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CHAPTER ONE

2100 HOURS
SAN TELMO - N. BAJA PENINSULA
HACIENDA DE CASTAÑEREZ


The dark room was filled with drunken laughter as Castañerez and his
ugly goons sat down for dinner. Guards were posted at the doors and at
the gates outside, more were walking the perimeter. Tres, dressed in a
plain long dark blue dress, like all the other servants, appeared. One
pulled at her apron to pull her towards him, she tried to smile but
stepped back quickly as he let go. Certain of them howled at her as
though they were wolves and had never seen a lady. She passed out
another round of drinks and moved about the table picking up empty
glasses. She gasped as one man pinched her rear, but moved on and
retreated to the kitchen.

Later, clearing the table, Tres unbuttoned the top button of her
uniform. It was still warm out, even though it was fall. Repinning
strands of hair that had fallen down on her neck, she bent over and
picked up a huge tray of dishes and took it into the kitchen. She came
back to fill the tray up again, immediately noticing Alberto, the one
who had pinched her earlier. Afraid, she tried to go about her work.
She came back with the tray empty again, and he beckoned. Obeying
against her will, she approached. He grabbed her by the wrist and
dragged her to his room. She pleads and begs, but its no use.
Castañerez would beat her if she disobeyed or dissatisfied any of his
men or partners.

Tres wipes the tears off her face and tries to calmly finish dressing.
She tells herself under her breath that Alberto will get his punishment
on Judgement Day. Opening the door and slipping out, she hurries back
to the kitchen to finish her work. A while later, she finally heads to
her room. Tears come back as she washes her face in a basin and
changes. Someone knocks at the door, and a tall handsome man peaks in
and comes in.

"Victor!" she said, half turning around.

"Hey Tres, why... are... you so late to your room?" he finished slowly
as he saw the bruises on her arms. He reached out and turned her around
gently, saw her black eye and tears, and hugged her tight in a
protective fashion, letting her cry. "Who did this to you?" he finally
asked.

"Alberto."

"I'm so sorry. You know if the situation was different, I would stop
him. I promise I will get us out of this." He said, stroking her hair.

"I'm ok, don't worry about it, it won't show in a few days."

"No it's not ok. It will always be with you. . . You should be in
bed. I'll stay with you until you fall asleep." He kissed her forehead
and helped her into bed. Turning the lights out and sitting down in a
chair by her bed, he caressed her hand until she fell asleep.

CHAPTER TWO


0700 HOURS
SAN TELMO - N. BAJA PENINSULA
HACIENDA DE CASTAÑEREZ


Rena was tying his shoes and about to relieve the other bodyguard on
duty when Alberto, Castañerez, and several other men walked in his door.

"We know who you are." Alberto announced.

"Good. Vincent Rena. Exactly what I told you, eh?" Rena replied. One
of the bodyguards knocked him out with the butt of his gun. They
dragged him off.

"Will the CIA never learn?" Castañerez asked Alberto.

"Apparently not."

"Tres? Please take this down to the basement for me, my knees are
killing me." one of the other female kitchen servants asked.

"Sure, who's down there?"

"That Rena guy. Alberto said he's CIA."

Tres' eyes widened in amazement. She had no idea. She had always
thought his promises to get her out were empty. She paled, knowing
there was no way he would make it out alive. The one guy she had ever
really liked, the only one that had ever respected her. . . She picked
up the tray, walked down the hall and down the stairs, setting it on the
floor by the cell.

"Victor?" she called softly, noting the guard off in a corner.

"Yes baby." he answered. He stepped into the light, and Tres could see
a tortured and pained face. He reached between the bars of the cell and
rubbed her arms comfortingly, telling her it would be ok. He dropped a
piece of paper into her apron pocket so carefully she did not notice it.

She pulled away. "I better go." Her eyes were filling with tears.

He gave her a loving look, then as she returned it, his eyes focused on her
pocket. She gave a barely perceptible nod in understanding. He grinned
as she hurried away past the guard.

