No argument from him this time.
I told him at the time that chapter thirteen was too short, but did he listen to me? No, of course not!
"I can't do that," he said. "I can't contact Kaine to confirm his side, and the other person was never ID'd."
Whatever. You win, because the chapter's so short!
And I was on the way home!
Chapter 13: Sympathy for the Devil
“They’re all through.”
“We ID’d Cassidy. Not tough to do in that fancy car.”
“Fuck me. I wish you could have snatched them. That would have – fuck it. You didn’t let on?”
“Talbott didn’t recruit dummies, asshole.”
“And I wouldn’t expect rocket scientists to be assigned to a border post in the armpit of Texas, jackoff. The frequency of the tracker?”
“Seventy-five point eight megahertz. The money is in the account?”
“We’re not cheap. It’s there, with a bonus.”
“You know how to reach us if you need us again.”
“Fat fucking chance.” The connection was abruptly closed.
Chapter 14: Girls are Back in Town
Stone was good as her word. She commed them from the Sonoran side of the border and arranged for Mac to pick her up.
They stopped briefly outside Tucumcari to regroup and review the route. Cass was familiar with the area, of course, but other than Montana, none of the other agents had spent much time in Sonora.
“The best way from here is to go to Clines Corners and head north,” said Cass, using Mac’s computer to illustrate.
“And that’s exactly why we shouldn’t,” countered Stone. “If anyone’s following us, then that points right to our destination.”
“She’s right,” added Montana. “What are our other options?”
“We can go all the way to Albuquerque, then backtrack.”
“That’s not a great option,” said Stone. “More time on the road is more opportunity for someone to find us.”
“Our third option is to turn north at Vegas Junction, then head west at Las Vegas.”
“Ooh, do I get to meet Dick, I really admired his security software, it was really good if a little bit old school, but that’s actually a strength now so it all evens out, and I’ll bet there are things he could teach me about –”
Cass laughed. “Not that Las Vegas, Mac. There’s one in Sonora, too.”
Montana, who had been examining the map, said, “The problem is that Los Alamos is tucked into a little pocket that can’t really be accessed from many directions. I only see two roads leading in or out, one from Santa Fe to the south, one from Taos to the north.”
Cass nodded. “That’s why the old federal government built it up so much as a research town, the isolation. There are old trails running through the mountains, but I’m not familiar enough with them to think I could get us through.”
“We split up,” said Stone, reasonably.
“No way!” objected Lisa, who had been sitting quietly. “The last time you split up for any reason, you rescued me but lost Cass!”
“Point,” agreed Montana, “But the Chief is right. We need to split up, and do it in a way that gets us all there at about the same time.”
She studied the map some more.
“Cass, what’s the top speed for Kendra’s car?”
“Too fast,” said Cass, laughing. “Seriously, she can top out over four-twenty, but the most I’ve done is three seventy-five.”
“We get the long way, then,” said Montana. “We’ll head north at Vegas Junction, then continue north, almost to Raton, then head west to Taos. From there we’ll head south to Los Alamos.” She considered the other two drivers.
“Sanzari, you’re going to follow us to Las Vegas, then backtrack to Santa Fe and head north. That means that Mac, you’re going to Clines Corners and head north.” It took some time, but routes and speeds were finally figured out. The only sticking point was who was going to ride with Cass, Stone or Montana.
“We don’t know what kind of people HLC has watching the house,” argued Stone. “You need an expert on infiltration to clear the way, and that’s not you.”
“Yeah?” bristled Montana. “And –” The bickering was interrupted by Cass’s phone sounding.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Babe? Is that you?”
“Oh, gods, it’s so good to hear you!”
“I – I –” Whatever Cass was going to say next was lost. The emotions of the past few days spilled over, and she was unable to continue. Gently, Montana took the comm from her hand and put it on speaker.
“Kendra? It’s Montana. Cass needs a minute, but she can still hear you.”
“I’m totally there,” answered Kendra, stifling a sniffle. “Where are you?”
“Tucumcari, in Sonora.”
“Heading home?” Kendra guessed.
“Exactly. We figure to be there in three hours or so.”
“I’ll probably get there first,” said Kendra.
“That might not be such a good idea,” interjected Stone.
“Sorry, that’s Master Chief Mikki Stone, formerly of the SEALs. She’s a friend of Dr. Mantchev. She’s helping out.”
“I think there’s more to the story,” said Kendra. “But later for that. Why not, Master Chief?”
Briefly Stone related their border crossing and her suspicion that HLC would be watching their home.
“You’re exactly right,” agreed Kendra. “That’s textbook. What’s the plan?”
“We’re working on that,” Stone said. “D’ye want to meet us there?”
“No offense, Master Chief, but if I had my druthers, I’d prefer to work with Montana. I don’t know you from Eve.”
“Fair dues,” agreed Stone. “That settles who rides with whom, at least.”
“I’ll catch a shuttle to LA as soon as I can – I’m near enough to a couple shuttle services that I want to muddy my trail a bit more. Take a couple hours, maybe.”
“I’d be moving now,” suggested Stone.
“Already out the door,” replied Kendra, passing the office and tossing her key at the old woman. “Sheets are still clean, and you can keep the bedbugs,” she called. “Hurry up and wait time, now,” she said. “I have some cash but not enough to bribe my way out without ID. I’ve got ID coming first thing but –”
“All-night diner?” smiled Montana.
“And bottomless coffee,” agreed Kendra.
Cass had recovered enough to speak and gestured for the comm.
“Kendra, your wife would like to talk with you,” said Montana, switching off the speaker and handing the comm back to Cass. “Come on, Chief. Let’s give her some space.”
A few minutes later, a nearly ecstatic Cass rejoined them.
“She’s going to meet us at ten. The rendezvous is the café we stopped at the day we were supposed to get married. We can figure out what we do from there.”
The address was passed around. Stone joined Sanzari’s crew for the ride – “I don’t think I can take three hours listening to Agent McAllister, no offense,” she said. Soon enough, all three vehicles departed.
Several miles away, a signal chimed.
“On the move,” said the driver, already getting back into traffic.