Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Six months later—Nella, Rooftop, and Rigger, now living at The Grandamme II hastily vacated by Triaca (Nella’s sister)…
“Okay on the count of three,” said Rooftop.
“One…” And with that said, Rooftop jabbed the syringe into Nella’s neck at the precise position required and plunged the last of the paralytic counteragent medicine Nella has been treating herself with for the past six days.
“Oooowwwwee!’ shrieked Nella with Rigger laughing, sharpening his hunting knives on the outdoor grill’s grate.
“Why do you always do that! You say on three, and then you go on two or one or none…heck, I am not a pin cushion. And what are you laughing at?” Now directing her ire at Rigger, Rooftop’s big brother still giggling at Nella’s usual reaction every day for the past six days at this exact time.
“Sorry about that Nella,” said Rigger still chuckling.
“But the good news is…” said Rooftop, “That was the last dose. You are all set in case…someone, as we suspect, might want to immobilize you with a paralytic. The mention of which, The fake Colonel let slip at the Baccarat six months ago when he implied that a paralytic was used against The Tailor, your sister wanted us to believe was murdered.”
Calming herself with her usual zen pose, Nella sat on the well-manicured lawn beside her two friends and fellow Tailors. She apologized,
“Sorry for my outburst…don’t like needles.”
“Hence my theatrical subterfuge my friend,” said Rooftop putting her hand gently on Nella’s shoulder.
“So,” asked Rigger by now over-sharpening his hunting knives, “Are they still out there lurking two blocks away as per usual?”
“Yes, they were there when I performed the perimeter check earlier. They have not moved any closer than two blocks away from us here.”
“How many of them?” asked Rigger.
“Too many…” Nella replied. “Our surprise has to work or we are all done for.”
“Is your sister Siela and The Earl ready?” Nella inquired.
“Yes, as are we.” Replied Rooftop pointing to herself and her brother, Outrigger (“Rigger” for short).
Rooftop glanced at her brother Rigger, and then to his hunting knife and asked in her usual tongue-in-cheek manner…
“I think that one is sharp by now. Don’t you?”
Rigger ignored his sister’s levity and kept on sharpening his hunting knife —his movements now, in slo-motion teasing his sister.
Changing the subject, Nella asked, “…So what do we know so far?”
“Rigger you go first, you tailed my sister after she picked up my nephew Ashleigh, from your protective detail, six months ago.”
“Yeah, right, okay…” said Rigger…
“…Six months ago after the incident here at The Grandamme II, your sister, Triaca left in haste following an apparent assault on this building. I say “apparent” because we now know that your sister is the mastermind behind all of this skulduggery. Your sister then came looking for me rather upset and insisted that she could take care of Ashleigh. I handed off Ashleigh to her, but not before, unbeknownst to her, I turned on Ashleigh’s temporary GPS tracer.”
“I followed them around London for seven days, before the GPS tracer in young Ashleigh’s bloodstream wore off.
“Where did they go?” Rooftop asked.
“Most of the time they were holed up at The Colonel’s mansion in Leeds. I was a bit confused by what I saw surveilling the house until you clued me in Sis. There were…I don’t know how to say this…”
Rooftop chimed in. “…There are two Colonels. The fake and the real one. Both working for your sister, Triaca. And, Mr. Raptor Kaine and his two brothers work as your sister’s henchmen. Mr. Kaine because of his arms dealings has at least fifty mercenaries at his beck and call. They are all down the street right now waiting…to breech The Gradamme II with us inside.”
“As you suspected, Nella —The fake Colonel was intended to lead us here to The Grandamme II…well not us exactly…just you. Your sister wants your Tom Ford suit—its technology to be precise. The fake Colonel according to my sources, is a Forensic Archeologist specializing in ancient medicines. Apparently, he discovered a potent paralytic among the remains of Genghis Khan’s army in Mongolia. He wrote a peer-reviewed article on the subject to widespread acclaim in the scientific community. Then he was arrested for attempting to nick the sample of the paralytic— the same one that he had made a public show of donating to the British Museum. Your sister found him languishing in jail and used her considerable power to have him released under her “supervision.””
“But why do they (your sister Triaca, I mean) need a fake Colonel?” asked Rooftop.
After a long pause…sipping her expresso made in the outdoor coffee bar at her sister’s The Grandamee II estate. Nella replied:
“Because The real Colonel needed to appear to go about his business as usual. He needed an airtight alibi. In case one of us (you or I) was following him. Meanwhile, the fake Colonel and Mr. Raptor Kaine skulked about doing all the dirty work—while both Triaca and The real Colonel kept their hands clean.”
“Is the fake Colonel wearing a clever mask?” Rooftop asked.
“No, no, I had an opportunity to search his car while he was at dinner one night at The Man Behind The Curtain restaurant in Leeds,” Rigger replied.
“He had one small bottle of opioid painkillers, Percocet, and several large bottles (dispensary size) of Amoxicillin—both medications, I suspect, to ease the pain of the plastic surgery and antibiotics for his recovery.”
“Good God, they (Triaca and The real Colonel) have been playing the long game all along. How did we miss this…” mused Rooftop looking at Nella.
“Because my friends,” replied Nella sipping her expresso and hugging her sister’s imported bone china mug, “…because, The real Colonel and my sister, are very good liars.”