Taking a break, she walked into her room and unfolded the note. Her
eyes widened. Looking up she mumbled, "I must try." He was in fact,
CIA. And he had gotten all of the information he needed to return home.
He had told her how she could get away, that one of the other guards was
CIA, and he could help her. He alone knew that she was an American from
whom Castañerez had stolen everything. If she wanted to help, there was
information sewn into his jacket, and she was to go to a certain Margo
Vincent located at Hermosa Beach. She was an old friend of his. He had
been out of contact with his boss so long that it might not be safe to
approach him. She was to trust no one but Ramirez, the other CIA guard,
and the woman with shoulder length dark hair called Margo Vincent.

CHAPTER THREE


0700 HOURS
HERMOSA BEACH
SILVER STAR BAR & HOTEL


A water soaked Tres wearily walked in, and sat down in a corner booth.
Her long black hair is in a messed up braid, and strands are plastered
on her rain streaked face. Her hands were bloody, one arm swollen, and
one eye black. Her levis and flannel shirt were plastered to her body,
she looked freezing cold.

Debbie approached and asked if she would like something to drink.

Yes, a hoarse but accented voice answers, something warm, hot tea if she has it.

Debbie says sure softly and walks upstairs to find Matt.

"Matt? There's a girl downstairs, she's been roughed up, can we help
her?" she called through the door.

"Yeah, at least get her to a shelter or something, I'll come down and
talk to her." a sleepy Matt Shepherd answered.

"OK." Debbie ran downstairs and put a kettle on the stove. "It'll be
a few minutes, miss." Tres nodded slowly.

Matt came in, noted the gray weather and the water soaked girl.
Sitting down across from her in the booth, Matt started, "Hey, you all
right?"

"Yes."

"I'm Matt Shepherd." he extended his hand and she shook it with a wet
freezing cold hand.

"Tres Woods." she answered.

"You look like you might be in trouble, I can help."

"Perhaps, but not the trouble you think I'm in."

"Well, go ahead."

"I'm looking for someone. Margo Vincent."

"She's not here."

"When will she be back?"

"Not sure, she's visiting her friends."

"I MUST talk to her, this is very important."

"It's no use asking you to trust me, I see you are definitely in a
different pot of hot water than I thought. I'll see if I can get ahold
of her. Will she recognize your name?"

"No."

Matt recognized how desperate she was. "I'll be back in a few
minutes." He walked to his office, and dialed up C.J. and Chance's
number.

C.J. answered. "Hello?" a sleepy British voice answered.

"Hey, wakey wakey!"

"Only you would call this early in the morning. Should've known."

"Need to talk to Margo."

"‘Kay. Jus' a min. . ."

"Matt? What's up?" a sleepy Margo asked.

Matt explained why he was calling.

Margo thought for a second and asked if they could try linking up online and using cameras. "She's not apt to trust me, and I'm not apt to trust her. Leave her in the room alone with me."

"OK." Matt said.

Meanwhile, Deke had walked in, ostensibly for breakfast, and was trying
to talk to this new pretty chick that looked like she was having a real
bad morning. She looked pretty terrified and rightfully so by the time
Benny Ray and Nick the Talking Wonder came in. She wouldn't say who she was, why she was there, or anything. Probably a smart move on her part though. Benny Ray reminded her of her childhood, that accent. Nick sounded like maybe he had a few screws loose or something. Deke looked like something from one of her worst nightmares. "Perhaps this is some type of test, I'll just play along." she decided.

The guys sensed something was wrong, and Deke and Nick moved away to harass Debbie.

Benny Ray thought she acted familiar, but knew there was something very wrong.

She was becoming more tense under his quiet stare, listening to Nick's
incessant rambling.

CHAPTER FOUR


0720 HOURS
HERMOSA BEACH
SILVER STAR BAR & HOTEL


Matt ran down to the basement and set up the computer, then walked into
the bar and beckoned Tres, now wrapped in a warm blanket, to come.
"Tres, you'll be able to see her, and she'll be able to see you. This
is all pretty obvious."

She listened to him explain for a few minutes, then she and Margo came face to face.

"Miss Vincent?" the woman on the screen at least matched Rena's
description.

"Yes. Matt tells me you are Tres Woods. Pleased to meet you."

"Roses are red, violets are blue. . ." Tres started off the password.

"Hand me a Bible and tell me its true." Margo replied.

Tres laughed, relieved that this was in fact the right person. "Vincent Rena sent you."

"Yes."

"I'd better inform you I'm no longer with the CIA."

