”

“Jim, we won’t shoot him from an ambush the way he shot and killed policemen for money. We will act in self-defense if he starts shooting. As long as he is willing to talk and come along peacefully, he’ll not be hurt. Jim, please don’t think about warning him we are coming and stop anyone else from trying to warn him now or later. Do you think his father would be proud of his son for shooting and killing police and firefighters he doesn’t even know? People who have done nothing to him? One of the firefighters was a woman. She is still in a coma. She is a single mom with two kids. It’s hard for me to work up any sympathy for him using his skill and training to kill for a bunch of kidnappers of young women. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who knowingly gives him any assistance will be charged with as an accessory to murder. Does that answer your questions and concerns?”

“Yes. Is there any chance he is innocent?”

“That’s why I want to talk to him. If he can prove he wasn’t in or near the cities when and where the sniper shootings took place, then we are not looking for the right person. My personal opinion is that the circumstantial evidence is very strong. The weapon used, the sketch, the sniper MO convince me he is a person of interest and a suspect. The police also have a vehicle description they haven’t released. They have no license number and can’t tie the suspected vehicle to anyone. The vehicle several people in the area remember was a tan or sand colored pick-up truck. Do you know what kind of a vehicle Jake drives?”

“I’m afraid it’s a four- or five-year-old Ford 150 pickup. Tan color. He usually shows up here on foot with rifle and backpack. It’s a twenty-mile walk on intersecting faint trails, some better described as game trails. And about a fifty-mile drive after a three-hour fast hike out to a one-lane fire road where he leaves his truck.”

“Can you loan me a map with trails, fire road, and log cabin and anything else you believe is important marked?”

“Come with me,” Jim said. He walked over to his office, opened the bottom drawer in his desk, and pulled out a well-used map. He spread the map out on a tabletop and for the next hour sketched out the trail network, camping areas, places to get good water, and areas where grizzlies occasionally roamed. He talked as he marked on the map. When he finished Jack realized Jim had given him the best pre-op briefing he had ever received. This man knew his stuff. Jack toyed with the idea of asking Jim to come with them but decided it was not a good idea.

Taking Jim’s advice, Jack and Kelly started off the next morning at first light on the trek to Jake’s cabin. A light rain was falling. The weather forecast was for overcast skies and intermittent rain. Using a Jeep to save time was tempting but a strange vehicle parked within a few miles of the cottage would be noticed by someone who would pass the information on. Such was the way of remote mountain people. Jake had lived in the mountains all his life. If he was apprehensive or just had a bad feeling he would set up to watch approaches to his cabin from car parking areas. After studying the topo map, Jack decided to take the time to circle west beyond the cabin and carefully work their way back. Following his instinct not to trust anyone you didn’t need to, Jack let Jim think he liked the approach from the east. It was a shorter route and provided better cover.

When he and Kelly walked out of the camp, no one was there to see them off. Jack sensed that neither Jim nor Bobby wanted anything to do with bringing Jake in. As well as Jack and his dad knew Jim, Jack knew he couldn’t count on any more help. He and Kelly were on their own. He missed Kathy, but when it came to killing, Kelly was the better of the two. There was no hesitation or second thoughts in her and no long periods of remorse. She was her mother’s daughter. It is what it is.

Jack and Anita had shared the warrior’s code when the two of them killed a room full of armed al Qaeda operatives in Kathmandu. Anita lost her life in that small room filled with blood and gun smoke from the 12-gauge pump action shotguns they used in the attack. No way was he going to lose her daughter in another firefight halfway around the world from the shadow of the Himalayan mountains.

After an hour on the trail they settled into an easy rhythm. There was no hurry. He wanted to be within a few miles of the cabin when they camped for the night. Jack stepped off the trail and sat down, resting his pack against a fallen tree. Kelly, who was trailing him by 50 feet, settled beside him and said, “What’s up boss? Getting tired already?”

Jack laughed and said, “Listen kid. I’m just giving you a chance to catch your breath.”

“Come on Jack. You know I don’t need a rest. You’re talking to a Marino. We never get tired.”

