Consultants Inc. by m. Christie

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First Two Chaptersof a story coming in 2010.




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Consultants Inc - Chapter 1
"How can you live with yourself boss?” I remember the exact day one of my people asked me that question ten years ago. We had just done a takedown of a kidnapper and sexual predator, who happened to be a major crazy, in the bottom of the Rouge River canyon in Southern Oregon. This guy thought he was some kind of postmodern mountain man and had taken two college women hostage three days previously from Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Apparently he had a fixation on blonds and a rather brutal approach to women in general. The Jackson, Josephine, and Curry County Sheriff’s Office's had done a great job investigating, had located the guy’s car, and after a couple of interviews with witnesses, had determined he had taken the women into the Rogue River National Scenic Area. That’s when they had called us; our “team” was an interdisciplinary task force attached to the Department of Justice, tasked with performing special operations in “unusual circumstances under difficult conditions and in remote areas”. We knew the guy was in the vicinity of Huggins Canyon, since the Sherriff's office had spotted what appeared to be the crazy and his two hostages with a fairly cool remote control model plane; pretty impressive, it is actually bigger than you might think, at about seven feet in length and with an electric engine, it fly's almost silent and carries a real time video system, allowing the operator to run it from the road or trail, far above the river level in the canyon. The FAA had closed the airspace over the scenic area last night, as well as, preventing aircraft from leaving any of the strips in the canyons, we hoped this would help prevent any incidents and not scare our bad guy into thinking aircraft were tracking him. We had flown into the canyon from Grant’s Pass aboard an Oregon National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk, piloted by a couple of great citizen soldiers who recently had the distinction of being awarded a few medals for their time in the sandbox. The UH-60 really is a nifty piece of transportation, provided courtesy of the taxpayers at a tune of $22 million apiece, of course we brought our own helicopter helmet headset amplified iPod adapters to pump music into our Gentex helmets, because it's just not right to fly without tunes! It was a great day, blue skies, almost no wind, low humidity, and 900 degrees. The Rogue River National Scenic Area is a spectacular piece of America's wild country, 84 miles of whitewater river in the bottom of a canyon that seems to go on forever with incredibly steep walls that are

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more cliff than anything else; On a day like today, the 900 on top would be magnified in the canyon like being in a solar oven, but with a cool river in the bottom and some Class III rapids, we were looking forward to the drop. We had our usual mission music playing and the six of us were in our own heads waiting for the drop. Our plan was to drop into Mule Creek Canyon, we figured the helicopter noise would not be noticeable five miles downriver at Huggins Canyon, where we thought the bad guy might be. After an hour, we came into Mule Creek Canyon, a class IV rapids in full glory today, the pilots dove into a hard hover above the water near Stair Creek, because we wanted to be well downstream of all the narrows in Mule Creek Canyon and well away from "coffee pot"; at five minutes out, we slip into our river rescue PFD's, do a gear and communications check, and then drop gear bags and ourselves into the river as soon as when we hit a hard hover about fifteen feet off the water. It is quite a ride if you can get it, a few seconds of free fall, then the cold water hits you and you’re moving at what seems like a hundred plus through the rapids, getting into a safe swimmer position on your back with your feet down river and hands sculling, then a quick look around and you start swimming a ferry angle of 45 degrees up river, toward the place you want to be, while avoiding rocks, logs, and debris. In this case, we did some serious ferry swimming to shore, because the water running through the Stair Creek area was moving fast; once there, opened the gear bags and inflated kayaks for the paddle down river to Huggins Canyon, got our gear ready for action, and did a last minute check. Everyone had the tactical gear stowed and we were all dressed as kayakers, pretty drab, except of course for Sara, today she thought a bit of distracting clothing was in order. So, she slipped a white, Wicked Weasel, Spider Web bikini on over her tan skin, which was pretty damn distracting! She would guarantee our bad guy would be paying attention to her and buy us a bit more time to maneuver when we found him. I should probably tell you, our team of five, is an unconventional group. There is Sara, a former National Park Service ranger and our team sniper, as well as expert paddler, climber, and skier; she stands out a bit since at 42 years old, 5’8”, red hair, the physical conditioning of an Ironman competitor, which she is, a playboy model body, and a tendency to speak her mind which runs her afoul of bureaucrats frequently. Then there are the twins, Jon and Wade, a couple of former sheriff deputies from Big Sky country in Montana; these two are in their 30's and more at home in the wilderness than most people are in their own home and the ladies seem to think they are fairly easy on the eyes with their six foot frames with a twelve pack between them, in addition, they are simply the coolest guys in a fire fight I have ever seen. Paul is our paramedic and technical rescue systems guy, he really looks like the “average guy on the street”, which of course is helpful since people underestimate his expertise with technical systems and his ability to swim like a fish and climb like a mountain goat; at 48 years old he can go further on less than anyone I know and seems genuinely unable to experience discomfort, and I would know, since we have been in some really horrible places together. And of course there's me, the team leader and at 49, soon to be 50, the oldest member by a few months; I've never been much to look at, but the women seem to like me for what they say is my “dangerous quality” whatever that is supposed to mean in women speak.

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We started our paddle, through some serious water for this time of year, toward Huggins Canyon, where the recon flight spotted a male fitting the crazy's description with two women. This meant we had to paddle Blossom Bar first, it is one of the most feared rapids on the river, since it is a wild trip through a major rock garden, that many people portage rather than run. But it is passable, with a lot of maneuvering to avoid getting pinned on the up river side of a rock or flipped and having to swim for it. Usually, you have to start far left, move to a center eddy, edge right around a corner rock, enter the "pour over" to get you past the dangerous "picket fence" rock hazard, and then just maneuver like crazy to doge the rest of the rocks through to the bottom of the rapids. If we got into trouble, we could get to the Blossom Bar camping area, pull out and get put back together. Fortunately for us, we are all pretty good watermen and managed the run just fine. I have got to say, this part of the job does not suck, kayaking is as much art as skill, and nothing compares to the feeling of running down river in rapids and big waves and feeling the inconceivable power that moving water holds. Think about it, this is the same water that carved this 84 miles of canyon, eroding thousands of feet of solid rock, whitewater show you no mercy, it is constant and enduring, you have to work with it, because you will never be able to work against it, and it may kill if you try! So, you must chose your lines through the water's fury and use your skill to keep your boat moving with the water, never opposed, when you accomplish that, it is like flying in the most powerful wind imaginable. The paddle was dazzling, we passed the Gleason bars, then Paradise Lodge, then Half Moon Bar Lodge where river traffic was being stopped for the next few hours by BLM Rangers, and then made the turn into Huggins Canyon. As we moved into Huggins Canyon, the water became a mile long, lazy stretch where the rock walls are spotted with bright fuchsia; with Sara out on point near the bottom of Huggins Canyon she tells us through her ear bone mic she has a visual. She says the guy on river right who is walking all over her with his eyeballs is definitely our guy. She starts to back paddle casually and stay in his predator like sight, while the rest of us slip quickly to shore on river right and up river of his position. While Sara gets ever closer to river center, the twins move like wraiths along the rocky shoreline to put eyes on the situation. While Sara has our crazy's attention, the twins get eyes on the situation and radio back; as Sara thought, this is definitely our guy, he has one woman gagged and hand cuffed naked to an upside down raft on the sand, pulled back from the water, and out of sight from the river; the second woman is staked out nude on the sand. The first woman looks like she is unconscious on the raft and may be in tough shape with lacerations and abrasions all over her body; the other is whimpering while exposed to the sun and staked out behind a rock formation. We do not want to cause any harm to the women and we really want a clean arrest of the bad guy, so I give Sara the signal to move to the other side of the river and up enough to get a clear shot with her Winchester Classic Custom Sharpshooter, since it is only going to be a 200 meter shot, I am feeling pretty comfortable she will be able to drop our guy if things go wrong. Of course our guy follows her with his eyes until she walks behind some rocks; just two minutes later she radios that she has a solution.