Tres' smile was erased completely.

"However, I'm sure I can still help you out." Margo finished.

"OK. Vincent wanted me to hand in the following information." Tres
held up diskettes for Margo to see.

"Good. Matt and I will look at those."

"Rena has been found out and taken, this is what he was sent after, but
he knows more. Castañerez is who he is after, a drug lord. I was
forced to work for him."

"How did you get back here?"

"I sailed."

"YOU WHAT?"

"Sailed. Castañerez has all of my family's possessions, its a long
story, not entirely important at the moment, but a sailboat was among
them so I stole back what's rightfully mine. I could have come no other
way, I'd've been tracked even if I actually had a dollar to travel any
other way with."

"OK. . . Trust Matt, and the guys. They'll help you out on your end,
I promise we'll get Rena out of there and this information will be
passed on to the proper people. Anything else?"

"No."

"OK. Call Matt in, he'll let you get cleaned up."

"Thank you Miss Vincent, I really appreciate it."

"It's no problem, this is my job. I love it!"

Tres called, and Matt popped in the door with towels, directing her to
the shower and telling her where to find a change of clothes. Matt then
returned to Margo and sent her the files on the disks. They decoded
them, and watched as names appeared on the screen. Dates,
locations...in the past and near future. Weapon and drug drop offs,
import dates. Awesome work. Rena deserved to keep his life. The two
talked it over on the phone.

"There are agents all over," Margo said.

"We'd better pass this on to Trout." Matt switched lines and alerted
Trout, sending the information immediately. Trout hung up to digest the
information, then minutes later called again.

"Matt, see if Tres can ID some of these guys and you guys take them
out. The FBI can take care of most of them in a few days, but some in
West Texas and others in New Orleans still don't have faces yet, I mean
we've never identified them. You have the green light to take out
Castañerez and his gang, including partners, at that meeting in a few
days."

"Wow. OK, I'll get on it." Matt said.

They discussed further for a few minutes. "Don't let Tres Woods out of
your sight. She's in a lot of danger." Trout warned.
Meanwhile a tall handsome Hispanic guy walked in the bar. Tres had
just sat down with another cup of hot tea and tensed up at the sight of
him, assuming he was one of Castañerez's men. She struggled to get out
of the booth to get to Matt, but Benny Ray grabbed her arm,
unfortunately the swollen one, saying, "Not so fast."

"Let go!" Tres hissed at him.

Matt walked out and saw the visitor just as Benny Ray noticed him.

"Rico!" they both yelled. Matt continued, "Glad you could come! I
think we're going to need you for more than I previously asked, feel
like doing some traveling?"

"No problem, Major! I'd love to." Approaching Tres, he explained, "I
was called to patch you up, it's ok."

"He's ok, he's a medic." Benny Ray assured her. Tres checked Matt's
face, and relaxed.

"Yup, I am. Would you like to go into my office?" Rico joked as he
escorted her to the bathroom. "Lighting's better here."

Matt looked out at the window and noticed a sailboat bobbing in the
water a ways out, and a small rowboat dragged way up on the beach. Not
connecting them to Tres, he continued to think about the mission he had
just been given. . .

"My name is Rico, and as they said I'm a former Army medic, and I've
been a paramedic. Your in good hands."

"Tres Woods."

"Mind telling me how you ever ended up under that dude? And why your
hair doesn't quite look right in black?"

Tres took a deep breath and slowly told her story as Rico worked on her
hands. "They made me dye it black. My uncle lived on a ranch in West
Texas. His only son became a drug dealer, eventually killed my uncle.
Days later, someone came and killed my cousin. The men that did it
decided not to kill me because I looked like I would be a lot of fun. I
was just 17, scared out of my mind. Castañerez somehow was able to claim everything of my family's, including a small sailboat my mother and father had before they died in a car accident. The men eventually took me to San Telmo and I was made to be a servant. They made me dye my hair black and wear colored contacts so I wouldn't be recognized. I tried escaping a few times, each time I was caught and beaten severely."

"They've raped you."

"Yes."

"I don't understand men like that." Rico said, watching her remove the
contacts that made her eyes look blue and revealing grey eyes. "You
have beautiful eyes."

"Thanks. My hair is really blondish brown."

"Is all of this from a guy?" Rico asked, meaning her bruises etc.