“I’ll admit that I had to push to keep up with your mother on the trail. Her pack was always as heavy as mine, yet she seemed to float along. But this isn’t about a rest. It’s about your training. You’ve not had much if any wilderness experience. The first thing we’re going to do is repack your backpack. I can hear the rattling in your pack from 50 feet. Also, the weight in your pack is too high. It’s top heavy. More weight has to rest on your hips. Makes the pack easier to carry and gives you much better balance. So empty it and we’ll repack it.”

Following Jack’s instructions, Kelly repacked her backpack to cushion the loose items that might rattle and put the heavier items on the bottom of her pack. The ammo went in the bottom right-hand side pocket of her pack where she could reach it while moving. When she finished, Jack said, “Put your pack on and trot down the trail for 30 yards and come back.”

“It feels much lighter and the balance is better,” Kelly said when she got back. “Is the lesson over?”

“Just beginning. Here’s the map. You take the lead. I want to be on the east slope of this small valley before nightfall. You decide when and where we stop for lunch and anything else.”

Jack gave Kelly a chance to study the map and to orient herself using her compass and then said, “Okay. Point, let’s move out.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-six

Bobby pulled the Cherokee up to a large log cabin and said, “Here we are. Come in and bring your bags. Jim wants to put you up in the loft, our best sleeping quarters. While we wait a few minutes for Jim, I’ll brew up some fresh coffee. Jim told me your father liked it hot and black.”

Jack said, “So do I.”

Before the coffee was brewed, Kelly heard the door open and looked up to see one of the largest men she had ever seen not on a pro football field. He was wearing Levis and a light leather jacket covered with scratches and oil stains. His presence and booming voice filled the room. He charged over, grabbed Jack in a huge bear hug, lifted him off his feet, and told Jack how glad he was to see him and could he still shoot worth a damn.

Jack said, “Better’n ever. But please let me breathe again.”

Jim put him down. “You haven’t been here in fifteen years. I’m just making up for lost time. Sit down. Bobby, how about a cup for me and when is someone going to introduce me to this gorgeous woman?” he said, jerking his head toward Kelly. “I don’t see a ring, so don’t suppose she is your wife and know you don’t have a daughter that old. So who is she?”

“Look hard, mountain man, and think back.”

Jim looked Kelly over. “Don’t tell me this is a taller and younger Anita Marino.”

“Finally, you caught on. This beautiful young athlete is Kelly Marino, Anita’s daughter. Anita was killed working with me in South Asia about 18 months ago.”

Jim held Kelly by her forearms and said, “I’m very sorry about that. She was a real warrior. Now girl, can you shoot?”

Jack said, “Damn near better than me. Not as good yet as her mother. I want you to sharpen her up while we are here at ranges over 250 yards or whatever you think she needs.”

“Be proud to. Now, let’s sit around this table and tell me why you are really here and about the sketch you emailed.”

“Okay. But first tell me if you know someone who looks like this sketch,” Jack said, sliding the picture across the table toward Jim.

“You know me and the privacy thing. Tell me a little more about the person in this sketch and why you sent it to me first.”

“The person in the sketch is a suspect who I believe shot at least one police officer in Pittsburgh. He used a .22 Hornet with a sandbag rifle support from a well-selected sniper site. Distance just around 100 yards. You always taught shooters that less was often better when pinpoint accuracy was needed. The sand bag is standard but again you always said, make it personal. It will give you confidence and a repeatable routine. Now, do you know this person?”

“More than that. I trained him maybe five years ago as a favor to his father. Around 100 yards he was right on the mark with his .22 Hornet Ruger bolt action, fitted with a 10x scope. He fired hollow points. Said he wanted to hunt deer and vermin with his .22 Hornet and needed the extra killing power of the long rifle hollow points. Not a bad kid. Kept to himself. Didn’t talk much. Good student. Took care of his weapon.”

“When did you see him last?”

“He was here last month. He brought a .22 Ruger Hornet, he wanted to sight in. I think it was a new rifle with a rotary magazine. Fairly accurate to 300 yards. A good shooter into reloading can push it. He used the range mostly by himself. I dropped by to see how he was doing. A nice four-inch grouping at 200 yards. No wind. Using 10x optics and a sand bag support. At those ranges the kid is a precision shooter.”