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Meanwhile the twins have freakishly moved within 50 feet of the women, as silent as phantoms; they have their ballistic assault vests on and their Winchester SX-AR riffles at ready. Paul has moved up river to a calm spot and pulled out his "Federal Agent" vest and credentials, closed the river, and is bring people to shore; this will prevent anyone from accidentally paddling through the area and either tipping off our guy or getting themselves hurt. With everyone in place and assuring the river was shut down, I just walk up to his camp and said “Hi”. Our bad guy yells at me over his shoulder to “get the hell out of here or I am going to kill you”; apparently he doesn't want visitors and isn’t going to just wave and say “Hi” back. So I just keep walking right up to him and he seems pretty pissed but thinks I can't understand him. When I am about 15 feet from him, I quietly tell him " Federal Agent, get on your knees and put your hands on your head”. Being “one of those kind of guys”, he pulls out a knife, I raise the TASER X3 I've been holding at my side and fire. Seconds later, he is on the ground and writhing from the neuromuscular disruption I caused by pulling the trigger. Obviously our bad guy has seen one too many cops shows where they tell him to drop it or have a conversation with the bad guy, here in the real world, we just drop the bad guy and have absolutely no desire to talk with him! The Twins slip in and put our guy in restraints; Jon stays with him while Wade frees the women. Sara has already started across the river and Paul is headed to our position with his gear to care for the women. Sara goes to the second woman and works her magic to calm her, with a quick assessment, she realizes the woman is physically okay, but as she talks with her, realizes the sexual assaults she has had to endure will leave a deep mental wound. Paul has gotten on scene and is assessing the first woman on the raft, he tells me to get the helo inbound and she is in critical condition; I get the helo on the radio and tell them to drop the stokes basket and prepare for a hoist of a patient and Paul. Paul is focused only on his patient and things don't look good. She is a 20 year old woman with a Glasgow coma scale of 7, her eyes open to pain, she is making incomprehensible sounds, and she has flexion to painful stimulus; her pupils are midpoint but reactive, she has multiple knife wounds to her back, thighs, and abdomen; she has ligature marks on her wrists and ankles and abrasions from what appears to be a paddle of some kind across her back and chest; she has lost a significant amount of blood onto the raft surface, her lung sounds are clear, but she is moving little air, and she has an obvious open fracture of her right forearm with hand print bruising on both sides of the fracture; her pulse is 140 and her BP is 80/60. Paul asks me to begin ventilating the woman with a bag valve mask and 100% oxygen while he gets two intravenous lines started, gets some occlusive dressings on the chest level back wounds, gets fluid challenges going and secures her in spinal precautions to a backboard the helo dropped with the stokes. He does a rapid sequence induction on the woman and places an endotracheal tube in the patient's airway, then hooks up the LSP Autovent 2000 to continue the ventilations I had been giving the woman with the BVM. I help him load her in the stokes and secure her while Paul gets his harness and gear on for the hoist. I call in the helo and seconds later we can see the

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UH-60 bearing down on our position, 30 seconds later, Paul and the patient are being hoisted into the aircraft and the pilots are already pulling stick and climbing out of the canyon. It has now been a whole 35 minutes from the time we arrived on site. I can hear Paul over the radio giving report to Rouge Valley Medical Center, the trauma center in Medford, Oregon. He tells them the patient's condition and that what he has done thus far, then what he is doing now, including getting an antibiotic drip of Ancef started, dressing wounds, and has realigned and splinted her right arm. In another few minutes, the pilots come up on the frequency and report to the hospital that they are now thirty minutes out and the patient condition is unchanged. In the interim, the twins have read Mr. Bad Ass his rights and have drug him down to the river's edge to wait with him for transport. Sara has the other woman with her, she has gotten her dressed in some shorts and a t-shirt, and she is doing surprisingly well; she says the other woman managed to escape her restraints this morning, but he caught her before she could get to the water, he then tied her to the raft and began beating and cutting her until she passed out an hour later. Her name is Adrianne and she begins filling Sara in on her ordeal, she says that for some reason he was drawn to the other woman, who she had not met until they were tied up in his vehicle, as a result, while he did take a break from the other woman from time to time, he had spent almost all of his time abusing her rather than Jen; she tells Sara that only after the other woman was unconscious did he begin raping her. Unfortunately, this is the point we learn that the bad guy does not speak English well and he is registering a 100 on the creepy scale; so we decide to talk to him, while video recording with a Google Phone, until he outright asks for a lawyer. We find out the guy has a diplomatic passport on him, which we figure is not going to be a big issue, since the guy’s embassy will surely disavow him and allow prosecution; I mean, the guy kidnapped, raped, and beat two women, one perhaps, to death! But the surprises keep coming! He really wants to talk and tells us this is not his first time. He says a few months back he took another woman who was hitchhiking on I-5 about ten miles north of Grant's Pass, but she “misbehaved” so he spent the day cutting her into pieces, while she was still alive, and throwing the pieces into the river near this spot. By this point, we are all sorry we didn't “accidentally” kill this psycho, but we’re glad to take an obvious sociopath out of circulation. That and fortunately we got here in time to prevent his current victims from dying the horrible death his previous victim had suffered. The rest goes fairly well, we get the helo back; get everybody hoisted onboard and go enroute to Merlin Airport near Grants Pass. As we are landing in Merlin, we notice a private, Gulfstream V jet on the runway. While we are shutting down and dragging, none too gently, Mr. Crazy's out of the helo, we are met by a middle age woman in very expensive clothes with a U.S. State geek in tow! The state geek is mumbling that we have to turn the guy over to his mother! I cannot believe what I am hearing! I tell the state guy to bite me, I don’t take orders from state, this is a clean arrest and I work for DOJ, this guy is going nowhere but lock up. The miserable little bureaucrat hands me a document from the U.S. District Court for Oregon, saying we must release this crazy into the custody of his mother!

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The situation was just inconceivable, the entire team was pissed off, not to mention the locals were beyond angry, and the remaining victim started a low, sad, crying that is tearing into people’s emotions and cranking up the possibility that someone is going to do something stupid. At that point in my life, I had worked in government for a long time; but until the moment this asshole handed me the court order, I had never been embarrassed to hold a position in government. Unfortunately, one of my worst flaws is my tendency to follow the rules; in the past, this has made for clean actions and good closure rates. But now, it is rapidly turning a clean and shiny right, into a very serious wrong. Without a clear way out, I decide to hand over the bad guy to the State weenie, who removes his cuffs and believe it or not, shakes the asshole's hand, apologizes for the inconvenience, and helps him to the jet! Minutes later, they are racing down the runway to freedom. I gather my team, get Adrianne into the hands of her parents and a mental health professional, and then get the hell out of there to pick up Paul. I figured once we are back in the office, we could get the powers that be to let us re-arrest Mr. Crazy. Paul says it looks like the woman will survive without physical deficits, but it will be a long road back. But a week later, I was getting nowhere on the re-arrest, until I was finally told to consider the matter closed a few days later. That same day, Wade asked me that fateful question, “How can you live with yourself boss?” The truth was, that while I had given him my calm face and shrugged it off, saying “we live by the rule of law”, I was not sure about the real answer to the question. Ever since that day, the scene had played over and over in my head and it was getting harder to live within my own skin. As the days crept by, every day was harder than the last. I had stopped looking at myself in the mirror because what I saw there more often than not, made me ashamed. I had to find another way! The nightmares hadn’t started yet, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before the small amount of sleep I was getting would be disturbed by images I would rather forget. I knew this for a fact because keeping those images from my mind while I was wide-awake was getting harder and harder. I would be waiting in line at the bank, close my eyes briefly and be bombarded by images of that asshole stalking and killing another woman. I knew that if I didn’t change something soon I would not be able to maintain an even keel. As things sometimes go, the next morning a gentleman came to the office and asked for a bit of my time, this is pretty bizarre since we are not identified anywhere and only a few fairly powerful people know where we are and fewer know how to get to us. This gentleman was not just well dressed, but had that extremely expensive way about him that gave him that “finished look”. He sat down in the office, did not introduce himself, and just simply asked “have you had enough?” Not knowing anything about this guy, I decide silence might be prudent for a bit.

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He introduced himself as Mr. Cartwright and offered me a plain black business card which had the words: "Consultants Inc, solving difficult problems", and [email protected] below it on the card, both in crisp white font. Mr. Cartwright said that he had an offer for both my team and I if we were interested. He said he had spoken to a number of people in government, including the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, about recruiting a top team to work with him on special problems. Mr. Cartwright then launched into what he knew about my recent case and had knowledge of a number of other cases like it. In reference to himself, he said he had gotten out of the bubble early, got very lucky in the stock market, and basically became lost in the wave of other rich and famous who were much better known or more famous. Mr. Cartwright explained it had been easy to slip into early retirement with enough money to run a number of countries; he married the woman of his dreams and for a number of years had remained very, very happy until he experienced a tragedy; the loss of his wife, the love of his life, to a group of drug runners while they were rafting a remote area of Ecuador. The men invaded their campsite one night, beat him nearly to death and took his wife; he managed to crawl into their raft and float down river to the nearest town, where people took him to the hospital and eventually he was flown by medevac jet to San Diego for care. Weeks later, while waiting in the hospital for any word, he received a DVD with images of his wife being tortured and killed by these men and a message saying he should stay out of the affairs of the cartel. A group he hadn't known even existed until that moment. Government authorities knew who the men were, but months later, the authorities still failed to make an arrest. He appealed to the U.S. Embassy, but was told they could do nothing. In the end he took a stereo typed action of the rich man left alone in his grief, hired a group of supposedly experienced mercenaries to find the men, but they became lost in the terrain and they were picked off one by one. Mr. Cartwright hoped that knowing the kind of man I was and the people on the team, we might be interested in a different kind of work. He had already taken the liberty of developing a base of operations for us identical to our current operation, but with additional financial resources and a freedom to act we had never experienced before. He hoped that we would all be willing to join the organization, which an endowment of 5.5 Billion dollars to create a permanent funding source for the entirely private organization. Each of us would become full partners in the newly formed Consultants Inc, with triple our current salaries, a guaranteed 7% increase yearly, a $1 million dollar life insurance policy, a pension equal to our salary at retirement when we reach 60 years old, and the very best in healthcare. Mr. Cartwright did have two requests; first, that we accept the job today, and second, that we understand that Consultants Inc would never charge a fee, only accept favors from those we had helped. Consultants Inc would only advertise its services quietly, around the globe, and seek to help those who cannot help themselves.