"No. Most of it was. But some of it was from the storm I basically
escorted here. That was what tore up my hands and hurt my arm.
Slightly bumpy ride. I should have reefed the sail sooner. . ."

"No biggie, live to learn. How big was the boat?"

"26 feet, 6 inches. Catboat with a wishbone boom, I handled most
everything from the cockpit so I was pretty safe. She's a sturdy boat."

"That's good." Rico finished putting a splint on her arm. "We'll see
what we can do about that hair of yours later, ‘kay?" he said, helping
her off the counter.

"Sure."

They walked back to the bar room. Rico stopped and talked to Debbie
for a second. She nodded, grabbed her car keys, and left.

 

CHAPTER FIVE


0830 HOURS
HERMOSA BEACH
SILVER STAR BAR & HOTEL


"OK guys." Matt started. "You don't all know each other. Tres Woods,
this is Deke, Benny Ray, Nick, and Rico. On the monitor, Chance, C.J.,
and Margo."

Deke was studying Chance and C.J. on the monitor, who were
studying him and Nick on their monitor. Chance and C.J. didn't look too
sure of their replacements. Deke and Chance looked at each other like
wolves circling about to fight.

Going on, Matt said, "We've been asked to ID some guys, if you'll help
us Tres. These guys are in West Texas and New Orleans. Then take out
Castañerez, his operation, and some of his Cartel partners at a
meeting."

"Sure I'll help. They've screwed up my life for three years. . . Call
this Payback."

"Payback's a bitch, isn't it?" Benny Ray said quietly, having no idea
one of his previous enemies had said that months before.

"Problem is, there's little information on Castañerez's operation,
until now. Weapons and drugs, and we still don't have all the import
information we want. A lot of names and faces, FBI's going to take care
of them as soon as we give them the signal, but these few. . ." Matt
called out ten names. Tres' face darkened and she nodded.

"I'll know them. But they'll know me."

"Don't worry about that. You'll be safe. Do you know anything about
the fields?"

"Yes. One time I worked in them. The people there, except the slave
drivers, are innocent. Women and children mainly. They need the money.
They're that desperate."

"Everybody want to play on this one?" Matt asked. Faces nodded,
including the retired dogs. "You guys too?"

"Sure, civilian life is too quiet sometimes." C.J. consented.

"Oh hell yeah I'm in." C.J. said.

"All right! Just like old times, sort of." Benny Ray said.

"OK, you guys head up now." Matt directed. The Hawaiian end logged
out of the conversation. Turning around to Deke, Benny Ray, Nick, and
Tres, "Rest up and stick around. Tres, there are beds upstairs, this
place used to be a hotel. Hold up, your boat, where is it?" he stopped
her as they walked back into the bar.

"Look, anchored." She pointed out to the water.

"Oh. I'll get someone from the marina to take it over and moor it."

"Cool."

CHAPTER SIX


1800 HOURS
HERMOSA BEACH
SILVER STAR BAR & HOTEL


"OK people. We need to get one person inside Castañerez's operation.
Tres, it can't be you, we need you to ID people. Benny Ray, you know
your way around West Texas pretty well, you and Tres can take out the
three guys there. Margo, Chance, you two will be going to New Orleans.
Set up and watch the four there. Benny Ray and Tres will be there for
the meet. Chance, as soon as you see Benny Ray, come meet Nick and I.
We'll be in San Telmo. Deke, transportation and weapons. CJ stay here
and keep contact with everyone. Remember those small cameras from when we worked with Allison Trout? You'll be everyone's extra eyes and ears. Benny Ray, Margo, Tres, as soon as you are done in NO, you guys and CJ head to San Telmo. Everybody straight?"

Faces nodded.

"Guys, write out what you need and I'll get it to you." Deke said.

"Here's a copy of all the intel we've got for everyone." Matt handed
out folders. "Safe houses, hotels for you all are in them. Tickets for
planes too."

Tres and Benny Ray's plane was the last to leave, giving them time to
go to the range for a quick shooting lesson, and to get Tres some
clothes and check on her boat.

Deke was packing equipment and making phone calls to set up deliveries. CJ was working on the communications equipment and helping people get on their way as needed. Rico, Matt, and Nick were on one plane headed south, Chance and Margo on one headed east.