“The man you call the kid has been shooting cops and firemen with his .22 Hornet in several cities. He gets paid by men running a sex slave operation. They snatch young women off the streets of American cities and sell them in the Middle East and Far East. Your .22 marksman takes a cop or fireman down just when the women are snatched. No cop is going to pay much attention to a woman over 18 who hasn’t shown up somewhere when a cop is down. It is a perfect misdirection ploy and it has been working. Jim, I need your help to find this guy.”

“I’ll help, but why aren’t the cops here? What are you doing this for? You’re not the law are you?”

“No. I’m not the law but am helping with a case my soon-to-retire former homicide boss asked me to look into. My old partner’s son was seriously wounded by the suspect shooter whose name I haven’t heard yet.”

“His name is Jake Mason and he lives two ridges to the northwest in a small log cabin set back against a steep cliff and near a small stream. His dad was a friend of mine. We served together in Hue, Vietnam, in 1968. We were in a sniper unit. He asked me to teach his only kid how to shoot. In two weeks the kid was better than his dad ever was. I think it was the only thing he ever did that made his dad proud of him. The kid was hurting for approval. He was smart enough, but never finished high school. Okay, what’s next?”

“I want to talk to him. He’s the only possible lead we have to the people who are running this human trafficking ring. He’s killed some cops. There is not much I can do for him. But if he really cooperates, I might be able to keep him off death row.”

“Jake can’t stand to be closed up. Lifetime in prison is not going to appeal to him. I’m afraid he won’t be taken alive. He’s good in the woods but he’s not much of a tracker. I think the odds are good that he might shoot any armed man he sees near his place. He can shoot and if he has killed innocent people in the past, that’s a bad combination.”

“Then how about lending Kelly and me a few rifles and letting us fire them in on your range?”

“My rifles are good to go. But you’re welcome to get comfortable with them. The 200-yard range is open right now. Take your pick from the rack in my gun room.”

Jack selected two Remington Model 700 sporting rifles with a 10x-mounted scope. It was a familiar weapon and the bolt-action mechanism was very unlikely to jam. He handed one to Kelly and was pleased with the way she took it and cleared the weapon. Jack asked if the 100-yard range was open. Jim looked at his watch and the range schedule and said, “If you go right now, you can get an hour in.”

Jack said, “That’s good. Thanks.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-five

Lou and Storm arrived early the next morning and agreed to Jack’s proposal during breakfast. They said they knew four or five good people to start with and would ask them to come to McLean. “I know what kind of a place we need for work,” Lou said, his wheels already turning. “Can Kathy make arrangements with a real estate person to help us find a standalone townhouse or building we can rent or buy?”

“I’ll call someone I know,” Kathy said. “Renting with an option to buy is the way to go. Storm’s analysts and your surveillance unit and techs can share a building or be separate. It’s up to you.”

Jack, seeing that everything was getting taken care of, said, “Kelly, get your bag. We’re flying out of Dulles in the Learjet in an hour.” Shadow knew Jack was going and came over to see if he could go. Jack held the dog’s head in his hands and said, “Shadow, you need to stay and guard. You also need to help Kathy with Gideon. He needs about 30 minutes a day on basics: sit, stay, and down. That will be enough until I get back.”

Kelly appeared with her bag and got into the back of the Suburban. Jack sat up front with Kathy, who was in her customary driving role. Secretly, she hated for anyone else to be driving. A secret nearly everyone knew.

Forty minutes later, Kathy pulled into the private parking lot for owners at the Lear’s hanger. She got out and kissed Jack goodbye and told Kelly to take care of him. She wanted him back in one piece.

Once Jack and Kelly were settled in, Buck Dawson and his co-pilot, Elliott, who was also his nephew, taxied out to his assigned position and waited for takeoff. It was a short wait and the Learjet 45XR was airborne to Montana at 30,000 feet. Kelly poured each of them a cup of coffee and sat across the aisle from Jack. “Okay boss. What’s going on?”

