From the very beginning, each member family of The Tailors had specific roles.
The Earl’s family, with its vast fortunes, finance The Tailors‘ activities. The Colonel’s family provides leadership and strategy. Nella’s family are the armed combat specialists (otherwise known as “the muscle”). In addition, The Tailors pay Nella for her surveillance and undercover expertise. Tamar Shofar (Rooftop)’s family, who can trace their lineage back to the guardians of King Solomon’s Mines, are The Tailors‘ bodyguards.
The other seven tailors, themselves nobility act as the hired help and intelligence gatherers inside the homes of those under suspicion. For safety, only two Tailors (The Colonel and Nella) know the identities of all current members of The Tailors.
Eight o’clock Monday morning — a dumpster behind The Baccarat Bar, London…
Nella crouched at the small stone wall behind a dumpster near the back wall to The Baccarat Bar. She pressed her full handprint on the bricks. Immediately the small stone wall parted and sucked Nella inside. The stone “door” resealed the “entrance” immediately.
“I never get used to that bloody door…” quipped Nella under her breath, spitting out dust kicked up from the door’s powerful vacuum-seal mechanisms.
Nella was greeted by The Colonel’s aide, Raptor Kaine grinning, bowing, and curtseying all at once.
“It is okay Mr. Kaine no ceremony is required.”
“Hello Baroness Lady Nella, right this way, please.” He replied, curtseying.
Mr. Kaine led Nella up the stairs from The Baccarat Bar‘s impressive wine cellar to the private entrance to The Tailors’ special booth (away from prying eyes). Mr. Kaine then disappeared around the bar counter as per usual.
The Colonel and The Earl rose to their feet around the plush tufted leather-upholstered booth as best as they could, as Nella slipped into the seat alongside them.
“Colonel, apologies for the delay. How may I help?” Nella inquired, getting down to business swiftly, sensing the urgency implicit in both her fellow Tailors’ expressions.
“He’s gone, I am afraid,” said The Colonel staring into his still full glass of iced water.
“Who?” asked Nella, her heart skipping a beat.
“One of The Tailors, the one embedded at the Umberland mansion. The bastards parked his car with his body bludgeoned half to death outside my estate gates—right under the camera. He did not survive his injuries,” said The Colonel, visibly shaken by the event.
“Good God! The third Tailor lost, and all three, under our watch. Any witnesses this time…or other evidence or clues?”
“They stuffed a clump of grass in his right hand. Kentucky bluegrass —which is common on most estate meadows around Europe. No help there. Preliminary autopsy, still in process as we speak, indicates that he was given some kind of sleeping draught, a paralytic, and then…you know…”
“You know what “grass” means of course… we all do,” said Nella.
“Traitor, fink, spy, squealer…all mean “grass” in the British colloquial vernacular!” replied The Earl, markedly angered that the person(s) who had placed the grass in the slain Tailor’s hand had equated The Tailors’ sacred moral compass to that of “ratting out their peers.”
“My sources at New Scotland Yard tell me,” The Earl continued, “that half the building’s key combat officers had been pulled away on a fool’s errand—an alleged terrorist threat in Earl’s Court this morning.”
“Yes, I saw it. I have some video from my sunglasses camera of that incident.”
“Good, we are going to need that evidence.”
“Let’s take a look.”
Nella removed her sunglasses from her go-bag and uploaded the footage wirelessly to The Earl’s iPhone. The three watched the footage.
“Hard to make out the other two in the shadows there,” said the Colonel pointing to the two figures lurking in the background while the third person, visible on-screen, reached for his MAC10 machine gun and opened fire on the public near The Earl’s parked car.
“I will get facial recognition to see what they can find,” said The Earl immediately emailing the video to his son, Bradley at MI5.
“So what are your thoughts, Nella?” Asked the Colonel.
“Three points of interest. One, they know you are a Tailor. Two, our colleague at the Umberland estate was somehow discovered. And, three, they (whoever they are) want you to know that they know where you live!”
While Nella spoke, The Earl’s cellphone rang.
“Yes, really! Interesting. Are you sure…Okay, thanks, son. Love you.”
The Earl ended the call deep in thought.
“Well…?” asked The Colonel.
“Two things:” responded The Earl, finally taking a sip of his iced water and lemon.