Tres and Benny Ray returned to the bar finally. Debbie beckoned to
her, and the two disappeared into the bathroom as Benny Ray finished his
packing. Shortly, Tres emerged with her old blondish brown hair,
grinning from ear to ear. The guys complimented her and minutes later
she and Benny Ray were gone.

CJ and Deke were in the basement, working silently. CJ stopped and
said, "Think you can get that van rigged with all of the computers down
to San Telmo?"

"You bet."

"Good. Did I ever tell you about the time the team went to Libya
without me? Of course I went down there on my own, haha, you see--"

"I can see why they picked Nick to replace you." Deke interrupted.

CJ stopped with a blank look. The phone rang and he reached over to
pick it up, taking a sip of coffee. "Silver Star..."

"Let me talk to the Major." a voice growled.

"He's not in. Who is this?"

"Your old pal from the jungle."

"Drummer. What's going on?"

"Got some news for Matt."

"Concerning?"

"Your present op."

"Oh ok. That's sweet of you." CJ gave him Matt's cell phone number.

"OK. Later." Drummer hung up.

"That's one dude that I never expected to hear from again." CJ mumbled.

"Hmmmm...." Deke replied, trying to act like he was listening as he packed Benny Ray's Remington 700.

"Major? This is Drummer."

"Hey. What's up?"

"Found out where they are getting the weapons shipped in. Scoped it
out, its a messy little meeting place. I can take you there."

"Great! How'd you know about this?"

"Trout had a hunch I might know some people or something like that..."

"OK."

"I'll show you in the morning."

Matt gave Drummer the address of the safe house and they hung up.
Margo and Chance's taxi dropped them off at the Hilton in the French
Quarter. Chance picked up their bags and Margo registered, getting the
keys for the two attached singles. Just before leaving the desk, she
stopped to ask if a Mr. Nieto had checked in? No, the lady at the desk
answered, he called and said he would be late.

Margo and Chance walked in their rooms, checking them carefully. Margo
called to check in with Matt and CJ. As she hung up the phone there was
a knock at the door. She and Chance both jumped to get it. It was the
bellhop with a present. Margo opened the door with Chance right behind
it. Thanking the man, she took the box. Pulling out her pocketknife,
she set the box on the table. Chance eyed the envelope.

"With big wet kisses, Deke and CJ... That was nice of them.
Especially liked the wet part."

"Eww... But it makes traveling easier." she said, opening the box.
Under a dozen different colored roses were the real presents. One of
Benny Ray's rifles, three handguns, a small revolver, and some of
Chance's favorite knives. And plenty of ammo for each.

"Hmm. I could actually get to liking this freak."

Margo laughed with Chance as she loaded her gun.

Matt and Nick opened the door of a small abandoned house. Drummer was waiting for them inside.

"Girlfriend, Major?" Drummer motioned to a box, ostensibly filled with
roses.

"I wish." Matt opened his pocket knife and cut the ribbon closing the
box.

Nick picked up the envelope-- "With hugs, from Debbie and the
guys." Two handguns for Matt and two more for Nick, with several mags,
all hidden under a bunch of white roses.

"Man, I wish there were more girls like that." Drummer commented.

"Matt, I'm gonna call home." Nick picked up the phone and started
talking to CJ. Drummer listened to Nick's end of the conversation,
coming to the conclusion Nick was a very irritating person. Nick hung
up.

"How did you ever get along with that CJ person?" Nick asked.

"How did you ever get along with that Delvecchio twirp?" CJ asked Deke.

"Hold on." Benny Ray warned Tres. She was going to get the door,
someone had knocked at their motel room. Going to the peephole, Tres
checked, then Benny Ray checked. He stepped behind the door, nodded,
and Tres opened the door.

"Yes," Tres replied as the man asked if she was the person on the card.
She closed the door, with a huge box in hand, shaking. "Could this be a
bomb? No one is supposed to know we're here."

"Not likely, its ok." Benny Ray slid the ribbon off as Tres put the
box down on the table. Picking up the envelope, the note inside said
"For Texas' Yellowest Rose, hugs and kisses, Deke and CJ." The pair
grinned. Out came a dozen yellow roses. Underneath, a revolver, a
handgun, and another of Benny Ray's rifles.