Jack handed her a file and said, “Read this. There is police sketch in the file of a suspect in the sniper shootings of several police and firemen. Captain Shorer believes all the shootings were to cover up the kidnapping of young women in the sex slave business. Kathy and I agree with him. The Pittsburgh police used several witnesses to put this sketch together. The sketch was digitized and I sent it out to an old friend who runs a shooting camp near Montana. Serendipity stepped in and he believes he has trained this man or someone looking very much like the sketch. He didn’t want to say much more over the phone so I said I would come out. You are here not only to help catch this sniper but you are the cover for this trip. You are a personal friend of ours who wants to join the Marines but wants to learn to shoot well first. I will say I don’t have the time and my friend Jim Marshall is much better than I am. He and his wife own and run the camp. You may meet several people here. Use the cover story with everyone. True names are okay.”

“What made you decide this suspect had been trained to be sniper?”

“I don’t know that he was trained to be a sniper but I believe he was trained to shoot by an expert. A number of the shootings were with a .22 Hornet rifle. Several were over 150 yards. Being precise with your placement at that distance with a .22 Hornet is not easy. Remember, each time he was shooting from a new site with no practice or deep knowledge of the environment, especially the effect of wind channels between buildings at the actual shooting site. I also believe he had to shoot before or very near the kidnapping time. So rain, wind, sun angles, and light were sniper variables he couldn’t control. He had to shoot on time. He also showed skill in picking his sniper ‘hide,’ including in and out routes. The clincher is that he brought his own bag of sand to steady his rifle. Only serious shooters carry their own sandbags.”

“So I have much to learn. Last question, where are we going?”

“To a shooting school outside of the town of Big Timber. It is a very small town and so nearly everything is outside Big Timber. It is hard to get to. Bobby, Jim’s wife and partner, will pick us up at the airport which has a 5,040 foot runway and no IFR. Which means no night or bad weather operations. Our plane will use most all the runway on takeoff. We’ll be going out light so there will be plenty of runway.”

Kelly sensed the Learjet was beginning its approach. Jack told her the mountains she could see are part of the Absaroka-Bear Tooth and Crazy Mountain Ranges. Sam announced they would be on the ground in 15 minutes. There was a five mile an hour wind from the West, visibility was excellent, and their ground transportation was standing by. The landing was so smooth Kelly wasn’t sure they had touched down. The Learjet taxied off the runway to a parking area. Kelly saw a blonde, cute woman standing beside a Jeep Cherokee. When the plane rolled to a stop, the woman moved the Jeep up close to the plane. The co-pilot let down the stairway and Kelly and Jack deplaned. The woman ran over to greet Jack. Jack hugged her and said, “Nice surprise. This young lady is Kelly Marino, Anita’s daughter. Kelly, this is Bobby, Bobby Marshall, Jim’s wife.”

“Really, my God, I see the likeness,” Bobby said, shaking Kelly’s hand. “What a pleasure. Your mother set some records up here that no one has broken yet. That woman could shoot.”

“Please show me what she did at your camp!” Kelly said excitedly.

“Be proud to.”

Jack said, “I thought your sorry husband might be here.”

“No, he had a couple of high-paying clients he had to spend the morning with. He told me you were in a hurry so climb in and we’ll get moving. It will be about a 40-minute trip. The last two miles are a bit slow. The road is constantly washing out and needing work. A normal passenger car would have to turn around, only there is no place to turn around.”

“Okay. Give me a minute to talk to Buck and we’ll be ready to go.”

Bobby was right, the last two miles were hard. The road finally opened up into a narrow valley no more than a half-mile wide. The camp was at nearly 6,500 feet. The valley and a good part of the surrounding mountainsides were part of the ‘End of the Trail’ camp. Kelly asked him if he had been here before.

“Yes, when I was in my middle teens, my father brought me here to learn how to shoot targets at over 250 yards and how to track elk and other animals, as well as humans. Actually, Jim Marshall did most of the teaching. He is an outstanding tracker. Just before I went into the Marines, I came here to get my marksmanship improved. My shooting ability helped me get into Marine recon training early in my tour. While we are here I hope you can get a few sessions with Jim on long-range shooting. If he can’t fit you in, I’ll be your instructor.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-four

Kelly and Sally arrived in time for lunch. “Paul Kim is a great trainer and Sally is making great progress,” Kelly said.