“I don’t get why they can’t just take the suit. I mean Triaca has had the suit in her hands for repairs many times over the years.”
“Ah, because when my father invented this suit after my mother succumbed finally to repeated injuries in The Tailor’s service, he designed it to respond only to my DNA—something I know that my sister has always resented. Therefore I suspect this paralytic drug from The fake Colonel will be deployed to keep me barely conscious while he, under Triaca’s guidance, pokes holes in me/the suit to uncover its operational secrets.”
“So, aren’t you angry at your sister…and The Colonel?”
“With a heaviness in her heart, Nella replied “I can’t say I am surprised by their going rouge from The Tailors. Triaca never wanted to be a Tailor. She said as much growing up. She wanted the power that our status in London society commanded and of course the money…”
“So where did she get the funds to do all this? I mean hiring an army of mercenaries and funding the fake Colonel’s plastic surgery, cannot have been cheap?”
“Her divorce from The real Colonel was obviously a sham. Those two are very much together in spirit. But, what her “marriage” did, according to our late father’s will, was give her, as first born, all of our family’s wealth. She liquidated all the family’s holdings and invested heavily in bitcoin when it was just “an idea.” Now, she has wealth, title, and the respect of London society…the definition of what it means to be a member of the noblesse—the most powerful pillar within the nobility.”
Nella continued while she folded her arms across her Zen-posed legs on the grass…
“Based on the fact that The Tailor undercover at the Umberland estate was not really dead, I called in a favor—granted it took three months to obtain the necessary permissions— and exhumed the crypts of the two remaining presumed dead Tailors. And of course, you both know what we found.”
“The tombs were empty…full of rocks only,” Rooftop replied.
“Where do you think they are now?” Rigger asked.
“Who? Those three Tailors who faked their deaths in the past year? Well, I suspect that my sister paid them off and that they are living high on her dime somewhere in a far-off place out of The Tailors‘ reach.”
“But, the real problem Nella is… how many more Tailors currently in service are in your sister’s pocket?”
“That, my friends, is the question—I do not know the answer,” replied Nella as she continued:-
“…You see my friend, Triaca has everything except the knowledge of the technology that developed the suit. Perhaps she wants it to replicate one for herself, or for her henchmen. Or worse, to destroy The Tailors‘ organization. But, whatever her reason…we cannot let her succeed.”
“But, getting back to the business at hand…what are they waiting for out there down the street from us. It has been two days of them lurking about, encircling us?” asked Rooftop.
“Reinforcements. My sister Triaca knows this house and our capabilities, very well. Did you make the upgrades I asked for, Rigger?”
“Yes, they took five months of labor…but all done. The Earl paid the last of the construction contractors last week. We are good to go, Nella.”
Suddenly, as Nella was about to climb up the outside wall of The Grandamme II‘s garden enclosure up to the steeple…all the home’s security alarms went off, at once.
Shouted Nella as Rigger and Rooftop got into positions under their see-through domed shield, their weapons and tear gas masks at the ready.
Nella’s adrenalin pumped through her veins. Her nanobot-infused Tom Ford suit responded by cloaking Nella in full chain mail armor from her head to her ankles. Her eyes were shielded by camera-enabled infrared/night-vision transition sunglasses, also produced by the nanobots in her suit.
With a clasp of her hand, Nella projected three images of herself in full armor. The projections were not real, of course, but would appear so to the untrained eye, and to infrared cameras. She positioned one at the inside front door, one at the end of the foyer on the steps to upstairs bedrooms. And one image of herself, she projected in the key place set up for the surprise…the master bedroom.
And then with one of the secret features, that her sister did not know about…Nella’s nanobots made her invisible to infrared scans. Nella’s enemies would be chasing after her ghosts while she would be elsewhere in the house flanking them.
Nella clawed her way scrambling quickly up to the steeple of the house, conscious that at whatever the cost, she had to steer her sister, The fake Colonel, and Mr. Raptor Kaine to the master bedroom. She had to manipulate her enemies into position…in preparation for the surprise, she had planned.
Suddenly out of the sky…what looked like an eagle in flight soared straight for the Grandamme II’s garden…
The “eagle” was none other than Triaca, Nella’s sister in a single-person armed jet-propelled plane (also known as a “Cutlass.”)
“Blimey…a Cutlass!” said Nella out loud into her earpiece so that Rigger and Rooftop could hear through their companion devices.
“…Someone very high up in military command had to grant permission for that “bird” to fly over London at dawn on a Monday morning. Now we know what they have been waiting for…Take cover!!”
Triaca, Nella’s sister gone rogue from The Tailors settled herself on board the armed solo piloted jet-propelled military aircraft (also known as a “Cutlass”). At just below marc 1 speed the Cutlass was coming in hot… on an apparent collision course with The Grandamme II…
Lining up the onboard computer’s sights, Triaca targeted her own home (The Grandamme II)’s known weakest point—the struts holding up the garden entrance from the house (formerly the nave, when the building was a church).
Her adrenaline fuelling her will-power, Triaca’s voice shrieked the required command to the Cutlass’ voice-activated missile launcher:
“Computer, ready both missiles and…Fire!”
****To Be Continued Next Week ***