"How sweet of them." Tres said.

"We are a thoughtful crowd." Benny Ray said. "Note is true by the
way, God may have blessed Texas but you definitely take the cake." He
loaded his handgun and handed Tres the revolver and watched her load it.
"Normally, we wouldn't let you carry a weapon, but its only the two of
us and you were a good shot when I took you to the range earlier."

"Thanks." Tres said, grinning at the compliment. "My uncle taught me
but I haven't shot a gun in a few years."

"Major? Why him? How could you even trust him with a gun, much less
your life? Are you insane?" Drummer asked, talking about Nick.

"You haven't seen him in a tough situation."

"You had better pull that stick out of your butt Mr. Tough Grunt."
Nick said, entering the room. Drummer gave him a cold hard stare.

The phone rang. Nick picked it up, "For you Matt."

"Hello." Matt said.

"Hey lil bro!" Rico said.

"Hey."

"Just wanted you to tell Momma I landed a job!"

"Cool, she'll be glad to hear it."

"Yup, that's all for now."

"OK. Take care."

"You too. I'll check up with you in a little while."

"Kay." Matt hung up, then picked up the phone and dialed CJ back at
the bar. "CJ? Rico's in."

"OK. Everyone's checked in now."

"Looks like we're good to go. Say good night to everyone for me."

"OK."

CHAPTER SEVEN


0300 HOURS
WEST TEXAS
DOWNTOWN ALPINE, 2ND STORY VACATED BUILDING


"He's late." Benny Ray said. Tres nodded.

"Generally is."

"That's ok. People like me tend to be patient." he murmured, flipping
his .50 in his hand.

"Yeah, when I was younger I had a friend who became one. Very quiet,
very patient, and from what I heard, very good."

Benny Ray grinned. Tres picked up the binoculars, and walked to the
other end of the floor to look down another street. It was dark out.
Quiet little town. Not far from what used to be her uncle's ranch.
"Haven't been to the Reata in forever..."

"Nope, neither have I, but nothing's changed. Still the same good
food."

"Yup. I was scared some one would recognize me but no one did." Tres
said.

"It's been too long."

A car passed slowly and parked. A man stepped out of the darkest
shadows as Tres watched. She ran back to Benny Ray, and picked up the
night vision scope.

"That's him, the one who walked out of the building."

"Sure?"

"Dead sure." Tres backed away from the window as Benny Ray moved and
took his aim. She didn't want to make him nervous by being too close.
There was nothing she needed to see. He pulled the trigger, and it was
good.

The man facing the quarry calmly felt the dead man's neck. He shook
his head and drove off.

"Next two will be harder."

"That's in the middle of a ranch, how are we getting there?" she said,
looking at the intel sheets.

"Drive to the ranch, walk the rest of the way."

The two were silent as they sped down the highway on the motorcycle
Benny Ray had rented. As they walked to where the meet was to take
place, Tres pondered the dry ground. As they settled behind some rocks
near the meeting spot, Tres decided she'd ask..."I feel bad asking, but what if. . . "

"Don't have to worry bout that Miss. The Major always said ‘Everybody
comes home.'"

"OK."

They looked on in silence. Finally, a car drove up. Two men got out.

Tres picked up the night vision scope, and peered over the rock.
"Yeah, that's them. Are we waiting for the meet or will we just take
out these guys?"

Benny Ray didn't answer. He took his shots. He probably never heard.
He walked up to confirm the kills. Flipping on his flashlight, he
motioned for Tres to come on, and they took the car back to their
motorcycle. As they drove back to town, Tres tiredly leaned her head on
Benny Ray and watched the mountains as they passed."See those mountains over there?" It was beginning to get light in the east where she pointed. "Just beyond those is where my uncle's ranch was."

"Still there now?"

"Dunno. Prolly a Stop-n-Rob now."

They returned to the motel, finding Deke in their room.

"Howdy cowboys and cowgirls!"

"Hey Deke," Benny Ray said. "Give me a minute to say bye to my baby."

"Things go well?"

"Very. We got all of them." Tres answered.

"Good. I brought breakfast for you. Something called a southern
breakfast, not sure what's in it but you're both from the south so you
should be ok eating it."

"Sounds like northerners are allergic to southern food the way you put
it."