“How about your progress?” Kathy asked.

“Paul tells me it’s time to move into some weapons training. He started me on knife fighting and defense today.”

“And he told you that you would be able to defeat a person armed with a knife but you would get cut in the process?” Jack asked.

“How did you know that?”

“Paul’s father told Paul and me the same thing years ago. It’s true with your hapkido skills you can beat a knife fighter but you will get cut. I found that out first hand.”

“He has a six-inch scar on his upper left arm,” Kathy said. “And Kelly, your mother sewed it up in the back of a car and tended to the wound until it healed. Anita was highly skilled in battlefield medical treatment.”

“I love being here and learning bits and pieces about my mother. Your stories give me strength. I look up to her and hope I can make her proud,” Kelly said.

“You already have. Tomorrow or the next day you’re coming with me to a few places in the west, Montana is our first stop. Kathy needs to be here with Lou and his daughter, Storm. They get here tomorrow morning.”

“Great. Will they be here when we get back?”

“Yes. If they accept our offer they will be here for some time.”

Jack turned to Sally. “Sally, please continue training with Paul while Kelly and I are gone. Kathy will talk with you about some new duties. As always, you have to agree, we aren’t forcing you to do anything you don’t want. It is in an area that we need professional help now. We are hoping you agree.”

Sally nodded as Mrs. Minh brought lunch over, and everyone ate in relative quiet.

After lunch Kathy and Jack went out on the deck to enjoy the sunshine. “You might want to know I haven’t taken a birth control pill for over a week,” Kathy said.

“I haven’t had much training in the parenting thing and inherently distrust all the people who think they are experts, especially those who write books about it, “Jack said.

“Don’t worry lover, you’ll be a great dad.”

“You know my childhood was very different from most people. My Dad and I were always moving. I know now we were running from the KGB. Security was drilled into me as soon as I could talk. My father trained me to report everything I saw, especially about any strangers I saw more than once. You might’ve noticed I can be a bit paranoid,” Jack said.

“You’ve good reasons. Your mother and infant sister were killed by the KGB. Terrorists led by the same KGB officer your father said killed them, led a team here where we are drinking coffee, killed your father and his house staff, severely wounded Shadow, and burned the house. Excuse me, but that is not paranoia. That is reality. So don’t let down your guard. We still have enemies. I feel safe with you and know you will protect our six kids.”

“Okay. But can we start with one?”

“Let’s get started.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-three

Both Kathy and Jack sat silently on the five-minute drive back to their McLean house. Kathy could tell Jack was thinking deeply about their legal and financial management problems. Getting out of the car he said, “Kathy, I think I have a financial approach worked out. Let’s sit on the deck. I want you to hear me out.”

“Good. But get me a cup of tea first. I need to wind down after our lawyer scene.”

Mrs. Minh came out on the deck to see if they wanted anything. The tea with homemade scones arrived and Jack began to lay out his plan. “With what we want Lee Jensen to do for us in the legal field, it is too much to expect him to manage our finances as well. My approach is a simple one, recognizing our strengths and weaknesses. Neither one of us is a financial wizard. Nearly any reliable broker will do a better job than we could do. You know I don’t want to spend hours pouring over investments and I believe that also goes for you.”

“I hate bookkeeping and have never had any training in finances. It is a skill I respect but do not have. Carolina girls aren’t known for being financial wonks.”

“Now we have confessed to our collective financial weaknesses, here’s my idea. We divide our stocks and bonds in half and select two reliable financial firms to manage them. If one should fail we still have enough wealth in the second one to survive. We keep five million in cash concealed in the cabin. Only you and I will know it is there. We also put cash, diamonds, and gold in safety deposit boxes in five or six different parts of the country under the name of a few holding companies not linked to the Brandon name. The cash and investments outside the U.S. we consolidate in Switzerland and the Caymans.

“I want to set up a trust fund for charitable work and to give some kids who can’t afford a university education a chance to get one. I’m talking about the chairperson of our trust fund taking on 10 new students per year. And I think the person to do that is Sally McGovern. That can be her cover job as she can also be our liaison person to Jensen’s law firm. How’s that sound?”