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Consultants Inc - Chapter 2
Sara, Paul, and I retired the very next day and the twins submitted their resignations right alongside of our retirement papers. Seven days and a private jet flight later, we were standing in front of our new office, it was a very plain facility located in the air freight warehouse area at the Portland International Airport in Oregon. The very small sign, on the obviously reinforced and hardened door, said "Consultants Inc." and mounted to the right was one of the IrisGuard iris recognition security system scanners. At that moment, a young woman popped open the door and said "Hi", I swear she looked like a the stereotypical image of a 20's age scientist, but with a surfer girl edge. Now that I think about it, she looks like a geeky version of pro surfer Megan Abubo, she tells us her name is Layne and knows all our names! What seemed like a really huge, but plain metal warehouse of about 600' by 400' and maybe 60' tall on the outside, was anything but plain on the inside. The domed skylights on top of the building were not that at all, they were domed skylights, but over half contained what appeared to be some kind of satellite dishes; the interior was done in industrial chic with extensive sound insulation everywhere and there was a open design, command and control center in the middle of the building. Layne takes up her position in the center of the technology and explains she has integrated security systems for the building, news monitors, several computers, several large LCD screens with what appeared to be active video showing areas around the world, and a large central display that can integrate the various systems together onto a single, multiple view. There are a number of empty, but mission style, furnished offices around the perimeter of the space and a large equipment wall at one end with tactical, medical, surveillance, water/dive, and miscellaneous equipment storage and work areas. Nearby is a fully equipped gym and a fairly luxurious locker room area. Through the large door in the wall is a hanger space containing an Antonov An-124, an aircraft capable to putting a helicopter and massive equipment inside, then there is a Gulfstream V jet and a Bell 214ST helicopter. Alongside this fleet of aircraft are six identical, older model Land Rovers which look equipped for all terrain situations and with the exception that they all have a "used and worldly" look, they are in perfect condition and would fit in on a large number of continents. Two men and a women approach us and introduce themselves; two of them are pilots, Cessie and Chuck, while the other is Jim, the A&P mechanic. They say that until a month ago they were part of Mr. Cartwright's personal aviation staff, but now they work for us. Both Check and Cessie are former Military Pilots and rated on all three aircraft. At 48 years old, Chuck has the ruggedly handsome look down and in his casual wear, he looks more like a cowboy than a former U.S. Air Force Pilot with combat experience in Afghanistan and the Gulf. Chuck has an easy way about him and a familiarity with aircraft that you can only get through thousands of hours in them. We ask him how many hours he has and he says 25,000 combined between fixed wing and rotor, that is a hell of a lot of hours, since in the U.S. Army you get to master aviator with about 5,000 hours.

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Cessie, dressed in her workout gear, is a classic Philippine beauty, but the scars she is showing give away her former life as a Philippine Air Force pilot with fifteen years of combat experience in the 100 year war in the Southern Philippines against the muslin insurgents, and you would never guess she is in her mid 30's. It turns out she also has some ground combat experience from defending air bases on the island of Jolo and in Cotabato City on Mindanao from attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf terror group. Jim looks more like an older engineer than a former aviation mechanic for an international aviation company here in Oregon, but he got fed up with the politics and jumped at an offer from Mr. Cartwright a few years back; with a masters in aeronautical engineering, decades of A&P mechanic experience, and what appears to be the ability to fabricate just about anything, he looks like a valuable guy to have around. Mr. Cartwright appeared a few minutes later and asked how we were doing. We adjourned to a private conference room that was tech heavy to say the least to discuss our first day and clarify our partnership positions and rank in the organization. Mr. Cartwright is the senior partner, I become the managing partner, Sara and Paul became full partners and the twins received junior partner status. Everyone seems fine with it and it certainly wasn't a surprise, since out team had worked that was forever. Cartwright explained that Layne, Chuck, Cessie, and Jim were employees of the corporation and he would like to bring on at least three more employees; since we could use a couple of surveillance and undercover operatives to round out the capabilities of the team. As we all discussed it, none of us were really opposed to the idea; but in the end, Sara persuaded us that it would be incredibly valuable to have that type of resource. Since with the exception of Paul, none of us really fit into "normal" society very well and she knew from her NPS Law Enforcement days that she had absolutely no patience for undercover work of any kind. So it was settled, since Sara had the most experience among us with the surveillance and undercover operators she would head up the search and interviews if necessary, with Cartwright butting the word out that we were looking and Layne as a resource for gauging technical talent with surveillance equipment. Cartwright also takes a few minutes to give us the low down on the in house talent; since we already have a pretty good picture of Cessie, Chuck, and Jim we tell him so and want to know about Layne. He says it is typical of Layne that she doesn't toot her own horn, but he hired her away from the NSA after six years with them, and it wasn't easy. She graduated MIT with a Ph.D. in computer science and an M.S. in mathematics at 19 years old, she was snapped up by NSA immediately and she had been one of their most effective electronic warfare personnel, as well as an accomplished code breaker. It took forever for him to get her on board and he had to promise her she would have free rein with the electronics, communications, and computer systems and not have to ever leave her control center. She also has a small budget of $1 million a year, to spend on development of new computer programs, devices, and communications equipment.

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So far, in the year she has been with him, she has already developed a worldwide communications capability through a modified satellite phone she has created and an encryption algorithm she loaded into the phones and onto the satellite provider network, which she had Cartwright buy a controlling interest in about six months ago. She is a little particular about the Consultants Inc control center and does have, from his perspective, a regular habit of substituting surfer language for English. She heads out to long board the Oregon Coast at Lincoln City and Seaside fairly regularly, but takes her remote access equipment with her when she goes and Jim has enough training now to run the basics of the control center if needed. She has also invested in the latest technology, much of which she has modified, for surveillance work, when and if we get into that field. Just one week later, we had some justice to accomplish; we dropped into Mr. Crazy's diminutive county during the night, courtesy of Mr. Cartwright owed a favor by the head of the fledgling country's National Police, who disagreed with the way Mr. Crazy's mother welded her power. We flew into a remote field with the Antonov and then took off from there with the 214ST while still dark. We inserted with the helo rigged for NVG flight and painted nice ocean colors, which simply blend into black at night; Cessie and Chuck put us in at the base of the mountain we intended to scale, hovering just at tree top on a moonless night. As soon as we fast roped out of the aircraft, we immediately struck out for the summit of the mountain that looked down into the bowl that held Mr. Crazy's villa he obtained after his mother got him out of the USA. There was a very narrow, four wheel drive track through the jungle and up the mountain to his front door, which was easily defended and he probably felt pretty safe in his remote hidey hole, but we were going to avoid direct engagement and collateral damage by just walking in his back door! Better yet, on the way out, Chuck and Cessie were able to drop a couple of listening devices from high altitude, on to the villa grounds, neither of which was noticed. It took a straight 16 hours of jungle travel and rock climbing, all of it with NVG's on, which can make it a little tricky in the climbing environment, since the depth perception isn't perfect with those things! The last five hours were the worst of it, a three pitch rock climb to the summit, in the dark, with 70 pounds of gear each; it just isn't as exciting or fun as on TV. With the exception of Paul, none of us really enjoy rock climbing and rope work as "sport", but with Paul leading the pitches and the rest of us using a combination of climbing and Petzl ascenders to follow up the line, we made it to the summit and could but eyes on the bad guy's villa. The whole time, Layne was giving us updates through our ear mics about weather, information from the listening devices, and location from the GPS trackers we all wore. Coming over the back side of the mountain was worth it, the rear was unguarded and quite close to the base of the cliff system that flowed down from the summit. We rappelled down from the summit to and walked right in his back door. After taking out the house staff and security with Tazers and giving them enough sedative to let them sleep for a week, we proceeded upstairs to find Mr. Crazy in full body paint, in front of a terrified teen age woman, who he had hung by her wrists from the ceiling.