"Its eggs, hash browns, sausage, and grits, Deke." Benny Ray said.

"Grits?"

"Grits."

"Whatever. Hope its not too greasy."

"Nah." Benny Ray grinned, handing Deke his "baby." "Grease is
goooood."

"Well then, I'm off. Here are your directions for shipping your
unmentionables back home from New Orleans since I won't meet to pick up your things there." Deke hurried off.

Benny Ray called CJ to let him know things were all good."Yeah, three confirmed kills."

"I'll make sure Matt hears, anything else?"

"Nope. Deke met us to take our things. Brought breakfast too."

"You're getting soft in your old age. What'd you get."

Benny Ray chuckled. "Sausage." CJ laughed back. "Reminds you of the
time when, huh CJ?"

"Sure does."

Benny Ray got off the plane, greeted by Chance.

"Here are the keys to the truck, green Explorer, front row of the
parking lot." Chance said, handing the set of keys to Benny Ray.

"What service!" Tres remarked.

"You guys get some sleep?"

"Enough." Benny Ray answered.

"Good. We think we found one of them already."

"Awesome. Should make things go faster." Tres said.

"Well, I gotta run, see you in San Telmo."

"Sure thing." Benny Ray said.

Tres gave him a hug, he patted Benny Ray on the back, and they all
headed their separate directions.

CHAPTER EIGHT


0800 HOURS
SAN TELMO - N. BAJA PENINSULA
HACIENDA DE CASTAÑEREZ


"It'd be a good idea if you were to meet all of the other guards."
Alberto looked up and said to Rico. "I'll take you."

"Sure, I wanted to get a good look at the premises anyway."

"Just a second, I gotta take a piss, blueprints of the place are over
there." Alberto pointed, left the room and started down the hall.

Rico grabbed the blueprints, pulled a small camera out of his pocket,
turned it on and ran it across the maps. CJ cheered as he saw it back
at the Silver Star, immediately setting the film to map itself for an
infiltration attempt later.

Hearing footsteps, Rico put the camera in a corner overlooking the
room.

1200 HOURS

Matt puffed a cigar, looking at the greaseball bartender opposite him.

"What you want?" the man asked him. "Girls?"

"No. Weed."

The bartender looked at him in an offhand manner. Matt had dressed
sort of like a greaseball himself, perhaps it would have an ingratiating
effect. The two were sitting quietly in a corner booth in the dark bar.
Nick was in the middle of the room trying to talk Spanish to a
prospective señorita. She laughed then made things clear. "Pesos,
señor!" Nick sighed, mumbled that her skirt was definitely short enough
for that, and watched her walk off.

Matt and the bartender chuckled as Nick sat down to his cerveza looking
like a lonely little puppy dog.

"Your friend, is he really that dumb?"

"Call it naive. He's from New York."

"Naive from New York? Is that possible? How does he drive?"

"Same as the taxi drivers in Mexico City."

"Chingada." the bartender laughed. "OK, be here at eight, I'll set you
up with Gonzalez."

Rico got back to his quarters. Picking up an earpiece, he picked up
another camera and stared into it, waving to CJ. "CJ? I can't find this guy anywhere."

"Basement." CJ answered.

"Wonder why they didn't show me that."

"You'll probably find that out soon."

Chance was in the safe house when Drummer walked in.

"Hey. They said you'd be here." Drummer greeted him.

"Did they?" Chance said, wondering if possibly Drummer had gone bad
again.

"Yeah, they're still checking their sight for the late night meet
coming up in a few days. Meanwhile, I've got a plane and a map for you.
You and Deke are um... gonna fertilize some fields."

"I am? Cool." Chance looked a tad surprised. "Lemme check in with
Matt."

"Sure, then we're going to look at the planes."

Chance dialed. "Matt? Hey... Yeah... Yeah... Will do... OK... Bye." Chance closed his cell phone and followed Drummer out the door.

Matt closed his phone as he and Nick got back in their truck.

"We're gonna need everyone to shit that meet, sir." Nick said.

"Yup. Hope we can get them all here in time."

"I'm sure we will."

"Only reason that wouldn't happen, would be if something bad happened."

"It won't."

"Easier not to worry and just go with the flow."

"But you worry anyway."

Cont'd

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