Kathy took a sip of tea. “Basically, we give two firms the job of managing securities and growing our capital while we manage the cash. Sounds good and simple enough. Lee will provide the accountants and tax gurus to help with the expenses. Sally’s got the credentials for the job. I hope she will agree.”

“I want to be sure we pay or over pay our taxes,” Jack added. “Anything else?”

“Yes, I want to oversee the scholarship trust. I’ll talk to Sally. If she agrees to run the charity, we can get started.”

“It’s all yours, just let me in on the good stories of success.”

Kathy checked her email on her phone and saw the Washingtons would be arriving tomorrow. She poked a musing husband and gave him the iPhone with the email on the screen.

Jack thought for another minute, then said, “I haven’t asked Howie to be our surveillance unit chief. Mostly because I don’t feel good about the idea. I don’t see why Lou Washington can’t run a local detective agency. He certainly knows the right people to hire. He can also train anyone who needs it and is skilled in audio and photo surveillance techniques. Lou and Storm could share an office town house. We need Storm to set up and manage an analytical unit. I think they might like the idea of having their own show. We keep 55 percent of the shares and provide the necessary capital. In return our needs are always their number one priority. When our run comes to an end, they will have their retirement. Agree?”

“I like it,” Kathy approved. “Storm and Lou are not up to the hard stuff. I think they both might hesitate and think too much before reacting in the heat of the moment. Lou won’t ever fully recover from his lung wound and the trauma of the helicopter crash. And Storm, well, she’s no Kelly. It’s not in her DNA. But she is a superb analyst and office manager.”

Hoping to catch Kathy off guard, Jack blurted, “When you get with child, we can’t risk you getting hit.”

He immediately saw her getting into her attack mode and went on the offense. “Listen, woman, you are not risking our child’s mother by any special ops stuff. That’s all. You are done! It might not be fair but that’s the way it going to be. Understand?”

“Okay,” she said, cooling off quickly. “But, I’m not pregnant yet.”

“Good, because I’ll need your help in identifying and training another shooter. It’s also time we work on the reproduction miracle.”

“It seems pretty quiet around here. Maybe we should start working on the mission.”

“After lunch, I’m all yours. Mrs. Minh won’t let us miss lunch. I think it is almost ready.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-two

The next morning at 9 AM Jack and Kathy were greeted in the law firm’s small lobby by the same receptionist Jack met just before his father died. “Good to see you again,” she said. Jack introduced Kathy and Shirley said, “Follow me. Mr. Jensen is ready to see you.”

Lee met Jack and Kathy at the door to his office and said, “Good to see you both. Mrs. Brandon, I only know you from your employment contract and other legal documents. In person is much better.”

“Please call me Kathy. Jack often talked about Lee Jensen but never told me how elegant your office is with the late eighteenth-century English antiques, dark, polished wood floors, and oriental carpets.”

“Thank you. I’m guessing you’re a Carolina girl.”

“Sure am and proud of it.”

Lee said, “I’m from South Carolina but went to Duke for my law degree.”

“Good. At least you have one flaw. We UNC girls from Chapel Hill never went to Durham very much.”

Lee laughed and looked at a puzzled Jack. “You just heard a put down of my law school from a very articulate if somewhat closed-minded UNC graduate toward her neighboring university.”

Kathy said, “I forgive you for being a Dukee. But you are the most elegant man I have ever seen from there. Maybe I’ll have to re-examine my bias.”

“Would some fresh brewed dark French roast coffee help you to come around?”

“I’m sure it would, black and strong.”

“That makes it easy.”

In no more than a minute, Shirley showed up with a pot of coffee.

After the coffee was poured, Jack took over the conversation and spoke for thirty minutes. He focused on general principles and avoided the operational details. Kathy knew he wanted to go deeper but had to see if Lee was being receptive. If not, the discussion would end before Lee learned any details that could put them in trouble. When Jack finished his presentation, Lee said, “I’ve heard a lot and seen as much but what you just told me is the most astonishing story I’ve ever heard. It’s a wonder the both of you are still alive.”