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She didn’t look good, but after signaling the twins to take out the bad guy with a Tazer; Paul and Sara attended to the woman and after about an hour of care, she seemed in fairly good condition to travel. She said he had just taken her right off the streets of the capital city on her way to work yesterday and had had her hanging there nude all day. As we had agreed, since Sara was the most pissed off over the Oregon incident, she got to wake up our “guest”. I won’t give all the details, but I will say that Sara took out her anger in a most ferocious way and it resulted in another small delay before we walked right out the front door and hung a right into the jungle; Sara was leading our “guest” by a leash attached through his private parts with a very large safety pin, which made sure he kept up, so to speak! Once we were off the mountain and back into the jungle, a good two miles into wilderness area, we simply took off the leash, gave Mr. Crazy a few small cut marks, and tied him to a tree with a rope of vines. Then, we simply walked away with his victim in Paul’s care to out pick up site in a clearing not far away. We almost couldn’t hear Mr. Crazy's threats and yelling, by the time we saw a very large jaguar pass by us and head his way through our NVG’s! When we got back, Sara had talent search heavily under way and had already green lighted a new operator for one of the new undercover and surveillance positions. She said it was a perfect candidate, Cartwright has lured an FBI undercover operator for an interview over some coffee. Sara said they were extremely experienced with ten years of both short and long term assignments around the world and familiarity with a wide range of equipment, disguise, and weapons. I was lined up to meet the new operator tomorrow morning and begin integrating them into the team and drilling them with our operational standards and methods. The rest of my first day back was a pile of paperwork and meetings to begin developing the Consultants Inc standard operating procedures and process for identifying clients. The twins were hard at work installing a gun range in smaller building next door, which we had purchased the previous week; and Paul was working on prepackaged kits for various environments that would be suitable for air drop or overnight air freighting if the need arose. Towards the end of the day, Cartwright drops in to talk. He has heard some disturbing news from a local defense contractor located in Washington County. The two principles of Direct Fire Limited, are old friends of his and they have had five of their personnel go missing in the past year. Since the first three were assistant researchers and had the travel bug quite badly, they did not think a great deal about it, but then a primary scientist disappeared and yesterday another did not report to work. They have reported the missing people to the police and Department of Defense, but after an initial investigation, no definitive conclusion has been reached. More troubling, while the missing status has not been resolved, all of the people were out of one lab, tasked with designing and fabricating a working model of a miniature guided missile equipped with miniaturized flight control capability and the ability to fire from a short barrel weapon equipped with a miniaturized radio control consul. Cartwright would like us to help out his friends and look into this, he already called the Secretary of Defense and cleared us for the task.

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I also wanted to talk with him, since one of my old contacts in Cebu City, Philippines had emailed about a very disturbing sequence of influential and political figures in the Visayan's being killed with ever increasingly violent means. The Republic of the Philippines is a strong ally to the United States and the site of a bloody, 100 year war with Muslim insurgents, and always on the cusp of becoming a fully developed country. After losing more than 1,000,000 people fighting alongside the United States in World War II, the Philippines was granted independence on July 4, 1946. The Philippines are the second-largest archipelago in the world, with over 7000 tropical islands, the country is one of the hidden gems of the Pacific. Tourists frequently over look the country, at their loss, because it’s off the beaten path, the Philippines is a great place to escape the hordes who fill up most of the western Pacific. The country is an amazing collection of natures wonders, a string of coral-fringed islands strewn across a 1.7 million square kilometer expanse of the ocean territory with some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, an enormous biomass, wreck diving into history with WWI and WWII wreaks, swim with the largest and strangest sharks in the world, and visit true tropical island paradise over and over. But the people and their culture that makes the Philippines valuable and unique in today's world, they are truly among our best friends and willing to launch into battle at our sides at anytime. Despite the poverty that afflicts most of the nation, the 92 million Filipinos are among the most polite, cheerful, and easygoing people in the world. As important, exporting technical and medical professionals is a significant segment of the $169 billion dollar Philippine economy, without these professions, entire medical systems would experience dire shortages in North America and the Middle East; as such, disruptions in the Philippines can dramatically effect economies, healthcare, and business elsewhere. We agreed he would make some calls to his contacts about the Philippine situation tomorrow and get back to me, while I put Sara, Jon, and the new operative on the disappearance issue tomorrow, after their briefing and orientation was completed. At my age, I have to work, too many old injuries that remind me of their presence every morning, and I like to play chef a bit too much for the good of my own waist line. I had gotten a membership at Olympic Gym near Rocky Butte at NE Fremont and 62th, The price was right, it seemed like a workout gym rather than a hang out spot, and the location was excellent. It had become habit for me to change into my old gym shorts and a t-shirt then head to the gym every afternoon on the way home from the office. I walked in and started on the Cybex machine, I usually do an hour on this torture device and listen to some jazz or watch CNN, then finish with weights. About half way through the hour a woman stepped onto the machine next to me, and I have to say, she leaves an impression. I am really not into skinny women, I like women who have some curves and are in shape, this one was picture perfect at about 5' 8", a wonderfully curvy size 12 body with a nice waist, amazing blue eyes, probably 36D breasts, and curly reddish/brown hair that is gathered up and off her neck. I have to say she caught my attention and after a few minutes I even managed to say "Hi". After some weights I headed home, fairly surprised that she seemed to take notice of my departure.

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That night, one of my favorite new jazz singer/songwriters, Debra Arlyn, was playing at Jimmy Mak's downtown, so I called ahead for a reservation for the show and dinner. Jimmy's has recently gotten a new club and location in the Pearl District, but it has managed to retain the feel of an old time, authentic, jazz club. Debra Arlyn is a Portland area local who is just starting to take her place on the national stage; I try never to pass up the opportunity to see an artist about to make it big in a smaller venue. In one review I read, the reviewer said "Somehow they stuffed a soul singer into the body of a young blond girl!" and I have to say, I think they are right; she is simply brilliant and perhaps the next Diana Krall in the jazz world. I threw on some business casual wear and a sport coat and managed to get there just before her first set and seated at a great table near the band, after a little tipping for the hostess; just before the show starts I notice the stunner from the gym stuck in the standing area. She is very well put together, with her hair down, strappy heels, and a very tight, form fitting, little black dress that obviously has no panty lines and ample cleavage; I decide, what the hell, I have been turned down so many times over the years, one more can't hurt! I walk over and say "Hi, my name is Jake and I think we were at the gym together today and you look amazing; if you are not waiting for someone, I have a table and would love to have you join me for dinner", then I wait for the "No Thank You", that shockingly, never comes. She says, "We were at the gym today, I'm Holly, a table sounds wonderful, and dinner would be great", I suddenly have a date, I think, it has been a while! Debra Arlyn is awesome; she and the band are tight and her voice is crisp and clear; some of her pieces are traditionally jazzy while others are a pleasant blend of jazz, R&B, and pop. I find out she too loves jazz and she is new here in town, having just moved her small engineering business to Portland, she is staying in a hotel right now, but is hoping to find a place in the next few days. She knew Jimmy Mak's reputation, and after her workout and a visit to her empty hotel room, she decided to just hop a cab over. She mentions that she noticed me also. We talk music, joke, laugh and relax as we let the music work its magic. Dinner arrives and she tells me she is a vegetarian, not noticing until later, I am also. We are enjoying an exceptional red and music, when she swivels her seat and turns her back to me, leaning back against me. During several solos that bring people to their feet, she leans in and I have her in my arms more than once; it feels comfortable, like we have been here before; and her attention is extremely flattering, although I am sure I am too old for her, since she can't possibly be older than 35, and simply a friendly presence in a new town. But I am not at all sure, she seems quite in control, even with the amount of wine we have enjoyed, and her body feels much more muscled that one might think on first seeing her. We have finished dinner, the encore is over, I paid the tab, and a house band is taking the stag. People are starting to leave when I thank Holly for a perfect evening and ask if I can take her back to her hotel. She looks right at me with piercing eyes and body language that is oozing sex appeal, I suddenly feel like a desert about to be consumed, and she asks, "isn't it time to go to your place instead?". I pride myself on never having to be hit in the head more than once before I get it, I take her arm and escort her out, she is swaying to the music all the way through the joint, and staying very close to me, while grinning wickedly while looking at me with those eyes.