“First, all the evidence we had gathered against the Umberland’s rumored Stock Exchange fraudulent activities was stolen from the evidence lockup at New Scotland Yard this morning. Apparently while several of their key officers were out attending to an anonymous tip about an act of terrorism near my car (quoted specifically in the anonymous call, by the way), the theft took place.
“And the second thing?” Asked Nella.
“One of the images in the shadows of your video footage from this morning’s incident with the shooter was identified as your aide, Colonel. It was Mr. Kaine!
“Go! Get after him…” charged The Colonel to Nella who had already grabbed her go-bag and dashed out of the private booth ending the meeting.
Nella raced down the aisle of the empty bar— for it was closed on Mondays. She hurdled over the bar counter. She slammed her body on the floor and turned the handle to unlock the secret mini elevator under the bar’s sink. Pulling her spare already loaded Walther PPK/X designed for only her palm print from under the sink she released the gun’s safety and peered into the bowels of the basement, cautiously crouching as the mini elevator lowered her down into the belly of The Bacarrat Bar’s wine cellar.
Without warning, three shots from a semi-automatic rang out.
One bullet hit Nella’s right shoulder and knocked her off the open mini elevator shelf onto the stone steps. Her body tumbled out of control. She saw a shadow stooping over her plummeting body.
She tried grabbing a foot but the foot kicked backward. She held out her hand to brace her fall. Her body halted sideways. She crouched on the steps. Her shoulder reeled from the sting of the bullet through her kevlar undergarments.
The assailant seized the opportunity to grab Nella. She kicked his weapon from his hand. She ducked and weaved out of his way as he tried landing a kick in retaliation. She could now see the assailant’s face—It was Mr. Kaine, The Colonel’s long-time aide.
Nella then landed a punch to his jaw which rattled him for a moment. His lower lip bleeding, he grinned as Nella backed away expertly from his high roundhouse kick reply.
He pushed her further down the stairs as he ran upward. He had a key card on a lanyard around his neck. Nella grabbed the keycard and yanked on it, to brace herself. The key card came off in her hand. She dropped the key card, as she continued to fall backward down the steps. With both hands she aimed and fired the Walther PPK/X. Mr. Kaine kept on running up the steps. Her bullet missed its mark. And, with that, Mr. Kaine was gone.
Nella landed with a loud thud on the stone floor, breathing heavily.
Said Nella, sitting in heap, despondent that she had misread her surroundings and even caught a bullet in her under armor.
She searched for her own homemade brew of balsam poplar tree bud salve (balm of Gilead) in her go-bag, to ease the bullet’s stinging bruise where her armor caught the bullet.
Rummaging through the trinkets in her go-bag looking for her first aid kit, and still angry at herself for missing her target, Nella spotted something unusual inside the bag. She sobbed, her chest heaving as she choked back the tears.
Her three year old nephew, Ashleigh, during his sleepover visit last night had somehow found her go-bag. He had slipped his primal efforts at writing his name and drew a heart around it on her family motto engraved letterhead. Nella could not control the tears rolling down her cheeks.
So far Nella had been on the defensive but the words of her family motto: “Sew honor into your armor and fight!” and her nephew’s written encouragement now fueled her.
She mounted the steps to retrieve the keycard she had pulled from Mr. Kaine’s lanyard. She was horrified. It was the keycard to The Tailors’ secret bunker under London’s Knightsbridge tube station.
The bunker under the Knightsbridge tube was known only to Nella and to The Colonel. It contained The Colonel’s and his family’s records of every Tailor past and present— including their names, family members, and other contact information. Moreover, it included copies of all the evidence gathered over the centuries on everyone successfully brought to justice under The Tailors‘ watch since its inception.
Nella brushed herself off. She applied the balsam poplar tree bud salve to her aches and pains and sped on her way up the stairs to the small exit behind the dumpster. She had to get to Knightsbridge tube station’s underground bunker—before Mr. Kaine.
Then as Nella stepped one foot outside the small door behind the dumpster entrance/exit from The Baccarat Bar cellar, a missile slammed into the dumpster. The on-fire dumpster catapulted into London’s morning sky. Its lids now consumed in fire flapped like the great dragon outcast descending from the heavens…
***To be Continued Next Week Sunday***