Jack said, “Without us at least several dozens of people would be dead. Our way of saving lives doesn’t focus on the crime or inflicting punishment for the crime. We have never hurt innocent people. When a terrorist or kidnapper is killed, it is to save the lives of victims or in self defense. There are few to no second chances. Your world of law and order is the foundation of our nation, but at times it is not enough. Justice comes in shades. We are in war. Nearly the same as you were when you got that scar across your left cheek in Vietnam. The only difference to me is that our enemies have brought the war to our homeland and they don’t wear uniforms. One of the few American citizens killed by me was a traitor to the United States who nearly killed Kathy. If I had tried to arrest him or even paused for a few seconds Kathy would be dead. I was carrying a badge at the time and know how to make an arrest and preserve the sanctity of the evidence. In dealing with terrorists, foreign or American, hesitation leads to the innocent paying the price. The price for following the legal process and the letter of law in these cases is too high. Anita, who died saving my life in an Asian country, knew none of us would hesitate. She knew she was dying yet she attacked and killed the terrorist trying to kill me.”

Lee said, “Like most lawyers, I look at the world through the prism of ‘legal and illegal.’ We hope our view includes ‘right versus wrong.’ You look at the world through yet another lens. The lens where you see what you can do to change injustice. In less moral hands your view is one saying the ‘end justifies the means.’ You can do small things under that philosophy but the running, managing, judging of governments requires more constancy. They require a rule of law imposed on the governed. From what you have told me, all of your actions so far have been with the consent and encouragement of duly sworn federal, state, or local governments. In short, you have been used by the government’s officials to do things they couldn’t do.”

The room was quiet and then Jack said, “Throughout our history there have been times when the protection of the citizenry required help from elsewhere than the government. These self-appointed law enforcement agents filled in the gap until the government could catch up. Our political focus on the law and order system for foreign nationals attacking our citizens and property is today seriously flawed. The threat from radical Islam and other organizations has not been recognized. The ‘law and order’ adherents want to combat all dangers to our society, its wealth and freedom within the bounds set by ‘law and order’ requirements decades or longer ago. Trying foreign terrorists in our court system and giving them the same rights as American citizens is more than unprecedented, it is dangerous. Reading terrorist bombers their rights and refusing to interrogate them is leading the nation to weaken its ability to protect our citizens and their property. Sending the FBI abroad to investigate a terrorist attack on U.S. installations before the smoke has even cleared shows the commitment of some of our people to political correctness and wanting everyone to love them by holding up our dedication to the spirit of ‘law and order’ for the world to admire. The world doesn’t admire this approach. Instead, they see it as endemic weakness and lack of resolve to face real issues with real solutions. Whatever you think of our past actions, we know that our willingness to act has saved a great number of innocent lives. I know how those people would vote.”

Another silence followed. Kathy cleared her throat and said, “We seem to have reached an impasse here.” She began to gather up her notes and added, “I know we can count on you to honor our client privilege. We have no plans to begin any action.”

Lee raised up one hand. “I haven’t said I wouldn’t continue to provide the legal support you need. I just want to protect you from consequences of a government with a short self-serving memory. In short, you cannot trust them. You are the kind of people they want to get rid of. No government employee is going to support you. We need to develop an entirely different way of doing business. To protect both you and me.”

Jack said, “I read your body language wrong. I was hearing a polite ‘please get out of my life.’”

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I hate to believe I cannot help a client that has made my firm what it is. My relationship with your father verged, at times, on the problem you now have. He never wanted me to be at risk. Being at risk cannot be helped at times. It is what people like you and, I hope me, do when faced with moral and legal challenges. What I would like is to have a person from your organization be detailed to me as a full-time liaison. Is that possible?”

“The purpose being to insulate both parties from direct contact?” Kathy asked.

“Precisely.”

“Yes, we can do that. Kathy and I will talk it over and send someone to see you. We will avoid coming to your office for any further meetings. I intend to set up an office for this person to work out of in McLean. The office will not be on record as a Brandon business.”

Feeling they had come to an understanding, Jack stood up and shook Lee’s hand firmly. The two men’s eyes met, then Jack and Kathy left the office.

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