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Thirty minutes later we are at my home and tell Holly to look around while I put on some smooth and sultry jazz, open a bottle of wine, talk out loud that I have a bit of a Spartan decorating style, and ditch my jacket and shoes. I find her in the living room, looking out through the floor to ceiling windows, at the darkness and night view; she is a vision, and has stashed her shoes, purse, and jacket somewhere. She turns, comes to take a glass from me, kissing me hard with her full lips and tongue; she goes back to her place at the windows and framed by the night, she bites her lower lip and whispers to just watch. I sit down on the extra large couch and try to regain some of my composure. Holly begins sway to the music, looking right into my eyes, caressing her skin and curves; I watch her stroking the thin silk fabric, watch her cup her breasts, caress her body. She slides the spaghetti straps off and the dress slides to the carpet. It meets the carpet in silky silence, her eyes darken, and take on that look of desire we all hope to see some day. What composure I have regained, is lost looking at this sexy woman, who is clearly in control of events. Nude, she sways while moving to me, putting one hand on the back of the couch while leaning over me, and unbuttoning my shirt and pants with the other. I glide may hands over her full, perfect breasts and begin kissing her softly, then harder, taking one hand lower to caress her mound and put just the right pressure on all the important nerve endings. She moves her legs further apart and my fingers slide over the wet folds, while still putting percussive pressure on nerve endings and slowly sliding in while doing so, she gasps and I feel her begin to contract and she comes hard, collapsing onto me, while we are kissing fervently. I am hard as stone, she recovers, removes what remains of my shirt and pants, then sinks onto me, starting a slow rocking and thrusting motion, which speeds up to a furious pace over the next ten minutes, she cries out again, fixes her laser like gaze on me, and says three words, "Cum for me". By this point, she is drawing the pleasure out of me at such a tempo I can hold back no longer and explode while we are still kissing with our eyes locked on each other. She collapses onto me again and whispers "that was very, very good". We stay there for what seems like forever, go another round, but at a relaxed and sanguine pace, enjoying our obvious connection. We shower and relax, talking until about 1am, when she says unfortunately has to go, since she has to met a client about midmorning. We exchange numbers and Holly guarantees a phone call is in my future. We make the short trip to the Sheraton at the airport; a few minutes later I am stretched out in bed and thinking a chance like this does not happen every day, if she remains interested, I will unquestionably be taking her out very soon. We talked about all sorts of things from likes and dislikes, to food, to music, to relationships and sex. Holly was an intriguing woman, she operates a very small engineering business and is independent, confident, and flows into different environments with grace and ease; when we talked about sex, she casually brought up that she enjoyed men and women, I think to test me for a reaction, but at the heart of it, she looked for that elusive "connection" with the people she has relationships with that last. I was up by nine and into the office by nine thirty, jumping right in to preparations for the surveillance and undercover job, while starting to consider what to do if the Philippines issue came to the point we needed to do something there also. Pretty busy morning, but I got that call from Holly at ten and found out, to my surprise, I had a date tonight!

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I spent some time reviewing the new shooting range, that with Layne's help, the Twins have been installing next door. It has a lot of tech built in, with bullet catchers, interactive targets, and video projection. The Twins have a great deal of experience with weapons and Jon even went the distance to become a gunsmith when they were working in Montana. In a sudden flash of my stupidity, I realize the Twins still don't know their specific areas of responsibility. Sara and Paul have always been the administrator and logistician respectively of our little team; but now we are away from the federal system of support and need a few more things doled out on the responsibility tree. So, I sit the Twins down and we talk about why we wanted them here with us, they are the best tactical assets we have and the most knowledgeable about the tactical equipment and weapons. Without the federal system to support us, we need an armorer and a weapons and defensive skills trainer; they look at each other and do their Twin thing, which can be a little unnerving some times and Jon speaks up and says "we already decided to take care of that for you boss, that's why you are sitting in a new gun range, we figured you were going to be busy for a while so we jumped in". "So Boss, I'm your new armorer and Wade is the best teacher between us, so he wins the trainer job". I look at them, and just say "Thanks", they say "No Worries Boss, but starting tomorrow, everybody does range qualification and self defense drills twice a month, unless they are on assignment, and we want to get Layne, Cessie, Chuck, and Jim in here also, they may wind up in a tight situation and we want them to be able to handle themselves". I've got no problem with that and just tell them to make it happen. Paul's work is coming along nicely, palletizing equipment packages for various situations and terrain; he has been having Cessie help with perimeters and the progress is obvious. I ask him to look into what he and Cessie would put together for an all terrain operation in the Philippines. He and I have been together the longest and he looks at me and says "I take it the call from Albert the other day was bad and we now might be in a position to help out?". I am always amazed at what Paul picks up just being around, Albert is a friend of ours we met when we were dealing with tricky search mission in Philippine waters about a decade ago. Rear Admiral Albert de Puno is the head of the Philippine Coast Guard Maritime Security Division and a really great human being; we became fast friends with in over the course of the month we operated there and being from an old Philippine family, he is connected at all levels of the government and communities, which made our job a lot easier. He has a predilection for desert, which if you have been to the tropics, it is really hard to find good desert and especially chocolate. So, every Christmas, Paul and I have been sending him a case of Hershey's chocolate and chocolate covered fruit from Harry and David's; which according to his wife, only lasts a couple of weeks! When he called the other day, what he said worried me; in the past several months, ten government officials and community leaders had been killed in sea port cities throughout the country. The first five were all very dissimilar methods, but the last five had simply disappeared. I had a bad feeling about the situation in the Philippines, and having put in a couple of years there, I knew doing anything there requires a light touch and things could become quite complicated, very quickly. While I am very comfortable search for people, I spent the first ten years of my career attached to search and rescue units that specialized in finding the missing; I still had a strong feeling that the Direct Fire Limited situation would not pan out as a simple missing person's case, in all likelihood, it had the feel of a complex search case that would require some special skills.

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My day started out really well, after a great night with what might be a perfect guy, I slept until the wakeup call at 9:30am. I had asked for breakfast delivery and room service knocked right at 9:40 and rolled in my order of fruit, muffins, and coffee. I have time to make a couple of calls, one of which was absolutely going to be Jake; then shower, call my point of contact, and head in for the 11am first day meeting. After breakfast I called Jake and lined up a date for tonight, I told him I would come to him and he could make dinner for us while I enjoy the view! I do hate lying to people, especially partners I feel a connection with, but the down side of a decade in undercover operations, has been when people ask what I do, I can't say. I really do have an engineering corporation, incorporated in Nevada, and I do "regular" jobs from time to time to maintenance my company reputation. Twelve years ago, I quit my career in engineering and joined the FBI; after graduating from University of California - San Francisco at 23, with a masters in electrical engineering, I had worked five years with a consulting firm, traveling around the globe on projects and audits. Then, I was the lead on an audit of a project near Denver, my boss brought me in and told me an FBI agent would be sitting in with me from time to time, as my assistant. I met Chris the next day and found her life captivating, she was tagging along on the project because the FBI had a strong suspicion that a major crime figure was using the complex as a transshipment point for stolen goods. By the end of the project, we had become friends and she had convinced me to apply for the FBI. I had saved a lot of my salary for the past five years and was debt free; but more than that, I was intrigued down to my bones with the idea of undercover work and helping put criminals away. Months later, I was accepted and sent to new agent training for 20 weeks, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Once completed, they sent me to my initial assignment location as a probationary agent, used mostly to work mathematical models and review electrical and security systems. At the end of my probationary year I received a very good evaluation. Since I was already fluent in Spanish and English, after applying to a number of training programs, I was admitted to language school, which in my case, sent me to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California for a course in Mandarin Chinese. Monterey is a fabulous city and I could not get enough of the bay and aquarium! After that I spent six months in assignment hopping mode, doing the same things I had done as a probie; then I was assigned a SWAT basic course and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) basic course. Then Chris found me again, she had an undercover operation going on a Chinese engineering company, YKH Inc., who it was believed, was stealing secrets from U.S. companies during low bid engineering and construction update jobs. She sent me to spend time with a long time undercover agent in Houston, working with him on short term stolen goods transshipment undercover assignments, until I go the thumbs up. I learned an amazing amount from this agent and got used to being undercover, as well as, making arrests and tactical entries.

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I reported to Chris in Los Angeles the week following my field training officer giving me the approval and she briefed me on the assignment. The Bureau had an agent in the company, but since engineer trained agents are few and far between, the operator had only be able to obtain a position in the Human Resources Department. Chris had arranged for the company to lose one of its lead electrical engineers two weeks ago, and the operator in HR would try to get me the position, but I would have to work for it. Chris was putting together a list of jobs to cover the last two years spent in the FBI and helped me establish a corporation in Nevada, Engineering Oversight Inc. She filled me in on the YKH Inc. principles and department heads, including those our operative was putting on the three person hiring panel. In this case, Chris said all three were something of womanizers, making it easier, since they typically pay loose attention as best to what women say, and all applicants that might over take me in the process were being "lost" by our operator. Chris had a new name for me, new passport, new history, and new documents, and then she sent me out for a makeover, giving me blond hair with long extensions and green eye contacts. The interview went very well, much like others in the engineering world I had been to in my previous life. Only one of the interviewers seemed to care about my qualifications, finding them quite in line with their wishes, and I was able to answer all of his questions to his satisfaction; the other two spent most of their time staring at the ample cleavage I made sure peeked out from my business suit. By the end of lunch, I was in, I started the next day and spent three months doing catch up work from the position being absent. After that, the two interviewers who were so impressed with my suit, assigned me as the supervising engineer on a major project, that's when I finally got a break. I was on a work site at a Silicon Valley R&D facility expediting the project with the evening and night shift crews, we were upgrading the entire electrical system and HVAC for the entire facility; but that night, instead of my regular crew, an all Chinese crew arrived, after only a few minutes, it was clear they were not electricians and my superior, a Chinese gentleman, arrived and said I had been working too hard and to take the night off. I got on the phone to Chris and had her pull in tight surveillance for the project. The next night, at the 11pm shift change, the same thing happened, but during the evening, I had ample time to place a number of wireless 2.4GHz mini cameras throughout the facility secreted in the major wiring harnesses within empty conduit, since the "crew" last night were obvious not electricians, I figured they would over look them. That night, after collecting several hours of the crew and my superior, down loading computers and photographing R&D areas, Chris swept into the facility at 3am with a dozen agents and hooked up everyone. Unfortunately, I did not get to participate, word had come down that since I handled myself well, and as Chris had said, engineer agents were in short supply, I was put on a plane out of town. One of the crew cracked fairly easily and implicated everyone else, the prosecution was a breeze, and convictions occurred quickly. Another five years of undercover work passed by, both long and short term gigs, using my "company" as a cover worked to a degree that no one expected, allowing me to move into a wide range of cases, usually involving an engineer role; I did stolen goods and drug transshipment cases, some overseas work on federal contractor fraud involved in construction, and quite a few cases involving airport and shipping facilities where organized crime of one strip or another was at work.

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My sixth year undercover was the first time I had to use deadly force. I was on the inside of a major hotel casino construction project, we suspected a serial rapist was a member of the construction crew, but the lead agent on the case could not pin down any of our top ten suspects. I went into the situation as an independent electrical compliance auditor, using Engineering Oversight Inc as my cover. I had free run of the place, the lead agent having gotten me in through the project's owner, unlike most situations undercover, this one allowed me to utilize a phone as a constant wire tap, so my backup could record pertinent info and keep an eye on me. On the eighth day of the case, I was tooling around during night shift when instead of me finding him, he found me. He slipped into a construction elevator, just as I was departing for the top floor, I noticed right away that he had a rather voracious presence and he kept his hands out of sight whenever I made eye contact. As we reached the top floor, it was deserted and he struck, he took out my legs by whipping a length of cable he had in his hand around my ankles, then he was on me, pinning me to the ground. I used my strength to flip over and roll away a few feet. I had my gun out, identified myself, and he raised a short length of pipe to strike at my head. The first strike landed a foot from my head, he did not get a second try, I pulled the trigger three times and he folded to the ground. My backup can thundering in a few minutes later, they had called for paramedics, but the suspect died on the way to the hospital. The shooting review took several weeks, it was ruled a good shooting, and I was back on assignment in just a few days. I spent time, as required, with the psychologists, which I did not enjoy at all. Their relentless concerns that I needed to decompress began to show me a side of the government I did not like, the one obsessed with dogma and exhibiting inflexibility. Eventually, during the Bush years, terrorism became an all encompassing objective, while the other criminals seemed to take a back seat. When I questioned decisions of this type, I was constantly dismissed by superiors. Well, Chris found me again a few weeks ago, she was retiring and knew I was frustrated; she said her mentor knew a guy named Cartwright, who was looking for undercover operatives for a private concern. She said he was connected to the highest levels in government, and maybe I should talk with him. I made the call and two days later a woman named Sara flew into Los Angeles to take me to dinner. She was quite stunning in person and we ate at Lucques restaurant on Melrose in West Hollywood; it lived up to its top ten rating, on my government salary I would have never been able to get in the door. Of course I still had a tidy nest egg from my years in engineering, but still, it was wonderful. Sara knew an awful lot about my life and career, making me draw the conclusion that they were indeed connected and making me a bit on the alert. I found it a bit strange that Sara did not try to sell me, she just laid out the facts about Consultants Inc., the benefits, the triple my current salary, and the fact that they never charged a fee for their services, which I found remarkable. I already had a "too good to be true" feeling, but she never pushed, just let it go and concentrated on dinner, asking questions about my likes, and what kinds of things I wanted to accomplish. After dinner, we went for drinks and music at the famous La Ve Lee Jazz Club in Studio City. She left me her number and asked that I call the next day if I was interested; it was a rough night and the following day, I talked to Chris, looked into Consultants Inc., and found out a bit about Mr. Adam Cartwright, the reclusive multi billionaire.

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In the end, I called Sara and accepted the job offer, sold my place in LA, shipped my worldly possessions to storage in Portland, and got on a plane; only to wind up having a great couple of days exploring Portland and a spectacular night with an amazing guy! At 11 am, Sara sent a car for me, when I go there, the place seemed like a giant warehouse, but once I got inside and Sara gave me the tour, I was blown away. I spent time with Sara and Layne who oriented me to personnel and security procedures; then I met the Twins next door who gave me a though check out on weapons and made sure I could pass the basic combat shooting range standard. I met the pilots and Paul, then Sara said the two principles wanted to spend some time with me. I met with Mr. Cartwright first, it went well, but in the end he said his job was really to bring issues in the door and maintain a wide array of global contacts. I walked the length of the building to the Managing Partner's office and stepped through the door, right into Jake! Despite myself, I let out a "No Way!", and sat down hard into the lodge style chair across from him in the office. I think I was speechless at that point and may have had my mouth hanging open! He was not doing much better, that handsome face has a Mr. Spock expression that transitioned to a very big smile and saying, "well I guess you won't have any trouble getting a ride to my place this evening!". I said, that right now, I honestly had no response to this situation. When I saw Holly walk through my door, I was speechless! What was happening? Then I thought, well this is a good thing as far as I am concerned, and broke into a smile and said "well I guess you won't have any trouble getting a ride to my place this evening!". I told Holly she did not have to talk for a moment and I wanted her to know that I had no idea who she was and I assumed she did not know who I was yesterday. I also wanted her to know that it has been a very long time since I met a woman I felt such a strong connection to and I wanted a chance to explore that. When she recovered, Holly said she felt the same way about me, that she was okay, and what are the odds of this happening? But she asked, what do we do next? I knew there was going to be an issue. So I asked Holly to hang tight, called Sara and Cartwright, and I went to meet them in his office. I told them the whole story and they were frankly stunned. I think that is the first time I have ever known Sara to be speechless, but Cartwright did not seem all that concerned. He said, unless Sara objects, he had four things to say. First, Sara did the hiring with me out of the loop, so she felt strongly we needed Holly, so from his perspective, that has not changed. Second, he said, we are a private concern, not the government, and not a corporation obsessed with harassment and the potential for lawsuits; he said that unless Sara objects, the two of us, as well as anyone else here, have every right to pursue a relationship if we wish, and if the relationship does not work out and there are hard feelings, I would retain my position and he would personally see that Holly receives a significant payout and a position back in government or engineering. Third, Sara has the most familiarity with undercover work and should continue to be responsible for hiring those operatives, as such, if she wants Holly to remain, she says so now and this is over. Fourth, while he had no issue

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with people being involved, it cannot be a secret, therefore any in house relationships need to be disclosed to the Senior and Managing Partners to maintain operational integrity. Sara agreed with everything Cartwright said, and added that she was sorry for her reaction, but she had never seen me go to bat for a relationship in the fifteen years we have know each other, so she was a bit stunned that I seem to be doing just that. Sara will write up the disclosure policy, using the NPS policy as a guideline, and this was over as far as she was concerned. With that settled, I returned to my office and Holly. We talked for quite a while about whether we were a situation worth pursuing and could not come up with anything other than yes! I told her Cartwright's guarantee and that he would probably be asking everyone to sign a policy to that effect. She had some conditions, none of which I had a problem with at all. We sat in silence for a while, listening to my iPod speakers throw out a bit of blues, then looked at each other a began to laugh! Jake finished explaining the results of his quick meeting with Cartwright and Sara, then we talked for a while about us and whether this was something we wanted to explore. I said there were a few things he had to understand; first, he could not, under any circumstances become jealous about anything I did while undercover; second, he could not at anytime pull me back because emotions clouded his view of situational dangers; and third, he could not under any circumstances treat me differently in terms of work load than anyone else. "Agreed", he said. Those were not issues for him, he had been through it before, and handled it in a way he thinks I would approve of in the past; but then I could see him holding his breath, waiting for my final response, and when I said yes, he finally took a breath. We sat quietly and absorbed the situation for a short time, then both just started laughing. He was able to stop well ahead of me, and then I could stop laughing! He asked if I was ready to go to work. We had a case and I had some training to do with the team to get everyone on the same page. Jake got on the intercom to Layne and asked for a staff meeting alert to be sent out ASAP.

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Well, after the morning I was having I decided to get things in motion and asked Layne to work her communications magic to notify everyone of a staff meeting in thirty minutes, and to meet in the conference room. Once everyone got there, I reintroduced our new team member, Holly, to everyone and mentioned that we happened to know each other before this morning and we were both a bit surprised when we saw each other here, then I let it go at that. I also told the group that we are a brand new organization, and since we have cases in the hopper, we will have to hit the ground running in a number of ways. As such, we have a few immediate things to accomplish. I told everyone we had a couple of case issues to discuss, but wanted to come up to speed on new items for the organization as of today: 1. Wade is our new weapons and self defense instructor and Jon is the new armorer for the organization. They have worked with Layne to develop, in record time, a combat range in the building next door. That building will remain unmarked and Layne has already established cameras and security for the facility. To get in, use the iris scan at the door. 2. Paul is managing equipment preplans and preloads, with Cessie's help, if you have any input or issues, please see him to provide input or advice. In addition, Paul will be finding, and bringing on board, a medical director for the firm, this individual will approve and direct our medical protocols for Paul at the advanced life support level and the rest of us who are EMT's at the basic level; the medical director selected will have a current secret clearance. 3. Starting today, everyone will be doing weapons qualification through Jon and Wade, monthly, unless on assignment. All weapons you wish to use, you will qualify with on the combat range. In addition, a monthly self defense drill will also be required. Those people without training, will begin training with Wade immediately, please schedule your time, I cannot under estimate the caliber of enemies we are likely to acquire as time moves on, everyone must be prepared, even if your role is limited to support. Because eventually, someone is going to find us here, and we need to be ready for them. 4. Sara has already been tasked with the hiring of our undercover and surveillance operatives, she has been doing a great job and we have decided she will retain the role as primary recruiter and hiring manager for the firm. If you wish to assist or have questions in that regard, please speak with her. 5. In light of the potential for administrative work in the future, we will be bringing on an administrative assistant in the coming weeks. Until that time, administrative, ordering, and other issues will come through me if anyone requires additional assistance with assigned tasks. 6. Just so we all understand, for some of us, who have spent most of our lives in government work, we sometimes fail to realize the need for human resources policies. So, from time to time, we will be adding them to the policy mix, today we need to talk about fraternization. So, here it goes, anyone here has every right to pursue a relationship with anyone else internally, if they wish; if the relationship does not work out and there are difficulties that interfere with operations and a resolution cannot be found, the senior partner will make a decision on retention and offer a generous payout for the other person and guaranteed placement elsewhere if you wish assistance. A document acknowledging and agreeing to this new policy will be circulated for signature, by everyone.

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7. 8.


10. 11.

As you all know, we are going to be short handed on surveillance and back up monitoring of undercover operators for the time being, so expect to be in the role of monitor on an assigned basis for the near future. Level of secrecy issues, we all signed non-disclosure agreements when we hired on, but I want to be clear that we will be retaining a "secret" level of internal and external security; and for some operations, it will be at the "eyes only" level. If it was not clear before, we wanted to take the opportunity to clear it up today, before we begin our first cases. I know that we are not an integrated unit as yet, but events have overcome our time for preparation, so we are going to be doing some training and education on the fly over the next week, while preparing for our first cases. In light of that, here are a few training assignments: A. Everyone will go through medical and logistics equipment review with Paul, in addition, he will take us through a basic level introduction to medical capabilities, our protocols for setting up medical evacuations, and where we go to in a hurry. Paul, plan on doing this in an eight hour block the day after tomorrow. B. Everyone will do a basic introduction to the control center and its capabilities. Layne, I would like you to do this as a four hour block and plan to start it first thing in the morning. Concurrent to this, please start on a manual for use when you are gone, preferably something along the lines of "Control Center for Dummy's" so I can us it! C. Everyone will be doing an orientation on how to do back up monitoring for our undercover operatives, and since Layne has the ability to monitor an operative anywhere on the planet with her equipment from the control center, we will start with that as the initial goal. The ability to monitor an undercover operator's video, audio, or emergency signaling from here. Layne, please plan on another four hour session, that will start tomorrow afternoon. D. Everyone will do orientation on every aircraft we have; Cessie and Chuck, please plan to schedule people for orientation and crew member training, with flight time over the next ten days. E. Holly, some extra items for you. For the first part of the afternoon, please tie in with Layne, she will show you the surveillance equipment and undercover communications gear she has right now and the two of you decide if anything else is needed and what. Make sure you are comfortable with the tracking capabilities also and make suggestions for what else we may need to get in play. Then tie in with Wade and have him run you through your combat shooting qualification and self defense drill. After that, let's make sure Paul has costumes and clothing in stock for you, have him order whatever you think you might need for undercover clothing, accessories, wigs, makeup, and supplies for undercover assignments; with an eye toward being able to do a number of assignments here in the PDX for starters. I will be here when you are done for the day, so come tell me how it went. After you attend the other training we have scheduled, we will need to do some drills on back up procedures and you functioning as part of the team during a hostile exit situation, so everyone is singing off the same sheet of music. Sara, you will need to kick it into over drive on the search for two more operatives. We all need to submit our materials to the Oregon Department of Public Safety, Standards, and Training to obtain our Armed Private Security and Private Investigators

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certifications and licensures; I will be coordinating the packets and send them in together, as well as, obtaining our Private Security Provider registration and Private Investigator Business registration. Starting this afternoon, just prior to the meeting, I asked Layne to begin performing an electronic device sweep twice a day from now on, she has automated this to a great extent and you will see her robot nosing around throughout the facility; try not to step on it or run over it! Since we are going to have days in the future, where we will need to be here 24/7, I have a contractor coming in next week to build two sound proof sleeping rooms in the building; each will contain two queen beds, private shower, and lavatory. This will provide us a place to catch some shut eye when we are providing 24 hour monitoring or have to crash between flights or operations.

Next, Mr. Cartwright; sorry, Adam, will be taking some time to brief us on the first of our pending case. Thanks Jake, it is great to finally have everyone under one roof and ready to work, it has been a long time coming and I know we will have a lot to do in the coming years. But today, we need to talk about the first of two cases we have in the pipe. This case has national security ramifications, so I spoke to a friend of mine and got an authorization to proceed notice back from the Secretary of Defense, so I am comfortable at this point that we have the ball. The two principles of Direct Fire Limited, are old friends of mine; their company is a defense contractor, doing DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) research on smart munitions and guided munitions. They have a missing persons issue that has now advanced to the disturbing level. Over the past five months, five of their personnel have gone missing. The first three were assistant researchers and major travelers, as such, not a great deal of thought went into their departures, until they did not return calls when the company began checking on them last week. When they couldn't contact them and they were not at their homes, they reported them as missing persons to the Washington County Sherriff Office and notified their DARPA liaison, but after an initial investigation by WCSO Deputies, no definitive conclusion has been reached. The assistants were two women, age 25 and 26, and a male, age 25. Then, this week, two primary scientists were reported missing. A woman, age 47 and a male, age 46. In their case, DFL requires that they carry a GPS tracker on them at all times for security purposes. When they accessed the tracker logs, the first tracker stopped sending about fifty miles off shore of Lincoln City, Oregon; the second tracker was still sending when the Polk County Sheriff Deputies found it, under a bench at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Oregon. The missing scientists and assistants all had a few things in common: 1. They all loved travel and did so regularly. 2. They all enjoyed the local night life scene in Portland.

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3. 4. 5.

They all were recreational gamblers, when their financial records were examined, they all averaged $200 to $300 in gambling per casino visit, and visited Chinook Winds or Spirit Mountain Casinos an average of 8-12 times a year. All were in excellent physical condition, records show them at the company fitness center an average of 4 time per week for about an hour each. None had any significant medical history and only one of the assistants took prescriptive drugs, an Albuterol inhaler for mild reactive airway disease.

Most troubling is all were from one lab, tasked with designing and fabricating a working model of a shoulder fired missile equipped with miniaturized flight control capability and able to be fired from a short barrel weapon equipped with a miniaturized radio control console. The weapon was designed to be approximately one third the size of the BGM-71 TOW guided missile, so about 24 inches in length. The weapon is completed and ready for testing in the next two weeks. Obviously a weapon of this type would be very dangerous in the wrong hands, especially since the weapon allows the shooter freedom to fire from ten miles away and guide the projectile through a slalom course to the target! DFL has done a complete inventory and no weapons or parts are missing. The principles at DFL have given us complete access to their computers, security systems, and records; they also have provided Layne with the ability to create records and employee files, while guaranteeing us access to all their facilities and personnel. Cartwright and I, had discussed an initial, broad, operational plan and I start laying it out for the team. We will be splitting into several teams for the assignment; Holly will be going into DFL undercover as the new director of the lab in question, with Sara as her handler and back up, Layne as her monitor and surveillance, and Jim in reserve to relieve Layne on monitor duty. Meanwhile, Cessie and Chuck will work with Paul to create a search area, using the GPS trackers as the LKP (Last Known Point) and perform a search of the areas for clues or subjects, Paul will utilize his contacts in the search and rescue world to get us some loaner SAR teams to assist, DFL will be making a generous donation to their fund raising for their assistance with this "training" mission. Jon will get Holly equipped with some weapon options and Wade will get her through qualifications, while Layne will get her outfitted with a tracker on her person, a tracker on her vehicle, two audio transmitters, and a video transmitter. In addition, Layne will get Holly a few bugs and place some mobile repeaters around the DFL area to assure good transmission strength for monitoring from here. We are interested in your thoughts on the rough plan and associated needs. So, let's have at it. As the person about to go under, I had a few ideas, so after others have added some odds and ends, I jumped in, once I had people's attention. I think there are a few things we need to work out and consider. First, we will need to develop a back story and cover integrity for the mission, and then fold in documents, a clean house, and a contact system. I prefer to work from a flexible stance in undercover assignments and retain truth were possible, this helps reduce risk of accidental exposures and errors.

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In terms of a back story, I suggest we start with the fact that I am new to town, I was hired out of Las Vegas where I ran may own engineering firm; I am single, live alone, no pets, like nightlife, used to be a regular at the "locals" casinos in Vegas, love jazz, and am bisexual, which always makes men even more attracted and women equally curious. In terms of cover integrity, for this case, we will use my credentials, licenses, and documents from Nevada, where I have kept a functional cover company for years. We will need to secure a "clean" house, or apartment, this is a place that has no connection to anything related to Consultants Inc or my prior assignments, and is prepaid for an extended period to reduce risk of payment tracking. Many times an apartment or condo provide the best option, since we can secure another beside, above, or below the clean one to maintain the active electronics in and wire the clean house from that area. Having everything that is active in another space entirely, makes it hard for the casual observer to identify any surveillance. Last, we will need a contact process and place; while you will be able to monitor audio and video the bulk of the time, I will still need to talk about what I think and potential lines of inquiry I need followed. For emergencies, Layne will need to provide me an ear bud communications unit, which I am hoping, with all the toys around here, we can engineer into a shoe or piece of jewelry? So, for the contact system, I think a gym will work out best, Sara can meet me there on a regular basis and she will need to go there even when I am not going to come by, thereby assuring her own cover. For the first few days we see each other there, it will be strictly small talk and some flirting. Then we will increase the time we spend together over the next few days and then we will begin simply working out together and spending some time in intimate conversation after that; creating the illusion of a growing relationship and decrease suspicion if we do wind up with a tail I can't spot or shake. Finally, I am going to need the services of a hair and makeup artist, I will need to do a change over from my current look, which is the normal me, to the new role's look. Other issues we can work through before we go operational. When I was done, Sara said, "damn, I knew I hired the right woman!", and Jake asked if there were any other additions? Hearing none he asked that the suggestions and changes be implemented immediately and plan for operational ramp up six days from today. After the meeting, I spent the rest of the day orienting with Sara and Layne to company organization, structure, getting set up with my encrypted cell, and having my iris scan and prints put into the security systems. We also spent time working on DFL's books and computer records, their company history and information, and looking into rentals in the area around DFL's campus. Last, we fleshed out my back story and cover. I also spent some time talking with Sara, exploring how comfortable she was going to be with our contact process and cover. She was confused over my concern, so I tried to be clear that the cover was going to appear as though we were becoming lovers. I was politely trying to explain

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that I was concerned she might not feel comfortable in the role, when she leaned in and kissed me hard while taking me into to her arms. Surprised, I looked at her and she laughed, she said she has plenty of experience on both sides of the line and not to worry that she can't carry off the role of a woman with a thing for a beauty like me! Finally, I was sitting alone in my new office and Jake walked in and asked if I was ready to get out of here? It had been a very long day and we are both really tired; he drove me to his place and once comfortable inside, I marvel again at the view out the windows that formed the north wall of the house. He makes us dinner and over a bottle of wine we just talk. Real talk, about our lives, our families, our goals, and what we want from a relationship. He tells me he has not felt this way about a woman in many years, the feeling of a connection are very strong, and I think I feel the same way. We actually kiss gently on the sofa for a time, then about eleven, we decide to get some sleep. I say I am looking forward to spending the night in his bed and can hardly wait to get a hot shower and feel the cool sheets. He showers first, laying on the bed, I can see him through the all glass enclosure that is one entire wall of his master suite bathroom; the sight does make me tingle a bit in all the right places, especially as he walks silently to the bed, laying across it nude, while making eye contact with me the entire time! When I get out of the shower, I can feel his eyes on me from the bed. I shut off the dim bathroom light, and nude, walk toward him, with our eyes focusing in the moonlight flowing through the windows. I slide into bed and he kisses me hard, flipping me onto my back. His hands go to my breasts, feeling my already hard nipples. I reach down for him, but he gently grabs my hand and whispers "not yet". He starts biting my neck, very gently, his mouth is like heaven, he seems to know just what I like. He licks my nipples, then sucks them, hard, but not too hard, enough to make me moan with satisfaction. He holds them between his teeth, flicking them with his tongue, causing me to gasp softly. I love having my breasts touched and he is doing it perfectly! While his mouth works on my breasts, he slides a hand down to capture me and whispers, "have you been wet all night for me?". I move my legs a bit wider and he begins to slowly stimulate my mound and clit. One of his fingers slides between my folds, just to my g spot, then a little pressure, and it is gone, making me groan in frustration. He does it again, all the while massaging me slowly, teasing me, and pressuring all the right nerve endings! I moan quietly as he kisses me, having no idea how turned on and hot I am at this point. His hands change position and one traps the nerve endings on and near my clit, while the other lets fingers slide into me, putting a pulsating pressure on my g spot; his mouth sucks on my nipples again and my back arches till I think it will snap. My hips grind pressure against his hands and I whimper as he brings me closer to orgasm. I feel my orgasm coming, and he does too, it's monstrous, and I sob at full volume until it breaks over me. As the waves smash through me, I shudder and begin to cry. As it subsides I get back

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a some control and stop crying from the joy of it; he just takes me in his arms and lays with me for what seems like forever, looking out at the night sky. I feel so at ease and treasured, I become conscious of the fact I can't wait another minute, I want him terribly. I bring myself up on an elbow and look down his length, he is not soft, but not hard, and I take him in my mouth. I can feel him getting hard very fast and soon he feels like hot steel. I lay back and pull him onto me, he lifts his hips, entering me; I am tight around him, but very wet, so he slides in completely. We both moan. He starts out slow, with a hand on my breast, tweaking my nipple, and his mouth at my neck, biting me softly. It is so sensual, I can barely take it, but I wait. With every slow stroke he is making me groan, and then he begins to quicken the pace. After twenty minutes of this pleasure, I lift up, moaning into his ear, "Now, fuck me harder!". He begins plunging into me, going faster and deeper with every stroke. He brings my legs up on his shoulders and holds my thighs very tightly, I feel him slide even deeper, creating a flood of orgasm speeding through me. I can feel myself tighten around him and hear myself screaming as the orgasm rushes through me. While it subsides, he slows down, kissing me hard, then slowly pulls out, still hard, while I lay limp beside him for several minutes. After a few minutes, I slide my hand down to his tool. I stroke him slowly as I push him onto his back while I kiss him hard. Pulling back from the kiss, I lick my lips. I'm still stroking him while I kiss his body, his neck, his chest, and his abs. My hands slide down his tool, while my tongue licks it, from the base to the head. I feel him shudder as my lips wrap around him. He sighs when I start to suck while my tongue is massaging him. I slowly move down and down and down, sucking the whole way. I suck harder, while moving my mouth up and down, paying special attention to the spot just under the head. After another five minutes, I feel him tense under my hands, he continuously runs his fingers through my hair while saying my name, and I feel him cumming hard and hot in my mouth. I swallow some, dribbling the rest, while our eyes lock on each other. I slide up his body and kiss him lightly on the lips. He wraps his arms around me, holding me firmly, keeping me there until I fall fast asleep. I wake the next morning to sunlight streaming through the floor to ceiling windows and the smell of breakfast wafting through the house. I climb out of bed, stretch, take a look at the clock and see it is eight in the morning, and then head for the kitchen.

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